So, I thoroughly enjoyed the second episode of Redemption, “Kevin Jensen.“ I was fully invested in the rescue of Kevin Jensen, because they managed to build up an emotional story around him that made you get attached to the character, even though he really didn’t have that much screen time overall. As a journalism student, having the focus of the episode be the rescue of a journalist who would do anything for his story immediately hooked me. It was so refreshing to see a journalist be portrayed as the hero, rather than the sleazy reporter who just wants the first scoop on a story in order to make money – a stereotype that is a staple of so many other shows and films.
The story he was risking his life for was incredibly important too. He was reporting on the humanitarian crisis in the war torn fictional country of Kyrkistan, trying to get the stories of the people who live there out into the light. Now, it turns out that he was actually a CIA operative collecting information to save lives, but the premise of the mission is basically the same. However, I do wish they had just kept Kevin Jensen as a journalist, because it would have made more sense as to why the U.S. government wouldn’t want to spend time trying to get him or the information he had collected back. If the information he had collected was so important to the CIA, why didn’t they try to break him out of prison at all or at least go back and get his laptop that had the material he had collected on it? It just doesn’t seem like you would send an operative in on a mission and just give up on getting anything out of it when things go sideways.
The most emotional part of “Kevin Jensen” came when the team had broken Kevin out of prison and almost had him back across the U.S. border, but he was fatally struck by a bullet from enemy fire after they had to crash into a Kyrkistan police barrier. After everything they went through, they lost Kevin in the end. Now this was particularly devastating for Kevin’s parents, who thought he had almost made it home safe, and for Scottie who was like a second mother to Kevin after she lost Christopher (AKA Tom).
The person it was perhaps the most devastating for however was Tom. Before they left on the mission, Scottie had mentioned that Kevin was a childhood friend of Christopher’s, so with him died one more of Tom’s doors into his past, and no matter if he really remembered Kevin or not, he still had to watch his childhood friend die right in front of him. I usually don’t feel that bad for Tom, but watching him desperately try to revive Kevin even after the doctors had done everything they could made me cry a little bit, especially knowing everything that Kevin stood for. The only thing Tom could do was risk his life to save Kevin’s laptop in order to make sure Kevin died for something important.
But this wasn’t quite the most emotional part for me. To my extreme surprise, Solomon was the one to show sympathy to Tom, gently pulling him away from Kevin’s body and telling him to let go.
Now I don’t know if the goal of Redemption is to make everyone feel conflicted about some of the biggest villains who’ve been on the Blacklist, but this is a soft side of Solomon that we’ve never seen before, and I have no idea what to feel. On the one hand I know he’s evil, he kidnapped Dembe and threatened his granddaughter for god’s sake, and he’s killed a lot of people, but this scene was so tender and caring that I just don’t know how to feel about him. During the first episode I didn’t really feel much for the characters, but now, I would be pretty sad if either Solomon or Tom died. I think I’m coming to realize that I don’t hate Tom, I just hate him with Liz, because their relationship is so toxic. It’s two episodes in, and I’m already changing my perceptions of characters I’ve disliked since the beginning of the Blacklist. Bravo writers, I never thought you could make me like or feel bad for either Solomon or Tom, but you did it.
I’m actually really interested to see where Tom and Solomon’s relationship goes from here, because this team hasn’t been working together for very long, but it already kind of feels like they’re a family.
The next episode sees the team infiltrating a Soviet spy ring that builds replicas of American towns in order to train their agents for their future terror plots against America. This is a pretty crazy premise, but it looks like it could be a really entertaining episode. I love plots where characters are thrown in to sort of warped game simulations.
Check out the trailer for “Independence U.S.A” yourself below, and I’ll see you all next week!
The Blacklist: Redemption airs Thursdays at 10/9c on NBC.