Blu-ray Review Crime

'The Blacklist: The Complete Third Season' Blu-ray Review: The hunters become the hunted, in season three of the NBC spy drama

August 3, 2016Ben MK

If James Spader's portrayal of the homicidal robot Ultron in Avengers: Age of Ultron reminded you of his portrayal of most-wanted-criminal-turned-FBI-informant Raymond "Red" Reddington on NBC's The Blacklist, you aren't alone. But whereas Ultron is more or less a one-dimensional character, as The Blacklist has shown over its past three seasons, there's more to Red than meets the eye.

Picking up in the aftermath of the shocking turn of events in season two, the third season of The Blacklist finds FBI special agent Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone) on the run, wanted for the murder of two high-ranking government officials and over a dozen CIA agents. Accused of being a Russian spy and hunted by the same FBI Task Force she was once a member of, Keen and Reddington embark on a mission to clear her name, by taking their fight directly to the Cabal, a shadowy criminal organization that seeks to reignite the Cold War between the United States and Russia, and whose agents have infiltrated even the highest echelons of government, including the FBI itself.

Of course, there's much more that can be said about The Blacklist than can be summed up in a single paragraph. Suffice to say, the series' blend of cat-and-mouse intrigue and government conspiracies has never been better — or more thrilling — than in season three, which makes good on the promise of the show's debut season. And though it's been challenged by the likes of ABC's Quantico, which covers vaguely similar ground, The Blacklist remains one of the best examples of its kind on television, thanks to its strong performances, steadily-paced action and thoroughly compelling character arcs, all of which draw viewers deeper into Red's world with each new episode.

As for the episodes themselves, here's the breakdown of what you'll find on Sony's season three set:

  • The Troll Farmer (No. 38) - The season premiere kicks off with the FBI hunting Liz (Megan Boone) for the murder of the Attorney General. Red (James Spader) and Liz are named to the FBI's Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list and set out on the run to evade capture. Red calls upon a Blacklister called "The Troll Farmer" to help them flee the city, while the Task Force must question who of their own can still be trusted.
  • Marvin Gerard (No. 80) - Ressler is hot on the trail for Liz after she escapes to the Russian embassy for safety. There is no one left for her to trust but Red, who enlists a lawyer named Marvin Gerard to get them out of a sticky hostage situation. Meanwhile, the FBI tries to force out Cooper.
  • Eli Matchett (No. 72) - Red and Liz take a detour toward the Midwest as part of their mission to exonerate Liz and defeat the Cabal. Ressler, Samar and Aram continue to track the fugitives and, in the process, stumble upon what could become a global food crisis. Meanwhile, Cooper turns to an unlikely ally.
  • The Djinn (No. 43) - Red and Liz continue their mission to clear Liz's name. Red enlists the help of the Task Force to help them find a woman called the Djinn, a matchmaker who fulfills revenge fantasies. They believe the Djinn can lead them to the Cabal, the next step in exonerating Liz. Meanwhile, Tom and Cooper form an alliance to help Liz and explore new leads.
  • Arioch Cain (No. 50) - An enormous bounty is posted for Agent Keen, drawing out any number of unknown assassins, while the FBI and Reddington join forces to protect her.
  • Sir Crispin Crandall (No. 86) - Red and Liz catch wind that Andras Halmi, a trusted advisor of The Director, has gone missing. In pursuit of finding Halmi, Red and Liz narrowly escape a violent confrontation. Meanwhile, Tom ends up in a brutal "Fight Club" to find the one man he thinks will be able to exonerate Liz.
  • Zal Bin Hasaan (No. 31) - As Red enlists Samar in the search for an elusive Iranian kidnapper, Tom presses a Cabal hitman to exonerate Liz.
  • Kings Of The Highway (No. 108) - As the FBI closes in, Red is kidnapped by bandits, forcing Liz to stop running long enough to find him.
  • The Director (No. 24) - As Aram struggles to protect the imprisoned Liz, Tom and Ressler team up to keep Karakurt out of the Cabal's hands.
  • The Director (No. 24): Conclusion - As Liz prepares to stand trial, Red scrambles to protect her from the Cabal.
  • Mr. Gregory Devry (No. 95) - As Liz watches from the sidelines, Red alerts the Task Force to a secret meeting of the world's crime bosses that's been called to punish him for cooperating with the FBI.
  • The Vehm (No. 132) - As the Task Force investigates a resurrected 15th-century vigilante group that's targeting pedophiles, Liz faces a critical decision about her future with Tom.
  • Alistair Pitt (No. 103) - Red and Liz work with the Task Force to stop a negotiator who has resurfaced to unite two rival crime families. Tom reconnects with a former flame.
  • Lady Ambrosia (No. 77) - The reappearance of a young boy who was reported dead years ago leads Red and Liz to a real-life fairytale character who practices human sacrifice.
  • Drexel (No. 113) - As Red and the FBI look for a serial killer who posts his victims' pictures for an online art project, Liz reunites with a gravely wounded Tom.
  • The Caretaker (No. 78) - Red pursues a Blacklister whose secrets are threatening to unleash a wave of revenge attacks. As she plans her future with Tom, Liz continues looking for the truth about her mother.
  • Mr. Solomon (No. 32) - After Reddington learns that a tactical nuclear weapon is being targeted by thieves, it's a race against the clock as the Task Force struggles to stop them — and prevent an imminent nuclear disaster. Meanwhile, Tom and Liz make a decision that will change their relationship forever.
  • Mr. Solomon (No. 32): Conclusion - After a tragedy puts a member of the team in grave danger, the Task Force must rely on Red and his unconventional methods to survive. Meanwhile, Tom and Liz face an unexpected complication that could affect their baby's future.
  • Cape May - A mysterious beauty on the run from unknown assailants accidentally crosses paths with Reddington and enlists his help to fight back against her attackers.
  • The Artax Network (No. 41) - After an unexpected loss devastates the FBI Task Force, they must track down their assailants — a mysterious group whose agents operate using a worldwide satellite network. Meanwhile, Reddington is forced to confront a ghost from his past — one who knows many of Red's secrets.
  • Susan Hargrave (No. 18) - When Red links an elegant, powerful and extremely dangerous woman to the recent tragic events, the Task Force is forced to play a deadly cat-and-mouse game to stop her before she strikes again.
  • Alexander Kirk (No. 14) - As Red and the team close in on the mysterious arch-criminal responsible for recent tragic events, they're forced to operate outside their comfort zone — and outside the law — in order to take down their enemy once and for all.
  • Alexander Kirk (No. 14): Conclusion - A shocking betrayal leaves the Task Force racing to save one of their own.

Shot in 4K, The Blacklist is consistently one of the best-looking programs on television; and this Blu-ray continues to do the series proud. Crystal-clear details like the pores on the actors' faces and the textures on clothing and objects routinely impress, and the overall result achieves that much sought-after high-definition pop, thanks to vibrant color saturation, deep black levels and a strong contrast ratio. If there's one complaint to be made, however, it's that an establishing shot of Washington, D.C. in the episode "Lady Ambrosia" appears to originate from a lower-resolution source, while another establishing shot in "Susan Hargrave" exhibits some minor banding. Otherwise, this is a uniformly excellent transfer, and one that does well in upholding the show's high-caliber visuals. Turning to the audio, the discs' DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix proves to be an ideal accompaniment to the 1080p image, providing a nice balance between the dialogue and music and the more action-oriented sound effects, which include automatic weapons fire, explosions, body blows, and police and ambulance sirens, to name a few.

Sony's five-disc Blu-ray release includes an UltraViolet digital copy and the following Blu-ray extras:

  • Creating the Stunts: Script to Screen (11:10) - A look at the process of bringing the show's action sequences to the screen, with a focus on sequences from the episodes "The Director" and "Mr. Solomon."
  • All About Aram (10:49) - The filmmakers and actor Amir Arison talk about his character, Aram Mojtabai, and his role on the show, his favorite moments and the dialogue.
  • From the Shadows: Villains of Season 3 (14:21) - The cast and the filmmakers talk about the show's latest slate of villains, from the Cabal to their favorite Blacklisters of the season.
  • Outside the Box: Making The Blacklist Comic Book (8:42) - Series Creator Jon Bokenkamp, Titan Comics Editor David Leach and Writer Nicole Phillips discuss her work on The Blacklist comic, how it expands on the show's television universe, and the creative process behind each issue.
  • Red's Gems: Favorite Lines From Season 3 (7:05) - The filmmakers talk about their favorite lines of dialogue of Red's from season three.
  • Deleted & Extended Scenes (40:56) - Thirty-five scenes ("Patience," "Stick Shift," "You Let Her Go," "The Bounty," "Broken Glass," "Lawyer," "Protecting Karakurt," "Into The Cell," "Budget Cuts," "Anger," "Death Certificate," "Watching Ethan," "Access to Ethan," "No Hard Feelings," "Speech," "Duct Tape," "Finding the Children," "Happy Reunions," "Gathering Information," "Mara," "Masha's Dead," "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," "Private Security," "Rooftop," "Red & Tom," "Getting to Kirk" and "The Switch") from fifteen episodes ("The Troll Farmer," "Arioch Cain," "Sir Crispin Crandall," "Kings of the Highway," "The Director," "The Vehm," "Alistair Pitt," "Lady Ambrosia," "The Caretaker," "Mr. Solomon," "Mr. Solomon: Conclusion," "Cape May," "The Artax Network," "Alexander Kirk" and "Alexander Kirk: Conclusion").
  • Episode Commentaries - Creator/Executive Producer Jon Bokenkamp, Writer Brandon Margolis and Co-Producer Kat Goodson discuss the episodes "The Director" and "Cape May," from where the episodes fit into season three and how this season compares to the first two, to season three's big twist and the show's direction going into season four.

The Blacklist: The Complete Third Season is available from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment as of August 2nd, 2016. Episode synopses above provided courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. The Blu-ray features English and French DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 tracks. The film is presented with English, English SDH and French subtitles. The total runtime is 16 Hrs. 20 Mins.

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