In this current landscape of watercooler TV, where unbelievable plot twists, sudden character deaths, and fan theory puzzle-bait all compete to keep viewers endlessly on the edge of their seats, it’s refreshing to watch a landmark episode of TV that eschews the spectacle in favor of an hour of solid entertainment.
The Blacklist, now in its fifth season, chooses to celebrate its 100th episode this week with an old fashioned heist, and a stock take of its two leads, Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone) and Raymond Reddington (James Spader).
Part Dan Brown mysterious legendy stuff, part Ocean’s 11 reluctant bedfellows stuff, the action kicks off with a treasure hunt, as Red (Spader) sets out to collect 4 legendary coins, that when combined in just the right way, will point the way to unimaginable riches in the form of wads of Federal Reserve notes, redeemable upon request.
Red is already in possession of one of the four coins, thanks to his earlier brush with Greyson Blaise (remember the episode that featured Red ‘borrowing’ a mansion by Lake Como, and setting up a high-end art thief, all so he could steal his 3 million dollar coin? Yes? Well, now he’s on the hunt for the remaining three.)
But Red is not alone in his hunt for the other coins. He has a formidable but likeable adversary in the form of Abraham Stern (guest star Nathan Lane), a cunning manipulator who has devoted his life – and the lives of many innocents – to recovering the fortune that is his birthright. It seems Stern’s father left all four coins to his young son in his will, which Stern Jr., not understanding their value, stupidly blew on candy, then spent the remainder of his life attempting to reacquire.
Catch the opening moments of the episode below, which includes Red’s startling introduction to Stern.
The episode features just the right amount of cat and mouse antics before Red and Stern settle into an uneasy partnership. While each has something to offer the other, we can’t help but feel an inevitable betrayal is just around the corner.
While Red is preoccupied, Liz takes the opportunity to cover her tracks following her sloppy handling of Robert Navarro in last week’s episode. Liz has an apartment to clean and a body to dispose of, and what better way to do that than to look into the Blacklist files to see how some of Red’s adversaries handled their affairs?
But while Liz is scrubbing fingerprints off surfaces and giving Navarro an acid bath, she is alerted to the fact that she may have left some damning evidence behind in the form of a dish rag she used to staunch the flow of blood from a wound she received from a shard of glass in her fall.
Knowing that the bloodwork will confirm her presence in Navarro’s apartment, and subsequent involvement in his disappearance, Liz comes up with an ingenious way to both get herself out of trouble and assist Red in his penny quest, without his knowledge. Get ready to see Liz out-Red Red in the best way possible.
The student has definitely become the master.
And finally, although The Blacklist has a penchant for dark and ominous endings hinting at things to come, this week’s closing moments are sure to leave a smile on your face as Liz and Red share a personal — but ultimately ludicrous — moment together.
If money was no object what’s the very first thing you would buy?
The show’s 100th episode may not be clever, or filled with cryptic puzzles and plot twists, but it is a well written, entertaining and solid hour of TV, filled with all the trademark Blacklist moments fans have come to recognize and love over the years.
The “Abraham Stern” episode of The Blacklist airs Wednesday, January 17 (08:00PM – 09:00PM) on NBC.