THE BLACKLIST’s “Artax Network Network” Delivers a Somber & Poignant Installment
By Kai Greenwell
The Blacklist returns on a sombre tone with the team all heavily shaken from attending Liz’s funeral. Harold just manages to get out the last lines of Liz’s eulogy before losing himself to tears. Aram follows suit and recites a poem over her casket, fighting through tears the whole time.
Red finds the person he was looking for, apparently Liz’s grandfather, and continues his wallowing, albeit with company now. He gets little sympathy from her grandfather though, who says it was Red’s meddling that killed his daughter and likely killed his granddaughter too.
At the hospital, Tom struggles with parenthood again, questioning himself at every step and begging Harold to let him loose on those who killed Liz so he can feel useful again.
Meanwhile, Aram pressures Dembe for Red’s location and then tries to persuade Red to help them locate Liz’s killers. Red tells him he can’t help, but Liz’s grandfather hears their conversation and adds pressure to Aram’s plea.
Later we see Aram in his apartment crying, only to be interrupted by Red telling him to gear up.
Finally we see the team mourn the loss of Liz, both directly at her funeral and more subtly throughout the episode. Whilst there was an array of emotions seen in mourning Liz, there was one constant across the team – everyone wanted to act but felt held back. Harold was held at bay by his boss, Ressler struggled to do anything with the few leads he had and Aram struggled to focus and felt they needed Red’s help if they wanted to get anywhere with the case. Conversely, it was only Red who wanted to sink into a bottle of quality single malt and blur the days into one long, morose binge session.
Seeing career conman Tom fail at swaddling his daughter was odd. The man can lie and kill his way into any position he wants, but add in that constant panic of parenthood and he’s just as useless as the next man. People seeing his struggle and the unifying loss of Liz have seen the last barriers between Tom and the team fall, for now at least.
Red climbed out of his psychosis for long enough to find Liz’s grandfather and tell him the bad news, but after he was met with hostility he continued his slump. Only Dembe telling Aram Red’s location was enough to snap him out of it. While Dembe was clearly just doing Red a favour, it’s yet another example of one of his subordinates having questioned him or gone behind his back.
Have Tom and Harold identified Katarina Rostova? Given how much she has been mentioned and her ghostly presence last week, it would seem so. Regardless of whether or not she is Liz’s mother though, the fact she met Harold Cooper’s new boss – is every high ranking member of the government in someone’s pocket? – is cause for concern.
Even in his saddest moments Aram still delivers some levity to the show. It seemed bizarrely out of character for Aram to have pulled out a joint but then completely made sense when we see how desperately he pulls on it whilst saying he’s struggling to cope. This small scene worked on so many levels, continuing The Blacklist’s effort to pay attention to zeitgeist. It really cemented Aram’s place as one of the best written characters on The Blacklist.
Not only is he one of the best written characters, but he’s quickly becoming one of the most important. He has a unique relationship with Harold, with agent Navabi, he’s one of the only people whom Tom hasn’t knocked heads with and most importantly has probably the strongest relationship with Red besides Liz.
His ability to sway Red is monumental. The team often have too confrontational a relationship with Red and can only hope to pester him into submission, and while Dembe has frequently disagreed with Red, he rarely convinces him to stop what he’s doing. Aram seems to be the only capable of getting through Red’s defenses and making him listen.
With Liz out of the picture, for now at least, it will be interesting to see how strongly Red and Aram bond.