After a momentous, information-heavy episode last week, it’s no surprise that The Blacklist hit the brakes — but not too forcefully.
“Guillermo Rizal” focused less on the content of the information revealed about the real and fake Raymond Reddingtons and more on the emotional fallout of that reveal. On one hand, that was a frustrating — if predictable — development. Red (James Spader) refused to share with Liz (Megan Boone) further details or even a historical rationale for his choices all those years ago. The show lets him get away with that kind of behavior too often.
On the other hand, the conversations the two did have about how they might move forward now that Liz knows what Ilya did to become Red were worthwhile and compelling. The characters were relatively direct with one another, creating a real conflict that didn’t seem tethered to lies and obfuscation like normal. Liz wanted more information but also expressed her gratitude and desire to move forward. Red couldn’t do the same, indicating his inner turmoil over how to proceed with a person who he loves deeply but fundamentally betrayed him.
Discover your new favorite show: Watch This Now!
The Blacklist is greatly improved when these two characters speak openly with one another. While Red holds a completely hypocritical stance given his numerous lies and deceptions toward Liz, the show has been pretty clear in presenting Liz’s decision to get him arrested as a significant betrayal. Morally, neither character is fully in the black. The difference here was that Liz is more comfortable with that; Red can’t reckon his daughter’s choices with his own (flawed) moral code.
Liz’s newfound peace toward her fake father and her tumultuous life impacted another generation of the family as well: her daughter Agnes. The season took a sudden shift when Liz had a change of heart regarding her search for the truth on Reddington, but at least the show has been consistent in this approach for many episodes. This episode brought the clearest expression of why Liz stopped fighting her father and all the mysteries so much. She’s had a really, really bad time of it since, well, The Blacklist began. Red is one of the only constants she has, so it (mostly) tracks that she’d want to hang onto him. And after learning that he has mostly been operating in her best interest, there’s less of a reason to keep Agnes far away. No matter how awful it has been, or how dangerous the cabal might be, she wants to keep her family together.
The Blacklist‘s Amir Arison Was Very Scared to Take a Swing at James Spader
While Reddington tried to push pause on the truth-telling with Liz, he did discover new intel regarding Anna McMahon’s (Jennifer Ferrin) search for the dossier. The episode’s case was structured in a fun way, with some wild pseudoscience involving genetically mutated kids and climate change dovetailing with a professional tracker who McMahon was also utilizing to find the dossier.
McMahon remains a cipher and not a character, but the episode featured some patented weird Blacklist flourishes during the investigation. Reddington hiring a beekeeper as a torturer is next-level criminal genius behavior, and that the beekeeper had a bumbling son apprentice made it all better. The real Blacklist spin-off should have been about Reddington’s rogue’s gallery of bizarrely specific criminals!
Somehow, there are only two episodes left this season. It’s likely that the pursuit for the dossier and the showdown with McMahon will take precedence over additional information regarding Reddington’s past. But the conflict between father and daughter should make for enough intrigue along the way.
The Blacklist airs Fridays at 8/7c on NBC.