'The Blacklist' Continues Its Spree of Criminal Boringness

This show opens an episode severing some dude's hand to be used in a fingerprint scanner and still I'm bored out of my mind. The Blacklist — it is silly to type out but hey, whatever — is not Breaking Bad. Granted, Breaking Bad wasn't BREAKING BAD right from the beginning, but its sense of style and purpose were ingrained in the series from the very first shot (dad pants). Three episodes in it's becoming more and more clear that Blacklist doesn't much care for logic, or character, or thorough narrative exploration — any of the storytelling standards set by dramatic fare on AMC, HBO. Hell, even by NBC, which has miraculously managed to keep the fantastic Parenthood on the air.

No, Blacklist is a rote procedural masquerading as something more, and occasionally getting away with it because James Spader can make any character he plays at least a little intriguing. What happened last night? One of the numbers on Red's blacklist, Wujing, surfaced in connection to the death of a Western… I don't know, computer guy in China. Something about hacking CIA secrets. All of which led to about 20 minutes of Keen (Megan Boone) and Red attempting to infiltrate the underground bad guy hangout, breaking down firewalls. And on the side, for all you mythology nuts, Keen attempting to piece together the whys and wherefores of her husband's mysterious gun and passport box.

That sort of "procedural… but with ongoing mythology!" sell is crap under almost any circumstance, so it's no surprise to find it disappointingly rendered here, too. What Keen and Red spend half the episode doing has what looks like no measurable impact on anyone, in or outside their orbit. The bad guys are dealt with, another blacklist threat is neutralized. But what does that even mean? Why is this so urgent? Keen's suspicion of her husband makes even less sense. Not from the standpoint that it's erroneous — if I found a wooden box with guns in it, I'd be suspicious too — but that she seems almost completely emotionally detached from the idea there is a stranger living in her home. I get that everyone's a government agent and therefore looks at the world through stark, efficient eyes. But COME ON.

About the only nice thing one might say about episode three, "Wujing," is that it tries to close out the story with an OC-style track that suggests emotional depth beyond what we're seeing on screen. Isn't music crazy like that? In the way it can convince you that what you're watching is actually better than you know it is? Remember I said that, Blacklist — you could so easily improve the rest of this season with a well-timed CHVRCHES track.

Image: NBC

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