Nothing breaks up a greatest hits clip show quite like one of the biggest revelations of the series.
Credit: Eric Liebowitz/NBC
The Blacklist - Season 2

“You tell her the truth by telling her everything.”

These are the wise words of Dembe to one Raymond Reddington, spoken just after the biggest bomb of the night was dropped: Red hired Tom to spy on Elizabeth Keen before Berlin did. That’s their connection. That’s what’s been hinted at. That’s the truth.

Or is that the truth? What constitutes the whole truth? Does it have to be everything, as Dembe says? I know a lot of fans will see this episode of The Blacklist as a glorified clip show—30 minutes of recap for 10 minutes of action. And, truth be told, the playback did little but take a welcome tour of Megan Boone’s most unfortunate wig situations. Except for one of those playbacks: The reel with Lizzie and Tom. The one where she told the judge about their happy marriage, about the life they spent together; the one where every clip played with smiling Lizzie and devoted and bespectacled Tom Keen—the sexy shower, the renewal of vows, the baby shower—was a remembrance of the times when their “marriage” was most angst-ridden: the bloody hand print shower; the vow renewal right after Lizzie confirmed Tom was a spy; the baby shower when Lizzie pretty much knew she could handle a child and Tom first met Jolene.

What’s the truth? Is it what we remember? Is it what’s for the greater good? For an episode with so much telling, so much protecting (of the nation and of Liz), so much getting to the bottom of things, there sure was a lot of lying under oath going on. The recapping didn’t feel so much like recapping because it revealed something new about who Lizzie has become with each new set of answers to the judge’s questions.

We know that Lizzie has struggled with her relationship to Red, her anger, her questions, her care for him; but watching her defend herself—defend him—to someone totally outside of the twisted little morality sphere of the Post Office was a whole new angle. Hearing Liz admit, even sarcastically, that she sucks as an agent (her words, not mine… okay, also mine), but it’s not her fault, there’s no way she could have prevented her fate, felt a little bit like clarity on an often confusing character. The truth is that Liz didn’t ask for this life. The truth is that Liz’s husband was a spy. The truth is that her spy-husband killed a man and she let him. So, who is held accountable for the whole truth? Whose truth is most valuable? In the relative world of truth that most of the Post Office seems to be living in, what is Eugene Ames’ life, and the truth of his death, worth?

We play the cards we’re dealt, and when someone else is doing the dealing, the truth gets a little hazy…


The episode opens like any average Blacklister-hunting episode might: There’s a boy running through the streets of New York City in 1994. He’s clearly stolen a purse and is on the run from whoever’s trying to get it back until a town car pulls up beside him and tells him to get in. There’s a mysterious white haired man (aren’t they all?) inside who tells the boy, Jacob, that he’s been observing him and has an opportunity for him. He believes Jacobs’ “delinquent inclinations are exactly what makes [him] invaluable.” It sounds a little bit like he’s recruiting him for Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, but since it’s revealed in a quick flash that Jacob later becomes Tom Keen, I guess it’s more of a Bill’s School for Sociopathically Inclined Youngsters situation.

NEXT: Lizzie tells her story (with the handy help of remembering things she wasn’t even there for)…

So it was a rough childhood and classic New York scouting story that eventually led Tom to Lizzie, led Lizzie to be an accessory to murder, and led Detective Wilcox to her doorstep. And now Cooper is in on it. He calls Liz into his office, where the Deputy Attorney General is waiting to tell her that they know about the harbor master and Agent Cooper has been subpoenaed to appear in court and corroborate her story that she was lurking around The Phoenix when the Harbor Master was killed. No one is willing to commit perjury and lie for her, but they have requested that the trial be called off because exposing the Post Office Task Force would pose a threat to national security. But the thing about people not being willing to do stuff for Liz is that, eventually, they will always do it: Red will come out of the plastic box for her; mutant spy children will fall in love with her over the course of their spy-marriage; and Cooper will commit perjury for her.

But he won’t do it yet… first, she has to tell her story. You see, the judge on the case isn’t quite as willing to just ignore murder accusations in the name of purported national security as the Deputy Attorney General had hoped. If taking Lizzie to trial and exposing the task force is really a threat to the country, he’s not just taking her word for it, he wants to know why, which means Lizzie gets a one-on-one session with him and his typographer in his chambers to tell him exactly what is so special about her task force.

Or rather, exactly what is so special about Agent Elizabeth Keen. We’ve all asked the question, “Why would he choose you? Why you?” in regard to Lizzie’s presence at the center of the national—and, uh, global—security nucleus, and much of Lizzie’s time with the judge is spent defending that she never knew of Reddington before he sent a helicopter for her on her first day as an FBI profiler. In her defense of herself, of the Task Force, of Red, we cycle back through all the work the Task Force has done, all the criminals who have been taken down as a result of Lizzie agreeing to work with Red, all the good that’s been accomplished, and the bona fide hell that Lizzie has been through. But we still never get an answer; Agent Keen still doesn’t know the truth: Why her?

In Detective Wilcox, we have finally found someone who isn’t willing to compromise in the face of Elizabeth Keen. If the judge will be swayed is yet to be seen: Leaning toward not believing that she was at the harbor on official business, and more likely, killed the Harbor Master for personal reasons, the judge calls Harold Cooper in to either confirm or deny that Liz came into contact with the Harbor Master via official FBI business… and he almost immediately commits perjury for her by confirming her story that she was at the harbor in her capacity as an FBI agent.

Oh yeah, Samuel Aleko, remember him? Back to Detective Wilcox and his one-man anti-Lizzie parade: Wilcox pulls out Aleko for one last chance to go back on the denial of his original testimony that Liz and Tom murdered the Harbor Master, but he doesn’t budge. What he does do is let it slip that he already took one bullet for this stupid case, there’s no way he’s getting the death penalty, too. And with that, Detective Wilcox sends a team to scour the boat for dislodged bullets, finds one, identifies it as being from Lizzie’s official gun, finds traces of Aleko’s blood, and proves that Lizzie was on The Phoenix with Aleko, and lied about it under oath, beyond a shadow of doubt. And now the judge has to decide if he’s a “tell the truth by telling everything” kind of guy.

NEXT: Red and Tom’s He-Man (Complicated) Liz Lovers Club…

All of this time that Liz has been trying to save herself, Red has simultaneously been trying to save her as well—and, of course, doing a more efficient job of it. Our Blacklister of the evening doesn’t play a huge role in the episode, but he does play a huge role in the story of Liz and the men who love (???) her. Red knows that to save Liz from being charged with murder, he has to find the Harbor Master’s real murderer, Tom; and to find Tom, he has to find the Major. Although he refuses to explain this with any sort of foresight to Cooper and the gang, he still convinces them to kidnap the Malaysian Deputy Minister to the U.N., who just so happens to be another one of the Major’s recruits.

The Deputy Minister manages to get the Major to meet him, Red bombards him, and they proceed to have a little chat about the past that they share. The Major says that what happened with Tom wasn’t his fault, but Red reminds him that he hired him on the Major’s recommendation. Wait, hired who? Hired Tom?! YES. Red says that the merchandise was defective, but the Major knew Tom to be a perfectly trained recruit—“there was no indication he would become emotionally involved.” The Major says to give Tom’s whereabouts up to Red would be to betray a client, but Red knows that’s within the Major’s abilities because he betrayed him: You sold me an asset and then allowed him to turn when Berlin offered him twice as much.”

So, yes, Tom worked for Berlin, and was married to Lizzie in order to get to Red. But first he worked for Red. First, he was a personal Lizzie-spy for Raymond Reddington. What is the truth?

Dembe says that it’s everything. The man doesn’t speak much, but it’s always special when he does. Red is yapping away about how he ended up with a lead on Tom from the Major and tickets to a cock fight (or something?) from the Deputy Minister, when Dembe levels him with a stare:

Dembe: “You need to tell her, Raymond… about Tom. You should have told her some time ago.”

Red: “I don’t know how to do that, Dembe.”

Dembe: “Yes you do. You tell her the truth by telling her everything.”

Red: “I don’t think I can do that.”

Dembe: “Maybe you should stop thinking about it and do it.”

Just do it, Red. We’re all waiting for the truth: Why her?

A Few Loose Ends:

  • Why did Red hire Tom? WHY DID RED HIRE TOM?! I mean, there are the obvious “spy on Lizzie reasons,” but was that it? Could it have even been pre-Lizzie? Or did Red buy Tom his first pair or Warby Parkers and tell him to go woo her? Ick.
  • Oh, and speaking of Tom, he was around in more than just theory tonight. I’m not particularly interested in the narrative of Tom strutting around Germany trying to convince old man gangsters that he’s got them gun connects…but I’m not exactly minding watching Tom strut either.
  • “I’m sorry, you’re right, you’re absolutely right. I should have known that when my husband and I were planning a family, that he was in fact a traitor who had installed surveillance cameras in our bedroom. Of course I should have been aware that the number four on the FBI’s Most Wanted list would turn himself in and demand to speak only to me. [Scoughs] What a horrible profiler I must be to have missed the fact that I am central to the discovery of a blackmail file that will tilt the balance of power in—let me phrase this right—the entire world. Wow, I SUCK.” An entire hour of Megan Boone having it up-to-here, please.
  • I’m not the only one who was assuming the whole time that all of the judge’s in-depth questions seemed to be pointing toward an interest that went beyond just investigating the importance of the Task Force, am I? That guy is definitely working for someone, right?
  • All theories on how Lizzie is going to get out of this below, please…

Episode Recaps

The Blacklist - Season 2
The Blacklist

James Spader is Raymond "Red" Reddington, a mastermind criminal who teams up with the FBI.

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