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*WARNING SPOILERS FOR "MAKO TANIDA"*

I've got a new theory about Tom and his crazy commitment to this mission. Tom's behavior seems too extreme to be explained by simple professionalism, especially considering that some of it has arguably hurt his standing with Berlin.

Evidence of abnormal commitment to "Mission Tom Keen":

1) He fought this mission, for the opportunity to spend multiple years pretending to be a completely different person 24-7. It's hard to imagine that any amount of money is going to be worth that.

2) Reddington has nearly killed him once, has since subtly threatened to finish the job, and yet Tom has held his ground.

3) Tom moved heaven and earth to frame Red without direction from or the assistance of his employers, and risked life long incarceration to stay put.

4) He kills Jolene without checking with Berlin if it was okay to murder another operative in the name of keeping his cover in place. This is after he already knows Berlin has doubts about him.

Because I am an incurable romantic, my first thought was that it was the power of love. I'm not giving up on that possibility, but I realized that it is possible for this to be personal to Tom in a way that has nothing to do with Liz.

Tom stops briefing Jolene on his Red-Liz research to tell her about the time he could have shot Red in the head. He seems gung ho on that plan and is displeased when Jolene seems uninterested in the suggestion. My theory: I think Red might be responsible for the death of someone Tom loved. This might have even been a lifelong vendetta. One of Tom's parents may have been one of those American spies that were supposedly exposed by Reddington in 1994.

Something else that might support this theory: Red hasn't killed Tom yet. For weeks we've asked ourselves why. Red swore to protect Liz by any means necessary. I'm sure Red could have killed Tom a hundred different way and not have it traced back to him, yet Tom still lives. I think Red knows who Tom used to be and because of that he is reluctant to kill him.

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'Berlin'

It was only referred to in this ep (as far as I know). But it seems to be significant.

It suggests not CIA (why would someone from a foreign base be working in the US?). I got the impression the show was hinting that they may be Russian operatives (which all sounds a bit 'The Americans') or perhaps of course German.
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I changed my mind on this when they threw that curve ball about Jolene apparently just being a criminal from Santa Fe until two years ago. Originally I was thinking they were German intelligence, but now I'm leaning more towards international criminal cabal that traffics in intelligence, like The Alliance in Alias, except they don't pretend to be the CIA. After all according to Red, governments don't run the world, corporations and criminals do. It stands to reason he'd be more concerned with a powerful criminal group than a government's spy network.
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I like the idea that Tom may have some personal vendetta against Red for some reason. What I would like to see is the show focusing more on the Liz/Tom/Red triangle than the villain of the week. Last week's episode was Exhibit A of that feeling. Even though I liked seeing Rossler tracking down the bad guy on his own, every minute spent on that story line was a minute I had wished had been dedicated to Tom and Jolene. If the season builds to a climactic cliffhanger of Tom on the run and Red chasing after him (and maybe even vice versa), I hope the show doesn't try balancing that story out with the FBI tracking down another bad guy every week.
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I don't think it's unreasonable to beleive that his vendetta is professional. Spies have been known to live other lives for years for love of country.
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Absolutely - just watch The Americans.
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i doubt that Tom has any personal vendetta against Red... simply because if its personal it would be like Damn my orders I will take him down given the chance and he had his chance.

I believe that tom is the consummate professional... and that whats driving him to stick to this mission is not due to personal agenda but rather a deep sense of duty...

i also don't buy the theory that he is in love with liz... my guess is that she has the same disorder as shaw (POI)... a psychopath with no emotions but just a sense of purpose... and that is why he killed jolene... not becuase he loves liz but rather jolene threatened to take away his purpose...
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I think first and foremost Tom is on a mission given to him by someone in Berlin. His strong motivation to perform this mission may be, like you say, a personal vendetta against Red or it could be due to a reward he has been promised if his mission succeeds. 'Berlin HQ' could have promised Tom something related to a family member for example or they could even be holding someone dear to Tom hostage to ensure he is compliant.

If this was the case, Red is automatically an enemy as he has tried to uncover Tom's real identity and Tom would do anything to avoid being discovered by Berlin (inc. killing Jolene) so as to not jeopardize whatever he wants from them. My assumption is that Berlin is an enemy of Red and wants to keep Lizzie away from him. This would also explain Tom's insistence on moving to Oregon (? or somewhere totally remote) and on the adoption agenda. None of these two seem logical if his 'beef' is with Red.

You may be right but since there is already some family/personal connection between Lizzie and Red, adding a Red-Tom connection feels like an overkill...
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I don't follow the reasoning of some of you that Tom is in love with Liz. (Man that sounded silly as I typed it.) Jennifer up there talking about the "power of love" ! Huh ?! As I recall Tom has been ready to dispense with Liz on a couple occasions but she always managed to stay alive. I really dislike Tom which means he plays his role very well.
Overall Blacklist is one of my two top favorites, the other being The Americans. Don't ever recall another role such as Red.
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When exactly has Tom been ready to dispense with Liz?

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Do you believe it now ?
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No. In my opinion there is still room for doubt. Yes he did hit her with the door and knocked her on the head to keep her from seeing him, but if she's seen him, then Berlin would have extracted him and sent somebody else, who would have no interest in keeping her safe.

Again I wonder if this is just a mission to him, why hasn't he opted for extraction yet. Red is onto him, the police are looking into Jolene's murder, Liz is also investigating, and they've found his safe house with has to be covered in his prints. The play would be to get out, and yet he's back in his house cutting tomatoes when Liz gets home.
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Oh, OK. What was I thinking ?
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Red did not kill him, probably appraciating Tom's perseverence even after being exposed on so many levels (including a massive torture). Jolene says Berlin has doubts but has anyone really checked if Jolene is really a part of the agency or was a freelancer pretending to be from Berlin, just to mess up with Liz and Tom's life, in order to get Red in contact? what do we really know about her? Tom would not have been so pissed off regarding the cancellation of baby plans, would not even have encouraged Liz to have those plans, would not bluff bout taking a job in another town, if there was not anything personal.. not that I am an expert in spy business but when you are under cover with a target, you would not do erratic things and mostly play along with the general framework and wishes of the target.. his actions are less of a pro-spy and more of a guy who is in love with a women he shouldn't have been.. every single event that has happened regarding Tom, affirms this..
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Tom is Red's son and his mother got killed because of Red ... so Tom wants to kill Red but doesn't know that Red is his father... logical and... possible ? Star Wars all over :)...
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If Tom is Red's son, sending Anslo to stab him in the gut is some tough love.
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*Oops I meant Zamani* Sorry!
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This is my take - Tom's broke the cardinal rule of deep cover in these cases, he's fallen in love with his 'mark'. Therefore the ongoing threat that Red might expose him,; and is possibly trying to already (I doubt Liz has told him what Red's been saying) has got him feeling the only to protect his cover, his relationship and, possibly, his wife is to kill Red; or at the very least discredit him with Liz in particular and the rest of the FBI generally.

Perhaps Liz's safety would be compromised if Tom's cover was blown, we don't know do we? If he's in love with her genuinely, as we all seem to suspect now, then her safety would be important to him as more than merely ensuring his cover is intact. Blacklist just got a whole lot more interesting and maybe I don't want Tom dead so much now. ;)

For me she's stuck in the middle of two potentially dangerous predators who are circling around her and each other,waiting for the moment to make the kill strike and take control......she's supposedly a top profiler - how does she NOT see this?
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The way I see it, Tom didn't break a rule but he actually wants to build a life with Lizzie. A real life, in which her work with Red and his own assignments would be part of it as their adoptive baby or the day they bought the house.

Ironically, Red is bringing Tom closer to that goal by exposing him little by little. Liz is sharing her undercover life with him more than she does with her superiors.
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That's an interesting theory; certainly one that could be a really engaging future for the show and put her in conflict with both men - assuming they continue not to get on.

I agree with you about Red's drip feeding of the 'truth' to Liz. Usually a short, sharp shock is what bring people to their senses; a steady feed of little things rarely makes them so horrified/surprised that they run or confront the person being spoken of.
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Something tells me, Red doesn't quite want Tom out her life either...

For some reason, Tom must be perfect to share her life for what Red has in mind for Liz.
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your theory would certainly explain the 'drip feed' rather than sudden full reveal. Perhaps he just doesn't want her to blindly follow/believe Tom, but not wreck their marriage.
Would certainly make season two interesting too don't you think? All three working together - but to want end? Any ideas?
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I think that Tom's reason for hating Red has to do with Liz. Liz has on numerous occasions left Tom, to work with Red. That can lead to jealousy. He is in love with her. Tom was upset with Jolene for approaching 'his wife'. He has repeatedly referred to Liz as his wife. As if he views the relationship as a relationship, not a cover. Tom sees Red as a threat to his marriage. And that can be pretty personal.
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I think this show will throw a curve on us and let Tom's commitment have nothing to do with Red.

I'd say even spies can fall in love and, if Tom defines himself by his marriage to Lizzie, then his life with her takes priority over any value Red may or may not have for his employers.
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You might be right or you might be thinking too much. One thing I do know is that Red wants to expose Tom to Liz. He does not want Liz to hate him if he kills Tom without exposing him. He wants Liz to know who Tom truly is. Perhaps that is the reason why he has not killed Tom yet.
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True that. Also by exposing Tom, Red would be exposing (ideally) whoever has sent Tom on this mission and this person is probably an enemy of Red. Perhaps Lizzie's real mother or father?
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Me, over thinking The Blacklist? Impossible! ;). Seriously though, you might be right, that so long as Red didn't consider Tom an immediate threat, which we know now he wasn't, Red may very well have preferred to expose Tom to Liz, making her aware of the danger while simultaneously increasing her trust in him. I liked the personal vendetta theory because I really want Tom to be anti-hero rather than a straight baddie. The more morally ambiguous character there are on this show the happier I'll be. But if Tom's parent was one of the spies Red exposed, and then it turns out Red didn't expose them at all, and that Fitch and his group did, then I might get the Tom-Red alliance I've been hoping for. In the absence of evidence I choose the scenario most attractive to me.
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All of the points make sense!!! Blacklist isI driving me crazy!!!! I love it so!! I bet we will all turn out to be wrong......:-)

Tom is out for Red as he knows Red has big influence on Liz and Tom's bosses. I think Red has done something personal to Tom or someone he cares for.
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Hmmmm. Good points.
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