the blacklist review nbc pilot james spader 'The Blacklist' review: Megan Boone faces off against James Spader

James Spader makes his return to the NBC primetime lineup in the upcoming drama The Blacklist,” and fans can expect the same sort of camera-commanding performance he gave during his arc on “The Office.”

“The Blacklist” sets up its share of mysteries in its pilot as a promise for keep viewers coming back for more. But while the first episode’s plot is certainly engaging, it’s not what is going to keep people tuning in. It’s the relationship Spader’s character Raymond “Red” Reddington and rookie FBI profiler Liz Keen, played by Megan Boone, that keeps the show interesting.

All is not as it at first seems on “The Blacklist,” as Liz is first introduced as a nervous, late-on-her-first-day newbie but quickly reveals her prowess at her job. 

It’s a similar case with Reddington, as it never becomes clear what his motivations are or who he is actually working with. Is he actually trying to take down a blacklist of criminals as he claims? Or is something more sinister at work? Only time will tell.

Liz is an interesting case left to crack. Boone’s performance is impressive, especially opposite someone with the prowess of Spader, and her portrayal of Liz gives the sense that there’s a lot about this character that viewers haven’t seen yet. Sure, some of the implications given about her family are pretty heavy handed, but there seems like there’s a whole lot more to Liz than first meets the eye. That’s as engaging as any of the other unsolved mysteries left open-ended in the pilot.

As for Spader, it looks like he’s set to give a top-notch performance all season long. Even if the show plummets in quality after its promising pilot, he will be reason enough to keep watching. 

The criminal-teams-with-agent dynamic is nothing new (“Hannibal” is also doing a good job of exploring it on NBC), but it’s taking the journey of “The Blacklist” with Spader and Boone that makes this show so engaging. It only helps that they have a strong supporting cast featuring the likes of Ryan Eggold, Diego Klattenhoff and Harry Lennix.

“The Blacklist” premieres on Sept. 23 at 10 p.m. ET. Will you be watching?

Posted by:Terri Schwartz