Season 2, Episode 1
Air Date: Monday, September 22, 2014, 10/9c on NBC
“You didn’t actually find me. I found you.” – Reddington
“Lord Baltimore” starts off season two with a bang as Raymond “Red” Reddington (James Spader) awakens in the back of a jeep racing through the jungles of Douala, Cameroon. The local militia is chasing the jeep and gunfire is exchanged between the vehicles’ occupants. For Reddington, it’s just another day at the office. For fans, it marks the return of The Blacklist.
Some might use the phrase ‘chewing the scenery’ to describe Spader’s performance as Reddington. Franky, I love scenes like the opening one as Reddington uses three incoming hellfire missiles as motivation during his negotiations with a Cameroon warlord. Spader seems to be having a blast in the role, and his excitement makes The Blacklist even more enjoyable.
With last season’s attacks on the FBI, Special Agent Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone) is laying low, moving from hotel to hotel. Complicating matters is the disappearance of her spy husband Tom (Ryan Eggold), who vanished during last season’s finale. Who took Tom’s body; better yet, is he still alive?
While a majority of The Blacklist’s freshman season dealt with Elizabeth trying to figure out who the people in her life really were, it doesn’t surprise me then that this season seems to be more about Elizabeth rediscovering who she is. There’s a nice scene in “Lord Baltimore” when she learns her marriage to Tom has been annulled. Later, when asked why she keeps his last name despite the annulment, she replies, “My husband was an impostor, a fake. Keen was never his name.” While not important to the story, it’s a great way for the writers to show a strong and confident Elizabeth as she moves ahead in her life. Tom Keen may have been an alias but to her, Elizabeth Keen is not only her name, it’s who she is, and she’s not going to let Tom take that away from her.
Other than Edward Norton’s performance in the 1996 thriller Primal Fear, I’ve never been a fan of using dissociative identity disorder as a plot twist. For me, it falls in the same category as a dream sequence when a scene, usually meant to shock the audience, suddenly shows the character waking up. I think both plot devices are used to give the writers an easy out to tease something a character would never really do.
That said, the whole Nora/Rowan/Lord Baltimore (Kristen Ritter) ordeal gets too distracting for my taste. Rowan is a cyber engineer whose alternate personality is her dead sister Nora. Rowan also masquerades as the hitman, or, in this case, hitwoman, Lord Baltimore; this is confusing not only for the audience, but even the agents investigating the case. That is, until the big personality split is revealed but even those scenes leave me bewildered. With so much going on in the scenes involving Rowan, it would have been nice had the scenes made more sense or been omitted altogether.
It seems like whenever a show needs a whack job bad guy with a propensity for cutting off people’s fingers, they call Peter Stormare, who, in this instance, plays Reddington’s notorious nemesis Berlin. While Stormare has had countless roles in movies and on television playing the villain, he will always be John Abruzzi from Prison Break to me. Regardless of which character Stormare is portraying, his performance always seems to take the intensity of a show up a notch. Such is the case with “Lord Baltimore.” Stormare’s IMDB page says it best, ‘Often plays extremely quiet, intense and dangerous men with an extreme capacity for violence.’
As a fan of the now-cancelled Showtime series, Weeds, I am thrilled to see Mary Louise Parker show up on The Blacklist as none other than Reddington’s wife Naomi. Her scenes are brief so we don’t get a chance to see that usual Parker charm. Hopefully, we’ll have a chance to see more of her this season and not just in pieces. What do you think? Will Red and Naomi be reunited?
My biggest complaint with “Lord Baltimore” is too much is stuffed into the episode. While the gunfights and new villains are great, some story lines get buried by the scenes around them. One example is the introduction of Tamar Katzman (Mozhan Marno), a Mossad agent who briefly captures Reddington only to be forced to let him go. Watching that scene leads you to believe there is more between the two but the scene is never given a chance to develop. I expect as the season progresses, we’ll learn more about Reddington and Tamar’s connection to each other.
“Lord Baltimore” is a jam-packed episode that is enjoyable to watch. Maybe even a little too packed. I would have enjoyed seeing less subplots with minor characters and more with Reddington and Elizabeth as they hunt for Berlin and try to save Naomi. Thankfully, we have the whole season ahead of us.
Tweet me @Staffaroadtrip or leave a comment below to let me know what you think about “Lord Baltimore.”
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All photos © 2014 NBC Universal, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
© 2014, Greg Staffa. All rights reserved.
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