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THE BLACKLIST “Eli Matchett” Review: What Would Red Do?

By on October 16, 2015
The Blacklist

Pictured: (l-r) James Spader as Red Reddington, Megan Boone as Liz Keen -- (Photo by: Christopher Saunders/NBC)

By Kai Greenwell

In this week’s episode of The Blacklist Reddington decides that the best defense is offense, turning his ship around and locating a high value Cabal asset to attack. His goal is to shake the Cabal until they hear his message to exonerate Lizzie and turn over the Director to him. Reddington learns that a small group have attacked a Cabal facility – a massive GMO crop producer – and stolen extremely valuable trade secrets from them. He plans to liberate these secrets from this small group and begin his attempts to leverage the Cabal with them.

However, all plans turn sour after Reddington suspects Dembe is missing, the group he intends to chase have split up, their leader is in the wind and leaving a trail of corpses to follow, and Ressler is less than one step behind him the whole time, missing them by seconds at first and eventually forcing them to flee before they can recover the complete file with which to leverage the Cabal.

Red’s fears that Dembe has been taken are confirmed and Harold Cooper turns a new page, approaching Tom Keen for some off-the-books Cabal hunting.

What Would Red Do?

The case this week didn’t really feature a blacklister as such, but still presented an interesting villain whose true motives weren’t revealed until late on, resulting in the rare sight of Red winging it. This was a refreshing departure for the series, showing us Red’s innate talent as opposed to dropping in a conveniently placed associate to save the day. It also highlighted that right now, Elizabeth Keen is more burden than ally to Red, as they struggle to cope with the pressures of constantly thinking on their feet.

Harold Cooper escaped being written into his desk and out of the show by becoming a shoulder for the mentally wounded Agent Ressler to lean on and conversely using the information he imparted to contact Tom Keen and begin some outside-of-the-law investigations of his own. It was the Cabal that really set Cooper on this path of nigh vigilantism, but in using Tom as his own personal agent we see another character on the show channeling what Reddington would do. It leaves doubts as to how many characters will remain clean of his influence and of those that do embrace some of his actions, how far from grace will they fall?

Meanwhile, Mr Solomon’s mental assault on Dembe continues. The writing this season continues to creatively juxtapose Solomon’s brutally simple physical beatings with his much more Machiavellian mind games. He already used familial loyalty to get Dembe here and doesn’t seem to be one for needless repetition. Solomon uses Dembe’s stubbornness and mental fortitude against him, showing him that he every time he resists another man is beaten as consequence. Putting the man in the room with Dembe ensures even he will struggle with the morality of resisting. Also quite possibly the tortured man is a plant to lower Dembe’s spirit and trick him into revealing Red’s location, although this has been done before in many shows, most recently being USA’s Graceland.

Tom’s reintroduction to the story is the only area of the show that seems to demonstrate plot rewind. Perhaps it was seeing Lizzie branded a terrorist by the media that prompted his return, but last we saw, Tom was leaving the world behind in order to disappear. This needs exploration as it so far the only weak link in The Blacklist’s continually strong narrative this season.

NEXT: Lizzie Vs. Ressler

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