Emmy episode analysis: Alan Alda’s scene-stealing performance in ‘The Blacklist’

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Alan Alda is an Emmy favorite from such shows as “M*A*S*H” and “The West Wing,” but will his guest role on “The Blacklist” win him another trophy? His episode submission for this year’s Best Drama Guest Actor race is “The Decembrist,” a game-changing hour for the series that saw the demise of his recurring character, Alan Fitch.

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SYNOPSIS: Red (James Spader) discovers Alan Fitch’s true motives as the Decembrist, but since they have a history together, Red decides not to kill him. Unfortunately, Berlin (Peter Stormare) has other plans. Berlin’s men kidnap Alan and put a bomb around his neck. The FBI have trouble defusing the bomb, so they take Alan to the command center and lock him in the same glass box where Red was once held.

A forlorn Alan tells a young agent not to bother trying to disarm the bomb, as he doesn’t want to put anymore lives in jeopardy. Red comes to visit his old friend and is able to get some information about a hidden safe in St. Petersburg, just as the bomb explodes and kills Alan.

Can this Emmy legend win his first trophy for “The Blacklist”? Let’s consider the pros and cons:


During his 11 years on “M*A*S*H,” Alda had unparalleled success with the Emmys, winning for acting (1974, 1982), directing (1977) and writing (1979). In addition, Alda won the short-lived Actor of the Year award in 1974. Most recently, he won the Drama Supporting Actor prize for the final season of “The West Wing” in 2006.

Alda might be helped by the fact that his character dies on screen, as voters could feel added empathy for the beloved actor.

His final scene with Spader is a true master class of acting, as both Emmy champs are at the top of their games during the emotional bomb sequence.


“The Blacklist” is not an Emmy favorite, as it’s only earned two nominations from its first two seasons. Alda’s nomination might have simply been the result of name-checking on the ballot.

Alda appears late in the episode and doesn’t really have an impactful moment until the bomb scene near the end of the hour.

If you think “Game of Thrones” is confusing, try watching “The Decembrist” out of context. There are so many call-backs and mysterious character relationships that voters may turn the episode off because they’re not able to follow it.

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