The Blacklist will come to a close next week when the twenty-second and final episode of the first season airs on Monday evening. The show has garnered high praise in many quarters, and justifiably so. James Spader’s performance has been especially good and so has Megan Boone’s, as far as I am concerned. I am still behind on the show, having only watched up to episode 16, but that will be rectified this coming weekend, because I don’t want to fall too far behind, especially now that the end is so near. In the last three episodes, we saw how Red went on the warpath to hunt down everyone who had betrayed him and get his revenge, and it was extremely thrilling.
In episodes 14-16, we see the fallout of the last three episodes as Red joins back with the FBI and with Elizabeth Keen. Additionally, these are the episodes where the truth about Tom finally comes out and we find out just who he is, although the show still plays some cards close to the chest. In many ways, these episodes were the best of the show’s debut season, but that is largely because of the subplots involving Red’s capture and Tom’s real identity. Otherwise, the episodes are a bit boring and too on point.
Episode 14, “Madeline Pratt“, deals with someone from Red’s past making a return in his life. She needs him and his resources for a heist job, and this of course pulls in Elizabeth as well. It was quite interesting to see Red’s relationship with Madeline, which is often one of long-term close friends and also lovers. The dialogue between the two of them often gives credence to the latter, particularly when we start going into the territory of what happened to Red’s family on the night he found them all dead. The main story of this episode doesn’t seem like it, but it is indeed quite an emotional story on that front. We begin to get some understanding of the trauma that Red went through on that night, and it is significant that Red can talk about something like that with Madeline, someone on the Blacklist, rather than with Elizabeth, whom he has always been quite close with, as far as he is concerned.
The main story with Madeline itself is a fairly straight-forward story with a twist you can see coming from a mile off, but it is still fun for me. Maybe it is because I love the show Leverage and in general I love heist-capades, so this episode had quite a bit of that. It ends on a very interesting note, and the vibe I get is that the story between these two individuals, Red and Madeline, is nowhere near over.
Episode 15, “The Judge“, is when things get really interesting with the main story. In this one, we run up against The Judge, a near-mythical figure in the American prison system who hears cases from convicts on a very selective basis and then hands out judgement based on a review of the evidence. If the convict is found to be innocent, the sentence inflicted on him or her is inflicted on the man or woman who passed that sentence. The implications of that, as well as the reasons for Red and Elizabeth getting involved are quite obvious. And it all starts when a bedraggled, homeless man wandering county bylanes turns out to be a former district attorney who went missing more than a decade ago.
Once again, we have a fairly straightforward story, but the real fun of this episode is in the characterisation of not just The Judge, but also Harold Cooper, Elizabeth’s boss, himself. It turns out that a convict facing execution, Alan Ray Rifkin, has petitioned the Judge to hear his case, claiming innocence on charges of treason and attacking members of the military and what not. And it turns out that Cooper was one of the supervising officers in charge of that interrogation. As such he is the prime target for the Judge to exact revenge for Rifkin, should the former serviceman be found innocent by the Judge.
I didn’t mind this episode at all despite its straightforwardness because the mystery of the Judge’s identity and the evidence trail that Elizabeth and Donald Ressler follow is one of the more intriguing mysteries that the show has dealt with. By the end, you really have to wonder at the scope of things and appreciate the kind of things that Red is attempting to do.
The real kicker comes in at the end of the episode however, when we find out that Tom is definitely not the Tom that he pretends to be, but is something more. This has been around since the very first episode and Red often warned Elizabeth about her husband, although she either never listened, or some kind of proof was found otherwise. And we finally get to see Lance Reddick on this show. He is one of my favourite actors, ever since I saw Fringe actually, and he is as awesome here as he was on that show. This all is related of course, Tom’s secret, the mystery of Jolene Parker herself, and Red bringing in Lance Reddick’s character to track down Jolene. Really fun stuff.
And it all blooms in Episode 16, “Mako Tanida“. There are two storylines in this episode. The first deals with the escaped Japanese gangster Mako Tanida who is after all the agents on Donald’s task-force to hunt down Red years ago since they are responsible for the death of his brother, as far as he knows, and because they destroyed his entire operation. He starts off by killing one of the agents involved, and then begins to move down the list.
This was a really emotional episode on many levels. For one, there was a character death here that really felt like a gut-punch, especially since things had started to look rather bright of late in terms of how this supporting character tied in to one of the main cast. Then, there is the whole plot involving Tom, Lucy/Jolene and Reddick’s Cowboy. That subplot is absolutely a goldmine in this episode, since we get to see Tom in true action for the first time ever and see how ruthless he really can be. Lucy/Jolene gets a bit of a dumb moment at the end of the episode, but everything that follows is pretty damn good, and is the kind of thing that I’ve wanted to see on the show for a good long while.
Given all the intense action of this episode, not to mention all the character development subplots, this was definitely one of my favourite episodes of the show in its entirety, thus far. I loved the whole thing with Mako Tanida, especially once Red gets involved, and what happened with the trio of Tom, Lucy and Cowboy was of similar import. What the writers do in this episode is how wish all the episodes were followed. With Tom’s secret now slowly coming out, there’s going to be a hell of an explosion very soon, and I for one can’t wait to see what that is going to be like.
With the season so close to coming to an end, things are definitely ramping up on the show. There are so many plot threads that are beginning to intertwine that it is pretty crazy. Slowly, bit by bit, Red’s warnings to Elizabeth about Tom are coming true. Slowly, bit by bit, we are seeing what drives Red to become an “agent” of the FBI and cooperate with them to take down various bad guys all over the world. We see, bit by bit, what kind of a relationship he has with Elizabeth in the first place. And we see significant developments in nearly all of the main cast. Which is pretty fantastic in itself.
I’m all caught up with Episode 16, but I think that I am definitely going to blitz through the next set of three episodes really quick as well. This is not a show that I should be missing out on, that’s definitely been made clear to me given how the show has progressed.