The Blacklist "The Pavlovich Brothers" Review: Domestic Disturbance

By Cory Barker

Apr 22, 2014

The Blacklist S01E19: "The Pavlovich Brothers"

Is Elizabeth Keen an idiot? Above all else, that's become the dominant question of The Blacklist's entertaining yet oftentimes silly first season. The show's premise inherently places Liz at a disadvantage. Everyone around her is lying about 100 different things, and she's simply trying to survive a new job and the mystery and likely subterfuge surrounding both Red and her husband Tom. That'd be tough on anyone. But as the season has progressed, it does feel like every time The Blacklist allows Liz to figure something out, she's almost immediately made to look at worst extremely foolish and at best blinded by emotion, giving Red or Tom or whomever else another advantage. I really enjoyed "Ivan" from a few weeks ago, when Liz truly learned that Tom wasn't just a school teacher, but as many people in the comments pointed out, the episode didn't necessarily do the show's lead character a lot of favors. Here we are two episodes later, and "The Pavlovich Brothers" gave Liz her big moment with Tom—and then kind of made her look dense again.

The Blacklist took a chance in playing the long game with its two central mysteries—Tom's allegiances and Red's history with Liz—both of which are directly connected to Liz and generally require her to solve them to A.) bring the stories to a satisfying conclusion, and B.) justify her abilities and presence as the show's lead character. Many of today's great shows don't wait that long to burn through stories, which makes The Blacklist kind of a throwback to a slower time, when the expectation wasn't that a show would answer everything in a max of 15 or 20 episodes, Scandal- or Vampire Diaries-style. While I appreciate this about The Blacklist, it almost certainly made tonight's BIG MOMENTS less impactful than they could have been because Liz continued to be a step or two behind.

To be fair, "The Pavlovich Brothers" probably gave Liz the clearest and safest "out" she's had in a while, in that her problematic behavior can be written off as a byproduct of her pure rage over everything Tom has done to her. Although Red and his seemingly never-ending network of helpers had Tom on complete surveillance, Liz quickly ruined the operation by following Tom into the National Archive simply because she couldn't help herself. She just had to see what this man—this man who she thought was her loving husband—was up to. It was a stupid decision, and one that allowed Tom to call into his people to let them know the crumbling status of his covert work, but hey, I get it. We all probably would've done the same thing. 

The same rationalization explains Liz's choices in the second half of the episode as well. Once Red cunningly used the team to find the titular Pavlovich brothers—the men involved in the kidnapping waaaaay back in the pilot—and then used the brothers to smoke Tom out of his safe house, Liz finally had her chance to face Tom as he is, not as a husband or a fake husband, but as an operative. The interrogation was unsurprisingly charged, with an emotional Liz pushing for the truth while Tom didn't really give much up (at least at first). The episode went out of its way to illustrate how damaged, and perhaps hardened, Liz is by everything that's happened; 18 episodes ago, she freaked out when her husband was attacked and tortured, and this week she was prepared to do the exact same thing to him. I mean she snapped his thumb with big pliers! That's some real ish right there, nicely played by both Megan Boone and Ryan Eggold, and nicely directed by Paul Edwards. 

Unfortunately, as Tom pointed out, snapping someone's thumb isn't the best plan when you have them handcuffed. He escaped relatively quickly, jumpstarted a destructive and somewhat incomprehensible skirmish, returned the handcuffing favor, and then simply gave her some information about Red's True Nature. Even if you can set aside the fact that Red did some of the primary legwork to capture Tom in the first place, or that Liz's emotions simply got the best of her during the confrontation, it was pretty dumb for Tom to just give Liz the proverbial next clue on her quest. The Blacklist hasn't completely removed Liz's agency, but developments like this one definitely limit it. Let her figure some of this stuff out for herself! 

I'm hoping that with the truth about Tom out in the world, The Blacklist will give Liz more opportunities to be intelligent without quickly pulling the rug out from underneath her. Before this episode, I would have said that she didn't really trust Red that much anyway, but I'm a bit concerned that his role in Tom's capture—and his ability to say "I told you so" about Tom—means that Liz will blindly believe Red again. You know, until she reveals the contents of those photos Tom provided her and then changes her mind.


– Tom suggested that he was working for the good guys; is there any chance that's true? And do we think that actually cares for Liz at all? He seemed pretty cold-blooded during the interrogation, but he kind of had to be.

– Red scanned the book that was supposed to be handed over to Tom. Any guesses as to its contents?

– This episode spent a lot of time talking about what a threat the Pavlovich brothers were and stressing their connection to previous events, but they weren't especially interesting. 

– Speaking of the brothers: Their introduction this week involved abducting a Chinese scientist named Li who was working on White Fog, the nickname for a nasty germ strain. Shout-out to the show for getting a bunch of people to say GERM WARFARE. The standalone cases have been much more hit or miss in the second half of the season than they were in the first half.

What'd you think of this one? How do you feel about the show's treatment of Liz?

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  • BelleForrest Apr 26, 2014

    Liz has been in the dark about Red's little killing spree. Although she may have suspected Red had something to do with Diane's disappearance. Maybe with those photographs, she gets to finally see the result of some of Red's house cleaning after the post office incursion.

    As I recall, Diane's house had very large windows that had the drapes open, not drawn, at night with the lights on... so some one could have easily taken photos of Red killing Diane. He also killed Grey out in the open by the water. Tom may have photo surveillance of Red killing the EMT, the doctor who sedated him for Anslo, and the associate of the apple man at the surveillance house. Or maybe Tom caught Red taking part in the disposal of the bodies. Red killed Fyodor, the Russian who was offered the cigar and vodka in a restaurant. There might have been an open view to the street through the windows. Lots of opportunity to take pictures.

  • BelleForrest Apr 26, 2014

    The last time Liz used the word “monster” was when Red rescued her from the Stewmaker. So monster = Red killed someone.

    In the preview for the next episode, it just didn't seem as if Liz was as upset as she should have been if she had found out that Red suffocated Sam.

    She should be really really angry at him, furious in fact. She should be crying and pounding his chest or throwing things at him. I can think of much better words than “monster” to call someone that murdered your father. It also occurs to me that Red still had that chip in his neck when he went to Nebraska to kill Sam, so someone at the FBI must have known of his location on that date. Maybe finally someone at the FBI was on the ball and told Liz where Red was on that day, and one fact leads to another. Tom was sitting next to Red outside the hospital, maybe he was recording the entire meeting with his phone or with a concealed camera.

    And it sure will be interesting to see how Red gets out of this mess if Liz does have a picture of Red killing Sam.

  • kou_shun_u Apr 26, 2014

    Its obvious that Red has killed people so its simply not that. She has clearly made her peace with that.The stewmaker was a gory death however.
    So if it is about the spree, it is the ones she'd think are pretty innocent such as the EMT who was forced into it. Though that seems weak to be Tom's proof of how bad Red is.

    And I dont think Tom would frame Red for Jolene's death. That wouldn't help Tom's case when the truth came out.

  • kou_shun_u Apr 26, 2014

    What we have here, as we've seen since the pilot is a Tom-Liz-Red love triangle. Not a in love love triangle but a love triangle none the less.

    With Liz's father now dead, these two men are the two most important people (men) in her life that she has and who she trusts/loves the most. Both have/will/are fighting for her love, affection and trust throughout the series.

    In the pilot she choose to believe Tom over Red. A few episodes ago she choose Red over Tom. And now with the picture, Tom's proclamation, and the feelings in her own heart, she won't know who to trust. Both have betrayed her. Both say they are the better guy, and the other one will only cause them pain. As the show progresses, it would be a continued tug-of-war of who should Liz trust.

    This of course might just thrust her into the the other guy-in-her-life's arms: Ressler. As long as they don't hook up for good, or better yet at all, I am okay with it. I wouldn't mind them becoming bffs and would even embrace it. Ressler lost his love and killed his own bff; he has a broken heart and void to fill too. But I am just so sick of the male/female partners being the end all hook up in just about every show out there. Though he is just as straight laced as she is, no kookyness/wildcardness from him, so maybe that coupling is safe from occurring and I am just worrying for nothing.

    And of course its largely possible that Ressler, Red, Liz, and Tom just become one big happy family and form their own unit agianst the world.

    Afterall, Ressler has a place in his heart for Red. First it was obsession over him for the last 5-10-15yrs (don''t recall how long but i think it was some denomination of 5) Next,some what of a partnership when Red turned himself over and in turn was handing over threats (not all of them were bad guys after all, look at Milton). It is then followed by immense gratitude at doing a lot to save his live and give him bittersweet speeches that made him cry and evaluate his own life/future. And it has moved onto an in-awe-of status, with bringing his lost love back into his life and more so after it is his bff that so immensely betrays him.
    Okay so yeah, I guess its Ressler and Red that get to become the new bffs. Especially since I think Liz is going to steer clear of Red for awhile so it will be up to Ressler to be the middleman and grow his affection/comradery for Red.

    And just to go back to Tom. I do think he loves Liz. And even though I ship them, I can agree that he might not be in love with Liz, but I do honestly believe he loves her. His actions and words seem to testify to that fact. After all, according to Craig, the only family Tom has is an estranged brother in Chicago. Thus Liz is the closest person he has in his life and he has been with her day in and day out for two years without any word from Berlin in the meantime. He had a nice cozy/happy life, one that he might have always dreamed of and one that he tried to continue with children.

    I think the fact that instead of running right away, Tom tried to confront Liz about the music box and about the museum , was his own "stupidity/recklessness" in dealing with heartbreak/hope (as in comparison to Liz's actions mentioned in the episode's review.) And when Liz lied to his face about it all when he basically gave himself up on a silver platter for confrontation, he was heartbroken too at her complete loss of faith/trust in him. His happy life was gone. And that is when he walks away with a last look and an I love you (nor does he abandon their dog somewhere convenient to buy himself time) .

    I must say this episode made me question Red's motives. I always thought he was a clear paternal figure for Liz. Whether she be his daughter, niece, or replacement daughter I always thought his affection was true. And now I wonder if she could be the kidnapped daughter of Berlin and he is simply growing her affection for him for a later revenge on Berlin.
    Though I suppose both could be true. He could have grown to love her if this was the case. He could have kidnapped Berlin's daughter as a revenge for his own daughter's murder but not be heartless to kill a child. Berlin would feel the pain of loosing a child, and believing her dead. And maybe later when finding out she lives, the threat of her being killed if Berlin comes too close to reclaim her.
    Sure in Anslow Garrick, Red was willing to die for Liz, but Ressler did the same for Red in the same episode. So do many a man on a mission, to protect their asset/operation.

    But like Liz that is exactly the point. We are to question who to trust, which of the bad guys (Tom or Red) is the better (since good is questionable) guy.
    Who really has Liz's interest at heart?

  • kou_shun_u Apr 26, 2014

    whoops, I realized I made an error. Ressler doesn't kill his bff, he just was about to do it. Either way, he is dead to him.

  • BelleForrest Apr 26, 2014

    I just want to throw in my two cents and say please, no hooking up of Ressler and Liz. Please. I don't see it, don't feel it, there is no on screen chemistry at all. I hope the writers don't feel it's necessary to pair them up, or this WILL be too much like a soap opera. For that matter, what's wrong with Aram? The poor guy is making puppy dog eyes at Liz all the time, blushing and smiling at her. What's up with that? But even Aram should be off limits. Why not introduce a cute new mysterious stranger that starts up a relationship with Liz. Maybe one of Red's body guards? A foreign dignatary? Cable guy? Anybody but Ressler.

    Also, who was it in the episode that thought that Red took the girl (scientist) for monetary gain when the FBI couldn't locate her? Was that Ressler? After all this time, Red has shown to be valuable and trustworthy to the task force, he saved Ressler's life, he gave him guidance and solace after Audrey died (well sort of) and he even sent him a thoughtful gift wrapped up with a bow and a heartfelt note. How could Ressler not trust Red after everything he has done for him?

  • kou_shun_u Apr 29, 2014

    i smiled and liked the idea of Aram. But now seeing them again together in this ep (kingmaker) and remembering their scenes together, I am really liking this coupling. They'd be cute. And he seems like a nice, safe, intimidatable guy.

    But really they should at least give her time to heal and question all her choices before they go and give her another romance.

  • kou_shun_u Apr 26, 2014

    Glad to see another with me. I'm fine with all your romantic choices.

  • kou_shun_u Apr 26, 2014

    What's in the the photo from Tom's security deposit box?

    To me a really good bet would be Red suffocating her dad. Tom was there and could have just as easily been monitoring what's been going on in her dad's room. It is a really recent pain for Liz and someone she loves very much so it can do a lot of damage to their (Liz and Red's) relationship.
    Furthermore, it doesn't give away any new background about Re that we didn't already know.

    Otherwise I can only otherwise think to see is of him smiling and posing around dead bodies, possibly while defiling them, like we have seen of US/UN soldiers doing in the Middle East. Cause I highly doubt he would kill children considering what happened to him.

  • AmericanInfidel Apr 30, 2014

    Wait, "the US/UN soldiers" is what came to your mind and not the dozens of head chopping done by the Islamists? Wow, just WOW!

  • kou_shun_u Apr 30, 2014

    Why not? They are a bigger faction and thus cause much more harm.
    Plus hypocrites are the worst. Let's not forget, for example, a major booming buisness of the UN is the traffiking of girls, particularly out of Eastern Europe.

    Plus it more relates to the show.

  • AmericanInfidel May 01, 2014

    I guess you got a point, the Islamists say they're going to kill everyone not like them and they do. Congrats on picking out the exception rather than the rule.

  • kou_shun_u May 01, 2014

    Geee, you really hate the Islamists. Let's let not forget how the powerful "most democratic" countries of the world constantly terrorizes them and kills all the innocent bystanders in their countries.

  • BelleForrest Apr 25, 2014

    There was a Ford Mustang commercial right after Tom's car chase scene. Wasn't it funny that in the commercial Tom says to the camera, that he's not such a bad guy and there may be a glimmer of goodness in him after all. Not sure of the exact words.

    I think that's the first time I've ever seen a commercial where a character from the TV show I'm watching, appears in a commercial and talks to the camera. It was like, “Hi, I'm Tom Bond. I'm not a bad guy but I play one on TV. Although I may be a good guy too.” And then he winks.

    Red could do lots of ads for lets see... suits, hats, beer, cigars, Mercedes .. omg the list goes on and on. Lizzie can advertize acting lessons.

    Maybe Mr. Kaplan can advertise shovels and cleaning supplies! (Sorry, I'll stop now.)

  • kou_shun_u Apr 26, 2014

    I've been seeing this more lately. It is a good gimmick for people who fast forward through commercials to stop and watch, or just give them a favorable attitude toward the product through the like of the show. I actually really like the commercials being catered to the show. I know it catches my attention and it also makes them a little more unique.
    Of the top of my head I know of two. With Mad Men its done for a few things like alcohol and Clorox. And for what is the best car commercial out there, for Defiance as seen below:

  • BelleForrest Apr 26, 2014

    Yes! Now that you mention it, I remember seeing a commercial with Christina Hendricks (Joan) during Mad Men. It was either for a car, or for alcohol, or perhaps there are two commercials. I'm pretty sure Jon Hamm's movie that is coming out (can't remember the name of it) was aired during Mad Men as well. And it does catch our attention. I suppose viewers that watch on Hulu or Amazon, etc. may not get to see those commercials.

  • kou_shun_u Apr 26, 2014

    Yeah, exactly, but now they might want to so they go looking for the commercial on youtube since they heard about it. Much more likely the them looking up a regular ad. Or they might just rewatch it cause they like it so much. I know that's what I did for this commercial. When it first came out, I fast forwarded all other commercials but this one and even rewounded to see it.

  • BelleForrest Apr 25, 2014

    Doesn't it seem ironic that Liz tells Tom that her “father” gave her the music box? Tom must have known that Liz was lying, he even commented that the box looked so new. There was no way Sam could have given her that music box. If it had been in one of those cardboard boxes that Liz had in her living room (after Sam died), then Tom would have seen it already. (Liz was looking at pictures in that episode and found the burnt bunny that reminded her of the fire.) Being the super sleuth that he was,Tom would have already searched Liz's possessions at the house numerous times (just in case Liz had something that was related to Red).

    Not that it is important, but it's just notable. Tom probably suspected that music box came from Red, and was wondering about Red's motives in giving it to Liz. Maybe there is something about the fire and the flashbacks that Liz remembers, that is important to both Tom and Red. Just another bread crumb.

    So if Tom came home one last time to verify in his own evaluation of her “tells”, that Liz already knew, that was just one more thing she said that he knew was a lie.

  • trizkidankoma Apr 25, 2014

    It would be a huge surprise if Tom would be working for the good from a different perspective to help protect his acclaim Wife.........Liz

  • Rock-y Apr 24, 2014

    The more I think about it, the more I believe Tom isn't a bad guy. The show went to a lot of trouble to make him seem evil, it's too simple. He told Jolene he went dark, but I think it was because he really was in love with Lizzie. He turned Jolene down for sex because "I love my wife." Ditto why he wanted them to move to Nebraska (or wherever it was) -- to get both of them out of harm's way so they could have a life. Ditto the baby. Ditto telling LIzzie he loved her as he left with the dog. He didn't have to say that. He killed Jolene because she threatened Liz' safety and their life together. He left the dog at the door so it wouldn't get killed in the street. He's a good guy. I'm looking forward to how this plays out.

  • kou_shun_u Apr 26, 2014

    I agree. He is a relatively good guy, or good guy in the sense that he is on Liz's side.

  • ukeishiro Apr 24, 2014

    I just have one question, like everyone else. What the hell is on those photos???

  • BelleForrest Apr 24, 2014

    At the end of the episode Red says: “You deserve the best in life, Lizzie. I know that sounds odd coming from a man who has brought you some of the worst, but it's the reason why Tom had to work so hard to be that for you. To be kind, to be thoughtful, make you laugh, to make you love him. Because you deserve that. And it will come.”

    He forgot to say "I promise" as he always seems to say lately.

    I'm not sure if someone else already mentioned this, but doesn't it seem as if Red could be speaking about himself as well as about Tom? Red worked hard to be kind, thoughtful, to make Liz laugh, and we assume, make Liz love him (like a father, that is).

    Being an ardent supporter of Red, I am so afraid of what might come next. Was Red just doing all that to get close to Liz, merely to use her? Everything he has done was to play on her vulnerabilities, especially after the loss of her adopted father Sam. Maybe what Red has done is just as bad as what Tom did, to target her, seduce her as part of his “job.” I hope they are not going to turn Red into the kind of man that is manipulative and self serving, with evil motives. I hope not.

  • kou_shun_u Apr 26, 2014

    I do agree that he seems to lumping both of them together.

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