When the first season of The Blacklist ended, we were finally introduced to Berlin, the man that everyone was talking about, the man everyone was afraid of, the powerful man Tom was secretly working for. It looked like the show was setting up Berlin as the Big Bad, the enemy that Red and Liz and the team would be up against for the show's entire run. But not only did Berlin not turn out to be the villain that the good guys would try to capture and kill week after week, his motivation wasn't even really what we thought it was. It wasn't a "take over the world" type of thing; it was personal, and as the season went along, we saw the show was going to take a different route than expected.
Here are the ten most important things you need to know about The Blacklist after this week's season-two halfway point.
Liz Kidnapped Tom!
What secret was Liz keeping behind a metal door? This is probably the twist that most fans saw coming. We knew that Ryan Eggold was still going to be on the show, even if Liz did shoot him in the gut at point-blank range in the season-one finale, and we saw that the man in the hoodie following Liz all the time was actually a guy Red hired to protect her, so we knew Tom was behind the door on the ship. He's bearded and chained to a wall and pleading with Liz to let him go (or if she's going to kill him, to look him in the eyes when she does it).
This week, after Tom kills (with his legs) a witness to everything Liz did and the fact that he's still alive, he convinces Liz to let him go in return for information about Berlin. We'll have to see if this was a good idea or a bad one (Ressler thinks it's a bad idea, and so do I), and we'll also have to see if Liz, in some way, actually still loves Tom.
Poor Donald Ressler. When he isn't getting beaten up by women or dealing with the death of his girlfriend, he grapples with a pill addiction. At one point, he runs out of pills and actually smashes his hand in the door of his car on purpose so he can get a prescription for more. It starts to affect his performance at work, but he refuses to see the company psychologist. After having some problems and almost getting killed in the woods by a crazed hunter of humans, Ressler throws the remaining pills down the sink. We'll have to see if he stays sober.
Red and Dembe
How did Dembe become Red's assistant/protector? As a child, Dembe was kidnapped after his entire family was slaughtered by the Mombasa cartel. Red rescued him and also paid for his education, and now Dembe is his close friend and bodyguard.
Yes, Naomi, Red's ex-wife who knows the secret Red is keeping about Liz, is still alive. She's in hiding with a new husband and family. After Berlin shows up, Red and the team go to her to tell her that she has to leave again. But Berlin ends up kidnapping her to draw out Red, mailing him pieces of her just like Red did to Berlin's daughter (or so he thinks). Red rescues her. Naomi's new husband Frank doesn't want to go into hiding because he thinks he can protect her. After Red talks to Frank's mistress, Red convinces him to leave with Naomi and go into hiding again. And as a nice gift, Frank and Naomi get his mistress's dog.
No, not the Decemberists. The Decembrist, with one "e." This is the guy who ordered the 1991 bombing in Russia that started Berlin's entire plan in motion. Red and Berlin team up to find the Decembrist, and it turns out it's ... Alan Fitch (Alan Alda)!
Fitch not only killed several people, he also used the Stewmaker (one of the creepier bad guys from season one) to convince Berlin that his daughter was dead, too. But she turned out to be alive.
Fathers and Daughters
Remember the woman at the food truck that Red befriended, and by "befriended," I mean "got to know and then spiked her red wine and kidnapped her"? For several episodes, we all thought that she might be Red's daughter, but she turned out to be Berlin's, alive and well. Red brings her to Berlin to prove to him that she's still alive and he has to stop this crazy vendetta against him. Of course, she eventually gives Red info on where Berlin is in exchange for money and a passport and a new I.D. That's the last they see of each other, as Red shoots Berlin dead after they finish off a bottle of vodka together.
This is someone used as a signal to Fitch that Red wants to meet with him. A man with flowers shows up at a committee meeting that Fitch is involved in, and Fitch leaves immediately to meet with Red. Seems like an elaborate way of telling someone to meet you, but at least someone got some nice flowers.
Unfortunately, after Fitch meets with Red, he's kidnapped by Berlin's men and a electronic bomb is placed around his neck.
This is the combination of Fitch's safe. He tells Red he has to get to it. The date is the birthdate of Fitch's wife. It's also the birthdate of baseball player Tug McGraw, but that probably has nothing to do with the plot.
After Fitch is rescued from Berlin's men, there's still the matter of the bomb around his neck. But this is a sophisticated bomb, and after Fitch is put in Red's cage to hold in a possible explosion, Fitch tells the bomb squad to leave because he knows there's no way to disarm it and he doesn't want them to die along with him because they have families. A nice last gesture.
What's the Fulcrum? We have no idea what the hell this is, but it's important, and before he got his brains splattered on the walls of the cage, Fitch asked Red if he really had the Fulcrum. Red doesn't really answer, but Fitch says he's worried that with his death, the moderates of the secret organization might not be able to stop the more extreme members. This might hurt their chances of stopping what's going to happen in 2017 (I guess the show is confident of several season renewals), and that this is as much as problem for Red as for him. Fitch tells Red to talk to Mitchum and Hobbs, two members who could be on his side in all this. This will probably be a major plot point of the second half of the season.
The Fall Finale Shocker!
Every finale, whether it's season, series, or fall, has to have an "oh, wow" moment. At the end of the last episode of the year, Tom goes to a bar to meet with someone. It's Red! Red gives him an envelope, probably filled with money and a passport and a new I.D. like he gave Berlin's daughter (Red must keep a bunch of these around, since he has so many people working for him), and tells him never to come back. And then Tom says to Red the line that everyone will wonder about for a couple of months:
"For what it's worth, the four months I was on that ship, I never told her about us."
[CUE DRAMATIC MUSIC]
How long has Tom worked for Red? We'll have to wait until February 1 to get the answer. That's when The Blacklist returns, in the primo post–Super Bowl spot. Until then, NBC will have State of Affairs with Katherine Heigl, which is from some of the same people who bring you The Blacklist.
In the meantime, here's a picture Megan Boone (Liz) tweeted during a party she had for the fall finale: