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The Blacklist S01E17: "Ivan"


Well hello there! It's been quite a while since we checked in on The Blacklist, hasn't it? Last time I reviewed the show, Alan Alda was interrogating Red and Elizabeth had been at least momentarily convinced that her husband Tom wasn't playing her and/or trying to kill her. 

But for a series that many people would offhandedly identify as a boilerplate procedural, a lot of macro-level stuff has happened on The Blacklist since Episode 10. The show has smartly moved away from questions about Elizabeth's paternity (a move that's probably only temporary, but I'd argue it was necessary), developed tension between Elizabeth and Tom that wasn't based solely on espionage, and brought in some solid guest stars (most notably Lance Reddick and Rachel Brosnahan) to beef up Red's side investigations. Of course, the big bombshells really dropped in the last two episodes, "No. 57: The Judge" and "Mako Tanida," as The Blacklist finally revealed that Tom is in fact working for someone, and the job requires him to pretend to be in love with Elizabeth. 

For most of the audience, the Tom reveal probably wasn't much of a bombshell at all. From the beginning, The Blacklist has asked us to be skeptical of this dude, even when—and perhaps especially when—his wife decided to trust him. Because that skepticism has existed all along, it's pretty easy to look at Elizabeth and think, "Man, she's kind of dense for not noticing some of these things." And that was particularly true during the big, intense sequence in this week's "Ivan" where she was rummaging around in Tom's secret lair and he was constantly one second ahead of her, hiding behind doors, sneak-attacking her, and then barely slipping away. I'm sure there are some viewers who watched that scene and couldn't believe how silly it made the lead character look. And in some ways, I can agree with that line of thinking.

However, over the course of the last half-dozen episodes, The Blacklist smartly shifted Tom's suspicious behavior away from Elizabeth, so that much of the plotting and murdering he's done in recent weeks didn't actually impact her directly—and thus she didn't look like a fool for not knowing. She didn't and still doesn't have all the information, but there's a difference between being blissfully unaware and being naive or stupid. This approach also allowed for Red to watch over Elizabeth from afar, sort of solidifying his affection and interest in her. He's still a criminal mastermind, and he's also almost certainly lying about 100 different things as well, but he cares. 


With those things in mind, Elizabeth using her brain and discovering Tom's presence in the safe house, and then her subsequent realization that Red had been working on the music box all along to comfort her when she needed it most, made Elizabeth look as competent as possible in an episode where she finally, truly discovered that her husband is a fraud, a scumbag, and almost certainly a murderer. The Blacklist's premise fundamentally keeps its lead character in the dark—about Red, about her paternity, about Tom, etc.—so it's crucial that when big things happen, Elizabeth doesn't look like an idiot for too long. 

Obviously the nature of a REVEAL like this is that it's going to take some time to play out. If the show's patience in getting to this point is any indication, we could see The Blacklist milk the unmasking of Tom until at least the end of the season, and probably even into the next one. The show has gotten some good milage out of Elizabeth and Tom lying to one another thus far, I don't know why it would try to scratch all that now, right? The promo for next week's episode seems to suggest that Red will want Elizabeth to use her knowledge to get more information out of Tom, and that could be very cool. Megan Boone and Ryan Eggold have been solid all season, but they've been really strong over the last couple of weeks in playing their characters' range of emotions. They're asked to remain relatively still in next to James Spader, even as the world closes in on both of them. It works.

For the most part, I enjoyed the sequence with Elizabeth working her way through Tom's hideout. It's a fairly standard "hideout," but it also features a lot of open space and light. Pushing the real intense stuff outside and using the darker tunnel access point gave the scene a bit more freedom, visually. The Blacklist spends a lot of time in warehouses and alleys, but it does good stuff with exterior spaces, and has made some fine use of the New York City weather throughout this middle stretch of the season.


Less enjoyable this week was the procedural case. I got a kick out of Red zooming the team over to Belarus in pursuit of a big Russian terrorist who they thought was involved in the high-tech crimes, only for them to discover that it was actually a high school student pretending to be the titular Ivan. But after that fun little reveal, the proceedings of the investigation were so secondary to everything else that was happening (at least for me) that it was hard to stay invested in the case. The final bit—where the kid considered crashing a metro train because his crush wouldn't reciprocate his stalkerish feelings—was fine, I guess. Sometimes a show just has to fill time amid the more fascinating stuff. Thankfully there was a solid amount of fascinating stuff in "Ivan," and perhaps more importantly, The Blacklist is now set up to make some bigger moves in the final five episodes of the season.



NOTES

– I didn't mention it above, but The Blacklist has done right by Ressler since we last convened. Although I'm not always a fan of the "introduce a random love interest just to kill them off a few episodes later" move, it's worked well in this case, and Diego Klattenhoff has brought some depth to a character who's still pretty basic. Ressler's relationships with both Elizabeth and Red are headed in some interesting places. 

– I've heard some wild theories about the show over the last few weeks. Apparently people think Ressler and Red could be related now? They have the same blood type! Tom called Phantom Finance here; does that tell us anything? Let's hear those theories!


What'd you think of "Ivan"? How are you liking Tom's arc?


Previously Aired Episode

AIRED ON 5/19/2016

Season 3 : Episode 23

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It seems like every so often...some other show is on instead of Blacklist. We come home really looking forward to Blacklist...and, no Blacklist! What is up with this?
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Nice episode with a very interesting twist in the plot, after all there's always a girl. A 17 years old portraying a russian mega hacker just to impress the girl he has a crush on... genius, true genius.
As for Lizzie and Tom now that she knows who he really is the once happy couple will soon be in collision course, with dire consequences for him.
I think soon (very soon) we'll know who or what is Berlin, the responsible for Red entire scheme. Starting with the whole reappearance and ending with a gunfight with the people he once betrayed.
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Ryan Eggold's done a good job portraying Tom this season. A unique look to the character and convincing as an assassin. Can convincingly play both sides.
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Mr. James, I enjoyed reading your comments. We could use your insight over at the Blacklist recap discussions at Wall Street Journal's Speakeasy section. Big crowd of diehard fans. Hope to see you there.
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Ressler is Lizzie's future love interest. Now she's his brother. Wow, all over the place.
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It does shows the FBI didn't really do a good interest in investigating Lizzie background at all.
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The producers of the show are very smart for pushing the mythology/villain of the week format. Worked well for Smallville and X-Files. But as a viewer, I'd much rather have mythology all the time. They should at least push it to the forefront a lot more often.
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I used to be fine with each week's plot of the week but recently it seems like each one is boring as hell. I want to know what Red is doing and I want to know all about Tom. The mythology of the show is great but the villain of the week format is lacking. Reminds me of episodes of Smallville where they veered off into zombie and children of the corn plots. Filler material.
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This week's plot was great until we found out it was a teenager trying to impress a crush. Seems improbable.
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Frankly, I can't think of a single show that should have more than 13 episodes. They should air them back to back so there is no hiatus and the next show begins when that one ends. Instead of weeks on end of reruns of filler episodes.
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The Blacklist would be much better if it was on cable and had only 13 episodes. Most people are interested in the theories and conspiracy involving Tom, Liz and Red. Most could not care less about the individual cases weekly yet we are still treated to those week after week to draw out 22 episodes. I nearly give up, only the Tom reveal brought me back.

Please Blacklist, move faster ! Hopefully next season move away from procedural !
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Love the series. It usually works on two levels --
One level is the master criminal of the week. Usually interesting although the Ivan storyline was not the best.
The other level, the key one, is the one where Red is interacting with everyone else on the show. James Spader is incredible and a huge credit to the writers too.
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I luv the show, but one character I hate the most is Elisabeth. It doesn't make sense at all. Why an analyst who has no field experience (suddenly) becomes "senior" field agent that even Kesler obeys/listens to whatever crap she's saying? And why does she needs to kill suspects? Why not subdue them? Also, Liz could easily find her husband's treachery in the beginning of the season. She only needs to take the gun, and match the fingerprints to Tom. Those who use guns will need to clean them from time to time and it's bound t have partial fingerprints. Also, last episode, the police should be able to find lots of finger prints from the scene, simply because Tom and Jolene didn't use gloves while they were there. The last few episodes are much better than early episodes.
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To be honest, the whole IVAN storyline i couldn't care less. The only thing i wanted to see was, when Liz would find out about Tom....unfortunately i had to watch the whole damn episode just so she could figure it out in the end and that by a picture....WHY!!!!!
So next week the cat and mouse game between those two finally starts...
But it was a very very nice touch of Red, for building that thing so she could hear the song....poor Liz...was so sad and so sweet of Red...!!
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Awesome episode!!! Red/Liz scene in the end? Broke my heart...
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I got a little bit chocked up in this episode the ending with red holding her was just beautiful. I can't believe tom punched her not a good husband tom. Overall a solid episode from a solid show
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Without the "Tom" arc this week the show would have been totally dull...
James Spader (Redington) IS the show!
They shouldn't push him in the background like this, but, should also not rely solely on his great performance to hold the show for many seasons.

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Reminds me of the episodes of 24 where Keifer was pushed to the background.
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People that create series like this need to be sent to MN for manual beet harvesting and self-criticism.
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I think it's interesting that LAST week, I was so hyped up for the big Tom-reveal (based on promos), and yet the Tom-plot took a back seat to Ressler's Big Day (not a happy day, mind you, but the "Hanging out with Red, talking about vengeance"-kind), and while it was cool to see Tom Bond in action, I was too busy with other things to appreciate it properly.

This episode, I was mostly waiting for the "number of the week", and instead I get quite bit of nicely tense Tom and Tom&Lizzie moments.
I don't know if the Tom-plot was more interesting this week, or if the number of the week was just that silly/boring, making it look good by comparison.

Very nice bit with the music box, though - I kept asking myself what it was or what it was going to become throughout the episode, and the final reveal was very well done.
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Tom, oh, Tom - felled by Uncle Flippo.
For all your careful preparations, your quick thinking and leet fighting skills - a blue hippo with a flashlight butt will bring you low.

And then Red will get to huggle poor Lizzie while she's a sad panda.
How about THAT!
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I love the developments in this episode and the places where it'll eventually leads.
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I love how Red has the FBI playing his reindeer games with the fake bullet to Donny's chest. The animosity is fading a bit and I am glad. Red proved his worth. I am sick of 1/2 the episode of Red convincing the FBI to play along. If they all just jumped into missions together - better show.
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Can anyone else think of a legitimate reason for Tom's employers to want them to adopt a baby? That seemed extremely important to Tom.

Could it be as simple as hoping the baby would take her away from the FBI and Red?

The reveal showed us their main interest was in her connection to Red. I just don't get how adopting a baby helps with that.
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I had an early theory... I missed some episodes, so I don't know if it's relevant or even if I remember it clearly; it's been a while.

I think my theory was that Red was in a similar situation that Liz is now in. I think that he married, adopted Liz, and either was the Tom equivalent or vice versa. I think that the Tom equivalent in the relationship couldn't go through with the manipulation and tried to escape it or realized that Liz didn't deserve to go through it. The evil agency called for the Tom equivalent to act, the Tom equivalent didn't, and the agency acted against Red's family as punishment. He was only able to save Liz from the fall-out, but then he had to promise to do the agency's bidding or she'd befall some evil.

Actually, I think my theory might have been otherwise... I think my theory involved Red's sister being compromised by a Tom equivalent, and Liz being her daughter, and that he had a love for his sister, but the Tom equivalent was used to provide leverage to get Red to act unless he wanted harm to come to his sister and her daughter. Or maybe the agency killed his family, but in order to keep there from being backlash, they revealed that they'd installed someone in his sister's family and would require Red to do their dirty work or something would befall Liz, and then later they also installed someone as her husband to carry the same function.

Either way, I think that Red's arrangement with the government types involves them keeping agents with both Liz's mother as well as her present husband. And either she's his niece or his adoptive daughter. That he's not literally her father, and therefore he's never lied.

But I think the whole "embedding" someone into a family to keep Red in tow is definitely something that's been happening, and I think that adoption was already involved in the past, which is why they keep harping on it now and why Red cautioned Liz from going through with it when she wanted to - that it's something that can be used as leverage and that the bad agency has encouraged in the past with their agents in order to get their clamps in people. Or some such thing.... At one point, I was collecting data to support a theory, but I all but forgot it and only returned to see this episode to see what was up.
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Hmmm... actually, I remember thinking that he might have been in love with someone, but he was manipulated to "keep her safe" by avoiding her, only for an evil agent to be led to marry said person, and that the person that he loved bore Liz. I don't know...
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I think the reason why Tom was implanted into Liz's life is for leverage against Red, for some reason. Someone who knows both their true stories . A baby would be a plus: easier to kidnap than and adult and great leverage if Red is LIz's biological father, as I still believe. If he's not, it would still be a viable leverage because of Red's interest in Liz's well being.
Has I've pointed out before, he was implanted much before she became a profiler and Redington decided to make a deal with the FBI, so it has to do with something else that their situation today... Who the employer could be may be the next season's serialized arc.
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Except unless the FBI are complete idiots, at this stage I admit they do act like idiots most of the time, surely they would have run Red and Liz DNA through the database and that would have reveal them to be biologically related.

Liz and Red can't be biologically related, as I say not unless the FBI are complete fucking idiots. Whole an the CIA, considering they have their agent here.
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It seems to me that whatever leverage they're going for could be had right now. And, I just don't see how an adopted baby gets them anything more than what they've already got (or had before Liz found out).

But, I do agree that it's highly intriguing -- and adds complexity -- that Tom was implanted long before Red sucked her into his blacklist scheme.
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Never thought I'd say this but Tom was the most interesting part of this episode well that along with all the Red scenes as per the norm. The case of the week was a snooze fest , note to love struck teens out there your better off using your elite computer hacking skills to order the girl some nice flowers ! Also I'm really looking forward to seeing Red deal with Tom can't imagine Red ever allowing Tom to hurt Lizzie, back end of the season should be fun.
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I actually think Red is Lizzie's and Ressler's father... and Malik's father, too. He's also Harold Cooper's brother.


As with most Blacklist episodes, I enjoyed it but couldn't take it remotely seriously. I still hate Keen (character and/or actress) and there's still plenty of poor writing overall (the stupidity have been pointed out already by previous commenters). But meh, for whatever reason, I still enjoyed it for the most part. Even with the stupid teen plot.
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Actually, Red is my father too.
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Okay, color me confused. When Red meets up with Kaplan at the site of the two bodies that Tom buried.....the body of the buried man was not The Cowboy....right? I mean, it did not look at all like The Cowboy, it looked like an Asian guy. I assume the other body was, in fact, Jolene.
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i think it was supposed to be Cowboy in the grave, but he wasn't available for filming it as he was working an episode in another series.
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So, does Lizzie now realize it was TOM that punched her in the face???
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Yep. but I think that's kind of the least of her issues with him at the moment. Liz has been punched in the face before. I think the whole making her fall in love with him and sleeping with her for over two years because he was paid to is higher on the list of "Reasons Liz wants to shoot Tom right now".
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I agree about all the other issues, but it seems to me something about the immediacy and violence of having him knock her out would bubble to the top of her anger list.

At least with all the rest, should could think maybe he really did love her. But, this is literally a slap in the face!
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I'm with you on that one. I'd be like, you married me BUT YOU PUNCHED ME IN THE FACE?! wth
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I don't think Red is Lizzie's father. But if he is, he could reconcile the "I never lied to you" comment and the previous denial of parentage by pulling out the Obi-Wan Kenobi "certain point of view" speech from Return of the Jedi. "You see, the Red Reddington who was your father 25 years ago ceased to exist when (X) happened. ..."
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Not biologically speaking, not even Blacklist FBI are that incompetent to not have compared Liz and Red DNA which reveal them to be related, eve through cousins and uncles. But he is caring towards her in a fatherly way through.
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I agree on the Star Wars comparsion. It's "I gave up the right to call myself your father when I left you to be raised by Sam". OR he was her adoptive father before Sam, so technically not her "father" from a genetic POV.
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That was an awfully familiar embrace and kiss on her head for someone not being her father. Where did that come from?
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This is odd, an official recap, I've been just engaging in debate elsewhere. Well less debate and more just communal mis prognigcations since, well, we don't have much evidence of anything. I am still left with that last scene as...well, what the hell does that mean????

Otherwise, my biggest takeaway is that it appears we might be getting ready for Lizzie's hair to be her real hair. My current hairstyle is her wig's length and on these non wash days, I pull it into a low ponytail and have the temptations to cut it off. I suspect this is more a message from the costume and hair department to the show runners, if you are going to keep making Lizzie more bad ass (which we love that element of Lizzie and her juvenile delinquent past) let her have her more bad ass natural haircut.
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IMO, y'all are overthinking the Red father thing too much. He could be her actual biological father without having truly lied to her. If he is, considering the fact that he hasn't been in her life for 25+ yrs would kinda make him feel like he wasn't really a father to her. That was reserved for the father who he mercy killed in the hospital. Remember Red told him he would always be her father. And do you really think Red has played a secret this big( if he is her bio father) this close to the chest for this long just to randomly burst out in a chorus of Yes I am your father Liz! Come on. He probably stayed away to protect her all those years ago from whoever started the fire.
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IMO, y'all are overthinking the Red father thing too much. He could be her actual biological father without having truly lied to her. If he is, considering the fact that he hasn't been in her life for 25+ yrs would kinda make him feel like he wasn't really a father to her. That was reserved for the father who he mercy killed in the hospital. Remember Red told him he would always be her father. And do you really think Red has played a secret this big( if he is her bio father) this close to the chest for this long just to randomly burst out in a chorus of Yes I am your father Liz! Come on. He probably stayed away to protect her all those years ago from whoever started the fire.
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This is such a disappointment. The only interesting storyline is the marriage and Lizzies past, the rest should go away. I don't care for the weekly crime, I want more drama. Its inconsistent and boring. Sorry, I'm done with this show.
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Well, begone then.
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Yup :)
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Actually the previous episode was far more better than this one. Somehow when Agent Keen is not in the focus the episodes get better. Sometime I wonder if the writers deliberately make her seem stupid, so Red would seem much more smarter...


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Why would she share the info about the girl with someone she should be a lil suspicious about???
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Red said he never lied to Elizabeth, she accepted that as true and I think we as the audience are as well, so that means Red is not Lizzie's father. But then there's the music box itself, so there definitely is a connection. Verrrrrry interesting, very twisty.

For a show that could milk this for years, I'm really glad they've pulled out all the stops and made Lizzie not stay blind to Tom, that's bold for a show's first season.

My opinion is this episode fired on all cylinders EXCEPT for Parminder Nagra's Meera Malik who continues to be a non-presence in these stories and on-screen. I really like Ms. Nagra, she was very good on ER, but here she is the proverbial wallpaper paste.

I agree with you on Ressler, that character has really come into his own in the last 6 episodes or so, a real personality and a real past feels like it's finally been coming to the surface here in part thanks to writing and in part thanks to quality acting and directing.

Theory: Red is Lizzie's uncle, he was a good guy while his brother (her dad) was a criminal, her dad got his and Red's families killed and Red went deep underground to get ultimate revenge against those who wronged his family, and the only family he has left is Lizzie.

If Ressler turns out to be related to Red, I'll be very disappointed, I'll eat Red's hat.
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But her be connected in anyway to Red biologically would be revealed by DNA. It just seems improbable to say the least that the FBI wouldn't have run Liz and Red DNA databases.
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That'd be likely if they already had Lizzie's DNA on file, but they might not.
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Absolutely. Ressler as Red's son (or whatever) would be stupid. Tricky, but stupid.
My theorie about the answer to the fatherhood question: Either he is her father (yes!!!) and he lied to save her/ doesn't think he's her 'mental' father or
he isn't her father but they have a common past.
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I do think Red is her father. It's as simple as this: PEOPLE LIE, so even if he says he's never lied to her, he could be lying... Specially if keeping that relationship a secret meant protecting her.
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People lie, DNA don't.
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Anything's possible, but as a part of a fictional construct, it would not fit and would end up undermining the work done.
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Cory, it's "wouldn't reciprocate", you have "would" in "crashing a metro train because his crush would reciprocate".
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Staff
Thanks! Fixed.
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First of all, Liz is looking much, much better with her real hair.

Other than that, she's still the same naive idiot.
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In her defense, she is SUPPOSED to be naive. She was trained as a profiler -- and she was fairly new, even at that.

She's been thrust into a high stakes game where she really has no business being -- and wouldn't be if it weren't for Red.

So, the show would actually be stretching credibility to have her be this brilliant operator at this point.
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Lizzie is the reason I am starting to hate this show after loving it when it first started.

She was trained as a profiler - yet she now is an expert shooter, never gets shot, breaks into buildings on her own yet calls her husband just before she does it, etc.

Last week, Lizzie figures out Jonica is running Mako Tanido's organization in less than a minute after a summary from Meera but the FBI could not figure that out for 5 years? Keen can be one of the smartest and stupidest characters in the show - whatever the script needs her to be.

As a result, you can't relate/understand/like/pinpoint her. Of course, Kessler can shoot/kidnap/threaten people, and nothing happens to him. All Cooper does is come in for a scene or two and says, "Ok, find him!" And then walk off.

In the end, only Red is the interesting character. All other characters go where the writer's wind tells them to go. For the supporting charcters, that is fine. But not for a major character like Lizzie Keen.

Argh...I will try to see this season to the end. But I dislike it more each episode.

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I see your points.
She doesn't get to see his dubious smiles to the cameras either.

Yet, from the moment she found those fake passports and guns... man.

I hope she gets better written for season 2.
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Yes, it's frustrating -- and obvious to us. But, isn't that a common occurrence in reality?

We hear case after case of women who are blinded to serious flaws in their husbands due to love. They have an innate need to believe they didn't fall in love and marry a terrible man, so their brains look for any small fact or hint to allow them to continue to believe in their husband.
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Ok, one question that really stuck with me was: What happened to the sekelton-key?
When the case started, I suspected it would end up in Red's hands and he would use it to access whatever information he needed. I later thought maybe Liz would take it. But after the train stops, it isn't even mentioned anymore.

As far as Tom goes, it is always the small things that trip you up like that. The funny thing is, Liz is the only one that could ever make that connection, placing Tom at that hideout.
It looks like there is no real value in creating wild theories - the writers will tell us what they come up with, when they want to. Sort of reminds me of the speculation about 'Red John' on The Mentalist.
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The Skeleton Key was on the device the kid had. Keene would have taken it from him and returned it to the creators. The cool/funny thing is that the kid had no interest (or understanding) in the value of the thing beyond thinking he could use it to get the girl.
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Best show on television IMHO. Having said that, I am not buying Tom doesn't suspect something is up with Elizabeth, her denial was not convincing to anyone let alone a savvy creeper like Tom. Agreed that the whole hacker kid side story was unnecessary and a story of dumb-arse lovestruck teen we have seen maybe a million times before. I wish I had someone like Red telling me "everything is going to be alright." If Red says it, that's money. One very interesting tidbit will be to learn who Tom is working for "in Germany." Germans aren't the bad guys they used to be, unless they are former East Germans. Can't wait for next episode EVERY week!
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In Berlin, actually, not just Germany but the most infamous part. Last week I thought somehow that Tom was working for Moscow, not Berlin, that was an odd mixup. My guess is a syndicate who put Tom next to Red's last living relative, Lizzie, in case Red showed up.
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So here's a question, is Ivan still on the Blacklist? Did Red get to cross him off? We really didn't see him after that scene on the plane. Did Red make a new blacklist entry with the kid (only to cross it off just as fast too)?
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Also: What happened with the 8 or 5 millions Ivan transfered to any account?!
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I have to agree with most comments. The whole teenage love struck hacker was lame.
I'm glad Liz finally figured out that her husband is a scumbag, but his prints would have been all over everything in that room, guns, keyboards etc etc etc ( do they still check for prints?) not to mention DNA on coffee cups etc etc so I hope they would have figured it out. I hope.. but really I would never have trusted him after finding his "GO" bag! So I find her a slow for a crack FBI agent. Unless you watch The Following, because they are the dumbest FEEB's on TV yuk yuk
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But his prints might not be in the system - just because the task force brought him in to question him about the go-box, doesn't mean they kept his prints on file (don't know what the legal situation would be in cases like that), at least not something accessible to the ordinary policeforce.
And the cops don't have a good reason to ask for his prints - a colleague who once visited his wife, whohoo, not exactly "probable cause".
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If forensic science can't put Tom in that room where he spent so much time and killed two people! then its a sad day... omg they probably through out his prints as soon as he left the building, or its another time line, or his prints lead to a 76 year old woman in Nebraska!! yah that's it!
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Actually, according to what I have found, if you're fingerprinted as a suspect, and later found to be not guilty, the FBI are supposed to throw your prints away - although that doesn't always happen.
However, there's quite a lot of fingerprinting of people working with kids (i.e. teachers like Tom), so they would probably be on file somewhere anyway.
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Really. REALLY?!

This must be the most ridiculous episode in history, mainly because it was supposed to be taken seriously!
If I were a touchier person I'd feel insulted by it, I swear.

Dear goodness. I was going to list all the stupid things, but most of the previous comments spared me the long papyrus of bullet points.

And to think the idea of this show would be so cool, wasted like that. Geez.

I wish I could watch "The Blacklist" with an entirely new cast (except for James Spader, bless him, of course) minus all the stupid, annoying episodes, like this one on top!
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Don't know how you could blame the cast. The actors are doing great with what they're given. Any complaints belong to the writers and directors.
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Actually, a new cast won't help unless you throw the writers into the same fiery pit of TV death!
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Even if he was an acting superhero, James Spader was powerless in saving this episode!

Not so much during the Elizabeth/Red/Tom story (and there were serious problems there, but could be forgiven). No. It was the computer Teen Titan "Ivan." A storyline so immensely inane that it's villainy was too strong to defeat!

First (and worst) sin: The National Security Agency (NSA) one of the most secretive, covert, tight-lipped intelligence agency in the world (it was known as "No Such Agency" in D.C. for many years) is working on an offensive cyber attack program that is the digital equivalent of a nuclear bomb -- something only those with the highest clearance would know about -- AND NOT ONLY did the lead NSA agent just starts babbling about it to the FBI, but they also got outsmarted by this kid?

And how the hell did he find out about this ultra-secret project? Did he use hacking the-girl-he-pines-over to link her dad's (and lead NSA agent -- which the kid shouldn't even know what the man does) iPad?

Second...you know what? Skip it. Skip everything else (well, I will mention how suddenly shutting down several of Washington, D.C. metro power grids at the same time would immediately put senior government officials on emergency evac plans, and have the entire military go on high alert).

All so he can impress a girl. Of all the shows I've watched this season, that was quite possibly the stupidest story I've seen.
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Yeah it was a stupid episode for the procedural part (and some other), but they have to pass the time somehow, right? Watching them sitting in the basement and filling out forms, filing reports and geting papercuts would be less interesting.
And the kid needed to be taken down. He made trig seem too easy. Solving the whole test in head in less than fifteen minutes? No way. He was either cheating or the level of edutcation is really low in that school.
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stupidest... hmm i'd challenge that. in "Crisis", a grown adult dad gets even stupidier motives to go big villain.
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I can't rubbish the case of the week storyline because I thought it was just irrelevant -- but you are right. You don't waive clearance like that and just start blabbing -- it might have been somewhat credible had he just told the Assistant Director something but was just totally crazy when it came to briefing four FBI agents and then taking them to a secret facility and having the lead engineer fill them in more there. The premise -- that the kid had mad skills and did everything he did in service of a stalker's agenda was plausible (though not very interesting). Loved the Tom/Red/Elizabeth storyline -- though as usual I was frustrated by how naive she always is -- though to be fair, as Red always points out, the Bureau (and therefore its people) are all about coloring inside the lines while in the real world, including in the world of the people they go up again things are always way more complex.
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The story was stupid, but why are people nitpicking over CLEARANCE? It was a black ops operation led by the assistant director and they were RIGHT THERE. I think he basically tossed procedural aside, gave a strong speech as to why they better tell him what he wants to know (as they had the means to track down this precious bomb thing) and hoped it would clear up the on site squabble they were having. While probably unrealistic, I felt Cooper made a convincing case as to why this guy should quit the act and tell him what's going on if they don't want wherever this precious thing is to completely disappear. The needs were more pressing at the time.

And again, assistant director of the FBI who also happens to run a super secret connected task force. I think he had some decent clout to leverage for information.
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Obviously, you never worked in D.C. before, nor dealt with federal intelligence/investigative people. No, I don't expect the show to tightly follow how things really work. It's TV. But at least reflect something of reality in the fiction. That why 24 and The Americans work so well.
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And if I did this would alter how I would have handled that scene how? The whole premise of this show screams "not real DC procedures", so why nitpick about this specific and ultimately pointless conversation? You can't possibly say that that the show hasn't made far larger and grander violations of real life governmental procedure in many other parts of the story. In fact, just about any fictional tv show probably would so it can actually be a tv show :P .
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The less said about the procedural stuff, the better. It was awful.
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Wish i could never speak of it again, but I don't have the "Only The Good Parts" FF button on my remote (or the kid's magic iPad). I may not have always liked 24, but at least Jack Bauer and the gang weren't idiots!
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But for a series that many people would offhandedly identify as a boilerplate procedural

Who are these many people of which you speak? Point them out and I will beat them about the face and head. I've lost count of the number of true "boilerplate procedurals" that have come out in the past few years and have quickly lost interest in the few that looked interesting enough to give an opportunity to. Blacklist may be a lot of things, but "boilerplate" ain't one of 'em.

I thought the ol' high school genius masquerading as a world famous hacker was perfect. Just enough substance to keep it from being predictable from a mile away and an excuse for Red to be Red when talking with Ivan. But not enough to take away from what was the real story of the episode. Plus, I always get a kick out of seeing locations used on other shows. I presume that spot where Red and Ivan met is an actual Russian restaurant since Grimm used it for the same thing a few weeks back.

The money shot here was the look on Liz's face as she had her "Ah ha!" moment and her subsequent visit to Red's and the reveal of the music box. I've seen stuff like this played a number of ways...usually soapy and over acted. But for something that's been building up since the pilot, I thought it was nicely reserved. But more importantly, I think it was true to the characters. Well played Blacklist, well played.

Was it perfect? No. But when the viewers have a lot of information being withheld from a main character, it never will be. I didn't once get the Lois Lane/Clark Kent, "OMG you're so dumb! How have you not figured this out yet?" vibe. And while some apparently took exception, I don't really have a problem how things went down at the safe house.

I hope they take the full remaining 5 episodes to let Liz do her counterintelligence...cause that could be a lot of fun to watch.
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Well, despite having the worst case of the week all season (the real bad guy is a 17 year old kid with a crush? REALLY?!?) I feel that this was probably the most important episode post-Anslo. Lizzie realizes her husband is most likely the stone cold killer Red has been describing to her all along and the end scene with Red holding Liz in a father-like hug while a music box plays a song that she remembers as a little girl REALLY added up the odds that Red might be her father. But then again, Red said that he's always been honest with her and flat out said he WASN'T her father in the mid season finale, so this may seem more creepy than tender if that were true. Red has made it abundantly clear that he has no romantic interest in Lizzie, yet he cares for her deeply and she was the only person Anslo held captive that made him completely lose his cool composure. If he really isn't her father, than what is he?

One thing that I found a bit idiot about this episode (besides the case of the week) is that Liz managed to deduce that Tom was the one that attacked her and killed Jolene all based on a hippo. How could she connect the dots so fast? I know Red's been telling her since the series premiere that Tom is a killer, but you'd think all the hippo would due was confuse Lizzie and make her a LITTLE suspicious, not automatically come to the conclusion that Tom was Mr. Serial Killer.

Due to the very annoying case of the week, which took thankfully less time than most cases, I'm giving the episode a 6.5 out of 10. It's saved ONLY by the non c-o-t-w moments, but even then those are a bit hard to believe (Liz finding out Tom is evil based on a hippo) or creepy if the end reveal is not what we think it is (Red holding a crying Lizzie in his arms, kissing her head, and rocking her like a dad would to his child.)
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One of the contestants on The Voice leading into The Blacklist was named "Music Box" last night? Coincidence? I think not! lol
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The hippo thing didn't work for you? I actually appreciated it because it showed she's not a COMPLETE moron. She can put things together.
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Yeah, there'd really not be any other clues for Elizabeth that Tom is a bad guy. Though I was surprised that she saw as much of her attacker as she did. Maybe she actually did (subconsiciously) get a better look at him that that and so can accept it. What I don't get is how (if this were real life and not a TV story) that she's be able to deceive it. He came into the relationship deceiving her, she doesn't have that advantage and he's learned to read her. If she tries projecting flatness or some kind of remove he'll be aware of that as abnormal, too. I don't see how this character could pull it off.
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@CoryBarker1 Thanks for acknowledging the work that has been done in the community.
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The person who reviewed this in the community did a better job - its a lot less smug
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General praise is smug?
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Anything compared to you is less smug
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Don't feed the trolls.
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I love this show! I really believe is the best new show of the season, but
the last 2 episodes have left us with two of the most eye rolling scenes I've seen in a while:
- The sloppy kills by Tom. Really? He is supposedly a high level operative, intelligent enough to marry a profiler and to maintain the facade for years. And then they give us a laughable killing scene! So bad that left me thinking: I could do a better job!
- Lizzie and her "let's take a break and call my husband before doing an illegal search which will take me to the great discovery...the Hypo! ": The whole thing was obviously staged so Lizzie could discover the truth. But I still don't know what is more stupid:
1. her calling him out of the nowhere
2. the whole " I see u, I don't see " game among the bed linen ( yeah, it wasn't a bed linen, but it sure remind me of hanging clothes and playing that game when I was 6)
3. The hypo. Seriously ? WTF will Tom take the hypo to his secret man-cave to throw it on the garbage?
I know, that one of the main focus points of this show is how Reddington is more cleaver than anyone else. But this is getting ridiculous!
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I loved the hippo. There's no reason why he wouldn't have taken it to his man cave. He thought that place was secure. Though once Lizzie told him she was going to find who did Jolene in he should have realized the place was burned. Maybe he should have considered it burned once he'd killed Jolene and The Cowboy there.

Agreed on the Lizzie calling her husband. That's one of the things that frustrates me about Keen. Even if you trust him why ask him something like that? For soooo many reasons.

Sloppy kills: The sloppiness I would give him a write-off for since he didn't have long to plan it. What I didn't get -- why he killed Jolene in the first place, without finding out why she was on him and why Jolene allowed him to kill her (she had all the time in the world to defend herself or escape and absolutely no reason to trust Tom -- also didn't make sense for someone with her supposed skills).
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Tom's killing of Jolene was marred not by the sloppiness but rather Jolene's stupidity. She didn't trust Tom at all and was WARNED by the Cowboy Guy that Tom would kill her when she hung uo the phone. She could see Tom walking slowly towards her as she was talking, and what does she do. SHE TURNS HER BACK TO HIM! She's by far the stupidest character on the show.
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Why hasnt anyone talked about Red's guy being a mole for Tom? Last week he's tied up and then Tom kills Jolene and the cowboy.Feel worse that Red cannot see he is a plant..
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Yup, that made ZERO sense. Even if she didn't want to engage him she could have left. Him killing her also made no sense because he had no cofirmation of why she was there.
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Tom killing Jolene and The Cowboy makes sense in terms of re-imaging him as a vicious killer but other than that it didn't make sense.
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so did red admit to being her father since he had that music tune and she got in his lap?

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Probably another trick to make us believe that...
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which, you might interpret as he's her father. I know i do.
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No, he admits to knowing that tune and her connection to it.
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I hope the show will change the blacklisted of the week or make them more interesting or make a part two episode or something cause once we get through tom bond/lizzie-red stuff then their will be no incentive to watch
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I'm not alone! I really like "Iván",and It was because the main story: Liz&Tom&Red. Do you notice that the hair style from Liz is changing? There are glimpses of her real hair.....I see the godbye of the wig! Yay!
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yes, I did, and I'm being relieved. Finally looking at her it's not like looking at sunsilk commercial!
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Yes, her real haircut is much sharper.
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what is it with the wig and her real hair? can somebody tell me that story? i feel lost
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Ressler and Red?. i dont think they are related. Ressler spent years trying to catch Red, Red respect him and he sees him as a young Red Reddington who might end up like the Red Reddington of today if someone dont watch over him in tight spaces.Thus, instead of letting Ressler kill a guy for revenge Red will "help out".
I am more worried about "2 steps forward 3 steps backward" Liz normally takes. So i wont be surprised if in the next episode she just thinks Tom may have had an affair with Jolene, and of course he can explain himself out of that pickle.
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