The Blacklist: Gina Zanetakos, Review

Corporate espionage turns into terrorism, logic goes out the window, and Elizabeth plays into Red's hands in the sixth episode of NBC's The Blacklist.

Blacklist, how could you do this? I thought we had an understanding, here. You were going to keep delivering a high-powered baddie of the week with seriously high stakes, and I would say wonderful things about how much more entertaining The Blacklist is than that OTHER big deal government agency show on a competing network. But when all you have to offer is “corporate terrorism” and some really, really, REALLY questionable science to resolve things, well, we’re gonna have a problem.

“Gina Zanetakos” sounds like a Bond girl, probably the one who betrays Bond and he has to kill her after they sleep together or something. She looks like one, too. And despite a really cool and claustrophobic elevator fight where she kicks Agent Ressler’s well-groomed ass, she isn’t all that menacing, her motives are unclear, and is handily the least memorable villain The Blacklist has offered up so far. And let’s not forget that this is the same show that gave us an episode with an evil humanitarian, so that’s saying something.

I’m not even going to try and recap tonight’s story because it was impenetrable. The C plot which featured Raymond Reddington negotiating the sale of stolen artwork via phone was far more entertaining than any criminal activity that actually took place on screen. Needless to say, what appeared to be a case of corporate espionage and/or terrorism turned into a case of actual terrorism, but thanks to magic technology, a thoroughly questionable decision to “contain” radiation using, y’know, a harbor, and a title villain dumb enough to talk to her bosses on her own smartphone made the entire thing rather annoying.

It all started off so promising, too. With Elizabeth finally marching shady husband Tom downtown for some questioning, his innocent act (or IS it an act?), Reddington’s revelation that supposedly Tom and “Gina” have a romantic relationship…all for nothing. For the first time in what seems like forever we got some Harry Lennix/James Spader facetime, and in true Reddington style, he hints that he’s got some dirt on his old buddy Cooper. For a few minutes it looked like we were going to get into some nitty-gritty. Nope.

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The relationship between Elizabeth and Reddington and the mystery that surrounds it is now beyond artificial and forced. This has been the toughest thing to swallow since the pilot, but I accepted it as a necessary plot device and got on with the business of enjoying a network drama that isn’t exactly going to be Breaking Bad in the first place. But this nonsense of Elizabeth, in tears, confused, with nowhere else to turn, holding Red’s hand for comfort (literally playing into them) is just absolute horseshit. This doesn’t do either character any favors, and a little subtlety would do wonders for The Blacklist‘s credibility.

In short, episodes like this aren’t gonna get it done. When folks go on and on about the superiority of cable dramas, and fans of network shows like The Blacklist want to dismiss them as snobs, the problem of having to crank out 22 episodes as opposed to 10-13 is bound to rear its head. If The Blacklist simply had to deliver thirteen thrillers like “The Stewmaker” and “The Courier” we’d be spared episodes like “Gina Zanetakos.” As Red Reddington might say, “This is entirely unacceptable.”

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1.5 out of 5