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The Blacklist - Double Episode - Review



6.18 - "The Brockton College Killer" Blacklister No. 92
Written by Sam Christopher
Directed by Lisa Robinson

6.19 - " Rassvet"
Written by Sean Hennen
Directed by John Terlesky

Reviewed by KathM

So, Red is an old Rostov/Rostova family friend. I thought it might be something like that. He and Katerina promised themselves to one another when they were six, and it seems by his actions that he took that pledge seriously.

But let’s back up a bit.

Liz took Dembe’s warning seriously and thought she’d tell Red the truth about being the one who turned him in. Well, Jennifer actually made the call but, whatever. I am honestly stunned that Liz just sauntered into the apartment and told him. Just like that. And what was really odd to me was that she seemed to think he’d be okay with it. I mean, she just wanted to know who he is, right? Why not just stick him in prison for a few weeks while she plays Nancy Drew. When you consider that she was supposed to be an amazing profiler and the best thing she could figure out to keep Red busy was to lock him up? She’s obviously quite tired after nearly six season and isn’t thinking clearly.

I was waiting for an emotional explosion when Red found out that in addition to Liz, Dembe had betrayed him by keeping Liz’s secret. Boone, Spader, and Tawfiq are vocally very powerful actors and one thing I notice about them is that when discussions get heated between any of them, they very rarely shout. And I wait for it. Particularly early on in the first episode, when Liz tells her truth and then Dembe tells his and Red just sits there and listens, then tells them his thoughts. There is so much tension, but nobody yells. And yet it seems like everyone is screaming.

He’s angry at Liz and treats her desire to know who she is as a privilege rather than a right (“You think you deserve to know the truth? That you’re entitled to that?”). She says yes, but he disagrees. It certainly shouldn’t mean that he should be tried and found guilty and nearly die, correct? Well yes, Liz whines, but then when you almost died, I realized that I didn’t care who you were, just who you are. Awww! Red isn’t sure he can trust her again, and I don’t blame him.

He’s more upset by Dembe’s “betrayal” by keeping Liz’s secret. He and Dembe don’t have secrets, Red reminds his friend/bodyguard, and as such Dembe is either “a singular friend” or “a mortal enemy”. Dembe assures him that Red knows which one he is, but Red’s out the door for a little road trip.

It’s time for Red to spend some time at Dom’s house, where many things are spoken but rarely said. Dom was in a car accident a few months ago and is in the never-ending process of messing with the car's engine. Red wants to buy him a new car and tells Dom that he’s come out into the woods to think. To think about excommunication (one of the words Red said that his father did to him as he was talking to Liz before his execution). His options are Dembe and Liz. They talk about the idea of forgiveness and Dom talks about his daughter, Katerina: Hmm. My child betrayed everything I believed in. She turned her back on my country and on me. And because she was a traitor, people assumed that I was one, as well. What did I do – I turn her in, turn my back on her the way she turned her back on me? No, no. I went into hiding, gave up my home, my granddaughter. Masha doesn’t even know I exist. Red leaves shortly thereafter. He was hoping the Dom might help him learn to live with hurting people he cares about, and Dom says he can’t help with that.

I know these two episodes were supposed to give us the final answers to the, “Who is this guy impersonating Raymond Reddington?” thing but people, we lost Dembe. We. Lost. Dembe. Dembe got on a plane to Cairo and left us all alone! Red, he left Red all alone. Who isn’t even Red. He spoke to his Imam and he prayed and “his affairs are in order”. He has seen Red as far as he can go and now, he has to move on. Red’s moral compass might be broken, but I don’t think it’s as broken as Dembe thinks. As long as Red had him, he had someone to hold on to. And Red doesn’t have Dembe anymore. As he prepares to leave his apartment Dembe finds Red sitting in a chair, waiting for him. To tell Dembe that he missed him, and that Dembe never needs his forgiveness because Dembe can do no wrong. Unfortunately, Dembe can’t forgive Red (something that never occurred to him). Red doesn’t understand, and Dembe isn’t surprised. He has to walk his own path now.

Meanwhile, Liz is talking to Ressler about her chat with Red and he fills her in on the research he’s done. He shows Liz a picture of the man who picked up mail from the POB. Liz knows who he is, and the next time we see her she’s standing in Dom’s doorway, asking if he’d like to say to his granddaughter.

Liz and Dom sit down and share some mint tea (both grow their own mint). She has a million questions, but the main one is What happened in the six months between the Katerina supposedly drowned near Cape May and the day Reddington came back from the dead? Well, he’ll tell Liz all about it. Would she like to take a ride with him? As they rattle down the highway in Dom’s sickly automobile, he tells her about when Katerina was reborn. When she washed up on the beach in Cape May she found a way to a church before collapsing and ending up in a woman’s shelter. She was pretty beaten up, and flashbacks show us that it was Velov’s men who did the damage. Then Dom asks Liz if she’d like to take a ride.

As they ramble along Dom tells her the story of her mother, himself, and Red. It’s a great story with amazing acting on the part of Lotte Verbeek (Katerina) and Gabriel Mann (Ilya/FauxRed) as the younger versions of characters we’ve come to know. Verbeek has played an older version of Katerina before, but you can see the subtle differences in her movement, accent, and behavior as time has moved along. She has aged well.

As the Soviet Union began to collapse it was discovered that Katerina had been working for the Cabal and helped to make the situation in the Soviet Union worse. She knew people would be looking for her, and not just people in her government. So, she stayed put and hung out at the shelter, keeping to herself and planning. When she kills the boyfriend of a Russian woman staying at the shelter, stealing his cash and credit cards in the process, she figures the has to put her plan in motion.

At the Russian Embassy Ilya Koslov working away when he’s given an envelope with a crossword puzzle inside. Assisted by the “free daily crossword” link that appears on his computer (courtesy of the adorable computer Katerina bought with DeadBoyfriend’s credit card) he’s able to work out a date and time that Katerina needs to see him. Once they get together Katerina tells Ilya about how she has to stay dead from now on because the Cabal will be looking for her and everyone she loves is in danger by association. Then they need a new plan, Ilya says.

Having liquidated his bank account (a hefty sum by the look of what was in that suitcase), Ilya gives all of the money to Katerina so that she can give it to her mother. She meets her at a ferry station where Katerina presents her with documents for a new life along with the suitcase of cash. She’s a traitor, she tells her mother, everything you’ll heard about me is true. She sends her off with a kiss and promises to tell her everything later; but first, her mother must get away.

Once Mom is sorted, Katerina wants to head to Moscow to see her father (Dom) before Velov and his men either find her or arrest him. Or both. As they sit outside his flat in Moscow (because apparently there was enough cash left over from hiding mom to smuggle Katerina into Soviet Union) Ilya warns her that Velov is inside waiting to arrest her. She still wants to see Dom, so inside she goes. Once inside she tells Dom that he needs to go into hiding or he risks arrest and who knows what else. He reminds her that she is the traitor who has brought all of this on them. She says their country betrayed them, not the other way around. Velov and his men bully their way into the apartment and, finding Katerina there, they order father and daughter to kneel as he orders his goons to kill them. Fortunately, Ilya was hiding on the fire escape and together the three of them manage to kill/disable the goons. Yay, teamwork!

Later, Dom presents Katerina and her partner in crime with American passports and tells them how to get out of the country and into Finland. Not to worry about him, he says. He has a plan. You guessed it, a little house in the woods in Upstate New York. Dom manages to get the bodies in his apartment hidden and himself out of the country, but for Katerina and Ilya it was less straightforward.

Katerina is worried about Reddington, the dead one. She worries that his family will think he’s a traitor, which is exactly how she and the KGB set it up. She was supposed to turn Raymond, had been getting information from him for years. If they couldn’t turn him then they had a contingency plan set up to discredit him – a paper trail, secret bank accounts. The Cabal doesn’t think he’s dead, they think Raymond Reddington is on the run from them. How could they know that his own little daughter shot him and that her mother and Ilya would secret away his body?

When they get to St. Petersburg Katerina has a plan; she’ll jump off the balcony of the hotel where they’re staying and Ilya will tell the KGB that they fought and threw her off the balcony. Then he’ll be safe and will be able to return home a hero. Fortunately, Ilya thinks that’s a tad extreme, and has a better idea. Everyone thinks that Raymond Reddington is missing, only he and Katerina know he’s dead. So why not keep up the act?

Congratulations, it’s a boy!

Ilya wants to become Reddington so that they will be able to access the $40 million Katerina stashed in those wonderful banks who deal only with criminals. At first, she doesn’t get it, then she thinks her childhood friend is crazy. With that money Ilya knows that he and Katerina will be able to stay well ahead of the KGB, the Cabal, and the Americans. If he can become Reddington then he’ll be able to access the money for them. They’d need help, though; a doctor for one (Hans Koehler) who can make changes to Ilya’s face, and Katerina, who knows everything he’ll need to make Reddington real. She’d been with him for years, she knows all of the family history and stories (throw in a few facts, a few made up), physical details, mannerisms, everything. Although frankly, I think Ilya ended up keeping more of his own mannerisms than taking on Red’s; you can see many of the new Reddington’s movements are from Ilya himself. Katerina wants to know why Ilya would do all of this. To keep her safe, he tells her. They pledged themselves to one another when they were six years old, after all.

And so it begins. NewReddington, who hereafter shall be known as Relya gets his face done (and done and done. The procedures to become Reddington take place over the course of the year), then goes and moves all of the money from the various bank accounts secreted throughout the world into a more easily accessible one. He’s got a new face and a new voice and a snazzy series of fedoras. Relya has taken center stage.

Now that the backstory of Ilya and Katerina has been told, Dom and Liz arrive at their destination: the building where Box 642 has been waiting all these years for a letter from Katerina telling her parents that she was alive and wanted to make contact. The only letter that has ever come was from Lena, who was desperately ill and wanted to connect with a daughter she didn’t realize was long dead. Because she had to be dead, Dom tells Liz. For 28 years he’d been going to that mailbox and opening it, hoping for something from her. But if Katerina had been alive all of this time, she would have contacted either he or her mother long ago. So, that’s the story. Did she love Reddington? Liz asks. He was an assignment, Dom tells her. She was his protégé and she betrayed everything for the Cabal and possibly Red. She had an affair with him hoping to turn him to the Soviet side but ends up having his child in the process. It wasn’t what Dom considered good the best use of her spying but yes, both of her parents loved her very much.

Liz says that Dom is the only family she has now, and Dom asks whether he can meet Agnes. Liz smiles and tells him that she expects him to spoil Agnes rotten.

Now that Liz is full of knowledge, she practically bounces over to Hong Kong to giddily let Relya know that she has her answers now. Rel’s having a meal with some associates, but he takes the time to listen at her as she bubbles along about how he became Reddington to keep her mother safe and blah, blah, blah. With every “blah” Rel’s eyes get harder and he seems further and further away. Do you see Dembe? He asks her. Nope. Well, her search for his truth – not her truth, but Relya’s truth, drove Dembe away and destroyed their relationship. But you know what? Liz doesn’t care! Does not care. She’s all, “Well, if that’s the case then I’m sorry.” You’re sorry???? She knew that for possibly decades Dembe is all Rel’s had. But apparently it doesn’t matter because now they (Dembe and Rel) have nothing to argue about. The cards are on the table.

But are they? Because Rel is super interested in knowing who told her about his sacrifice in becoming Reddington to protect he mother as well as a thousand other questions. Why, Dom told her, of course.

Days later Dom comes home to find Rel waiting for him, seated at his dining room table. Rel wants to know what Dom was thinking, telling Liz about Katerina and how he became Reddington. Dom says that he should thank him for clearing all of the confusion away and allowing Rel to put all of that past behind him. But Rel thinks that Dom has made things worse and demands to know what he’s told Liz word for word. I don’t think he’s holding a gun in his lap to shoot Dom, but I could be wrong.

SO! That’s the story of Katerina and Ilya and Red and Dom and Lena and Relya. Or not? We have more questions that need to be answered, and I image things will become clearer once the show ambles though its final episodes of the season.

Oh, yes! There was a part of the first episode that didn’t have anything to do with the Katerina/Ilya storyline. Quick summary: There was a girl who liked a boy so she killed some women to impress him but instead since he knew all of the women he ends up in jail so she has to find information that will free him and starts a podcast to keep interest in his case and find info to get him released. She decides to frame someone and kill more people to try and get him released, which he does. YAY! Later that night he shows up at her house and they have sex and then he realizes she’s the evil murderer, so she knocks him out and tries to freeze him (that’s her thing, making literal ice sculptures), but the FBI arrests her and saves him. Yeah, that happened.

The only thing that was interesting about that case (The Brockton College Killer) was that at one point Ressler realized that someone was following him. When he corners the guy, he tells Ressler that his superiors want to know why Ressler is interested in Katerina Rostova’s fathers’ fingerprints. Before they can chat about their mutual interest in Dom, a car with diplomatic plates appears and the man Ressler wants to have a conversation with slips into it and drives away. So, yeah. Still looking for Dom. Or Katerina. Or both. What has Ressler done?

Additional Thoughts:

The man who played Young Ilya was brilliant. His mannerisms were so very Reddington; or, how we have expected Reddington to move and gesture and slightly turn his head. Ilya also has Reddington’s eye and hair color; it makes me wonder how far he had to go to really become Reddington, at least physically.

Katerina’s father in his youth looks eerily like Phillip Seymour Hoffman at first glance. And second, and third. Is it usual to have one’s father as their handler, but I supposed it’s makes sense in the old USSR. C.J. Williamson played Young Don well, although we didn’t see enough of him.

Dembe is on his way to Cairo. Is he searching for the Man in Cairo, the one upon who “everything rests”? Relya tells Liz to find him in "The Cryptobanker" episode, but maybe Dembe has a better sense of direction.

Does anyone else think that Ilya might be a failed spy? He comes from a spy family I’m sure, because of the “excommunicate” comment at Dom's. It isn't a word you use in normal conversation unless you're Catholic.

I loved seeing the Katerina/Ilya chemistry, and would love to see more of their story. I want to see them as children, with their friendship just starting out, and then on to young adulthood. Anyone else?



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