Monday, December 2, 2013

REVIEW: 'The Blacklist' Dissolves the Tasks Force while Letting Alan Alda & James Spader Face Off in 'Anslo Garrick'

NBC's The Blacklist - Episode 1.10 Anslo Garrick, Part 2

Liz infiltrates the blacksite and disarms the signal jammers to call in backup but runs into trouble along the way; Ressler's fate hangs in the balance as Red tries to bargain with Anslo Garrick; Tom becomes increasingly worried about Liz' situation; and the fate of Red is unknown.

I loved the Anslo Garrick two-part fall finale of The Blacklist - even though I didn't like the Anslo Garrick character. These episodes forced these characters to deal with the consequences of Red's decision to work with the FBI. I enjoyed the first part of the season but it also felt like things were coming together a bit too easily for Red and the team. Part one was a taut claustrophobic action piece that did have consequences. But the second part indicated what this two-parter would mean to the series going forward. The hour works its way out of the prior cliffhanger pretty early - with Anslo getting away with Red. The rest of the episode follows Liz and the team trying to locate him while Red has to come face-to-face with an acquaintance who's very mad at him.

I appreciated that this two-parter was much larger and more ambitious than just Anslo Garrick being angry at Red for what he did to him and trying to exact revenge on him. Although very dangerous, I never had the emotional connection to Anslo that made me take him that seriously. But having Alan Alda's bad guy being the true face behind this mission has loads of intrigue. One it gets the great Alan Alda on the show. But it also better develops the stakes of what Red's life is right now. He risked everything to turn himself in and work with Liz. And now, that decision has come to make him suffer.

One thing I've always been shaky on is how the criminal world still operates with Red but no one has the slightest inclination that he has been working for the FBI. It had to seem just the little bit suspicious that the FBI suddenly was capturing all these dangerous criminals. But no, after one blacklister was caught the show would move on to the next. That's fine from a procedural point-of-view but I want more from this show. This two-parter delivered on that. I don't immediately like the introduction of a mole within the bureau to explain how these criminals knew the truth. But the action and ramifications that resulted from that were quite stellar - so I can live with it for now.

And the question that has been on everyone's minds since the first trailer for the series was shown was finally directly asked and answered. Is Liz's real father Red? Liz bluntly asked him and he paused for a second before saying no. Now is Red's answer the truth? There's no real way to tell simply because Red is always playing games with information. But right now, it does feel satisfactory that the show has presented an answer to this question that has plagued the series so far. It still doesn't answer why Red has his fixation on Liz and the show easily could backtrack and make Red her father. But right now, I feel satisfied with the show. 

Some more thoughts:
  • Earlier today, it was announced that The Blacklist will indeed be returning in January for 3 weeks of originals before being sidelined by the Winter Olympics. I'm happy NBC learned from the past decision to shelf Revolution for four months and didn't want to copy that here. Those 3 episodes will be without The Voice as a lead-in. However, looking at The Blacklist's DVR numbers, I'm not too concerned that the show will suddenly pitfall without the singing competition.
  • The hour also really sidelines Ressler, Meera and Tom and I didn't mind that at all.
  • Tom has to be working for Alan Alda, right?
  • I would have been perfectly fine if Ressler had died. But nope, he's still alive and now his ex-fiance who now is engaged to someone new is back. Doesn't that sound interesting? Cricket. Cricket.
  • I really love Mr. Caplan and Jane Alexander and both are set up to continue to appear later in the season. Yay!