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+.


Red will do anything for Liz. The stewmaker had an (old)photo of a young woman he cared about. Am I the only one thinking Liz is Red's biological daughter, adopted when she was a baby (and she doesn't know she is adopted, of course, and maybe that woman in the photo was her mother?


The show is watching Dr Lechter and Agent Starling in a series...


Remember he has the new tracking chip in his neck. The bigger mystery is why he is doing this? I know he hates the Blacklisters with a passion but why go after them. Red is a coldblooded killer when it comes to the Blacklist. What drives him to this seeming contradiction.


As to people wondering why Red is allowed to move around so freely, he answered it on the show himself. "I am a criminal. The minute I stop being one, I become quite useless to you." The FBI want what he has, and so far he's given them a lot more. As the end of the show suggested, he also gave them their drug lord. So why wouldn't they let him move around freely, it is part of the deal. Also I loved the meeting scene with the drug lord. The way Red set up Ressler, and the way he responded. Just brilliant writing and direction.


The comments section is proof enough of what makes this show super-awesome. So many theories. So many questions. Not enough answers. Nearly everybody has an other side to them on this show. I also think it is interesting that not a lot of people are talking about the first scene of the show (in the Pilot). The guy hands him the briefcase and says, "Must be good to be back home, sir!" And Red replies, "Yeah, we'll see about that." The way the scene was shot and staged tells me that it was not just inserted at the beginning offhand. There's more to that scene. Why does the person address him Sir? Though I don't have answers now. I do love the extent to which Red will go to protect Lizzy. And I agree with others that Tom's calmness is eerily unsettling. There's certainly more to him as well. This is, by far, the best new show on television.


I have to say that this fill's the loss of Dexter perfectly. James Spader is so good in this show. The directing and acting if so fine tuned.


I thought the picture he removed from the album was liz. The
guy did take her picture. And red removed it becaues she


Am I the only one that finds Lizzy annoying? She hates Red for saving her life, but gets sll cozy with het husband that is keeping secrets from her. He could be the monster.


I adore this show.
James Spader is riveting!
This show makes me look forward to Mondays!


Thanks for clearing that up for me. On a completely unrelated note.........Is anybody else having trouble with this site? I know I do every time I log in. The show search doesn't work and it always seems to crash and I have to re-load the page........

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