THE BLACKLIST REVIEW: Liz Takes Cover From Assassins in “Arioch Cain”
By Kai Greenwell
Lizzie finds herself at taking cover from an assassin, the Wendigo, who concerns Reddington so much he seeks aid from Ressler and the team to keep Lizzie safe on this week’s episode of The Blacklist. During the course of their investigation they find that the Wendigo did not have a contract to kill Lizzie, an open bounty had been placed on her head instead.
Meanwhile, Ressler heads to a presidential commission looking into his failure to capture Agent Keen and Reddington and also questioning why his department is not sharing key information with the CIA. His tries to explain that he is wary of handing information to the Director while there are allegations that he runs the Cabal. The director outperforms him resulting in Ressler being forced to work directly with the CIA.
The episode also saw Lizzie and Red attempting to make contact with Dembe during a brief reprieve. Reddington’s associate Vargas (who we know has betrayed him) shows up and takes them to an airport under the guise of regrouping with Dembe. They are ambushed by Mr Solomon and his team, who threatens to torture and kill Liz in order to properly grasp Red’s attention. These threats are cut short when a wounded Dembe comes to the rescue, catching Solomon’s team off guard and dispatching them swiftly.
And elsewhere we see Tom taking steps to strengthen his cover with Asher Sutton and locate the Russians who may be hiding Karakurt.
Compare and Contrast
The in medias ras opening this week seemed a little off kilter for The Blacklist, being a trope regularly used by more procedural shows to inject temporary drama into a relationship where there is usually no conflict. This trope suffers from viewer awareness; we as an audience have simply seen it used too many times and know that what we are seeing on screen is most likely the opposite of the actual situation, with this week’s scenes all but guaranteeing Lizzie’s safety by the end of the episode.
In contrast, this week’s blacklister had a very interesting concept. Similarly to how they flipped the power of social media on its head in the premiere, this week saw the concept of crowd-funding put to a sinister use. A contract for someone’s death is posted on the internet and anyone who wishes to can add to the contract via Bitcoin, tempting both a larger quantity and quality of assassins to finish the job. Fresh ideas like this are what make the episodic elements of The Blacklist stand tall compared to other shows.
Tom’s closing monologue worked well in combination with the music choice, firmly shifting away from his dark past and having a distinctly Ocean’s Eleven vibe. Tom’s chapter in this week’s episode felt, for now at least, like he was moving towards a separate, lighter story for the show to contrast the increasingly dark path Lizzie is taking. However, he did just kill a Russian thug in order to taunt his superiors, so maybe we’re getting optimistically naive.
Aram got to shine this episode, being able to step in and interrogate a suspect who was baffling Agent Navabi with techno jargon. There has seemed to be a rotational spotlight this season of The Blacklist, taking turn to give each supporting character a moment to shine. Hopefully it will continue as so far it has allowed the show’s growing cast to stay interesting without having to relegate anyone down to a recurring character.
In another example of clever juxtaposition we see brains versus brawn. Moments after we see Aram undo the suspect’s plan and stop a killing, we see Dembe storm on scene killing in order to stop Solomon’s plan. These scenes played off each other fantastically and the change in pace from talking to action really added emphasis to Dembe’s assault.
Lizzie definitely shrugged some morally grey actions this week, seeming startled but not judgmental when Red let a man fall to his death and was completely unfazed when he later shot two different men to death in front of her. Lizzie spoke to Agent Navabi this episode telling her she was willing to take responsibility for what she has done but not for what she has been framed for. Either this acknowledgement and acceptance of future judgement has allowed to her to cope better with the situation or she is just becoming desensitized to Red’s habit of dropping bodies.