‘The Endgame’ evaluation: Morena Baccarin stars in NBC’s newest ‘The Blacklist’-like drama

Like “The Blacklist” (which has lingered previous its expiration date), the collection opens with Baccarin’s Elena Federova, a world arms trafficker with only a tuch of a Natasha Fatale accent and loads of gleaming menace in her eyes, taken into custody by the FBI. However it’s rapidly demonstrated that she’s taking part in a a lot greater recreation and several other steps forward of them, together with her operatives hitting seven banks round New York Metropolis, towards what finish stays to be decided.

“You’ve got messed with the fallacious lady,” Elena informs her captors, later warning them, “Do not poke the tiger with a brief stick.”

Though the massive brass are predictably clueless, one agent, Val Turner (“First Wives Membership’s” Ryan Michelle Bathé), has a historical past with Federova, recognizing the scope of the plot. But she comes with baggage within the type of her disgraced husband, whereas clearly representing the one particular person on the opposite facet of the chessboard that the legal mastermind respects.

Not like “Blacklist” and certainly many community crime dramas, “Endgame” proceeds on a densely serialized path, laying out not solely this elaborate plot however flashbacks involving Elena’s upbringing and marriage to Sergey (“The Individuals'” Costa Ronin), a construction that does present some hope of teasing this out for some time.

That mentioned, “The Blacklist” labored finest throughout that preliminary introduction to Reddington, changing into extra tedious because it piled up purple herrings and kicked the can down the street. One profit right here is that the battle feels extra targeted, establishing a basic battle of wits between the central duo, with Elena having seemingly calculated every potential state of affairs and anticipated each eventuality.

Created by Nicholas Wootton, this collection may face comparable hurdles over time, but it surely’s extremely inventive within the early going, right down to Elena negotiating, in the midst of every part else, to take care of her nicer-than-prison-orange wardrobe. Plus, it launches after loads of promotion within the Olympics and Tremendous Bowl — hardly an assurance of success however not chopped liver both, even within the streaming age.

For now, “The Endgame” makes sufficient of the proper strikes to encourage curiosity about the place this intricate scheme finally leads. Whereas it does not let you know a lot about its endgame, as this type of train goes, that is a superb place to begin.

“The Endgame” premieres Feb. 21 at 10 p.m. ET on NBC.

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