Blacklist: Season 4
As a form of entertainment, a proven success in all forms of media is the crime thriller. Regular, law abiding citizens can vicariously experience what it feels like to live beyond the restraints, protection, and consequences of the law. The crime genre is vast, composed of a myriad of categories ranging from organized crime to one of the most heinous offenses, high treason. Typically, a television series concentrates on one particular kind of criminal activity, but a series that premiered on the NBC broadcast network manages to be a lack of trades, mastering all, ‘The Blacklist.' The premise is brilliant in its simplicity and amazingly conducive to prolonging a serialized story. A man is known as the ‘concierge of crime,' Raymond 'Red' Reddington (James Spader). Over a period of twenty years, Reddington has established a vast organization of experts in fields that would expedite the successful execution of exceptionally high-profile crimes. These are endeavors encompass everything from major thefts yielding multiple millions to assassination and co-opting governments. This secure Mr. Reddington a place on the infamous FBI Ten Most Wanted Criminals list. The framework of the series has Red willing to provide the FBI with sufficient information to apprehend a list of the most guilty criminals in the world. The catch is he will only work with one FBI agent, Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone). Over the past four seasons, the writers have managed to maintain a superior level of entertainment. The key to this achievement to avoid the major pitfall inherent with an episodic show. The danger that frequently destroys some of the best examples of dramatic thrillers. When each week the audience a different ‘freak of the week.' The episodes were titled by using a criminal’s name or alias and their ordinal position on the list. Initially, this was the way the series progressed. What was so different that it was able to keep the story and principle characters fresh and exciting is how each season explores a different aspect of the relationship between characters expanding on the complex situations. Thus far, topics cover Red’s insistence of exclusively with Agent Keen, her mysterious background and a covert conspiracy involving a powerful shadow government in Washington D.C.
In this fourth season, a tentative state approaching normalcy shattered when Red’s organization systematically attacked. Individuals crucial to Red’s livelihood compromised, either killed or neutralized. Reddington is rapidly losing his financial security and his all-important reputation among the elite global criminals. What worries more than the staggering losses is the fact that the targets of these attacks are his most trusted collaborators. Some have been fiercely loyal to him for decades. These are people Red trusted with the most intimate and critical areas of his business and personal life. The list of potential perpetrators so limited as to be practically indistinguishable from zero. Red is a knowledgeable and methodical person. He has also learned through his years of work in covert intelligence. The first few episodes gave the impression of becoming a rather mundane extension of plot contrivances utilized too many times before. Specifically, Red having to once again rescue Lizzie from the clutches of one of the plethora of bad guys after her. Dutifully, her FBI teammates, Aram Mojtabai (Amir Arison), Samar Navabi (Mozhan Marnò) and Donald Ressler (Diego Klattenhoff) toss official procedure aside to help Red in something out of the prevue of the team’s mandate. Then, before die-hard fans can succumb to disappointment, the narrative takes a turn to the new themes described above.
The previous season continually stressed the fact that although Red is the epitome of a criminal mastermind, he has a robust code of honor. He has betrayed others but only with the proviso that they were reprehensible evil and warranted no respect or expression on honor. There were very few people that Red implicitly trusted with his secrets and life. The first natural suspect was a man perpetually adjacent to Red, Dembe Zuma (Hisham Tawfiq), ostensibly his bodyguard but realistically the voice of his conscience. The only reason Red was so ready to give in to such suspicions his he was recently betrayed by someone in his inner circle since he began his current career path over thirty years, Mr. Kaplan (Susan Blommaert). Despite the masculine name Kaplan is a woman. The audience was introduced to her in the first season as Red’s ‘Cleaner,' the person that can erase all evidence of even the messiest of crime scenes. The quintessence of meticulous planning and execution she is always just a phone call away. The revelation of her backstory is among the most intriguing and anxiously awaited moments so details would be branded as spoilers. Suffice it to say, Kaplan, aka Kathryn Nemec, has been an integral part of Lizzie’s life as an infant. Last season Kate, a name only Red would dare use, betrayed him when she thought he was making a drastic error regarding Liz. Knowing such a breach could not be tolerated Red took her deep in a wooded area and shot her in the head.
The reason given for Kaplan’s survival was plausible albeit a contrivance. This can be forgiven in this instance in acknowledgment of how it set the stage for an engrossing drama. A convenient metal plate in her head may superficially seem to be a form of Deus ex machina, but it is vital to consider the context. It was explained during the exposition of Kate’s story neatly entwined with the explanation of her masculine nom de guerre. This is worth mentioning since it is indicative of the exceptional production standards always associated with this series. It is among the most efficiently crafted series I have seen in many years. Beyond this measure of proficiency the writing, direction, and performances maintain such an incredible wealth of talent that there is close a literary feel infused in every episode. They can capture the attention of the audience, firmly holding it every minute of the show. At this level tropes and archetypes overused in TV become fresh and exciting. Betrayal such as Red experiences is one of the oldest themes impart into the stories of humanity. Red reacted the only way that was consistent with his professional persona; betrayal was a capital crime. Out of respect for their long friendship. Red could not defer the source to someone else. He was morally obliged to do it himself, look her in the eyes and make sure justice was as painless as possible. Kate had been mistreated and abused by almost everyone except for her girlfriend, Lizzie, as a child, and Red. The attempt at murdering her was understandably seen as his betraying her particularly a promise she gave Red s long ago, protect Elizabeth at all cost. She unconditionally believed she was keeping that oath when she acted. The major factor involved with the overwhelming success of the series is that it utilizes plot elements and themes integrally woven into the core of humanity. This dependency on these fundamental human motivations forges an emotional and psychological bond between the characters and audience. The season is not mired down with this one extremely weighty topic. The unfolding of these motivations and circumstances is interspersed with the continuation of the titular blacklist. After four seasons, all too many television series degrade, spirally into a faint shadow of their success, in contrast, this series not only retains its engrossing formula, it continually builds upon each providing twists and turns guaranteed always to excite the viewers. For fans there is great news, the series will go on to its fifth season.