TV Review: ‘The Blacklist’ Crafts a Horrifying Recipe in ‘The Stewmaker’

Reddington’s (James Spader) next master criminal on “The Blacklist” is a creepy serial killer who is aptly named “The Stewmaker.” It’s worth emphasizing just how creepy and disturbing the Stewmaker/Stanley Cornish (Tom Noonan) is. A veritable master of disguises, this contracted killer drugs his victims and uses the “perfect” recipe of chemicals to kill. His routine also involves taking a photo and preserving a tooth in a jar as a trophy of his conquest. In his own words, he’s transferring energy and “converting” people back to nature.

To backtrack a little, Agent Keen (Megan Boone) is providing a key witness in a bust against Hector Lorca (Clifton Collins Jr.); the witnesses set to testify against the drug lord always disappear, which drops his cases and keeps him a free man. Reddington tells Keen that “something will happen,” because Lorca has reached out to him for a new identity and passage to another country. The witness is indeed kidnapped after one of the jurors is poisoned. Reddington remains unmoved by Keen’s pleas for help as he’s only interested in the big game, until the crime scene clues point to the Stewmaker.

Unfortunately, Lorca’s transfer to a high security prison is interrupted, leaving Agent Keen in the hands of the Stewmaker. It also forces Agent Ressler (Diego Klattenhoff) and Reddington to work together (for a few minutes) to save Agent Keen. Ressler finds Stanley’s wife and son while Reddington hones in on the dog’s tracking device in the hills of Maryland. Agent Keen is injected by a drug that will induce temporary paralysis but keep her conscious. Luckily for her, Reddington arrives in time to save the day before Keen is subjected to the boiling chemicals.

As in the second episode, Reddington is not above killing his targets. He voices Keen’s thought that maybe the serial killer can change and rehabilitate. However, he promptly disposes of the Stewmaker in the very chemical bath originally intended for Agent Keen. Even though Reddington had the “decency” to position Keen so that she cannot see his actions, the experience still comes off as harrowing for her and for us. “You’re a monster,” she tells him later. “How can you live with that?” Reddington responds, “By saving your life.” Here is yet another instance of Red’s devotion to Keen, a connection the series will undoubtedly continue to tease out for viewers. He gives her Stanley’s binder of victims, but not before he removes the photo of a woman. Who was the woman in the photograph?

Out of the four episodes thus far, three of the targets have died, thereby escaping apprehension by the FBI. Two have died at the very hands of Reddington, which is very telling about his sense of justice. It also begs the question why he bothers involving the FBI, whose initial tactics entail an attempt at making an arrest. What is Reddington’s ultimate goal with his Blacklist?

“The Blacklist” airs Monday evenings at 10|9c on NBC.


Author: Pat Cuadros

TV & Film Blogger @blogcritics

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