The action of this week's mid-season finale of The Blacklist
resumes at the conclusion of last week's episode, immediately reversing Dembe's apparent execution. Credit where it's due, they tricked me -- I had been largely unmoved by his early death, but now they have a chance to actually develop the character before killing him off dramatically.
The gunshot that we had all associated with Dembe is actually the FBI tech guy shooting someone. He reestablishes the base's communications, but it doesn't do much good: he and Liz are quickly captured, and Red gives himself up.
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Anslo makes off with Red and Liz in an ambulance, escaping just as the FBI backup arrives. Keen manages to blow the driver's head off and jump out, but Anslo takes control of the vehicle. Liz goes all Grand Theft Auto on a nearby civilian, but she can't keep up. Red is gone, and the task force formerly associated with him is shut down.
Since chain of command doesn't mean all that much on this show, Lizzy decides to unilaterally bring Red back. Her techie friend relays some deliberately obtuse tech jargon to her, the bottom line being that the bad guys' burner phones had all made calls to the house across the street from her.
Liz enters the house across the street, where she discovers the security setup that had been observing her. One of Red's cleanup specialists meets up with her to help out and is able to trace their data to an industrial neighborhood. They manage to raid the facility.
Red is strung up back at Anslo's headquarters, where Anslo reveals that he was simply a mercenary and is being paid to keep Red alive; he injects Red with a super hurty pain serum. Red uses his magic powers to resist beyond the bounds of previously accepted medical science, but he's still pretty beat up.
This elevates the matter to guest star Alan Alda, who tries to figure out to what extent Red has cooperated with the FBI. The interrogation proves largely fruitless, and Alda hands Red over to Anslo for torture and execution. Wizard that he is, Red gets the upper hand and stabs Anslo through the brain. By the time the FBI arrive, Red is gone.
Liz's long-suffering husband manages to convince her to move away, but she does get one more phone call with Red: she asks him point-blank if he's her father; he says no. Of course, there's no reason to think he either is or isn't lying, so I don't really count that as a development.
That does it for this first set of episodes on The Blacklist -- it's been a decidedly uneven, often silly affair, but there's still stuff to get excited about here: if Alan Alda is built into the show's mythology, then he could finally deliver a performance to match Spader's. The rest of the show has a lot more developing to do, but we'll have to wait to see if it's up to the task when it returns for its full season pickup.
returns January 13 at 10pm on NBC.(Image courtesy of NBC)