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The Blacklist recap: Karakurt

Lizzie tries to find out more about her Russian spy mother, but the Cabal and all of their annoying World War III plans keep getting in the way.

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Virginia Sherwood/NBC

The Blacklist

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

Masha, Masha, Masha! Why does Masha always get all the most uniquely customized rotaviruses with the most individually devastating effects? Ugh.

From the very beginning of The Blacklist, I’ve been fascinated by the variety of names used for the two main characters. That’s bound to happen on any series centering around law enforcement, where agents and officers are often referred to by their last name, but for the two people at the center of all the mystery, in any given episode, we’re working with Liz/Lizzie/Elizabeth/Keen and Raymond/Ray/Reddington/Red. For Red, I’ve always thought his many names stand in for the many lives he’s led and the many masks he wears now; but for Liz, her names are defined by others’ perceptions of her: In her personal life she’s Liz, at the Post Office she’s called Keen, only Red refers to her as Lizzie, and she introduces herself as Elizabeth.

Throughout these two seasons, Liz’s many names have spoken to her constant search for identity from the moment Raymond Reddington entered her life and began calling her Lizzie with utter confidence. No one knows who Elizabeth Keen is less than Elizabeth Keen. And now it’s a version of herself that Lizzie only just found out existed that’s aiding the Cabal in orchestrating her demise. In the part of her life that Liz can’t remember—the part where she had a mother, and a stuffed bunny, and a Russian birth certificate—her name was Masha. And the Cabal is doing everything it can to turn Elizabeth Keen into Masha once more.

Frankly, the Cabal is working overtime, what with trying to start another cold war, importing Russian assassins, and blackmailing Harold Cooper with his terminal illness, as well as that little matter of his wife committing espionage after some emotional manipulation at the hands of Attorney General Tom Connolly. I hope Valarie Pettiford is getting paid per episode for the looming presence of her likeness in that framed photo of Charlene Cooper on Harold’s desk; its repeated focus throughout the season finally makes sense as the ramifications of Cooper’s dependence on Connolly (and as a result, the Cabal) to keep him in the medical trial finally comes to a head tonight. A couple of weeks ago, that meant a casually illegal favor here and there… now it means lying to his agents so they don’t follow the right lead while tracking the Russian agent they found out entered the country in a coffin with a mission to start World War III at the end of the last episode.

Move yourself out of your own apartment, find your own directions, watch your own laptop while you go to the bathroom at Starbucks—I am absolutely never doing anyone a favor again.


Before we get to Lizzie’s Is Your Mama a KGB Llama quest, it must be determined why the Cabal used Quon Zhang last week to smuggle in a known Russian terrorist last week, and that starts as all Blacklist stories seems to, with a grotesque and random killing. The episode opens on a college campus with a man passing out flyers to protest the Patriot Act; a student approaches him with some interest, takes a flyer, walks away, turns back around to find the man staring at him like a total creep, and promptly starts bleeding out of his eyes and coughing up white gunk, full Purple Wedding style. The man confirms to someone on the phone, “We’ve achieved customization. Initiate phase two.”

NEXT: Phase two, equally gross…