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.
– 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?
AIRED ON 10/20/2016
Season 4 : Episode 5
AIRS ON 10/27/2016
Season 4 : Episode 6