The Blacklist Review: Tom Bond or School Teacher?

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Who is Tom? And why was that box under the floorboards? 

From the final moment of The Blacklist season premiere, those have been of two of the many mysteries on the show. Even after the box was brought into the open and investigated by the FBI, there aren't clear answers to either of those questions. There's only speculation.

Though, The Blacklist Season 1 Episode 6 did provide insight into both, while causing problems for Red with the FBI and especially with Liz. Will he be able to sweet talk his way out of this one? Probably. He is Raymond "Red" Reddington after all.

The Mystery Box

What do we know about Tom and the box? He was set up. The box wasn't his and it was most likely planted there by Red, at his request, or to frame him. The gun had Gina Zanetakos' print on a casing, the money was traced back to one of Red's bank accounts, and the passports were all fakes.

My first thought was that Red was involved in planting the box, but that shouldn't be taken as a given since all the evidence points directly to him. Why would Gina have a casing with her fingerprint on it in a gun she used in a murder? She wouldn't. And, Red wouldn't have used money that could be traced back to him. 

As unlikely as that seems, that could have been the plan all along. According to Gina, Red hired her to kill the FSB defector to protect his supply lines for his illegal trading business. This was months before Red turned himself into the FBI. And, Tom was set up to take the fall.

Tom had a fake interview with Red's right hand man, he was at the hotel, there was a picture taken of him (though Gina was in it too!), and then the gun that was used was found in his house. Perhaps, Red just underestimated the FBI. Or, he didn't want Tom to be the fall guy in the end, but did want Liz to have doubts about her husband. 

I can only lead you to the truth. I can't make you believe it.


That quote seems to be the key to understanding Red's motivations. He knows something about Tom and it's probably not that he's a Fourth Grade Teacher. Ever since Red first appeared in Liz's life, he's wanted to get Tom out of the picture.

He helped set up Tom's stabbing and when Red's life was on the line, he told her, "But, if I die, you'll never know the truth about your husband.

In addition to the box, Red told Liz that Gina was Tom's lover. And, then Tom's picture just happened to be found by her bed. Not proof of any wrongdoing, but both provided a connection between Gina and Tom. It's always possible that the box was planted to lead Liz to the truth about Gina and Tom. Their relationship could be the truth in all of this. Just because Gina denied knowing him, doesn't make it true.

For the first time, Red's manipulations seemed to have gone awry. Up until this point, he's been able to get Liz, the FBI, and his criminal associates to act to his will. And, now Liz has pushed him away and it's unclear whether the FBI will continue to play his game or not.

The oddest part of this whole situation is that Red actually seemed sincere with Liz. He changed his tune from telling her she shouldn't believe him because he's a criminal to holding her hand and telling her, "You can trust me." And, when she cut him off and told him to go to Hell, he genuinely looked hurt.

One answer does seem to have legitimacy and that's regarding the Apple Man and the Other Guy doing surveillance on the Keen household. They are convinced that Tom's not working for Red, but that he's working for someone. That goes along with everything else we've learned. Though, who's signing their paychecks?

All the answers that were revealed really just led to more questions and muddied up the situation. At least, they were able to protect Houston from a dirty bomb attack and put Gina Zanetakos out of the corporate terrorism business. The rest will have to work itself out over time. 

One thing is guaranteed, Red is not going to give up on his plan for Liz ... whatever that plan may be.

Did Red plant the box? Was it all a set-up? Or did Tom and Gina have a relationship? Should Liz trust Red?


Editor Rating: 4.8 / 5.0
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Carla Day is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter and on Google+.


Weak episode. FBI become more stupid. Why for an important suspect, FBI doesn't conduct proper search in his house. Some police tv series always comb search any crime scene and find hidden clue or evidence. I think FBI means investigate, can't find bug in an suspect spy house?


The only thing I see in Tom's favor (of not being a criminal/bad guy/spy) is a guess I'm drawing from all of Le Carre's work -- that being it would be unnecessarily risky for Tom's "mission" to attach himself to Liz (to where he would never have allowed himself to even get to know her). I'm thinking of how mild George Smiley had "The Spy Who Came In From the Cold" killed to maintain a mole's cover. Wouldn't Tom or one above him so eliminate Liz?


I'm still not buying that Red is Liz's father(that's too predictable and easy and nothing about this show is easy).....I wish people would quit dwelling on that. There is some other reason he is obsessed with her. I also don't have Tom figured out or why the Keen household is under surveilance. I think Ressler is a mole or rogue agent.........


Nobody has picked up on the most important clue in this show. That is...the unusual sign on the wooden boxes of Tom Keen and Gina Zanetokos. What does it mean? A secret society? Has anyone noticed those odd signs match the scar on FBI Agent Liz Keen's hand? THAT MY FRIENDS IS THE QJUESTION TO ANSWER!!


I think the answers people are thinking of in these comments are too simple. And The Blacklist has shown us in these half a dozen episodes that it is anything but simple.

Each answer has only led to more questions. As I said elsewhere, why did Red's right hand man say it's good to be back. Why was the first scene in the show's pilot shot in a specific fashion? There's something about the way that scene was staged and the dialogues in that scene for it to be just offhand.

Why does Red's man say, "the right question and we could've made the world tremble. Finally found our adversary..." Why does Red respond by saying "circumstances are far more complex than we'd ever imagined." Why does Red say he's playing the long game by giving Liz the files to the murder? What is the long game that Red is playing? What is the right question? Who is the adversary? Why is Liz the future? What is so special about her? Why does Red say everything she knows about herself is a lie?

These small sequences throw into chaos everything we think we know about this show and its characters. That's what makes it the best new show of 2013 for me. And probably my favorite show on TV right now.


Tom is not innocent. Tom was not set up. If he knew nothing about the box like he claims, how did he find it?? Liz had new carpet laid down. Tom would not have ripped up the carpet if he didn't already know that there was a trap door with the box in it.


Liz said that they followed the money to one of RED's offshore accounts... it could be a misdirection but that would be strange


I think the guy with the apple is Liz's father or is somehow involved with him and Red is out to get him and is using Liz to get him. I too was suspicious as to why Ressler shot Gina like that. Can he be a mole of sorts? Stay tuned! Love this show!


"What do we know about Tom and the box? He was set up. The box wasn't his and it was most likely planted there by Red, at his request, or to frame him." No, actually, we don't know that. Why did Tom call Liz in an angry huff while staring at the empty spot under the floorboard and demanding that she immediately return home because they needed to talk? Why was he looking under the floorboard and why was he so upset about what was missing from there? Then, later in the episode, he had tracked down the box and asked Liz about it. Why was he searching around the property for the missing box? These are the actions of someone who was aware that there was a box hidden under the floorboard, who knew how screwed he'd be if Liz or someone else found it, and who desperately needed to find the box. These are not the actions of someone who was innocently set up. Knowing that Liz had found his box, an innocent/set-up act was his only option short of killing her. Plus, if Tom ran in the same circles as these people and he's a highly-skilled assassin, he'd run in the same circles as Red and would know who his right-hand man is even if that guy was never present at hotel. Easily could have just been quick-thinking by Tom. This last episode seemed like an obvious misdirection to keep people wondering about Tom. But there is no logical explanation from what happened 2 episodes ago if he ends up totally innocent.


The painting at the end is one stolen from the Boston museum.... "The Storm on the Sea of Galilee," by Rembrandt. Nice touch.

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The Blacklist Quotes

Is it just me or is the human race armed with religion, poisoned by prejudice, and absolutely frantic with hatred and fear, galloping pell-mell back to the Dark Ages? Who on Earth is hurt by a little girl going to school or a child being gay?


You see, this is why I don't go to family reunions. Aunt Lucille is always arguing with Buddy, Uncle Scott is drunk by noon, and someone's hand is always in the wrong cookie jar.