Whatever you imagine the answer to be…it’s better than that.
Those words are spoken by the sociopath currently in possession of Mr. Kaplan’s bag-o-bones, but they stand for Wednesday’s Blacklist episode, as well: Whatever you imagined the culmination of Tom’s capture to be, it’s probably better than that. And worse than that, and sadder than that, and more exciting than that, and all in all, just a whole lot to take in. As with many of the best episodes of The Blacklist, we leave with more questions than we entered with, but we also leave with a deeper understanding of what we have to look forward to from this series; with a reminder of why we’ve spent five seasons watching it. It doesn’t get much “better than that.”
Okay, well maybe if at the end of it all, I knew why Tom’s eyes went all buggy when he finally cracked open that folder-o-DNA…
Speaking of surprise faces: Of all the wonderful musical moments in The Blacklist’s midseason finale, the unfortunate song I have rolling through my head as I begin to recap the madness is…Taylor Swift’s “Look What You Made Me Do.” I know. But it’s that one line, that single redeeming line from the song’s bridge that I’m thinking of: I don’t trust nobody and nobody trusts me… I don’t trust nobody and nobody trusts me.
The earworm is twofold. Red told Tom not to try to ID the suitcase’s contents, and he did; Red told Tom not to get involved with Elizabeth Keen while he spied on her and he did. Tom told Red to stay away from Liz and he didn’t; Tom told Red to tell Liz the truth and he didn’t. And Liz — Liz told these men not to lie to her. She asked them, she begged them, she trusted them not to lie to her. These people — the most important people in each other’s lives, with varying degrees of love, hate, faith, and hope spread all throughout their bonding ties — have no reason whatsoever to trust each other. But they can’t help but love each other. And so signs their fate.
It’s almost cruel that in the episode’s final, exhilarating scene, Red reads to an unconscious Elizabeth from the Victorian poem by William Ernest Henley, “Invictus”: I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.” I hope that, in fact, it was her own fiery rage at hearing that line that brought Lizzie back to the living world. Time and time again, the men Lizzie chooses to trust take the power of her own choice away from her. They lie to her. They go behind her back. They don’t offer back the trust that she so willingly gives them. And then — they get themselves killed.
I mean, MAYBE. Because the other fold of that T-Swift lyric is that if there’s one thing the audience has no reason to trust The Blacklist on, it’s a death. I heard the flatline; I saw the body…And yet (despite what Ryan Eggold tells EW) I have plenty of reasons to continue believing Tom isn’t dead, including but not limited to a deep, deep denial. Because I’m not Elizabeth — I learn from the past. I shouldn’t trust that Tom is dead, and The Blacklist shouldn’t trust that I would after all it’s put me through. To finish off this Tour de Quotes and bring in another series I recap for EW: “We see each other. We GOOD!”
IAN GARVEY, NO. 13
Perhaps this episode’s greatest strength is that it gives us a riveting, gut-wrenching, cliff-hanging hour, while still giving us clear indication of what we have to look forward to when it’s over. Ian Garvey does some truly monstrous, No.-13-worthy things this week, but as a Blacklister, there’s still the promise of much more to come. He walks out of this midseason finale in possession of Red and Liz’s co-owned bag-o-bones, and into a 10-month abyss.
He walks into the midseason finale acting just as grossly as we have seen him act in the past. Actually — much, much grosser. With Pete and Lena’s bodies still dead on the ground, Garvey tells Tom that the ID of the bones is better than he could have imagined: “Reddington’s power is legendary. With this, I control that power.” He wants Tom to set up a meeting with Reddington, and as a little encouragement, he wheels a wood chipper in and…puts Lena’s body through it, spraying all over a tarp that is presumably hanging there solely for body-spraying purposes. It is one of the sickest things the series has ever done, and nearly unfathomable that it aired at 8 p.m., followed by a casual episode of The Voice.
Meanwhile, Liz is losing her mind trying to figure out where Tom could be. She keeps leaving him voicemails saying things like, “I’m sure you’re fine and I’m overreacting and you just can’t answer for your phone for some reason.” Lizzie. I would wager that 100 percent of the times Tom doesn’t answer your calls, he is in mortal danger. He doesn’t have a job and you employ someone named Rosa on round-the-clock nanny service for Agnes, so he really has nothing to do but answer your calls. You’re not overreacting. (Recap continues on page 2)