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THE BLACKLIST “Drexel” Review: Red Chases a Murderous Banksy

By on February 19, 2016
The Blacklist

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

By Kai Greenwell

Last night’s episode of The Blacklist was all things drama when Red meets Liz and informs her about an underground “artist,” and this week’s blacklister, Drexel, who stages murderous tableaus as a form of unsubtle political art.

Red is the one leading the investigation this week, tracking down Drexel through an underground reporter who interviews the dangerous or criminal. The team meanwhile follow the investigation through more regular channels and are one step behind Drexel the whole way, as he is watching them through any networked camera he wants. Their investigation is essentially led by Drexel to make them uncover an illegal surveillance operation and shut it down.

Meanwhile, following his near fatal shooting last week, Tom recovers, but is probed by the police. They bring in the jeweller Tom robbed in order to identify him, but are disappointed when the man claims Tom in fact works for him. The doctor, an old friend of Liz’s who is begrudgingly on Reddington’s payroll, informs them Red learned of Tom’s situation and intervened. After realizing how much she cares for Tom, Liz decides to keep their baby.

Red uses the reporter as bait to catch Drexel. Claiming that he has been employed by one his enemies to make a painting, Red pressures Drexel into giving up any information he has. The information takes him to an art dealer who shows Red the painting – a picture of Liz standing over a grave marked Reddington 

A Murderour Banksy Paints an Overly Dramatic Landscape

The faux pathetic fallacy in Red’s meetings with Liz was a strange choice. The writers were perhaps aware of the cliché of having actual thunder and lightning in the background and instead chose to emulate their earlier successes of acknowledging cliché – with the introduction of Solomon for example – and working with it. The episode never lightened from then on either, sticking with a tiringly dramatic tone throughout.

Liz’s shift in attitude towards Red still feels somewhat bipolar given she was hugging him with tears of joy just a few episodes ago. Ignoring the abruptness of this shift though, the groundwork is being laid for him to be turned upon. Liz blames Tom’s injury on Red, her old friend is trapped in his service, his incessant “protection,” and Harold Cooper’s outright confusion as to what Red is up to – things are aligning and not in Red’s favour.

Red’s death portrait was a tad dramatic even for The Blacklist, with whoever commissioned it is venturing into really over-confident supervillain territory. Being given a view of his grave as a gift felt jarringly theatrical, and was very reminiscent of a scene from an early Harry Dresden book.

The second half of this season has definitely seen a spike in the creepiness of each episode’s blacklister and this week’s murderous Banksy was no exception. While the last few blacklisters have definitely been interesting it’s been some time since the show has flipped pop-culture on its head, with the premiere’s showcasing the power of social media and later the dark side of crowd funding coming to mind. Seeing underground, virally shared art – essentially a nod at Banksy – turned sinister was an interesting, but slightly underdeveloped concept.

NEXT: S.S.D.D.

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