The Blacklist Review: Who's a Monster?

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While The Blacklist may appear to be a TV procedural with the FBI chasing down the bad guys, it's not. Not at all.

The show has proven over the first four episodes to expect the unexpected. Each of the installment has had a different flow, tone and format. There may be a secret twist or agenda at play by Red or maybe there's not. The only thing that's clear is that Red will go to great extremes to make sure that Liz is safe, even if he has to put her in harm's way.

The episode began with a routine case around the trial of a drug lord, Hector Lorca, which was unrelated to Red's Blacklist. In fact, even though Lorca contacted Red for new papers and safe travel to leave the country, Lorca wasn't the "big game" that Red was after. Red tipped Liz off, but it was beneath him to help further. That all changed when it became clear that the witness against Lorca was cleaned by "The Stewmaker."

Tracking the Stewmaker

That opening scene with the Stewmaker was eerie. The music was groovy which perfectly reflected the tone and mood of the Stewmaker's persona and actions. I was mildly seat dancing to the music which freaked me out given what was happening on screen. The camera and editing work showcasing the Stewmaker's precise actions and the music demonstrated what makes The Blacklist such an engrossing and immersive show.

When it became evident that the Stewmaker was involved in the case, Red was all over it. At first it appeared that it was because he was on the Blacklist, but this was personal for Red. Until the end, it wasn't clear how personal. Liz's capture alone justified the extent of his maneuvers, but the truth ended up being even deeper.

When Red went to get Liz and the Stewmaker's location from Lorca, it was amazing how well the truth worked. When Ressler walked in to see the drug lord with Red, I thought he walked in looking like FBI. It was a good call for him to embrace his true identity and pretend to be a turncoat inside man. Also, it provided a legitimate reason to inquire about where Liz was being held.

Red's confidence is flawless. He was hired by Lorca, but he laid out the requirements for the criminal to use the new documents and get safe passage out of the country. Red never flinches and always holds his ground. That's what makes him an effective criminal and also allows him to manipulate the FBI with ease.

While the FBI was pursuing the traditional lead from Lorca to find Liz, Red took an unorthodox approach by tracking the Stanley through his dog's tracking chip. And, Red got there first, but not before Liz was tortured. She is fierce and strong almost beyond belief.

When she was taken she used her training to try to present herself as a person, while humanizing the Stewmaker at the same time. She hoped that she could delay him long enough to get free and/or be saved. She did get free once even after he hurt and drugged her. He didn't give up and captured her again. Did you think it was an FBI dog that found her at first? I did. Her escape wasn't for naught, since the delay allowed Red enough time to get there to save her life.

Red was mesmerizing during his speech to Stanley about the farmer and the possibility of redemption. Though, he never intended to allow the Stewmaker to get out alive. When Red dumped Stanley into the tub, he did it for vengeance and maybe even sliver of justice. It was hilarious to see him immediately put hands behind head when the FBI showed up. It was reflective of the opening scene of the premiere.

Who is Red? He continues to be a mystery. Each week we get a small glimpse into his past. This week, it was about a young girl that was cleaned by the Stewmaker. Who was she to him? Was she someone that he cared about? Or, someone that got killed due to his line of work? Given the transition from her picture to a look at Liz, it seems likely that her death was personal. And, perhaps part of what he's doing with Liz is to seek redemption for what happened in the past. 

The other large mystery surrounding the gun that Liz found under the floor board was more revealing. She put her investigative skills to work and it's not looking good for Tom. The case involved a murder on June 23, 2012. At first, it appeared that Tom was in the clear since the couple was in Boston at the time. Though, that relief was short-lived when the case name "Angel Station" was revealed to be the name of a hotel nearby.

Was Tom responsible for the killing? Or, is he being set up? Even though the evidence suggests that he's involved since he was there at the same time, I'm more convinced that someone else placed those items in the box. Why would he willingly lead his FBI wife back to the place of the crime if there was any indication that she's on to him? If he wasn't involved, he'd have no reason to suspect an investigation, right?

This was a whirlwind of an episode. Red's intentions and motivation became clearer by what he is and isn't willing to do. At the same time, his ability to move around freely was disconcerting. Haiti? When it comes to Liz and only then do his feelings come across as genuine. He cares about her and will protect her at all costs. As arrogant and self-serving as he is, I wouldn't be surprised if he stepped in front of a bullet for her.

Who do you think the young girl was in the picture? Do you trust Red more or less than before? Is Tom a killer? Or is he being set up?


Editor Rating: 4.7 / 5.0
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Carla Day is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter and on Google+.


Woman in picture is Liz's biological mom.
Woman in picture is also Red's romantic interest.
Red is Liz's dad ("Liz, I am your father...")


Hard to believe Redd and Liz are blood Relatives As much as i wish they were. The FBI would have figured this out by now


I think the murder linked to Tom's gun was some sort of terrorist attack or political assassination. That's one of the few reasons Homeland Security would be involved in it.


We are given clues as to who Liz is…or is not. In the first episode, Red had warned her that everything she knew about herself was going to be challenged. Here’s what I picked up: 1. She doesn't want to have her own children. There's much more to that statement than her reasoning revealed.
2. Her scar. Again, an event in her life that is beyond what her memories allow. My current hypothesis is that Liz has been brainwashed/physically altered to believe she is Liz Keen. I also think Tom is part of a greater scheme and is a plant to monitor her and keep up the charade of who they are at this point. And I can't buy into Red caring for Liz. She is his pawn, and has to be kept alive for Red's mysterious agenda. I could change my mind in a couple more episodes though. The show is fun because it's like trying to fit puzzle pieces together.


RE: Is Tom involved in the killing?: Yes. He's an agent for someone. Remember in Ep. 1, when Liz confronts Red after Tom ends up in hospital. Red tells her something like, "What happens to your husband doesn't matter" and "Zimani did you a favor." i.e. almost whacking Tom. He also surmises at the end of the Ep that Liz has found out something about her husband, i.e. the box. Red knows who Tom is, who he works for, why he's with Liz and what he did at the Angel Station Hotel. RE: Two most interesting scenes in Ep. 4: --(1) The "Farmer Parable" cuz it's about Red. He's describing HIS life, not the Stewmaker's life. He's giving us a rationale for why he turned himself in & is now helping the FBI, i.e. for redemption for his life of crime over the past 20 years AND to return the favor to those who destroyed the "farmer's" (Red's) family and life 20+ years ago. He also came back to get a second chance (Ep, 1) with his biological daughter, Liz, but his main thrust is to eventually bring to justice the black ops group either in Navy (where Red was working 20 years ago) or FBI or CIA that destroyed his life 20 years ago. This will happen in the final episode of the final season, and it will be Liz, with Red's help, who brings this group down and receives the accolades for it, with Red probably biting the dust in the process. --(2) Where Lizzie calls Red a "monster", which Red acknowledges, and then asks Red, "How can you live with this?" Red's matter-of-fact reply while closing the van door, "By saving your life!" was brilliant....though I would have added, "You're welcome." This puts our dear, self-absorbed heroine in her place, i.e. she's been so totally absorbed in her own petty dramas and judgements of Red that she hasn't even thanked him for saving her life. I also get the feeling that Red is deliberately playing up the "monster" roll so that Liz doesn't get too attached to him. This is also partly due to Red's self-loathing (see "farmer" parable) and partly due to his not wanting to get too close to his daughter that he becomes vulnerable and makes a wrong move as a result.


The song playing when red looked at picture was about a mother


The song


Problem I have with Red being her father is why wouldn't the FBI have run a dna scan? They have to have thought of that possibility and they have access to samples from both. Also I wonder about the pistol in the box. I don't think a pro would keep a weapon used in a hit. At least not a common easily replaced pistol.


The references to the Old Testament are pretty heavy handed I think. lucifer, eve, the apple, redemption, lies, Job, Adam


I have forever disliked James Spader, or shall I say the roles he played. He was always cast in the smug, condescending, spoilt man-child roles and he did it so well that I could not stand him :) With this role in this show I have totally changed my mind about him. In this role he is smug, condescending and spoilt and I love him for it :) What a fascinating show.

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