Synopsis: The Black Widow gets up to her old tricks and snares a couple of reluctant informants in her web. If only her relationship with Barnes were so straightforward.
Review: Here we are at the half-way point, six weeks in. The pacing so far has been spot on. This installment feels exactly like the half-way point should.
“Of Monsters and Men” by Lindsay Smith picks up where the previous episode left off. Listeners are treated to two action sequences, an interrogation, and a marvelous scene with a more coherent Barnes.
I don’t call the two action sequences fight sequences, because that would imply Natasha’s opponents give as good as they get. She wipes the floor with all of them, demonstrating the elegant efficiency The Black Widow is capable of.
The outcomes are never in doubt. That’s where some of the entertainment value comes from. The rest of the value comes from the contexts in which the Widow gets to bite. The second sequence is within a flashback triggered by the first. The Widow bleeds through Melanie in a really artful use of the subway, reinforcing Natasha’s true self beneath her cover.
Listeners have gotten way too many callbacks to Natasha’s life as Melanie for them to be coincidences. At this point, it’s simply a question of when Natasha encounters the Chicago crew again and what the ramifications are.
Back in Novosibirsk, the pre-interrogation logistics are as much of a treat as the interrogation itself. The Red Room trained Natasha to navigate every variable. Most importantly, though, the interrogation serves up necessary exposition far more palatably than exposition is usually dished out.
After the interrogation, Natasha returns to Barnes’ safe house. Listeners can cut the tension with a knife. Normally, I’d shrug this part of the story off, because unspoken longing is usually handled so mind-numbingly badly in the modern era. This time, however, Smith layers it in with gentle maturity, and their dynamic feels organic and earned.
Sarah Natochenny continues to go from strength to strength. That said, her deliveries of the two action sequences are a highlight of this episode.
This is an excellent half-way point episode that serves as a marvelous first installment of the next phase of this story. I can’t wait to tune in next week!
- You can purchase Black Widow: Bad Blood here.
- Audio Production10