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The Blacklist - Karakurt (No.55) - Review: "Hello Stranger"

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Ohh, If you're not gonna stay
(Ooh) Please don't tease me
Like you did before
Because I still love you so
- "Hello Stranger" - Barbara Lewis

For the first time in the series' run The Blacklist has had two straight weeks with ratings under 7 million, with 6.6 and 6.9, respectively. When you add in the DVR viewership The Blacklist does very well, especially in the important '18-49' demo. I mention all of this because it's that time of year when networks pickup and drop shows in excess and I wanted you all to see where it stands. I know The Blacklist has been approved for a Season Three, but let's hope the ratings don't drop too low because I, as I imagine most of you, want a Season Four, Five and Six.

Much like the episode 'Quon Zhang' from two weeks ago, last Thursday's hour also seemed like a set-up for the finale. That's not to say they were bad, I actually enjoyed them, but a lot of the answers we have been waiting for were merely teased to us through carefully constructed conversations between some of the characters. Primarily it was Liz trying her hardest to get Red to provide her with answers she has been seeking about her parentage, mostly about the mysterious woman in the picture she took from Red's flat a few episodes ago.

Last Thursday's penultimate episode of season two of The Blacklist revealed the Cabal's immediate intentions involving the looming 'war' Red has forewarned us about. The Cabal has been set-up for, at least, this season's 'Big-Bad'. However, it wasn't until this past episode that we see them flex their muscles and show what villainy they are truly capable of performing. I realize they have been carrying out operations in the background for quite some time, but this past episode shows them actively taking steps toward taking out not only CIA operatives, but our very own Liz, showing that no one is off-limits to their clandestine organization.

The episode's blacklister was Karkaurt, an extremely dangerous Russian assassin. Karakurt was mentioned by Quon Zhang, at the end of the episode from two week's ago, claiming he was already on US soil. The Cabal hired Karkurt to kill Senator Hawkins using a highly sophisticated biomedical weapon. This weapon, a virus, is extremely customized and keyed to infect one individual with a specific genetic sequence. They wanted to frame Liz by making it appear as though she is the one who purposely infected the Senator with the unique strain of the virus while simultaneously infecting her. I thought it was a very clever and crafty way to get the job done on the Cabal's part. As much as love The Blacklist, I do not remember the last time I was actually concerned for a character.

Due to the intense ending of the last episode I am very excited for the finale this week. We are left wondering (at least I am) how the writers can pack in all that needs to be told, and the story threads that need to be tied together, in the hour they are given. One story line I am particularly looking forward to see play out is Liz and Tom's. I thought it was interesting the song that was playing while they were at the diner was "Hello Stranger" by Barbara Lewis. I know some of you do not, by any means, want Liz to get back together with Tom, while some of you, I have noticed, really do want them to reignite their love for each other. I'm not sure where I stand, to be honest. Like Barbara hinted at, they are strangers at this point - they even have different names from the ones they currently use for each other (Tom is Jacob and Liz is Masha). Liz doesn't know who Tom really is and I don't think Tom understands the woman he has turned Liz into and what she has become since she found out about his treachery involving their marriage. It's no mystery Tom sincerely loves and cares for Liz and Liz always seems to have that sparkle in her eye when she talks to Tom, but can that be enough to form a long lasting and strong bond between the two given their history? At this point, I suppose, they are just strangers to each other, starting fresh, and it's up to them to see if they can get past their prior transgressions.

When I was watching the episode a second time I was thinking about the title I would use for my review. The first thing that came to me, while watching the twist ending and Liz's hectic and tumultuous situation unfold, was the 1973 song by Lynyrd Skynyrd, "Gimme Three Steps". I am not a big Rock 'n Roll fan, but I do enjoy that song. The song is about a man dancing with a girl at a bar when her husband or boyfriend enters with a gun, angrily thinking she is cheating on him. The song's chorus (and title) is basically a plea to the man with the gun for a head start to flee. And this is the situation Liz finds herself in at the end of the episode with the Connolly, or the Cabal, coming to arrest her - wishing for a head start to get out of that building and out of that perilous situation.

Did you notice when meeting Dr. Lauren Kimberly, Red's microbiologist friend, Liz is introduced by him as 'Ginger Lumiere'. A lot of you picked up on the fact that her name can also be interpreted as "Red Light". There are, of course, numerous ways to illustrate what that could mean. Perhaps it means Liz is a lower calorie version of Red - same great flavor, less filling...just kidding, Lol :). It could mean Liz is an easier and more moderate version of Red, slowly becoming him as time goes on. Perhaps The Blacklist is a story about how Liz, a happily married woman with a job as an FBI profiler, is slowly having her life changed by mirroring exactly what happened to Red's life - Red was in the US Naval Administration and left for unknown reasons, while Liz works (or worked) for the FBI and now has to leave. Over the course of the series, we have seen Liz slowly transform from innocent, first-year agent, to someone who kills, kidnaps and shoots people with little forethought. Maybe what we are witnessing in these latest episodes are the next steps in her becoming more and more like Red.

I thoroughly enjoyed this past episode, especially the ending, I admit, I did not see coming. We know now Liz is 'Masha Rostova', the blacklister for the finale, which I think is going to be a great episode filled all sorts of interesting information for us to dissect during the summer break until season three. One question posed to me (great question 'ivan') was what number do I think Liz (Masha) will be on the blacklist. I think 'Number 4' is going to be someone special because Red is 4 on the FBI's Most Wanted List and the number 4 appears quite a bit when he is around. Numbers 1, 2, 3 and 4 I would imagine is for people close to Red so she will most likely be 1, 2, 3 or 4. I want to say 1, but I would've thought they would leave that for the final season. My Final Answer is Liz (Masha) will be '4' on the blacklist. It would be perfect because it would mirror Red being '4' on the FBI list and add to their close connection. Although, at this moment, I think Liz is thinking less about what number on the blacklist she is and more about how she is going to get out of that tricky situation she is in.

Red's Quotes

- "She did, however, let me name a lipstick color, 'Fire In The Hole'"
Red to Liz

Music from the Episode

- "Hello Stranger" - Barbara Lewis
Liz meets Tom at a diner

Thoughts and Discussion

- Did you notice...The Press ID Card Karakurt uses to get close to Senator Hawkins claims his name is Jonas Flemming. I thought that was interesting given Karakurt was using an advanced form of biomedical weaponry. Jonas Salk discovered and developed the first polio vaccine and Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin.

- At the end of episode 18, Red has Mr. Kaplan hire Vanessa Cruz for some unknown reason. What reason do you think Red hired her for and do you think we will see her in the season finale?

- After the episode ended I was left wondering how Karakurt managed to get Liz infected. Then I realized that was why Connolly wanted Cooper to redirect Liz and Ressler to Union Station. It was there that Liz was 'bumped into' and attacked, most likely being infected at that point. What do you think will be the fate of Connolly's and Cooper's relationship in regard to the finale, especially now that he is after Liz and Cooper won't stand for that.

- Do you think we will see Liz's mom at all during the finale? If she is still alive, she could be a great story line for Season Three. Along with her parentage, other family members Liz does not know about could be a great story for the next season as well.

- I loved that we got to see Mr. Brimley again. He is an interesting character I would like to see more of next season.

- I laughed when Red was interrupted during him and Dembe's investigation of the apartment by the neighbor. It was funny when he gave the name "Bill Houston" as an alias.

- Who enjoyed the fact that Tom was stood up by Liz at the end of the episode?

- Did you notice...Mr. Masik, from the CIA, tells Liz that Katarina Rostova is like "The Pinko Mata Hari". "Pinko" is a slang term coined in 1925 in the United States to describe a person regarded as being sympathetic to communism. "Mata Hari" was a Frisian exotic dancer and courtesan who was convicted of being a spy and executed by firing squad in France under charges of espionage for Germany during World War I.

Thank you for checking out my review! Please comment below so we can discuss the episode and the series some more. Have a great week everyone! Also, don't forget we are conducting a "Live Discussion" this Thursday night during The Blacklist for the Finale! If you would like to participate, just check SpoilerTV's Homepage and click on the "Live Discussion" link for The Blacklist that will be posted a few minutes before the episode begins to air.

About the Author - Geo N
Geo N is from Detroit, MI. His favorite shows include The Blacklist, Hell On Wheels, The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, LOST, The Leftovers, The Strain, Sons Of Anarchy, Sleepy Hollow and countless others. When he's not watching tons of TV, he enjoys reading, playing hockey, comic books, weightlifting, and writing. Thanks for checking out my post.
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