An intensity from end-to-end that was higher than many episodes of The Blacklist which is saying something. Dramatic moments of personal loyalty, a showing of the hands by key characters and several interesting reveals.
A few minor plot holes and careful writing kept us from learning more about the secrets Liz uncovered.
The Blacklist — As Dembe (Hisham Tawfiq) and Liz (Megan Boone) find themselves in the fight of their lives and on the run with a mortally wounded Red (James Spader), it’s Mr. Kaplan (Susan Blommaert) to the rescue. As she organizes the medical resources and personnel to save Red’s life, it’s up to Liz and the task force to find Leonard Caul (Guest Star Ned Van Zandt, Blacklister No. 62) and unravel the secrets of the Fulcrum before The Director (David Strathairn) can find Red and put an end to him once and for all. When Red’s surgeon is killed in a shootout, Liz turns desperately to not one, but two exes. Surgeon Nik (Piter Marek), her former fiancé, agrees to help for a steep price and Tom (Ryan Eggold), provides temporary shelter, but only to help Liz and not Red.
In a race against time, Dembe sends Liz to find the last pieces of the Fulcrum and when she is confronted by Leonard Caul, the Fulcrum’s secrets are finally revealed to her. With time running out and a violent assault at the hands of the Cabal taking place at Red’s location, Liz must act fast putting her own life in jeopardy or lose Red and Tom forever. With new revelations, new betrayals and fierce demonstrations of loyalty amidst a chaotic gun battle to save everyone, not all will emerge unscathed and certainly those that survive will have new questions and difficult choices ahead after we expose all the dangers in this week’s episode of The Blacklist!
Meet the enigmatic genius behind The Fulcrum and its secrets.
Leonard Caul has been watching everyone for some time. Not only does he show up at the scene of Red’s shooting, he tracks Red all the way to his destination. We’ll say one thing, Caul is cautious bricking the laptop after he’s learned what he needed. He’s also dedicated. Leaving his fingers at the hospital at the sight of cops is a level of dedication that’s certainly above and beyond.
Ned Van Zandt was compelling and secretive. He very much had the look of an agent on the run. He made for a solid Blacklister, but with the twist Red needed him alive and not incarcerated or killed to end a threat. That seems to be a trend in season two and makes us wonder what Blacklist numbers mean. Are they an importance level to Red? Berlin (Peter Stormare), Tom and Fitch (Alan Alda) would suggest so, but the numbers seem to be merely for our benefit and we’re left to speculate.
When Liz was sent to retrieve the case and key, Red’s flat was littered with clues. Pictures of Sam with Liz as a girl, Liz at her graduation and a mysterious woman holding Liz were just the few lingered upon for a time. Was the woman Liz’s mother? That would be a surprise worth the buildup. What was unexpected was Leonard Caul stopping Liz at the door. But shouldn’t we have seen that coming? After all, he’s been watching.
We can’t blame Liz for thinking Caul was involved in Red’s assassination attempt as she was questioned at gunpoint, but smart writing quickly made clear why he wasn’t the enemy. Only if the Cabal thought Red and Caul meeting was a danger would they try to kill both and with Caul the key to deciphering the Fulcrum, that entire plot point made even more sense.
“First time I saw it, I was speechless, too.” ~ Caul
“Some of the names on that list, people, they’re CEOs, Defense contractors, intelligence officers from China, India, all over the world.” ~ Liz
“Those names you saw, those are just the beginning.” ~ Caul
Seeing the Fulcrum for the first time was surprisingly anti-climatic. Liz now knows a number of things we don’t and the writing team was very careful not to reveal more. Refocusing our attention on the assault of Red’s location was an excellent diversion that paused us thinking about the Fulcrum, but it didn’t stop Liz. Going straight to the Director was a bold choice by the writers. Did she actually have copies? She certainly knew enough to be a threat, but would it pay off or backfire?
Nothing like life, death and money to let you know who you can trust.
Code 77 put Mr. Kaplan into emergency mode to save Red and pulled together an impressive mobile crash team in mere minutes. But none of that compared to Mr. Kaplan’s Dirty Harry impression as the false FBI team showed. Her gunning down all of them in quick succession revealed another layer to this mysterious woman.
She didn’t hesitate. Up to now, she’s only disposed of evidence and put plans into motion for Red. But her fierce loyalty showed in this episode and Susan Blommaert, through her stoic and reserved performance, was exemplary. Kate has been an enigma and the intrigue only deepened with every calculated action she took to save Red’s life.
“What are you doing, Kate?” ~ Red
“Keeping you alive.” ~ Mr. Kaplan
“There’s nothing you can do here.” ~ Red
“I’m not leaving you, Raymond.” ~ Mr. Kaplan
“You need to go. Find a way out. I’ll be fine. And if I’m not, you know what to do. But you won’t be able to do it unless you leave.” ~ Red
As she and Red parted, that was a very tender kiss on the forehead she gave him and he reciprocated the affection. There was a lot of quiet emotion brimming in that moment. They share a deep bond, but what is it? What is Mr. Kaplan’s story? She was on edge shooting the false team and providing Nik with the money he demanded. What arrangement did she and Red have between them in the case of his death? We certainly hope to someday find out and we think a Mr. Kaplan episode is in order to do so.
Speaking of trust, we’ll say this for her, Liz has some gumption calling both exes to help Red. As if Tom wasn’t enough, involving Nik in Red’s world could have dire consequences for him. He seemed to know just enough to demand the money he wanted, but not enough to know the danger he was truly in by entering Red’s sphere of influence. Tom was probably right to advise Nik to leave the money, but would anyone really do that? Not likely, but Tom seemed to have different motivations entirely.
Tom confronting Red was powerful and insightful and Ryan Eggold was moving in his performance. Recalling the day Sam died certainly caught our attention given all that’s come to light since. To learn that was the first meeting between Tom and Red after the betrayal to Berlin made it all the more impactful. Despite fearing for his life, Tom stayed. Did he do it for Liz? One would have to think perhaps yes. Can Tom pull off a completely changed life? He certainly seems to be trying.
Tom was right about one thing. Red is the source of more hurt to Liz than anyone. Yes, Tom played his part, but Red is and has been the central figure. The cathartic honesty Tom has displayed in the past few weeks seems to suggest he very much still loves Liz and has fought to stay by her side. It will be interesting to see how much that decision by the writing team changes Liz’s perception of Tom as their story progresses, especially in contrast to the lack of answers from Red.
Despite lack of trust, Liz risks it all for Red and Tom does the same for her. But has she finally dipped into water too deep to survive?
As the lights dimmed in preparation for the assault by The Director’s breach team, the tension of the episode hit a fever pitch. It was clear that blood was about to be spilled. Red’s men and Dembe certainly had a loyalty to him that can be understood, but what compelled Tom to stay? Liz? Was saving Red a way to show her he cared? Or at least how much he cared? That was a huge risk.
Speaking of risks, Liz’s threat to The Director to go to the press was a gutsy call by the writing team. We don’t know if she really had copies, but her tactic worked for the story. Leaving the Fulcrum with The Director made for a dramatic moment but we’re hoping we weren’t the only ones jumping up and down and screaming not to leave behind something we’ve spent a season trying to find. Liz knows who he is and what he’s done. She also knows at least some of what’s on the Fulcrum. But is it enough to keep her alive if The Director doesn’t believe her after he’s had time to think? We just don’t know.
His last line to Liz was an odd one as he remarked how much like her mother she looked. That was an odd little bomb to drop. But perhaps not given the picture Liz saw in the flat. We were meant to think about her mother in this episode. To wonder. To speculate. Let the theories on that subject begin anew.
The Director certainly seemed rattled by Liz’s threat, but if there was a plot hole in the episode, why didn’t the men surrounding Red kill him immediately? If their orders were to eliminate him, they’d have taken the shot instantly. We realize those seconds were needed to show the phone call interrupting, but it would have made more sense if Red were cornered but not yet at gunpoint.
In the end, Red’s confession to Liz about hiring Tom was the most emotional scene of the hour. Tom’s willingness to remain must have made an impression on Red and Spader was his usual stellar self in his empathic delivery. Tom could have walked away, but did not.
“When I learned that your relationship had become intimate, I fired him. I should’ve removed him, but you were already in love with him. And Tom, he shifted his allegiance to Berlin in part to protect himself from me, but also because it allowed for an inextricable intimacy and commitment to you. And so you were married. And I couldn’t stay away any longer. A confluence of peril had entered your life, and I wanted to be within reach, to have influence. I turned myself in to the FBI to point you toward a truth that inevitably you would have to discover for yourself.” ~ Red
Betraying Red to stay close would seem to be a huge sign Tom does indeed care. Does he truly love Liz? Can he be trusted? Only time will tell, but as the episode closed and Liz asked for his help, it would seem we may get to find out. It was also interesting that Red’s story to Liz countered Tom Connelly’s (Reed Birney) accusation that Red had been manipulating Liz all along. Perhaps both statements true in a sense. We wouldn’t put it past this writing team for that to be the case, but what truth does he hope for her to find on her own? Questions are everywhere.
FINAL VERDICT: New revelations, fierce loyalty and new betrayals provided the backdrop for one of the most intense episodes to date. After the dust settled in this episode of The Blacklist, the body count was high and the ever-present threat level even higher.
This episode was yet another example of great writing and performances throughout. With the exception of a few holes in the plot, it was well done from end to end. We have no idea where Leonard Caul went from here. The information he knows is just as dangerous as the Fulcrum itself. Liz in fact is now in that same position.
The writing team doesn’t seem phased by continuing to lay out answers and ask new questions almost every week and the group effort by Writers Brandon Margolis, Brandon Sonnier, Kristen Reidel and Jim Campolongo that brought together this episode did just that. They are taking some chances with Tom and Liz’s relationship that may pay off in the end, but right now have the two in a tenuous alliance. Liz in fact feels she has no where else to go but Tom for any kind of truth and that’s going to make for an interesting end to the season.
The episode as a whole was well constructed as nearly all the entries for The Blacklist have been, but the assault on Red’s location was amazingly well done. Wave after wave of enemies and gunfire in relative silence made it feel more intense. It was an interesting choice by Director Michael Waxman to largely mute the moment. Granted, it would have been extraordinarily loud, but muting made an intense sequence more surreal. As violent as it was, that might have been the best way to portray it on television.
Betrayals and slippery slopes are starting to show themselves. The revelation that Tom Connelly now has a seat in the Cabal was a stunner. Tom defended Harold’s choice not to reveal Red’s location and that moment solidified Connelly as an understanding ally in Harold’s mind. But later, Tom certainly looked conflicted as The Director assured him that preserving the peace of the world has value. That’s not half as conflicted as he’ll be if and when Cooper (Harry Lennix) finds out he’s been played. Who knows if that betrayal will come to light any time soon, but Connelly taking a position on the Cabal has got to play an important role in the series going forward.
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We’d be remiss if we didn’t tip our cap to Hisham Tawfiq. We officially want more deep and moving speeches from Dembe. Tawfiq has proven himself a fine actor and Dembe’s plea for Liz to visit Red’s flat was both a revealing and emotional moment. He’s deeply committed to Red and the bond the two share is special. Dembe’s insistence Liz never tell Red meant the flat contained secrets. We can only surmise that the picture of the woman and the information on the Fulcrum itself are things Red never meant for Liz to see. Time will tell what difficulties arise from that decision.
Can Liz carry the weight of the Fulcrum’s knowledge? She certainly seemed ready to crack as she confided in Tom that Red’s world may indeed devour her. Can she handle what she knows and are there really copies to protect her? We doubt Liz’s threat of the press will be enough, but it’s anyone’s guess what Red will say when he learns where the Fulcrum ended up. We don’t know, but we can’t wait to find out next week on The Blacklist!
Questions, Comments, Concerns and My Reaction on Twitter…
- Damn. That was intense.
- Mr. Kaplan doesn’t mince words.
- Guess that laptop is bricked. #GoesThroughThemLikeCandy
- Don’t worry. Red will mess these ppl up next week in his new vibranium body. #ConsortiumIsScrewed
- 3 ex wives are the only ones that see that sight Tom. No offense, but we just don’t wanna. lol
- Uh, yeah, I’d pull up that info right now Aram. That look from the boss .. not good buddy.
- He left his fingers behind?? WTF??
- Holy shit! Dirty Kaplan just wiped the floor with the bad guys!! How many bullets you have left DK??
- Hi Tom!! Houseguests! Hope you’ve got the good plastic cups clean. lol
- Now we get to add #Badass to Mr. Kaplan’s long and illustrious job description.
- If it’s any consolation, she dumped me too. Ha!!
- You have my word. That’s a long, dark slippery slope Harold.
- Dembe speaks! But what’s in the flat??
- Alright @NBCBlacklist, we officially request Dembe have significant monologues every ep. That was awesome. 😉
- Guess you two decided to go another route. Um, yeah. Something like that.
- Tried to kill you. Yep, that’s how I know all my friends are legit too. Um not ..
- Did anyone else just have an Indiana Jones finds the Well of Souls with a magic beam kinda moment?? O.O
- Shit. Is. About. To. GET REAL.
- Holy hell that entire sequence was incredibly well done. That’s a LOT of bad guys. O.O
- Starting? That was starting to get crazy? Holy hell. Imma pass out next week then. The President will have to wait. I have world domination stuff to attend to right now.
- Better have #ComfortFoodAndWine on hand to watch this ep..
- I’m stunned after that episode. I can’t cap WTF in big enough letters to do that one justice. Woah.
- Wow. Is everybody okay after that episode? #ImNot
- Body count high. WTF count higher. Feels all over the place.
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