The Blacklist: Frederick Barnes

This week’s episode was hella crazy!

First, some random guy leaves a briefcase on a subway and whatever was inside kills everyone on the train car! And, it wouldn’t be an episode of The Blackist if Reddington didn’t already know who did it and what they are capable of. We learn that his name is Frederick Barnes and he is a brilliant scientist with the knowhow and the resources to kill hundreds of thousands of people at once, if he so wishes. He is dubbed “the most dangerous man in the world” by Reddington.

The FBI soon learns it is a very rare disease that killed these people; a disease that can take decades to show up. Somehow, Barnes has isolated it, intensified and accelerated it, and is using it to infect as many people as possible. And of course, Reddington knows Barnes’ supplier, located in the Havana. Elizabeth is invited to go, but refuses as she is still mad at Reddington for setting up Tom.

It turns out that Barnes’ old lab partner’s son has the same disease AND that it is actually Barnes’ son and not the woman’s husbands. The disease is extremely rare, so there is no cure found as of yet; not enough people are infected with it to make research profitable. That is why Barnes is infecting so many people; to create enough awareness that research for a cure will be done so that he can save his son.

After the subway, Barnes’ next attack is a federal court room full of jurors. Keen and Ressler attempt to stop him from distributing the deadly gas, but it is too late. By the time Ressler reaches the jury room, all but one person are dead. Meanwhile, Keen had spotted Barnes and chases him outside. They are at a standoff with a government official and Keen lets him get away. The survivor of the attack is taken to hospital, where it is discovered she has a natural immunity to the disease. Barnes learns this and uses it to his advantage; he breaks into her hospital room, takes some of her blood and returns home, believing to have found a cure for his son.

Barnes reaches his son’s home and attempts to inject the boy with his “cure,” but Keen takes him down before that can happen; that’s not to say she didn’t hesitate (AGAIN!). She seemed torn on whether to let this mass murderer attempt to save his son (remember, this is not a definite cure) or to take him down. She finally does her job and kills Barnes. After the ambulance, FBI, and coroner’s van arrive, we see Reddington observing the scene. The interaction between him and Keen next looks very painful for Keen. He tells her he will leave if she asks him to; she remains silent because she knows deep down that she needs him in order to find the bad guys and the truth about this weird relationship between her and Reddington, Reddington and Tom, and even herself and Tom.

Meanwhile, in an attempt to find Barnes, Keen grovels at Reddington’s feet, and admits she needs his help. He helps and all is well in that category. We see Reddington purchase an old house in Maryland for double the asking price (which, in this economy, is pretty pricey). We see him and his team enter the house, take a quick tour, Reddington describes that he raised his family in this house. As he is looking onto the front yard, we flashback to a memory of a little girl playing with bubbles on the front lawn. Moments later, Reddington and his team are loading back into the car and the house blows up.

One of the most interesting things about this episode, I found, is when Reddington says he sympathizes with Barnes’ need to “burn the world down” to protect who he loves the most. Now, Keen automatically assumes this is about her (a little egotistical!), but it really could be about anyone. As a viewer, we assume it’s about one of the Keen’s, not necessarily Elizabeth.

Again, the season-old question of “What is Reddington’s deal with Keen?” persists, but we are one step closer to finding out.

Tune in next week!

 

The Blacklist: Gina Zanetakos

Hi guys!

Sorry, I know this is a week behind, but school is taking up a lot of time!

Anyways, this (last) week we received even more development on Tom’s story, which I love. He surrenders himself to the FBI to prove that he has nothing to hide and knows nothing about the murder that happened in Boston when he was there for a “job interview” and the Keen’s made a weekend out of it.

This weeks Blackister, Gina Zanetakos, is a highly trained and highly skilled assassin who was involved in the Boston murder that we have reason to believe Tom was a part of. Reddington informs Elizabeth that Zanetakos needs to be found, because she could tell them everything they need to know about Tom, as they are supposedly lovers.

While Elizabeth is looking for her husband’s lover and one of the most dangerous assassins ever, Tom is being questioned and so far, his story is not checking out. Agent Malik touched base with the principal Tom said he met with, and unfortunately, the principal denies seeing him. Meanwhile, while searching Zanetakos’ apartment, Elizabeth finds her husband’s picture in a book, which also is not going to help Tom’s case.

After a bunch of ass-kicking and intense bad-guy chasing, we learn that Tom wasn’t an associate of Zanetakos’, and she has no idea who he is. She confesses it was her that killed the Russian agent in Boston because Reddington hired her to do so. Tom is set free and he and Elizabeth seem to be on the mend very quickly.

The episode ends with Elizabeth telling Reddington to “Go to Hell” because she thought she could trust him, when she clearly could not. Oh, and there is still surveillance in the Keen residence.

Last week’s (this) episode leaves us with more questions than answers. What does Reddington want with Elizabeth? Why was there a picture of Tom in Zanetakos’ apartment? How did those passports get into their house? Who is watching the Keens? What is the other piece to the story that they are not telling us?

Mad Men: Smoke Gets In Your Eyes

Mad Men: A term coined in the late 1950’s to describe the advertising executives of Madison Avenue.

They coined it.

In the Pilot episode of the series, we get just a taste of what the show entails: sex, drama, business, racism, and sexism. In today’s world (for the most part anyways), the racism and the sexism displayed in the show would be deemed unacceptable.

Don Draper (played by the ever-so-dreamy Jon Hamm) is the first character we see, as he sits in a loud and smoky lounge, struggling to come up with an advertising slogan for Lucky Strike Cigarettes.

Part of Don’s dilemma is that this show is set in a time when smoking is “becoming dangerous”; the government is intervening in tobacco advertising, and this is the era of tobacco companies beginning to put warning labels on cigarettes. But, nonetheless, he manages to pull it off in the end and we get the feeling that this happens more often than not, despite the unsuccessful meeting he has earlier with Menken’s, a Jewish department store.

Draper claims to know for a fact that “love” doesn’t exist; that it was invented by ad men to help them sell things. During the episode, Draper goes to see a woman, we get the idea that they know each other, that their relationship is pre-existing, and that she’s a girlfriend. Between this and his claim of non-existent love, we think we can safely assume he’s a bachelor, or at the very least, not married.

We later learn that Don is actually married with two kids: a family man with an affair on the side. He works in Manhattan, but lives in a suburb, so staying overnight in the city is not an uncommon thing, especially if you have to “work late nights at the office.”

The second focus of the episode seems to be Peggy Olson, (played by Elisabeth Moss), Draper’s new secretary. Our first impression of Peggy is that she is a very reserved person. You can certainly tell that she is not used to this kind of environment, despite her growing up in Brooklyn. This is to be expected though; after all, it IS only her first day.

Joan Holloway, Senior Secretary and Office Manager, is portrayed by the always-sex Christina Hendricks. Holloway comes off as helpful, but also very straightforward. She tells it like it is and gives Peggy all the facts up front.

The whole office dynamic is spot on for the era it is set in: all the secretaries are women, and that’s the only place we see them; everyone else is a man. The men talk to the women like they’re objects who don’t deserve a lot of respect. Women are often very sexualized during the series: something that is not uncommon in this time.

What is most interesting about the show, is that not only the men sexualize the workplace, but the women seem to as well! We often hear comments from both genders like, “You have great legs. I’m sure Mr. Draper would like them better if he could see them,” (heard from a phone operator) and “You’re in the city now, it wouldn’t be a sin for us to see your legs.” (heard from Pete Campbell)

The one character who begins with a minor role, but we know will have a more significant place in the show is Pete Campbell (played by the outstanding Vincent Kartheiser). He seems to be gunning for Draper’s job, or at least a position just as high as Draper’s. He is still very young (only 26), but he aims high. He butts heads with Draper twice in the first episode, so we get the impression he will be a very persistent character with quite the impact on the company. The other indicator of his importance in the show comes at the end of the episode when, after his bachelor party, he shows up not at his own home, but Peggy’s. The last we see of them in the episode, they are entering her apartment.

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Mad Men: Flight 1

Season 2: Episode 2

The episode starts out with an announcement that a plane has gone down; thankfully it’s not a Mohawk Airlines plane, but an American Airlines (the rival) plane. For some reason, this seems to spark an energy and a motivation in Duck Phillips that isn’t unanimous throughout the office.

We then learn that Peter’s father was on the plane and we see a whole different side of him once this is brought to the watcher’s attention. His attitude and the way he carries himself reminds me of when you finish a really great book series and you aren’t quite sure what to do with your life. It seems as though Peter has never had to grieve a loss like this before.

He wanders around the office aimlessly and for some peculiar reason, goes into Don’s office. Peter and Don don’t have a very positive relationship; it’s almost like Don is his work father and Peter is the son who can never seem to please Don. His relationship with Don is almost the exact same as it was with his real father which might explain why Peter goes to him.

As the episode carries on, we see Peter become more saddened by his loss and we begin to feel sorry for him for the first time in the entire series. He comes off as this lost soul who is conflicted about who to turn to for guidance. The real kicker though is that Duck decides he wants to drop Mohawk and take on American Airlines and asks Peter to attend the dinner in which he tells an executive at American Airlines! It is at that point the viewer begins to really empathize with him.

Duck however, has no apparent conviction over dropping a very loyal and perfectly fine company for one who is in serious trouble. And it seems that Don is the only one in the office (besides Peter) who sees the issue with that; there’s nothing wrong with the Mohawk account except for that it interferes with American Airlines. It’s not like Mohawk is poisonous to the company (it is actually the exact opposite; a Mohawk airline didn’t fall out of the sky unexpectedly). Oddly enough, Peter shows up to the American Airlines meeting, and he seems to push for it, rather enthusiastically.

Despite his objection, it is Don who is “voluntold” to inform the Mohawk Airline president about the change in business. Two things strike me about this meeting:

1. Henry (Mohawk Airlines) expresses his admiration for the Japanese restaurant he meets Don in, stating it “reminds [me} of Pearl Harbour.” This strikes me as interesting because this represents a thought process of what I’m assuming is many people at the time who fought in World War II.

2. Don is tempted by a waitress at the restaurant to hook-up in a way that is familiar to Don Draper and he declines. This is striking because this is at least the 5th episode in a row that we don’t see him sleeping with someone other than his wife.

And we mustn’t forget about Peggy and her little boy. This is the first time that we see her interact with her child; first in the middle of the episode when she visits her mother and sister, where we learn the child is living there and again at the end of the episode when Peggy shows up to church in what appears to be the first time in a while. When her family goes up to receive communion, Peggy falls back and is “stuck” with the baby, who does not take to her very well.

In her interactions with the child, it seems as though Peggy looks resentful and approaches the child with a sort of hatred almost. I guess that will happen when you are a Catholic woman who didn’t know you were carrying an illegitimate child. It also does not help that her sister and mother clearly are not entirely pleased with the situation and do not try to hide their feelings.

Brooklyn Nine Nine: Episode 6

HALLOWEEN EPISODE!

This show never ceases to amaze me and make me laugh!

This week, we didn’t see as much of the other leading characters (or so it seems) as we did last week; this week seemed to focus more on Peralta and Holt, which I love. The trend in the show seems to be that each week, a new “duo” (or duos) will be the spotlight of the episode which I also love. I am happy to see that the show is taking the diversity of the cast and mixing it up within itself, because there are very few shows that have such a diverse cast and even fewer that take full advantage of it.

Speaking of a diverse cast, I really do not think that you could replace any of the actors and still have a successful TV series. Every week I find that the cast works better and better together; every episode strengthens the compatibility of the different talents and styles of comedy. The ensemble is like a perfect dish that you wouldn’t expect to work so well. At first, you’re a little skeptical but decide to try it anyway and immediately, you’re hooked.

This show captivated me in a way that TV hasn’t done in a long time. Mad Men, The Office, Parks and Rec, and Arrested Development all took me a few tries before I got addicted. This one is different, though; it had me absorbed about 3 minutes in. I hope the crew working on the show notice this and go with it. So often, I see a show start out as the best thing on television, and then the writers get risky or quit altogether (as what happened with Community) and the show just gets completely botched. Sometimes, the show can bounce back when the old writer returns (Community) or when cast members return, but by that time, they may have already lost their fans.

This show has great potential and I’m confident that it will have a very successful run. Like Friends or Seinfeld.

 

The Blacklist: The Courier

Hello fellow bloggers!

So, we are on Episode 5 of this captivating series and I get more excited each week!

And let me tell you, the opening scene of this week’s episode is a promising one. We have been hoping this entire series that this moment will come and it has! Elizabeth FINALLY asks Tom about his possible secret identity AND HE GOES PSYCHO. Oh wait, NO SHE DOESN’T. Instead, she is going to pretend that nothing’s wrong or on her mind. I can’t stand that she won’t just man up and ask him. I may not be in a marriage like this, but I know I wouldn’t be able to keep this from my husband, whom I promised to be completely honest with. That is a legal binding document, I wonder if she realizes that.

Can we also take a minute and address the fact that she is an FBI agent and doesn’t notice that there are cameras in her house?! And I think we can safely assume that he’s also an undercover agent of some kind and has failed to notice these surveillance cams in their house as well.

I do, however, admire her frankness when dealing with Reddington. She doesn’t screw around, but rather gets right to the point, which makes her a terrific agent. However, I also admire Reddington’s vagueness sometimes. It keeps the viewer eagerly watching and keeps them hooked from episode start to episode end, it’s mind-blowing!

These episodes are getting creepier every week, which I’m normally not a fan of. I usually steer clear of creepy and unsettling, but somehow, Spader’s personality and poise keeps me calm and engaged; it’s amazing the effect some characters/actors have on the viewer. Every single week, this show begins to remind me of Fringe, as far as the villains are concerned, without all the science. Reddington would be Walter, who also happened to be my favourite character on the show; Keen would be Olivia, who also happened to be least favourite character on the show.

The one supporting character that I hope to see more of in the show is Agent Malik. I really hope that they tie her in as someone Keen can relate to in some way and lean on for support because at the rate the show is going, Keen is going to be left with virtually no one for a shoulder. One supporting character that I hope gets less significant is Ressler. At first, I thought he would be your typical d-bag coworker: cold and unwarranting and warm up to Keen after 2/3 episodes, but so far to no avail. I’m sure we will see some sort of character development for the better by the end of the season, but it’s very unnerving to have so many cold and almost uncaring characters so early in a season. The most caring character right now is Reddington and he’s a federal criminal!

Surprise, surprise: a villain will give us what we want, in return for immunity! This seems to be a recurring theme on the show.

Hooray! Development on Tom’s identity! This is promising news and the show just got a whole lot juicier. One of the best things about the show is the three different stories within a bigger story that occur: we have the regular bad guy (villain)-good guy (FBI) conflict, which kind of provides the “setting” of the show if you will; we then have the Reddington-Keen conflict which really draws people into the show; and finally, we have the Keen-Keen conflict that I truly believe to be the basis of the Reddington-Keen conflict. If there was no Keen-Keen conflict, there would just be the FBI (none of this focus on Elizabeth) getting information from Reddington about bad guys they need to catch and, at the end of the day, Keen would just go home to her wonderful husband and perfect home. Much less captivating if you ask me.

I can’t help but want more of Reddington in the episodes. Ever since the pilot, his presence is ever-so dwindling, which saddens me. I’m hoping that as we learn more about Tom and his what seems to be secret life, that Reddington will become more prominent in the show.

Aaaaaaand, of course, they save the day! Awe! Reddington gave her the information she needed. I am ever-curious about his relation to her; old family friend? Friend of her father’s? Her father? Hmm…

That ending scene though. I am now thinking that Tom thinks Elizabeth planted those things there, while she thinks they’re his! Intriguing…

The Blacklist: Pilot

So, I heard about The Blacklist on the radio about a week before the Series Premiere; and let me tell you, the preceding 7 days were the longest days of my life. The advertisement I heard was completely captivating and had me so excited for the Pilot, I could barely contain myself.

James Spader plays Raymond “Red” Reddington, an ex-government agent turned FBI Most Wanted fugitive, who turns up to the FBI with a proposition: he speaks with only Agent Elizabeth Keen (played by Megan Boone), he receives immunity, and, in return, he gives the FBI his “Blacklist” (hence the name of the series). This Blacklist is his own personal list of criminals so good at what they do, most of them haven’t even been pinpointed as criminals. Most of these people seem to be ex-diplomats, current diplomats, or seemingly good-doers.

The FBI is reluctant at first, but when Reddington’s advice proves to be correct, they decide to strike up a deal: are we surprised?

I’m not crazy about Keen as the main focus of the show. When we are first introduced to her, she seems to be your typical protagonist: young woman with a young husband (I’d say late 20’s, early 30’s), newer house, happily married couple. As we progress through the episode, however, she proves to be progressively more annoying. The real kicker is that at the end of the episode, she returns home to find out they are approved to adopt a baby girl! It’s almost too good to be true when she finds her husband tied up and bleeding at their dinner table, at knife point by this week’s Blacklister. After the process of checking her husband into the hospital, and lashing out at Reddington for “allowing” the Blacklister into her home, Keen discovers thousands of dollars, a gun, and plentiful passports with Keen’s husband’s face in them.

Red is a Hannibal Lector type character. The role was made for Spader with his horror movie antagonist lines and “stilted diction”. He is easily my favourite character in the show because of his utterly serious tone, but his witty and hilarious one-liners.

I won’t be tuning in every week just for the various criminals that the FBI will catch; I will be tuning in mainly for the story of Reddington-Keen and Keen. It sounds like there’s an interesting dynamic there and lots of room for a fantastic story for many, many seasons.

 

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