“Do you have it?” It’s question Red was faced with twice tonight, by two opposing forces. It’s also the kind of the question The Blacklist itself was facing after a somewhat predictable season, at least compared to the jaw-dropping one that preceded it.
Does The Blacklist still have it? This season’s self-proclaimed “huge reveals” have all been largely foreshadowed in previews and Voice commercial breaks: Tom behind the door, Zoe as Berlin’s daughter, Fitch as Berlin and Red’s common enemy. But, The Blacklist stuck the landing where it counted tonight, when we finally got to see what all of those reveals mean to the world of Red and Lizzie,. After the plethora of reveals in the last 10 minutes—or as NBC marketing would say, “You won’t believe the. LAST. TEN. MINUTES”—my jaw has resumed its formerly gaping position.
Season 1 focused on creating a world in which Red could be the number one criminal in America, hunting down other terrible criminals with the help of his specially chosen Padawan and her slightly more able special task force. Season 2 has focused on filling out those characters in order for them to make sense within Red’s magnetic orbit. Many have agreed that Season 2 hasn’t had quite the “Okay, just one more episode”-on-Netflix appeal that the first season did, and I think that’s mostly due to a shift toward more character-based surprises, rather than shocking glimpses into Red’s network of criminal activity.
And, honestly, Lizzie… it’s had a lot to do with the emphasis on Keen this season. Jon Bokencamp is pretty big on considering audience feedback, so I have to assume that if he’s heard our cries about Lizzie’s incompetence, they’re being mostly ignored with purposeful intent. Often when a series focuses on one particular agent/officer/detective, it’s because that agent is somehow special; they’re highly intuitive, or experienced, or have some sort of super power. By the end of the Fall Finale, it’s certain that there’s nothing extraordinary about Agent Elizabeth Keen, beyond for her mysterious connection Red. She is strictly human.
Though watching Liz transform into Semi-Dark Liz has been interesting—and a great turn for Megan Boone—tonight we realize not only that Lizzie has sacrificed her integrity as an FBI agent to keep Tom captive, but also that she can’t fully commit to that action in any way that could possibly give her significant power. Lizzie has dealt with Raymond Reddington turning her life upside down exactly as any average human would: horribly. She’s trying her best, but as Tom informs her, she’s simply not prepared for the life that’s been thrust upon her. This is both frustrating and understandable to an audience full of average people who prefer their characters to be extraordinary. But that’s why we (and Lizzie) have Red to pick up the pieces.
THE DECEMBRIST, NO. 12
The episode appropriately opens on the beginning of Lizzie’s fall from her once autonomous glory, with a flashback to the day that she was meant to kill Tom and didn’t. We learn through a sprint of a scene that she’s had Tom captive for over four months, taking him the moment after she shot him in last season’s finale, lying to Red, getting her friend to risk her medical license to save his life, and putting in a sweet offer to secure that warehouse on the water where she’s been harboring him ever since. And while I’ve been dying to know the details of Tom’s capture, it turns out the most interesting ones to hear are the questions she’s been asking him. Liz swings wildly from inquiring about Berlin to demanding answers on loose ends (Gina Zanetakos!!!) to personal betrayals—who were the guests at their wedding, Tom?
It all leads up to a repeat of the scene from last episode in which Tom asks Liz to just look him in the eye when she kills him. We find Red in the exact same place, as well, still standing with Zoe and her father after he so helpfully mended their branch of the Berlin family tree. Or rather, that’s the Kirchhoff family tree, as Zoe informs Red that her fathers’ former identity was Milos Kirchhoff. Berlin fills in the rest: In 1991, with the Soviet Union falling, he and a group of remaining Soviet officers had a meeting to discuss how to fight back against the progressives that was interrupted by a big ol’ bomb. It was called the Kirsk Bombing. 15 men were killed, and with them, the Soviet resistance.
With rumors of American involvement, one name rose to the top of the suspect list: Red’s. Shortly after the bombing, Berlin’s daughter was exposed to his former allies as a dissident and thrown into prison, while he was exiled to The Gulag, and as we know, sent her body piece by piece. Or so he thought. Zoe tells them there was a man who helped her escape; she never met him or knew his name, but to the people who got her out of prison, he was known as the Decembrist.
NEXT: The enemy of my enemy is my friend