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The Blacklist - Ep 1.17 - Ivan (No. 88) - Review

"When I was a little girl, I had these terrible nightmares...
My dad would lay in bed with me, and hold me in his arms,
And hum that song. He'd tell me I was safe. That everything Was going to be ok."
- Liz to Red

Trailers for upcoming episodes of any TV show are usually misleading, deceitful and often puzzling. They are meant to attract viewers to watch the show when it airs rather than wait for our DVR or TiVo recording. The trailer for the latest episode of The Blacklist, Ivan, performed all of the above. It was so captivating I watched the original airing, which I never do; I usually watch the episode the following morning around 6AM (I know, I get up way too early, but I do that every morning not just for TV...sometimes). I couldn't wait. When I saw Tom hiding behind that back door at 1896 La Vista Street (his spy lair) with Liz creeping up to that very same door, it appeared they locked eyes through the hinge-gap (I just created that word - don't worry, I can do that); I just had to see what came next. It was well worth it, because what came next was some great scenes and the reveal at the end had worn out my remotes rewind and play buttons.

The episode last week showed Tom burying the dead bodies of The Cowboy and Jolene and I thought to myself, "There is no way anyone will be able to find those two". This week's episode begins with Mr. Kaplan standing vigil, in her uber expensive Vicuña wool jacket, over the open grave site of the recently deceased. How did she do that?!? I suppose it doesn't matter, however this new information allows Red to initiate a missing persons case for Jolene. Hopefully, for Tom's sake, he did a better job at hiding evidence for his double-homicide side mission than he did in getting rid of Uncle Flippo.
This weeks criminal is the elusive Russian hacker Ivan, number 88 on the blacklist. There were plans to change the title to Harrison Lee, but I suppose that did not pan out. Perhaps we will see more of Ivan in a future episode where he can get an entire hour devoted to Red poking fun at him and the FBI trying to catch him? The main culprit of the episode is Harrison Lee, an intelligent high school student skilled in the intricacies of cyber-hacking. You would think he would computer-hack his way to a billion dollars, but instead he utilizes his vast knowledge of breaking and altering computer code to get the object of his affection and her family to not move out of state. At first, Red and the FBI suspected it was Ivan that hacked the vehicle's on-board computer, causing it to crash, killing the NSA agent driving. However, it is later revealed to be Lee behind the accident and subsequent theft of sensitive program data. The program that was stolen is dubbed 'The Skeleton Key' and was created as a means to disrupt foreign communications during times of war. As Red so eloquently put it, "It is the digital equivalent of a nuclear warhead".

I've mentioned before how Liz has been getting bolder and more courageous in her duties since her first day on the job and, of course, the day Red came literally strolling into her life. In each episode she appears to be getting more mentally capable and apprehends Harrison Lee using more daring choices, however, she also puts herself into more precarious positions as a result. Either way, I like Liz a lot more now than I did at the beginning of the season. She makes quicker decisions now and the chase scene in the subway was really cool the way Liz leapt onto the moving train to get closer to Lee.
The secondary story this week involves Tom and Liz's turbulent relationship and with the triumphant first season of The Blacklist coming to a close in the next few weeks we should probably call that the primary feature. Red calls in a missing persons report for Jolene and as a result a detective comes to pay Liz and Tom a visit. What surprised me is Tom, being a super-spy assassin, looked remarkably suspicious when answering the door and giving simple responses to the detective regarding Jolene's whereabouts. Shouldn't he have the foresight and the training needed to stay cool and calm in situations like that? The creators did such a great job building up Tom's clandestine background only to have him fumble his way through Monday night's episode. Still, the way he slammed that door in her face before punching her was cringe-worthy and I felt he was going to get caught right there (stupid trailers). I had a feeling that the Uncle Flippo toy would mean something later on, but I had no idea a simple children's novelty would play a crucial role in Tom's downfall.

The episode ends with a heartfelt moment between Liz and Red set to classical music. She recalls the night a fire ravaged her home and smoke was everywhere. The orange glow of the flames and the stuffed bunny in her flashbacks, if you recall, are from a similar scene she remembers back in Episode Ten. The memory is bittersweet as Liz notes her dad would lay in bed with her some nights and hum the song playing on Red's 1940 Sorrento music box. It is implied in this scene that Red is Liz's father, but I still don't think it is a definitive answer. If you recall earlier in the episode, Liz asks Red what he knows about Jolene and during this scene he says to her, "I have never lied to you". At the end of the mid-season finale he tells her, "No", when asked if he is her father. Now, I am just confused. I think we still need a little more information before we can truly say that Red is or is not Liz's dad.
The Blacklist on Monday night was a little slow at first but it definitely had memorable moments. Liz discovering Tom's true identity is not something I expected to see, especially this early on in respect to what promises to be a long run for the series. The scene with Liz and Red at the end was ambiguous, but important in bringing Red and Liz closer in their relationship. Liz will certainly need Red and all his resources in the coming weeks if Tom realizes she is aware of his double-identity. There are only 5 more episodes left this season and the one next week is looking to be another great hour for The Blacklist...at least it looks that way from the trailer.

Thoughts And Questions

- I usually place a relevant quote from the song that is playing during the episode, but since there were no lyrics to this weeks musical piece I'll just give you the Title and Artist here: Tempo Di Minuetto in the Style of Mozart - Leslie Howard
It was very tranquil and relaxing which was paradoxical next to the scenes of fire and smoke that Liz was recollecting.

- Not that it's important, but how did Mr. Kaplan locate the bodies of Jolene and The Cowboy? She made it clear that she didn't know who did it so it's not like she followed anyone there.

- I thought it was funny when Red said to Ivan about Ivan's tablet, "Do you find all the fingerprints distracting, or does that sort of thing not bother you?

- Is anyone else concerned that some country could possibly have a program like 'The Skeleton Key' in their possession?...Just kidding...or am I?

- I thought it was funny the way Liz described her assailant - Male, Caucasian, Over 6 Ft. Tall, Dark Hair - does that sound like someone you know Liz, lol??? It should have been - Male, Caucasian, Over 6 Ft. Tall, Dark Hair, ...Glasses, Is a Substitute Teacher by Day/Spy at Night, Answers to the name Tom, Is My Husband...

- Did Liz go to Red because he was right about Tom all along or is it because she just feels safe around him? Or is it a hybrid of the two?

- I hope we get to find out who 'Berlin' is that Tom keeps referencing.

- Do you think, because of that final scene, that Liz believes Red is her father? How else would Red know that her dad used to hum that song to her?

Thank you for checking out my Review! Please comment below so we discuss the episode 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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