February 24, 2017

SHOWBUZZDAILY Series Premiere Review: “The Blacklist: Redemption”


THE BLACKLIST: REDEMPTION:  Thursday 10PM on NBC – Change the Channel

THE BLACKLIST: REDEMPTION is for all those who longed to see what The Blacklist would look like without James Spader, a group that could probably fit into a medium-sized elevator.  Ordered by NBC when the network still thought The Blacklist was going to be a long-running breakout hit (these days it’s not much ahead of the bubble), and originally introduced as a planted episode, its “created by” credit goes to a quarter of senior Blacklist writer/producers (Jon Bokenkamp, John Eisendrath, J.R. Orci and Lukas Reiter), and it’s serving as filler during Blacklist‘s midseason hiatus.

Redemption tries as hard as it can to duplicate the dynamic of the mothership, although there’s little attempt to fit the spin-off into the Blacklist continuity.  This time the mysteriously shady person with information about the world’s top criminals is Scottie Hargrave (Famke Janssen), and the agent who follows her tips to track down the villain-of-the-week is Tom Keen (Ryan Eggold), husband of Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone, a cameo player in the Redemption premiere), who serves the same function on The Blacklist with Raymond Reddington (Spader) as her enigmatic mentor.  As on Blacklist, parentage is the through-line story:  just as the mothership constantly toys with whether Red is Liz’s father, Scottie may or may not be Tom’s mother, and Howard Hargrave (guest star Terry O’Quinn) may or may not be his father, and may or may not have survived an attempted assassination that may or may not have been ordered by Scottie as part of some decades-long grand conspiracy.

The Scottie/Howard/Tom storyline provides the show’s version of emotional depth, but Redemption itself (which, despite the title, has nothing to do with the concept of redemption) is mostly concerned with Scottie’s security agency tracking down baddies, in furtherance of which Tom is joined with former Blacklist bad guy Matias Solomon (Edi Gathegi), fellow operative Nez (Tawny Cypress), and the obligatory socially awkward computer genius in the person of Dumont (Adrian Martinez).  The opening episode, with a story credited to all the show creators and a script by Bokenkamp, Eisendrath and Executive Producer David Amann, is nonsense about a CIA agent who’s abducted with her young son, transported to a castle via tunnels dating back to Napoleon and implanted with a suicide bomb.  Director John Terlesky tries to jazz up the visuals a bit with some 24-ish split screens, but just about everything here is tiresomely familiar, and without Spader’s impishly cruel charisma to liven things up, there’s a distinct lack of compelling drama

With The Blacklist itself struggling for ratings these days, it’s hard to imagine Redemption finding much of an audience, although its way will be made a bit easier by weak competition in the Thursday 10PM hour, where it faces CBS’s Training Day and the return of ShondaLand problem child The Catch.  Even with that help, though, the series is the opposite of Peak TV; it’s as disposable as television gets.


About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."