Will Hart/NBC

Tom Keen cannot get a win

April 14, 2017 at 02:28 AM EDT

The last two lines of Thursday’s Blacklist: Redemption read like one of those six-word “Hemingway” stories. “Where are we?” asks Howard, who has (of course) been working with Whitehall to destroy the world (or whatever) all along. “We are operational,” Whitehall replies.

And at the end of Thursday’s finale, that’s where we are with Blacklist: Redemption too. We’ve arrived at a pretty satisfying endpoint that could potentially propel us into more, hopefully better, seasons. But the means of getting to this operational endpoint were… rocky. The main problem with this series seems to be that it doesn’t allow its characters to be very intelligent, usually for the sake of narrative convenience. The best example of this is taking the season’s strongest episode — Howard’s reveal to Tom that Scottie was potentially killed and replaced by a Russian doppelganger spy — and then never really mentioning the repercussions of it again.

I think Tom gave one tepid, “It doesn’t really seem like she’s an imposter,” and then just completely forgot that his not-dead-dad accused his maybe-mom of being his not-mom ever again even though she was very clearly his real mom, all in the name of having him stick with Howard. If, like me, you nearly vomited in your mouth every time Tom said “Dad” with the desperation of a small child wanting to be told that everything will be all right, then the twist that Howard was the villainous mastermind all along probably wasn’t all that surprising.

But that it became clearer and clearer to the audience that Howard was just playing the role of well-meaning tech whiz with a wicked wife, while the show’s characters simultaneously fell for his shtick more and more (sometimes happening all at once in split-screen!) was a clever way to tell the story. If the sacrifice of making their main character look like a dumb-dumb is making me seem smarter, then I guess I shouldn’t complain.

Their Mission Should They Choose To Accept It: Whitehall: Conclusion

The cold open of Thursday’s finale was a pretty riveting way to start: with consummate tertiary character, Kat, stumbling around Manhattan, absolutely drenched in blood, clutching an abdominal wound with one hand and a USB drive in the other. Cut to credits: “12 Hours Earlier.”

Howard is describing quantum computing as “like a skeleton key,” and presumably if we had cut to 24 hours earlier, Howard would have still been explaining why crack quantum computing was an exciting reveal, and 36 hours, and 48 hours, and so on. Basically, if this technology gets into the wrong hands — which Howard says are Scottie’s hands — banks will be hacked with ease, nuclear codes could be leveraged, national intelligence would be compromised, etc. And to get that technology out of Scottie’s hands, they have to break Dr. Whitehall out of Halcyon, where he’s being kept prisoner.

Tom is all, Yes, Dad, whatever you say; I have no reason to believe that Scottie is evil and ready to sling out nuclear codes, but you seem pretty certain that she created this mystery line item for Whitehall, and she definitely never told me that she DIDN’T make the line item, and that seems like something she would have mentioned, and being me, I definitely would have believed her, so yeah… I’m all in, let’s go kick mom’s ass.

The plan is to use Howard’s meeting with the board as a distraction while Tom, Nez, and a crew of Nez’s drug dealer friends whom Howard pays in precious jewels sneak in the back. You might think that institutions vulnerable to attack would think to cover “the back” at this point, but you would be wrong. Over at Halcyon, Solomon is complaining about Scottie not letting him use “enhanced interrogation” (something she was super cool with using on her son) to find out if Whitehall is working with Howard or not. Whitehall says that his new technology could do so much good in the world, he doesn’t understand why Scottie can only see the evil that it will do. “Because someone has to live in the shadows so others can live in the light,” Scottie says, ominously.

And here comes Howard, blazing through Halcyon like the prodigal kook returned. The board is meeting to decide whether to reinstate Howard as President of Halcyon since he publicly stated that he faked his death because his wife tried to kill him, or to keep Scottie in charge. Howard has told his team that he doesn’t care to be reinstated; this is just a ruse to get Whitehall away from Scottie, but he’s still kind of being an over-the-top dick: “What’s the matter? You look like you’ve seen a ghost!”

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