The Blacklist Fall Finale Review: Powerless to Stop It

The Blacklist S02E08: "The Decembrist"

With The Blacklist's fall finale upon us, I'm not going to spend any additional digital space critiquing what I see as the significant issues with the show's first stretch of Season 2 episodes. You can revisit my review of last week's "The Scimitar" if you want to refresh your memory regarding my current opinion of the series overall—nothing about "The Decembrist" changed my mind in that regard. Instead, I want to concentrate on the demonstrative step backward this episode took in its treatment of one of its two lead characters, the one who's supposedly a sympathetic entry point into this world of high-stakes crime and extreme terror. If you've ever been under the impression that The Blacklist actually cares about portraying Lizzie as an active, strong, functional, and intelligent participant in this story, someone who can hold her own with Red and any number of other kooky murderers and secret transnational kabals, "The Decembrist" was a huge middle finger right in your face, and one that pointed right at who the writers think we should invest our interest and time in going forward.

Of course this is James Spader's show. He's an Emmy winner. He chews scenery with the best of them, and when called upon, he's been able to add some surprising emotional depth to a man who is, on paper, a real bad dude. But for The Blacklist to work in its current construction—with Red collaborating in some way with the FBI task force, and for 'good'—it needs Lizzie to be more than Red's puppet, or his emotional plaything. In Season 1, Lizzie's naiveté and lack of real experience in the field allowed Red and Tom's dueling manipulation of her to hold more water than it probably should have. She was grossly incompetent at times, but hey, she was brand new at this, and then she discovered that her husband was a deadly creep and that this other deadly creep might also be her dad, or something. That's a lot to handle.

But Season 2 was supposed to be a different story, with a different Lizzie. She's been lying to everyone, holding Tom captive with the hope of extracting as much information from him as possible. The show was never going to let us forget that Lizzie was haunted by everything that happened in Season 1, but it was supposed to be making her stronger, harder, what have you. Yet, by the end of "The Decembrist," there was Lizzie, having been manipulated by Tom yet again and having had her wrist slapped by both Red and Ressler for letting her emotions get the best of her (what a female thing to do), crying about how she simply couldn't kill Tom because she still loved him. And to top it all off, the episode further undermined Lizzie's agency by revealing that Tom and Red have some kind of working relationship after all. So this story isn't about Lizzie at all—it's about the men who lie to her, manipulate her, scold her, and simply make her look unbelievably ill-equipped to do this job.

The Blacklist doesn't seem worried about what's done to the only active woman on a show full of dudes in suits talking in government-speak and/or conspiratorial half-truths. It's reductive, troubling, problematic—really, you can use any kind of negatively charged descriptor you want. Of course, it's also just bad storytelling. Spending seven episodes building up Lizzie's "new" persona just to tear it all down illustrated some kind of point about how her thicker skin was all show, that she IS emotionally affected by what's happened to her, which isn't really a great arc to build out, especially given the character's history. But at least we got to see her butt a couple more times this fall, right?!

There was more evidence of the marginalization of Lizzie in how much "The Decembrist" concentrated on the ever-shifting web of shadow figures and decades-long conspiracy plots that all involve Red, not Lizzie, in some form. The extent of Red's past dealings gives the show a clear story engine to work from, but the increasing prominence of Red as the clear central character, combined with what has happened (or perhaps not happened) to Lizzie, made watching this episode all the more frustrating.

"The Decemberist" tried to provide a kind of resolution to the long-simmering Berlin story, which mostly resulted in The Blacklist circling back to Alan Alda's Fitch as a dangerous political operative and global terrorist (presumably with multiple agencies doing his dirty work for him). Not only was it silly to see the show burn through two possible suspects who might've been responsible for the bombing that set Berlin on a course for revenge—especially after spending countless episodes just ignoring that kind of storytelling—but it also revitalized The Blacklist's love for empty, "mysterious" buzzwords that were supposed to whet our palate for more weak stories to come in the future. Before Fitch's head exploded when a bomb that was strapped to it was detonated, he managed to explain to Red that his death "will trigger a series of events," and that "the moderates in the group were outnumbered," and that "IN 2017, THINGS ARE BOUND TO GET REALLY BAD." 2017! That's 25 months from now. Throw in some nonsense about THE FULCRUM, the Chinese, a safe combination, and the location of said safe, and we have ourselves a prime cocktail of bad mystery-based serialized plotting—or to put it more succinctly, bullshit.

The problem with telling stories about grand conspiracies is that they rarely live up to the hype. The Blacklist tends to amplify that problem by making every little nugget of information seem like THE BIGGEST DEVELOPMENT YET, or by trying to convince us that characters like Berlin are the deadliest, most evil, bloodthirstiest bastards on the planet. Then it turns out that X development was actually just a detour, and that Berlin was mostly ineffectual and sad about his strained relationship with his daughter. I get the sense that after watching "The Decembrist," we were supposed to see the deaths of Berlin and Fitch as those kinds of huge developments, but no matter how good the show's actors were, it didn't work. It was bluster, with no meaningful payoff. The empty chatter about 2017 was one of the dumber things I've seen on TV in 2014, and I watch Homeland. The goal is obviously to keep viewers invested in the longterm story, particularly when The Blacklist is going to be on hiatus for the next couple months, but those attempts can only go so for, especially when they're so self-indulgent.

But hey, maybe removing Berlin from the equation and at least temporarily booting Tom from Lizzie's orbit will give The Blacklist a chance to get back to some of the things it did well for a good chunk of its first season, and at various times throughout the first eight episodes of Season 2. But after yet another hour full of meaningless shenanigans, a laughable reliance of buzzwords and MacGuffins, and most importantly, the appalling treatment of Lizzie, I'm feeling mostly relieved that The Blacklist is about to go dark until February.



NOTES

– I really loved how everyone on the team huddled around the warehouse as Fitch's life ticked away as if they really, truly cared what was happening in front of them. I mean, I'm sure they cared on a basic human level, but Fitch was in what, three or four episodes? It's not like he was that substantial of a character, especially since he was constantly shrouded in mystery, all the way up until his death.

– Any guesses as to what THE FULCRUM could be? It's probably just a nice wardrobe for hats, right?

– I'm not even sure the idea of Tom and Red working together makes logistical sense, given everything we know about The Blacklist's plotlines, and that's not a particularly good sign considering this was only Episode 30. Also not a great sign? When you have to use flashbacks to punch up a BIG REVEAL because the audience has almost certainly forgotten or decided not to care after a slew of other swerves.

– Good on the show for toying with me in that brief scene where Fitch was captured in the SUV convoy. I thought for sure we were going to get one more boring car-crash sequence in 2014.

– Unsurprisingly, Berlin's daughter didn't want anything to do with him, and made a deal with Red to acquire passports, money, and likely a ticket to somewhere far away from D.C. So yeah, she was just a plot device we'll never hear from again.


Comments (142)
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Jan 14, 2015
James Spader makes the whole series work!! Without him I wouldn't watch the show....he is a great actor!!!
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Dec 13, 2014
Yeah, the Blacklist isn't as good as it seems to be.
Or as smart as it thinks it is.
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Dec 02, 2014
Ok, a bit of logic here comes into play: how can the Decembrist be on Red's blacklist (and pretty high on the list at that) if he's never even heard of him until now?
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Jan 23, 2015
My theory is that Red has a list of names he started the series with, but that list isn't yet in any final numerical order. I think the numbers we are getting haven't actually been assigned yet, they couldn't be, because Red's list isn't yet complete. Red has an ongoing mission, as he learns things or things happen Red doesn't anticipate,, people get added, like The Decembrist, General Ludd, and the Good Samaritan.

I think when the series ends we'll see one of the characters (Aram? Liz? Ressler?) create a complete list, detailing all the bad guys they've gone after over the years, ranking them from most to least dangerous.
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Nov 23, 2014
I agree 100% with this review. I think this show is now in freefall, and the audience just hasn't realized it yet. The writers apparently have no sense of priority, or of what motivates us to care about characters. Terminal problems in just this episode:

1) Lizzie was responsible for the death of an innocent port authority security guard. You know, the kindly old grandfatherly fellow whom she essentially watched die? And don't give me any garbage about her big friend stopping her; once she'd shot him in the foot she could *easily* have shot Tom and saved that other man's life. Instead she allowed Tom to murder an innocent civilian because she couldn't get a grip on her feelings.

2) Worse: there was no mention made afterwords that this had happened. No moral crisis on her part, no "did I sacrifice an innocent for the greater good" conundrum, no indication that she felt any guilt, or that she should be responsible for losing control of the situation. The ends didn't merely justify the means; rather the means were actively ignored.

At this point, the people who live in Blacklist World would be better off with Lizzie six feet under -- she's become a remorseless enabler of violent crime in the name of her vengeance, and is more than willing to accept the government looking the other way and allowing her to get away with it because the end result was catching the guy they wanted.

3) Oh, except they didn't catch the guy they wanted. He killed a Russian official using information given to him by an American agent, then blew up a high-ranking American government official, and then was shot by a rogue asset.

4) The international political dissonance in this episode was crazy stupid. The meeting that was bombed in 1991 was a gathering of communist hardliners, trying to find a way to stop the revolution trying to free the people of Russia. Since when has killing the slave masters of a people struggling for freedom been an act of terrorism, as the FBI director yelling at Cooper and Lizzie called it?

And while were on the subject, what were the government's interests in all this anyway? They wanted to stop Berlin from killing a Russian treasury official, who they (maybe wrongly) labeled a terrorist for trying to kill Berlin and other communist agitator-combatants in 1991? It's overly complicated and way under-explained. There were a dozen different reasons they could have given for wanting Berlin brought in, the Russian official saved, vice versa, or both. But the writers apparently couldn't be bothered.

5) Finally, the resurgence of a problem that's been plaguing this show all season: confusing jump cuts at important moments. For example Tom calls Berlin and says "bring me in", then hangs up the phone. But somehow he's already gotten the address where Berlin is. He offers to give it to Lizzie, but then wordlessly holds out his ankle with the tracker on it. Next scene, the government is suddenly shooting Berlin's men and (temporarily) rescuing Fitch.

How did that happen? When did Tom have time to get any addresses from Berlin, much less Fitch's? When did he give that info to Lizzie? What did she do with him? Did she really, after all that, remove the tracker and just let him walk the streets a free man? That was set up as a major decision she would have to make a couple episodes ago, but now they let it happen off screen, as a sideline to another event about a character we forgot about before this season even began?

That's a sign of too much plot, and not enough development. It's rough-draft writing. Does this even have anything to do with the actual blacklist mentioned in the first episode anymore? They're just throwing everything at the wall here and hoping Spader can fix it for them. But for me, he can't.
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Nov 30, 2014
Too bad so much of the good analysis comes late in the posting period! I thank you, Ninjaandy, for your interesting insights.
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Nov 21, 2014
Comments have been posted about Lizzie being incompetent. I don't see her as being incompetent, but I do see her as being a fish out of water who is quite confused and baffled. Let's face it, she was essentially a rookie, barely graduated, when Red demanded she be his one and only contact in an elite unit that would normally have required considerable specialized training and experience to join. In addition, she is mentally trying to work out the death of her father, the betrayal of her husband, what is meant by "everything she thinks she knows about herself being a lie", and her relationship to Red (in other words why on earth he wants only her to work with him). That's my take - plenty of grounds for confusion for a rookie agent. Given all of this, I think she is handling things a lot better than many rookies would.
We still don't know why Lizzie is in the role she is. She may or may not be Red's daughter, or she could just as easily be a crucial cog in the wheel to landing some super threat in the big showdown of 2017 that has been mentioned.
For the time being I'll take Lizzie as she is, a rookie trying to do her job without the expected training and experience, but a rookie who is doing a lot more than most, and who has really not let the agency or Red down.
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Nov 21, 2014
The best episode on this first half of second season! Finally some answers about that mysterious group, now we know that it is a group of very influential people that has the power to create instant chaos. Seems like Fitch's death will be the beginning of a war between Red and this group, I wonder what is going to happen in 2017 and who are those that Fitch mentioned, the ones that are becoming more and more radicals.
Liz, sweet Liz. Finally she came to the realization that actions have consequences, Tom's actions had consequences she couldn't deal with and her lack of action will have consequences, at least psychological consequences, that she won't be able to deal with.
Talking about Tom the minute he told Liz he didn't know anything about Red I knew he was lying. I mean, why would he tell her Red was not who she thought he was if he knew nothing about him? Tom was investigating Red for Berlin, resourceful as Red is he knew that all along. So he did what he does best, took advantage of the situation. It was a smart move from Red to link Tom to Berlin, he still gets to pose as the good friend and removes any suspicions Liz might have.
Anyway, I hope this new environment comes to refresh the show so it gets back on its feet.
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Nov 18, 2014
Am I the only one who really enjoyed the revelation that Tom was working for Red the whole time? Loved the ending scene because now i'm pretty sure he's coming back and we'll see that Tom v. Ressler showdown.
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Nov 18, 2014
Why you thinking, that Tom was working for Red ?
It looks rather like single deal
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Feb 02, 2015
sorry I meant worked for as in no longer.
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Nov 16, 2014
I have never doubted that Reddington is the central character of The Blacklist. I mean, it is not for nothing that he pulls all the strings: The FBI is a mere vehicle to advance his greater plan and this impression I got since the very beginning of the show.

Regarding Lizzie, I wasn't more disappointed in her (non-)development than usual. Right from the start I struggled with really liking her (I like some other FBI personnel though, e. g. Ressler, Aram and new player in the field Samar Navabi - quite a strong woman in my opinion). Lizzie's has a role to play and that is the role of being emotionally intertwined with Red (Is it officially that she is his daughter by now? Or are we still waiting for this "great revelation"?). And by all means she is not only manipulated by him, but also protected.
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Nov 15, 2014
well RIP Berlin and The Fulcrum might be some weapon of mass destruction!!
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Nov 15, 2014
I dont have enough time for this weak show. Im about to drop Arrow as well. I heard good things about The Knick.
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Nov 16, 2014
Please do check out The Knick! It is a great show with even greater actors. You can't compare it to The Blacklist or Arrow, though. It's is not about spy-stuff or action packed fighting sequences. But it is shockingly violent by times, even more so as it mirrors the "real" medical state of the art around 1900 (which is a guarantee of a lot of - unwanted - bloodshed). The actors are grand, Clive Owen (whom I usually dislike) does a fine performance and the scenery is dark, gory, sweaty, slowly building up tension that will finally blow your mind. - At least it did with me. Have fun watching!
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Nov 15, 2014
So did Red knew how to disarm the bomb and chose not to ,or he really didn't know ? As we established by now that he isn't a forget and forgive type of a guy. Food for thought.
Oh and one more thing about the incompetence of Lizzie as an agent ,she lost almost every physical confrontation she got into and someone else had to intervene and save her butt .

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Nov 14, 2014
Only read about half your crap. You bloggers seem to want to break the whole thing apart like it's Shakespeare or something. It's a damn 1 hour show on primetime on a network that's not HBO or FX. wow
I like the show and think it is getting better at entertaining us all the time. I do agree the next time a black SUV comes up to pass me on the highway I might get a little nervous.. lol
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Nov 13, 2014
I had a similar reaction to Fitch's abduction. I was making a friend watch the show for the first time and at the beginning of the scene I said, "Watch this. Bad guys are always causing car crashes on this show: especially when it's a black SUV."
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Nov 13, 2014
As much as I am getting tired of the show keep throwing buzzwords around and its poor attempt at creating 'mystery' that quite frankly I do not give two shits, my reaction is ultimately 'eh' *shrug*. Reason for my reaction may stem from the fact I see the show as a popcorn flick; I will watch it weekly if I get around to it, but I never wait for it. The show is essentially about "let's watch James Spader being awesome at every scene he appears." As long as show is doing that, I will watch it.

Frankly, the show has never really been that tight in story telling perspective. To give an example, if you recall Season 1 Episode 17 'Ivan', Liz missed Tom at his hideout because she decided to call him in the middle of investigation, who is supposed to be regular Joe school teacher, JUST before walking into the building. By coincidence, Tom was skipping school and at his den of evil at that exact moment, and that call prompted Tom to destroy the evidence and flee the scene. If you are using coincidence to get the characters out of trouble, then you are cheating.

All this sounds like I am nitpicking and saying that the show is bad, but that's not my intention. If I thought the show was bad, then I would have been watching something else when I have other shows to watch. I am merely highlighting that the show's story telling has not really been its strong suit, and that also wasn't the reason most viewers tuned in to watch. If the show should be judged, then it should be in comparison to other procedural. Quite frankly, it is typical of procedural to do "delay the inevitable." Just to pick examples top of my head, 'Bones' dragged its feet for 7 seasons to bring Temperance and Agent Booth together. 'Caskett' couple was delayed over 3 seasons, and list go on. Although the Blacklist doesn't really have "will they, won't they" like the shows I mentioned, this is their version of it, and I accept it as price of admission. However, I have to say that viewer's patience does run out, and they need to figure out how they want to move forward quickly.
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Nov 13, 2014
Lizzie has been a terrible character and the author's post is biased against the show because he wants to like Lizzie for some apparent reason.

Blacklist is getting better because Red is being established as the central character. He's the one using the grossly incompetent FBI (in this world at least), and with Berlin and Fitch out, it's time to bring in more shadowy villains to take their role taking on Red.

Because at the end of the day, the Blacklist is about vastly more competent criminals taking each other out. The FBI (Lizzie included) are just pawns. Get used to it. The show is hitting its stride and confusing this with a police procedural with an arc is going to leave you whining all the way.
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Nov 13, 2014
Also, this show's treatment of its female characters gives me little hope for that new show, State of Affairs....
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Nov 13, 2014
Two thumbs, eight fingers, two big toes, and eight other does down on this episode. Not only did Lizzie revert to being a weak character, but Fitch and Berlin were both killed off. That takes away the acting skills of Alan Alda and Peter Stormare, both very good actors, though their characters were never truly fleshed out. Somewhere there's a plan for James Spader's future, as the title Decembrist suggested and the reference to a chain of events leading to 2017 (see the impact of the real Decembrist movement by googling it), but in the meantime, while the show is on hiatus, I will not miss what the article's author calls "prime cocktail of bad mystery-based serialized plotting". Should the show falter, this may be the episode where we can look back and say that The Blacklist jumped the shark.
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Nov 13, 2014
Sorry Cory, but in spite of everything you said, some of it even true, I still enjoyed this episode, as I've enjoyed most of the others this season and last. Maybe Lizzie isn't the best and brightest the FBI has to offer. Maybe Red really is the only character on the show who isn't an idiot. Maybe the shows MacGuffin is just a Russian Doll containing more MacGuffins. Maybe Liz and her relationship with Red will finally turn out to be one more of them. I don't care. It was all good. Maybe if you've made up your mind the show is crap, and can't enjoy the goofiness for its own sake, you should hand the reviewing duties over to someone who's less of a buzz kill for all the fans of the show who still bother reading them.
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Nov 13, 2014
The Blacklist NEVER fails to entertain me. The way Alan Alda played his role, I almost felt sorry for him..ALMOST!!( And his character had only been in a couple of episodes!!)
Who has the FULCRUM?? LOL!!
Grade for the episode=A-
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Nov 12, 2014
Brilliant finale, full of overthrows! I love this man! (RED)
I agree something has to be done with Liz's script.
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Nov 12, 2014
I'm getting really tired and bored with inefficient and generally stupid FBI agents, police officers, etc.... and the fact that they are usually really poor shots. Isn't there a certain level of weapon proficiency that they must adhere to? They never seem to hit what they're aiming for!

This is Spader's show and he's fabulous in it, and worth watching simply for that... but as for Lizzie..... I don't know if the writer's have just written her badly, or if she's just a bad actor. They could easily kill her off, and the show could still go on with Spader...

This series has so much going for it, but this episode was not just bad, it didn't really make any sense.... Tom and Reddington? Lizzie and Tom?

Let's hope the writers get together over this hiatus and come up with something worth watching!
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Nov 13, 2014
Good points. Lots of nonsense in this episode, likely designed to set things up for the future, but very boring and really not a great mid-season finale.
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Nov 14, 2014
This episode was just the writers' hitting the reset button by killing off Berlin and Fitch. I agree about Lizzie since the pilot I have found her to be boring and now that whole mystery surrounding Tom has been cleared up the character doesn't have much going for it.
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Nov 12, 2014
Great AWESOME episode.
James Spader is brilliant.
you can spare that Lizzy, she would never be a field agent, but who cares...
Great plot, great game.
Can't wait for Feb.
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Nov 12, 2014
I think expecting a woman who realized that her marriage was all a lie to NOT be emotionally effected by it is absolutely ridiculous. I get that it's TV and anything's possible, but come on. I consider myself a strong woman with a thick skin. If I found out that the man I loved and thought loved me was actually playing me for whatever reason, I'd react in a similar way. First confusion, then anger, and then realization of what I'm doing.

There's a HUGE difference between a strong female character and an impossible character. Strong is when everything n their world falls apart and they still manage, somehow, to not curl up in a ball of self-pity and to make reasonably intelligent choices (locking him up and using him for intel was, in my opinion, intelligent). Impossible is when something absolutely awful happens and they're somehow just able to say "Well, that would have hurt me if I wasn't so awesome, but since I'm awesome, I'm not going to be affected by this BIG AWFUL THING" (Lizzie [or anyone, for that matter] being completely emotionally unaffected by this scenario would be impossible).
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Nov 13, 2014
I'm choosing to see it as a progression of Lizzie becoming more hard. As you say she would be inhuman to not be effected by Tom's betrayal and to for me her trying to become harder and use him is a character progression. Her becoming a badass killer would be too dramatic a progression for the character. And what's wrong with her being emotional anyway, if she is getting the job done?
Wrassler developing a drug dependancy on foot of his shooting and his girlfriends killing is also an emotional response but its not seen as such...
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Nov 12, 2014
She should be emotionally affected! Not saying that. But I wish the show wouldn't revel in her incompetence, or let the dudes lecture her so much.
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Nov 12, 2014
Ah, I see what you're saying now. Yes, I definitely agree with that. It does bother me that they all give her that "Now now, you should know better" look. Coming from Red, it's fine (because he gives that look to everyone!). But the rest of them doing it is just...weird. Especially Ressler, after she was so supportive of him during his thing with the painkillers and now he's judging her.
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Nov 12, 2014
Yes yes yes, however..one point I'd like to make: At the end, Lizzie was tailing Tom on his way to meet Red. She most likely saw him go into Red's establishment. And therefor made the connection that Red and Tom were in it together. It's possible she is playing the role of the emotional woman, to fool Red, because obviously she doesn't trust him. If that's true, would it change anything in your minds? She may have fooled you too..?
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Nov 18, 2014
Finally someone who mentioned that scene.

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Nov 12, 2014
That would be awesome
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Nov 12, 2014
Damn, the Fulcrum showed up on Star Wars Rebels last night as well, all secrety too! That Flucrum gets around.

Ha ha, Lizzie sucks worse this week than last week. How exactly is that a surprise? She's never been anything but a ridiculous roller coaster. I blame the return of her wig in the flashback scenes.

Oh snap, you just mentioned a female character's lack of agency AND the men who lie to her - someone is a closet feminist! Good thing everything you said was entirely right and it's making the show worse for that mistake, even if the focus on one's "agency" has basically become an annoying buzzword of late.

Lizzie is once again an object rather than a subject on the show, and unfortunately for us the plot has lost all focus on what was driving these characters. The mystery of what's driving Red is now entirely amorphous, is he friend or foe, selfish or a secret hero? Is he saving his daughter or just screwing with some broad who can be suckered into getting him into the FBI who will help kill his enemies? There's supposed to be a lot more going on with Lizzie and with Red, but it's evaporating for the aforementioned "bullshit" MacGuffins and red herrings.

Ultimately, this is straining my interest in the series as a whole and if they can't tighten it up on return, I'll be gone by May.
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Nov 13, 2014
I agree. Viewership is declining, as is typical of a sophomore year for a series, but I think we can also thank muddled writing and a lack of direction. I fear it may have jumped the shark with this episode.
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Nov 12, 2014
I agree with pretty much everything in this review.
As the episode started out, I was thrilled by the badass, no-nonsense Lizzie pushing Tom further and further, not giving an inch and clearly being large and in charge.
And then, as the review says, it all fell apart - suddenly, she was just a weak, emotionally crippled woman, Tom was the tough guy, and Red is never caught out.
*sigh*

Keeping Tom captive was bad enough, but allowing that poor dockworker to get murdered right in front of her? That's appalling. That moves this from "illegal but acceptable within the plot" to "just plain coldblooded murder of the not OK type" - something good guys and FBI agents should try to avoid.

I felt, right from the moment they brought in Finch, that he was going to die. It was just there, in the set-up and the hints and the story progression. And lo and behold - he did.
Although I have to admit they worked that scene pretty well - I was kind of waiting for them to blow up a couple of bomb techs with him, just for added impact, but Old!Wiley is old and knows what's what, and was nice enough to send the lads in blue back home to the missus.
Alan Alda played it up very well, if we focus on the emotional side and just ignore the mystical mumbo-jumbo bullshit bingo.
Although I hope they clean that glass cage regularly and well, because that's like the third time someone has spilled blood (and brains) all over it.
At least if we could Ressler's leaking all over the floor in that tally.

Last, but not least: Yes, I agree that the mystery of Lizzie has been largely ignored this entire season. Sure, she finally managed to track down Naomi - but nowhere, during their short chat, did she ask her any of the relevant questions we're burning to see answered.
Right now, Lizzie seems to have ignored or failed to grab ALL the important chances/opportunities to find out about her lineage - DNA-tests, asking Naomi, asking Tom. Apparently, the show writers think that artificially prolonging (i.e. DRAGGING OUT) this storyline makes for captivating television.
You know what?
It doesn't.

Seriously, Blacklist - we're looking at you.
Do better!

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Nov 12, 2014
yeah the show's pretty much quickly becoming the show I assumed it would be being on network and all. the highs of the first season simply had me fooled.
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Nov 12, 2014
I couldn't agree more with this reviewer. Everything stated in it is how I felt about this show and this season. And yet I am looking forward to this show starting up again. Spader is fascinating so far, though he may become tiresome. The whole crew at the FBI say and do predictable things, but I can put up with them because Spader will have them scrambling.

I don't mind seeing Lizzie fall back to being a little weak as long as we see her gain strength and get past being dependent on Red in the near future. I actually found the idea that Red and the husband were in cahoots rather provocative and so don't mind that.

But mostly I agree with this reviewer about the Berlin story and about the nonsense about the future intrigue.
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Nov 12, 2014
Was Liz so obsessed with getting Berlin that she forgot to ask Tom who and where her father is? I mean wasn't that the last thing he told her just before he "died" after all? He seemed to think it was important she knew.
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Nov 12, 2014

Bravo Mr. Baker, I couldn't have put it any better myself.
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Nov 12, 2014
But what about Mr. Barker?
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Nov 12, 2014
LOL...ya, him too.

Oops, sorry Cory
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Staff
Nov 12, 2014
No worries--happened my entire life
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Nov 12, 2014
And the scene I was DREADING since news broke that Tom might not have died last season...the retroactive re-writing history flashback that "explains" how in the hell Tom survived 3 bullets at point blank range. And it's every bit as bad as I thought it would be. The, "Hey, don't pay too much attention to what's going on here because not only will it not stand up to the scruteny of reality...we're pushing it pretty hard when it comes to continuity, so we're gonna be as vague as we can and hope you either don't care or don't notice."

Then I made the mistake by assuming I was safe and that the episode couldn't possibly get worse...boy, was I wrong.

I thought the whole first half of this season was about seeing Liz sink to a dark place. A no nonsense, take no prisoners (figuratively speaking) strong female FBI agent. Nope! It's about confused, indecisive, weak little girl who happens to own a badge and gun.

Speaking of confused, Berlin, the ultimate of the uber villains and apparently the only person on earth on par with Red was nothing but a stooge?!?

And the cherry on top of this cake of absurdity, Tom and Red were in some sort of cahoots this WHOLE f'ing time?!?

Blacklist, just stop it! Or don't, frankly, I'm seriously re-evaluating my position on this show and question greatly whether it's worth coming back after the break.

Now, time to read the review to see if I'm being dramatic and perhaps the only one who feels this way or if the lunacy of what this show expects me to swallow is shared.
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Nov 11, 2014
I actually liked this fall finale. I'm intrigued with the new nuggets of possible story. I will agree Lizzie is poorly written. I'd like to see more and better from her. Here is to waiting until after the Super Bowl!
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Nov 11, 2014
Well that was the most cynical, sarcastic and unpleasant review I think I've seen on this site. I get that this show aint Breaking Bad, but its not as *INSERT SARCASTIC BLOCK CAPITAL COMMENT HERE* as suggested. I was hoping for some helpful explanation of this episode for the parts I was unsure of. Maybe there was one buried under the layers of whinging, but I'm not gonna read it again to find out.
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Nov 12, 2014
The episode was a trainwreck of stupid. What you're looking for is a parallel universe where it wasn't a disaster, but since you are currently in THIS one, you'll just have to settle. It's not Cory's fault this episode was wronghearted and wrongheaded.
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Nov 12, 2014
For a fall finale it wasn't great, sure, but I didn't think it was that stupid. Even if everyone but me thought it sucked, my issue with the review is that there are millions of people out there sarcastically sharing their thoughts through social media, which takes zero intelligence. I like this site because its generally quite positive, and if a show gets it wrong now and then, there's a modicum of grace. At least Tim uses humour to great effect if he doesn't like something. I sound like a hypocrite coz I know I'm having a good moan, but this review wound me up more than anything I've seen on here.
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Nov 14, 2014
There's clearly a lot of thought put into this review, it's anything but low intelligence. There's not much to be positive about in that episode in Cory's eyes, keep in mind that reviews are a mix of subjective and objective writing, so you may not always agree.
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Nov 16, 2014
Thats a fair point. I don't have a issue with Cory in general, just this review. I know we'll never all agree, this particular review got a bit under my skin coz I personally found it unnecessarily cutting.
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Nov 12, 2014
Thank You, this is my first time back to this site in a few months and I use to enjoy reading this guys reviews but this one is just like so many others on this site. sad!!
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Nov 11, 2014
read any review from the staff on this site with precaution and an understanding that they only really know tv from personal experience and more often than not couldn't hold their own in any real debate. They love to attack actors, writers and everything inbetween because they cannot do the stuff themselves. Even when they love a show, they attack it whenever they can.Nothing is perfect and I liked Breaking Bad, but it was not the end all be all of tv, nor is Game of Thrones. I take most things with a grain of salt and probably shouldn't of even bothered to read this article. Sometimes you can find good reviews or at least decent discussions with fans on the community pages but these reviewers more often than not forget people have different tastes and likes and pretending your smarter or a better writer doesn't make it fact. Okay - end of rant :)
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Nov 11, 2014
I agree with you that the series is heading towards political bullshit if it will aim where you suggested it would.I will only add that it was very significant as a character to show that Red will be the most cruel at using a daughter to betray her father unto his death, and then offer that man the most honorable way out, in terms of of that man's beliefs.
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Nov 11, 2014
If you want to know what Fulcrum is ask Chuck he is fully aware :).
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Nov 11, 2014
I was just about to write something like that! :D
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Nov 11, 2014
Lol; I beat you to it 2 hours ago. Now, if I were the producers, I would have Zach and Yvonne make cameo appearances, just like they had Ben Browder make a cameo on Chuck in the last season. The truth is, for me, with the exception of Justified, Sopranos, and Deadwood, I just crave more episodes of Farscape and Firefly, and some extended episodes of Chuck in light of all of the Fan Fiction out there that have the two of them with kids, and angst and Casey as a baby sitter, etc. Sort of like if Little D's babysitters are Noranti and Chiana!
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Nov 11, 2014
Yeah sorry for that. i didn't read all the comments :)!!
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Nov 11, 2014
i almost felt kind of sorry for berlin, he really wanted to fix things with his daughter
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Nov 11, 2014
I'm so disapoointed with this show. I swear it had the potential but I guess it just fooled everyone. I'm glad I'm getting a break. I mean I don't even get excited about it, I just feel it as some sort of obligation, nothing more.
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Nov 11, 2014
I had multiple issues with the way they wrapped up Berlin.
1) The Stewmaker's photo had 12/90 in 1x04, but according to Berlin her death was faked in 1991.

2) Why would Fitch involve the Stewmaker in the plot to fake Zoe's death and frame Red? All he did was take a polaroid and put in a watch. Couldn't Fitch have found someone else to snap the photo?

3) When exactly did Red and the Stewmaker have this discussion about what happened to the girl in the photo? He didn't know the Stewmaker's identity until 1x04, so it couldn't have been before S1 and Liz was awake from the time she was rescued until the Stewmaker's death.

If anyone could offer me a possible explanation, I'd appreciate it.
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Nov 11, 2014
Okay, I'll give this a try:
1) maybe they needed to condition/brainwash the daughter against her father, but kept the dead girl alive and confined until they could "use" her.
2)That question would be the same had Fitch chosen someone else :-).He just did.
3) Liz was awake but out of it.During that small period, Red had the discussion.People think sometimes that torture is a long winded process, but sometimes results can be obtained real fast, as with Jack Bauer in 24.
I hope I shed some light. :-)
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Nov 11, 2014
I'm 99,9 % done with this show
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Feb 02, 2015
but not 100?

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Nov 11, 2014
Fulcrum? NBC? Could it be . . . Chuck and Sarah will make an appearance? Casey too? It cannot be that the reviewer here really gets paid by someone for such shallow commentary and views. No one could possibly watch Blacklist except as a black comedy, Grand Guignol. PppppLLLeeeaaasssee! Blacklist is a funny, extreme send-up of the National Security state, consumerist America, and network (and, non-HBO) cable programming. It's like Chuck, before its producers ruined the show by having Chuck so easily give up the divine Yvonne to Superman. No similar problems with Blacklist. The scenery will get chewed!


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Nov 11, 2014
So boooooooooooooooooring. I'm done with this show. If i need some Spader in my life, i'll just get mi fix from Boston Legal.
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Nov 11, 2014
If The Blacklist wants to dive head first into grand conspiracies and impending doom, they should take a page (or all) from Person of Interest. We all know POI sets the tone for complex conspiracies, which is extremely difficult to accomplish. It's not the easiest task to do (to do well at least) for a television show. Look at The X-Files...one of the greatest TV shows in history, but no fan (myself included) can dispute how awful the conspiracy storyline became. It's a cautionary tale that POI heeded off the bat, but The Blacklist has not. If this is the direction Red and the team are headed, the writers better have an exciting and clear path.

I agree completely that they have really set Lizzie back. They pulled a Homeland. Making us believe that our female lead has become the competent, strong agent she should be. True Lizzie was a probie in season 1 (what's Carrie's excuse in Homeland again?) but to drag her back down to that level after all she's gone through is a slap to her face and the viewers.
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Nov 11, 2014
I got the distinct feeling in this episode, primarily from pacing, that it was originally intended to be two episodes.
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Nov 12, 2014
How so? This barely felt like 1 episode's-worth of story to me. What seemed rushed to you?
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Nov 11, 2014
Best thing in it was Fitch's death scene simply because both Spader and Alda do more than recite lines. It now makes me feel sad that we didn't see a much fuller development of that relationship. I'd care so much more if we had seen the manipulations of this shadowy group, and some more tangible understanding of the stakes for Red.
I feel this is the mystery at the heart of the show, but I'm rapidly losing patience while the writers faff around with other side plots that never reveal anything of substance.
- Tom is (apparently) gone, without revealing any of the secrets it was hinted had about Red/Lizzie
- Berlin is also gone, having finally been revealed it never amounted to more than - "you thought I killed your daughter, no I didn't, Oh OK then, I'll kill that other guy"
- and then, Fitch throws his mystery bullshit at Red and gets blown up.

Are the writers scared that if they give away their secrets they won't have any other ideas?

Actually the biggest bone I have to pick is how often Mira's name has been mentioned so far this season. It's almost comic the crocodile tears being shed. She's been mentioned more often than she had screen time. If you hadn't seen last season you'd assume she was a lead character at the heart of the bloody unit. Nonsense.

Final word, I find it off that people pick on reviewers for being critical of a show, if you want to do nothing but rave about a show go to a fan page. Personally I find it quite comforting to read that others have the same frustrations as me. And interesting when they have different opinions. That's what comments are for.
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Nov 11, 2014
Great review, I agree with what's said here 100%. While not a fan of Boone, I've wondered why she's not the breakout star, being the second banana, of the show garnering 10-11 million viewers every week. It's the characterization of Liz, and well...it's Boone's acting.

There's been so many interviews of Boone and showrunners how this season, Liz is bada** and dark, but they need to review the definition of those words. The expectation from those interviews certainly don't translate to the screen. For sure, 2nd season Liz is less whiny and more assertive, but that's not being bada**. And the fall finale...what a huge letdown for me. I just need her to STOP CRYING about the downfall of her false life. And the conclusion of the ep was...she's just a human being, who's weak and powerless. Red assured her that there's nothing wrong with her. But, um...there is something wrong with her. It's being a grown-up adult...let it go, move on. Yes, love is complicated and complex, but it's not an impossible hurdle, and when you break a law for it, then you belong in Maury Povich show.
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Nov 11, 2014
The Bomb was the best of the episode-- What sort of timer is designed to be four hours long? Usually if you make a bomb with a fail safe timer that is like 30 seconds or less! Finch shouldn't have time to think about his BOMB going Boom before it id.

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Nov 12, 2014
You make a bomb like that with a lengthy timer when you want your prey to suffer, or you want him to reveal something to his allies so they can unintentionally reveal it to you later, or you are so confident that you don't care when it blows up because it's going to succeed no matter what intervention is attempted, or you are intending to interrogate the victim for a while.
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Nov 12, 2014
The only time you want a long timer is when you awaiting for the delivery system to reach some point where other targets are! As a fail safe mechanism a 4-5hour timer makes absolutely no sense. But thanks for playing!
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Nov 11, 2014
Yeah, the bomb was problematic. First of all, why a bomb? If Berlin wanted Fitch to die a slow painful death, couldn't he had slowly tortured him to death, or injected with some nasty disease? If he just wanted Fitch to die, gun boom done. A bomb only makes sense if he was also trying to take someone else out, and it wasn't designed for that. Maybe it was supposed to be reflecting the bombing Fitch organized? But even then, as you said, How long was the bomb designed to be away from the receiver without going off? It definitely wasn't a minute, or 5 minutes. It still wasn't the must confusing part of the episode.
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Nov 11, 2014
I didn't say it was confusing. The bomb was used so that it would go off just as Finch was telling Red how to save himself. Thus it would leave us with just enough mystery to keep us coming back for more in 3 months. Myself I will not be returning!
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Nov 11, 2014
The reviwer of this show clearly has an axe to grind with Liz or life in general so perhaps he should move on. As for Liz I see no stunted growth in her development as a character at all. Maybe I'm just not that jaded but she appears to be stronger and more assertive in her conversations with Red and when working with her team. As to last night's episode, note to NBC stop trying to make everything a game changer. Normally that happens in season finales, not mid year we need to promote a new show with a fading actress who's Q rating is down season premieres. If this show was strong you'd have found space for it in September. Honestly there was nothing in this episode that moved me to count the days until Super Bowl Sunday. For the record I'm a football fan so SB Sunday is not the be all end all for me. Well acted and written and Spader once again has the chops to make reading the phone book dramatic. Still Tom is tedious. I think he adds nothing and ultimately there needs to be a resolution to his and Liz'a relationship. The second act should be fascinating, but moving the series to Thursday is a stupid move. Note to TV execs, if it ain't broke don't fix it.
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Nov 12, 2014
The ONLY people with an axe to grind with Liz are the writers of this show who have long surpassed what they accomplished last season in making her look like a complete twit who can't do anything for herself that isn't motivated by her fluctuating emotions.

This show, for me, is now in the discussion of the most misogynist on television. It's right up there with Sons of Anarchy and Mad Men. but doesn't have nearly the chops of those two shows. Best comparison is the current run of Supernatural...without the 5 excellent seasons.
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Nov 13, 2014
i disagree. One of the purposes of Mad Men was to highlight the misogyny of that time. I love Supernatural but that is definitely on top of my list of misogyny. All the female characters suck and are of three stereotypes: "evil bitch", "nameless slut", and victim. Actually there might be one more stereotype I just don't know how to name it. They can't even have their "female" angels have legit angel names and thus get named "Naomi" or "Anna"- and its not like those bodies are theirs-they possess devote humans.
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Nov 13, 2014
I think my wording left a little room for interpretation. The offensiveness of misogyny for me is relative to its context.

For example, I don't have any problems when it's used as an historical reference like in Mad Men, Masters of Sex, Manhattan (Coincidental M's perhaps?).

There's also the context of female characters, who by design, are dummies or sexualized, like any supporting female character on Sons of Anarchy or Game of Thrones. I don't typically have a problem with this either so long as it's "true" to the spirit and world in which the story inhabits.

What I do find offensive is your aforementioned "evil bitch". But what takes that concept and makes it even worse is the character of a smart, strong, powerful woman, who by day is an "evil bitch", but as soon as the business day is over, she turns into a complete ditz, incapable of making any sort of intelligent decision when it comes to the men in her life.

It's for that reason why I consider Scandal, but a HUGE margin, the most misogynist show on TV now and relative to the times, maybe ever. The Blacklist's treatment of Liz isn't at the level of Olivia Pope, but it definitely has the same foundation: a strong and smart woman in a position of power who at every opportunity will allow herself to be mistreated by twisted feelings of by a man who throughout their relationship has treated her like absolute garbage.

The Blacklist has a long way to go before it reaches Scandal territory, but this episode has definitely set them on the "right" path.
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Nov 11, 2014
Absolutely yes to the bit about moving time slots. I hate how channels do that and how they want that coveted Thursday slot. But dude, if your number 1 in another slot don't change it! Especially mid-season. I loved the fact that it was on Monday. And truthfully it wouldn't be that big of a deal if it was on Tuesday- but move it later and that pisses me off. I liked how my tv viewing schedule was balanced. I like looking forward to watching something after a workday before bed. If anything I reserve my closer to weekend nights for other activities because I know the weekend is close by.
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Staff
Nov 11, 2014
I have so many axes to grind. Do you want to talk about my daddy issues?

You're right about the promotions though. NBC needs to chill.
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Nov 12, 2014
I'm all ears I have daddy issues as well. I also hate NL rules in baseball, reality television and Christmas Ad's prior to Halloween.
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Nov 11, 2014
Liz is just incredibly annoying and poorly written. I couldn't care any less about her character.
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Staff
Nov 11, 2014
And that's sad!
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Nov 11, 2014
I am a part of "The Blacklist" Facebook group, and all it really is is Red worship. No one cares abour Lizzie, they want to see Red being Red (I can't tell you how many people loved the golfing scene from last episode.)
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Nov 11, 2014
Haha, that was a great scene. It's understandable, though, I mean it's one of the best performances in recent memory. His character is very well written and every line is delivered perfectly. I don't know if the characters are being written by different people or what's happening, haha.
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Nov 11, 2014
I presume Tom's last comment to Red goes back to when Red killed Liz's foster parent. I don't think there was anything going on that we did not know about.
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Nov 11, 2014
There should be a moratorium on reviewers covering shows they clearly don't like. It makes for the same snarky reviews you can find anywhere on the internet, making TV.com 'just another one of THOSE sites'. See also: the awful coverage of Newsroom season 1. Just let someone else do it, please? Personally, I enjoyed the episode, it was a great payoff for the slow-burn episodes so far this season, and the red mist moment reminded me of last year's shocking deal in the fall finale. Looking forward to the show's return!
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Nov 12, 2014
This the first review of Blacklist that you've read? Must be, because if you think Cory clearly doesn't like it, you must not have been paying attention.

Forget about the fact that he's 100% right in his review, can one not HATE an episode while actually liking a series up to that point?
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Staff
Nov 11, 2014
Maybe there should be a moratorium on commenters complaining about us not simply gushing over shows they love!
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Nov 11, 2014
Again you and the others miss the point. We as intelligent people watching Tv series that have some degree of sophistication expect, and demand, a critical view that is not a recap or reflect the likes or dislikes of the reviewer.What is expected is a piece where views that would not come to mind are explored, a new perspective that would make us go something like "aha! now that's an interesting way to analyze that scene", or "why didn't I think of that!". Instead, we are treated with condescension and arrogance (Katlin towards Grumpyclown, and not offer any excuses), Tim who often will rant instead of offering critical analysis ( but he's getting better) and you who gives the impression that you couldn't care less, that this job is beneath you.I'll give you respect when you'll all do your job and give us at least yours, which we deserve for just giving our precious time in being here.
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Nov 11, 2014
Okay, got it - forget TV.com, off to 'Every Other Internet Site Where Some Guy Bashes a Show'. I thought this place was a little better, but this is the same self-important snark on 99% of the internet. Thanks, Cory! (I get it, Blacklist is capable of so much more, but if you don't like it, hand it off to someone who does make watching & reviewing it seem like a major chore)
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