The Blacklist: The Mombasa Cartel Review

We're finally delivered a reveal we've been waiting for as The Blacklist turns in a solid episode. Here's our review...

The reveal we’ve been waiting for since the second season of The Blacklist began was delivered this week, and it didn’t quite erupt as much as it fell to the ground, issuing a hearty “duh” in the process. So now that we know (really know rather than having simply surmised) what Lizzie’s big secret is, how are things going to proceed going forward?

If I had to make a guess or two, I’d say that Red’s known the truth about Tom from the very beginning. After all, isn’t that Red’s M.O.? He knows all, he is three steps ahead of the smartest person in the room, so while Lizzie is struggling to figure out if and how she’ll reveal her secret to Red, he’s already got an elegant monologue that he’s committed to memory to share with her at the ideal time. It doesn’t matter that we found out Lizzie’s secret and that the reveal is lackluster. That’s okay, because soon we’ll get to see Red upend Lizzie, and that really is why we watch every week, isn’t it? 

This episode, in its way, was more emotionally affecting than Red’s hunt for his daughter, his harried encounter with his ex-wife, and definitely more so than any of the drama unfolding at the FBI. I’m sorry, but you couldn’t pay me to care about the pill-popping situation going down. Not even a little. The second season seems to be trying (to the best of its ability given all the info we have telling us — showing us — not to trust Red) to assure us that Red has a soft underbelly. Last week it was his family, this week it’s his passion for protecting endangered species. If Red had been around ages ago the Dodo might still walk the planet. He is an enigma: A murderer who cares passionately about animals. You know, like Hitler. 

This is all by way of saying that I don’t trust Red as far as I can throw him. But I like him, and will continue to like him. Even evil people are people and as such, are complex, full of odd and discordant things that even the best judge of character might overlook. In Red this is something the show seems to have grasped. Unfortunately, they’ve yet to allow Lizzie the same dichotomy. We see her grappling with choices but ultimately it is Red who pulls the proverbial trigger for her. The fact that she actually said aloud to Tom “Red would know what to do,” without a shred of irony is proof positive that Lizzie can’t quite accept being two things at once; good and bad. 

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In stark contrast to this was the more quiet but infinitely more affecting first reveal of the evening: Dembe’s origin story, and Red’s history with the man finally explained. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to getting vaguely choked up. It wasn’t Spader’s delivery (handled with the usual strangely alchemical alacrity as every other week), but Dembe’s tentative step forward when he realizes what his savior is about to do in the name of justice.

It was a strong moment and underline the fact that there’s one are in Red’s life that isn’t so gray: His ability to make up his mind and pull the trigger without looking back.

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4 out of 5