Did THE BLACKLIST really just do that? (Review: Season 3, Episode 18)

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The Blacklist - Mr Solomon (Conclusion)

Written by Daniel Cerone
Directed by John Terlesky

Cast 

•    James Spader as Raymond "Red" Reddington
•    Megan Boone as FBI Special Agent Elizabeth Keen
•    Diego Klattenhoff as FBI Special Agent Donald Ressler
•    Ryan Eggold as Tom Keen
•    Harry Lennix as Harold Cooper
•    Amir Arison as Aram Mojtabai
•    Mozhan Marnò as Samar Navabi
•    Hisham Tawfiq as Dembe Zuma
•    Susan Blommaert as Mr. Kaplan
•    Elias Solomon - Edi Gathegi

WARNING!  THIS REVIEW DOES CONTAIN MASSIVE SPOILERS!

James Spader is one of my favorite actors.  There have been many movies and TV shows I only watched because James Spader appeared in the show.  I pretty much vowed never to watch an episode of Stargate, despite my love for the movie, because it didn't have Spader (#NotMyDaniel).   When they announced he would have a reoccurring role in THE OFFICE, I marathoned the entire series just to I would be caught up.  So, when they announced he would be staring in THE BLACKLIST, I tuned in without hesitation.

In THE BLACKLIST, Spader plays Raymond "Red" Reddington, a former military intelligence expert who turned to a life of crime.  He was so good at it that he landed as #1 on the FBI's Most Wanted List.  One day, out of the blue, Red walks into FBI Headquarters and turns himself in.  He agrees to give the FBI information leading to the capture of the world's most dangerous criminals, but only if he's allowed to work directly with a new profiler named Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone).  It's clear from the beginning that Red has some kind of connection with Agent Keen, but we've only gotten hints at what that may be.

Throughout the show, Red has been working to eliminate a powerful government organization called The Cabal. Throughout most of the third season, The Cabal had managed to frame Keen for murder, putting them on the run.  In the end, Red was able to take down the Cabal, and Keen's name was mostly cleared.  Though in the plea deal, she had to give up being an FBI agent.  We also found out that she was pregnant (Megan Boone was pregnant in real life) from her former husband, Tom (Ryan Eggold).  Tom and Elizabeth have a...complicated...relationship.  He was hired by one of Red's enemies to get close to Elizabeth, and she once had him locked in a ship and tortured him for months.  They seem to have mostly reconciled.  

Last episode, they decided to get married for real.  But one of The Cabal's former operatives, Solomon (Edi Gathegi) had been hired to kidnap Keen by unknown forces.  Red and the FBI manage to cover her escape, but in the getaway, Elizabeth and Tom get in a horrible car accident.  Red's medical team manage to save the baby, but Keen later dies from her injuries.  Yes.  You heard that right. THEY KILLED ELIZABETH KEEN!!

I will say up front, that part of me doubts that she stays dead.  Megan Boone was a huge part of this show, and it is possible they "faked" the death to give her some time off for maternity leave.  I will say that pretty much everything in the episode points to the idea that she's really dead, and any theory I have heard that suggests otherwise has been weak at best.   I still think MAYBE she will be back, but I can't help but thinking maybe I am just in the denial stage of the grieving process.

While Keen's death was a huge surprise, that is not the only thing I want to talk about.  What made this episode work so well was how intense everything was.  There have been plenty of times that THE BLACKLIST did episodes and storylines that ended up so over the top, you have to really suspend your disbelief to watch the show.  My mom and I like to call that "the Hawaii Five-O" effect.  

But this episode, they kept everything far more subdued.  It allowed each character to really shine, especially James Spader and Ryan Eggold.  Tom has always been a complicated character.  He should be so despicable, but Eggold always manages to make him just charming enough that you can't quite hate him like you should.  Seeing Tom's pain at the idea of losing Elizabeth and their child is just crushing. And Spader is brilliant as always.  He usually plays Red as over the top, but in this episode, he was much more contained...until the end, where he literally collapses as he walks away from Elizabeth's corpse.  If you can watch that scene without feeling Red's pain, you have no soul.

The reactions of the rest of the cast were perfect too.  We see a lot of silent reaction shots, and each one of them lands hard on the viewer.  And the sick part of all this? Solomon manages to remain free in the end.  Before THE BLACKLIST, I had only seen Edi Gathegi in pretty sympathetic parts like Darwin in X-MEN: FIRST CLASS or Zed  in PROOF.  He plays a real horrible bastard in THE BLACKLIST. Gathegi has a lot of depth as an actor, and if he isn't taking on some huge leading roles soon, I would be shocked.

So, with Elizabeth Keen dead, where does that leave THE BLACKLIST? I had heard that episode 22 was going to be a backdoor pilot for a potential spinoff series. I had joked with my wife that it should be a sitcom with Tom and Red trying to raise the baby together.  Rumor now is that the pilot is about Tom tracking down Solomon.  I am not sure if that is enough meat for an entire series, but I would probably watch it anyway because Ryan Eggold and Edi Gathegi are both terrific.

THE BLACKLIST was renewed for season 4, and there are still a lot of questions about Red and his connection to Keen.  And you know Red is going to want revenge against whoever hired Solomon to go after Keen.  Even if they decide to keep Keen dead, there are still a lot of great characters in THE BLACKLIST, and it is very possible they can keep going.  I honestly don't know if they can do this show without Megan Boone, but as long as it has Spader, I would probably give it a fair shot anyway.

This week's episode was just a terrific episode of a terrific series.  

Grade: 
5.0 / 5.0