What is Elizabeth Keen’s deepest desire? What does she relish? What feeds her soul? What does Elizabeth Keen want?
For even the most casual of viewers, season 3 of The Blacklist has been markedly different than the two that came before it. The premise that once guided the series’ more episodic nature — Raymond Reddington’s agreement with the FBI that he would guide them toward his Blacklist of the most notorious criminals in the world with the understanding that he would only work with Agent Elizabeth Keen — is now a distant memory. Oh, Red still has a list of people to find, at times even in conjunction with the FBI — the organization on whose list he claims the No. 1 spot — but now that list seems to be constructed for exactly one purpose: to clear Elizabeth Keen’s name.
“They’re fugitives, but they’re not running. They’re searching. But if not for Keen’s innocence, then for what?” –Samar
Tonight’s episode doesn’t ask the question outright, but lightly suggests it… Is exoneration what Elizabeth Keen really wants? Where does a righting of the tables get her? Alice the Omnipotent Fantasy Assistant is correct in her assertion that Liz doesn’t really thrive on vengeance and violence — for every dude she shoots, there’s another trip to the hospital to try and save him. It’s pretty evident that Liz is uncomfortable with the life she’s leading as a fugitive, as a killer, as Red’s right hand; what’s less clear is the life she’d prefer. Tonight she tells Red her greatest fantasy, one that has apparently stayed steadfast even as her life has been turned on its head: a husband, a child, a forever-handhold of happiness.
We know what Red and Lizzie are working toward… but as a very polite blonde in Yonkers will tell you, it’s a much more interesting story to find out what they actually want at the end of all of this.
THE DJINN, NO. 43
You know what I want? One thousand more scenes in Aram’s apartment so I can figure out every single thing on his refrigerator (Samar selfie!). Alas, we just get this one, but it’s a goodie — Red shows up at Aram’s apartment to get his help tracking The Djinn, a woman who helps people achieve their deepest desires, specifically, revenge fantasies, for the right price; Liz shows up to be showered in compliments (and also showered, literally). They’re also fine with him reporting this little B&E back to Ressler because they want the FBI’s help — apparently something still at their disposal — tracking down this Djinn.
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Aram helps them figure out how to get in touch with the Djinn on an old-school website that looks a little like one of those games you learn to type on in the 3rd grade, and Lizzie books herself a revenge-fantasy appointment. Red knows that at least two of the Djinn’s former clients have been Cabal members, and for undisclosed reasons, that’s important, and therefore important that he finds the Djinn.
It’s also important that he finds Dembe, whom he calls “more than an acquaintance” and whom we know to be one of probably two people that he would do anything for. He’s enlisted Leonard Caul to locate Solomon, who is a former CIA asset who was disavowed due to his ruthless tendencies. Yeah, tell that to Dembe who’s currently swollen and bloodied in that dirty warehouse with Mr. Vargas. He’s filing a spoon into a shiv, but he tells Mr. V it’s not for the guards, but for himself — they can’t hurt anyone else to get him to spill on Red if he’s not alive. That is a sobering thought (the selflessness of which just makes me love Dembe more), but ultimately, he and Mr. Vargas work out a little plan to trick the guards into thinking they’re fighting, and then one of them gets a swift spoon to the jugular, another gets choked out, and Red’s two associates are on their way out of captivity.
NEXT: Well, at least it wasn’t Mr. Kaplan…[pagebreak]
But if there’s anything I’ve learned from crime shows, it’s not to trust the screams of a hostage whose beating you don’t see, and if I’ve learned anything from The Blacklist specifically, it’s not to trust anyone who goes by Mr. Such-and-Such (unless she’s actually a woman). After finding out how to get in touch with Red — a number in the classifieds attached to an ad for a tuba mouthpiece, of course — Mr. Vargas shoots Dembe in the side and runs off, later contacting Mr. Solomon and telling him he knows how to get to Red. The only solace I take from this is the fury that promises to be unleashed from Red’s soul once he finds out all of the pain that has been inflicted on Dembe. It promises to be a vengeance the likes of which even the Djinn has never seen.
Oh, right, the Djinn. In the episode opening we see her assisting a grieving father in — I think — eating the organs of the man who gave his son the drugs that “ate him alive.” She appears to be the cousin of the Orbitz gum woman: a lovely British woman who favors peaceful, all-white ensembles and a warm cup of tea while her clients tell her exactly what kind of torture they’d like to inflict on those who’ve wronged them. For the client we meet first, a woman named Nasim, it’s nailing an older man up to a big ol’ wooden X and telling him that she promises to treat him with the same brutality with which he once treated her.
Meanwhile, the FBI is dutifully tracking the Djinn as requested by Red. Aram and Samar have discovered the name of a company that the Djinn uses to front her business: New Castle Venture Group, a company that’s trying to stage a hostile takeover of another company, Azeri Financial, the head of which happens to have just gone missing…and happens to currently be nailed to a wooden X…and happens to have been put there by his daughter, Nasim, with the help of the Djinn.
Red and Lizzie are hot on the Djinn’s heels though, and Lizzie has her hoodie on, so you know what that means…undercover time! Liz has to go through a series of obstacles to get to her meeting with the Djinn, but when she gets there, she finds a Zen blond lady ready to call her on her bullshit. Red is supposed to be tracking her there, but the second Liz tells the woman that the thing she most desires, the reason she’s there, is to get the people who framed her to admit it and pay for what they’ve done, the Djinn is like, “Naw, I don’t think so.” Or, more specifically, she tells Liz, “I can sense that death and vengeance aren’t what drive you, Elizabeth, or feed your soul…a lost world I suspect, another life. Why don’t you tell me about that fantasy?”
But Lizzie is only armed with her fake fantasy, and it’s not time for us to find out her truest desires, so she sneakily sticks the tracker to the woman’s shoe so that she and Red can show up where it leads them…to an unassuming house in Yonkers. Red gets one look at the blond woman in the doorway and quickly asserts, “You’re not the Djinn.” No, this woman is Alice, and she just works as the face of the Djinn. The real Djinn is, of course, Nasim, the woman currently torturing her father. As it turns out, she’s garnered quite a bit of money from making people’s darkest desires come to life, and she’s using that money to get her greatest revenge yet: New Castle Venture Group is buying out Azeri Financial while its CEO is missing, giving Nasim ownership of the company that should have always been hers.
NEXT: But wait, it gets worse…[pagebreak]
When Red and Lizzie arrive at Nasim’s house, they get the full story: Nasim wasn’t born as the daughter of a financial dynasty, but as its eldest son and heir apparent. But when Nasir’s father found out his eldest son was gay, he forced him to undergo gender reassignment surgery, to “protect him” from a culture that would not accept him. The company passed to his younger son, and Nasim began plotting her revenge. Still, Liz insists that they call 911 for the father upon the arrival, which means the police are waiting outside and the FBI are on their way. Red tells Nasim there is only one way out, and there’s room for three if she gives them what they want: the journal that tracks all of her former clients. She agrees and passes the journal over just before they all dash outside to a helicopter that Red’s arranged on the oceanside of Nasim’s house that isn’t surrounded by police officers. But as Nasim is about to board, Lizzie turns her gun on her — to be fair, Red throws her journal back to her as the helicopter lifts off, all except one torn-out page.
Once again, Ressler watches Elizabeth Keen fly away from him, but Tom Keen isn’t so, uh, keen to sit back and let Red do all the helping. As we know from last week, Cooper has enlisted Tom’s shifty ways to help clear Liz’s name, and they agree that the key is Karakurt, the man actually guilty of the terrorism that Liz has been framed for. They believe he’s being protected by a certain crime circle, and Cooper charges Tom with infiltrating it, which somehow develops into Tom needing to create a persona to befriend Asher Sutton, son of a billionaire and lover of street hustlers. I think it’s mostly just an excuse for a montage of Ryan Eggold slowly shifting into a New York accent as he travels around town perfecting the story he’ll use to convince Asher of his hustler ways. I didn’t hate it!
A Few Loose Ends:
- And Tom — oh, Tom — he’s doing this all for love…the very opposite of a revenge fantasy. Against Red’s wishes (the girl is wearing a leather jacket, how can he expect her to do anything but rebel), Liz gets in touch with Tom via that dumb phone and with the help of his sweet waitress; in a phone chat he’s able to tell her that he’s doing everything he can to help clear her name, and even though she tells him she’s hurt so many people, he just has this to say: “I know who you are… I love you.” Liz would literally have to shoot them straight in the head before any of these men would give up on her.
- How in love are Samar and Aram? Just regular in love, or extra, extra in love?
- Speaking of Samar, a number of things regarding her were brought up in the comments last week that have also been on my mind: 1) Yes, we absolutely need more on her, and 2) Waaaaaaas she not originally brought onto the Task Force as a mole for Reddington? And now she’s tracking him down as an official part of the FBI? Or is she still on his team?
- If there’s an episode of The Blacklist where Ressler doesn’t ram another vehicle with his own, was it really an episode of The Blacklist at all?
- Alice flies off with Red and Liz in the end… Should we assume she’s now a part of Red’s network of ambiguously evil acquaintances?
- Best guesses on the contents of the page that Red ripped from Nasim’s client ledger?