IR TV Review: THE BLACKLIST – EPISODE 19 (“The Kazanjian Brothers”) [NBC-S7]

The repression of “The Blacklist” timeline as with many shows during the pandemic can be tricky. Some like the Chicago shows had enough to structure how to play it out and then just left certain narratives in play for next season. “The Blacklist” maybe at times more than most is so dense on double crosses and plot lines that it can be hard to shift easily that way. The crew in NY was halfway through shooting this episode “The Kazanjian Brothers” when the shutdown hit. Whereas it is not the ideal progression, the production angled in a way to make the episode able to be finished. Although the animation is a bit crude, it was integrated on a timeline so the ability to make it work is undeniably admirable without losing too much of the style of what “The Blacklist” is. One would think that much of the dialogue had to be captured in home correctly which again is tricky. What the thought process falls to, which is an interesting construct, is that possibly the production already uses animatics in a much more base format to plan out an episode, much like people used to do with storyboards.

The trick is making it more cinematic. In some points it works and in others it is a little more crude but it is overall effective. The subtleties of acting sometimes cannot be nuanced in this kind of animation which is less than photo real. However stage direction and internal dialogue here is used sparingly but importantly. Even the use of shadows and especially two beats of music in this season finale episode (now) really gives it a style all its own. The reality is that half of the episode was shot already but, as with most series, the episode is shot out of order depending on location. It is interesting to see what coverage was done and what was not. Surprisingly enough, some of the more dynamic scenes had to be done in animation which added to its graphic novel style. This probably wet to the point of bigger set pieces needing more live action set up. Again, once it is all said and done, it will be lore in “The Blacklist” canon but changes the game up a little while understanding that the audience will roll with the times as long as the creatives are using the possibilities to their advantage especially on a shortened timeline.

A-

By Tim Wassberg

IR TV Review: THE BLACKLIST – 150TH EPISODE (Episode 17 – “Roy Cain”) [NBC-S7]

The essence of mortality creates the approach for a sense of reality within the 150th episode of “The Blacklist” entitled “Roy Cain”. The reality of the episode stokes in the angle of Reddington (Jame Spader) looking to close in corners in order to get a fuller view of his future and his organization beyond his purview. Granted there is always something moving up his sleeve. The balance that works within this episode is the pedigree to a point of actors. Fisher Stevens as Reddington’s former lawyer is a nice balance and, of course, reference is made to his earlier roles. The actual underlying narrative only serves to prop up the bigger game which is more diametric which is a Godfather structure but with two sides pulling the prey back and forth. Reddington simply wants to put his own righteousness in play. An underlying point is that he plays the game but sometimes has to get his hands dirty still. The angle that worms its way into the evolution of his character here is that of faith versus fate which takes a front seat with an iman. However the underlying power play still, beyond the obvious family connection, is a little unclear. The fire is stoked but like all good series, the reveal reflects in the inevitable.

B

By Tim Wassberg