The Endgame Review 2022 Tv Show Series Season Cast Crew
With The Blacklist currently in its ninth season, NBC executives may have decided they needed another convoluted thriller about a manipulative criminal mastermind working with an upstanding FBI agent to take its place. It’s hard to think of any other explanation for the Blacklist clone The Endgame. The series jumps right into its premise without taking the time to set up its elaborate, globe-spanning conspiracy.
International arms dealer and crime boss Elena Federova (Morena Baccarin) saunters into a secure holding facility at New York’s Fort Totten like she owns the place — because she pretty much does. A combination of The Blacklist’s Red Reddington, a comic book supervillain, and Jigsaw, Elena is ostensibly being held on 105 federal criminal charges related to her illegal activities over the preceding decades. She’s clearly considered a high-profile prisoner since the FBI director, the U.S. attorney general, and the secretary of homeland security are all attending her interrogation. Dressed in a luxurious blue gown that one character derisively refers to as a “prom dress,” Elena is never concerned about any of the threats that these high-level government officials make against her. She has the upper hand from the moment she arrives, and her plans are so effective that there’s no suspense in how they’ll play out.
Shortly after Elena arrives at Fort Totten, armed robbers storm into a New York City bank labeled for viewers as “Bank 1.” Elena’s associates have infiltrated seven New York City banks and completely thwarted any attempts by the police to stop them. They can easily broadcast their video messages onto supposedly secure monitors in Fort Totten. They have also set detailed morality traps for the officials holding Elena like a less gory and network-friendly version of Saw. As the title implies, this operation is the endgame of Elena’s long-running criminal empire — something another show would take several seasons to explore.
At least with multiple seasons of build-up to establish Elena as a formidable villain, the absurdly complicated plan might make more sense. Instead, she comes across as nearly omnipotent, even in small moments like slipping taunting notes into the pockets of her interrogators as if she’s some kind of street magician. It’s laughable rather than intimidating. It doesn’t help that creators Nick Wootton and Jake Coburn write unconvincing dialogue. Baccarin is a genre veteran and a capable actor, but even she can’t make Elena into a believable character. In the two episodes available for review, Elena never leaves her spacious holding cell — aside from brief flashbacks — and it’s tough for Baccarin to have a commanding presence from a single room.
The Endgame balances Elena’s calculating evil with the moral integrity of FBI agent Val Turner (Ryan Michelle Bathé), who’s been tracking Elena for years. Val is initially shut out of the investigation, but after demonstrating her knowledge of Elena’s tactics and motives, she’s eventually brought in to interrogate Elena. Of course, that was Elena’s plan all along. The villain keeps dropping cryptic hints that she and Val are kindred spirits and will soon team up. Val’s husband, a former FBI agent, is in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. Obviously, it all connects back to Elena’s mysterious master plan.
Val has more freedom of motion than Elena does, but she’s just as one-dimensional a character. Bathé plays her as blandly principled and determined. She’s a generic loose cannon who drives everywhere as if she’s in a Fast & Furious movie, always careening around corners with screeching tires. Fast & Furious veteran Justin Lin directed The Endgame’s pilot with the same level of grace and subtlety he brings to the car-chase franchise. At least there’s a sense of shared camaraderie to the Fast & Furious characters, but Elena and Val never establish the personal rapport necessary for The Endgame to connect emotionally.
When a series starts with the endgame, it leaves itself nowhere to go. Even after just two episodes, it’s tough to see how the creators of The Endgame are going to continue raising the stakes. “What is the point of this?,” asks the homeland security secretary as she’s being subjected to Elena’s multi-part torture/blackmail scheme, and that question will likely be on viewers’ minds as well. Nothing in The Endgame’s opening episodes comes close to providing an answer.