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“Goodbye, Elizabeth; I’ll be waiting at the finish line,” Raymond Reddington tells Elizabeth Keen at the end of Wednesday’s episode, as we barrel toward next week’s finale — what we’re told could be the finish line. It is wild (simply wild!) that we’ve been chasing this bag o’ bones for an entire season. Mr. Kaplan started it. And Red or Elizabeth will finish it. Because doesn’t it always come down to Red and Liz? Everything in between is just an interesting detour.
I was so relieved last week after the series wrap that it wasn’t just back to business as usual, stalling for time until we cracked this duffel bag wide open in the finale. Once again, in Wednesday night’s episode, the show found a way to — if I may borrow from Mr. Reddington himself — “juggle” a Blacklister storyline, a harrowing personal tale, the continued quest for the bag, and a badger named Bernadette without it seeming like stalling for time. But this final line of Red’s is proof that Ian Garvey, even Tom, it’s all been a stall to the finish. As soon as Mr. Kaplan dug Red’s old suitcase up to get it to Elizabeth, this was only ever going to end with Liz and Red racing to open that damn bag or keep it closed forever, respectively.
Which leads us to the meat of this finely loitering episode. I mean, I see what they’re doing here; I understand that they’re distracting me with two of the most beloved characters who never get enough screen time finally getting to do their thing. It’s a cheap shot but it’s working — that’s what we call a “Jägermeister” in the business (just kidding, no one’s ever said that). Samar and Aram are the steely backbone and bleeding heart of the show, respectively, and to see them in peril and in love and way up in their feelings was riveting stuff. But it also felt like Samar was never in too much danger because, well, Samar can handle herself.
Until I realized that I perhaps underestimated what the show was willing to throw at her. Which was, of course, a stone-cold bear pushing the van in which she was trapped down a hill and into a river shortly after she had self-corrected being impaled by a tire iron. Then, y’know, I was pretty scared for my fav former Mossad agent. There was so much insanity happening it felt like the writers were kind of just throwing spaghetti against the wall to see what would stick, and most of it did. In the end, it’s still just a wild wall full of spaghetti instead of a constructed Italian meal, but sometimes the journey is better than the final product. Delaying any real fear for Samar surviving her abduction until she a literal bear was attempting to drown her in rat soup somehow had the shockingly successful effect of allowing this episode to be both fun and, finally, high-stakes.
LAWRENCE DEAN DEVLIN, NO. 26
Are we to understand that Nicholas Moore, a man that started an isolated and sometimes homicidal community in the woods somehow gained access to a prolific cleaner who resides at number 26 on Raymond Reddington’s Blacklist? Yes, it seems we are. But just go with it because there’s no time to ask questions! Samar is waking up in the back of a van while her kidnapper briefly steps inside a scary insect and rodent laboratory to load up a cage with mice and, for some reason, one very tiny hand. At the post office, Red offers Brimley up to use his unique set of torture skills — Hollywood-trained badger included — to get Nicholas Moore to give up the identity of the man who abducted Samar. “If his oxygen tank is full, he can be here in an hour,” Red assures Cooper.
But Aram doesn’t have an hour; what he has is determination to get Samar back, so he marches into the interrogation room, scrambles the video feed with his phone, and asks Moore what he needs to give up the name of the man who has Samar. Moore tells him he needs something that was confiscated from him, so by golly, Aram breaks into the evidence locker, steals a tiny, weathered copy of the New Testament, and by golly, Moore sure does have a cyanide pill hidden in there that he sure does kill himself with. Not great for Aram’s FBI permanent file, but very good for Samar because before he bites it, Moore tells Aram what he knows about the man that took her: basically, nothing. He’s used the man as a fixer a few times, but he uses an obviously fake name, but he doesn’t know anything about him, only the man he arranges the meetings through: Julius Hanelore. (Recap continues on next page)