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- James Spader
Oh, Dr. Nick. You simply cannot be that reasonable and survive the world of Raymond Reddington and Elizabeth Keen. You never asked for any of this. You weren’t great at putting your foot down, sure, but you never asked for any of this. And now we’ll never gaze upon your luscious salt-and-pepper locks or permanently furious eyebrows ever again. But I will be forever grateful to Dr. Nick for his final logic-bomb exchange with Lizzie “Delusional” Keen:
Nick: “Never call me again, either of you.”
Liz: “You don’t mean that, Nick.”
Nick: “He’s the country’s most wanted criminal.”
Liz: “He’s my father.”
Nick: “That excuses nothing.”
Lizzie! Do you hear yourself? You just forcibly made a man watch a criminal being hunted by the FBI shoot herself in the head, and then you made him perform a heart transplant in the middle of a warehouse on a dying boy. And you’re all, The things we do for our dad, amiright? No! He means it, Liz: He doesn’t want to talk to you again. Your life is the stone-cold worst, and you used to be able to recognize that.
But now everything’s changed. Liz found out Red was (maybe) her dad, and she just saddled up for a life of moral ambiguity. And it’s time to just go ahead and admit it, right? The Blacklisters in season 5 have been off as a result. After last week’s killer cop gaffe, this one at least wasn’t trivially offensive, but it also wasn’t…great. Keeping Red and Lizzie connected to the FBI when they seem pretty unconcerned with taking down criminals makes the Blacklist-of-the week seem pointless to all parties involved: them and us. It’s time for the tables to turn. Lizzie has taken time off from the Task Force to run amok with her dear ol’ (maybe) dad before and been welcomed back with open arms, a badge, and a gun, so why not switch it up again?
The pretense of Red handing over a Blacklister every week is feeling forced in season 5, and there’s no rulebook that says he has to. If it’s not working, fix it; if everyone kind of just wants to roam the country picking up oddballs Reddington’s Eleven style, do it; if Lizzie is actively lying to her partners and obstructing FBI justice, fire her. It’s time to make a big change, and my hope is that change is on its way via whatever homicidal party just jacked Mr. Kaplan’s bag o’ bones.
THE ENDLING, NO. 44
Are you kidding me with this Blacklist number? Red swears up and down when he gives Liz the “Endling” assignment that homegirl is not just a horse murderer, but that is like a quarter of her criminal history. She has maybe three major crimes under her belt, and as we see in the cold open, one of them is killing the most prized racehorse stallion in the world, along with his trainer. And as we learn, that is just a means to an end.
For me, this whole episode is kind of just a means to an end; that end, of course, being the gift of seeing Red and Dembe play a heated game of Bananagrams — “PEEL!” — as Red waxes poetic about what a great business idea Airbnb is, and how it’s basically “a license to print money.” It seems purely whimsical, but this will come back later. For now, Red tells Liz about how in horse breeding, genes are everything, and now that the greatest racehorse in a generation has been killed, someone stands to profit from the loss: the owner of that stallion’s sole offspring.
And that’s at the heart of this week’s — still kind of weird — Blacklister. Red tells Liz that the only surviving member of a group of species is called an “endling.” The Task Force is in search of “The Endling,” the nom de plume of a legendary criminal who creates one-of-a-kind items. As they explore back at the Post Office, that means taking down a plane in Baghdad carrying two of three remaining statues of the Sumerian goddess Inanna, leaving only one in existence. Or stealing the genetic profile from a new kind of barley and destroying all but one of the samples. These are…specific crimes, but people will pay a high price for such one-of-a-kind items, and they need to talk to the person who has benefited most recently from the Endling’s criminal activity: Caleb Hess, the owner of the murdered stallion’s only offspring. (Recap continues on next page)