Warning: Spoiler Alerts
Allow me to escort you back to my childhood in the Mid-Sixties, an era in which TV series were far less complicated. One of my favorite shows in my tween-years was an ABC series called “The Mod Squad.” The premise of the show revolved around three teenagers who ran afoul of the law and were given the choice of serving prison sentences, or becoming undercover cops. Needless to say the two young men and one young woman chose to serve the police and their commanding officer a no-nonsense cop named Captain Greer.
I clearly remember an episode in which one of the characters Lincoln Hayes gets shot in the opening scene and most of the hour consisted of flashbacks and the young man fighting for his life. Perhaps that hour remains embedded in my memory as it caused me to have a minor revelation. Hayes would naturally pull through as he co-starred in the series and the show had gained a loyal following. Of course in the final act of the episode Hayes opens his eyes and the team’s back at full strength by the next week.
The medium’s evolved over the past fifty-years and characters have gone from being these one-dimensional beings, many with little to no back-story. Each episode was self-contained, it was like playing a videogame that reset at the beginning each time you played it. Claire and Cliff Huxtable went from being the parents of four children in the first season of the “Cosby Show,” only to discover they actually had a full-grown daughter they somehow forgot about. Perhaps even stranger, Marion and Howard Cunningham completely forgot about their oldest son named Chuck on “Happy Days.” (I’ve always theorized that Chuck Cunningham left the States for Havana and became a right-hand man to Fidel Castro.)
We’ve also seen that the medium’s no longer as predictable as back in the era I grew up in as main characters now leave series to go onto other projects while others have passed on during a series run. Viewers and fans of the NBC series “The Blacklist,” have been on the edge of their collective seats after watching FBI informant Elizabeth Keen apparently die after giving birth to a daughter. The Internet’s filled with promotional photos displaying Liz’s funeral and headstone that will take place in the next episode. However in a series that’s utilized the fake-out and sleight of hand moves through its history, I firmly believe that the reports of Elizabeth Keen’s death have been greatly exaggerated.
Matias Solomon’s a “Super-Soldier,” however the operative word here’s soldier he’s a man that’s been trained to follow orders. He’s a mercenary in the truest sense of the word, his services belong to the highest bidder and he’s not saddled with baggage such as a conscience or values, that could cause him to turn down an assignment. His debut in the series showed us that he lacked mercy even for infants, infecting Dembe’s granddaughter with a deadly virus, which he eventually gave her the antidote for.
He’s not a bureaucrat he’s an extraordinarily intelligent killing-machine, a guy who if he possesses any emotions likely feels a high when he snuffs out a life. While he maybe at the top of the game in his profession, he’s not setting the agenda. The person who hires him does that and while watching Solomon die an excruciating death maybe cathartic for the fans, it still doesn’t stop the mission from advancing. Somebody wants Masha Rostova alive and unharmed and even if TEAM-Red could have stopped Solomon, somebody would soon take his place.
Let’s go back to the scene when everything went South, Lizzie had just given birth to her daughter Agnes via an emergency Caesarean procedure. Raymond asked permission to enter the makeshift operating room to see Tom and Lizzie’s little bundle of joy, but she refused saying she wanted Reddington to stay away from her daughter. The normally unflappable Red was in pure meltdown mode, having failed Lizzie and breaking the promise he made to keep her and her child safe.
As we approach the conclusion of third season of this series, we’re still pretty much clueless about the relationship between Kate Kaplan and Raymond. There’s been speculation that she could be his sister or another relative, others believe they formed a professional and personal bond while he still worked for the Government. What ever their bond is, we’re now aware that she’s among the few human beings that could give Reddington a tongue-lashing without repercussion. She also struck a nerve within him as he realized that it was indeed he who had let Liz and Agnes down.
Quickly seeing how Elizabeth reacted when Raymond entered the operating room, Mr. Kaplan ordered him to leave and then she talked with Liz, Tom and the surgeon Nick. Reddington likely feeling powerless for the first time in decades told Dembe he was going to get some air and apologized for yelling at his surrogate son earlier.
Just then an alarm sounded and Nick said that Liz was going into shock as some of the amniotic fluid had gotten into her bloodstream. Could it really be just a coincidence that this woman perfectly healthy before the conversation suddenly found herself fighting for her life? Or did Kate Kaplan suddenly concoct a scheme to make the world believe that Elizabeth Keen died? Did Mr. Kaplan react like a quarterback shaking off the play from the sidelines and draw a new plan in the dirt?
Solomon’s orders were to bring Keen to his new employer unharmed and alive, so if Liz died she’d obviously be of no use to the person who hired Matias. Even if TEAM-Red killed Solomon and every member of his squad, it would just be delaying the inevitable. Soon a second wave would arrive and they’d keep coming, condemning Lizzie and Agnes to a life always looking over their shoulders and always on the run. However if the employer believes Keen died the chase ends at least in the short-term.
If my theory’s correct, then only Mr. Kaplan, Liz, Tom and Nick know the truth, leaving Red, Dembe and the Task-Force in the dark. The less that know that vital information, the easier it will be to keep it contained. It also might explain why Tom didn’t attempt to rip Raymond’s head from his neck when he returned to the night-club.
This isn’t even the first time this season that the show attempted to fake Lizzie’s death. While Raymond and Lizzie were on the lam an episode opened with a flash-forward as Raymond had Mr. Kaplan take pictures to send to the media showing Keen’s seemingly lifeless body at the scene of a shootout. Last season contained a two-part episode in which Raymond got gunned down at the conclusion of the first episode and a sizable segment of the fans thought he might die.
Elizabeth Keen does have her detractors among the show’s fans, I’ve seen comments on Social-Media sites stating they hope the character actually died. She’s criticized for being whiney, ungrateful and always complaining and those attributes are certainly part of the character’s DNA. However for a character to have undergone the psychological damage that she’s endured since childhood and still become a profiler for the FBI is pretty impressive in this man’s opinion. She’s far from a perfect character, but each of these people we spend our Thursday nights with, have truckloads of baggage.
Although the series doesn’t get the ratings it did when it occupied the Monday night at 10:00 pm slot, it’s done what NBC hoped it could accomplish in their new time slot. The show derailed the former ABC juggernaut “Scandal,” as it came in ranked at 35, while the first installment of Mr. Solomon wound up in the 27th slot. The network announced weeks ago that the show’s been renewed for a fourth season and they will even attempt to launch a spinoff series revolving around Tom Keen.
Although Season Three has shaken up the dynamic, the series is still based around the premise that one of the most wanted criminals on the planet turns himself into the FBI in order to share information with a rookie profiler that he has some bond with stemming from her childhood. Without Liz Keen that equation vanishes, Raymond never turns himself in without Liz being involved. What ever their actual relationship turns out to be, Raymond thinks of Lizzie like his own daughter which is why his pain’s so intense. He looks at this as his greatest defeat, but he’ll realize why Mr. Kaplan did what she had to do when the truth gets revealed.
We would greatly miss many of the characters that we’ve grown to enjoy over the last three seasons, but there are just two characters that are integral to the plot. Without Raymond Reddington and/or Elizabeth Keen “The Blacklist,” simply doesn’t exist.