For the first time since it started, The Blacklist felt like it was running out of ideas during its fourth season. Coming off a third season high where Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone) faked her own death with the help of Mr. Kaplan (Susan Blommaert), season 4 struggled until the second half of the season when Mr. Kaplan put into action a revenge plan against Reddington (James Spader) for shooting her and leaving her for dead. Any fears I had about the show having run its course were put to bed with season 5, which is the strongest season to date.
With Tom Keen (Ryan Eggold) back in the series following his departure for the short-lived spin-off The Blacklist Redemption, The Blacklist’s fifth season is built around a mystery with him at the centre. In possession of a bag of bones that Reddington wants to keep buried and far away from Liz, Tom gets put in the crosshairs of both Reddington and an unnamed adversary. It’s around episode 8 where things really get going as tragedy strikes, leaving Liz forever changed.
From that point on Liz is kicking ass and taking names as she tries to get to the bottom of the tragedy and find out exactly what Reddington is trying to hide from her. Her journey reminded me of why I love The Blacklist as it’s packed with twists and turns, plenty of which you don’t see coming. It’s also a showcase for Boone to show a different side to her acting abilities. Liz is much darker throughout season 5 and she’s past the point of believing a word that comes out of Red’s mouth. It’s her vigilante justice mission that is the strongest part of the season and it builds into a very satisfying conclusion that leads nicely into season 6.
As always with The Blacklist there are some sub-plots that work and some that don’t. There’s an attempt to develop the relationship between Samar (Mozhan Marnò) and Aram (Amir Arison), which is a hit-and-miss affair. The worst sub-plot this season involves Ressler (Diego Klattenhoff) who is being blackmailed into doing illegal things by the fixer he hired after he accidentally killed Laurel Hitchin (Christine Lahti) during season 4. The plot goes nowhere and is forgotten about for episodes on end.
James Spader continues to be one of the best things about the show. After four seasons, he’s really in his own groove as Reddington and you can tell it’s a role he relishes. His biting dialogue, sharp retorts and despicable actions are still thrilling to watch unfold. He has a superb chemistry with Boone and the two are the reason why I still find The Blacklist such a compelling show.
Special features on the boxset include a selection of deleted scenes, audio commentaries on selected episodes, a gag reel and a featurette celebrating 100 episodes of the show.
By the season finale I really did feel like The Blacklist is back to its best. There didn’t feel like too much filler this season with the show concentrating on a very well-rounded and developed story arc. It leaves things up in the air, of course, but with the promise of a very focused sixth season. I wouldn’t be surprised if the sixth season is the last, although that hasn’t been confirmed at this point, but if it is then season five sets an epic showdown up beautifully.
Cast: Megan Boone, James Spader, Diego Klattenhoff, Ryan Eggold, Mozhan Marnò, Amir Arison, Harry Lennix, Hisham Tawfiq Certificate: 15 Duration: 900 mins approx. Released by: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment Release date: 13th August 2018