The Blacklist Episode (1×21) Review – “Berlin, Pt. 1”

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The-Blacklist-Review

In This Week NBC’s The Blacklist We’ve Learned, Berlin: It’s Not a Place, It’s a Person.

Berlin’s not a place, it’s a person. At least that’s what viewers on NBC’s the Blacklist figured out back when Tom burned down his lair a few episodes back. Not that that means anything with this show, but it was definitely a very good guess. While Liz dealt with learning the truth of how her father Sam died, the circumstances surrounding the new case forced her to deal with Red. Not only is Berlin a person, but apparently he’s after Red and is the glue that binds all the Blacklisters together. Besides, didn’t Liz make it clear that she wanted to get her hands on Tom and figure out who he works for herself? The show wants us to believe that in one fail swoop Liz will not only learn who put Tom up to weaseling into her life, but how it is she’s connected to Red. Who could pass that up? Since this episode is the penultimate and not the finale, not much happened except the other agents discovering the truth about Tom Keen, and repeated Liz/Red bickering sessions. On a high note, John Glover appeared as a crazy virologist who created the antidote for the Cullen virus used to kill folks. Yay! While a decent entry, “Berlin, Pt. 1” was nothing to crow about. So let’s discuss the episode!

  The Blacklist 1x21 2 

“Right now, the only real way through this thing is right through it.”…Liz was being understandably petulant this week considering that another person she trusted lied to her in unbelievable ways. Then again, I kind of feel it’s her fault. Wasn’t one of the first things Reddington ever said to Liz when she asked him if she could trust him was, “Of course not. I’m a criminal”? The thing I remember most from the many years I watched Oprah was some advice Maya Angelou gave her: “People are who they tell you they are.” Red told Liz he shouldn’t be trusted, admitting he’s untrustworthy. Period. End of story. Finito. So why is she surprised? Because she didn’t listen. I want to like Liz. I really do, but it’s moments like these that really irritate me as a viewer. Liz started off in the first half of the season as a strong character, but she hasn’t maintained that. It’s ok for a strong female character to show weakness. Being distraught over learning her husband was a backstabbing snake who was tasked to “love” her would make any woman crazy. However, Quitting her job and stomping off like a child having a tantrum should be beneath Liz. Apparently not.

The Blacklist

“A plan devised that doesn’t care how many people die, as long as I’m one of them.”…Liz may not have forgiven Red for killing Sam, (and who can blame her?), but finding “Berlin” would not only protect Red, but would give Liz the answers she’s been waiting for. After weeks of watching Red and Liz find a wonderful balance between obligation and friendship, it was disheartening to see them at odds. When Liz suggested that Red had used his crazy friend to try to ensnare her back, the mistrust was palpable. Especially considering that very recently Liz took everything Red said as gospel. As much as Liz mistrusts Red, Red was obviously hurt by the prospect of loosing Liz for good. Though he was willing to cut her a lot of slack, I liked that there were limits to how he would allow Liz to treat him. One of the best illustrations of this was when Red pointed out to Liz how stupid it would be for her to fly coach to their next destination instead of flying aboard his private plane. It was because of this push and pull that the final moments of Liz begging Red to flee after the Agency decided to apprehend him, though touching, seemed disconcerting and bizarre. Then again, nothing about Liz’s character appears solid, as she is the show’s weakest link.

Red: What are they going to do? Kill me? None of it’s worse than losing you.

The Blacklist - Season 1

“I can assure you the way this task force is heading, your career is also in question.”…After ages of running her own investigation on Tom, Liz finally decided to come clean. It’s been a long time coming that the rest of the characters learned what was going on. Too long in my book, as the secrecy has been too unrealistic to suspend belief. Now Liz is back under the spotlight as an unknown entity with the wrong kind of connections. Surprisingly, Cooper had her back, but is that enough? Probably. I think we all know the Black Site isn’t going anywhere, or there wouldn’t be a show. However, it was nice that someone at least threatened to shut the show down. Now as we go into the finale, everyone at the site’s career is on the line, and maybe even their life. By the end of the show, “Berlin” had touched down on American soil. Who is he/she? What do they want? How are they connected to Liz? are just a few of the questions that need to be answered, and probably will be left hanging as we head into season 2. But keep hope alive!

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Jon Bokenkamp and John Eisendrath wrote an episode that seemed to tread water as we headed into the finale. We never saw “Berlin.” Liz decided not to quit the Agency. Tom is still in the wind, but did manage to send Red a parting gift in the form of one of his associate’s tattoo. Ew! Too bad, as there are way too many questions left unanswered as we head into the finale that it’s obvious they’re not going to be resolved this season. Then again, we could be surprised.  The previews for the second part of this episode make it appear things will be explosive, so there’s reason to hope, but we’ve been burned before by the promo department. (Last week’s big reveal, for example.) Director Michael Zinberg did an excellent job with  Red and Liz’s scenes by showing how their emotions colored their actions. Even though we didn’t see “Berlin” this week, Zinberg managed to keep the anticipation for the big reveal ramped up throughout the episode. Whether it was just merely seeing the back of the villain’s head, or watching as Ressler and the gang siphoned though the evidence of the baddie’s arrival. Plus, the scenes of Cooper looking at the evidence Liz collected on Tom in her lair were expertly done. As the camera panned over Cooper’s shoulder to show the evidence board, it made me feel as if I was seeing the clues for the first time through Cooper’s eyes. While this episode won’t go down as one of my favorites from this season, I’m hoping that hindsight will be 20/20, and that just maybe I’ll find a new appreciation for it once I’ve seen the complete picture.

 

Questions…. Comments… Concerns…

  • Nice touch that the villain of the week, Niklaus Vogel, was injected with the Cullen virus he so readily used to kill others. Plus, it gave us hope that the better version of Liz (the badass version) was lying beneath the surface. Just hope she could come out to stay.
  • Red was awfully quiet this week. He must really be worried that he’s going to loose Liz. Except for his friendly quips during his visit to the mental institution, Red kept the snark at a minimum this week.
  • Not happy that the other agents have been sidelined the second half of the season. Now, instead of being characters, they’re just stand-ins for the audience. Kind of sad since we’re supposed to actually care that they may be fired or worse. Considering they may as well be cardboard cut outs, why bother?
  • Red’s motives for coming to the FBI have been laid bare. Not only did he want to get close to Liz, but he also needed to be protected from “Berlin.” Not really news, per se, but it was nice to have confirmation that all of the Blacklisters were connected.
  • Does Tom know the truth about Red and Liz’s connection? After last week, it seems learning that tidbit isn’t why he sticks around, but because it was known he could use Liz to get Red to come out of hiding.