The repression of “The Blacklist” timeline as with many shows during the pandemic can be tricky. Some like the Chicago shows had enough to structure how to play it out and then just left certain narratives in play for next season. “The Blacklist” maybe at times more than most is so dense on double crosses and plot lines that it can be hard to shift easily that way. The crew in NY was halfway through shooting this episode “The Kazanjian Brothers” when the shutdown hit. Whereas it is not the ideal progression, the production angled in a way to make the episode able to be finished. Although the animation is a bit crude, it was integrated on a timeline so the ability to make it work is undeniably admirable without losing too much of the style of what “The Blacklist” is. One would think that much of the dialogue had to be captured in home correctly which again is tricky. What the thought process falls to, which is an interesting construct, is that possibly the production already uses animatics in a much more base format to plan out an episode, much like people used to do with storyboards.
The trick is making it more cinematic. In some points it works and in others it is a little more crude but it is overall effective. The subtleties of acting sometimes cannot be nuanced in this kind of animation which is less than photo real. However stage direction and internal dialogue here is used sparingly but importantly. Even the use of shadows and especially two beats of music in this season finale episode (now) really gives it a style all its own. The reality is that half of the episode was shot already but, as with most series, the episode is shot out of order depending on location. It is interesting to see what coverage was done and what was not. Surprisingly enough, some of the more dynamic scenes had to be done in animation which added to its graphic novel style. This probably wet to the point of bigger set pieces needing more live action set up. Again, once it is all said and done, it will be lore in “The Blacklist” canon but changes the game up a little while understanding that the audience will roll with the times as long as the creatives are using the possibilities to their advantage especially on a shortened timeline.
By Tim Wassberg