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The Blacklist Season 1 Finale Recap: Will the Real Berlin Please Stand Up?

THE BLACKLIST -- "Berlin Conclusion" Episode 121 -- Pictured: James Spader as Raymond Reddington -- (Photo by: Virginia Sherwood/NBC)

In an interview on Today yesterday, James Spader told Al Roker that after this season’s finale, fans may think we know more than we actually do. And that’s probably a good explanation as to what happened in the episode. Sure, three or four questions were answered, but approximately 37 other new questions came to light.

We found out that Sam wasn’t Liz’s real dad. Her real dad died in the fire — or did he? We found out who Berlin is, though it isn’t the guy we first thought he was. And most importantly, we found out that the best peaches are freestone, not clingstone. Freestone peaches pull away from the pit for easy consumption.

This season finale pushed all of the right season finale buttons but still seemed slightly anti-climatic. Sure, we got deaths (Meera! Tom! Fake Berlin!) and things are set up for the second season rather nicely, but didn’t it seem rather predictable, as if the writers knew they had to bring the first season to a close in a particular way and set things up for next fall? If you really think about, we’re in the exact same spot we were earlier this season, only with fewer cast members and a new bad guy.

So a plane crashes in New York City, in a scene eerily reminiscent of 9/11 (and even includes a cameo by Today’s Matt Lauer). Some of the guys are killed, but some survive and are captured. Some get away. The team thinks that Berlin got away too, and we’re led to believe this is the case as well because Tom brings the agent list to Fake Berlin. Not to sound all Tuesday Morning Quarterback, but wasn’t it obvious that guy wasn’t Berlin, that Berlin was actually the guard the team questioned in the hospital bed? His story was too dramatic, it was too convenient he was in bed talking freely, and we could all see someone under the beard well-known enough to say, “Yeah, I bet that’s Berlin and he’s going to escape at the end of the episode.” It was, and he did.

And he wasn’t the only one who escaped. All that trouble to find and capture Red again, and then we have Agent Martin and Alan (I’m assuming) conspiring to let him escape in the transfer so he can figure out what’s going on and stop it. Good thing strangling that driver makes the car crash in a perfect, non-lethal way.

The scene where Meera has her throat slit is certainly grisly and sad, but also irritating. While the scene is shocking in the sense that one of the team members actually died, the scene is also predictable the way it was shot and paced. It was also somewhat annoying because, let’s face it, was there any way that both Ressler and Meera were going to get out of that nightclub alive? The loud music, the lights, the crowds, the confusion, they were separated. Couldn’t they have gone to the club owners and told them to shut down the music and turn up the lights? I don’t think I have ever been in a night club like that, where I could hear myself think, let alone talk with a normal voice to someone else. Couldn’t they have gone up to the manager and said hey, we’re looking for bad guys, so turn off the damn lights and music?

But killing a team member — and almost killing Cooper, the head of the team — certainly raises the stakes. Will the team be killed one by one until only Liz is left? This plot seems both big and small at the same time. We think it’s going to be something international and epic and important, but it all comes down to Berlin having a grudge against Red for some reason, and he wants to get the list of the agents so he can kill them all. That sounds like something he could have gotten months ago and taken care of earlier. Of course, we don’t know what the real reason Berlin has for doing this, and maybe it’s bigger and more important than we know.

The episode — and the season — ends with Liz and Red talking on the steps about what happened during the season and what they’re going to do during the hiatus. Well, no, but the conversation could have been about that, because it was an obvious “let’s wrap up this season and use some dialogue to preview season two, which will start off on Monday nights as usual but then move to Thursdays at 9.” Liz: “That man, Berlin, he’s out there.” Red: “Yes, and we’re going to find him.” But this is okay, I guess. Season finales should be expository in some way, it just probably would have been better if it wasn’t so obvious. Of course, TV shows used to end their seasons without a cliff-hanger at all, and we liked it! Then again, this wasn’t really a cliffhanger in the classic sense. A big part of the first season’s plot was taken care of (we know who the bad guy is, Tom is dead, and Red and Liz are back together to solve more cases!). Now we just have to find out why Berlin is after Red, and why he has a picture of a girl in his pocket watch. The same exact picture Red has. Hmmmm….

The final shot is of Red, taking off his shirt. Hey, are those burn scars on his back? Yes. Yes they are.

Random Notes:

— Parminder Nagra is now off the show (unless we find out next season that she survived because she was wearing a fake neck and is now in hiding for some reason), and I can’t say I’m surprised. Her role has always seemed odd to me. She’s somewhat well-known but has always been a minor supporting character, brought on for a scene or two here and there to move the plot along.

— How in God’s name is Cooper still alive? He’s strangled with wire in his car and his gun is also drawn in the fight. But he’s still alive and no one was there to rescue him? But he survives?

— I almost liked Tom at the end. At least he paused a bit while holding the gun on Liz, and I actually believed him when he said he was sorry. Though I wonder why, if he had enough time to tell Liz “your father is still alive,” you’d think he could have just said, “Liz, your father is _________.”

— So who was the guy eating the apple earlier this season? What was that all about? Did they ever explain that for certain?

— Who do you think Liz’s dad is, Red or Berlin? Let us know in the comments.

Quote of the Week:

“That stuff you use in your hair … is that Brylcreem?” — Red, to Agent Martin

Photo: NBC