From the moment the camera’s perspective expands in the opening scene, suddenly revealing that a person we presumed was being pursued, is actually the one doing the pursuing, it was clear that Wednesday night’s episode would be an especially clever installment of The Blacklist. Or, at least, that it could be. That it went on to live up to that potential over and over with new twists, surprise turns, and at least one total shock, makes that initial cat-and-mouse reversal all the more impressive upon reflection. (The opening scene is also scored to French hip hop, so…really a win all around.)
From camera switches to automatic-translating apps, there’s a sense throughout the entire episode that, while most of the things we’re learning and witnessing are vital to figuring out what’s going on with Garvey and that preeminent bag o’ bones, they can’t exactly be relied on as fact. That makes the final shocking reveal all the more compelling. This new woman who’s known Ian Garvey for most of her life could be Raymond Reddington’s daughter, as she seems to believe she is. Or she could be lying for Garvey to trick Liz…or Garvey could have been lying to her for her whole life…or she could be Red’s daughter in that way that Liz is his daughter where it’s like, Okay but IS she though?
No matter what — it gets us closer to figuring out these bones that have connected Garvey and Reddington all season, while also moving the story at large in a whole new, still connected, but completely unexpected direction. What this episode does best, in fact, is call on the established history of the series and its characters in order to subvert those norms, and create fresh new perspectives, then flip those on their heads all over again. Liz and Aram, a charming duo that rarely gets a lone project, finally got to work together and achieve some success, only to have Liz go fully rogue and turn her whole world upside down. Even the tone serves up a big ol’ gotcha, starting with an atypically solemn Red explaining this week’s case to Lizzie over some classic cinema, pivoting into a practically buoyant Red in Grand Paris, and finally having him knocked on his ass without even knowing it when Liz learns he has another maybe-daughter.
Cynthia Panabaker’s confusing language as she told Agent Cooper, “I am not going to non-deny deny,” was a silly, fun moment, but its purposefully misleading nature and inclusion in this particular episode was no accident. Wednesday’s hour was highly intentional, and more importantly, it was necessary. Season 5 needed this hour of The Blacklist — not just a good episode or an exciting episode, but asp one that ensures we simply cannot stop watching without finding out what happens next.
ZARAK MOSADEK, NO. 23
This recap is a rare case where I actually started at the beginning, so we’ve already covered a bit of the episode’s opening scene. A young man is walking down a Paris sidewalk in what appears to be a rather menacing pursuit of a woman we assume to be walking in front of him. But when the camera pans out, we see that it’s actually the woman who’s following the young man. She stops him to ask for directions, and when she does, a van pulls up, men pull the boy inside, and the woman hops in behind them. In Kabul, Afghanistan, a man is told, “They have the boy.”
Somewhere near Washington, D.C., Ian Garvey sits outside a loading dock like the creep he is. Outside, a shipment of something is being seized by the DEA; Garvey will later say it’s on purpose. A woman dressed in all white, wig included, that I would like to know a lot more about, immediately gets into his car and starts speaking another language into her phone. It automatically translates for her: “This seizure; losing our contact at the port; your obsession with Reddington is becoming a distraction we cannot afford.”
It’s all quite mysterious, much like Reddington’s quest to find that ledger was last week. This week, the ledger is firmly in his hands when Liz comes to visit him at the private theater where he’s watching a Rita Hayworth film. Red tells her that from the ledger, they’ve gotten the new lead he was hoping for; Liz reminds him that she already had a lead who he helpfully made disappear. “You didn’t have a lead, Elizabeth,” Red tells her. “You had an unreliable witness …no jury would convict based on his testimony.” He also reminds Liz once more that it isn’t legal threats that Garvey is afraid of, it’s threats to his power. And that’s just what they have now that Red has found out the identity of the Nash Syndicate’s main opium supplier in Afghanistan. (Recap continues on next page)