Just when I had begun to fear that The Blacklist was veering away from Elizabeth’s life as the central mystery in need of solving, it took center stage this week. I guess to be fair it played second fiddle to the Robin Hood of heart repo’ing unlicensed surgeons. Though Dr. James Covington’s operation and his ethics did play an important role in underlining how the events of the past year and her association with Red have changed the way in which Elizabeth sees the world. She’s no longer the black or white federal agent, she sees in shades of gray.
I think her partner was unfair in saying that this is solely because of Red. Elizabeth has been presented with a jarring reality: That life, even crime, is more complicated that she originally thought. Plus, let’s be real about this — there wasn’t anything THAT shocking about her letting a man finish giving a dying child new lungs before arresting him. There’s seeing things in black and white and then there is being basically a modern-day version of Victor Hugo’s Javert. Annnnd I’ve somehow managed to make a Les Miserables reference in my Blacklist recap. Go me!
This episode made it very clear that Elizabeth could in no way be Red’s daughter, albeit it in a strange fashion. The way they managed this was through the exceptionally canny opening sequence, where, in a dream, Elizabeth has to face both her would-be murderous husband who has come to tell her to question Red, and Red himself looming over Elizabeth in bed asking her what she really wants. It was a jarring adrenaline-rush of an opening scene, and while it wasn’t overtly sexualized, Red standing over Elizabeth as she was in bed, essentially cooing to her didn’t come across as being very paternal.
In her dreams Elizabeth is much more on her game than she is in reality. She is struggling to keep her life together, but it’s an act that’s not fooling anyone. From her boss to men she accosts in parking lots with guns out of a paranoid fear that she is being followed. But, because this is the world of Blacklist, it is her paranoia that will be both her blind-spot as well as being the thing that could save her — depending on how much she learns from Red. So far (though it’s early days yet) she hasn’t revealed herself to be that quick of a study. The episode closed with the “innocent man” she frisked revealing himself to be in possession of some serious firepower — mere moments after Elizabeth apologies to him for her behavior.
The entire episode served as an excellent reminder that we are watching people exist in a universe where no one can be trusted or taken at face value. Red’s dealings with the syndicate only reinforced this. As the partner who betrayed him to Berlin learned, even Red has an underlying morality (much like Elizabeth). For him, it’s about loyalty, while for Elizabeth it’s some nebulous idea of what ‘right’ really means. In closing, let us all take a moment to reflect on the wondrous splendour that was Paul Reubens this week. From the hair, to the turtleneck, to the early-era Bond-villain stoicism he adopted to his distaste for blood, Pee Wee stole the show.