The past two weeks we were treated to a two-part mid-season finale for The Blacklist. The show gets exponentially better every week and the finale was no exception. Every episode is action-packed and the writers jump write into the fight with "Anslo Garrick". Just like any mid-season finale should be, this was filled with more questions than it answered. Just when we thought we knew where the show was headed or who the major players were the writers throw us a curve-ball in form of Anslo Garrick, or as I like to call him, Wile E. Coyote. Ritchie Coster played the role of Anslo Garrick superbly and his lines gave us laughs as well new information into Red's covert background.
We open with Lizzy mourning her dearly departed. We get a nice flashback to the incident that left her scarred as a child, and sadly that's all the info we will get on that until hopefully the second half of the season. I intrigued to find out the relevance between the scar shape and the marking on the box she found beneath her floorboard.
We find Reddington in Germany getting tricked by the FBI who think they are protecting him. He jumps at the chance to help Liz only to find the FBI have fumbled again and detained Red based on intel that was meant to do just that, to bring Red into the black site so a former antagonist of Reds, Anslo Garrick, can capture, and most likely, torture and kill him. Ressler is tasked with babysitting Red which always makes for a fun and interesting back and forth and this time is no different. I love when these two characters are together and was glad to get more info on their back story. We learn that Agent Ressler was engaged to be married but it fell apart due to his "engagement" in tracking Red. I'm sure it was Red who called Ressler's ex-fiance at the end of the episode but we will not find out the truth until next year, if at all. At this point we find Red and Ressler inside the safe box while Red's former associate and current tormentor, Anslo Garrick, is outside waiting. Garrick seems a formidable foe to both Red and the FBI and it would have been interesting had he lived and not knowing where and when he would strike. There is a definite connection between the two criminals, one that we haven't seen in past black-listers. They have definitely worked together in the past but it's not clear what exactly went wrong between them. We know at some point the two clashed and Red shot Anslo in the face in the hopes of killing his partner. Anslo lived with with scar ever since, using it as his motivation for revenge. It's obvious Red was the brains and the leader of their past criminal relationship; if you look closely you can see an echo of this a few times in the episode when Red yells and Anslo stops at attention and also the apparent neediness of Anslo in the presence of Red. Garrick provided small doses of comedic relief throughout the episode and I thought it funny when he referenced the Coyote and Road-Runner cartoons only to meet his demise at the hands of Red by being just as foolish as the titular coyote. Although they are both criminals and have no doubt done some terrible things in their respective pasts, together and apart, they couldn't be more opposite now. The scene where Anslo ineffectively and pointlessly shoots at the glass at Red is the perfect example of this. Inside, Red is saving someone's life, whether he cares for that life or not, while outside, Anslo Garrick is carelessly murdering his own men and instead of saving the man's life just puts him out of his misery. Where Red has a cool and collective demeanor, Anslo is reactive and acerbic.
Part 2 of finale was just as action-packed as the first and James Spader's character, Red, does not disappoint. In true Blacklist fashion we were meant to believe one thing while something entirely different is fast approaching in the background. Last week we were left thinking Dembe was shot and killed only to find out the gunshot was from Liz. I like Dembe's character and was relieved to see he made it out alive and watching him chase down the ambulance Red and Liz were kidnapped in was incredible and speaks to his close relationship with Red. After some heroics by Liz in the ambulance and making her escape, Red is brought to a remote site where he is tortured by Anslo and it's hard to see Reddington in such a vulnerable position after a season of him always being two steps ahead of everyone. Per usual, Red never wants to show his true emotions, his poker face being one of his best assets, and literally smiles in the face of his torturer. You can't help but think that Red always has a Plan B. At that moment the action heats up even more when Red's very own mercenaries show up to attempt his safe, yet failed, extraction. In another bait-and-switch tactic used by the writers we learn Anslo was hired by someone else, Mr. Fitch, someone who appears far more dangerous and played by the great Alan Alda. It was interesting to see Red in such a disadvantaged position, something we never saw in episodes prior. Even when we thought he was in peril he always seemed to turn it around to his advantage. Now with the emergence of a new enemy, whom we know virtually nothing about, we will possibly see Red in more vulnerable situations to get himself out of, which will make for some amazing television.
Now we know the connection to those men that were spying on Lizzy and Tom across the street, as Aram (who was great in this episode), cracks a code for Liz that leads her right to them. Liz is desperately trying to save Reddington's life knowing that he has done the same to help her and she is returning the favor. Liz is definitely getting tougher as the season progresses, as is evident by her killing bad guys at will now, thinking faster and taking bigger and bolder risks.
The Episode ends with Ressler recovering and enjoying a visit from his former fiance. We are left to wonder if he is possibly the mole feeding information from the FBI to criminal enterprises looking to keep better tabs on the ever elusive "Concierge of Crime", Raymond Reddington. Red looks to be hiding in plain sight, but hiding none-the-less, and without his comfortable, luxurious lifestyle. He makes one last phone call to Lizzy and she asks him flat out if he is her father. Red's answer of "no" seemed as honest as his criminal lifestyle would make you believe. As the audience, we were trained in the first 10 episodes that criminals lie and are not to be trusted and I am holding Red to that standard in regards to this subject. That's part of the beauty of this show, we can't wait to find the answers to all the mysteries that come our way...and there are plenty puzzles to piece together and I for one can't wait for more clues come January 13th, 2014.
The success of The Blacklist is in no small part due to it's action-packed episodes and the overarching mystery. We are treated to both in large doses in the final two installments before the winter break. It appears Anslo was working for some larger clandestine operation whose goals and illegal activities we don't know yet. We do know that that organization is hesitant in killing Red for fear of what he has in play in case of his death. The mid-season finale may have left us with more of a mystery and more questions but we are certain about Red's tenacity and dedication. He is always two steps ahead of everyone and was at least a step ahead of Anslo Garrick. Anslo deserved the end he got but what of Red's end? Where Red once gave the FBI "black list" criminals he now is the lists sole occupant. He makes one final phone call to Liz to whom he says he will always be watching over and protecting.
The episode was by far my favorite of the season and I can't express how much I love James Spader on this show. I like seeing how cool and confident the singular and magnetic Reddington is even in the face of imminent and certain defeat and Spader portrays him flawlessly. "And if you've surmised nothing about me by now, I'll be around for the sequel" Red says to Ressler as they are trapped inside the bullet proof box with no chance of escape.
Thoughts & Questions For The Break
-The conversation in the safe box between Ressler and Red, I think, is a comment on the entire show. "Allegiances change. Friends today, enemies tomorrow." That's exactly what Red has done since Episode One. He's wanted to change alliances to be closer to Liz. He doesn't want to be just a criminal anymore and wants to become friends instead of enemies with the FBI and be able to protect Elizabeth in the process. By the end of the finale Red is once again an enemy of the FBI and in perfect poetic fashion is now the ONLY criminal on the black list.
-Who else knows about Red's contract with the FBI?
-What did Red mean when he told Liz at the end of the episode to watch out for Tom? What does Red know about Tom? What is the truth about Tom? And, most importantly, why doesn't Red just come out and tell Lizzy what Tom is all about?
-I like how we got to see part of the flashback of the fire that caused Lizzy's scar but what does it stand for or represent?
-Why did the box under Lizzy's floor board have an etching similar to her scar?
-In Episode 5 Grey and Red speak of an adversary of theirs, is Mr. Fitch that adversary?
-Any other thoughts and or questions please list in the comment section below. I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas for the next set of episodes. This is also my first post on this amazing site so please let me know if I am too detailed or not enough.