WHAT in the holy name of Paul Anka just happened on The Blacklist? Did this show just… did they just kill off one of their main characters? And I don’t mean a “main character” like one of the beloved Post Office team members, or an acquaintance of Red’s (obviously not Dembe… this recap would just be one big gif of Michael Scott screaming “No!” if it was Dembe). I mean a main character — did The Blacklist just kill off Elizabeth Keen?
Or better put: Is Elizabeth Keen really dead? Well, to quote (and tease) EW’s exclusive interview with James Spader on the answer to that question: “I think it’s most prudent not only as just myself and what I know or don’t know for that, but also in terms of the character of Reddington: Elizabeth Keen is dead.” Now, whether this is a Ned Stark situation (!!!) or a Jon Snow situation (???) — or some other Game of Thrones character death reference altogether — is yet to be decided. But I generally live by the mantra, what the Spades says, goes. So, from this point forward, I proceed as though Liz is well and truly dead, even if I have my questions about certain facial expressions floating around that final crime scene. Because I think we’re at least certain of this…
Red thinks Liz is dead. And that alone changes The Blacklist in a major way. Because yes, as a core character, Liz has always been less interesting then Red; it’s literally impossible to be as interesting as Raymond Reddington, the man who hides cars under cult sanctuaries and has an escape elevator in at least one deli in every metropolitan city, and I’m pretty sure, controls every major international port while actively evading World War III. But really, those aren’t the things that make Red the Most Interesting Man on NBC — it’s Liz. His relationship to her, his love for her; what he tells her, what he doesn’t; his conflicting need to protect her, versus the constant danger he’s brought to her life since they first intersected in episode 1.
And now that’s all changed. Who is Red without Liz as the living, breathing center of his universe? I don’t know what the future holds for The Blacklist, but color me intrigued to explore life-after-Lizzie for Raymond Reddington…
MR. SOLOMON NO. 32 [CONCLUSION]
What’s crazy about this world-altering episode of The Blacklist is that it was actually kind of fun… y’know, right up until it really wasn’t. We pick right back up where we left off in “Mr. Solomon” part one, with Liz and Tom fleeing in their “Just Married” getaway car, hand-decorated by Aram, and for two people who are running from a notorious assassin and his merry gang of armored mercenaries, they almost seem… giddy? They’re crying, then they’re laughing, then they’re palling around about how whoever is hunting for Masha Rastova “only stopped a wedding, they can’t stop what we have.” Yeah, we get it guys; nothing — not logic, not half a decade of lies, and no amount of weird paternal figures — can stop that Liz-and-Tom kind of love.
But Mr. Solomon is working pretty hard at it. We still don’t know who’s sent him on this Lizzie-catchin’ mission, but it’s revealed throughout the episode just how slick an organization it is. We only see Mr. Solomon in direct communication with one person, but he’s just as threatening a figure, though we only see the lower half of his face — we shall call him Mr. Mustache. He immediately has eyes on Tom and Liz, who he calls Tango, before Solomon even knows she’s made it out of the church. And just as Nick’s Pizza calls to tell Liz she has to get off the road — BOOM! — T-boned by Solomon’s armored car. Things get particularly silly here as Tom takes off again and Liz pokes her preggers self out of the passenger window to do a little target practice, saying, “Don’t worry, they’re not going to shoot me.” They’re not and they don’t. But it’s that false sense of confidence that makes Lizzie’s final flatline all the more painful. It might not have been Solomon, or whomever Solomon is working for that did Liz in, but there’s no stopping fate.
NEXT: She’s having his baby…[pagebreak]
Solomon’s car forces Tom to crash Aram’s grandfather’s car (nooooo) into a truck, but they escape into a nearby nursing home. And though a little nightcap trickery helps them evade him inside, Liz didn’t escape their crash as unscathed as they first thought. Suddenly, she’s bleeding and something inside her is hurting. Tom — in full Warby Parker Original Flavor Tom-mode all episode — rushes her to the nearest hospital. But Solomon and Mr. Mustache are onto them and track them down by locating the nearest hospital. But by the time Solomon spots Liz’s sensible shoes below a divider curtain, Red has convinced Tom and Liz that remaining in that hospital will only endanger its inhabitants, and he can provide just as good of care for her…
Somewhere. Mr. Kaplan picks up the parents-to-be, and when Liz’s water breaks unexpectedly in the backseat, she starts freaking out: “Because I let a fugitive, a killer, a sociopath into my life, now I am being hunted by god knows who’s chasing me … and I have to give birth to my child — to a baby! — in a filthy warehouse.” Which, sure, I get where she’s coming from on the warehouse front, but all that fugitive/killer/sociopath stuff is pretty rich considering she’s sitting next to the luv-of-her-life, Tom. Not to mention, Mr. Kaplan tells her they’re not going to an abandoned warehouse… they’re going to an abandoned nightclub.
And at the abandoned nightclub, where resident Blacklist doctor Nick scrubs in only to find out that the wreck caused a placental abruption and now he’ll have to perform and emergency C-section in the next 10 minutes or she’ll lose the baby, I was not expecting to experience one of the more hilariously absurd scenes in Blacklist history just after one its most subtly startling. And yet, there we were, watching an emergency C-section take place just moments after Mr. Kaplan totally schooled Red. When he realizes how much danger Liz and the baby are in, he stars fussing at Dembe about how he should have had more people at the church, but Mr. Kaplan steps in and speaks for all of us when she says, Nuh uh, no way, this has nothing to do with Dembe: “She’s been telling you for months that you’re a danger to her baby. This is on you Raymond, nobody else. You were wrong to make her believe you could keep her safe. You made us all believe.”
But right now the only person who can keep Liz safe is Dr. Nick, which brings us to the aforementioned absurdity. When Liz says this isn’t how she imagined them giving birth, that she thought it would be “magical,” Tom gets a little twinkle in his eye. And that twinkle is caused by the many overhead rotating laser lights, plus fully functioning disco ball, to the tune of the record he puts on — I kid you not, here — “(You’re) Having My Baby” by Paul Anka. And, man, they really let that bad boy play for a while. It is really the music cue to end all music cues as, “I’m a woman in love and I love what it’s doin’ to me / I’m a woman in love and I love what’s goin’ through me” plays overhead while Red and Mr. Kaplan watch from the outside, looking like they’re about to vomit from fear.
But for a few minutes it seems like they have nothing to worry about. After a brief scare where Dr. Nick had to remind the baby it was time to breathe, she (she!) finally cries, and all is well. Liz wants to name her Agnes after Sam’s mother, since he was really the only family she ever had (ouch) — cue Red popping in to see the baby and Liz telling him to Get. Out. It’s a little painful, but Liz usually gets past these moments where she decides to be fed up with Red’s dangerous effect on her life…
But then… the telltale beep. The baby is fine, but Liz is crashing. Her lungs aren’t taking in enough air, and the next step is heart failure. Dr. Nick says they have to put her into a medically induced coma or she’s going to die, and he doesn’t have the equipment to do that. Mr. Kaplan gets it there in a minute flat, but Liz is already bad off. She’s asking Tom to take their baby to the beach if things go sideways, and just before she goes under, she waves the previously banished Red over to her bed. He comes over and she apologizes for kicking him out after all he’s done for her… then she nearly gives him what I would imagine is the one thing he wants most in the world: “Raymond… I do love…”
NEXT: You do love…WHO?![pagebreak]
FADE TO BLACK. That unfinished sentence is the last thing Red hears from a conscious (and alive) Lizzie. He knows they have to get her to a hospital now, but the thing is, Solomon is still out there somewhere — hunting; waiting; talking to Mr. Mustache who seems to have an omnipotent-like understanding of the District of Columbia, and access to unlimited black market technology. If you’re wondering what the Post Office is up to, they’ve been trying to figure out who it is that’s employing Mr. Solomon, and while they get themselves pointed in the right direction, Mr. Mustache is still out there, telling Mr. Solomon exactly where to go to track down the ambulance Red and Liz are traveling in. Except…
Even mustaches make mistakes. The mystery man sends Solomon and his gang after the unidentified ambulance he sees speeding toward a hospital, but in fact, Red, Liz, and Dr. Nick are in the back of an unmarked van that’s set up like an ambulance. As for Daddy Tom, he’s back at the nightclub keeping Agnes safe because as Red tells him, he’s a father now, and that makes protecting his child his priority. Perhaps similarly (perhaps not — please don’t yell at me), Red is with Lizzie, trying to protect her and keep her safe right up until her last moments. On the way to the hospital, we see him pleading with Nick to keep hear heart beating just as the camera slides up the road to show that Solomon, his purple suit, and his line of armed vehicles have finally caught up with them.
And now, the FBI has caught up with Solomon. But it doesn’t matter, because something else entirely has already caught up with Liz. Dembe rips open the door of the van to find Red curled up in a corner holding Lizzie’s hand to his face, and Nick weeping that he “had to call it.” Mr. Kaplan and Ressler stand in the background and tell Red that the police are coming, he has to go, and with one extra-lingering forehead kiss, he leaves Lizzie behind.
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We see Red go give Tom the news at the nightclub, as they trade off holding Agnes, their remaining tether. We see Aram and Cooper finding out Liz’s fate at the Post Office; that, I assumed would have been the moment that got to me, but it was actually watching from afar as Ressler delivered the news to Samar. She doubles over in uncharacteristic sobs, and though Ressler’s hesitant to succumb to the moment and comfort her at first, she reaches out her hand to him, and they share a pained embrace. Until that moment, something about Liz’s death had felt very distant, very unsettled to me. In watching Samar though, her grief over the news of Liz’s death felt very real. And if you’ll reflect back to Mr. Spader’s comment at the top of the recap… it’s all about perspective.
A Few Loose Ends:
- So, that’s that. Elizabeth Keen, one half of The Blacklist‘s dynamic duo was pronounced dead in season 3, episode 18. Let’s take a poll in the comments, shall we: Who thinks tonight’s episode was the last we’ve seen of Alive Lizzie? And for all those who’ve found themselves wishing before that The Blacklist belonged solely to Red… is this what you were hoping for?
- Honestly still reeling from that Paul Anka moment — what was that? Intentionally absurd? Unintentionally hilarious? Complete troll of those of us who think the music on this show is consistently untouchable? All three?
- I got a little chuckle out of Liz exclaiming, “We’re terrible parents!” when Tom tried to give her Demerol.
- And I got a little chill when Mr. Solomon discovers Liz’s empty hospital bed and just gave a small smile — for him, it’s all about the hunt. I wonder what he believes about Lizzie’s death…
- Speaking of tiny smiles, James Spader had two that killed me tonight: the earnest one as he stepped into the room after Agnes was born only to be given the full rejection Heismann from Liz, and the much sadder one when he finally did get to hold her.
- “It’s the children whom the world almost breaks who grow up to save it.” “I don’t want that for her.” “I wasn’t talking about her, I was talking about you, Elizabeth.” Woof.
- Mr. Kaplan… the maternal outburst… the bodybag… discuss.