I wouldn’t say that I’ve ever really been in love with ‘The Blacklist’. Even at its best, it’s a pretty dopey show – and the second season was not its best. Nevertheless, the series is just entertaining enough to keep stringing me along. Now it’s back for a third season, which brings a big format change that I seriously doubt will stick for very long.
At the end of Season 2, our heroine Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone) discovered that her mother had been a Russian spy. (Wait, is her real name Sydney Bristow?!) She was then framed for the bombing of a CIA station, inadvertently used as a pawn in the assassination of a U.S. Senator, and straight-up murdered the evil Attorney General. As Season 3 begins, Liz is forced to go on the run with her pseudo-father figure Raymond Reddington (James Spader). Yes, Liz has gone from hunting people on the blacklist to being to the top name on the list herself. This seems like it was probably inevitable given the show’s concept, doesn’t it?
Liz’s FBI partner Ressler takes the lead on the manhunt for her and Reddington – because that’s not ridiculous or implausible at all. Her boss Harold Cooper (Harry Lennix) is in custody for helping her escape, and also possibly being an accomplice to the Attorney General’s murder. (He wasn’t, but the FBI doesn’t know that.)
Liz of course assumes that they need to get out of town as quickly as possible, but Red explains why that’s a bad idea. Washington D.C. has been locked-down due to the manhunt with no clear exit points, but the state of siege cannot last. If they can wait it out for a week, the various roadblocks and barricades and screening stations will let up as the FBI assumes they must have slipped through. Red brings her to a bar with a secret bunker underneath and tells her to get comfortable.
Meanwhile, Red has released the contents of the “Fulcrum” – a secret file that contained info on the nefarious conspiracy pulling the strings behind the scenes of world governments – to the press. This has caused problems for the CIA Director (David Strathairn), a member of the conspiracy.
Unfortunately, the bar owner’s sister tips off the FBI to where Red and Liz are hiding. This causes them to run to an individual known as the Troll Farmer, a young guy who’s a master of social media disinformation. He and his team flood Twitter and Facebook and whatnot with false reports of Reddington sightings in order to lead the FBI on dozens of wild goose chases. Then they create fake updates that Red and Liz have been captured so that the local police will stand down. Liz and Red split up into two separate vans hoping to slip out of town in the confusion. Red gets out, but Liz gets trapped inside an FBI perimeter and, with no other options, runs to the Russian embassy seeking asylum, claiming that she’s a deep-cover Russian spy (which is what she’s been accused of).
In a side story, Red’s right-hand man Dembe gets kidnapped by a mysterious man known as Mr. Solomon (Edi Gathegi) for reasons unknown.
Honestly, this episode isn’t terribly exciting for a season premiere. Most of the storylines are rather predictable. It doesn’t have much action. Red pulls a major dick move by giving up the identity of the Troll Farmer to the FBI in exchange for Ressler promising to give Liz the benefit of the doubt after he captures her. That’s a pretty flimsy pretense for screwing over a business partner who has only done right by him.
Frankly, the most memorable part of the episode is that Liz dyes her hair blonde.
Still, it’s not a bad episode. If you’re into the show, it gets the job done of setting up the season’s major storyline. That is, assuming that this storyline lasts very long and isn’t resolved quickly with Liz being reinstated to the FBI and everything returning to the former status quo. I won’t be too surprised if that happens.