On 'The Blacklist', even a hyper-competent FBI agent can be a damsel-in-distress!
Remember how we talked last week about the similarities (or more accurately dissimilarities) between The Blacklist and Breaking Bad ? Add to that cross-pollination one more item: the dissolving of unwanted bodies via chemical stew. And you thought you'd never find another show on TV quite like your favorite meth-fueled western nihilistic dramedy!
I'm kidding — The Blacklist in its 4th week offered the same inane, Frankenstein's monster-assembled plotting as any of its three antecedents. This week, Red and Co. tracked down "The Stewmaker," a hired hand who disposes of undesirables with a methodical bleaching process. Until now, he's been unknown to the FBI. Thank God Red can help them track the guy, a "true Blacklister" who "makes corporeal problems disappear." Spader's delivery of those lines is undoubtedly the highlight of the episode, even if I'm not sure they were intended to be funny. But hey, someone on set is having a good time!
Everything about The Stewmaker screams "contemporary serial killer," from his insanely methodical pre-kill routine to the classical music he pipes in before he's about to do the deed. Does he keep "trophies" of his victims? Check. Consider the murders he commits "just a job that he does"? DOUBLE CHECK. Shy a Michael C. Hall voiceover, he's basically Dexter in plaid.
…which would honestly be acceptable, plagiarism and all, but for the fact that he's more interesting than 75 percent of the episode around him. That 25 percent, of course, is Spader (who comprises nearly 100 percent of anyone's reason for enjoying the show). Then there's poor Megan Boone, left with less than nothing to do when she's kidnapped and tortured 20 minutes into the episode.
We could launch into an entire essay about reducing your ostensibly strong, competent female lead to a damsel-in-distress multiple times in the span of the first four episodes and all of the gender construct issues therein, but we DON'T HAVE TIME FOR THAT. Instead let's just look to her as one half of what was touted as this awesome new FBI super-team, and how it's pretty lame that Spader's done… all of the heavy lifting. Keen has good intentions; Keene sees that sometimes you need to rely on a criminal mindset to track criminals. But Keen always, always takes a backseat to Spader's Red, a guy who's basically a superhero. With a costume! And quips! Nothing wrong with that necessarily, but let's not pretend that Megan Boone is an equal partner. Honestly, she's barely a sidekick.
Given everything just described, it will surprise you nothing to learn that 1) Red manages to sneak into the Stewmaker's bunker to save Keen, 2) Keen is shocked when Red, having already freed her, decides to kill the Stewmaker, and 3) a gentle indie ballad plays over the last five minutes. That stuff happened, and it will happen again next week with different proper nouns.