The Blacklist: The Courier Review

Forget subtlety, The Blacklist delivered on nearly everything the show has promised since the pilot episode.

In the past, I’ve grumbled a little about The Blacklist‘s apparent inability to deliver a one-two punch. There have been exceptional episodes, notably the pilot and “The Stewmaker,” but the others have been a mixed bag. When the show has stumbled, it’s been because it has fallen back on more traditional network procedural tropes. There have been a few boring villains here and there, and on a show that is supposed to pride itself on exceptional villainy, that just won’t do. But after the subtle horror of last week’s “The Stewmaker” and now the all-out assault that is “The Courier,” perhaps my fears about The Blacklist‘s consistency were premature.

“The Courier” is just that. He’s a criminal middleman, perfect for anything from sales of state secrets to delivering ransoms for kidnappings. Oh, I’m sorry, does this sound dull? He’s also rigorously “honest” (well, as honest as anyone in this line of work can be) and he’ll kill BOTH parties if one tries to double-cross the other. Still not enough? He’s got a neurological condition that prevents him from feeling physical pain. (sigh) You’re still not convinced? Look…the guy cuts pouches in his body where he hides everything from lockpicks to evidence. Jesus, you’re a tough crowd.

So, this Courier gentleman has locked a seemingly unassuming young man in a refrigerator (buried, of course) with a day or so worth of air…and a $20 million ransom hanging over everybody’s head. It doesn’t take long for Red and friends to catch up to him, but that doesn’t solve the problem of where this kid is and why he’s been taken. So, we have a fairly traditional “beat the clock” scenario playing out…the only problem is (sorry NSA, Homeland Security, CIA, etc) that you can’t exactly use “enhanced interrogation techniques” on a guy who doesn’t feel pain. It’s all very complicated. 

Visually, this episode was a riot. The Courier (played by Prison Break‘s Robert Knepper) had all kinds of gory moments, whether it was popping a broken bone back into its wound, or pulling a knife out of a hidden pouch in his scars, or…well…you gotta see it. One terrific car chase and an action movie worthy shootout completed the picture. I’m not counting, but I’m willing to bet that this episode had more proper action than any episode since the pilot.

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More like this, please. Many more. We can’t go back to hackers and corrupt humanitarians and whatever else they were peddling us early in the season. This was, plain and simple, a solid hour of entertaining TV. There was no needless telegraphing of Lizzie and Red’s relationship (whatever it is) and there was no tiptoeing around the seriously looming problems in Lizzie’s home life (not to mention the surveillance). Full speed ahead!

And gosh, I just made it through an entire review without talking about James Spader carrying the show! That MUST be a sign of things picking up. I’m almost starting to give a damn about Agent Ressler, too. Could The Blacklist actually start (gasp) developing the characters we’re supposed to not feel bad about rooting for?

So, anyone wondering whose passport that was in the box? Sound off!

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4.5 out of 5