The Blacklist Episode (1×18) Review – “Milton Bobbit”

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The Blacklist’s Tom and Liz Keen Embark on a New Beginning

This week’s episode of The Blacklist had Liz feed the group a new case so she could investigate her husband Tom. With the help of Red and Dembe, Liz was able to gather evidence to help her uncover his true identity. Luckily, Tom’s suggestion that they renew their wedding vows gave Liz the opportunity she needed to probe into Tom’s past thanks to the arrival of Tom’s “brother” Craig. Meanwhile back at the Black Site, Ressler and the team went after Blacklister #135, Milton Bobbit, who uses terminally ill and mentally unstable people as assassins. Now that Liz is playing at being Tom’s happy wife, will the strain of knowing that Tom isn’t who he claims become too much for Liz to handle? So let’s jump in and take a look at episode 119, “Milton Bobbit!”

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Sleeping With the Enemy

From the very beginning of the series the writers have played around with the audience getting us to question whether Red’s claims that Tom is a bad guy are in fact true, or one of his manipulations. Sure Tom had a box full of money, fake passports, IDs, and a gun hidden in the floor, but on the surface he seemed like a good guy. He seemed to genuinely care for Liz. Always there to be a shoulder for her to cry on and fix her romantic dinners. Handsome, thoughtful, and kind, Tom appeared to be every woman’s dream. Then Jolene Parker arrived on the scene and Tom’s facade began to crack. Once he began a flirtation with this “other woman” it became clear that Tom wasn’t perfect, but does being imperfect make a person a spy?

The Blacklist - Season 1

Liz: Tom , everyone, the thing is when you asked me to renew our vows I thought it was odd. And then I realized how much we’ve been through in such a short time. So much has changed, but the more I thought about it I realized that this is the beginning of something amazing. A new chapter. A new us. And I waited to take this opportunity to stand in front of you, and all our friends, everyone we love, and tell you how excited I am about what’s coming next, because I have a feeling that it’s going to be one hell of a ride.

Of course we all thought Tom was a creep. James Spader is the leading man after all, so if he claims someone is a horrible person he must be right. Even in this age of Walter Whites, Tony Sopranos, and Dexter Morgans, anti-heroes who do bad deeds all for “the greater good,” the protagonist is always right. He’s the one we root for. He’s the one we hope wins in the end when all’s said and done. This is why Tom had to be the bad guy. Now that it’s been confirmed that Tom is in fact spying on Liz, we no longer see the great husband. Now we get to glimpse the real man behind the mask. This is where I think things on this show will really heat up. Whenever there are characters operating with out all the facts that we as viewers possess, it can be frustrating watching them stumble around making mistakes. Now that Liz knows Tom is spying on her, these two characters are on equal footing, and I think the show has become even more interesting. Tom wondering how much Liz knows and trying to cover his tracks shows just how much care Tom has put in to his life with Liz. First Jolene, and now Craig have remarked on how in love Tom seems to be with Liz. Going forward we’ll have to ask ourselves how much of his life with Liz is a lie, and if Tom wishes any of it was real.

The Blacklist - Season 1

Spy Vs. Spy

I know I said Red was the anti-hero of this series, but that when you think about it he’s not the protagonist. Liz is. When Red came on the scene it sure looked like this show was about him. He was this ex-agent/criminal mastermind these folks have chased for years, and now has the FBI working for him. But this isn’t what this story is really about. It’s about Elizabeth Keen. A woman who’s transforming from a rookie profiler fresh out of Quantico, to something more. Liz is the reason Red showed up at FBI headquarters to turn himself in and offer to help bust some of the world’s hardest to catch criminals. Tom may be after Red, but he decided to use Liz because of her mysterious tie to Red. No matter how you look at it all roads lead back to Liz.

Liz: You have been threatening to tell me the truth about Tim since the day we met. Now I’m listening. What do you have to say?

Red: Little more than you.

Megan Boone has done some of her best work on this show in the past two episodes. She has taken Liz from an extremely naive rookie agent to a woman determined to uncover the truth at all costs. A woman who would invite all of her and Tom’s friends and family just so she could lift a few prints. A woman willing to smile at her lying husband and take him to bed in order to kept up the ruse that everything’s alright just so Tom will feel safe and let down his guard. This is the Liz I think we’ve all been waiting for. Now that she’s arrived I have a feeling that what she told Tom is right, “This is the beginning of something amazing.”

The Blacklist - Season 1

Father Knows Best

Just as soon as Red and Liz swapped places as The Blacklist’s protagonist, Red’s fatherly instincts have emerged ten-fold. Many viewers have been holding onto the notion that Red is Liz’s father, and You can count me as one of them. All the signs are there. Red lost his daughter, and Liz became an orphan. Red’s wife died and so did Liz’s mother. Red was close to Liz’s adoptive father and has some mysterious tie to her that’s caused everything that’s been happening to her. Even though Red’s already told Liz he wasn’t her father, he could have lied, couldn’t he? Who knows? Maybe he did and maybe he didn’t. What we do know is that Red does love Liz and wants what’s best for her. Even though he’s been the reason Tom has infiltrated her life along with other “agents” in his organization, Red has done his part to protect Liz from harm. Now that Liz is in the know, won’t it be interesting to see how their relationship changes as we go forward? I, for one, am really excited to see what the series has in store for us.

And the Verdict is?

The writers have artfully crafted Tom’s character development over the course of the past few episodes. Writer Daniel Voll did an excellent job this week making sure all the characters got featured in some way, but without their appearance feeling forced. If I have one complaint about character development on this show, it’s how much Parminder Nagra (Meera Malik) is underused. Aside from that, I’m enjoying how Liz is evolving as a character. Now that Liz knows about Tom, the writers have a chance to really develop Liz into a lead character we want to succeed. Director Steven A. Adelson keep the tension high from beginning to end. Craig’s skydive out the window was unexpected and added to the creepy scene at the end when Liz asked Tom about his brother. As soon as Tom told Liz to stop I was sure he knew, and thought they were about to battle it out in their living room.

After Liz’s breakdown in last week’s episode it was vital to see her pick up the pieces and take action if she’s ever going to pick up the mantle of the show’s protagonist. As touching as the scene of Red comforting Liz was as they discussed Liz’s memories of the song from the music box, this week the naive Liz was gone. It was as if Red locked that part of Liz away in the music box after he was done playing her childhood song. Good riddance! Though I’ve missed James Spader dropping snarky one-liners as he looked mischievously into the camera week after week, he needed to get relegated to the B story if Liz was ever going to get the chance to be front and center. Megan Boone has been and continues to be wonderful, but Spader is a difficult cat to play opposite against in a scene. He’s just that damn good. So mesmerizing that everyone else seems to fade into the woodwork. Ryan Eggold has also really stepped up to the plate in these past several episodes as the now murderous, treacherous Tom. Eggold does a fantastic job of walking that thin line between good and evil that it’s been awfully difficult to determine if he’s feelings for Liz have all be a lie as he claims. Like Liz I look forward to what’s to come, because “I have a feeling this is going to be one hell of a ride.” Until next time…

Blacklist File #153…

  • Milton Bobbit is dying from complications of diabetes and a clinical trial he underwent that’s cause him to lose his nose and be plagued by ulcers on his skin that constantly ooze blood. Was I the only one shocked that his nose was fake?
  • Tom’s “brother” Craig Keen’s real name is Christopher Malley.
  • If Craig isn’t “Craig,” then are Tom and Liz really married?
  • Red gets an old friend who works at the University of Science and Technology in El Salvador to run Craig’s prints, even though Red slept with his wife. Who cares if “She’s slightly cross-eyed and there is something very hypnotic about her gaze?” Sounds like a sweet deal to me!
  • What’s your favorite version of Tom: Glasses on or off?
  • What do you think the mystery key goes to and do you think there’s more stuff hidden around the house?
  • DEMBE TALKS! I didn’t know he could do that. Not only did he talk, but he’s obviously an HGTV aficionado. He and my mom would get along swimmingly. “Chicago Skyline” anyone? Funny how I never thought about him and where he spends his down time until now.
  • Didn’t all of Red’s talk about yogurt pretzels make you hungry? Apparently they make the writers hungry too, as creator Jon Bokenkamp told us they’re a writer’s room staple. YUM!
  • Any theories on BERLIN? Do you think it’s a person, place or thing?