The Blacklist 1.05 "The Courier" Review

A tv review article by: Natalie Amato

I’ll keep the synopsis brief this week. The show begins with a dream of Elizabeth Keen asking her husband, Tom Keen, about the supposed murder of a Russian tourist in Boston on their vacation and if he had any involvement. He begins to strangle her just as she wakes up. The camera cuts to a room with a man whose face the viewer can’t quite make out, where he is sitting in front of computer screens which show the different rooms of Keen’s home. For a few episodes now, these suspicious unknown characters have been watching Keen and her husband.

As for the plot, this episode revolves around The Courier (Robert Knepper). A criminal who is hired to make business exchanges between other criminals. Reddington receives word that this man is in town and notifies the FBI. Meera Malik and Elizabeth Keen are sent to intercept the contact. Unfortunately, in doing so they endanger the life of a ransom hostage, Seth Nelson, a 26 year old MIT grad, who was meant to be exchanged for 20 million.

In the interim, Nelson is locked in an air-tight rectangular box with only a couple tanks of oxygen. The FBI team has only until the oxygen tanks run out to find him. While trying to find the location of Nelson from his capturer, Laurence Dechambou (Barbara Schulz) The Courier escapes. Eventually Malik and Donald Ressler track him down but after a brief shootout The Courier dies without disclosing Nelson’s location. Eventually they find the location through Dechambou and arrive to save Nelson in the nick of time.  

One thing I loved about this episode is that the writers were creative with this villain. The Courier has congenital anhidrosis, which basically means he can’t feel physical pain. This allows him to hide evidence within his body. His genetic disorder is also the reason he managed to escape so easily. Within his body he had hidden a personalized escape kit.

One criticism I have of this episode is the way they addressed the issue of the box hidden beneath the floorboards of Keen’s dining room. Half way through the episode Keen receives a phone call from her husband. He’s upset and wants to speak with her. She believes it’s because she missed an appointment but the audience is shown it has to do with the box Keen found of her husband’s alleged passports, money and gun. What’s irritating about this is that those blasted writers now make us sit through the rest of the episode before Keen and her husband speak again. You might ask why is this a bad thing?

Because for the next 20 minutes of the episode I didn’t give a crap about poor MIT grad Seth Nelson trapped in a box. All I wanted to see was the discussion between Keen and her husband. And, just as Keen finally goes home to see her husband, the freakin' episode ends. In a sense I’ll admit it was brilliant writing because I’ll be darn sure not to miss next week’s episode. However, the placement of Tom Keen’s discovery was ill-timed because it detracts the audience’s attention from the rest of the episode.

Reddington and Keen’s relationship seems to be evolving as well.  Red asks keen to tell him what she’s found out about her husband. Rather than retorting with another question or sarcasm she complies. This may mean she’s beginning to trust him (especially after he rescued her in the last episode) or it could be that she’s simply becoming tired of playing games. Either way she was honest, and he thanks her for it, claiming that in his life he doesn’t encounter honestly much.

Also, towards the end of the episode Reddington has sent to Keen the classified files she did not have clearance to view about the murder in Boston which may have involved her husband. It will be interesting to see if Red is actually trying to create a relationship of trust with Keen because of their undisclosed past, or if he intends to use her in the future for his own endeavors. Either way, his play worked because after reading the files she went straight his place just to sit with him. Keen even states, “I don’t even know why I’m here.”

One issue I have with the series so far is that although they’ve had minor female villains, they’ve yet to have a lead female antihero. My guess is they’ll likely have one soon, but they’ve already had five episodes of male lead criminals. I’m not sure if they’re basing this off of statistics or if it’s just something they’ve subconsciously written but I’m hoping they’ll change it up.

Regardless, this was a great episode and I’m itching for next week when Elizabeth and Tom Keen finally discuss the hidden box under the floor. Maybe we viewers will even find out who the mysterious men surveiling Keen’s home are. It could be incredibly brilliant or horribly disappointing. Either way you should watch. Till next time!

Natalie Amato is a ninja cappuccino-slinging barista by day, undercover freelancing graphic designer, photographer, and writer by night (...and sometimes during the day). 

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