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The Blacklist - Dr. Hans Koehler & The Corsican - Advance Preview: "Slow Dance with the Devil"

3 Jan 2019

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The Blacklist returns tonight with the start of its two-night season premiere, and having seen both “Dr. Hans Koehler” and “The Corsican,” I’m really excited to see where the rest of the season goes from here. Over the past few seasons, I felt like The Blacklist got really lost in, what I thought, was its inconsistent mythos. First we had “Red” telling her he wasn’t her father, and then a DNA test proved Raymond Reddington was. Then we had “Red” saying Liz killed her father, yet both Alexander Kirk/Constantin Rostov, who wasn’t Liz’s biological father, and “Red” were alive. It was just a confusing mess, and I was ready to give up on the series. However, following the revelation of the season 5 finale – “Red” isn’t the real Raymond Reddington – things finally make sense, and the entangled mess of lies and half-truths gets straightened out. So without further ado, let’s start.

Part of the enjoyment for these two episode comes from watching Liz be one step ahead of “Red” for once. In the past, he’s had all the power, and it was just tedious to watch Liz continue to be in the dark. But for once, she holds all the cards, which contributes to an interesting new power structure. Of course, “Red” doesn’t know that there’s anything off yet. He still thinks he got away with hiding the identity of who was in the duffel bag, so to him, everything is status quo, meaning he’s still the infamous “concierge of crime” and giving the task force Blacklisters to hunt down without telling them the whole truth. What’s different is Liz. Armed with the truth, she is on a mission this season to discover who “Red” really is. So begins this game of cat and mouse, and it’s pretty impressive to watch how Liz interacts with “Red” now, trying to find that balance between doting daughter and her usual frustration with her “father’s” antics. Their scenes together are some of my favorite so far, partially because I am in awe of how well Megan Boone and James Spader continue to play off each other, and partly because I find their dance so intriguing to watch. However, it’s not Liz and “Red” who are playing this game of cat and mouse, as there is a third party in the mix: Jennifer. Yes, it seems like we’ll be getting plenty of sister time as Liz and Jennifer have teamed up to find out who “Red” really is and what happened to their real father. I’m not sure if anyone else found Jennifer unbearable last season when she was introduced, but she was surprisingly tolerable and useful in the first two episodes. I’m not sure if the writers tweaked her personality or if the actress did something else, but I find this version of the character much stronger. She actually makes contributions to her and Liz’s off the books investigation, providing both insight and tech savvy friends, and is no longer running around like a deer in headlights. Thanks to the improved character, I’m also really enjoying this sister tag team. Their dynamic is fresh and brings something new to the table. Are they finishing each other’s…sandwiches, not yet, but they do end up going on a road trip, which is definitely a bonding experience. Granted, they’re more focused on finding out who “Red” really is and what happened the night of the fire than jamming out to music on the open road, but it’s a start.

With Liz and Jennifer looking into who “Red” really is, one has to wonder when we’ll finally get answers. It took us a season to find out what was in the duffel bag, and then another to find out who. So reason stands that we’ll find out “Red’s” true identity by the end of the season. Fortunately, there are some bread crumbs in the first two episodes that provide some insight into how “Red” assumed the role of Raymond Reddington. We don’t get anywhere close to all the answers, but we do find out at least one of the reasons why “Red” chose this particular identity, and how he actually made that happen. It’s not a lot, but it was more than I was expecting to get. If viewers keep receiving information like this at a steady pace, then I feel like this storyline won’t drag on for the full season. I’m sure there will be plenty of speculation to who “Red” really is, but I won’t say whether these two episodes gives credence or not to those theories. For those who don’t know, two of the more popular theories are “Red” is either Raymond Reddington’s identical twin brother, making him Liz’s uncle, or Liz’s mother Katarina. Both of these theories would explain why “Red” sought Liz out and cares so deeply for her, but there really isn’t any proof to back these up. It’s like the “Red” is an imposter theory, which turned out to be true: Just breadcrumbs sprinkled here and there. But regardless of who “Red” really is, viewers know he’ll be spending quite some time behind bars this season. While I can’t reveal too much about how he ends up there, viewers will find out the circumstances that led to his incarceration by the end of “The Corsican.” What I’m most looking forward to about this storyline is seeing how “Red” acts behind bars. Over the past five seasons, he has literally been able to get away with murder. He has contacts and sources all over the world, so one has to wonder if that translates to prison. Will he have “friends” in the big house, or is it more likely he’ll be a sitting duck? He is responsible for putting some of the worst criminals behind bars, after all. And how far will his reach go? Will he have the guards wrapped around his finger, or is he in for one hell of an awakening when those prison guards can’t be bribed? Of course, the most pressing question is how long will his stint in prison last. Is “Red” going to spend an entire season behind bars, or will he figure out a way to escape by the midseason finale? It’s questions like these, and a renewed confidence in the powers that be that make me really excited to see where things go from here.

Some stray thoughts:
- For those of you who, like me, have a hard time keeping track of what’s true and what’s not when it comes to Liz and “Red’s” history, there is a very helpful recap of sorts near the beginning and middle of “Dr. Hans Koehler.” Usually I’m not a fan of the writers spelling everything out for the audience, but in this case it was definitely needed.
- We can an update on Samar and her health condition. There’s not a lot there, but there may be some possible foreshadowing.
- Everyone has different reactions to learning “Red’s” been arrested. Some are pretty expected, but one or two characters surprised me. Granted, these could just be initial reactions that are subject to change over time, but they do reveal some truths.
- The Blacklisters of the week tied into the overarching storylines, which is always preferable, and even interact with each other as one Blacklister leads the task force to the next.

Remember to tune into the two-night season premiere of The Blacklist, starting Thursday, Jan. 3, at 10 p.m. on NBC. The second hour will air the following day on Friday, Jan. 4, at 9 p.m.

As a parting gift, I give you humorous and heartfelt quotes alike to tide you over:
“This is no way to rob a bank. This is, honestly, I don’t know what the hell this is…It’s a disgrace, that’s what it is.”
“They’re shooting at the police. Honest, to God, these guys.”
“I’ve spent the last five years learning to act at the feet of the master. Now it’s my turn to outperform him.”
“Payback’s a bitch, especially when there’s two of them.”
“I’m not saying I’m amazing, but sometimes I’m distinctly above average.”
“I apologize this is probably a silly question, but why are the police escorting us again?” / “The police and I have a special kind of relationship.”
“Standing here in the heart of an institution dedicated to diplomacy, I can say from personal experience LSD has made me significantly more enlightened, kind, considerate, and loving.”
“There must be something you can do.” / “There is, and we are very good at it: Absolutely nothing.”

So hit the comments below to let me know your thoughts. Will Liz and Jennifer be successful in taking down “Red”? Who is “Red” really? How does he end up behind bars?