The Blacklist recap: Mr. Solomon
Given that I can only think in lame jokes following that insane final scene — Talk about a shotgun wedding, am I right? Eh? EH?! — perhaps I should leave the episode breakdown to Mr. James Spader himself. I try to limit Blacklist intake to mostly just the episodes themselves (call me a purist), but I caught a clip of ol’ Spades on The Tonight Show recently where he advised potential fans, “Even if one saw the pilot and then sort of abandoned it at that point — if anyone has ever had any passing interest in this show, boy, [episodes] 17 and 18 are so crazy. I mean, so crazy.”
And he wasn’t wrong! Spader may have failed to mention that almost all of episode 17 excluding the last 10 minutes — which, to be fair, felt like a bullet-riddled eternity covered in maternity lace — were pretty much a plot-stall until what I assume will be a mind-blowing episode 18, but I totally see where he’s coming from. You didn’t need to have a working knowledge of the Cabal, or know what the hell a Fulcrum is, or that pretty much every government official in The Blacklist is actively trying to start World War III to be able to appreciate the action of this episode. I mean, there was a shot of a bullet going into a Holy Bible; there was a highly pregnant woman hobbling down a church aisle with four assault rifle beams trained on her chest; cans teetered in slow motion behind a car that read “Just Married” the groom drove the bride away from her attempted capture. The excitement was pretty self-sustained.
Not to mention that in between all the rounds of ammunition and perfect music cues, was the underlying tinkling tune of “spin-off, spin-off spin-off”…but we’ll get to that at the end. First we must address what this episode of The Blacklist gave us after a lengthy six-week hiatus: not a whole lot of answers, no, but plenty to look forward to as season 3 heads into the final stretch.
MR. SOLOMON, NO. 32
Excluding Spader as Reddington, I would wager to say Edi Gathegi as Matias Solomon gives “The Blacklist” it’s other most captivating performance. The simultaneous stillness and swagger that Gathegi brings to every single reaction, whether he’s following orders or making the calls, brings a believability to the fact that while Mr. Solomon doesn’t seem to be as infallible as Red, he might just be as resilient. He’s probably the most worthy foe to Reddington we’ve come across, and yet we still know so very little about him (there’s that **spin-off** tune again)…
But like the cockroach in a stylish trench he is, he just keeps coming back, this time in an armored car on the way to prison. But it seems the Cabal has more drive-him-out-to-the-middle-of-nowhere-leave-him-for-dead plans as the car makes an unexpected stop and all the guards turn their guns on him… too bad they already have unseen guns pointing at them from above. Mystery shooters take out Solomon’s would-be killers, and it’s clear by the look on his face that he doesn’t know who his savior is either, but he’s likely just been entered into some kind of unspoken contract.
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Speaking of legally binding decisions with very little forethought — Lizzie and Tom are getting married! And since the church they wanted had a sudden opening, she’s already super pregnant, and Tom is apparently a whiz at peonies, Liz is ready to do this thing today. Unfortunately, Red calls her in after getting wind that Solomon has escaped and is on the hunt for a nuclear missile that’s allegedly being transported. It’s kind of an ill-fated-chicken and the unfortunate-egg situation: Did Red bring this to Liz right now because he heard she was rushing the wedding, or did Liz rush the wedding because she knows she’s being completely unreasonable trying to create the nuclear family she always wanted out of an ex-spy-conman, a fired FBI agent with a KGB mom, an unborn baby, and a criminal overlord grandfather figure she thought Red might try to get in the way. Hard to call…
NEXT: It’s a nice day for a Blacklist wedding…
Either way, she delivers the Solomon news to the Post Office but says she’s going through with the wedding at 4 p.m. and she hopes her FBI pals might be done warding off nuclear warfare in time to make it. She pulls Agent Cooper aside specifically to tell him if he’s able to get there on time, she’d like him to officiate the wedding. And even though I’d prefer that he prioritize saving the fictional world, his honored face is very sweet. In fact, this episode has a number of touching moments revolving around Liz’s wedding… it’s almost easy to forget that she’s marrying Tom, the man who lied to her for years, has thrown her into a number of shelving units, and whom she once locked in a boat for two years and then let him choke an innocent harbor master to death with an ankle chain. Mazel!
And the thing is, I like Tom (spinoffspinoffspinoff) — Ryan Eggold nails the role, fitted henleys and all, I’ve always been interested in his character… I’m just not interested in his character marrying Liz because of all the dreadfully unhealthy aspects of their relationship. So leave it to The Blacklist to make him finally, finally start being honest an hour before they actually get married…
But first, that nuclear missile at large. Thought the Department of Defense isn’t exactly cooperating, the Post Office has it on good authority that Solomon is working with an accomplice to hijack a nuclear missile that’s supposed to be transported that afternoon. Why? Who knows — Solomon does what he’s told. But when the FBI captures that accomplice after Solomon and his men leave her in the dust during a raid of their hideout, she hands over a little intel in the name of immunity: They know the Department of Defense has a decoy transport planned, and therefore also know where the real thing is going down. She tells them about a van planted under a bridge.
Honestly, I was a little hazy on the plan to get the nuclear missile… and that’s because there was never any real plan at all. After Red does a little FBI inspection of his own, he realizes that Solomon’s accomplice sacrificed herself to be taken into the Post Office and questioned, so that she could ultimately lay a false trail. Because Solomon was never after the nuclear missile in the first place, that was simply a very successful distraction from his real target: Elizabeth Keen.
You know, Liz — who’s marrying Tom? And you know Tom — who keeps sharing lingering mouth kisses with Gina Zanetakos at every turn? While he’s running around getting flower arrangements, Tom stops by the apartment only to find Gina, who he’d recently spoken with about helping him get out from under the Major’s thumb. But instead, she brought the head of the School for Sociopathic Youngsters to him. The Major tells “Jacob,” “You were my finest accomplishment and my biggest disappointment,” which might be true, but is pretty unoriginal as far as lines to say right before you kill someone go. Instead, Gina has a change of heart, and it ends up being the line the Major says right before he’s killed himself. Gina doesn’t give much of a reason for why she chose to save Tom (lalalalala, SPIN-OFF!), but she makes sure to point out that Tom was also her biggest disappointment.
Ironically, this is the first time in forever that Tom hasn’t disappointed me. The Tom from exactly one episode would have wrapped the Major up in plastic, used a roll of Bounty on the blood puddle on his fiancée’s floor, buried his old murder-boss out in the woods, and then never told Liz about it for fear of her leaving him. But this new Tom goes straight to the church and is 100 percent honest about what happened; he tells Liz he understands if she can’t marry him. It’s a much-needed change of pace for their relationship, and while I still don’t think they should build a marriage off of one time that Tom managed to tell the truth, we don’t really have to worry about that…
Because ain’t no way this wedding is going off without a hitch. Even though Red wasn’t planning on attending this wedding he doesn’t approve of, when he realizes Solomon is after Lizzie, he races to the church with Dembe, Boz, and other unknown men with ponytails in tow to batten down the hatches. Luckily, all of the Post Office but Ressler have arrived as wedding guests, so when Red busts in mid-ceremony to make his objections in the name of saving everyone’s lives, things are able to snap into we-must-protect-this-house mode pretty quickly.
NEXT: Masha, Masha, Masha…
Unfortunately, Solomon is kind of a professional. Armed as Red’s men are, Solomon and his men are more armed, and they only have one mission: Take Masha Rostova alive. And since Red puts all of his conversations on speaker phone like some kind of reality star, Liz overhears that and can’t help but wonder from whom Solomon is taking his orders. Who would call her Masha Rostova? “Reddington — it’s her isn’t it? It’s my mother.” Once again, Red insists that Lizzie’s mother is dead, but she tells him that he owes it to her to say who’s trying to abduct her if he knows. He says he’ll tell her when he knows she’s safe, which is…
…Pretty touch and go there for a while. Tom and Red finally agree on something which is that they won’t let Liz turn herself over to Solomon, so things quickly turns to a shootout… which evolves into another shootout. And then that shootout births another baby shootout. And then that baby shootout grows into an adolescent and strikes out on its own shootout venture. What I’m saying, is there was a lot more than Holy Spirit flying around that church, and while it’s incomprehensible that only the organ player would have died (which was very, very sad), it was also pretty pulse-pounding to watch, especially that time that Liz waddled down the aisle mid shootout to retrieve Red’s bag knowing that she was the only one they couldn’t kill.
And indeed, Liz goes unharmed, and between Red and Tom (in the name of the only thing they mutually hold dear — Lizzie), they’re able to get the not-quite bride out of the church. Tom whisks her into the their marital getaway car to the tune of Electric President’s “Safe and Sound”:
But there’s no way out
I’ll let you build your home with me till the clocks run down
When your looks run out
Call me and I will come and fix you, get your feet on the ground
When there’s no way out
Call me and I will come and bury you, all safe and sound
With one last look out the rear window, Tom and Lizzie are on their way, decidedly unmarried, and decidedly not safe and sound.
A Few Loose Ends:
- So it’s Katarina, right? RIGHT?! And if it’s not Liz’s mother trying to take “Masha Rostova,” then who?
- And just what is with Red continually insisting that Katarina Rostova is dead when Liz so adamantly believes her not to be? Does Red really think Liz has it wrong? Is his information incorrect, or is he misleading her? Or more likely… is this some wordplay trickery?
- Everything with Aram and the wedding playlist was just gold. Rushing to get this recap out in a timely fashion, I wasn’t able to pause the screen for long but… did I spy Dixie Chicks?
- That woman at the nuclear plant saying, “Yeah, you seem pretty special” to Ressler when he informs her he’s on a special task force got a nice big laugh out of me.
- There’s no doubt that Megan Boone was glowing in white, but a middle part/floral headband combo is a pretty, uh, bold look for your wedding day.
- I should mention that before Red figures out what Solomon is up to, he goes to the church to implore Lizzie not to go through with her marriage to Tom as Tina Dickow’s “Someone You Love” plays: For someone you love / You do it all for someone you love / Someone you love / You do it right for someone you love.
- So, despite a little bullet-filled bump in the road, it seems like Tom and Lizzie were still at least emotionally on track to get married… can someone please explain to me where this Tom Keen spin-off is headed (other than another killer ‘Stang sponsorship)?
What did you think of tonight’s Blacklist return, and what are you expecting of next week’s follow-up. I am already dreading the destruction of Aram’s grandfather’s Buick. Sound off in the comments with your best theories about who’s after Lizzie and what they want from her once they have her!
James Spader is Raymond "Red" Reddington, a mastermind criminal who teams up with the FBI.