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- James Spader
SWEEEEEEEEPS! I would like to thank Jon Bokencamp, Mr. Kaplan, and May Sweeps for this episode of The Blacklist. I would also like to thank the beam of sunlight that follows Little Liz’s mom around, the continued theme of bespectacled men with many layers, and Tom Connolly, for continuing to be the total slimeball we’ve always known he was.
Often, the most entertaining episodes of The Blacklist come when big truths are revealed or there’s a life-altering incidence—they are absolutely never when Lizzie says any variation of “you and me, we’re through” to Red. But tonight, we were dealing with a lot of facts we already know. Even with the Fulcrum finally being unlocked by Leonard Caul, everyone already knew what was on it. A bunch of 25-year-old blackmail. Blackmail that has both kept Red alive for as long as we (or Lizzie) have known him, and blackmail that nearly killed him following the Cabal’s vote at the end of the last episode.
But Red… Red likes to be prepared for all contingencies. And that means having a full medical staff on 24/7 call should the situation ever arise where his FBI confi-daughter (not saying she’s his daughter, just saying) forks over the blackmail file she for some reason is in possession of because she found out he once hired a man to spy on her, then that man married her, then revealed himself to be a spy, then she kidnapped him and held him on a ship, and now she doesn’t want anything to do with Red for the seventh time in recent memory… and then he gets shot. If that ever happens—and it did—Red is prepared.
Even in an episode where he is unconscious for more than a half of the hour, the plot of tonight’s episode inevitably revolves around Red; because everything revolves around Red. The biggest problem The Blacklist has had in its sophomore run is that anytime Spader leaves the screen, we’re left with characters whose lives are far less interesting than the mysterious one he leads. Because Lizzie isn’t even interested in her own life. She’s interested in what Reddington has to do with her life, and really, that destructively singular focus on figuring out her past as it relates to Red is much more interesting than Liz actually ever getting her shit together. And the more the show embraces that everything boils down to Red, the easier it is to have episodes that don’t revolve entirely around James Spader. We’re with Lizzie for the majority of this episode and her just being along for the ride—letting herself be devoured—that Red has turned her life into is the most interesting she’s ever been.
There’s just no fighting it. Even for random former CIA agents, for sociopathic teenage spies, for little girls without memories, for the biggest baddies in the world, and the highest ranking government officials… it all comes down to Raymond Reddington: What he knows, what he doesn’t, and if he’s willing to let anyone else in on any of it.
LEONARD CAUL, No. 63
The last time we saw Red and Lizzie, one was bleeding out of his mouth as the result of a gunshot wound, and the other was firing back at the general direction of the fired bullet. Tonight, our first glimpse of Red and Lizzie is in a dark room where many, many pictures of them are being developed by what looks to be a highly skilled stalker.
Liz and Dembe get Red into the car and Liz calls Cooper to figure out how to get him to a hospital as soon as possible, but Dembe throws her phone out the window. Red doesn’t do hospitals; Red has *77, aka, Mr. Kaplan. As soon as Lizzie calls her, Mr. Kaplan gets back with the address of a warehouse where she’ll meet them. Then the rapid fire “Code 77” texts to doctors, nurses, and EMTs start going out to the tune of “Save Me” by Hanni El Khatib; they all immediately drop what they’re doing to go meet Mr. Kaplan. No one makes massive blood loss seem like quite as much of a party as Raymond Reddington.
NEXT: Who shot Raymond Reddington?