The Blacklist Recap: Sniffing the Air

Photo: NBC
The Blacklist
Episode Title
The Kingmaker
Editor’s Rating

In this typical episode of The Blacklist, we have a villain called the Kingmaker who is always sniffing the air. I assume he’s doing that because he keeps getting a whiff of the script and it troubles him. I say this episode was a typical one because we get a case-of-the-week that is rather pedestrian, which drags down the plot points viewers are really interested in: namely, what’s going on with Liz and Tom and who is after Red and what the hell does all of this mean and who are the good guys and who are the bad? We still didn’t get all the answers but a few things would brought into clearer focus.

So, the Kingmaker. He is responsible for the rise and fall of people in power, toppling regimes, assassinating people, doing whatever it takes. First he poses as a limo driver in Prague and poisons a man. The man wakes up later in a shabby hotel room, half naked, with a male escort dead on the floor. The police come to the door and arrest the man. He’s a member of Parliament and decides to step down because of the scandal and trial that is coming. Then he comes to New York and helps an assemblyman get some good publicity by having a planned car wreck that kills the assemblyman’s wife look like an accident. (This is actually a simplistic, rather lame plan that someone like the Kingmaker should have tossed aside and thought through a little bit more.)

Of course, the Parliament member knows Red. In fact, he was on the phone talking to someone about Red right before he was poisoned. Red goes to see another associate to tell him that the Kingmaker is behind what’s happening in Prague, to weaken their interests. It’s the same person who is trying to destroy Red. The associate tells Red that his “friends” are talking, whispering, saying that they’re only after Red. This is personal.

So it’s good that we’re getting into the nitty-gritty of the Red vs. Whoever It Is plot. Actually, that has always been a plot but there have been so many different people and organizations and teams and double-crosses that it has been hard to figure out what exactly is going on and why. With just a couple of episodes left in the season, it looks like we’re coming to some sort of climax.

But to get there we have to have these case-of-the-week episodes that, like I said, drag everything down. Sure, the bad guys are often good and smart (or creepy and smart), but they weekly random cases — even if they are connected to Red, like this one — always seem to end up in a predictable, mundane place that makes you scratch your head and ask, “THIS is what this was leading to?” Linus Roache (almost unrecognizable with slicked-back hair and his real British accent) was so good as the Kingmaker that you wish he’d show up later in the series to taunt Red and the team again. Instead, he’s killed in a rather quick, pedestrian way: Ressler simply shoots him in the head from behind while he’s strangling Liz, which means any info he could give to Red about the bigger plot died with him. Red wasn’t too pleased when he found out that he was dead.

But that’s not the only problem Red has this week. Liz opens the envelope that Tom led her too and to be — and I think you readers and I guessed this last week — pictures of Red at the hospital the day that her father died. Liz is shocked but Aram does some investigation and finds out that while Red was at the hospital that day he left an hour before her father died. This is one of the plot holes that The Kingmaker must have been sniffing at. Wouldn’t your first thought be “well, maybe the hospital didn’t find the body right away?” Later in the episode, Aram finds out that this was indeed the case, that the body was only found later. Red was in the room when Liz’s dad died.

I will give the show credit for one thing though: Red doesn’t lie about it when Liz confronts him. He admits that he killed him, but he did it because he was in pain and suffering and wasn’t thinking straight, and was going to tell Liz something he shouldn’t. So Red did the humane thing and killed him. She calls Red a “monster” and says that they’re done. Of course, before she left she should have held a gun to his head and demanded to know what secret her father was hiding from her but I’m sure we’ll get to that at some point.

The episode ends with Red drinking alone and thinking about what he’s going to do next and Liz going over to Ressler’s. She tells him that she doesn’t have anywhere else to go, and around the world the hearts of millions of Liz/Ressler shippers swell in delight.

Random Thoughts:

— I know Red is smart, but why did the accident on the bridge immediately make him think the Kingmaker was behind it? Besides the fact that the script demanded it, that is.

— Red said he hadn’t been in a pool since being a high school lifeguard. But his friend says he was “I thought you were in the Navy.” Another lie or does this man know a truth about Red’s past?

— I counted at least three times in this episode that someone said to Red or Red said about himself that Red doesn’t have any friends. Red seems to do pretty good for not having any friends. He knows people in power, a thousand people around the world do his bidding without hesitation, he flies on a private jet and eats in the best restaurants in the world. Maybe by “friends” they mean people who would help him move on a Sunday. Those are your real friends.

— Was Alan Alda’s name Alan in the previous episode he was in? I didn’t remember that and it threw me for a loop for a moment, like James Spader called him by the wrong name or something. I’m glad they made it clear that Alan and his gang aren’t behind what’s happening to Red. But I wonder if it’s someone we’ve already seen on the show or an entirely new character.

— I don’t pretend to know how the FBI works. I get all my knowledge of how it works from reruns of The FBI and maybe The X-Files, and I doubt you can count on the latter for accuracy. Do they always investigate terrorists and international crime and potential killers in teams of two? This was yet another episode where Liz and Ressler go some place by themselves, and while one of them goes out to call in to HQ or check another room or have a smoke, the other one is jumped and is about to be killed. If the Kingmaker hadn’t been killed so quickly at the end I’m sure he would have sniffed the air one last time.

Quote of the Week:

“I was a lifeguard my junior year in high school. I had to give mouth-to-mouth to Mrs. Beerman. She belched up a lung full of corned beef and chlorine and I haven’t been in a pool since.” —Red