The Blacklist: The Stewmaker, Review

A creepy, disgusting villain who disposes of bodies in a pretty nasty fashion make The Stewmaker one of The Blacklist's better episodes.

Now this is what I signed on for when the concept of The Blacklist was first revealed. I want super criminals damn it, and that’s exactly what the subject of this week’s episode, “The Stewmaker” is. Who is The Stewmaker? Well, you meet him in the opening moments of the episode, and he’s a master of disguise with some truly grotesque habits…namely, he supplements his income by making bodies vanish with a chemical solution. Remember the early Breaking Bad episodes with the hydroflouric acid and the bodies? Yeah, well, imagine that but with somebody competent. The Stewmaker comes to town in order to eliminate the body of a witness for the prosecution in a case involving an extraordinarily powerful drug lord. Since Elizabeth Keene is at the courtroom when this all went down, she’s on the case…therefore, so is Red Reddington. And when Elizabeth gets kidnapped in the midst of a prisoner transfer (in a terrific action sequence full of gunshots and proper explosions), Reddington and Agent Ressler are tasked with finding her AND putting an end to the Stewmaker…before he puts an end to her.What works? Most of it, honestly. The Stewmaker is a villain who might have crawled out of one of Batman’s nightmares. If dissolving bodies in bathtubs isn’t enough to make you nauseous, he takes physical trophies from his victims, takes photos of their corpses before they get liquidated, and has a pale, flabby body riddled with scars from chemical burns. Oh, and he likes to work in the nude. Yeah, light the bat-signal and send this guy off to Arkham Asylum, please.Need more? We get to see Agent Ressler and Reddington working closely together, which is suitably amusing, especially since Reddington is the only one of the pair who knows the plan when they waltz in to negotiate with a drug lord. The mystery of Elizabeth’s husband actually takes an interesting turn or two, and we’re spared any overtly irritating hints about why Reddington is so concerned with Elizabeth’s safety. It’s also nice to be reminded what a nasty, unsavory sumbitch Red actually is, despite his layers of charm.It’s not perfect. I still don’t see any reason to care much about the fate of most of the supporting cast, and there is a distinct lack of Harry Lennix in this episode. Red’s solution to finding out where the bad guy is hiding out seemed to come out of nowhere, and was entirely too tidy, even by network drama standards. Is “The Stewmaker” going to win NBC any Emmys? No. But as an episode that delivers exactly what The Blacklist is advertised as, with just enough of a horrific undertone to keep your skin crawling, it’s a winner. The best episode since the pilot, to be sure…which is no surprise considering that both were directed by Joe Carnahan. Alright, Blacklist…you’ve bought yourself at least another week on my schedule!

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3.5 out of 5