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NBC’s ‘The Blacklist: Redemption’ Could Deliver Good Karma
February 24, 2017  | By David Hinckley

[Editor’s Note: Contains mild spoilers from Thursday night’s premiere.]

The Blacklist: Redemption starts with the premise that a bunch of bad people are trying to save themselves.

Skeptics might say the real mission of The Blacklist: Redemption, which premiered this week and will air at 10 p.m. ET Thursdays, is to save the Blacklist franchise.

As a spinoff from NBC’s original Blacklist, a solid hit that has now entered middle age, Redemption inherits some assets and liabilities.

Assets include Tom Keen (Ryan Eggold, top), husband of Blacklist costar Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone). Tom, who came close to being bumped off early in the Blacklist’s life, has proven popular enough that he’s moved up to costar in this one.

Blacklist fans, who have gradually and perhaps grudgingly come to think Tom’s mostly okay, will, therefore, be able to slide smoothly into the new show’s premise. Tom will be working with shadowy folks who have decided maybe it’s time to chalk up a few good deeds to counterbalance their many bad deeds.

Liabilities include the fact that the original Blacklist, like most “mature” shows, has ebbed in popularity because viewers have seen many of its tricks.

While Redemption tries not to simply give The Blacklist a different coat of paint, several of its premises feel more than somewhat familiar.

One, Tom has serious midlife issues stemming from never knowing his biological parents as a kid. If that sounds familiar, it’s because Elizabeth has spent the original series wrestling with that precise issue.

Two, the new team that Tom is joining takes on cases involving extreme criminals whose evil goals and vast resources place them beyond the reach of virtually all conventional law enforcement agencies. This too may sound familiar.

That said, Tom’s new team fields a good lineup. It’s led by Susan “Scottie” Hargrave (Famke Janssen, left, with Eggold), who is Tom’s mother but doesn’t know it. She knows she had a son, but still thinks he mysteriously vanished 30 years ago.

Now that’s a family secret with some gravitas.

The team also includes Matias Solomon (Edi Gathegi, above, left), one of the most charismatic villains who got away on the original Blacklist.

Now Matias has become a mercenary on the good side, apparently, and he’s an interesting teammate for Tom because he almost killed Elizabeth a couple of times.

The team’s other main mercenary is Nez Rowan (Tawny Cypress, below, left), and its computer hacker – you may have noticed that the computer hacker is the most valuable member of virtually every covert operations team these days – is Dumont, played by Adrian Martinez (above, left, seated).

Dumont is a little wacky, naturally. His clearest immediate trait is that he never shuts up about exactly how he’s performing his miracle hacks, which is informative though occasionally it goes on a little longer than our attention or perception span.

Further complicating the Tom genealogy subplot, we also meet his father, Harold Hargrave (Terry O’Quinn). While Harold has been eased into our lives through the last several Blacklist episodes, his appearance here comes as a mild surprise because he’s supposed to have died in a plane crash.

Secrets seem to run in the Hargrave family.

Which is consistent with the fact that “Tom Keen” has been keeping a steady stream of them for years.

In the bigger picture, Blacklist: Redemption is a sturdy show built on a smart premise. It’s heartwarming to see characters who have done bad things suddenly switch sides and try to do good things. We welcome the chance to like them.

The question may be whether enough Blacklist viewers are up for a similar show with a twist in the premise and mostly fresh characters.

Law & Order: SVU has outlived its mothership for years, so obviously it’s possible – and strictly in terms of dramatic content, Redemption’s premiere suggests it has the goods.

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