James Spader (Boston Legal, The Practice) first gained notice during the 1980’s, arrogant and eccentric characters in films such as Pretty in Pink, Less Than Zero, Wall Street and Sex, Lies, and Videotape, for which he received the Best Actor Award at the Cannes Film Festival. Long a well-respected actor, these early roles as “the man everyone loved to hate,” undoubtedly prepared him well for his latest role as Raymond “Red” Reddington on The Blacklist. A former U.S. Navy officer turned high-profile criminal, who is now a confidential informant for the FBI.

As the second season of The Blacklist ended, Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone) found herself framed for murder by the Cabal leadership. Now wanted for several murders, and accused of being a Russian spy, Keen is on the run, hunted by the FBI Task Force she once worked for. Raymond “Red” Reddington (Spader) is determined to help Keen clear her name.

Even as the Task Force are on the hunt for Keen, they have their own issues. Donald Ressler (Diego Klattenhoff) is in charge, because Keen’s former partner Cooper (Harry Lenox), is implicated in Keen’s crimes. While Ressler isn’t completely convinced about Keen’s guilt, he’s dedicated to bringing her in. The rest of the team believes Keen is innocent. Some go so far as to ‘help” Reddington.

The two go deep into Red’s former world and straight to the Cabal, a criminal organization that is determined to reignite the Cold War. Their agents have infiltrated the highest levels of the United States government including the FBI. During all of this, Keen discovers she’s pregnant by her estranged husband Tom (Ryan Eggold), which necessitates a reevaluation of her life in general, and her ongoing involvement with Reddington. Once Elizabeth Keen’s baby is born, most of the remaining episodes focus on Tom Keen, as a way of laying the groundwork for a new series, The Blacklist: Redemption set to debut later this year.

While the series producers risked taking on too much in a single season, they did an admirable job in continuing the forward momentum a show like The Blacklist requires. In the interest of those who haven’t had a chance to watch the third season, I won’t reveal how things ended. Suffice to say though, there are some surprising twists that take The Blacklist in an interesting direction, while stoking curiosity about the Redemption spinoff.

The cast is a strong one. The standout continues to be the performance of James Spader. Red has an irreverent sense of humor, but he’s a really bad guy. Yes, he’s helping people, but he’s doing so because it serves his purposes. He’s also determined to be close to Elizabeth; clearly there’s more to their connection than meets the eye. Red has moments of kindness; he kills without blinking an eye. Red is not a likeable character, yet Spader makes him compelling. Not unlike several characters Spader played in the 1980’s, his Raymond “Red” Reddington is a character you love to hate.

Spread over five discs, Sony has provided a stellar 1080p presentation framed at 1.78:1. The image is clean throughout, with solid black levels. Details are near reference level. Colors are bright and vivid, and fleshtones appear normal. Close-ups are impressive, revealing every crease in James Spader’s face. This is great looking stuff.

The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 serves the series well. Dialogue is clean, and clear throughout, with the subs adding depth. Surrounds kick in during a serious gunfight, giving things an immersive feel. Nothing to complain about here.

English, English SDH, and French subtitles are included.

The following extras are available:

  • Commentaries: Series creator Jon Bokenkamp joins producer Brandon Margolis and writer Kat Goodson to discuss two of Season Three’s pivotal episodes. “The Director”: With Jon Bokenkamp, Brandon Margolis and Kat Goodson (Disc 2), “Cape May”: With Jon Bokenkamp, Brandon Margolis and Kat Goodson (Disc 4).
  • Deleted and Extended Scenes: Disc 1:) The Troll Farmer Patience, Stick Shift, You Let Her Go 5.) Arloch Cain The Bounty, Broken Glass Disc 2: 6.) Sir Crispin Crandall Lawyer, 8.) Kings of the Highway Protecting Karakurt 9.) The Director Into the Cell Disc 3: 12.) The Vehm Budget Cuts 13.) Alistair Pit Anger 14.) Lady Ambrosia Death Certificate, Watching Ethan, Access to Ethan, No Hard Feelings, Speech, Duct Tape, Finding the Children, Happy Reunions Disc 4: 16.) The Caretaker Gathering Information 17.) Mr. Solomon Mara 18.) Masha’s Dead 19.) Cape May On the Beach, By the Fire, Away from the Window, Breaker Box, Axe, Have You Ever Killed Anyone?, Finding the Keys, Through the Kitchen, Just Me Disc 5: 20.) The Artax Network Private Security 22.) Alexander Kirk Rooftop, Red & Tom, Getting to Kirk 23.) Alexander Kirk: Conclusion The Switch.
  • Capturing the Stunts: Script to Screen (Disc 4, HD, 11:10) Bokenkamp and members of the cast and crew discuss how various stunts are evolved in the writing process, and accomplished.
  • All About Aram (Disc 4, HD, 10:49) A look at the series’ resident computer specialist.
  • From the Shadows: The Villains of Season 3 (Disc 5, HD, 14:21) James Spader participates in this overview of the third season’s cast of villains.
  • Outside the Box: Making The BlacklistComic Book (Disc 5, HD, 8:42) Staff writer Nicole Phillips discusses the creation of the Titan Comics series that matches and “teases” the series, with contributions from producers and cast.
  • Red’s Gems: Favorite Lines from Season 3 (Disc 5, HD, 7:05) A collection of Red’s best lines from throughout the season.
  • UltraViolet Copy.

The Blacklist: The Complete Third Season (Blu-ray)
4 Reviewer