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'The Blacklist' recap: 'Quon Zhang'

Lizzie deals with a confusing case about ghosts and luck while Red doles out hugely important details from their shared past.

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The Blacklist

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

Just what Elizabeth Keen needs… on top of the murder-y spy ex-husband, and the murder-y criminal maybe-dad, Lizzie needs a little bit of ancient, undead bad luck on her side. That bad luck is earned tonight by way of not letting some guy who pets dead girls kill a woman so that she could lay next to her ex-fiance in the ground, thereby preventing his family from being haunted by anything more than the fact that they had a young woman murdered. Confused? Me too—but only in the least crucial of ways. I spent so much time trying to figure out what was happening with the Blacklister of the week that I almost didn’t notice all of the incredibly important big picture information that came to light tonight. Briefly: Liz’s mother was a Russian spy, Connolly straight up tells Cooper that he’s in the quaintly titled Cabal, and, oh, I guess we should start gearing up for fictional World War III because it’s a-comin’.

After unrolling so many answers in a particularly thrilling fashion last week, I was expecting the follow-up hour to be fairly plodding. That’s why it was a surprise to get to the end of this episode and find that we’d been given direct answers to a number of questions raised just last week, and some that have been bouncing around the comment boards all season. Reddington fittingly referenced Marathon Man (we’ll get to that little bit of pop-torture later) in this episode of The Blacklist that didn’t feel like the sprint-of-reveals we’re used to getting once or twice a season, but rather a plot marathon that tossed little cups of vital information at us along the way. Thirsty? Liz was born in Russia. Need electrolytes? Have some Cabal secrets with Samar. And in the end, wrap yourself in a nice, shiny blanket made of Mylar and Tom hugs.

The Red/Lizzie/Fulcrum reveals were a bit weighed down by a detail-heavy episodic storyline, but I also liked the payoff of someone directly telling Liz that, from this point on, there’s a perfectly sound, paper-doll-supported reason for her bad luck. And that is the truth: The woman has terrible luck. This season, especially the latter half, has dealt much with the fluidity of truth, and tonight Red makes it perfectly clear that no matter what Liz used to think, telling her the truth is not his motivator. For Red, the whole story is a matter of want versus need; for Lizzie, it’s a matter of the truth versus the whole truth.

Liz and Red seem to be on the same page about what constitutes a lie, and they’re not having any of that. But when it comes to telling the truth, Red tells Liz what he thinks she needs to know because Red has always thought he knows what’s best for her, and he has the hired spy ex-husband and pillow-suffocated adoptive father in his Lizzie wake to prove it. I don’t know if Red truly knows what Liz needs, but I know that since Red walked into her life, Liz stopped ever really knowing what she wanted. Sometimes she wants the truth and sometimes he doesn’t; sometimes she wants Red’s care and sometimes she doesn’t. What constitutes the “everything” that Lizzie is looking for, that Dembe has encouraged Red to tell her? In a pretty bold move, the writers informed us tonight, by way of Red, that they’re not telling. Not yet.