Remember when Elizabeth Keen’s biggest problem was wondering if her Warby Parker-model husband was a spy? Remember when Elizabeth Keen’s biggest problem was Red? These days, Keen is a wanted terrorist, in the custody of a government that is infested to its very core by a shadow operation hell-bent on starting World War III, for reasons unspecified.
Over three seasons of The Blacklist, the problems of Elizabeth Keen have grown, and with them, the series itself has grown exponentially in scope. Remember when we just sat around wondering if Red was Liz’s dad? Remember when Jolene the substitute teacher was the largest disruptive force in Washington, D.C.? Yeah, I still don’t know why Red follows Liz around like a bloodhound (though apparently the Director does), but to that list I must also add: Why is Red giving those U.S. Treasury printing plates to the Foreign Minister of Venezuela so he can pass them along to the President of Venezuela in an effort to save Lizzie from an imminent death-by-shadow-government?
“It wasn’t weakness that prevented you from watching your friend die today — it was hope.”
My point is, Elizabeth Keen and her friends — her ridiculously noble friends — need a lot of hope to keep fighting this fight. They are up against insurmountable odds: They are being remotely suffocated by the Director of Clandestine Operations of the CIA, framed as Russian terrorists, and quadruple-teamed by teams with assault rifles in remote cabins in the woods. Only hope that there is still a light worth finding at the end of this tunnel could keep them fighting against the Cabal, and only hope that Jon Bokenkamp and his team have a plan to get themselves and their characters out of the grips of what would seem to be a nearly undefeatable force could keep this audience holding out for a hero.
And after tonight, with the stakes as high as they’ve ever been, I’d say I’m feeling pretty hopeful at just the right time.
THE DIRECTOR, NO. 24
“I’ve always believed luck to be a function of intent — in this case, mine.”
Heading into Thursday night’s midseason return, the intent of Red and the gang remains steadfast: Clear Elizabeth Keen’s name. It’s the same mission everyone, especially Red, has been working toward for the entire third season, seemingly with little progress. After all, Liz isn’t just an accused terrorist now; she’s an accused terrorist with nothing but a sheet of Plexiglas between her and the organization trying to kill her. But apparently this is the moment when we find out exactly what Red’s intent to clear her name still requires: “a sizable drug haul, an FBI heist, and the U.S. Treasury Department.” Seems easy enough; Liz actually making it through the day is where the luck comes in.
Things pick up right where we last left them, with Liz being arrested by Ressler and Red escaping in just the nick of time to keep his plan to save Lizzie afloat. Despite many warnings from Red, Ressler still thinks he can protect Liz from the Cabal. It’s almost adorable the way he marches her into the Post Office, all clad in a bulky protective vest, surrounded by officers, roots freshly dyed, and tucks her safely into The Box (THE BOX!!!) only to have the Director march in saying that Homeland has intel that a Russian terrorist attack is imminent, and as Keen is a Russian spy, he has orders to take her away to her death.
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Laurel Hitchin — member of the Cabal, didn’t you hear? — is rightly concerned. Even though she stone-cold killed Reven Wright, the woman still had a number of protocols in place for if Elizabeth Keen was ever captured, namely for the process to be overseen by someone named Cynthia Panabaker. But the Director assures her that they’ve taken down entire governments in less than three hours (the amount of time until the U.S. Marshals arrive to escort Liz to her hearing), making one little disgraced FBI agent disappear shouldn’t be a problem. And indeed, when he marches up with his orders to open The Box, Ressler is all, Damn, I really did not see this coming! Luckily, Aram did, and he’d already changed the code.
Finally aware that he’s in over his head, Ressler calls Red, who tells him to just make sure that when the time comes, to make sure Karakurt is delivered from his current citizen’s arrest at Cooper’s wife’s lover’s cabin in the woods (can’t make this up) to the FBI. Absolutely, says Donald, let me just run and tell Laurel Hitchin exactly what’s going on because if I’ve learned one thing here at the FBI-on-crack that is the Post Office task force, it’s that you should always trust the people up top. But let me try to be fair here — how could Ressler have known Laurel was a bad seed? Well, there’s one way…
NEXT: You gotta hit ’em with that “Rollo Tomasi”