The Blacklist Fall Finale Review: More Questions Than Answers

By Cory Barker

Dec 03, 2013

The Blacklist S01E10: "Anslo Garrick (No. 16) Part 2"


If there's one thing I know in this world, it's that the people who produce promos and teasers for television networks are completely full of crap. The Blacklist has been a massive success for NBC, and thus it's no surprise that the network would be hyping its fall finale to high heaven. This, of course, was the episode that was supposed to change everything. But wouldn't you know it? The second part of "Anslo Garrick" did not, in fact, change much of anything for The Blacklist. Instead, it was the kind of mostly entertaining, sometimes thrilling hour that the show has been turning in on the reg for about six weeks now. There's absolutely nothing wrong that, especially since the show's producers aren't the ones who are putting together those booming commercials that air during The Voice and the test pattern that NBC runs in the second half of the week. But it's challenging not to be a little disappointed with this episode's so-called revelations. 

I guess the BIG ones here are that Anslo was nothing more than a hired gun, working under the very mysterious auspices of Alan Alda's Crowley, who suggested that he himself was working for—or at least representing—an even more mysterious cabal of evil-doers and blacklist types. Part one built up Anslo so much that it sure seemed as though he was going to be a long-term problem for Red, but this episode sure changed that. Though Ritchie Coster still got to do his cool insane British villain guy thing as Anslo tortured Red physically and psychologically, especially about Liz, but ultimately, Red emerged (violently) triumphant over his latest foe. Dispatching Anslo would've been slightly less of a bummer had Alda's Crowley spoken in a language other than Vague Serial Conspiracy Drama Villain, but Crowley's introduction did bring us a few little tidbits: Red seemingly eschewed his larger criminal ties to surrender himself to the FBI, presumably for Liz, and because of that, he's on the outs with the people he used to run with. 


"Anslo Garrick Part 2" also provided some half-answers on the surveillance detail across the street from the Keen household. Unsurprisingly, there's a mole involved, and that mole was tied to the surveillance, which was seemingly tied to what Anslo and Crowley wanted with Red. Crowley's unidentified crew has been watching Red, Liz, and the detail since the beginning, and they're getting inside information. Although Liz took care of someone at the surveillance HQ, there's no guarantee that that particular older gentleman was the apple-eater. There was an apple on the table, but that doesn't confirm his identity. I sound like a crazy person just typing that out, but the point is, I guess, that Red isn't directly involved with the surveillance of Liz's home, which is a possibility we've probably all considered at one point or another. This episode went out of its way to not provide clarity about who's running the surveillance and who the detail's mole could be, though there was a suggestion that it could be Ressler. 

And of course, the evening's festivities concluded with a conversation you may have been waiting for since the pilot: Liz asked Red if she was his daughter, and he said no. BUT he also did that James Spader-y long pause thing before answering, and then immediately changed the subject to "Hey, your husband's probably a murderer." Their little chat was pretty representative of this fall finale as a whole, in that it started to ask important questions or reveal interesting information, but then quickly retreated before any real truth or substantial information could come to light. Is it a big moment that Liz actually asked Red the question, indicating that she's thinking about it as a possibility? Of course; it's huge. But it's not like Red saying he isn't Liz's father means he's telling the truth. In fact, Red's lying most of the time, and it's probably going to be quite a while before the truth about that particular tidbit comes out. 


Episodes like this one emphasize the kind of tightrope The Blacklist is walking, and reveal that it's not always easy to do so. The show is still primarily a high-concept procedural, and when it returns from the holiday break, that episodic engine will almost certainly still be there, regardless of the fact that Red capped off this episode by fleeing the scene after murdering Anslo and rediscovering his love for hats. That means it's unlikely that we'll learn anything substantial in the next few episodes. But at the same time, the show has these central mysteries that are really important to a certain segment of the audience (perhaps most of them, who knows) and mid-season finales are all about so-called game changers, whether they're hyperbolically promoted by the network or not. Ultimately, that results in episodes where we learn something, but not really much at all. More questions than answers. At this point, The Blacklist's premise is still simple enough that it can get away unveiling just a little bit while hinting at a lot more. However, I'm always a little wary of shows that introduce multiple levels of nefarious conspiracies, and I'm especially wary when they do so by bringing in reputable actors to say stuff like "The people I represent..." and "There's no one you can trust to keep you from us." Still, I'm nowhere near worried about The Blacklist yet, and this episode accomplished what it was supposed to accomplish: It convinced me to keep watching after Christmas and New Year's. Until 2014.



NOTES


– The biggest revelation in this episode? Dembe survived! The moment he and Red shared last week was pretty great. We need a Dembe-centric episode in the second half of Season 1, please. 

– Ressler's ex has moved on and now she's engaged to someone else, but she's still willing to visit Ressler in the hospital. At this point, I don't trust anyone. She's probably KGB or Illuminati, or both. 

– I noticed that Joe Carnahan, who directed the pilot, returned to the camera last week and co-wrote the first half of the two-parter. I wonder if it was his idea to return to Red's Glass Case of Emotion (and Blood)? Maybe the show had that planned from the pilot onward?

– If the two-parter accomplished anything, it was that Liz is a fairly capable field agent. She almost took down Anslo's operation (with Aram's help; I love Aram) and then handled the dude at the surveillance spot as well. 

– Okay, so who's the mole: Ressler, Cooper, Malik, or (gasp) Aram? And did this episode give you any better idea of Tom's status?


What are your thoughts on The Blacklist fall finale? Enough to keep you coming back next year?


  • Comments (133)
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  • angel1218nat Jan 10, 2015

    it is something...

  • leesevanhook3 Jan 12, 2014

    In the first episode Red said "Everything about me is a lie." I think Allen Alda's character will lead us to the truth bout what happened so many years ago. So this for me isn't the normal "we are the bad guy's to fear conspiracy we are all so bored with. I think she is his daughter, Garrick even mentioned her by name, saying he would hunt her down and make her suffer. I think she may not be the daughter he had by his wife, I think the girl he looked up in the FBI data base may be that daughter or vice verse, but a troubled sister I see in the future. Tom isn't an agent, I think he is a killer. I think the money traced to Red was not money planted, but money paid,maybe to be certain Tom was who or what Red thought. Tom knew it had been discovered so had to put on a show. The mole could be any of the 26 people that know, but it would have to be someone there from the beginning, they said from the moment he turned himself in, Malik was not there. Love the show.

  • paranoidbarbie Dec 18, 2013

    only get the episode 8
    like most characters so far
    especially Malik and Ressler, they both really grow on me

    sadly my least favouite characters is, in fact, Elizabeth Keen (oops)
    i thought she was suppose to be really smart and clam under pressures
    maybe i'm not compassion enough, i don't know..

  • laubb Dec 11, 2013

    Did anyone else notice that Malik has the hots for Ressler? It's interesting, for sure...

  • tarniamoore Dec 08, 2013

    Did anyone catch what Alan Alda said to Red, was it 'what have you told Red' or 'what have you told her Red'..Red replies 'nothing' Alda followed with 'well why are you here'...ummm interesting!!

  • meee223 Dec 08, 2013

    Ok, so who's the woman Lizzie called "Caplan" and what is that all about?

  • gmanBegins Dec 07, 2013

    My assessment of the action sequences!
    Good Scene (1) When Keen gets kicked out of the ambulance and then is still trying to chase Red down with the civilian car!
    Bad Scene (1) In the house across the street bad guy try's to "sneak up" on Keen instead of shooting her !! WTF?!?
    Bonus WTFs?!? (1) Non descript hit team going in and shooting unknown hostiles guarding servers!
    (2) When Anslo had Red out of the box.. Shouldn't his team have executed everybody in that room except Red and Elizabeth? He killed everybody when they entered the facility! Just my thoughts..till Jan

  • mscynic Dec 06, 2013

    Still going with my God theory. Hence the hesitation, not her father, but the Father.

  • ILoveTVandDDsBB Dec 06, 2013

    What if Red's her uncle and her biological father is a blacklister

  • JTMaine Dec 05, 2013

    Good commentary, but little on the music. The first thing I did when the show was over was search online for the name of the closing song; I knew it was Pearl Jam, and it is "Pendulum"...suggesting that the show's writers never do anything without a purpose. You have "Pendulum" Playing while Lizzie calls Red to ask the big question of fatherhood, and while Tom is watching her drive away, etc etc. Pendulum going back and forth I think means show wants us to think that Lizzie has swung back more to Red, and her asking the father question shows she has (for now) regained her full trust in him...and not in Tom or Nebraska. Really too--not a tropical island or San Fran or Rio, but Nebraska?? No offense to Cornhusker readers, but do you think Lizzie was going to jump at that option?

  • Fergy1 Dec 07, 2013

    Nebraska is her home state. That is where Sam was in the hospital and died. Lots of people move closer to family when contemplating starting a family.

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