Sep 30 2014

The Blacklist – “Monarch Douglass Bank” Retrospective. A Big Boom


Season 2, Episode 2

Air Date: Monday, September 29, 2014, 10/9c on NBC


“I hope she’s worth it.” – Keen

Ressler and Keen investigating the robbery.

Ressler and Keen investigating the robbery.

Reddington (James Spader) is on the warpath as he searches for his ex-wife, Naomi (Mary Louise Parker) who was kidnapped by Reddington’s ruthless, sworn enemy Berlin (Peter Stormare) in the season premiere of The Blacklist. Will Reddington be able to find Naomi in time or will Berlin keep sending Naomi’s body parts to him? Even Reddington’s body cleanup woman Mr. Kaplan (Susan Blommaert) — yes, she is called Mr. — expresses her concerns about the path Reddington is taking, which he acknowledges, “I’m out on the far end of the limb.”

But when the Warsaw branch of the Monarch Douglass Bank is robbed, Reddington seems to shift his focus convincing Keen (Megan Boone) and the FBI to look into the robbery. According to Reddington, the Monarch Douglass Bank is “the preferred bank of international criminals, dictators, terrorists, and hedge fund managers.” It’s no surprise when Keen starts to wonder about Reddington’s real motive behind wanting the FBI to look into the robbery.

Monarch Douglass Bank” has some some great moments. I doubt I was the only one surprised to learn Apolonia (Lola Pashalinski) is not only a sweet grandma baker in Warsaw but also a major gun dealer. The train scene is classic Reddington as he suddenly shows up out of the blue when Ressler (Diego Klattenhoff) and Keen are trying to escape Poland.

Keen kicks some serious ass when Agent Salerno (Aaron Lazar) suddenly attacks her. I couldn’t help laughing when Ressler, oblivious to the brutal fight taking place on the other side of the one-way mirror, sits in the interrogation room talking to Katja (Annika Boras), a suspect in the bank robbery.

What makes the The Blacklist work so well is the relationship between Reddington and Keen. There’s this FBI/criminal mastermind dance they seem to do every time they’re on screen together that is quite enjoyable to watch. Last season, Redding was held on a much shorter leash by the FBI, which allowed for more scenes between Reddington and Keen. I hope the writers find a way to get back to that.

Naomi and Berlin

Naomi and Berlin

I wasn’t expecting a carbon copy of Parker’s Weeds character but I wanted to see some of that devilish charm and playful danger in her eyes that Parker has brought to some of her other roles such as Reds and Reds 2,  especially considering she was married to Reddington. Instead, we get a timid character with very few lines and other than the one clever escape attempt, Naomi seems to be content with being the damsel in distress. I kept wanting more from Naomi.

The same goes with Peter Stormare in his role as Berlin. It feels like the writers are restraining him so he doesn’t outshine Spader. Don’t get me wrong, their meeting on the bench is intense, and the mind game each is playing with the other is fascinating but again, I found myself wanting more from them. Maybe the writers are waiting to kick things up a notch for their next meeting.

Reddington and Keen having a moment.

Reddington and Keen having a moment.

As much as I enjoy The Blacklist, sometimes the writers make things too complex for their own good. Reddington is a character who is always ten steps ahead of everyone else and because of that, the writers lay down hints of things to come that only make sense when the audience catches up to Reddington’s thinking.

Monarch Douglass Bank” is a perfect example of this as several times, things are said or done that just don’t make sense or seem like odd, random things to say. We are lucky that some of those things are explained later in the episode, like Reddington commenting that his manicurist Rosa Heredia (Raquel Almazan) used to be a trauma surgeon. Mossad agent Tamar Katzman (Mozhan Marno) is another one of those mysterious pieces since it remains unclear how she fits into everything. Will she turn out to be friend or foe? Maybe a little of both.

Just two episodes into the second season and it’s hard to judge the show too much. Given how entertaining last season was, I’m willing to give the writers the benefit of the doubt and let things play out.


Tune in Mondays at 10/9c, only on NBC, for all new episodes of The Blacklist.

Tweet me @Staffaroadtrip or leave a comment below to let me know what you think about Monarch Douglass Bank.”

For more information on The Blacklist, visit the official Website.

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All photos © 2014 NBC Universal, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


© 2014, Greg Staffa. All rights reserved.

Greg Staffa

I provide testosterone to the site. You won’t be reading about how nice a actress looks in a dress or how much of a hunk Matt Bomer is in my reviews. I describe colors using words like brown, not taupe. My twitter name is @staffaroadtrip because I love road trips and have done two different 48-state road trips since 2008. My favorite show is White Collar.

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