We gave it a C
It may not have dragons, or princes, or elves — for the record, it does have elephants — but make no mistake: The Blacklist is a fantasy show. It is the stuff of fantasies, of imaginations run wild. A master criminal with omnipotent-like power who commits sin after sin but possesses the unreal ability to remain a lovable goof and make you think fedoras look cool. His daughter, born into an elite spy family, ensnared in a web of lies and espionage, corruption and secrets, casually works for the FBI. Together, they put away the world’s worst criminals while surreptitiously and constantly committing their own corruptions to build an international criminal empire.
It’s a heightened, absurd, fantastic premise that happens to exist a world very much resembling our own. So I don’t know why, with limitless procedural plot possibilities, the series had to take something as real, present, and loaded as wrongful death by police and trivialize it with a Blacklist-style framework featuring some high-heeled dominatrix paying desperate police officers to stage deadly force situations in order to scam people out of money from former lawsuit settlements via, y’know, methodically planned murder. If only the circumstances of unarmed killings were that improbable.
The most frustrating part is that, otherwise, there’s a lot to like about this episode — Red and Tom having a passive-aggressive-off, Glen showing his vulnerable (and gassy) side, Aram finally getting to do the thing where he solves the entire case by himself for the first time in season 5, and again, elephants — but I couldn’t helped but be distracted by the frivolous filter The Blacklist inexplicably applied to this real-life issue.
It’s one thing to not want to politicize your very fictional show. It’s another thing to look a politicized issue in the face and say, “No, I think our thing is more interesting.” Cooper tells Ressler that the police officers who let “anger and emotion, prejudice and carelessness” get in the way of their commitment to protecting people are “every good cop’s worst nightmare.” And that’s true. So it’s especially unfortunate that the truth of that message is trivialized by an outlandish plot device.
MISS REBECCA THRALL, NO. 76
I did, however, enjoy the slightly leading, cheeky title of this week’s Blacklister. The episode opens with two police officers kicking the door of an apartment open. One cop, Officer McGuiness, comes across the occupant in his kitchen, and the man pleads for the officer not to arrest him. The police officer, clearly shaking, looks the man in the eyes and says, “I’m sorry, Scotty.” Then he shoots him in cold blood.
The other cop hears the shots and comes running as McGuiness quickly pulls out another gun, shoots two shots into the wall behind him, wipes down the gun, and puts it in the hands of the now dead man. Back at the police station, McGuiness sits in his car, clearly stunned. A pair of spiked red high heels enter the frame and walk toward the car; a blond woman gets in and tells him that his funds are now available. McGuiness says he didn’t think it would be this bad. “You’re alive, Officer McGuiness, which is more than we can say for Scotty Stansbury,” she responds. “You’ve done your job. Now let me do mine.”
Her job is…complicated, as we’ll soon find out, because Red puts the Post Office on the case, telling Lizzie that he has reason to believe the recent police killing in Baltimore was a premeditated murder. The Post Office finds that, indeed, the gun that was found on Stansbury at the crime scene was reported stolen three weeks ago but Stansbury was never a suspect, despite his criminal past. Cooper tells Liz and Ressler it might be worth investigating, so they head to the police station to ask Officer McGuiness and his partner a few questions. It’s a well done scene with frequent cuts between the two cops explaining the altercation — they’re both telling the same story, but whereas the partner is simply explaining what he believes to be true, Officer McGuiness is lying through his teeth.
They both say there were four shots fired, Stansbury’s two first, which both missed, followed by McGuiness’ two. Liz asks which shot hit Stansbury: “You said you fired twice; I assume you remember which missed and which didn’t.” And while I do love when Liz gets to put on her Criminal Minds hat, her logic that McGuiness is dirty because he said it was the second shot, when it’s generally the second that misses, is silly. Yes, McGuiness had the wrong reasons for shooting at his victim, but he shot him all the same. He would have no reason to lie about which shot made contact. But, whatever, now we’re all on the same page — the kid is dirty, dirty.
And speaking of dirty, there’s that blond woman from before. Oh, and look, she has someone bound up in her basement in full latex kinkery, breathing out of a tube connected to his latex hood. Wonder who it is… (Recap continues on page 2)