The Blacklist S02E10 Review
Last week’s storylines are wrapped up in a not-so-neat bow in the latest The Blacklist, which delivers some pretty implausible and eye-roll inducing storytelling.
Despite the explosive ending of Part One of the Luther Braxton chronicles, everyone survives. Ressler gets to show off some of his kick ass moves before moving on to save Navabi; Red is apparently knocked out for a while, but manages to get up without any aftereffects; and Keen is smuggled off the boat by Braxton while no-one is looking. This, naturally, sends both the FBI and Reddington into a tailspin as they scramble to find Keen before its too late.
Unfortunately, after this initial opening sequence, nothing really happens. Braxton brings in a memory doctor to try and extract Keen’s memories of the fire and the Fulcrum while Red and the FBI take different measures to try and locate them. We don’t really get any answers regarding Keen’s memories either, apart from that which most of the audience had already assumed: there was a fire, she heard something about the Fulcrum, and Reddington was there. The lack of answers results in an episode that feels a little more style than substance, as if the writers are groping around for a way to progress this main mystery without exactly knowing the endgame.
The cat and mouse game played by Red and Braxton feels like a cheap, knock-off, B-grade version of the previous, larger Berlin and Red storyline, and Braxton is overcome and defeated far too quickly given the status and skillset he has given in Part One. Once again, the show runners had the making of a serious contender for Reddington, who was excellently portrayed by Ron Perlman, but they reduced him down to their favourite cookie-cutter mould for this instalment.
Things do pick up in the last few minutes of the episode, however, when Reddington bursts in, guns a-blazing, and pushes for the continuation of Keen’s memory therapy. This leads to Keen remembering Red dragging her out of the fire, leaving her biological father to burn face down inside and the resulting ‘no more’ argument between Keen and Reddington is the first in which I’ve actually felt the helplessness and desperation of Red, as all his attempts to deflect Keen’s accusations seem to fall on deaf ears. Both actors deserve kudos for this powerful scene, even if we know that it is not really the end of their partnership.
In a show that prides itself on last-minute revelations, this episode does not disappoint. Director Cooper receives some obviously bad test results regarding his mysterious illness, while Keen meets with the memory therapy doctor and learns that her memory has been altered before. This, we learn, means that while the people she remembers would’ve been there, they could’ve had different roles in reality. So while Reddington was there, he wasn’t necessarily the one that dragged her away from the fire. Given the burn scars on his back that we were treated to back in Season One, and the not so subtle dance of “Are they? Aren’t they?”, this is a pretty big hint to the possibility of Reddington being Liz’s father.
Because this was not enough, apparently, Keen finds something – possibly the Fulcrum – in her half-burnt stuffed bunny. Although this is a moment that is set up to be a big revelation, designed to push us to the end of our seats wondering what exactly that item was, I couldn’t help but be distracted by the fact that the hidden object was a small, wooden box. Inside of a stuffed bunny that Keen has had forever. And likely has hugged many times. As a former child that had stuffed toys, I can assure you that she would’ve noticed that box before and it wouldn’t have stayed a secret for quite so long.
All up, the episode is rather a slow one, with a lot of filler content that could’ve been better crafted in order to maintain interest. Perlman is wasted as a valuable actor that could’ve been brought back for more appearances, and although Keen potentially found the Fulcrum, the moment was overshadowed by the other revelations.
Review by Hannah Fitzpatrick