‘The Blacklist’ 5×01 Review: ‘Smokey Putnam’

The Blacklist finally made its return last night, with the season 5 premiere, “Smokey Putnam.” The episode opened with Red stealing cars and generally having the time of his life. Now that his criminal empire has been destroyed, a huge weight has been taken off his shoulders, and he gets to enjoy the ride back to the top. Of course, Red is rebuilding, and every decision he makes pushes  him one rung further up the ladder.

It makes sense that maintaining a criminal empire network would be exhausting, so we’re getting to see a different fun side of Red that we’ve never seen before. Not that we’ve never seen him joke around, but this is a new carefree version of him, and its a blast so far.

Not everyone is having a good time like, Red however. Poor Ressler is dealing with the fallout of Laurel Hitchen’s accidental death, and he’s digging himself into a hole that’s going to be extremely difficult to climb out of. Ressler used a fake name when he first called Henry Prescott to clean up the mess, but now Prescott knows he is FBI Agent Donald Ressler, and he has every intention of blackmailing him.

Prescott didn’t destroy the evidence of what really happened with Hitchen (even though it was totally an accident and not Ressler’s fault) he just hid it, so Ressler is stuck between a rock and a hard place. Cooper thinks Ressler had nothing to do with it, because the medical examiner ruled her death an accident, so it’s not going to look good at all for Ressler if they ever find out what actually happened.

One scene in particular that bothered me was when Cooper called Ressler into his office to ask him if he had anything to do with Hitchen’s death. He was immediately suspicious of Ressler, and ready to believe the worst of him. I think this is exactly why Ressler decided not to confide in him when the accident happened. There were no witnesses to corroborate Ressler’s story, so it would be his word alone that Cooper would have to trust, and I don’t believe that Cooper believes in Ressler enough to do that.

Of course, he was willing to help Liz however he could when she shot the attorney general in front of his face, but when it comes to Ressler he doesn’t seem to offer the same. I could be reading into this too much, but it seems that Ressler supports and believes in the task force more than they support and believe in him. If Ressler can confide in anyone to help him at this point, I think his only option is Samar and possibly Liz.

I’m just worried that things are going to spiral so far out of Ressler’s control with this secret, that he is going to end up in a much worse situation than he already was to begin with.

One major plot point that was continued in “Smokey Putnam” as well was the return of Tom Keen, with the briefcase full of human bones tied to Red. Liz returned home to find him in her apartment (he’s really only back because Redemption was cancelled) with the suitcase in the corner. She told him the news that they had finally done a DNA test and found that Red was her father. Tom seemed completely non-plussed and even a little confused by this.

I think the briefcase is hiding something about who Red really is, and the answer to the “Is Red Liz’s father?” question may not be the whole truth after all. I am so exhausted and bored with this story line that I wish they would just stick with their answer to the question and move on, but it doesn’t look like it’s going to be completely resolved any time soon. I miss the days of Red and the task force hunting down Blacklisters instead of all of this played out family drama.

This same scene also featured a bizarre premonition from Tom – or a flash forward scene? Of Red killing Tom. I can’t explain what this was yet, but one of The Blacklist’s main characters may be meeting a gruesome fate this season. From the season trailer, however, it looks like there is someone who looks exactly like Tom. The theory I’m running with right now is that Tom is a twin, or has stolen the identity of someone and the real “Tom” is the pile of bones in that suitcase.

All of this aside, “Smokey Putnam” was overall an enjoyable season premiere, if not groundbreaking in any new way. I’m hoping The Blacklist can find it’s footing again after an underwhelming fourth season and remind us all why we fell in love with it.

Check out the trailer for next week’s episode, “Greyson Blaise” and let me know in the comments below: what do you think that flash forward or premonition with Tom meant and whose bones are in the suitcase?

The Blacklist airs Wednesdays at 8/9c on NBC.

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