After nearly two seasons of sole reliance on Red and Liz, The Blacklist is bringing out more dynamic characters than they know what to do with.
Early on in this particularly pivotal episode of The Blacklist, Agent Cooper lets Liz have it; he tells her that he doesn’t know who she is anymore, who she’s become to force him into lying for her. He goes back on it, of course, because this is Elizabeth Keen—the woman who can make sociopaths experience l-u-v, make the most unapologetic of criminals feel guilt, bring corrupt world leaders to their knees with her secret power of stuffed animal hiding spots. So, what’s a little perjury, kidnapping, and murder cover-up between supervisor and employee?
But Cooper is right. I don’t recognize Lizzie, either. She certainly doesn’t recognize herself anymore. How could she? Two years ago, she lived in a brownstone with her husband, the box of passports under the floorboards the only evidence of what her life would become. If last week’s recap extravaganza was to tell any story, it was the story we already know but that’s easy to forget: These people’s lives have changed dramatically since Raymond Reddington entered into them. (Except Aram… he’s just out there partying.) And with everyone changing—not just changing, but admitting change—the series seems to be switching it up, too.
With this confusing yet blatant, frightening yet lovely, frustrating yet enlightening episode of The Blacklist comes a turning point—hopefully one the series won’t go back on. I can barely remember the first half of the episode because somewhere around Tom Keen strolling into the courtroom in a tracksuit, The Blacklist became a version of itself we hadn’t really seen before. First of all, not a single person was kidnapped. But most importantly, in the span of about 15 minutes, multiple dynamic relationships present themselves, some of them between characters we barely know.
The introduction of new dynamics to care about hints that the serialized backbone of this show could be more than just Red and Lizzie. Because goodness knows that’s a speeding train that’s threatening to buckle at any moment. Red and Lizzie’s dynamic is often expected to fill every single driving narrative in every single episode, and though the emotional beats have been killer lately, the novelty of their mystery connection has begun to wear thin. But you give me more of that weaselly Tom Connolly dressing everyone down while calling them buddy, and we’ve got ourselves something to root for… or against. I’m not quite sure yet. But he must have really been studying up on Raymond Reddington in Attorney General 101, because somebody is five steps ahead of the game. Is he cashing more blackmail checks than his favor bank can cash? Certainly. But let’s see it all blow up on his face! Lizzie deserves a break from being the only one in over her head all the time. After all, she’s got a scholarship to run now.
As The Blacklist often does when giving more questions than answers, it gave us more dynamic characters tonight than it did reason for them to be there. Finally, we’re told almost exactly what’s going on with Red and Liz, and now there’s time left to wonder: What is going on with that overstepping judge? What is going on with smug, conniving Tommy Connolly? And what the hell is going on with…
TOM KEEN, NO. 7
This wasn’t a perfect episode. It was actually incredibly confusing and often in that, “Wait, why does that mean Tom is off the hook?” way that’s far inferior to the confusion of trying to figure out which emotion is currently misting James Spader’s eyeballs. Red’s main mission, after coming off of last week’s episode where Liz spilled all of her guts except for, like, three tiny lies (okay, one was about murder) to a stranger judge who seemed a little too interested in her riveting life as an international criminal’s pet FBI agent, is to find Tom Keen and get him in front of Judge Denner to confess that he did all the sketchy ship murdering.
NEXT: Tommy, get your guns…