The Blacklist recap: Two huge deaths rock Liz's world
On Friday night, we were treated to some extra time with two of the most fascinating characters in the Blacklist extended universe, Dom and Dembe. After all, they're the only other people in the world who seem to know the answers that Raymond Reddington insists on withholding from Elizabeth Keen. Coincidentally, they also happen to be the only two people outside the Task Force who Elizabeth Keen trusts to have her best interests at heart.
And yet she sees no correlation between their knowledge of the truth and their continued loyalty to Red. As a viewer, it's an odd feeling to want the exact same answers that Liz wants — and really, to have wanted them for just as long as her — and yet feel so completely frustrated by the methods she's taking to get those answers. Remember when Liz was using the ample means at her disposal as an FBI special agent to research Katarina Rostova and Ilya Koslov? That seemed like a good way to get some answers! But then remember when her alleged mother reemerged in her life, lied to her for a long time, endangered her daughter, and was super-mean to her… and then Liz was like, "I know how I'll get answers — I'll just piggyback off whatever THIS LADY'S up to!"
That plan has always had a couple too many holes for me to get behind.
And now Dom is dead, and everyone in the Task Force is saying it's Reddington's fault, even though Katarina is the one who landed him in the hospital, and Lizzie is the one who abducted and interrogated him while in a fragile physical and emotional state. [Insert GIF of woman looking perplexed by math equations here]
Reddington may be at the eye of this storm, but surely they can see that he's not the one kicking up all the dust? I want Elizabeth to get her answers, I really do — because Elizabeth getting answers means us getting answers. I just wish she'd work a little smarter, not harder. Although, I guess I should allow that Liz might not have that nuanced level of thinking when she just watched the man she once thought was her father kill the woman she now thinks was her mother…
Needless to say, it's all a little complicated. So you're going to want to keep your arms and legs inside the recap, look away from Dembe's sad, tortured eyes, and pay very close attention to every single thing Dom says. Let's get into it:
Katarina Rostova: No. 3 (Conclusion)
The episode picks back up with Dom still in the custody of Liz and Katarina, and Liz is giving him the business. She's mad that he's calling her Masha, she's mad that he claims he's keeping Reddington's secrets to protect her, and she's mad that he (allegedly) tried to kill her (alleged) mother all those years ago. "That woman," Dom croaks. "You abducted me for her?"
You'll notice that while Liz is talking to Dom, he only ever refers to the woman who shot him up as "that woman" or "her." When Liz eventually decides that Dom is too weak to interrogate and heads out for additional medical help, Katarina emerges to do her own questioning. But by that point, Dom's health has deteriorated so far that he's hallucinating, and speaking in Russian as though he's living in his mind from 50 years ago. And in that mind, he sees and speaks to the current Katarina as though she's the younger Katarina, played by Lotte Verbeek. All these things point to the idea that Katarina's identity isn't exactly as cut and dry as "this woman is this man's daughter," but it's also not exactly being presented as "this woman is obviously an imposter."
Seeing the face of his daughter from when she was a young woman, Dom says, "You're here… He gave me back to you, I thought I lost you forever." Dom tells Katarina that he knows what she's planning, and that she thinks it's her only way out of danger. But Katarina counters that she's not just in danger, she's being hunted by the Townsend Initiative because they think she stole Sikorsky Archive.
"Because you did," Dom rasps. Katarina is confused, insisting she was framed, and that Dom needs to tell her the true identity of N13 to secure her safety. "Reddington…" Dom mumbles. Katarina asks if Reddington took the Sikorsky archive. "You took it," Dom whispers. "But he has it — and so do you." Katarina is confused by this admittedly confusing statement… but I think one day we might look back at it as the key to everything.
Today is not that day, however, because we will be getting exactly no keys from this episode, even though Lizzie spends almost the entire hour yelling at everyone about how she's doing all this for answers.
Liz calls Ressler to meet up to ask for more medical help from the FBI for Dom, and she can't believe that he would think she might risks Dom's life, even though she super abducted him (and yes, he has died by the end of this episode thanks to the stress of his interrogation by Liz and Katarina). But since Red put a tracker on Ressler, the only thing this meetup ultimately results in is Red's men abducting Lizzie so she can't return to Katarina. Or as Red puts it to Cooper: "What choice do I have? If I let her go, she'll warn Grendel's mother."
Red is extra-aloof in this episode, which also makes him extra-hilarious. If he's genuinely hurt by Lizzie's betrayal, he's not showing it. More so, he seems to have shuttered his emotional connection with her so he can do what needs to be done. And in Reddington's eyes, what needs to be done is eliminating this woman, but as Lizzie tells him herself: "If you hurt her, we're done here… Whatever relationship we hard or have will be over." And either that is a risk Reddington is willing to take or he's perhaps picked up on the fact that Liz rarely holds very strongly to her convictions.
Red has the advantage of knowing what Katarina will do once she's gotten the answers she needed from Dom, which Dom confirms that she has once Red finds him let alone in the warehouse. As Dom takes his final breaths with his daughter's name on his lips, Red tells him, "She loves you — she always has, and nothing can ever change that." So you can go ahead and scribble that one down in your clue notebooks too, folks!
And then it's back to business. Katarina steals a car and calls a Mr. Heidegger, apparently the highest-ranking representative of the Townsend organization in the Western Hemisphere. Mr. Heidegger is confused because Katarina Rostova is supposed to be dead, and she says that's what she needed him to think, but now she wants to seal her safety for good by giving him the true identity of N13. He tells her to meet him at a nearby park…
And then the cameras pull back to reveal that Reddington was in the room the whole time, telling the man what to say. When Katarina arrives at the park, she sits down on the benches with Mr. Heidegger and begins telling him that Reddington is N13, only to discover that Heidegger is dead and Reddington has a gun to her head. Red tells her, for what it's worth, he didn't know what Dom was planning in Belgrave, and Katarina says she believes him. But after Belgrave, he still led everyone to believe she was N13 when it was really him all along. "I could have helped you, the way I always have, kept you one step ahead," Red tells her. "But staying safe wasn't enough, you needed answers — now you have them, and they've destroyed you."
Katarina plays her final card, telling Reddington that if he kills her, Liz will never forgive him. And right on cue, we see Liz escaping from Dembe and stealing his car to try and save Katarina from Reddington.
Red pulls his gun on Katarina, as she smirks: "My God, I can't imagine what this must be like for you, to know you can't kill me because of how much Elizabeth loves her mother."
But in whatever ways I'm sure we'll eventually learn that Katarina is right about this statement, there's one part she's wrong about. As Liz comes running up to the scene, Reddington shoots Katarina two times, killing her in front of Lizzie. He loads into a car with his men before the FBI can arrive, with Liz screaming after him, "You'll never get away with this!" and then dropping to the ground, sobbing for all she's lost… and all that she still hasn't found.
A few loose ends:
- The Blacklist won't return until after the holidays, but rest assured that when it does, Liz is going to have one hell of a voicemail to listen to, given that Katarina dialed up her phone the moment Red pulled a gun on her.
- Red is so over it in this episode, which means he is roasting everyone to a crisp. Some favorites: "You only want information to get to Agent Keen before we do." "If history is any indication, Harold, you may never get to Agent Keen without me." Ya burnt, Cooper!
- To Ressler: "Boy, she played you!… I mean, if this was high school prom, she'd be the pretty loner standing on the sidelines, and you'd be the second-string quarterback, guzzling down the punch, hoping to cop a feel off her during 'Stairway to Heaven.'" Red! You did not have to do him like that!
- "Take it easy, Donald, the veins on your neck are straining."
- To be fair to Liz, she also gets a pretty good one off on Red when he tells her he can't explain his disappointment in her, and she exclaims sarcastically, "Oh, thank God!"
- See you back here in the new year for some Blacklist resolutions!