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THE BLACKLIST Review: Red Deals the Cabal a Deadly Blow

By on January 15, 2016
The Blacklist

THE BLACKLIST -- "The Director, Conclusion" Episode 310 -- Pictured: James Spader as Red Reddington -- (Photo by: Eric Liebowitz/NBC)

Last night’s episode of The Blacklist was a juicy payoff for fans patiently awaiting the conclusion of the Cabal storyline.

“The Director: Conclusion” saw Ressler and Aram assemble their respective teams and, now truly united, work to abduct the Director for one final piece of leverage against the Cabal. The Cabal, not so united, hastily attempt to have Liz killed at some point during her trial.

Reddington successfully abducts the Director, threatening to have him tried for war crimes with the aid of his Venezuelan associates if Liz is not exonerated, using Karakurt’s testimony to force their hand before they assemble a counterstrategy.

Big shifts happen with Harold Cooper retaking the helm at the FBI, the Director replaced by Hitchins, and Liz free but crucially, no longer an FBI agent.

“Hello Peter”

The Blacklist used a heist montage earlier in the season, using quick cuts and slick music to stylishly smooth over an averagely written robbery. The abduction sequence this week was a huge improvement, effectively using the cuts between different characters perspectives to make it seem as if they’ll almost catch the good guys, when in reality they’re long gone. It was reminiscent of one of the better closing sequences to long-deceased shows Hustle or Leverage.

“Hello Peter,” such a simple but powerful line. That and the hint of pleasure in Red’s voice tell the Director he is dead better than any of Red’s lengthy monologues.

By the end we see Liz released and exonerated of all charges bar the murder she actually committed. While it wasn’t everything she wanted, for the audience it was probably the best outcome. Far too often shows press the reset button and ignore the damage done to and by the characters in favour of keeping the procedural machine going.

What’s Next For the Cabal?

The final moments show us Reddington sitting with Laurel Hitchins – the new, on-screen at least, head of the Cabal.

The show has shown us many sides to Reddington to date. We have seen his warped sense of morality, how vengefully he deals with those he despises, his ever-present secret agenda and less frequently, but at periodic intervals to keep us reminded of who he really is, his ability to compartmentalize those feelings of vengeance when there’s a chance to gain more power.

He refreshed us on nearly all of these aspects of himself this week, with him almost breaking the fourth wall as he told the team – and us – that he doesn’t like to share plans, and he always has another angle. But the final moments of the show most obtusely showed this divide in Reddington. The Director’s horrible end is followed by Reddington sitting drinking with his successor. We’re left wondering if he’ll shortly kill Mrs Hitchins too. Is he joining the Cabal? Or perhaps taking over at its head? If so, will he dismantle the shadow organization from the inside?

Most likely, Red joins the Cabal to dismantle them in piecemeal steps, absorbing their areas of business and influence as he goes. After all, this is a man whose plan consisted of stealing back his illegal $100 printing plates from the FBI, to be handed over to a foreign government opposed to USA, while paying for hired help with his big stash of Coke. It’s been his formula since the start. Rarely has Reddington destroyed a foe. Instead he uses the FBI to remove them and assimilates their resources into his own.

With Liz now, symbolically at least, on Red’ side, he’s got to share for once or get comfortable with having to lie A LOT more.

The Blacklist continues Thursdays on NBC.

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