“Ew.” For perhaps the first time ever, Elizabeth Keen and I agree on something.
A crew of smart, heist-y women with an affinity for fierce outerwear, partying on school nights, and impractical updos? Sign me up. Calling that group of morally questionable businesswomen “The Harem” and making their leader a workplace sexual harasser? Unsubscribe from all lists — except, of course, for Agent Keen’s totally relatable new newsletter, “Ew.”
Over the last two episodes, The Blacklist has started a habit of presenting thoughtful new ideas regarding the larger scope of Raymond Reddington and Elizabeth Keen’s ongoing mystery saga, quietly sandwiched in between a … questionable Blacklister storyline. Are they trying to distract us from the developing tensions with shady radio-frequency science and an influx of new characters? Or are they just a little worn-out in the middle of the season? Last week, obstructed behind a clunky girl-predicts-murders-through-hearing-aid-device plot, a potential falling-out — or at the very least, budding distrust — between Red and Dembe crept out of the dark. That pot stayed on simmer this week while a new idea was presented: Elizabeth Keen might not be such a special FBI snowflake after all.
Raymond Reddington has a pet in MI6, too. And not like he had Samar as a helpful Mossad spy. No, Emma Knightly was plucked out of junior analyst obscurity; she was groomed; she was made to feel special, like the center of Raymond Reddington’s universe. His attentions, while welcomed, consumed Emma, ruined her marriage, and made her a prisoner in her own life. And now she’s telling Lizzie to get out while she still can …
THE HAREM, NO. 102
Before we meet Emma, we meet her crew. The cold open shows a group of men walking shadily into some Atlanta country club only to have the very put-together-looking women milling about come together to jack their car, knife the headrests, and steal all the diamonds they were apparently rolling around with.
But Red is onto these ladies, and he’s sharing his intel with Lizzie. The Harem is “an elite group of female thieves who steal only from other criminals.” But this isn’t a Robin-Hood-meets-crime situation; the Harem just steal from other criminals to cover their tracks, and Red says the group is covering up two sets this time. They took the stolen diamonds from those other thugs because those other thugs just so happen to be the private-security contractors who were hired to protect the government’s Witness Protection list … a list that’s just been stolen from them and one Red says is “extraordinarily valuable and irresistible to the Harem.”
Harold Cooper says there’s only one way to get that list before the Harem does: Put Agent Elizabeth Keen on the inside. And listen, as much as I love Undercover Lizzie, and as much as I’d love to see her trade in her blogger hoodie for a bold lip and luscious sweater-coat, I must call bullshit on this one. Because that edgy Undercover Lizzie could only exist in a fantasy world, my friends. Just last week, the story line hinged on a mother recognizing Liz as the recently reinstated FBI agent in a grocery store. And now she’s going to fool a group of elite criminals with a messy-Rey updo?
I guess I didn’t account for the huge undercover glasses she’d be wearing — she is her husband’s wife, after all. Liz shows up at the hotel room of the Harem’s leader, Margot (played with excellent cool by Jill Hennessy), dressed as a hotel worker who needs to check the minibar. She steals Margot’s stolen-stolen-diamonds and leaves a note telling her to meet her in the lobby. The FBI has found a former accomplice of Margot’s who’s willing to help Liz in exchange for getting his brother out of prison early. Liz tosses his name around, along with the special skill she’d bring to the Harem team — “I read people. I tell people exactly what they need to hear in order to do exactly what I need them to do” — and she’s got herself an interview.
NEXT: Loyalty, schmoyalty…