To talk about Friday night’s very engaging episode of The Blacklist, it’s important that we establish one thing first: it is increeeedibly unlikely that Raymond Reddington is going to die by lethal injection. That would be like killing Jimmy Kimmel off of Jimmy Kimmel Live. Raymond Reddington is…kind of why we’re all here.
Well, we’re here for him, and just as importantly, his relationship to Elizabeth Keen. But you can’t have one without the other. For that reason, it’s been difficult to become too invested in the stakes of Raymond Reddington’s pending execution — not to mention, death has a way of not entirely sticking on this series. So, tonight’s episode made the very smart decision not to ramp up the tension on the literal stakes of Red dying, but instead, to focus on what Red’s impending death would mean emotionally for the rest of the ensemble. We know this likely isn’t goodbye for Reddington, but seeing as he’s strapped down to a chair, swabbed in the very last moments of this episode, everyone inside the show could — and should — think this is the end.
And the end is a good time to give it everything you’ve got; to leave no stone unturned; to orchestrate an Ocean’s 11-style pickpocket scheme; to force yourself into two meetings with the President of the United States. It’s also a good time to say “I love you.”
This lens of culmination makes for one of the more emotional episodes of The Blacklist in recent memory. And it feels good to have experienced that emotional catharsis through these characters, all the while knowing: it’s very likely that in the 10 minutes immediately following the blackout that ends this episode, someone is going to figure out a way to save Raymond Reddington from a federally-mandated lethal injection.
I have no idea how they’ll do it, but I can’t wait to find out — and that’s a successful result of this execution story line in and of itself.
BASTIEN MOREAU, NO. 20
When I say I have no idea how Reddington’s life will be spared, I mean I really have no idea. My most commonly used note while watching this hour was, “hmmmmm.” Since the very beginning of this season, Red has been cobbling together Blacklisters and siccing the FBI after them as some sort of attempt at salvation. But those attempts have been a little all over the map: sometimes it’s evidence for his legal defense, sometimes it’s an escape plan, and more recently there’s been talk of a “conspiracy” that Red apparently uncovered somewhere within tracking the last 10 or so Blacklisters. Of course, we don’t know what this conspiracy is, when exactly he uncovered it, who it involves, or how it will save him.
But this episode makes one thing clear: everything — and I mean, everything — started with Bastien Moreau.
He was the last patient to have his appearance surgically altered by Hans Koehler (y’know, because he murdered him afterward) in the premiere of season 6, which led Liz to discover that Fraymond Freddington was also a former patient of Koehler. Bastien’s plot to bomb the United Nations in episode 2 of season 6 is what eventually led Red to uncover a conspiracy that involves the very highest echelons of American government, the uncovering of which he considers his only chance at escaping lethal injection. And you have to admit, “I’m going to blackmail the President of the United States” is riiiight up there with “I’m going to steal the Declaration of Independence” in terms of plans so zany they just might work.
How Red goes about blackmailing the President is a slightly more complicated tale. The episode opens with Moreau on the phone with the same female voice we heard instructing him during the United Nations plot. Since that plan failed, she tells Moreau they’re in crisis mode. He says to tell her boss to chill: “It will be handled within two days.” We finally see the woman on the other end of the line as she gets out of a car at the White House…and tells security the president is expecting her.
Whatever is happening here, Red thinks it’s big enough to use as leverage for the president to issue a commutation of his execution, which is scheduled for the day after next at 12:01 a.m. Red tells Cooper the first step in uncovering the conspiracy is stealing account information from a bank in Luxembourg. As Liz further explains to Cooper at the Post Office, Red assumed the Cryptobanker could lead him back to the mysterious man in Cairo who’s at the center of this conspiracy, but the man in Cairo sent the money to someone else via an account at a Luxembourg bank. Now they have to find out who that account belongs to.
Or rather, Liz says she and Dembe have to find out; what they’ll be doing is illegal, and she won’t risk getting everyone else in trouble. But when she boards Red’s jet to head to Luxembourg… there everyone else is, waiting to help her, no matter the cost. This declaration of familial love, coupled with the fact that Aram has just found out about Samar’s aphasia and issued his unending support, and you can go ahead and count me in as, uh, a bit of a mess. Luckily, there was plenty of upcoming action to dry my tears… (Recap continues on the next page)