The Blacklist Season 9 Episode 21 Review: Marvin Gerard Conclusion Pt. 1

Revelations abound as Red confronts Marvin in the penultimate episode of The Blacklist season 9.

THE BLACKLIST -- "Marvin Gerard (#80): Conclusion Pt 1" Episode 921 -- Pictured: (l-r) James Spader as Raymond "Red" Reddington, Fisher Stevens as Marvin Gerard
Photo: Zach Dilgard | NBC

This The Blacklist review contains spoilers.

The Blacklist Season 9 Episode 21

Raymond Reddington is eating chilled Camembert and betrayal in The Blacklist season 9 episode 21, but what has he got to lose? A friend and bag man who sits in a car and cries while he watches his murderous orchestrations unfold in front of Pasqual’s restaurant. According to Marvin’s perspective of Liz’s death and the soundtrack playing through his memory, that fatal bullet took away Red’s “baby” and his “heart.” And Marvin knew it.

It turns out that Marvin was the bug in VanDyke’s ear pushing Townsend’s obsessively loyal bodyguard into the role of kamikaze assassin. Quite a shove from Marvin who is somehow able to keep VanDyke at gunpoint when Marvin can barely hold up the gun convincingly, much less shoot it. Marvin gets inside VanDyke’s head easily enough and the gun becomes more of a prop than a necessity in convincing one’s enemy to kill one’s other enemy.

Now that Red knows everything Marvin has done, he gathers his friends to consolidate power, but Marvin predicts Red’s move and has the means to know where the meeting will take place. It escapes everyone to check the car and other places Marvin had access to for bugs. As a result, Marvin is hot on their heels as they assemble at the remote cabin. Red tells the gathering of his criminal committee that betrayal is like eating cold cheese that you don’t know is cold. But what Red is going through in this episode is more like trying to cheat the cold by popping a wheel of brie in the microwave and then overcooking it. He’s not only getting betrayed left and right, but what remains in his friend pool is looking pretty unappetizing.

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At the risk of invoking Tammy Wynette, Red’s beloved Mierce is not standing by her man. In fact, she brands him with ash and marks him the Mayan God of War, Death, and Human Sacrifice…and not in a good way. Either she has really fallen out of love with the guy, or she is pushing him to his revenge. Maybe her magic is to speed up the inevitable or usher him into death just to be free of his dangerous presence in her family’s life. The way Red looks at her after she smudges his face and calls him evil. Does he believe her? Does he realize then that maybe they should break up? Or is he still thinking that he needs her? 

Meanwhile, the reunion #Rembe fans have longed for all season finally happened! Raymond is so happy to have his old friend back that he tells Dembe exactly how he feels about him – twice. But even Dembe plays both sides of his own heart. He wants to watch out over Raymond because Weecha is in the hospital, but he tells Harold that he is an FBI agent first. Dembe did save Red’s life at the cabin. However, the bottom line is that Dembe’s riddle to help lead the Task Force to Marvin and Red was just a way of buying time while still giving the Task Force what it needs to intervene in Red’s plan to end Marvin. Seems Dembe is not above playing riddle-me-this, just like his oldest pal, in order to stay true to the Task Force and keep his own conscious semi-clean.

And then there’s Harold Cooper. Season 9 has certainly given Harold the shortest end of the stick. He wants his name cleared from all the crimes he actually committed, and he tries to strong arm Red with Agnes to do it. If Red doesn’t help Harold the way that Harold wants to be helped, then Agnes is going to lose another parent. Red doesn’t need to be reminded of this, but he does learn that Harold is willing to use Agnes’ name and well-being as a way to manipulate him. Perhaps this is why, of all the people doing Red dirty in this episode, it’s Harold that Red breaks up with first. If Red is willing to cut Harold loose, who’s next?

Throughout this episode, we get to see Big Bad Marvin cry, we see his puppeteering, his rage, and we see his greed. His best explanation to Red for why he did all these things, including killing his own foolhardy boy bestie: “It’s just not FAIR!” To which Red responds with psychobabble that is meant to control Marvin and put him back in his place. Red appears so confident in his ploys to “fill Marvin’s void like a pagan icon” that the most shocking event in this next-to-last episode of the season hits Red and the audience out of nowhere: the ultimate shove. The one that took Red down so fast he bounced off a chair and the floor before chaos reigned. What did we learn in “Marvin Gerard: Conclusion Part I”? It’s possible for Red to fall.

Next week’s season finale may show us how much harder Red can fall or maybe Red’s wake-up call has finally come. Raymond Reddington must figure out how to get the upper hand back with his charcuterie board of friends or else learn how to fly solo again.