Lizzie's daddy issues are finally settled in the midseason finale…well, mostly

By Jodi Walker
November 11, 2016 at 05:10 PM EST
Virginia Sherwood/NBC
  • TV Show

Raymond Reddington, you are the father! I mean, maybe. Probably, right? He definitely said, “Yes, Elizabeth is my daughter.” I heard him. But he said it in some sort of drug and/or pain trance…while trying not to get syringed to death by his arch nemesis…and immediately following the hypothetical, “What do you want me to say? Yes? Is that what you want me to say?”

Yes, that is what I want you to say! All I’ve wanted is for this show to finally confirm Raymond Reddington is Elizabeth Keen’s father, and when it finally does, I hardly feel like I can trust the information. I think I understand now, why Liz acts like such a doofus sometimes — it’s very confusing to hear the truth you’ve been longing for, and still not know if it’s really the truth. And in that way, this Blacklist midseason finale succeeds in giving us answers but doesn’t take away the questions. Damn them.

But it was only the viewers, not Liz, who got this new intel. The ongoing drama that came to a head between Kirk and Reddington tonight has always been about just that…Kirk and Reddington. Red and Kirk seem willing to die for Liz, and they’re certainly down to kill for her. But these two are living for each other.

In the end, they’re also living because of each other. Both Red and Kirk are given ample opportunity to take each other out for good tonight, and both choose a different path. Why? Well, that’s a question to which we don’t even get a semblance of answer. But my guess? It starts with a Rostova woman and ends with a Rostova woman — in the middle, it’s just a whole buncha daddy issues…


Resolute answers or no, I must admit, the night got off to a rip-roaring start and maintained the energy the whole way through. And we weren’t even trying to save Baby Agnes; in fact, we weren’t even concerned with her existence at all! The midseason finale picks right back up with Odette’s long-con extraction plan. To the tune of (cue appropriate band name) Massive Attack’s (cue hella-appropriate song name) “Voodoo in My Blood,” Cooper and Liz slowly figure out Kirk’s people have initiated the hospital’s fire protocol to trap Liz inside the wing with Kirk. Also, because the smoke coming through the vents looks super dramatic.

All those bald, jacked men with Russian accents in the EMT, doctor, and firefighter uniforms? Yeah, they’re jacked and Russian for a reason (why they’re all bald is unclear). And as we already knew, it’s because all of Odette’s men are already inside. They successfully zip Kirk and Liz away in an ambulance, and though he nearly gets choked out following them, Tom manages to hold an innocent bystander at gunpoint until the poor guy hands over his car keys. He then tosses a quick “sorry” over his shoulder and takes off after Liz’s captors.

Of course, the Head Captor in Charge is the guy who cannot stop insisting he’s just trying to protect her. Kirk tells Liz he understands why she’s angry — mostly ’cause he keeps kidnapping her and her baby, I think — but he’s certain Reddington falsified those DNA tests that proved she wasn’t his daughter. As convinced as Kirk is that he’s Liz’s father, Red is on the other side, insisting just as heartily he’s not. Both of these men, with all the memories Liz has been searching for…and they can’t seem to agree on what the truth is. Red says Liz is safe as long as Kirk thinks she’s his daughter, but as soon as his own doctors run the tests and see she truly isn’t, her warranty runs out. That’s why he has his backup plan.

Enter, Dr. Shaw: Conclusion. Red insists Dr. Shaw track down “patient zero,” and after finding out Red draws a moral line at human experimentation, she manages to find the woman they’re looking for. So now there’s just, ya know, actually finding her. Luckily, Tom is all freed up since he lost track of Liz and Kirk. Red tells him he has a more important task anyway: Ensuring Liz is safe once Kirk finds out she’s not his daughter. Which is happening right about…now. Kirk does his go-to move when yet another person tells him the DNA isn’t a match, generally screaming, “HOW MUCH DID HE PAY YOU?” But Odette finally convinces him: Liz is not his daughter.

NEXT: Maybe-dad to definitely-not-dad…

Which means it’s finally time for Not Dad #1 to come face-to-face with Not Dad #2. When Kirk calls, Red tells him, “You set the terms. Whatever you want, I’ll do it. My life…for hers.” And while it’s a little dramatic, it’s no trick. Red sits on the designated park bench with Dembe awaiting pickup, and they have one of those patented Blacklist conversations where everything feels…important. Dembe tries to say if they could just wait for patient zero, but Red cuts him off: “It’s too late for her to save Elizabeth.” Dembe replies, “But perhaps she can save you.” And even though that plan is out there in motion, Red isn’t looking to be saved: He gets into the vehicle willingly. But not before telling Dembe, “Forgive me. For Kate…for everything.”

Next, we see the spymaster-in-specs himself trying to get into a truck with a coat hanger. Tom tells the woman whose car his truck is blocking that he accidentally locked his keys inside, but he has a car coming for him that he can give her to use since she’s in a hurry. She begrudgingly agrees as the taxi pulls up…driven by Dembe. This isn’t just any woman; this is patient zero. And even though Tom’s count of “Making Civilians Do Things at Gunpoint” is already up and rolling this episode, I guess he just wanted to get creative on this one. He gets in the car and tells her they’ve got a few stops before the Dembe Taxi takes her to her final destination.

The first stop is likely Kirk’s lair, where Red has just arrived. Kirk announces he “bears Masha no grudges” and instructs Odette (HER?) to hold Liz somewhere safe and then release her. But before she goes, Kirk tries one more time to explain his actions to his not-daughter: “Love did it, if you can believe it. It doesn’t make much sense, but sometimes you can feel too much, hold on for too long. It poisons you. I should have let you go years ago. But you were my child.” You better believe there are a number of poignant cuts to Red during this monologue, and I can only hope Liz has taught herself to start mentally checking out every time a man tells her it was “his love for her” that made him so darn criminal-y.

Odette takes Liz away as she swears to Red, “I’ll come for you.” And now, it’s finally time for these two titans to make sense of the pasts they recall so differently. Kirk tells Red he remembers being an honest business man in a happy marriage until Red came along, seduced his wife, and stole his daughter. And with that memory fresh on the noggin, Red starts unrolling his plan: He tells Kirk he has a doctor at the ready who can cure his disease with something called “crisper.” Kirk immediately recognizes it as just another experimental drug, but Red tells him he has proof it works — a woman who was cured. He wants to save Kirk’s life so he’ll spare his in return.

But the only thing Kirk truly wants at this point is answers, and he means to get them by pain. What kind of pain? Dunno. The doctor just unrolls a bunch of syringes and starts jabbing Red, in the hand, in the neck, wherever he pleases. And Red doesn’t so much seem to be in pain as he is in the process of dying. He’s in a sort of trance, sweating and shaking, and while I don’t enjoy seeing him this way, I wouldn’t exactly turn down a few answers.

Kirk wants to know about the falsified DNA report from 30 years ago; Red tells him he saw what Katarina wanted him to see: “She lied to you. About everything. You always thought I was an interloper; the truth is that I was an assignment. I’m sure you were, too.” But Kirk has his eyes on the prize: “We had a daughter and you took her from us. Why?” Red doesn’t respond, so Kirk gives the doctor his “more poison, please” eyes. The doctor says another dose could send Red into shock or kill him, so Kirk asks his question more clearly: “Are you her father?” Nothing. More poison. “Are you her father?” Nothing. “Answer me!” No answer…

What perfect timing for Plan B to come strolling in. Patient zero has arrived to prove to Kirk that Dr. Shaw, who Red has tucked away in a lab, can cure him. Red promises Kirk it’s not a trick: “We both die. Or we both live.” (Harry Potter feels — drink!) Kirk tells his doc to run the tests to see if this woman is truly cured, but it doesn’t change the question at hand: Is Red Masha’s father? And we get our answer: “It doesn’t matter.” Right-o, Red! But that’s not the answer Kirk is looking for. One more injection, and Kirk gets his answer: “What do you want me to say? Yes? Is that what you want me to say? Yes, Elizabeth is my daughter.”

NEXT: Saying goodbye…

And then he keels over. From the weight of the truth? From the liter of pain poison coursing through his veins? Who’s to say. Kirk gets his confirmation that the woman is truly healed, but this was only ever going to end one way. He tells everyone to leave and, once alone, he gives Red a choice: suffocation or heart attack?

Yeesh. While Red thinks on it, these two have a little chat as only two men who shared a spy-wife and are both on the verge of dying could. Kirk reminisces about when he first began dating Katarina, how she hopped a fence into a house she loved and it upset him…until he realized it was just her “joy for living.” She was a regular Manic Pixie Dream Spy, that Katarina. “She was more alive than anyone I knew,” Kirk says. “When I heard she killed herself, I didn’t believe it. I still don’t.” He says there’s nothing Red can say to change his mind, and takes out one last syringe to stick in Red’s neck. But as he does…

Red brings him forward and, I kid you not, whispers something in his ear we can’t hear. It takes what I would roughly estimate is between 10 and 17 full minutes, but when he pulls back, Kirk removes the syringe without injecting the poison.

When Liz and Ressler finally arrive to save him, they find only Red’s hat. Beck’s “Say Goodbye” plays in the background: “Bones crack, curtains drawn / On my way back and she is gone / Somewhere else I do not know / Time will tell and I will go”. Seems like an appropriate time to tell you the other thing that’s been going on this episode: Mr. Kaplan. In the grand new tradition of season 4, the midseason finale is interspersed with Mr. Kaplan dealing with her captor/savior: refusing to tell him about Red…tucking a fork away…putting said fork to his neck when he finally unchains her.

That’s when he tells her he’s letting her go. And not because of the fork thing. “I can’t keep you. I can’t kill you,” he tells her. “Just gotta cut you loose and pray you don’t tell anyone I’m here.” But Mr. Kaplan sticks around a little while to make chili and tell the man about her employer who “placed a lovely young woman and her baby girl in terrible danger.” She tells the man how her would-be murderer is blind to the threat he brings to that woman and child’s life, and to his own. She tells the man she was only trying to protect him. And then she leaves. What’s that saying? If you love them, let them go…

And we end with Red at the creepy little home he’s made for Liz in the middle of a big creepy warehouse. She’s relieved to see him alive, but doesn’t ask him where he’s been — she merely inquires about Kirk. “Gone,” he tells her. “Dead?” she asks.

“Gone,” he tells her. “It’s over.”

 A few loose ends:

  • I’m sure I’m not the only one hoping “It’s over” is in reference to the never-ending search for Liz’s father. Personally, I’m much more interested in that super-spy mom of hers and, I dunno, maybe like a long-lost twin or something.
  • But just one more thing about the dad issue: IS IT REALLY RED?! The final exchange between Red and Liz certainly seemed…meaningful. Liz says she should have believed him all the times he said Kirk wasn’t her father, but she just wanted her dad there to see her baby grow up. As Red holds little spy baby Agnes he tells her, “He would have wanted that, too.” Altogether now: hmmm.
  • I love Ressler’s smug face every time he saves Tom, and I love their ever-growing frenemy status. Here’s an idea: What if Ressler followed Tom to the spinoff? Every covert criminal agency with a twisted parent-child dynamic needs an FBI contact!
  • Red’s offense at the doctor calling his men goons: “Now, that’s not fair. Well, Carlton is a bit goonish, but Matthew is actually quite erudite. And a world-class chess player, to boot!”
  • Was that Hisham Tawfiq’s real NYC accent we heard when he was pretending to be the cabbie?
  • Odette throws herself over the side of a dock rather than be caught by the FBI…but is it suicide or escape?
  • One final question: Where the hell does everyone go from here? As always, thanks for reading along — see you (and maybe Kirk, and maybe Odette, and maybe Mr. Kaplan) back here in January!

    Episode grade: B+

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