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The Blacklist recap: Kings of the Highway

The Post Office and Team Reddington finally face off in the battle for Lizzie’s fate.

Posted on

Virginia Sherwood/NBC

The Blacklist

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

Since the beginning of season 3, The Blacklist has followed two opposing groups — the Post Office and Red & Lizzie’s Super Fun Roadtrip — with two opposing goals: Arrest Elizabeth Keen; exonerate Elizabeth Keen. Often, these were two goals that seemed to run parallel to each other, even more often, standing in rooms alongside one another without either opposing goal shooting or handcuffing the other. Thank goodness the writers knew this was logic that could not be allowed to go on for more than eight episodes. And in the midseason finale, a line was finally drawn in the West Virginia dirt — “Elizabeth Keen, you’re under arrest.”

These words, spoken by FBI Agent Donald Ressler to FBI’s Most Wanted Lizzie Keen, were the last we’ll hear in season 3 for nearly two months, and they capped off a fantastic final scene, that raised as many questions as it answered. I am aware that The Blacklist is not the single-best show on television; I would wager, however, that scene-for-scene, cue-for-cue, it has the very best music curation in the biz.

What you waiting for?

No, what you waiting for?

With Lizzie in cuffs, headed toward a trial by a government full of secret sociopaths hellbent on starting the third World War, it’s easy to feel like the writers have managed to put off for eight episodes what could have been accomplished in the season 3 premiere when Lizzie first went on the run after being framed by the Cabal.

We counted all our reasons, excuses that we made,

We found ourselves some treasure, and threw it all away…

But really, these last eight episodes haven’t been stalling; they’ve been laying out the stakes. Lizzie’s a killer, but she’s not really a terrorist. Why not turn herself in? Why not take on the Cabal from the inside out? Tonight, Samar lays out an answer that might not have rung as true eight episodes ago (pre-Solomon, mind you): If Lizzie comes back into FBI custody, she will be killed. The true “inevitable” that everyone has been delaying is facing off against the real threat, and that’s definitely not Lizzie.

What you waiting for?

No, what you waiting for?

Though these are the words from the final scene’s George Ezra tune that will ring in your head for hours to come — the words a recapper might Google to remind herself whence this song came — they’re not the words of the track’s title. “Blame It On Me” speaks much more to what this episode of The Blacklist ultimately accomplishes. In the final faceoff between the Post Office and the FBI’s top targets, we find out what these people we’ve come to know so well are really made of: Ressler is a man of unbridled principals; Samar is in possession of one very specific and convicted moral code; Cooper is simply a man who wants what is right, despite not always knowing what that is; Red is a consummate protector of Lizzie. And Lizzie…

Well, this episode showcased each character’s truest self, and from the moment we met Lizzie — which is to say, from the moment Lizzie met Reddington — she has been running. She’s run from herself, she’s run from Red, she’s run from Ressler, but with all this running, she must be headed toward something. And now that she’s finally been stopped — it must be time to find out what that something is.

Heading into the latter half of season 3, there’s no more room for running: Blame it all on her.


At first I was a little annoyed that the midseason finale looked to be dealing in coincidences. Red just so happens to be kidnapped by a random group of street thugs who don’t know who he is? Raymond Reddington, omnipotent being, knower of all, owner of many hats and even more waistcoats, is taken unawares by a dude with D.I.Y. knuckle tats? Yeah, okay.

But in the end, this narrative turn presented brand-new dynamics that worked to put both the FBI and Red on an equally uneven playing field, ultimately leading them to the same place. It also worked to show just how dependent Lizzie has become on Reddington, not just logistically, but emotionally. In the opening scene, Red and Liz pull over at a gas station, and after she’s done cleaning up in the bathroom, she returns to find him and the car missing, not even an empty Big Gulp or a spinning fedora in his wake. And as I watched the terror of being without Red dawn on Liz, I realized I don’t know what she would do without him either.

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Liz has become an inseparable from Red, who started this little road trip seeming more like her captor, dragging her to Idaho and giving her copious amounts of brown liquor, but ends it well on his way to being as much her savior as he believes her to be his. I swear — and all props to Megan Boone if this was intentional — Lizzie’s facial expressions are even beginning to mimic his.

NEXT: Phone trace of shame…