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THE BLACKLIST Review: Liz runs, Ressler chases, But Only Red Outmaneuvers in “Marvin Gerard”

By on October 9, 2015

Megan Boone as Liz Keen -- (Photo by: Eric Liebowitz/NBC)

By Kai Greenwell

This week’s Blacklist episode finds Lizzie alone at the Russian embassy trying to secure her safety, forgetting her bluff of being an FSB agent and channeling Red as she uses information uncovered last season to buy herself some options. She still has some learning to do however, as all it buys her is a ticket to Moscow, a trip that will label her a defector and permanently stain her reputation.

Red looks to reassert himself into the situation by the blackmailing the Russian ambassador for information about her situation. He inadvertently finds out that it is not the Kremlin, but the Cabal who have organized Lizzie’s flight. He informs Ressler, who is seething as Lizzie drives off in a diplomatic vehicle that he cannot touch, that he must save her before she falls into the Cabal’s trap.

Ressler rams the Cabal convoy off the road but Lizzie escapes him in the confusion and regroups with Red at a nearby diner. Their peace is short lived as an anonymous tip forces them to take hostages as Ressler and the FBI arrive. Red demands electricity, safe transport and time with his attorney and blacklister Marvin Gerard. The whole event is a ruse planned by Red to get Gerard out of jail (he needs him to plan something Fulcrum related) and escape together.

A Matter of Control

Poor Agent Ressler spent the whole episode in top gear, bouncing from watching Liz escape, to having to save her life, to ending a hostage situation she started, with no break. While last week we saw him spiraling out of control, this week he was focused, adapting to each situation and pausing his crusade to bring Liz in to custody the moment he found out her life was in danger. His efforts to save her definitely improved his relationship with Aram and the team but may have repercussions that last throughout the season as he was forced to attack a Russian vehicle. A cabal agent survived and may have corroborated Agent Ressler’s story but Mr Solomon appeared by his bedside and nipped that hope in the bud. Ressler really cannot catch a break, and in may ways Lizzie’s lack of control mirrors his own.

The whole diner hostage situation is a clever scheme orchestrated by Red to acquire a new ally against the Cabal. The diner is a front for some sort of money laundering business and they escape through a hidden elevator in the backroom. While the scene was a cool concept, it’s the second time in two weeks Red has ruined an associate’s business just by showing up. If word got around people would start getting very worried if they got an unexpected call from Raymond Reddington, and maybe stop answering altogether.

The first season of The Blacklist was an episodic show with an overlying arc similar to many procedurals. By the end of the season we were led to believe each week’s blacklister was part of a giant plot by Reddington and none were simply “filler villains,” all making this big reveal feel a bit forced. Season 2 saw a shift away from episodic and towards a more serialised story and the result was great. Instead of having a bunch of interesting villains and then having to knit together why Reddington chose these guys this season, their episodes contained an explanation as to how they fit into Red’s schemes or the overall story. So far season 3 has further embraced this, with each week’s Blacklister fitting naturally into the episode and having a clear purpose.

A brief glimpse of Dembe and Tom’s return at the end of the episode act was this season’s ace up the sleeve for the time being. The duality of these scenes worked great, Dembe may have to unwillingly help the Cabal chase Reddington and Tom may willingly help Ressler do the same. These types of juxtaposition are helping build what may be The Blacklist’s best season yet.

NEXT: RUN LIZ, RUN

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