The Blacklist Season 1 Eps 17-20 (TV Show Review)
Notcounting today, there are just three days left until the debut season of The Blacklist comes to a close. When I reviewed episodes 14-16 of the show a few days ago, I talked about the critical success of the show, as well as the fact that the show has had a pretty stable viewership of around (just shy actually) 11million viewers. I’m no expert, but that sounds good to me! When you have a great show that combines some great acting, some great casting and some great stories, then this is, inevitably, the result. Doesn’t work out in a few special cases, but more often than not it does, and when it kicks off like The Blacklist does, that’s when the fun really starts to kick off.
With all the revelations that happen in episodes 15 and 16 that all of Red’s suspicions about Tom were correct, episodes 17-20 deal with the fallout of that as Liz, inevitably, finds out about all of it, marking a big emotional downturn for her, even as things heat up significantly for Red in that someone is targeting his entire network with the intention of taking him down. As with all the other episodes, while the main episodic stories are fun, the meta-stories about the web of relationships between the main cast is what makes this show truly worth watching.
Episode 17, “Ivan” deals with the theft of a secret NSA project referred to as the Skeleton Key, which can basically give the owner of the prototype system full control of a country’s electronic infrastructure. Things take a turn for the weird when it turns out that a high-school hacker stole the project because he is utterly infatuated with a girl in his school. The rest, as they say, is history. This episode plays up the whole creepy hacker stereotype for the villain involved, and this leads Liz and Red on quite a chase in different parts of the world. I kinda liked the whole thing actually because when you deal with top-secret electronic/digital stuff such as the Skeleton Key, then things are bound to happen as they happened here.
And most of all, this episode also marked the first physical confrontation between Tom and Liz following the death of Jolene Parker in the previous episode, for which the police is now involved for a missing person’s case. With Aram’s help at the Task Force base, Liz tracks down Jolene’s last-known location, and things get extremely tense since Tom is in the hideout when Liz comes investigating. This was bound to happen sooner or later anyway, and those few minutes proved to be some of the most thrilling moments of the episode. With the viewers now fully aware of Tom’s real identity, the tension in the show has definitely ratcheted up as well.
Episode 18, “Milton Bobbit” is all about a man called the Undertaker who, according to Red, acts as a murder broker, getting ordinary people to commit some of the most horrific assassinations, assassinations in which the assassins die as well. This was somewhat of a boring episode, truth be told, because it is very similar to a couple of the earlier episodes and it doesn’t really do anything different either, which is a shame. A shame that the show depends on such a tried and tested and done-with plot formula so late in the season.
However, where this episode gets really, really good is when Liz herself learns the staggering truth about Tom and that he is not who she has thought he was the past two years. And not only that, but that his brother Craig is the same as him, and isn’t even his brother. This marks Red’s entry into the scene as he tries to get information out of Craig, to mixed results. With Liz knowing about Tom, the show definitely takes yet another upswing, and it is quite surprising how much Liz controls herself in her scenes here, because we know that she just wants to smash his face in for everything he has done to her, in retrospect.
Episode 19, “Pavlovich Brothers“, the titular characters return after their brief stay in the season premiere. This time, they are after a former Chinese scientist who was recently broken out of a Chinese labour camp by a CIA team. When Red hears that the Brothers are going to be back in Washington DC, he informs Liz immediately and from here on out we get one of the most focused episodes of the entire season. And also one of the absolute best. This is one of those few episodes of the show where the episodic story ties in directly to the meta-story and is absolutely thrilling.
By this point, Tom eventually figures out that Liz knows his secret and since his cover is blown, he decides to high-tail it back to his Berlin buddies in a safehouse somewhere in the city. But things definitely do not work out for him, because this is Red we are talking about, one of the most resourceful men on the planet, if not the most resourceful. The way that Red turns the tables on Tom is a high-point of the entire season and provides lots of opportunities for intense action, whether physical or otherwise. This episode’s character development elements were the best I’ve seen, and this was truly a great episode.
Finally, episode 20, “The Kingmaker” is about all setup in the last few episodes coming to the fore. One of Red’s agents is compromised quite publicly and this is when he finds out that there is indeed someone targeting him specifically, and his network as well. We don’t learn the identity of this mysterious enemy, but what this show does is bring back Fitch, who was around in the Anslo Garrick duet and is apparently one of the most dangerous men in the show. And through Fitch, we are exposed to a really big conspiracy going on behind American politics, because this is global, not regional.
And as always, we see more of the meta-story with the main cast as Liz struggles to make sense of and come to terms with Tom’s betrayal and the truth of who she is. And this is where the show kicks into overdrive because the revelation that Tom hinted at to Liz in the previous episode blooms in this one as Liz finds out the truth about her father’s death. This is something that I’ve been looking forward to since we saw Red murder her terminally ill father, and something that has really been keeping me on my toes. That all this comes at a time when Liz is starting to trust Red again is just an unfortunate coincidence. Watching this particular train-wreck unfold is gut-wrenching, because you know how it is going to turn out, yet you are driven to find out the details and see for yourself.
Each of these four episodes features some interesting plots, the second pair more than the first pair, but like I said, the meta-story is much more intriguing than the episodic stories, and that’s largely because the former have had time to develop over the entire season so far and now we are finally reaping the dividends of that investment. After all the cryptic remarks and the whispers about Tom that we’ve heard, we finally see that he is absolutely not who he is said to be and that he basically loved a false life with Liz for two years, two years!
The place where Liz is at right now, that is something that only enhances the character as far as I’m concerned, rather than take away, and I can’t wait to see how the next two episodes work out, this week’s penultimate episode and next week’s season finale. More than that however, I want to learn just what the exact relationship between Liz and Red is. I think I’ve figured it out, but I can’t be sure, so I’m definitely hooked on here and it is one of the things that is keeping me going.
I won’t mention the performances here this time however, because I don’t see the point really. James Spader, Megan Boone and Ryan Eggold are absolutely fantastic as Red, Liz and Tom, and that’s the end of it. They rock their roles to the utmost. And the supporting cast of Parminder Nagra, Harry Lennix and Diego Klattenhoff are also high-five worthy. What more needs to be said after that?
Posted on May 10, 2014, in Review Central, The Blacklist, TV Show Reviews and tagged Alan Alda, Amanda Kate Shuman, Amir Arison, Aram Mojtabai, Betrayal, CIA, Conspiracy, Crime, Daniel, Dembe, Diego Klattenhoff, Donald Ressler, Double Agent, Drama, Elizabeth Benjamin, Elizabeth Keen, Emily Tremaine, Espionage, FBI, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Fitch, Global Conspiracy, Harry Lennix, Hisham Tawfiq, Intelligence Drama, Ivan, J. R. Orci, James Spader, Jolene Parker, Jon Bokenkamp, Karen Gaviola, Kingmaker, Lance Reddick, Lucy Brooks, Lukas Reiter, Megan Boone, Milton Bobbit, NBC, Parminder Nagra, Paul Edwards, Pavlovich Brothers, Politics, Randy Zisk, Raymond Reddington, Review, Ryan Eggold, Spies, Steven A. Adelson, Susan Blommaert, Terrorism, The Blacklist, The Blacklist Season 2 Ep 17, The Blacklist Season 2 Ep 18, The Blacklist Season 2 Ep 19, The Blacklist Season 2 Ep 20, Thriller, Tom Keen, TV Show, TV Show Review, US Senate. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.