At the end of The Blacklist’s third season Liz Keen (Megan Boone) was kidnapped by Alexander Kirk (Ulrich Thomsen), a man who claimed to be her biological father. The plot development was the latest in a long line of twists the show has thrown at viewers when it comes to the identity of Liz’s father and that mystery remains at the heart of the show’s fourth season. Will we ever find out the identity of Liz’s father? Is it Alexander Kirk or is it really Reddington (James Spader), as many fans have suspected since the beginning of the series?
The Blacklist: The Complete Fourth Season spends a lot of time on those questions with plenty of misdirection, twists and curveballs. Unfortunately it just becomes pretty frustrating that we’re still at this point all these years on. Season 4 is very much a season of two halves with the first 9 episodes dealing with the Alexander Kirk arc and the rest of the season concentrating on an enemy of Reddington’s trying to take down his empire. For me, the second part of the season is the most interesting and I’m hoping that as we move into the fifth season the identity of Liz’s father is put to rest once and for all.
After a creative resurgence during season 3 that saw Liz and Red on the run, and Liz fake her own death to try and raise her child without fear for their lives, The Blacklist hits a bit of a slump again during season 4. Part of that is the obsession around Liz’s father, which gives the season a slow start. Another problem the show has is a Tom Keen (Ryan Eggold) problem. Tom is removed from the show part way through as the character got his own spin-off The Blacklist: Redemption. Up until that point he had nothing much to do and felt like spare part, which is a real shame as Eggold is a fine actor and Tom a great character. With The Blacklist: Redemption cancelled after one short season, Tom will be back in the fold for season 5 but I hope he actually gets decent material.
Season 4 becomes much more interesting once the Alexander Kirk storyline concludes but it isn’t until episode 16 that it really finds its feet again. The last 7 episodes are easily the season’s strongest as Red uncovers who is trying to bring his business down. The story arc is thrilling and it reminded me why I watched The Blacklist in the first place. Dare I say that by the final episode I actually was a bit misty eyed at what had transpired and very much looking forward to another season, whereas earlier in the season I’d made peace with the fact it could have been the last.
One of the problems that The Blacklist continues to have is that it doesn’t know what to do with all of its characters. Aside from Tom, the writers make Samar (Mozhan Marno) almost unrecognisable and unbearable this season as she mopes around in a bad mood for the majority of it. Similarly Ressler (Diego Klattenhoff) doesn’t get a whole lot to do but Klattenhoff’s limited range makes it difficult for the character to believably handle any real meaty material. Thankfully the writers continue to serve Aram (Amir Arison) well and he, as always, is the show’s secret weapon.
Special features on the boxset include featurettes (A Darker Shade of Red is a Blu-ray exclusive), a gag reel, deleted scenes and commentaries on three episodes.
The Blacklist: The Complete Fourth Season is a bit of a mixed bag. I’m beginning to wonder if the writers are starting to run out of ideas and the show really needs to knock it out of the park during season 5 if it wants to make it to a season 6. Season 4 is a bit of a muddled mess that proves frustrating and lacklustre until it hits the final seven episodes. Thankfully it pulls it back by the end but this isn’t the show that has kept me hooked for several years. James Spader and Megan Boone remain the main incentives to watch the show and I’m hoping they are both served with better material in season 5.
Cast: James Spader, Megan Boone, Diego Klattenhoff, Ryan Eggold, Mozhan Marno, Amir Arison, Harry Lennix, Hisham Tawfiq Certificate: 15 Duration: 945 mins Released By: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment Release Date: 14th August 2017