The Blacklist: Smokey Putnum (No. 30) Review
The Blacklist: Season 5, Episode 1: Smokey Putnum (No. 30) quietly signals the modest return of the popular intelligence drama, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Although there is action in Wednesday night’s show, it is hardly the focus of it. Instead, what holds viewers interest the most is the interaction between the characters, chiefly Elizabeth (Megan Boone) and Reddington (James Spader). With it being finally confirmed once and for all (or not, depending on whether the writers decide to throw us yet another curveball at some point this season) that Red is Liz’s father, you would think that their relationship would be very tense, to say the least. Far from it, the two act almost like they’re chums in a buddy cop comedy, with Liz playing the by-the-book straight man and Red the rascally wildcard with all the best lines. There are obviously dramatic moments involving the two, but for the most part the program seems to be going for a lighter approach with them.
There are some instances of more traditional action scenes of course, with the best occurring in the episode’s opening scene. When Red steals a souped-up car, he is trailed by police who try to surround him only for the Concierge of Crime to deftly maneuver out of the incoming cruiser’s way. The car behind him collides directly into the other one, flipping completely over and landing on the street behind it. It’s relatively low-stakes as far as car chases go, but it’s executed very well, and the fact that it’s set to the accompaniment of Ace Frehley’s “New York Groove” makes it all the more delightful.
For the rest of the task force, it feels like they’ve been given the short end of the screen time stick, but the few scenes they’re present are effective, to say nothing of entertaining. The best ones are probably those involving Aram (Amir Arison) and Agent Navabi (Mozhan Marno), who after the trials and travails of the past season are an item once again. Aram has a particularly funny exchange with Assistant Director Cooper (Harry Lennix), struggling to articulate the fact that Navabi and he are dating before a visibly disinterested Cooper cuts him off and dismissively gives an okay to their workplace relationship. Seeing Aram stress over how to word it to his boss is pure situational comedy, and Cooper’s flippant response is the form at its very best.
In the wake of the highs and lows of Season 4, Season 5 is off to a humbler but no less strong start. Let’s just hope that if The Blacklist changes from here on out, it only gets better.
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