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Monday Night - Mini Review - Castle / The Blacklist / The Following and more

(Check out my TV ratings website, www.seriesmonitor.com

There is some excellent television on our screens at the moment, and Monday night is always full of surprises. Here's a rapid fire review of my favorite four Monday night shows.

Firstly, The Following, on FOX. I'm absolutely loving the sophomore season of this dark, yet captivating drama. Kevin Williamson and the creative team have done an excellent job reviving a storyline that was difficult to envisage being built to the level it has reached this season after the events in the first season finale. But last night's episode blew several more doors wide open, with the the biggest, aircraft hangar sized door, being the revelation that Claire Matthews is alive and kicking. I didn't want to believe Claire had actually met her end, and considering Joe Carroll made it through the first season, I thought Claire may be in for a chance. However I must confess that I'd given up on the possibility after the first 3 episodes of the season based on the direction the storyline was heading.

I think most close followers of the series would have predicted Micah would meet his end at some point, and that end happened to occur last night. The creative team deserve credit here for knowing when to pull the pin, because the timing couldn't have been better. The storyline was well built, and had run its course. With a sizeable army of followers now under the control of Carroll, I think we can hedge our bets on a skyrocketing body count in the coming fortnight at least. Carroll isn't the same man that he was in the first season, but neither are the other characters, which balances things out very nicely. There's plenty to look forward to next Monday night!

Onto the first of the 10pm shows now, starting with NBC's The Blacklist. After a fortnight off our screens, last night's episode wasted little time completely changing the course of the series. The creative team deserve a lot of credit here for the well thought out storyline development shown early in the season. Tom's integrity was carefully fractured to leave plenty of doubt in the mind of the viewer, but with almost no evidence to support any suspicion. The weekly villain did a lot more damage than usual, and it was very good to see Agent Ressler getting in the thick of it. But the main player in this episode was, of course, Tom, who never hesitated in killing Jolene or Red's contractor. We are clearly on just the tip of the iceberg with this guy.

If you'd seen Liz jump in the shower with Tom earlier in the season, you would have thought that these two are an adorable young couple settling down for a life of happiness ahead. Despite the other life Tom has, there is some amazing chemistry between these two, that it almost wants you to believe that Tom's other life doesn't exist. But next week, the pressure on Tom intensifies as his cover crumbles, and I'm hedging a bet now that he won't be alive by the conclusion of the season finale.

A little more on Red for a minute. James Spader is an excellent actor, and without a doubt one of the top two or three on television at the moment. But what adds another dimension to the character he plays is how he always has such a powerful presence when he isn't on screen. You always know that despite the actions of anyone else, Raymond Reddington is always in control. He spent half his time watching ballet in last night's episode, but he knew exactly what was happening, and even managed to get Mako Tanida's head personally delivered to Ressler.

ABC's Castle was an absolute classic last night. One of the things I love most about this series is how a dark, dangerous, highly serialized episode one week can be followed the week after by something full of laughter and humor. Last night's ninja themed episode proved that once more. Christine Roum, one of the co-writers of the episode with Shawn Waugh, has written three other episodes previously, with themes based on the Da Vinci Code, Santa, and Bigfoot, so it was no surprise that this episode featured plenty of humor and banter between the characters. It was good to see Captain Gates making an appearance, even if she did fall victim to a stray throwing star. I'd love to see the behind the scenes clip for getting the star in the phone in the first place!

The actors deserve a lot of credit this week. Stana Katic doesn't get enough recognition for her performance as Kate Beckett. It's the light hearted episodes which showcase her abilities the best, in my opinion. Herself and Nathan Fillion bring an incredibly fulfilling chemistry presence, and this episode was one of those where you think "they'd made an awesome couple off screen". Needless to say that their future relationship will never be boring, but it was very thoughtful of the creative team to address this aspect of the relationship.

Finally, the last show I watched was CBS's Intelligence, but I don't have many positive things to say about it to be honest. The storyline was flawed from the start, as well as being too large in scale and scope for the series. This episode didn't have enough of what makes the series good - there was little chemistry shown between the lead characters, the storyline, as I said earlier, was flawed, and the use of the secondary characters was poorly executed.

For a series which had a terrible pilot and second episode by the standards set by other freshmen this season, Intelligence had improved significantly as the season has progressed, but this episode undid a lot of that good work, and with what's very likely the penultimate episode of the series next week, I hope things get more or less back on track so the series can wrap up on good terms with the viewers who have stuck around to see it out.

Thanks for reading. Remember you can see comprehensive ratings and analysis for all four shows I've mentioned, on my website, www.seriesmonitor.com

Don't forget to share your Monday night highlights from your favorite shows in the comments below!

About the Author - Jimmy Ryan
Jimmy Ryan lives in New Zealand. He is an avid follower of drama television and has a keen interest for television ratings and statistics. Some of his favorite shows right now are Person of Interest, Scandal, House of Cards, Orphan Black, The Blacklist, and Castle. You can visit his television ratings website, www.seriesmonitor.com or follow him on Twitter, @SeriesMonitor.

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