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+.


It's not often that NBC gets it right. I hope they don't blow it on this one. Great show. I like the uncertainty of each episode. We were led down a path, then another path and then another path. Great writing, great cast and plenty of back story mystery.


When Red gave that speech about the farmer who lost everything, turned evil himself, but might still be able to find redemption, it seemed like he was talking about the Stewmaker. But I think he may have been talking about himself, and his own quest for redemption. And the girl who's picture he took is part of what he lost when he was a "farmer." Someone mentioned that another agent was in the car when he figured out the dog collar tracking trick. But I think it wasn't the FBI. It was one of his private bodyguards. So the FBI wouldn't have been clued in about the location.


who is the actor who played the Stewmaster? One scary guy


My son suggested I watch the show and frankly, I think I'll be watching it every week.Tom Noonan plays the part of sociopath's so well.. Francis Dollarhyde, Zephyr the Magician. NBC has a winner, I think.


About the emblem on the box in the floor...Look again...It is NOT the same as the one Dembe has...He has the one similar to the exploited children in episode 1. The emblem on the box in the floor is the same as the scar on Lizzie Keen's wrist...the scar she said she received from her father...Interesting, hmmm?


@Mrs alex o'loughlin really don't know what to think about Tom. Seems to be a really good guy so why is Red putting doubt in "Lizzy"s mind. I hope he is a good guy. We will have to see, that is what makes this show great. I did wonder why he did not seem more upset about what happened to Lizzy. Did she not tell him everything that happened to her? Also love to hear your guy "Alex" talk, love his aussie voice. Also the best show he was on was Moonlight. Now he was a sexy vampire! Hate CBS axed that show.


I think perhaps the girl in the picture could be Liz's mother; maybe Reds sister and Lizzy is his niece? I think that him being her father is too easy. So Red killed the stewmaker for vengence... For "disposing" of his sister and trying to kill Liz.... His neice. Just some food for thought.


Did anyone else notice from the 2nd or 3rd episode that Red's Bodyguard(the black guy) has a tattoo or mark on his back shoulder is the same thing as the mark on top of the wood box that Lizzy found of her husband, check it out, its the same logo


Given what happened to her this week, I think that Liz should look into being "Chipped" like Red is (so she can be tracked like he is). OTOH: That could introduce problems in situations like Episode 3 where his chip was spotted by the search wand. I still say that the child in the pilot should have been chipped (it would have made it easier to locate her once kidnapped) since they knew an attempt was going to be made.


@Terrie -- The girl in the car wasn't the "FBI gal," who is actually a CIA gal. When Red wanted bodyguards there were 2 a man and a woman (the CIA gal was a 3rd person added by the FBI). The girl in the car with Red was his female bodyguard who is loyal to him.

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