Season 4 of The Blacklist has gone to great lengths to establish that Elizabeth Keen’s life did not become complicated because Raymond Reddington surrendered himself at FBI headquarters and asked for her by name — no, Lizzie’s life became complicated the day she was born. (To whom was she born? TBD.) According to Red, Liz’s past was always going to catch up to her, not because of the players involved, but simply because of who she is.
But there are other people at play, and with each new glimpse at her mysterious past, Lizzie’s life is set on a course that she’s never quite privy to. What Lizzie can’t ever seem to grasp though is that just because she can’t see the board, doesn’t mean she can’t play the game. Because everyone else around her certainly is — they’re playing a game to protect her, they’re playing a game to use her, or endanger her, or steal her baby and endanger her, or maybe they’re just playing to keep her in the dark about exactly what game they’re playing.
Throughout the entirety of Thursday’s episode I kept finding myself scream-thinking, “PLAY THE GAME, LIZZIE!” Because while Red and Kirk are thinking five steps ahead, manipulating, leveraging, and tricking the FBI at every turn… Lizzie? She’s relying solely on impulse and emotion to guide her. Though it wasn’t the most subtle of plays, faking her own death is one of my favorite narrative moves Lizzie has ever made. Because at least it was her choice. At least there was some forethought. And it is my greatest hope that the mystifying look in Megan Boone’s eyes when she tells Kirk, “I’m not your daughter” means that she’s finally realized she has to suit up with the big dogs and play. PLAY THE GAME, LIZZIE.
DR. ADRIAN SHAW, NO. 98
Because our boy Red, oh he is playing. Like, for real, he is straight playing the FBI left and right. Much like last week, Red uses one criminal as a front to get to his ultimate Blacklister of choice — the one that gets him closer to Kirk… Enter a sketchy doctor in a lab telling a man whose skin is boiling off his face that even though they weren’t able to cure him with experimental medicine, his boiling skin has taught them ever so much. As he dies, she instructs her assistant to get the bone saw.
Of course getting to Alexander Kirk can no longer be the goal, as he’s currently trapped in The Box telling Liz, “If this is what it took for you to call me father, it was worth it.” Say it with me now: MA-NIP-U-LA-TOR. So, Lizzie decides that Kirk “deserves some clarity on what’s about to happen” and heads over to the Box for a chat. Liz! He kidnapped your baby for her blood… sitting clueless in that Magneto box is more than he deserves. But Kirk tells her that she reminds him so much of her mother: “I’ve been wanting to tell you about her, I thought we had more time.” (Plant those seeds, brother — game respects game.) It’s perfect timing for him to start bleeding out of his nose and collapse, forcing Liz to open the cell.
Given that little display, it’s no surprise that Red tells Liz he thinks Kirk is going to wriggle out of their grasp, and that she’ll likely be the one to aid him in doing so: “You believe he’s your father. When push comes to shove, your impulse will be to save him.” Other than that road block, however, these two are downright chummy tonight. Red raves to Liz about spearfishing; she aw-shucks-style tries to resist his Blacklister assignment: “I just got my baby back, my husband, my family — can’t this wait?” Ladies and gentlemen, FBI employee of the year, Lizzie Keen!
But Liz caves and presents to the Post Office: The Coroner, a mystery man who runs a witness protection program for criminals. Reddington believes that Kirk will escape and when he does the Coroner will be the one to help him disappear. Red knows of one of the Coroner’s clients, a drug trafficking heiress named Gina Barrera who killed off her father and the man her father forced her to marry as a teenager, and then disappeared off the face of the earth. That is, until Aram unearths her new identity teaching Latin at a private school in Brooklyn Heights. And when approached with a sassy Ressler who’s clearly onto her, Barrera does what any former drug trafficking heiress would do: maces him right in the eyeballs and takes off in a sprint. Samar runs her down easily though, and a young man playing soccer nearby informs the Post Office agents, “You’re not supposed to have guns in school.” And that young man is lucky that sassy looks cannot kill because Ressler was firing on all cylinders tonight.
NEXT: Putting together the puzzle…