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The Blacklist - Ep. 1.16 - Mako Tanida (No. 83) - Review

I feel too cold to live,
Too young to die...
Won't you follow me down
Into the jungle"
- Jungle - Jamie N Commons & X Ambassadors


Episodes, like last Monday nights, are usually saved for mid-season or season finales. Most shows I watch spread their "big moments" far apart in a season to bolster ratings. Most shows put "filler" episodes in between their more revealing ones to build anticipation. Most shows are not The Blacklist. Monday night we learned a little more about Ted Tim Tom, if that is his real name, witnessed many character deaths, and explored a flashback of Red's that shed a little more light into the past life of the Concierge Of Crime.

The main story concerned blacklister No. 83, Mako Tanida. He was imprisoned as a result of collateral damage during the FBI's hunt for Red long ago, but has since escaped. He was an associate of Red's and former Yakuza boss dealing in a long list of nefarious endeavors. Now, Tanida seeks vengeance from those who caught him, but mostly from the man that took over his criminal enterprise. I will admit that Mako Tanida is not a criminal I would expect to be a blacklister compared to other villains we have seen. However, what Tanida lacked in captivating us the other stories this episode more than made up for it.

The element that made Tanida such a high priority to the FBI was the same reason catching The Judge was so important. Where The Judge wanted Cooper killed, Tanida wanted Ressler to meet his end. The FBI wants to protect their own and after killing two agents, Tanida was coming for Ressler and his best friend and agent, Bobby Jonica. I could tell from meeting him for the first time that Jonica would be integral to the plot just as I thought Audrey was hiding something. I'll admit I did think Audrey was a double-agent, which, in hindsight, was not the best guess. I thought it was fishy when she was in Ressler's apartment and that is what The Blacklist has done to me; I question everyone's motives and anyone could be a spy. Audrey was just hiding a pregnancy test kit and that made her death all the more painful to Ressler. Her death was the motivation he needed to seek out Tanida and the following scenes were really cool to watch with Ressler and Jonica taking the situation into their own hands. After capturing Tanida it is revealed that Tensei, Tanida's younger brother whom the FBI thought was running his criminal empire, was deceased and Jonica was the individual he was ultimately seeking. Ressler figures this out about his best-friend but it was too late. Jonica shoots Tanida and the following struggle with Ressler causes the vehicle to crash. When he catches up to Jonica, who ran from the scene of the crash, he explains to Jonica that he is the reason for Audrey's death and not Red, who gave him 3 more months with her. This scene mirrors what Red told Ressler when they were trapped in the safety box at the Post Office by anslo Garrick in Episode 9 when he says, "Allegiances change. Friends today, enemies tomorrow." Ressler says to Jonica, "My greatest enemy brought her (Audrey) back, and my best-friend took her away."

The other story this week is the continuation of Tom's double-agent lifestyle. This new story line offers up so many questions which will no doubt set up the season finale six episodes from now. What is Tom's endgame? Who is Tom's superiors in Berlin? It was revealed that he married Liz because it was his mission and Jolene was sent to "check" on him. While watching the scenes with Tom and Jolene I couldn't help but think that this episode feels almost like an entirely new show. Tom is no longer the quiet, supportive husband with hints of a double-life; now he is acerbic and aggressive with hints of being a deadly assassin. The fight scene with Jolene was exciting to watch and I had no idea the outcome would be fatal. I thought the Jolene story line was far from over and would have really liked to see a confrontation between her and Red. Red still needed to keep tabs on her, which meant more of The Cowboy. I really liked Lance Reddick as The Cowboy and thought he would be a great asset to the show, but I should know better the way this episode was headed.

The writers made it obvious that Red needed to do something of importance on the 22nd and no other day would do. It turned out that he donates to a local production of Swan Lake that he wants performed every year on the 22nd of March. We get a cool flashback scene of Red's daughter performing in the play. She was in the play on March 22nd, 1987 for, what we assume, was the last time and Red still holds on to the program from that night. Red also becomes closer with Ressler in this episode in a few ways. He relates to Ressler's loss and the death of a loved one. Red also helps Ressler catch Tanida and when he escapes the car crash Red grants Ressler's earlier wish of having Tanida decapitated as a gift. Happy birthday Ressler.
The episode was a fun one to watch and the fight scenes really made it stand out. Tapping into the history of Red's motivations was an added bonus. With only six episodes left this season, I expect a roller-coaster ride until the very end. So many questions remain, but I'm sure we will get answers soon enough the way the writers reveal story arcs quickly. The next few episodes are going to be great and I can't wait to find out more about Tom and what his ultimate goals are. The show is getting dark and I think it will get darker as this season comes to a close.



Thoughts And Questions

- A story within a story is a literary device coined Mise en Abyme. Swan Lake is the story within this episode. There are some aspects of the play that mirror what is going on in The Blacklist and it's interesting pointing out the similarities. Swan Lake is a story about a prince and a maiden that fall in love. The maiden is cursed by an evil sorcerer that turns her into a swan during the day and a maiden at night. The evil sorcerer changes another maiden into looking like the one the prince fell in love with. Well, I won't spoil that story for you, but it is an interesting play. There are elements of secrecy, evil plots, and people pretending to be someone completely and entirely different than who they are.

- With Audrey out of the picture, is anyone else shipping Ressler and Liz?...to soon?...sorry.

- I thought it was funny when The Cowboy referenced The Corn Palace, which is an actual place.

- Best quote of the night: Red says to Ressler - "Once you cross over, there are things in the darkness that can keep your heart from ever feeling the light again"

- Did you notice...Tom's 'Wall o' Spy' had a ton of photos. Most of them were candid shots of key players, but one was of Aram facing the camera with a huge smile on his face. I had to laugh.

- Did you notice...Tom asks The Cowboy who sent him, "Younes or Salumbides?". Younes is Hebrew for "Sent". A neat little Easter Egg I thought you all would enjoy. Also, Itami, the name Tanida uses as an alias means pain or grief in Japanese.

- Now we know that Tom has known Red the entire time. He talks to Jolene about having a psychopath come to his house and stab him like a totem-pole. He is obviously referring to Zamani from episode one. How did he know that Red sent him? Who are 'they' that Tom keeps referencing? And who are his superiors in Berlin? He also makes note of Red funneling money to Sam, Liz's adoptive father, for a very long time.

- Now we know why Red needed the list from The Alchemist that Liz gives him. He wanted to see if Jolene was on that list. We were correct in suspecting Red using the cases he gave the FBI for his own personal gain.

- Tom's wall of photos shows pictures of Liz from when she was a little girl. How long has she been targeted? The most important question is WHY is she being watched? Liz said a mouthful when she jokingly said to Tom in the shower, "Kiss me Tim, or whatever your name is."

Thank you for checking out my post, comment below so we can discuss the show further.

About the Author - Geo N
My name is George and I am from Detroit, MI. My favorite shows are The Blacklist, Hell On Wheels, The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, LOST, Sons Of Anarchy, Sleepy Hollow and countless other shows. When I'm not watching tons of TV, I enjoy reading, playing hockey, comic books, weightlifting, and writing. Thanks for checking out my post.

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