It’s fall finale time for The Blacklist. So why is this such a boring episode?
Let’s bitch it out…
Case of the Week: The arrival of the mid-season finale means eschewing the traditional case of the week in favour of a big splashy episode designed to keep audiences talking until The Blacklist returns in February. And while that doesn’t exactly prove to be the case, instead of a conventional baddie, we spend the hour seeking No. 12, the titular Decembrist. This is the villain responsible for the bomb that set Berlin (Peter Stormare) on his quest for revenge and despite some early clues, it naturally turns out not to be a Russian dignitary (much too easy…plus it occurs 22 minutes in).
No, the Decembrist must turn out to be someone we know, otherwise there are no stakes or investment. And so it is revealed that it’s Alan Fitch (Alan Alda), Red’s (James Spader) contact in the higher echelons of the US government. Naturally Berlin’s eye for an eye approach necessitates that Fitch ends up kidnapped and strapped to a bomb, thereby ensuring not only the return of Red’s (James Spader) plexiglass prison from S1 but also that he goes splat before the hour’s up. It’s not particularly satisfying or tense because a) we haven’t seen Fitch in quite some time and b) we never really knew anything about him. Oh sure, Alda acts the hell out of his lacklustre role, including his “764 dead” speech, but ultimately his death isn’t particularly satisfying. Thank goodness it at least checks the gore box, or else this episode might have been deemed a snooze! <sarcasm>
- Side Note: It’s pretty disappointing that the hunt for first Naomi (an unseen Mary-Louise Parker) and later Zoe (Scottie Thompson) occupied so much screen time, considering it ended up solely being in service of Zoe getting used by Red as leverage against Berlin. What a waste.
Red Alert: Although the specifics of Fitch’s death aren’t all that interesting, his passing portends a great deal of promise – narratively speaking – because it means that Red is no longer safe. He’ll receive no more special deals and no more protection. Hopefully this introduces a new regime…or at the very least an adrenaline injection. This first half of the season has felt surprisingly dull and subdued, despite the tighter focus on the hunt for Berlin. (PS. How many bullets do you need to kill a man less than two feet away?! Methinks Red was overcompensating just a bit there).
- While I’m not unhappy that the Berline storyline has been put to bed, it is a bit disappointing that there’s no possibility of his return. There was a certain appeal in watching Spader and Stormare camp it up together during their brief visit to Moscow. Oh what hijinks these two could have gotten into!
Lizzie’s Wig / Hot Assassin Husband: Lizzie (Megan Boone) spends the episode fronting the domestic drama B-plot with Tom (Ryan Eggold). Their psychodrama battle of wits is actually more interesting than pretty much everything else in the episode, despite the weird corrupting influence bit when Tom wants Lizzie to murder the dockhand doesn’t really work for me (is he trying to get her to admit that she’s like him? What’s the point if he assumes that he’s about to die?). Frustratingly Tom’s release and eventual meeting with Red ends with yet another document in an envelope (somehow in less than thirty episodes that’s already a trope on this show). Still, the confirmation that Tom and Red have some kind of relationship, even if we’ve long suspected it existed, could be interesting.
- Kudos where earned: It’s actually kind of admirable that Lizzie kept Tom tied up for 77 days (or four months as the show loves to remind us). I wouldn’t have thought her voice would hold out for that long given how much she was yelling/screaming/whining during the montage that opens the episode.
- Fashion Faux Pas: How funny would it have been if the dock hand had questioned Lizzie’s profession based on her tights and chunky heels? I keep waiting for someone to question her wardrobe decisions. Agent Scully would have never left the house looking like this (although Joan Watson might applaud Lizzie’s look…shudder).
Agent Boring: Thankfully Ressler (Diego Klattenhoff) sits most the fall finale out. He seems to exist here solely to berate Lizzie for protecting Tom, which just made me wish that Lizzie would snap and throw his drug addiction back in his face.
Other Task Force business: Nada. At this point it’s the Red/Lizzie show, for better or worse. I suppose Lennix, Arison and Marnò are probably just happy to collect a regular paycheck.
Sooo…that’s it for 2014. What do you think of the first half of the season? Were you particularly engaged in the Berlin/Red/Fitch drama or was it all about Lizzie & Tom for you? Were you surprised that Fitch actually went kaboom? And where does the show go from here when it returns in the Spring? Sound off below.
The Blacklist has finished airing for 2014. It returns in the special/plum post-Super Bowl slot in February before jumping to Thursdays at 9pm.