Not to be missed new TV: #TheBlacklist and why Red may become a TV icon

It’s hard to like people. It’s really hard to like people who kill. And yet. The return of “Blacklist” this past week is a reminder of why we favor the morally grey folks if they’re charismatic enough with a thread of justice that appeals to our most basic core. It will probably continue to be one of the top-rated shows of the new crop of shows due to tight writing, constant suspense and action mixed with emotional moments and strong characters.

JamesSpader_redThat mix is not easy to find but this show makes it seem easy. The star of the show has the rare distinction of being worthy of that title. James Spader, he of the bad-boy-gorgeous feathered hair in the in-club of the 80s Brat Pack, may have created a character in Red that, if the show continues its success, will become iconic. Red is just that distinct. You like and root for him even as he’s committing horrifying acts. He has a moral code that runs right in our DNA but utterly wrong for the justice system. I personally couldn’t watch Dexter but I watch Red.

In “Blacklist,” there’s no one formula as to who will be the villain. Sometimes the suspense is in how they will catch him, sometimes  the villains aren’t always easy to spot, or they’re not easy to dismiss as being evil, as this week’s “The Good Samaritan Killer.” Walking the tightrope of morality may not make for a good life but it makes for the best drama.

And the overarching questions still remain: who is Red to Lizzy and what about Liz and Tom? Did Tom really go for an interview in Nebraska? Is he as nice as he seems? Does he have shades of grey or is he in the evil category…or just an innocent bystander in Red’s mind games? Liz’s house is not clean but is it literally her house?

In classic Hitchcock fashion, there is a delicate balance between the audience knowing more than the characters (oh, Liz, if you only knew what Red did to your dad), the answers being fuzzy (we sort of kind of know the mole but wait, oh, we didn’t), and totally having no idea (what the hell happened to you, Red?). So far, “Blacklist” is doing a remarkable job balancing these three.

The writers of this past episode, the writing team of Brandon Margolis and Brandon Sonnier, discuss what went into the writing of this past episode here  (SPOILERS!).

Mondays on NBC, 10pmEST/9pmC

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