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+.


There was a comment about Red putting his hands behind his head when the FBI barges in. He did this in the park in the pilot after the bomb expert defused the bomb and left with it. This action seems to be his signature when he has gone solo and is reconnecting with the FBI. As to the box in Liz's home, I get the impression that the home was her husband's from before they married. The hiding place needed to be created before the carpet was laid (it was laid not a free floating "throw" one). That would mean that creating it (and planting the box) would otherwise require pulling up the rug and then be installing it.


Just saw this show for the first time. It is far and away the best psychological crime thriller I have ever watched. I love, love, love James Spader, he's brilliant! It is provocative and riveting. I love how every character and their loyalty is designed to keep the viewer off balance and uncomfortable. In this world of duality, it questions the line between good and evil, right and wrong and makes us entertain the notion that these lines are not as clear as we like to think.

Sarah silva

Grimmfan#10: I was going to also to mention it was interesting that Ray and Tom are the only two to call her Lizzy.

Sarah silva

The photo was from 1990, the girl in the photo looked to be about 12. So I think it is Ray's daughter.

Sarah silva

I still maintain that Tom is being set up. I believe he is innocent. Last week I said that I have a feeling he is being set up and I think it is by Ray. I think he wants her to believe Tom is bad and be so devastated that she kicks him out and the only person she can turn to will be him.
I may be wrong and Tom may really be bad but my gut says he is good.
I think the girl that the Stewmaker got rid of was his daughter. I am still not 100% sure if Liz is his daughter too, but Ray could have had 2 families as he has had many personas over the years.
I too was a little bothered by the fact that he can just leave the country, I know he said he has to keep up appearances but it seems very odd that they FBI give him that much leeway.


I never thought about the woman in the picture being Liz's mom, interesting. Nobody at the FBI is going to see that a picture is missing? I still don't know about Tom. If he is super spy like Red is hinting he is he has to know Lizzy is looking at him. Has anyone else noticed that Red and Tom are the only people who call Liz Lizzy? The Stewmaker was creepy but a little too easy to catch. He has killed what looks like hundreds of people and it was really easy to catch him. Did the FBI not know about a serial killer out there? Also why did the FBI not think more of the dog hair like Red did? Also if I am a killer who is so clean when I kill, I am not bringing my dog along who's hair and or slobber can end up any where. That dog was beautiful by the way. They have great music on this show. Love this show.


I continue to be impressed with this show. One VERY MINOR flaw on this episode.......Red was with the other FBI gal(or did I miss something?) when he called animal control about the dog and the chip......How is it he got to the cabin alone before the rest of the FBI? I'm still trying to figure out why Red is so obsessed with Liz. Still not completely convinced that he could be her father. I think there is some other reason yet to be revealed and probably won't be until the season finale. Still don't know what to make of Liz's husband. He was too controlled this episode.....and what of the surveilance on them this week?


This is the quickest hour on tv. So engrossing and smart. I also think it's Liz's Mom in the snapshot. As for the husband, I'm torn. If the box in the floor is a set-up, it was conceived a long time ago and the reveal relied on the blood stained carpet so a lot of planning went into it. However, I really think the husband is the reddest of herrings and the box and it's contents are being used to keep Liz off balance. Great show. Did wonder what the Stewmaker was using to dissolve the bodies. We learned from breaking Bad that some acids don't mix with ceramics, porcelain and plumbing.


I absolutely love this show. And, James Spader gives another Emmy award winning performance as Raymond Reddington!


The husband is too calm and too knowing. He is some sort of operative. Everything is too measured and controlled from him. He is definitely NOT who he proclaims to be. Whether or not he is a good or bad guy, we will have to see... As for Red, he is what he is - at least for now!

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