The Blacklist: Working At Cross Purposes

Photo by: Barbara Nitke/NBC
Photo by: Barbara Nitke/NBC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

We’ve now concluded five episodes of the fourth season for the NBC series “The Blacklist,” and this viewer’s found myself, feeling rather lost and dissatisfied. The show, coming off what could arguably be labeled as the series strongest season in the 2015-2016 campaign, as former FBI Agent Elizabeth Keen kept one step ahead of the law and the Cabal. Keen killed the United States Attorney General Tom Connelly, when the Cabal member threatened her and all those she cared for. When she finally cleared her name with the help of Raymond Reddington, she found herself going from the frying-pan and into the fire.

Lizzie found out that she carried Tom’s child and the annulled couple planned to get married and raise their baby together. Reddington, made it clear that he disapproved of the reconciliation, going as far as to putting the kibosh on Tom getting a job in Boston. However, other problems lurked in the background, as somebody kept trying to kidnap Elizabeth. Keen with the help of Mr. Kaplan and Dr. Nick, faked her death so she, Tom and their baby could have a life without Reddington in it.

While Tom knew that the mother of his daughter Agnes, actually lived, he played the part of the grief-struck widower and helped track down the man who attempted to kidnap Lizzie, Alexander Kirk. Kirk and Reddington, knew each other well and likely consider each other mortal enemies. When Kirk believes Liz passed, he sets his sights on kidnapping Agnes, which happens in the final episode of Season Three.

However Agnes, wasn’t the only one that Kirk’s operatives captured. Tom and Agnes had fled to Havana, to join Lizzie in their new life. Kirk introduced himself to Liz, (or Masha, as he called her) as her father Constantin Rostov in the final scene of the season. Lizzie’s capture revealed that Kate Kaplan thought up the plan that gave Liz, Tom and Agnes their freedom, Raymond felt betrayed.

While the third season rocketed out of the gates, picking up minutes after Liz killed Connelly. Dembe drove them to the first of many stops that Raymond and Keen to help clear her name. This season opened with a restaging of the previous episode, likely to get Megan Boone, who missed the last third of last year on maternity leave, integrated back into the action. Some fans’ describe this still young season, as dragging along on Social Media sites, if that’s true that might figure into the dynamic.

We’re going to dispense with our usual play-by-play format, this go-round, instead we’re going to discuss the episode entitled “The Lindquist Concern,” as one piece of what we’ve witnessed so far in season four. The relationships have radically evolved since Raymond Reddington turned himself in to Bureau Headquarters, to forge a professional and personal relationship with Elizabeth Keen. Despite pushing the envelope throughout this series’ the writers have retained the elasticity, to bring the regulars back into the fold, even after committing some rather heinous acts.

Those relationships have been in a constant state of flux, throughout it’s run and we’ve witnessed once bitter enemies become allies. We’ve also watched a long time partnership, undergo irreparable damage and the ripples of that action are just beginning to occur. As word filters through TEAM-RED, what will be the fallout and reaction of the Task-Force?

RED AND MR. KAPLAN: We might as well tackle the 800-pound gorilla in the room first, as it shocked and disappointed many of the long time viewers. Although Kate certainly didn’t go softly into the night, the question among the fans remains, was Raymond justified in shooting her for her betrayal. Although many viewers believe Reddington had ample justification to turn on Mr. Kaplan, I reside in the opposite camp.

Red’s a self-admitted psychopath and we’ve watched his face turn to stone and his eyes become steely, often over these three-plus seasons. However we’ve also seen the depths of Raymond’s kindness, a perfect example’s his interaction with Skyler Ayers, a special-needs child with a rare blood disease. Reddington’s likely the first person to talk to the youngster, like he’d talk to any other boy. It’s difficult to believe that someone with that big a heart, could callously turn on the woman he described as his better half.

Dembe started feeling the ramifications of his actions in this installment, as he sat in the pews of the church that Reddington and Dembe are residing in. (Raymond told Liz, that he normally has a devil of a time falling asleep, but he sleeps like a babe in the manger in the church.) He tells Red that forgiveness won’t come, for Kate and what he did. Reddington replies that Dembe did nothing and the man Raymond rescued as a teen, confirmed that was his sin. He denied Mr. Kaplan when she came to him for help and he allowed Raymond to kill her without voicing his regrets.

Teddy Brimley, the geriatric Marquis De Sade, mentioned her in this episode as he informed Raymond and Dembe he’s getting hitched on the 16, and to extend the invite to Mr. Kaplan. Lizzie’s already asked Reddington where Kate’s at and Red avoided answering her, but how will she handle it when she finds out?

Despite Raymond’s proficiency with a pistol, Reddington failed to kill his “Cleaner” in the middle of the wilderness, instead just damaging her cheek. Although Kate’s situation’s far from comforting, as she finds herself shackled to her bed by some old guy who lives off the grid and has only been identified as The Hunter, what’s in store for her future? She knows all of Reddington’s weaknesses, will she eventually turn into Raymond’s greatest foe?

WHO, EXACTLY’S CONSTANTIN ROSTOV?:  Reddington, specifically stated that although Kirk believes he’s Lizzie’s father, he believes otherwise. Keen stormed into the church clutching a DNA report, stating that Rostov’s indeed her father, why does Red continue to believe other wise? Although Rostov’s repeatedly said that he just wants his family together again, his considering using Agnes as a bone-marrow donor, shows his true desire. Rostov wants to live longer and he’s considering risking his granddaughter’s life to fulfill that wish. Unless Elizabeth Keen’s not the person who provided the DNA for this report, Rostov appears to be her biological father.

IS THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT, COMPLETELY CORRUPT IN THE BLACKLIST UNIVERSE?:  Although Raymond got the Task-Force involved in the capture of Silas Gouldsberry and The Lindquist Concern, allegedly because he’d lead them to Agnes, that didn’t come close to fruition. Instead Ressler and Navabi saved the information from going public, only to see it wind up in the hands of Laurel Hitchin. She in turn gave the information to Reddington, to see what inventions he desired, before selling them to among others the Cabal. Reddington will get 45% of any money that Hitchin receives. Is the planet truly better off with the way things went down?

Although it appears that Constantin Rostov will remain with us for at least a few more episodes, it’s time for the writer’s to progress this season’s plot. Can Raymond be forgiven for his actions, or will he like Dembe keep seeking salvation that’s never arriving?

2 thoughts on “The Blacklist: Working At Cross Purposes”

  1. Loved this installment Jeff. Really wide and yet an easy to digest read. Well done sir! I would say more but I’ve left so many replies elsewhere. I will say Kaplan needed to be killed if only for one reason. She knows far too much and just like The Fulcrum, in the wrongs hands, it would be disaster for Red and all his concerns. Kaplan knows too much and torture always works. Besides, she will dispense with her capture being a master of death as she is. If they carry it much further than a few episodes it will not be believable for her NOT to have killed him, depending on her recuperative time…let’s minus that from the equation of the timetable.

    I laid out my own table of who is on the Fight Card last week and it’s playing out to be just that.
    Keen vs Keen *even with their makeup tonite. The fight prior will be the seed to him leaving.
    Keen vs Red *even if the DNA report is false, he and she have unresolved business.
    Keen vs Kirk *she may be interested in truths but more interested in her baby’s return.
    Red vs Kirk *Kirk having an asset as we learned tonite makes his steps ahead now gimpish. But it will come out just all the dirty laundry these two have between them. Daddygate isn’t over!
    FBI vs Kirk *This will play out as long as Red feeds Blacklisters. Panabaker has to go along.
    Keen’s Exit – This will be seeded I believe and a bridge built, already seeded but not watered, so he can make his was to “Redemption”.

    Lots of fighters on the board. And Dembe’s latest revelation of remorse for Kaplan even though he told her he wasn’t on her side – makes Red think twice. He knows Dembe’s conscience is next best to his own and if Dembe is regretful, so too should he be. Dembe knows he should have agreed with Kaplan in her stance….as he as always had the mind Liz should be told the truth and to let matters fall where they may. He doesn’t like Red manipulating the matter and holding Liz hostage with untold facts. He knows it would be better for her to be told by Red than to discover matters via other means. In fact, her thirst for this knowledge is constantly putting her at risk. So Red, whether he likes it or not is solely responsible for much of the current situation just from keeping secrets forcing Liz to go off on her own to find out the truth.

    Red has to change. Kaplan and I were right. He is blinded by his own hubris. He is not a God, even if he is master strategist. He should know from his own mistakes he will make more mistakes in the future. Knowing this, he should be able to stave off the most obvious ones…one being, never to let one’s ego get in the way of what is the most efficient means of delivery, whether it be truth or a bullet.

    Thanks for reading.

    Joey Schoenberger

    1. Joe,

      As always thanks for your kind words and your insight, both are always appreciated. Mr. Kaplan’s final conversation centered around her saying something along the likes of Everybody expects her to make their life a little happier, a little cleaner, hence the name. However this time she decided not to make it easier for Keen or for Raymond. When she and Red took their final walk together, she basically called Reddington out, saying she knew what was coming next. The speech about her knowing too much, that she knew all of Raymond’s darkest secrets and his vulnerabilities. I’ve often wondered if she felt she was giving Red an ultimatum, you either take me back and we get past this, or just kill me. She dedicated her life to him and she was incensed that he refused to see things her way.

      What bothered me about “The Lindquist Concern,” was it seemed like they tried to squeeze ten pounds of sausage into a five pound casing. Silas Gouldsberry was a fascinating character who really got short-shrift in the story. We meet this guy who appears to inhabit that rarefied ground reserved for “Movers and Shakers” looking slightly Euro in his double-breasted suit. Carries himself with confidence and charisma. However after he kills the first inventor, we realize he’s just an office drone working in the patent office. His body language’s totally different and we can see by his face, he’s a beaten man that’s constant sport for his bully of a boss. During the hostage situation we learn his motivation, that he grew embittered after watching a corporation buy his first-born and then shelving it. However when you’ve got countless other subplots going on in the same episode, the writers have to balance everything, like the guy balancing plates spinning on poles.

      There was no connection between Gouldsberry and Agnes, it almost seemed as if it just served as an excuse to bring back Laurel Hitchin and for us to discover why Raymond didn’t kill her last season. He’s the Puppet-Master and she’s just another one of his hapless dummies, her silent partner getting a 45% profit on the deal. Another step in changing our perception of Reddington, we’ve gone from mood-lighting to the harsh-glare of the spotlight, and though the roaches and rats scattered, Red’s still there exposing another unattractive aspect of himself. The one positive of her return was seeing the Boy Scout take her on, promising he’ll pin Reven Wright’s murder on her.

      Now add in Tom trying to scam somebody from the Russian Embassy, the kidnapping and torture of the hematologist, including Teddy Brimley having fun with Tropical fish. The aborted Geneva meeting and how Rostov knew it was a setup (Could he have implanted a tracking chip on Masha, alerting him of where ever she’s at?) And the suddenly very strange triangle existing between, Aram, Samar and Elise.

      I believe that many of Raymond’s peers still derive enjoyment out of killing somebody. Red talked about the romance he once associated with being a criminal, but he told the guy who jumped Lizzie in the parking lot, that had long since dissipated. Raymond won’t hesitate to pull the trigger, but he looks at it as part of the job.

      Dembe however doesn’t like killing, although I believe that he’d have all sorts of fun with Matias Solomon, for what he did to his granddaughter. However when they caught Peter Fonda, who was responsible for Zuma’s kidnapping as a boy, he asked Raymond to let him go, that what he did was in the past. Of course Reddington doled out justice as he saw fit and killed him. I’ve always assumed Raymond’s an Atheist, because if he believed in an omnipotent being, he’d realize that if there’s an afterlife, he’s in for a doozy.

      However Dembe’s now wrestling with his internal demons and we really don’t have a clue as to how things will sort out. Those of us who thought we knew Raymond going into Season Four, realized we didn’t really know him at all when he shot Kate.

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