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Important pieces in the 'Blacklist' chess game come together.

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March 27, 2015 at 05:53 PM EDT

Last week, Liz told Agent Cooper that he was the only person in the world she completely trusted. At the time, she was trying to get away with a patented kidnapping/murder combo and he was waving around his morality flags like one of those inflatable creatures outside a car dealership because he couldn’t even recognize the person she’d become anymore; but tonight, ol’ Coops gets the unrecognizable tables turned on him. Cooper hasn’t exactly kidnapped his ex-spouse and watched them strangle someone with a chain, but he did let a billionaire slip a few past the murder net in the name of appeasing slimy Tom Connolly and keeping himself in the medical trial that’s currently keeping him alive. Morality is funny that way… the threat of its imminence, and the fight against it, will lead people to do all sorts of things they never could have predicted for themselves.

Let’s call his episode what it was: glue (not filler). It arranged some important pieces on the Blacklist chessboard so that at some point in the near future, Red can come in and light those pieces on fire with a blow torch and then probably “blood angel” them, or whatever. Or, hopefully, all the seemingly random things we learned tonight will come to mean much more very soon. It seems we might finally be to the point in the series where every Blacklister relates directly to something we as the audience are at least somewhat clued in on—goodness knows there are enough story arcs up in the air at any given time to do so. Surely we’re all past believing that Red is doing any of this work for the task force any reason other than those directly related to the welfare of himself and Lizzie. I’m fine with not knowing why Red needs to have Hobbs on his side, just as long as I know we’re spending time with Hobbs for a reason.

Tonight, there was even a big picture purpose to secondary Blacklister Dr. Powell, and that purpose was explicitly Fulcrum-related, a story line that’s pretty important to—let me get the wording right, here—the world, but has been idling for quite a while now. Still, this wasn’t an episode that sent the mind racing; but something about its mortality theme—life, death, birthdays—made it surprisingly emotional. Maybe it was all the frontal lobe talk, maybe it was missing Ressler having, y’know, lines this season, or maybe it was seeing little Lizzie Keen with a full forehead of bangs, but I got a little choked up as Liz shared her birthday wine with likely the only man she should actually completely trust at the end of the hour.

And then Tom showed up on Liz’s doorstep, back bloody-eyed and bushy-bearded from Germany, and I was confused about everything all over again. 


First of all, props on that name, I like an immortality research project that just puts all its card on the table from the get-go. Unfortunately, The Longevity Initiative has a few renegade cards that it doesn’t quite seem to have a handle on. The episode opens on a scientist lingering in front of a tank full of jellyfish arguing with a man named Lloyd about whether Lloyd is going to keep helping him with some questionable experiments. Those experiments aren’t elaborated on, but the next thing you know, Lloyd is being pulled over on the highway with three bodies in the back of his produce truck that all have their scalps missing, brains sticking out of the skull like a Chapstick tube. So, Lloyd shoots the cop and makes a run for it. Because Lloyd is a man of many morally reprehensible talents.

Speaking of, Red has a new assignment for Lizzie, and they don’t know it yet, but it has to do with Lloyd and his truck o’ brains. But before he gets down to business, Red delivers Lizzie a bottle of wine that was made from grape vines that she and her adoptive father Sam harvested together. It’s her 31st birthday today, you see. Tom also called her earlier to tell her to have a nice dinner at Wing Yee’s, and also, he’s in a ton of trouble and needs help—oh hey, there’s the Major pulling up with ambiguous intentions, gotta go! So blessed to have such consistently thoughtful men in her life, that Lizzie.  

Now that Red has made Liz wonder just how long he’s really been a part of her life, and told her that his yogi thinks time doesn’t exist, he has the perfect segue to tell her about the Longevity Initiative. It’s a private company run by Roger Hobbs, a tech billionaire that funds ongoing experiments dedicated to extending human life indefinitely as a sort of pet project; and judging by the bodies that just turned up in the produce truck, they’ve moved into the human experimentation phase. Luckily, Red knows Hobbs personally, so he sends Liz and Ressler to have a little chat with him before they jump to any conclusions about his desire to be immortal.

NEXT: The immortal life research of Roger Hobbs…

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James Spader returns as Raymond ‘Red’ Reddington, a mastermind criminal who teams up with the FBI.
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