Season 2, Episode 7
Air Date: Monday, November 3, 2014, 10/9c on NBC
“Those who abjure violence can do so only because others are committing violence on their behalf.” – Reddington, quoting George Orwell
After learning that Iran’s top nuclear scientist Kian Nouri (Ryan Shams) fell from a 12-story hotel balcony in Dubai, thanks to a joint CIA/Mossad operation, Reddington (James Spader) alerts Agent Keen (Megan Boone) that a killer named Scimitar (Waleed Zuaiter) is out for revenge. Scimitar isn’t your normal assassin, according to Reddington. “He’s one part hit man, two parts con man.”
When it comes to music, I’m more inclined to appreciate a single song rather than the entire album. In many ways, this is how I approached “The Scimitar,” given that I enjoyed several individual scenes but found the overall episode disappointing.
Let’s start with what worked.
Scenes between Reddington and Keen are always enjoyable to watch. In “The Scimitar,” I got a kick out of how Reddington calls out Mossad operative Samar Navabi (Mozhan Marno) in front of Keen. Spader has mastered the art of sarcasm and his scenes in “The Scimitar” are no exception. Too bad there weren’t more.
While the show has plenty of action, The Blacklist isn’t big on stunts. When they do use them, though, they’re impressive to watch. With so many things done with CGI effects these days, it’s refreshing to see a real car tumbling over and over.
The hospital scene with Keen and Agent Ressler (Diego Klattenhoff) is an intriguing scene that feels like it is straight out of a Mission: Impossible episode. I really appreciate scenes where the audience is able to realize a twist at the same time as the character, instead of the writers throwing the audience a gotcha moment.
Now, let’s talk about what didn’t work so well.
It can’t be easy for the writers to come up with a new villain on Reddington’s blacklist every week. I always thought the success or failure of each episode of The Blacklist hinged on how much screen time Reddington is given since he seems to enhance the scenes around him. Turns out you also need a good villain to go up against and unfortunately, “The Scimitar” doesn’t have such a person. Scimitar is seeking revenge but neither the story nor the character was given any time to develop.
Navabi finally gets more screen time in “The Scimitar,” yet her role is still unclear. The Blacklist never properly introduced Navabi; instead, she simply showed up in the season two premiere and only later did we learn she was assigned to the FBI/Reddington task force. It feels like the writers are being coy about her past, hoping they could sneak Navabi into the cast thinking the audience wouldn’t ask many questions.
My biggest issue with The Blacklist this season is the pacing. It seems the advancement of every story line takes four to five episodes to play out. Take, for instance, the reveal of who was behind the door—Tom (Ryan Eggold)—and Keen’s eventual conversation with him. Did the audience really need so many episodes to find out what they had already figured out?
Tom poses the best question of “The Scimitar” when he asks Keen what is going to happen to him next. “My value to you will end and then what? You gonna turn me in, Liz? Lose your job, go to jail?” Good questions, Tom. We’d like to know too. Frankly, it seems like nobody, including the writers, has a clue what to do with him.
If that weren’t bad enough, we have the Reddington/Zoe D’Antonio (Scottie Thompson) situation. Reddington looks for the girl – he finds the girl – he watches the girl – he meets the girl – he talks to the girl – he kidnaps the girl. Don’t get me wrong, I like multi episode story arcs but these are unnecessary ones designed to create drama and in doing so, the writers risk losing the audience’s interest. At least this storyline has an interesting twist at the end.
The revelation of Zoe’s relationship to Berlin (Peter Stormare) is shocking, albeit short lived, as it has little to do with the big picture. Instead, much of the entire second season of The Blacklist can be summed up as a prolonged misunderstanding between rivals.
Kill Tom or don’t kill Tom, frankly I don’t care anymore. This season has focused on irrelevant characters who are nothing more than a distraction. As far as new characters like Navabi are concerned, we don’t know enough about her to care what happens to her. Even Berlin, the big, puffed up bad guy, has been deflated and now seems to be irrelevant.
With next week’s midseason finale, I hope the writers are able to use the break to refocus and come back with a stronger sense of direction.
Tune in to The Blacklist Mondays at 10/9c, only on NBC. Tweet me @Staffaroadtrip or leave a comment below to let me know what you think about “The Scimitar.”
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All photos © 2014 NBC Universal, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
© 2014, Greg Staffa. All rights reserved.
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