James Spader is devilishly charming as Raymond "Red" Reddington on the series premiere of "The Blacklist." Reddington is a major figure in the world of crime who simply walks into the FBI and turns himself in. He agrees to provide the FBI with information toward the capture of other criminals -- something he dubs the titular "blacklist." But why is he doing this?
His one requirement was that he would only speak with FBI profiler Elizabeth Keen. It just happened to be her first day, but as with many things that went down in this pilot, this was not mere coincidence. Reddington is a brilliant man, and only he knows what game he's playing at.
Much like Hannibal Lecter's fascination with Clarice Starling, Reddington was keen -- so to speak -- to know all kinds of personal details about Agent Keen. One major difference, though, was that he seemed to already know quite a bit.
“You got rid of your highlights," he told her upon meeting her. "You look much less Baltimore.”
“Why involve me? I’m nobody. It’s my first day. Nothing special about me," Keen told him, but Reddington disagreed.
“Oh, I think you’re very special," he told her. He proceeded to promise that he was going to make her very famous.
TV Fanatic's Carla Day was intrigued by their burgeoning relationship. "It may have been her first day, but she stayed strong and stood up to Red even when he revealed that he knew deep personal secrets about her. He needs Liz to validate himself for some yet-to-be-revealed reason.”
Over at Buddy TV, Ted Kindig thinks that if the writers can strike a balance on the show's darker moments with Spader's excellent portrayal, "they’ll have a hit on their hands.” The formula is there for a standard crime procedural -- Red offers up another name on the blacklist each week -- with the added fun of James Spader's machiavellian omnipresence working some unknown agenda through Agent Keen.
Perhaps motives will come to light now that Keen has begun to uncover the secret life that her husband had been keeping from her, and that Reddington seemed to know all about. Secrets and lies.
Come back for more sparks between Reddington and Keen on "The Blacklist," Mondays at 10 p.m. ET on NBC.
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