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THE BLACKLIST Fall Finale Review: Death and Betrayal in “Kings of the Highway”

BY The Screen Spy Team

Published 8 years ago

THE BLACKLIST Fall Finale Review: Death and Betrayal in

By Kai Greenwell

The Blacklist's Fall Finale sees Reddington’s counter strike against the Cabal finally at the ready stage.

Red tasks Dembe with picking up a care package while he and Lizzie hit the road. However when Liz goes to the bathroom while Reddington fills the gas tank, she returns to find him gone, kidnapped by this week’s blacklisters - The Kings of the Highway.

Liz asks Navabi for help and for her to keep it from Ressler, but things backfire massively as Aram and Ressler discover her personal and professional betrayals respectively. Navabi is fired by Ressler, who then pressures his boss to chase up a lead on Solomon, unfortunately leading  to her death.

Meanwhile, Tom, Karakurt, Harold and his wife are forced to flee Solomon and his hitmen. Karakurt seems compliant after finally grasping that the Cabal are trying to kill him, not rescue him.

In the end, Liz and Dembe are forced to trade the care package for Reddington’s life, and Reddington flees as Ressler ambushes the exchange and secures Dembe, the care package and after an arduous chase, Liz.

I’d Love It if a Plan Came Together

Mid-season finales have seen a surge in popularity over the last few years and love them or loathe them, they’re probably here to stay. If only one or two shows had mid-season breaks, people may lose interest and move onto other things, but now with most networks doing it there are no real disadvantages. For the network it’s easy marketing — “only TWO more episodes until the fall break!”– it stretches the show over more of the year, in addition to offering a short enough break to come back just before people’s attention starts to wane. It also allows shows to have twice the number of premieres and finales, which usually see the highest ratings of the season.

There are some downsides for the audience, however. The process of splitting a season into can turn one good story into two rushed halves, sometimes also leading to Spiderman 3 Syndrome – the curse of too many villains, who are introduced only to be killed off or arrested at the mid-season break as a minor and usually bittersweet victory for the heroes. The main problem though is viewer awareness, wherein we know that our protagonist’s plans are going to be somewhat undone to give us a cliff-hanger to mull over for a couple of months.

The Blacklist has played to this though and quickly began foreshadowing that Liz’s future exoneration was not a definite thing. The, initially alluded to and then outright stated, shift in focus from the future to the present made it seem like the characters, not the audience, were the ones who were jaded and could see disaster inevitably looming ahead. Instead of a big splash of drama and problems for the characters there has been a crescendo building since the premiere.

The writers seem well aware of these issues and how to curtail them, most evidently in how close Reddington, and to a lesser extent Solomon, push towards cliché. Their characters push just close enough that they remind us of archetypal badasses from TV and film history, laughing at threats, taunting their foes in Shakespearean fashion, but then stop just short of being campy Bond villains by knowing when not to ham it up, when to say something biting and real, as in Red’s disgust at the bigoted views of a crucified man.

The Blacklist returns Thursday November 7 on NBC.

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