The Blacklist Episode (1×20) Review – “The Kingmaker”
Dembe eating marijuana laced ice cream was a hoot and a half, and Linus Roache as the Kingmaker managed to steal every scene he was in.
Liz flip-flopped back to making poor decisions and acting fragile. As much as I'd like to see a pairing between her and Donald, now is not the time, and the final scene felt a bit forced. Alan Alda was a welcome sight, but watching scenes without knowing anything that was happening was not welcome in the least.
NBC’s The Blacklist Brings the Focus Back to the Titular Criminal of the Week
Ever since The Blacklist returned from winter hiatus, the series has pulled it’s focus away from the Villain of the Week. Instead, the show’s main focus has been on Elizabeth Keen’s marriage drama, while the lackluster Blacklister offerings suffered on the back burner. That ended this week. In episode 120, the series introduced an interesting new bad guy named “The Kingmaker,” who helped politicians and world leaders rise to the top by using unconventional means. Meanwhile, Liz dealt with the emotional fallout of the photos in Tom’s safety deposit box. While the episode’s “big” reveal left much to be desired, it was fun again to watch a Blacklister give Liz & co. a run for their money. Kingdoms may rise and fall, but when you use murder and other unsavory tactics to achieve your goals, things are bound to go awry. So let’s dive in and discuss the episode!
Every Inch a King
Blacklister #42, “The Kingmaker,” was the go-to guy for politicians and statesmen when they wanted to get a leg up earlier than otherwise possible. Forget elections! Why wait until you’re up for re-election to advance your position when you can orchestrate it on your timescale? Killing your wife an option? No problem! The Kingmaker will give you the advice you need to jump ahead in the polls. That’s what ran through my mind as I watched the episode. That, and how in the hell do you find a guy like that? He can’t possibly be in the yellow pages. Actor Linus Roache was magnetic as the titular character, and was captivating as a man who finagled people into their desired positions. Isn’t the thought that people can murder their way into being in the Senate a scary notion? As we watched a man, Patrick Chandler, drive his family’s SUV into a river just so he could cry on television and act the hero for votes, Red wanted Liz to capture the Kingmaker for his own needs. Apparently, the guy had some dirt on Reddington that Red needed very badly. Too bad the Blacklister bit the dust before Liz could deliver him! Then again, after what she learned from the photos, would she have done what Red asked? Something tells me from the look on her face after the man asked that the answer to that one is a big, fat no.
Red: He’s singlehandedly responsible for the rise and fall of some of the world’s most pivotal politicians and statesmen.
Don’t Overestimate the Nature of Our Relationship
Alan Alda is back, y’all! And despite all this, we have no clue whatsoever he has to do with Red. One thing’s for sure: these guys have a history, and it’s not all sunshine and roses. As we already know, Fitch is a member of some secret society of politicos (?) who are doing bad deeds and Red, of course, is on their shit list. After getting a bead on the Kingmaker’s whereabouts, Red hoped Liz would had the guy over so he could get whatever the guy was holding on Red, and Reddington tried to use Fitch & Co. to help him get what he wanted. Out of the episode, this storyline was highly confusing. Maybe it’s because we know absolutely nothing about it. We don’t know who these people are and what they do. We don’t know what’s Red’s connection to them. Nor do we know what exactly the Kingmaker has on Red that he so desperately needs to get from them. There’s nothing wrong with a good mystery, but mysteries are like story problem. You have to have at least some of the information in order to solve them. If you don’t, then the problem is unsolvable, and what’s the fun in that? Absolutely none! Hopefully the writers will start handing over some of the answers, or this storyline will end up going stale. Oh, wait…. it already did. Next!
Red: These friends you mentioned. The ones whispering in the shadows. Tell them for me, “Shut the hell up!”
You’re a Monster
Thanks to Tom’s comments about Red being the one Liz needs protection from, and his mysterious safety deposit box, we finally learned that Red visited Liz’s father Sam in the hospital the day he died. Oh, wait, we already knew that! Seriously NBC? After a week speculating the photos held the answer to Liz and Redd’s connection, who Red is really, or if Liz really is his daughter, this is what we get. A stale reveal that we, the viewers, knew already since we actually saw Red visit Sam and later euthanize the dying man. Are you as mad as I am? The funny thing it’s not the writers fault. The purpose of this reveal was for Liz to develop further as a character. This is the fault of the people who edit the promos. It’s understandable that the network wants to bring in the viewers, but this show is already highly viewed, making these antics a pain in the A’s. Hopefully this will stop, but considering each week “Someone will die” on Revolution, let’s not hold our breath. All of this means that this revelation that got touted for weeks was a total bust. Viewers didn’t learn anything earth shattering, and if Liz’s world was as rocked as she tried to make Red believe, then she wouldn’t have sat on the info about his visit all episode until the Kingmaker case was good and wrapped up. Instead of going to Ressler’s for a shoulder to cry on, Liz should have kicked Red’s ass, and forced him to reveal everything. How he knows Sam, why she’s so important to him, and every other thing Red refuses to answer. We keep waiting for Liz to develop into a strong female lead, but her character development remains one of the most undeveloped, and it’s just plain sad.
Overall “The Kingmaker” was entertaining. Director Karen Gaviola really captured the difference in tone between what was happening with the Kingmaker case at the Black Site, Red and Liz’s scenes, and the mysterious council led by Fitch. While the Kingmaker plot scenes were full of light, darkness permeated those with Red and Liz, and Fitch & Co. appeared to exist in nearly complete darkness. We got to see Red at his best talking about past flings, threatening his enemies, and taking it well when Liz told him off. J.R. Orci and Lucas Reiter wrote one of the most interesting Blacklisters to date. We also got to see watch a case that was different from the other Blacklisters we’ve seen thus far. The Kingmaker was very suave, and his nonchalant behavior that exuded a “just business” attitude was eerily similar to Raymond Reddington. While the pace of the show was slower than last week’s, this was due to the episode being heavy with exposition, and lagged down by promises unfulfilled. Not only did we not get the huge reveal that was promised, but were forced to suffer though an episode with way too many unanswered questions, and not enough answers to make many scenes hold my attention. For a while there it appeared the series was shifting from Red towards Liz as the focal character, but her fluctuating development between fragile flower and tough as nails agent leaves much to be desired. Granted we all have multiple facets to our personalities, but Liz’s changes on a weekly basis. If the show doesn’t know who she is, how are we supposed to?
Tom’s Safety Deposit Box…
- Red had Dembe eating pot laced ice cream, and it was hilarious! With hardly any dialogue, Dembe has become one of my favorite characters. Can we get even more of him? Please!
- “You know me considerably more than either of us would like to admit. I will win this war. This enemy of mine will lose. Even with you and your short-sighted brethren watching comfortably from a distant hill. Why? Because as bad as you may think I am, as far as I am willing to go to protect those I hold dear, you can’t fathom how deep that well of mine goes. You think you’ve come here simply to say you can’t help me, but all you’ve done is to assure that when this is all over I won’t be able to help you. When the day inevitably comes that I saddle up with your little alliance, it will be you, Alan, alone in the dark.” That’s nice. Can you please let us in on what’s going on? How Fitch and Red know each other, or what war they’re fighting would be nice to get clued in on. I’ll be checking my mail to see if I get a letter from Red with the specifics. Wait… I usually get bills. Never mind, send an email, a raven, something!
- I know I said I was eager for a Liz/Donald pairing, but does’t homegirl have enough on her plate already? Maybe a romance should be tabled until season 2. Just saying!
- Did Red ever tell Liz where Tom got off to? While it was nice to see Ryan Eggold pop up in a commercial, unless he’s playing Tom, that’s not an answer.
- Red got caught in a lie this week by one of his “friends.” Red claimed he won’t swim, bunt supposedly was in the Navy. Hmm… will this be important later, or just a wasted line?
- Are we ever going to learn what happened (really) to Liz’s biological parents, or is that tied up with Why Red is interested in her?
- We may not know what Red was looking for, but the Kingmaker’s first target this week was Emil Dusek, a Prague Senator working with Red.