The Blacklist Review: Liz Knows

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The Blacklist continued to succeed in threading the unraveling of Liz's personal story with an FBI investigation.

On The Blacklist Season 1 Episode 17, the FBI worked with the NSA to find a hacker responsible for breaking into their system and then stealing the Project Skeleton Key device.

Red described it well by calling it a cyber terrorist's digital equivalent to a nuclear device. At the same time, Liz investigated Jolene's disappearance to a shocking revelation.

The evidence pointed the FBI to a cyber terrorist, Ivan. Not surprisingly, he was a former associate of Red's. In order to get Ivan to spill what he did, Red ran a con on him. He warned Ivan the FBI was coming and would help him escape for the money Ivan stole years before from Red.. It worked!

Red got his $8 million (which the FBI likely didn't know about) and "shot" Ressler on their escape. That bonded Red and Ivan, but it didn't lead to a recovery of the Skeleton Key. Ivan didn't do it. I think that's the first time Red's been wrong about their target. Though, I'm not sure it should be held against him since the real hacker did set Ivan up.

It was a high school student. Quite impressive! It's too bad that Harrison used his skills to hack the NSA and then accidentally killed an NSA employee while stealing the top secret technology. Otherwise he could have had a promising future working for the NSA or a tech company. He proved he was brilliant.

It was shocking enough that a high school student had the intellect, ability, and follow through to get the Skeleton Key. Why would he do that? Just to do it? It turned out he may be smart, but really he's just a teenage boy obsessed with a girl. He was stalking her in every way possible.

He copied her lunch, ate like her, stalked her at school, and cyber stalked her. Did he steal the device to gain greater access to her? Nope. Her father was the project leader for the Skeleton Key and they were moving the team to Colorado. Harrison didn't want her to leave and believed if he stole the prototype then her father wouldn't move. And, she would stay.

Kudos to the writers for coming up with a unique, complex, yet believable story for why he did it. As his story played out, his true motivation wasn't revealed until the end. It was a surprise with the foundation for the explanation all there. Well done.

While I loved how the hacker story unfolded, I can't say the same about Tom's story. While I'm glad that Liz finally knows that Tom's not who he says he is, the way she found out was a little too convenient and not up to normal The Blacklist standards.

The FBI traced Jolene's call on a mobile phone to a specific location? I guess if she had the GPS on that could be possible, but as a secret agent, I doubt she left that on. So, I'm not sure how Aram was able to come up with an address from a cell tower. Then, Liz calls Tom and gives him the address? Why?

Of course, he was there and was able to burn the incriminating paper before Liz found it. Just as bad was the walk around on the patio with the blue plastic hanging down?!?! Umm ... okay.  Tom attacked her, but she wasn't able to get a look at him or put together the clothing. It all felt too contrived from beginning to end.

The absolute worse was how Liz connected Tom to the apartment. She bought Tom a toy to take to school. Instead of taking with him to work, he threw it away in the garbage can at his lair. Sigh. Why would she give him a toy? And why would he throw it away? 

At least, Liz know knows that Tom's up to something and the story can move forward. I was disappointed in the series of events that led to that reveal, but I'm very glad the story can move to the next stage. Liz now can play Tom and find out who he is and what he wants with her.

The ending was sweet. Liz went to Red to tell him he was right about Tom. Instead of being his normal snide self and rubbing it in, Red comforted her and helped her deal with it. The music box with the tune her father used to hum along with Red's comforting words were touching. I still don't believe he's her father, but he's doing his best to fill that role for Liz. 

To know that everything's going to be okay. You're going to be okay.


It's going to be a fun, wild ride to see Liz try to con her husband. Since she found his lair, he's understandably suspicious of her. She's going to have to do a better job of lying or he's going to catch on . If it comes down to it, will he kill her? Could she kill him? Can't wait to find out!

Is Red Liz's father?


Editor Rating: 4.7 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.5 / 5.0 (70 Votes)

Carla Day is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter and on Google+.


Pardon my stupidity but have we ever seen Tom go to school or be in class? Does he just hang out doing bad deeds?

Derek st john

I just realize why Tom has always seemed so "distrustful": Ryan Eggold has a very strong physical resemblance to real life (possible traitor) NSA secrets stealer, Edward Snowden. Think about it.


People keep mentioning brother, uncle, father -- ALL relationships would have genetic markers that showing their relation. If no one in the FBI or Lizzie did a DNA test then they really are incompetent.


Assuming that Liz was in a fire, I think Red was responsible for saving her life. On another note, Liz has to be one of the dumbest cops on any TV show. She finds out her husband isn't who he says he is, and then does nothing about it. I think she should have at least brought him in for questioning, or better yet, told someone in the FBI.

@ PatrickC

I don't know. If I had to choose between going to the Feds (co-workers) who would then do everything so procedurally as to destroy any chance of finding out the truth (and we still don't know if there are more moles inside) or going to a ruthless criminal who would do anything to protect me, I would choose the criminal.

@ PatrickC

Right - any normal person would be scared to live in the house with him.


So many people not wanting Red to be Liz's father, its hilarious. Who cares if its obvious as long as it is well written, which it is!? No one remembers the scene where Red killed Lizzie's adoptive dad? Where Red told him "you will always be Lizzie's father?" Red didn't lie - he hesitated when Liz asked. And then he told the truth from a certain point of view - he was never there for Liz, therefore could never even begin to be considered a father to her in his mind. However, they are biologically father and daughter. And you know what? Wait for them to reveal this, only to reveal "oh wait, it was all a trick! Red's evil!" only for them to reveal even further down the line "No wait, Red was pretending to be evil and that it was all a trick to protect Liz, and he really is her dad!" Just to keep you people guessing.


So I think that Red is Ressler's father. Same rare blood type, same contentious personality. And Diego Klattenhoff, the actor playing Ressler, LOOKS like he could be Red's son now (especially since he had dark hair when he was on Homeland--why the needed change if not to look more like...someone.) I'm thinking we don't really know who Liz's father was or even is--that's a storyline in the making--but that Red is either her godfather, or her uncle, which would explain the fatherly love he demonstrates to her. But which would then leave Ressler out as a potential romantic interest for her if Red's her uncle and he's his son. But maybe that's a good thing anyway because it would all be too obvious if we knew where all stories were headed. Some new romantic interests for both would be good. I think the actor who plays Tom is doing a great job-- really handsome and soft-spoken which makes his evil side even creepier--he plays both sides of him well. The only question to me is, while he told Jolene/Lucy that he was "had" to be in love with Liz because it was his job, is there any suggestion that he really does love her? He couldn't kill her in that warehouse because that would eliminate his connection with Red and probably would have ended his Berlin assignment, but is he truly the consummate con man/spy who doesn't love Liz at all? He didn't have any problem decking her. Why was he pushing adopting or having children--was that part of the assignment or that he actually wanted a real family and children? Seems like children would get in the way of a clean get away. Plus kids grow up and figure out their parents are spies anyway (The Americans). I hate to think Tom will be exposed then off the show. Maybe the writers will take a page from Homeland and turn him against his current bosses.


I agree with the reviewer that it made no sense for Liz to call Tom and ask him about the address she was going to. It would have been much more interesting if Liz had just walked in on him. And I also agree that she should have made some attempt to knock over the bucket that contained the burning photos. Kind of aggravating to see Tom escape detection yet again only to be discovered later because of a photo of a discarded toy. As to whether Red is Liz' father: remember that he said he had never lied to her and that he told her on the phone in an episode from the first half of the season that he was not her father. He may be related to her somehow but I think that his repeated statements to the effective that he has never lied to her have a larger meaning and that we have not heard the end of it. Despite a few flaws I still think this was an excellent episode.


I wouldn't call Red's guess about Ivan being wrong, necessarily. Red wanted his money back (plus some vig) which he got. He also found out that Ivan wasn't involved, which he probably surmised since Ivan was about Russia, not the US, which opened up the investigation. But a lovestruck teenage hacker? Not much of interest there. Why did Liz contact Tom with the address? Obviously, she was suspicious of him and Jolene but what a bonehead move. And then, not having the presence of mind to flip the burning tub over to extinguish the flames and maybe save some recognizable scraps. Lame. Anyway, glad she knows. She should have shot Tom when she realized he was lying.

@ Joe

I totally agree with Joe, The writing was ridiculous. " Why did Liz contact Tom with the address? Obviously, she was suspicious of him and Jolene but what a bonehead move. And then, not having the presence of mind to flip the burning tub over to extinguish the flames and maybe save some recognizable scraps. Lame."
I thought the same thing in real time. Tom had security video, he could have ambushed her at the door, she had no back up, and restrained her with something over her head. The hanging visqueen would have worked. The teenage hacker storyline was dumb and they devoted too little time on Mr. Kaplan. So as if taking a shower with a blood spattered Tom wasn't bad enough her dumb cat and mouse game at the hide out, worse, and then not deleting the email that had the photo with the toy before she closed he lap top worst. Lizzie hardly is the crack fbi agent she is reputed to be. I hope they work this out before the season, but I think Tom is part of a cliffhanger.

Sarah silva

The case of the week was a interesting change up. Harrison was not violent killer, yes he did cause the accident that killed the NSA employee but in his mind he did it for love. Yes it was super creepy how obsessed we was with the girl and he really thought she would not be freaked out by what he did.
So I guess Tom really is bad. I was hoping for some deeper story that would show that he is a good guy. Now Liz will have to pretend that all is well in order to take him down.
However I still do not think Red is her father. He made that music box for her as he knew it would calm her down...but I am still going to wait until it is revealed if he is her dad or not.
Tom most likely headed to that place right after he left home and tossed in the garbage so that he could say he took it to school if Liz ever asked about it.

@ Mrs alex o'loughlin

Tom didn't start tossing things until he realized Liz was right outside the the toy, I still don't know why he tossed that.........maybe him being a teacher is a cover????


Red is not Lizzie's father. One would have hoped that when he first came in and had questions about why he chose her they would have run a DNA test -- especially knowing that her father is a criminal. I really liked this episode. Hopefully now Liz will stop being such a jerk to Red and realize that he is being honest with her, cares about her, even when he doesn't tell her everything (like any good parent -- which is the role he accepted when Sam died). She has been so petulant since the beginning and he (very patiently) has given her more than enough to know something wasn't right but she had to have the evidence smack her in the face before she would believe. If he had told her everything instead of her finding out on her own she would have just thrown a bigger temper tantrum. She also needs to become a better agent. Liz has no poker face -- I didn't have to be married to her for two years to see everything on her face. She also tends to ignore things right in front of her. I blame the writers right now for making her a pathetic agent. I especially liked the end. There is an opportunity for their relationship to really grow (not in a shipper way) and I hope the writers seize on it. I liked Mr Kaplan in her first appearance and she has become one of my favorite characters. More than anything, when everything finally blows up I'm really hoping they don't hook up Ressler and Liz. It would be nice if the writers just kept the focus on the father/daughter relationship between Lizzie and Red and forgo any notion of romance relationships. In fact, I would find it more amusing after adequate time has passed to watch her date and see how the prospective candidates would handle Red. Ressler wouldn't be any fun in that department since he knows Red.

@ RM

The first part is why i dont think he will turn out to be her father. One would think if she suspected that he was her father which she does as she did ask him she would of ran a DNA Test By now

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The Blacklist Season 1 Episode 17 Quotes

So the Federal Government has armed a cyber terrorist with a digital equivalent of a nuclear warfare. Another fabulous example of your tax dollars at work.


The who-dun-it has already been solved.