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Emmys 2017
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'The Blacklist' recap: 'The Major'

Nothing breaks up a greatest hits clip show quite like one of the biggest revelations of the series.

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Eric Liebowitz/NBC

The Blacklist

TV Show
Current Status:
In Season
run date:
James Spader

“You tell her the truth by telling her everything.”

These are the wise words of Dembe to one Raymond Reddington, spoken just after the biggest bomb of the night was dropped: Red hired Tom to spy on Elizabeth Keen before Berlin did. That’s their connection. That’s what’s been hinted at. That’s the truth.

Or is that the truth? What constitutes the whole truth? Does it have to be everything, as Dembe says? I know a lot of fans will see this episode of The Blacklist as a glorified clip show—30 minutes of recap for 10 minutes of action. And, truth be told, the playback did little but take a welcome tour of Megan Boone’s most unfortunate wig situations. Except for one of those playbacks: The reel with Lizzie and Tom. The one where she told the judge about their happy marriage, about the life they spent together; the one where every clip played with smiling Lizzie and devoted and bespectacled Tom Keen—the sexy shower, the renewal of vows, the baby shower—was a remembrance of the times when their “marriage” was most angst-ridden: the bloody hand print shower; the vow renewal right after Lizzie confirmed Tom was a spy; the baby shower when Lizzie pretty much knew she could handle a child and Tom first met Jolene.

What’s the truth? Is it what we remember? Is it what’s for the greater good? For an episode with so much telling, so much protecting (of the nation and of Liz), so much getting to the bottom of things, there sure was a lot of lying under oath going on. The recapping didn’t feel so much like recapping because it revealed something new about who Lizzie has become with each new set of answers to the judge’s questions.

We know that Lizzie has struggled with her relationship to Red, her anger, her questions, her care for him; but watching her defend herself—defend him—to someone totally outside of the twisted little morality sphere of the Post Office was a whole new angle. Hearing Liz admit, even sarcastically, that she sucks as an agent (her words, not mine… okay, also mine), but it’s not her fault, there’s no way she could have prevented her fate, felt a little bit like clarity on an often confusing character. The truth is that Liz didn’t ask for this life. The truth is that Liz’s husband was a spy. The truth is that her spy-husband killed a man and she let him. So, who is held accountable for the whole truth? Whose truth is most valuable? In the relative world of truth that most of the Post Office seems to be living in, what is Eugene Ames’ life, and the truth of his death, worth?

We play the cards we’re dealt, and when someone else is doing the dealing, the truth gets a little hazy…


The episode opens like any average Blacklister-hunting episode might: There’s a boy running through the streets of New York City in 1994. He’s clearly stolen a purse and is on the run from whoever’s trying to get it back until a town car pulls up beside him and tells him to get in. There’s a mysterious white haired man (aren’t they all?) inside who tells the boy, Jacob, that he’s been observing him and has an opportunity for him. He believes Jacobs’ “delinquent inclinations are exactly what makes [him] invaluable.” It sounds a little bit like he’s recruiting him for Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, but since it’s revealed in a quick flash that Jacob later becomes Tom Keen, I guess it’s more of a Bill’s School for Sociopathically Inclined Youngsters situation.

NEXT: Lizzie tells her story (with the handy help of remembering things she wasn’t even there for)…