The Blacklist: The Freelancer, Review

The second episode of NBC's The Blacklist finds Red Reddington leading the FBI on another merry chase...involving human trafficking!

After a strong pilot episode, it looks like The Blacklist has kind of regressed to the mean of network TV dramas with “The Freelancer.” Then again, it’s kind of tough (and unfair) to make that call on the second episode. I’m sorry, Blacklist, all is forgiven. But seriously, “The Freelancer” isn’t a particularly memorable episode. There are two primary selling points to The Blacklist: the promise of a fresh, unique, supercriminal menace every week…and James Spader. At least this week’s episode had James Spader. Alright, fine, there are THREE selling points, because Harry Lennix rules.“The Freelancer” is the name of this week’s baddie, a guy who does targeted assassinations that are disguised as garden-variety disasters. But we’re not talking about y’know, making it look like that police chief in Sheboygan electrocuted himself changing a lightbulb. “The Freelancer” does it by causing train derailments, plane crashes, or apartment building fires. Things with loads of collateral damage. How low key is this guy? The FBI never knew he existed until Red Reddington told ’em.While this all sounds cool, the rest of the episode simply doesn’t deliver. Reddington leads the FBI to a humanitarian who fights human trafficking who is in The Freelancer’s crosshairs. It’s rather pedestrian, and it’s got an ending you can probably see coming if you squint a bit. The whole thing ultimately comes off as a little too conventional for a show with such a fun premise. The big baddies have to be bigger and badder…that’s supposed to be the point.If nothing else, now that Red has had some of his demands met by the FBI (his choice of mercenary bodyguards, a very specific tracking chip implanted in his shoulder, and the continued presence of Elizabeth Keen) it should mean we’ve seen the last of the ridiculous high-tech holding cell they’ve been keeping him in. Getting the unpredictable Reddington out into the world should be a handful for the FBI, and I look forward to all kinds of fun, exasperated action from Harry Lennix and friends as Red gives them the slip, misleads, and generally annoys the hell out of them.But really, Blacklist…please don’t be one of those shows that ends on a three-minute musical montage every week. What are you, Smallville? It’s aggravating, and you should be better than this. But as with most network shows, the cast will take you far, and James Spader is clearly having so much fun as Reddington that you probably will as well.


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2.5 out of 5