The “Blacklist” spinoff felt like two very different shows over its first two episodes: The first was an “Ocean’s Eleven”-esque heist, complete with split-screen, tuxedos and jaunty music. The second was much more serious, connecting to Scottie (Famke Janssen) on a personal level and giving the show some much-needed gravitas.
We can’t help but notice that Thursday’s (Mar. 9) third episode, “Independence, U.S.A.” originally fell second in the miniseries’ run, which could explain a lot — both in terms of tone and, happily, the way this story managed to combine those elements above into a frothy episode that whipped between absurd and serious — in a good way — and then managed to bring it all home… With a connection we should have seen coming, but were actually a little surprised by.
The case of the week sends Tom (Ryan Eggold) and (Tawny Cypress) undercover in “Independence,” a town in Russia where agents train to go undercover as Americans — and boy, did we have fun imagining Philip and Elizabeth Jennings being trained in a facility like this. It was like “The Americans” meets “Wayward Pines.” (A combo-show we would totally watch, by the way, so if “The Blacklist” wants a second spinoff that goes in an entirely different way, we’re in.)
It turns out, however, that these agents aren’t planted in American with a cover story, “becoming” U.S. citizens — they’re assuming real identities of people they’re surgically altered to look like, and then literally become that person in the U.S. It’s “The Americans” taken to a whole new level, and makes for a very entertaining (and creepy) case of the week.
But the delightful twist comes after Scottie and Solomon (Edi Gathegi) spend all episode tracking down a private investigator Howard (Terry O’Quinn) hired to look for his son, Christopher: While Scottie’s hot on the trail to find out what the investigator uncovered, Howard is interested in learning more about the mission from Tom — because he suspects Scottie is a Russian sleeper agent.
Apparently, a few months after Christopher disappeared, Scottie was in a terrible car accident (which everyone suspected might have been a suicide attempt) and was never the same — everyone attributed it to her son’s disappearance, but Howard’s suspected for a while that she was actually replaced.
Yes, it sounds totally insane — but it would also add a really interesting wrinkle to “The Blacklist: Redemption,” since guess who else was born in Russia? Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone), of course. The “Blacklist” writers could have in place something far larger than we could’ve suspected, if it turns out Masha and her mother, Katarina Rostova (Lotte Verbeek), are somehow connected to this program, and to the Russian sleeper agent who took over as Tom’s mother.
Sounds farfetched, but even if the Russia connection is a complete coincidence — or even if Scottie is exactly who she’s always been, and this is just Howard being crazy — it’s a great layer of intrigue to drop into the story to keep fans guessing… And opens the door to a lot of possibilities, for both shows and teams, moving forward… And puts an interesting spin, no matter what, on the concept of “Redemption” when it comes to Scottie. She’s the most idealistic member of her team, all protestations to the contrary — and if it turns out she’s doing all this to make up for mistakes she made in another life entirely… Then she’s even more like her not-necessarily-son Tom than we even thought.
“Blacklist: Redemption” airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on NBC until “Blacklist” returns Apr. 20 to complete its season, beginning with a two-hour premiere.