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Ok, didn't have time to write this last night, as I huddled in front of the screen, sleep-deprived and sugar high after a long, long day of work and pen-and-paper RPGing. That's my excuse.

What this means in terms of the review is of course that I'm over the first, flaily, squee-filled moments of my after-show reactions - also, that I'm desperately trying to remember details only hazily captured in my manic state last night. But I'll give it a go. ;)

So - Red is back. And by back, I do of course mean front and center, where he belongs.

Because face it - this is why we tune in, week after week; to watch James Spader do that thing that he does so well - and then there's some supporting cast as well.

In terms of plot, this was a decent episode - we got a blast from the past for Red, a fancy caper for him and Lizzie, and some delightfully unsubstantiated back story on both of them that leaves us fans salivating for more while still scratching our heads (and tearing our hair while we scream "WHAT IS THE TRUTH?!?" to the Universe).

Let's not mention the Whining Boy Wonder that is Tom, because he's such a DRAG and I can't be bothered to ruin my morning thinking about him.

Seriously - why hasn't Lizzie walked away yet?

I guess it's easier to stick with what you (think you) know...

Madeline Pratt, this weeks number, appears to have been quite close - both in the biblical sense and in a more serious fashion - with Reddington in the past, until he stood her up.

Not a good choice.

Because Madeline - like Red, I believe - knows how to carry a grudge.

A long, convoluted con-slash-heist with Egyptian artifacts, foreign spies, embassy parties WITH DANCING (be still my beating heart) and a lot of misdirection ends up with Madeline in possession of everybody's favourite McGuffin and the blame placed on Red.

In a shocking move, Red and Madeline are apparently kidnapped by forces unknown, looking to acquire the list of six super double-agents, or nukes, or codes to the kiddielock on the computer - so sorry, didn't really focus on this so much as the fact that Red was all broken up (or down) and TALKING ABOUT WHAT HAPPENED THE NIGHT HE DISAPPEARED/TO HIS FAMILY.

Yes, I went all capital. I'd do it again, too.

Because that was just so heart wrenching and sad and emotional and convincing that I was leaking feels all over the place.

Good thing there's good sound dampening between the flats here...

And then it was ALL A TRICK, played by Red to get the McGuffin from Madeline!

Or was it?

By now, the fan speculations about Red's disappearance, his family and his past in general has gone down a lot of different roads, but the story he told in this episode DOES jive with a lot of the favourite theories out there, so I'm going to accept it as POTENTIAL truth, with a BIG helping of salt and a lot of caveats.

Even if it was only partially true, there is little doubt in my mind that the EMOTIONS were real, that he was digging down into the pain he feels at the loss of his loved ones.

Seeing him perfectly cool and put together just a few moments later was a bit of a kick in the gut - he's so good at putting on that mask, so professional and so unlikely to lose his cool; can we ever hope to know the man behind the mask, or will we forever be second-guessing the poker face of the "Concierge of Crime"?

Compared to his story, Lizzie's story about her youthful brush with a life of crime didn't have quite the same ring of truth to it - but then she's had a lot less practice than Red.

But I still believe it had some basis in fact, although a lot of the details may have been altered.

Part of me can't help but wonder if the real story wasn't actually darker than the one we heard - did she really just "kiss" the guard to distraction before taking off?
Maybe she compromised herself further - maybe she hurt the guard.

Who knows?

I'm thinking Red does...

It still raises a lot of questions, though - especially the unbelievably sloppy dialogue between Ressler and her, where he asks how come she doesn't have a criminal record; did she never commit a crime, or was she never caught?

And she answered "Yes" - and he lets it go.

*sigh*

There's an underlying assumption that her "criminal father" taught her the tricks of the trade - but seriously, she was supposedly adopted by Sam (who is generally believed to NOT be a criminal) at age FOUR.

I don't know about Lizzie at age four - but at that age, my son was more concerned with Lego and learning to dress himself than learning sleight-of-hand and con-techniques...

Wherever they came from, Lizzie's suddenly revealed pickpocketing skills are IMPRESSIVE and COOL, but they raise a LOT more questions about what sort of upbringing she had, and if Sam actually DID swoop in to rescue her at such a tender age.

If he actually adopted her a lot later, it would make MUCH more sense in the face of statements such as "I raised myself".

All in all, this was a nice, solid episode with some lovely, emotional moments from Red and a fair bit of "teasing" from Lizzie - I'm still waiting for something to rival Anslo Garrick for kickass storytelling, but I'm quite happy with this.

Special mentions:
- Red playing the flamboyantly gay-ish PA to the hilt.
- Lizzie pickpocketing Madeline's phone during the "interview"-process.
- Red asserting his power over Cooper and the FBI - and Cooper venting all his worries about Diane's disappearance to Malik - who has a pretty good idea of what went down...
- Mysterious Agent McScary threatening Cooper to Back The Hell Down - was it just me, or did his phrasing and mannerisms remind you a lot of Red himself?
Did they attend the same "finishing school of scary BAMFs"...?
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Is it just me, or does the portrait of the woman Reddington referred to as 'unattractive' strangely resemble the lady Edith Grantham in Downton Abbey?
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(there is no more reply option in our thread below)

GreyMinerva, I understand your point about Tom being "placed" to protect Liz but everything you describe is happening today while he was put into place at least 2 years ago. I meant: to protect her from what then?
Actually, the way things are turning up, it looks more like he's the one who needed protection from Red by being with Liz. Now that he wants to leave her he is free game for Red.

No it never was confirmed that Red was Liz father and it is obvious that he would reply "no" to Liz if he killed Sam because he wanted to reveal it, but his discussion with Sam, the way he looks at her or speak to her... and why else would he come to the FBI just when she arrives and demands to only speak to a rookie fresh out of Quantico? Not confirmed but probable, I think.

I don't believe the writers/producers will reveal the truth about those two soon since it's probably the most interesting intrigue of the series (Red and Liz individual past). It will be reveal bits by bits along the way.

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I loved this episode! Red in a tuxedo. RED IN A TUXEDO!!

All the Red screen time was outstanding. James Spader is the reason I tuned in at the beginning and Red is the reason that I stick around.

How could Ressler NOT follow up with Lizzie regarding her criminal past or not having one? How could Harold not have followed up? I am having a hard time taking the FBI seriously. Seriously, how can they NOT have Lizzie under surveillance given Red's obvious focus on her?

Are they turning Lizzie to the dark side? She has now gone from threatening to finish off the wife beater in The Good Samaritan to going all Cat Burglar. By the by, as a master thief, shouldn't she have been awfully skeptical when she saw Madelaine Pratt??? Seems awfully suspicious for her to have shown up. As a profiler, shouldn't she have known something was not right?

Was Red's story true? WAS RED'S STORY TRUE!!!....*screams of agony asking why the writers love to torment me so*.....:-) I think his story was completely true and Lizzie's was partially true as I think she went biblical with Frank and not wanting to admit that to Red.

I loved Cooper going all Rambo with Mystery Agent Man and not backing down.

The only thing that I thought was obvious was the kidnapping scene as I was looking around for Dembe and he was nowhere to be found. I adore Dembe, by the by, all strong and silent type looking and all. Fabulous!

I can't wait for Monday night. What's up with Lucy?? WHAT'S UP WITH LUCY???!! I love The Blacklist.....
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The better question is Why hasn't Tom left Lizzy? It's 6 of one, one half dozen of the other but it gets his story line out of the show. Time to fish or cut bait on Tom's role. Is he a spy or is he being set up? Seems Red knows everything so why would he be lying about Tom? But at the same time, he's so invested in Lizzy why doesn't he DO something about the situation with Tom. PROVE to Lizzy he's not who he says he is...Maybe he really is a nice guy and a patsy..I'd like him better if he was, because frankly he's a boring ass spy!
As for this episode, I thought it was OK. Red's gay PA was the highlight of the ep. for me. As ridiculous as it was that a guy could just prance into a room where they're holding Lizzie guarded at gun point by ONE guy, the only way it could have been pulled off short of Red just shooting the guard was the way it was done. It was funny as well. James Spader totally makes this show on a lot of levels. Agree with the analysis that it's HIS show and the other characters are just supporting cast.
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Wow! You read my mind WORD FOR WORD!...:-) Go figure....hhmm....

I spent a good hour arguing with myself over why Red will not DO SOMETHING ALREADY ABOUT TOM!!.....??. I mean, he went all in and completely destroyed everyone but the banker in the Anslo Garrick episode...hhmm....am STILL puzzled as to why he killed everyone but the banker??? If someone could let me know why Red didn't kill the banker you will save me an hour of debate each night trying to figure that one out. He killed the poor paramedic. Red is a baadddd man......*delicious shiver*...

Red obviously knows something, or believes he does about Tom. Why has he not acted when he has always acted in Lizzie's best interest????

Red IS the show. Am torn between wanting them to give the supporting cast more to do and wanting to shout to all to get out of the way and let Red do his thing all show, already!....:-)

The highlight for me, besides the gay PA thingie was Red dancing in his tuxedo!!....*swoon*. Bestill my heart.

I am almost embarrassed to admit that I actually want to rush the weekend to get to Monday so I can watch the show! Wow, must reread what I just wrote. What a show....
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Red playing the gay role, was sooo awesome...
Love how he kills people, like it is the most normal thing to do...
First i tought poor Lizzie...her hubby is leaving her, but then i thought...good that he is gone...he was only complaining and nagging and there is really something off with that guy....so she is better off..
And the scene when walked into the hotel/resort proved it.. in seconds he was already flirting with another woman...bastard!!
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Odd that Red didn't seem to suspect a setup when he realized Madeline was attending the event.

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Not really, since they had an history together. If it would have been anybody else he probably would have.
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I'm REALLY not getting where they're going with Tom. Let me see if I can summarize...

* Red insists he's not who he says he is.

* Tom really seems upset about the baby. If he's not who he says he is, why would he put the marriage at risk this way? This suggests he's who he says he is.

* SOMEBODY sent that tart to study and seduce Tom. That suggests he's NOT who he says he is. Unless Tom's not really the target and they're really just trying to isolate Liz.

BTW, Kudos to the writers for thinking enough of the BL audience to NOT remind us over and over again that the substitute teacher is actually a spy. They're counting on us remembering that from a few episodes ago. Cool. Too many shows will do a flashback from 10 minutes ago to remind the brain-dead audience why something was significant.

What do YOU all think is up with Tom?

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Well, the problem here, which leads to the confusion, is that whichever theory one puts forth is contradicted by facts or Tom's behaviour.

My first idea was that the character was introduced to bring a little bit of romance (or cuteness) into the prevalent cold-killing psychopathic aspect of the show. Then the writers/producers realized that it was not really necessary (and was rather boring) and have decided to write him off. Maybe Raymond and Madeline would now be the new couple in the series.
But then there are those darn passports and the gun that have been discovered early in the series...

Then there is the spy theory.
I don't remember the whole Tom&Liz' time-line but he said that they spoke for 6 months about the baby and waited 1 year and I don't think that they talked about that on the early days of their marriage so I assume that they've been together for at least 2 years. I've found on the internet that an FBI agent's training last 20 weeks. So, I figure that he was not assigned to spy on Liz 19 months before she decide to go train to be an FBI agent. She was just another girl then. What was there to spy really? Her lasagna recipe?
An interesting take there would be that he is really a spy and was planning to marry a good-stay-at-home American girl to blend in and go about is job but... holy fuckin' shit, as Debra Morgan would say, she wants to be an FBI agent. Lets try to bring a baby in the mix. Double shit: it doesn't work also... So, all that's left for him to do is leave her and try again with another woman so he can bloody do his darn spying job. Then he may reappear in a later episode revealing himself and bringing informations he gathered to the team. Which means that this was planned by the writers/producers early in the series and it would be absolutely "hats off" creative.
Some have suggested that he was there to spy on her adoptive father. The guy died a few episodes ago so the mission is aborted... Then he must be happy that she doesn't want the baby so he has an excuse to leave. That too would have had to be planned early in the show but would be rather lame.

Let's not forget that Elizabeth Keen without Redington is just another FBI agent.

I like GreyMinerva's idea of him being an "implant" rather than a spy, but I don't think that he was put there by her estrange father. I think he would have tell Red when they spoke at the hospital since he was dying.

My favourite theory is that he is a professional assassin.
Someone, somewhere, found out that Elizabeth Whatever is Raymond Redington's daughter and they send Mr. Keen to seduce and even marry her in order to stay close so they eventually have leverage over Red if he becomes a threat. If that's the case and unless they've sent their worst asset would the guy shut is bloody mouth and do his job? "It's okay, dear, I understand... If you're not ready for the baby it's ok. We'll see later. Don't worry. I'm fine with that." and don't whine every time her job interferes with your plans. Wouldn't he play the "super supportive husband" who's ok with everything. His job is to stay close to her not to start an argument that could lead to a breakup.

See how whichever theory one puts forth is contradicted by facts or Tom's behaviour?

The only thing that would fit here is that he is a "sleeper" assassin. One day he gets a phone call, hears a trigger-word, go somewhere to get an envelope which states his mission, gets the necessary gears and papers, does the hit, comes back, gets another phone call and he his back to the genuine Tom Keen that we know, having absolutely no idea of what his other personality did. If that is the case and he's been put in play by someone who wants an eventual leverage over Red, they won't let him leave her.

There is a new master-vilain in the shadow and we may discover by the end of the season who he is and what role Tom plays in the equation.

Season finale: "Mr. Redington, we have your daughter."
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Okay, all these posts have been just as good as the show!! Am going to have to get offline and have an argument, with myself, to see which one of you all are right. Ack! You all sound right!! How can everyone be right with fifty thousand possibilities being tossed around???!
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When I suggested he was put into play by Lizzie's "estranged father", I didn't mean Sam - I meant the "career criminal" who apparently abandoned her as a child. At first, it appeared that this happened when she was 4, but this latest episode suggested that he might have taught her some of his skills, which, coupled with the statement from the pilot that she "raised herself", indicates that Sam came into her life several years later - perhaps even as late as 14, when she got the scar (if I remember correctly).

So: If her father is The Adversary (which has been suggested, but the "career criminal who abandons his family" doesn't really match the picture we have of some massively powerful and mysterious villain in the background, behind or in opposition to the semi-legit government group threatening Red), he could have lost track of her when Sam adopted her and only found her again when she was all grown up and head of the mobile psych unit in NY (remember, she didn't enter FBI training straight out of college).
At that point, putting a nice, undemanding homebody husband in her path to keep an eye on her, keep her safe and off the radar, would make sense (in the Blacklist sense of things).

If she is closely connected to Red (I'm leaning towards her NOT being his daughter, but having some other connection), then putting Tom into place to keep an eye on her and sabotage any attempt from Red's side to bond with her could also make sense (but he's doing a pretty bad job of it in that case).

All in all, I'm confused and frustrated and want him to show his cards (i.e. turn out to be supernasty badguy with a nice showdown and comeuppance to be handed out at some appropriate time), or fold (i.e. cheat a little, whine some, and then leave/get kicked out).
Sooner rather than later.
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Ok. didn't have to go through 13 episodes... Found out Sam died in the "General Ludd" episode (8).
It was said in that episode that Sam took her when she was 4 years old.

I also found out something else. In that episode, Red demanded to have access to the FBI's "Violent Criminal Apprehension Program" database where he looked up a certain Lucy Bridges aka Catherine Haynes who strangely looks quite a bit like the woman Tom bumped into at the airport...

Something is cooking... :P
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Yes, it was said that he took her in when she was 4 - but that doesn't really jive well with a few other statements, like how she "raised herself" (I suppose she could have been referring to her life up to that point), or the hints that she may have learned a few tricks from her background (I don't know about you, but I wasn't up to learning pickpocketing when I was 4, I had enough trouble dressing myself...).

Also, I thought it was established that "the tart" IS in fact the woman from the VICAP database?
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"Strangly looks quite a bit"? Or, definitely looks like her?

If it's her, it's highly probably Red hired her to deal with Tom -- for whatever reason Red has for not trusting him and apparently trying to put a wedge between them.

That's the best explanation for the tart I've heard, yet.
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Also, the worst dangers she could ever be exposed to occur on her FBI missions, where Tom never is, and where she also is mostly in contact with Red.
So he would be implanted to keep her safe from what? And how?
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By trying to get her to back away from her career, at least the high-risk missions with Red; she just finished training as a profiler, which would be a lot more deskwork and looking at crime scenes after the fact than the more "pro-active" work she does with Red, so it was Red coming in from the cold that messed up the well-structured life she was looking at.
Investigative work with a strong psychological element, a baby to come home to - if you're looking to keep her safe, that probably sounds ok.
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Wasn't it confirmed in the discussion Red had with Sam at the hospital that Red was the biological father? Isn't it why he killed Sam afraid that he would reveal the secret in his last days?
So, wouldn't Red be the one who abandoned her? He is a career criminal... (Darn, I would need to re-watch everything).
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As Kallenprice97 says, it wasn't confirmed - Sam wants to tell her "the truth", Red praises him for being her father and says that he could never take over that position in her life or some such - but no confirmation that he IS her father.
And yes, there's the outright denial when Lizzie asks him point blank.
And they may be playing us, but the actors and crew seem pretty adamant that he is NOT her father, and the UST seems to strengthen that claim (or this show is much creepier than it seems).
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No, not confirmed. But, lots of hints. AND, an outright denial to a point blank question. But, we know Red is a great liar, so...

We're all still left guessing.
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If he IS a spy/someone put into play to control Lizzie, getting a baby and tricking her into staying at home with it would be a very effective and harmless way of pulling her away from Red and also tying her closer to Tom.
Someone who doesn't want her harmed (her estranged father?) but wants her under control might use a method like that.

Putting the "hussy" into play to seduce Tom doesn't mean he's a plant, far from it. Her employer could be looking to break up Tom and Lizzie to isolate her and make her easier to control (face it, that could be Red), or get blackmail material on Tom to turn him into the kind of undercover sneak we believe he already is.
If he IS a pro, he should know better than to fall into bed with some tart just because his assignment isn't going the way he wants it to.
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Interesting thought that it could be Red who hired the tart. (BTWm, she's VERY good, at her act, isn't she?)

I have a hard time conceiving of a realistic reason for anyone to hire Tom to marry her and adopt a baby just to pull her away from Red or to get her away from her job. Seems awfully elaborate.

And, yeah, so my biggest confusion is that if he's NOT a plant, why the tart? And, if he IS a plant, why is he falling for the tart?

YOUR theory that the tart could be Red's would help explain the first part of that.
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Actually, I was sort of thinking Agent McScary was SENT by Red to stop the investigation. BUT, given Madeline WAS dirty, I can see why her peers (bosses?) would want to quash any investigation that might uncover some dirt.
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Oops. I meant Diane.
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I love my husband more than my own life; BUT if he turned into Tom I would gut him like a fish, wrap him in his own skin and use his entrails as the ribbon. The whining moron HAS to die; seriously, I'd do it for just some chocolate cookies and a Hershey bar. They don't even have to be expensive cookies.
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Oh, and by the way. I absolutly hated that ignorant rendention of Istanbul in the beginning. All the women were wearing weils as per american prejudice of an arabic/islamic country. In fact, the times I've visited Istanbul I have rarely seen weiled women on the streets (in mosques is a different matter). Fact is Istanbul is a very "european" city and for a number of years under the leader Atatürk, weils and "arabic" clothing were prohibited. Conclusion - do better research america - don't just give in to your self-inflicted ignorance
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So here's a thought that occured to me while watching - Pratt and Lizzy looked rather alike. A long lost mother? Now no reference was made to anything of the sort, but hey, it woould be an interesting twist?
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Seemed to me he was adding it to his art collection as he placed it in front of the painting that made itself prominent in an earlier scene. Thought, seriously, innocent art collecting may have become an hobby since his personal life became void since losing his family? Maybe I thought that since a family member did the same. I doubt it, I'm guessing it has a thicker plot as the show seems to be following current day political affairs - the Russians, Syria and now capturing stolen art (The Monument Men)?

Tom, boring?!? I don't think so, I think it's one of the most intriguing piece of the unfolding plot. Am I alone?
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He said at the beginning that he did not own the art pieces nor the house...
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I was curious why people thought Red wanted the statue at the end of the episode. I thought he wanted a reminder of Madeline, but did anyone else have another idea?
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The case was a bit of a McGuffin hunt, but a few points are worth mentioning:

Tom has always been a bit of a whiny bitch if you ask me. All this moaning about their relationship, and the baby, and going away together for some "us" time makes me wonder who's wearing the dress in their house. The only reason to keep him around is to see what Lucy wants with him, and whether he's really a spy/assassin who's on to her game. Please let there be more to him than what we've seen.

Liz has secret cat burglar skills? Possibly a criminal past? Who saw that one coming? OMG! If Tom really IS a spy, they could be like Mr. and Mrs. Smith! And what does the FBI do for a background check these days? They missed her father, and they apparently missed a whole lot of her early life. And how do they react when they find out? Do they suspend her pending an investigation into her previous criminal activities? No. They send her off to steal something for them. Which she screws up.

Red's origin story: They cagily avoid confirming if it' was true or not, but Red has a habit of drawing on painful memories, and then making light of them when asked, so the story he told to con Madeline may have been the truth. It also matches previously revealed details about that night.

Cooper's mysterious visitor from the Washington branch: So does he really work for Red, or possibly for Fitch? The higher ups aren't squashing the Fowler murder investigation in the name of justice after all. More unseen forces manipulating things.
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I think Special Agent Martin was working for Fitch. Someone pointed out on The Daily Reddington tumbler that they both are found of the phrase "abundantly clearly" and it would make sense he'd want the investigation shut down, because if Cooper investigates Diane it will lead them back to Fitch's organization. My prediction is that Cooper will not stop digging and Red will have to save him from Fitch.
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In defense of the FBI and their background checking skills, Liz was never caught, so there was no record to find. As for her "criminal father", that isn't Sam they are talking about, that is her biological father the "criminal father who abandoned" her and his identity is obviously a secret even from Liz because she asked Red if HE was her father. She doesn't know the identity of her biological father, only what little she has been told by Sam and we know Sam has been keeping the truth from her in accordance with an agreement he made with Red. Her adoption by Sam was clearly not on the up and up, there was definitely some forgery and cover up going on. Taking that into account it is not surprising the FBI missed it.
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Looks like they're going to take Tom's character out of the series... It's about time. Unless he's a spy or some kind of "sleeper" assassin (triggered by a keyword and forgetting what his alter-ego did afterwards) I don't know why they created that boring character.

If it is to fill up the time when they miss a few minutes for the required length of the episode, heck, a trivial discussion between Red and Lizzie about the Supermarket's specials this week would be more interesting than anything this guy has to say. Even his proposals for some weekend getaway sound booooring.

As for the episode, well, not the best but... hey... I've said it before, Spader can hold the show by himself. I just think that he should be careful not to let his mouth's acting go overboard at the end of each sentences. It just may get annoying with time if he does it too much.


Really? Transferring your ID card on you overcoat when you go out, and, not even checking if it felt when someone bumped into you? I usually call that cheap writing...
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I don't think Tom's character is about to be written out, I think he's about to become 1000% more interesting by FINALLY being exposed as the spy he is. They might get rid of him at the end of the season, but I think we will have Tom The Spy around until then.

I agree, the heist was ridiculous on many levels, I mean not only was the guy jossled 3 times without checking his badge, but twice it was by the same person, and she didn't even change her clothing. Also when someone hires you for a heist and fails to mention they are showing up, your first thought should be that they are setting you up. Bottomline the procedural plotline was dumb, but it usually is, so it wasn't that big of a let down and there was lots of Red to make up for it.
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Not complaining, but reading this review as James Spader makes it 100 times better.
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Ok, now I'm intrigued - do you mean "in James Spader's voice" or as if YOU were in fact James Spader - or some other possibility I haven't thought of? :D
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I meant in James Spader's voice with the diction of Reddington. However, I'm now curious what it would be like to read this AS James Spader.
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This was the worst episode to date and I would give it a B or B-. The writers air-mailed this script because it was something we've seen in just about every series since... (I don't want to date myself...lol).
That said, it still was entertaining and it gave up some valuable information so I am willing to forgive and forget.
Guess it's saying something about the quality of the series thus far but I hope they don't make a habit out of some of the ridiculousness that happened here.
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I would disagree, The Alchemist was way worst, by being both ridiculous and severely lacking in Red.
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Just in case anybody was wondering why this show has been so successful...this episode encapsulates all the reasons, and most begin and end with James Spader.

We're not talking about Mannequin or Supernova James Spader...we're talking about Sex, Lies & Videotape and Crash James Freakin' Spader. Take him and put him together with an actress who by all rights doesn't have the resume to share the same sound stage, but one with whom Spader has fantastic chemistry in Megan Boone and it almost doesn't matter what the story is...it's gonna be fun to watch.

Case in point, there really wasn't much to this episode. Some statue with spy names or bomb locations hidden within it...blah, blah, blah. But like so many things that are entertaining, it was far better than the sum of it's parts. The plot just served as an excuse to put these actors in various situations. The scene with Red and Liz at the embassy was good, the one with Red and Madeline in jail was better...WAY better. And it used a camera trick I quite like of focusing in on the person who is hearing as opposed to the person who is telling. This was made even better because of the surroundings and that their eyes were almost all that could be seen, until the camera started focusing in on Red. Just great!

Personally, I'm not entirely sure where the truth lies in Liz's story, there's a lot of grey in there. But I believe that Red's tale was 100% true right down to the pain of loss being a big motivator for him standing Madeline up all those years ago.
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I agree with your assessment 100%. The key to a happy blacklist viewing is to let go of the ridiculous case of the week and instead focus on how fun it is to watch Red.
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To be honest, I thought this was the worst episode to date. I could see the plot from miles away, Lizzie was her unattractive self and the villain was lured into a trap that was really unsurprising. The latter at least to us viewers as Red would never have been captured for the second time after his previous abduction so it had to be staged. I almost felt insulted as a viewer.

As for Tom. I don't know his back story and why he is (has to be) with Lizzie, but I do get why could be interested in other women.
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I'd agree but then again I think we are in the minority^^
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Knew the capture scene was a "V for Vendetta" moment but I still liked the acting of the two of them. You knew Spader would turn the corner but the kicker was him being so immaculately dressed and too cool for school after writhing on the cell floor which had me laughing at him as well as Madeleine's response to it.

The gayish PA scene was overdone but Liz even with these new found criminal skills and tacked on criminal past is somehow becoming dead weight again and I had high hopes for her character after Anslo Garrick as she seemed most capable and believable in that episode. So not sure what the missing formulae is to improve our cheering for her as we do Red, after all isn't she the protagonist, our entry to this bizarre situation?

I always felt sorry for actors that had to play the nagging wife of the law enforcement hero of a show, always getting the shrew lines and making the audience hate them cause their husbands are keeping the world safe dammit!! But Tom is no different and even the relationship stuff is shallow, his potential infidelity doesn't have the same complexity as say Mcnulty's affairs on The Wire, it's all just matter of fact and dull, somebody get this guy a baby already - sheeesh!
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McNulty, like the rest of The Wire, was raw, intense and felt real for the characters. Peter gets some extra screen time compared to hose other police wives, so there will be something extra in the series for him. But I'm not interested(yet?).

I agree with you that Spader is 80% of the reason I look at this series. He is fantastic and plays the role, even in these unsurprising scenes, very well. He makes me wonder what it is all about and Lizzie certainly does not.

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