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The Blacklist recap: 'The Kingmaker'

The Kingmaker stages politically-minded deaths, causing trouble for Reddington, while Liz discovers the truth about her father’s end

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The Blacklist Kingmaker
Nicole Rivelli/NBC

The Blacklist

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

The puzzle of the photograph in the lockbox has been solved. (Quite promptly too. Thank you, Blacklist.) Kudos to those of you who guessed the photos from the lockbox were of Reddington suffocating Liz’s father, Sam. Close enough. Tom’s photos were of Red walking into the hospital the day of her father’s death. Liz spent the episode slowly piecing together the truth about her father’s final moments, leading to an emotional conclusion in which she confronted Red. Upshot: her desolate loneliness after swearing off Reddington pushed her into the well-muscled arms of Agent Ressler. (Kind of. We didn’t see that part, but I imagined it.)

While there was some solid action, this episode felt like filler, merely prepping us for the next two shows as we conclude season one. Part of that prep was introducing the various spy organizations in play. Let’s review. There’s 1) Red Reddington, working for himself and marching to the beat of his own drum; 2) Liz’s FBI black-op, a.k.a. The Post Office, run by Agent Cooper (and whoever Scary Gary represents). The PO “works” for the U.S. government on the occasion that it manages to successfully carry on an operation. Then there’s 3) Berlin, the insidious force that is plaguing Red and dismantling his empire. Berlin is not a place but someone’s name, according to the promo for next week. That someone employs Tom and formerly employed Jolene and Craig (RIP). Lastly, there is 4) Alan Alda’s ominous Alliance, the group that maneuvered Red’s kidnapping by Anslo Garrick earlier in the season. Alda is some sort of high-ranking government official, but he’s loyal to his own international crew of movers-and-shakers rather than the U.S. government (RIP Director Fowler). Side note: where does the Apple Man fit in? Was he working for the Alliance? I’m tempted to say he was, but I can’t remember for certain.

This week’s Blacklister is The Kingmaker, who is essentially an extreme political campaign strategist. He plays a deep game, plotting for years to put his clients in power with elaborate and deadly schemes. The cold open starts in Prague, where a politician named Emil Dusek is getting into the back of a car while his chauffeur mean mugs him in the rearview. The driver sniffs a lot (which we’ll come to realize is an annoying habit) and sports a golf cap, bad sunglasses and sinister facial hair. Could this be a disguise? Dusek works for Red; we know this because we hear him say into his cell phone, “Tell Mr. Reddington everything is proceeding as planned.” The driver then cranks up the heat until the passenger is wilting and prompts Dusek to drink a bottle of water, which turns out to be roofied. As happens with roofies sometimes, Dusek wakes up naked next to a male escort who’s been strangled to death. The Czech police burst in and arrest him for murder. Cut to the smug chauffeur, who is now dressed like a sinister banker, taking a drag off his cigarette in the airport and listening to a news broadcast announcing Dusek’s withdrawal from the Czech parliament.

NEXT: What does Dusek’s fall mean for Red?