I agree with Tom — we need to talk. But as opposed to whatever he and Ressler need to discuss (spoiler alert: it’s Lizzie), you and I… we need to talk about that scene. You know the one. THE scene. The one where Red and Lizzie walked out of a shipping container decorated like an X-Men villain’s secret lair, onto the deck of a cargo ship in the middle of an unknown ocean, and he told her that she’s his North Star. Because if there was ever any question that this show is about the relationship between Raymond Reddington and Elizabeth Keen — not just the connection between them, but their relationship: the people they are, the people they make each other — then season 3 is answering that with a loud and resounding, “This IS the story of Lizzie and Red, and here’s an itemized list of their childhood dreams to prove it.” It’s doing that with confidence; it’s doing that with pizzazz; it’s doing it to the tune of “Our House” by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young.
The Blacklist is — to borrow from the series’ own writers — taking “a perilously fast run down a slippery road” toward becoming a very different show in its third season than it was in the two that proceeded it. And to continue borrowing from Marvin and Red’s analogies, thus far, I think they’re hitting every green light. The moment the tracks of the FBI and the tracks of Red and Lizzie began to run perpendicular rather than the hazy form of parallel they’d been following for the first two seasons, the entire construct of the series changed, in even its most basic form — a Blacklister is no longer a Blacklister in the way that they were when Red was forking criminals over to the FBI for his own gain. Now we’re exploring Red’s network of shady acquaintances on his terms and his terms alone. Look at Marvin Gerard: the man was already in jail, nearly finished with his lawful punishment, and certainly not someone Red would hand over to Ressler. Exactly what kind of list are season 3’s Blacklister’s comprising.
The Blacklist’s creators have done a very smart thing by keeping the plot focused on exonerating Lizzie, while making Red’s devotion to that mission what’s propelling that narrative forward. Only two episodes in and we’ve already met two acquaintances with secret hidey holes just for Red, and one man close enough to Red to know that Lizzie is “the one who made him throw away his freedom.” If learning about Red as a means of learning about Lizzie-and-Red is the new Blacklist then bring it on…
MARVIN GERARD, NO. 80
Don’t forget though, that for a very brief moment at the end of last week’s premiere, Lizzie and Red were separated, and in that moment, Lizzie did something that would go on to nearly get her killed. I’ve grown to really enjoy Elizabeth Keen as a character, but the woman cannot be left alone and still be expected to live. Pick out a good disguise hoodie? Definitely. Make it out of the Russian Embassy alive? Absolutely not.
That’s where the episode picks up, with Liz inside the Russian Embassy she escaped to last week, once again declaring herself Masha Rostova, and this time with an ever so slight Russian accent. It turns out that her plan is to trade intel with Russian Intelligence regarding their common enemy — the Cabal — in exchange for protection. It seems like she does a pretty good job too, when after a few calls, the Russian Chief Intelligence Officer to the western hemisphere tells her that they will escort her to Moscow under diplomatic protection. But — whoops — turns out those calls to Russian government are being rerouted to Mr. Solomon’s brand new iPhone 6S. You remember Mr. Solomon? He’s the new villain from last week who’s extra terrifying and extra hate-able due to threatening Dembe, and the only thing cuter than Dembe: a Dembe-adjacent baby.
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NEXT: Who’s saving who, here?