Monday, March 24, 2014

REVIEW: 'The Blacklist' - Liz Finds Tom's Warehouse and New Evidence While the Team Tracks a Teenage Hacker in 'Ivan'

NBC's The Blacklist - Episode 1.17 Ivan

When a new cyber defense asset gets stolen all roads lead to a Russian cyber terrorist known only as "Ivan" (Mark Ivanir). With Red's assistance, Liz discovers a huge cover-up. Meanwhile, new evidence surrounding the disappearance of Jolene helps unravel some of the mystery behind Tom.

Isn't it great to know that the government could come crumbling down at the hands of a teenage hacker? Not really? Hmmm, The Blacklist sure thinks that's an interesting twist. It takes this story about a digital skeleton key that can unlock any kind of network and turn it into a teen soap opera. That's essentially what The Blacklist does in "Ivan" and is absolutely terrible and awkward because of it. The Blacklist isn't a teen drama and shouldn't pretend that it is - even for only 5 minutes. The emotional complexities of this story are just undermined so severely once it's revealed that they solely are being done so a kid could impress the girl he's been stalking. The Blacklist has a much larger worldview than that. And the motivations of this episode are so infinitesimally small compared to the show's typical scope. It leads to a boring case that drags - which is the exact opposite feeling we should get an episode about such a powerful piece of equipment.

So, the redeeming aspects of the hour had to come from the Tom corner of the universe. And for so much of the running time, the show really wanted to just tease us with Liz being so close to the truth and yet nothing happening upon all of it. So the fact that she does uncover the truth that Tom isn't who he says he is is even more surprising. It seems like the show really does want to go somewhere with this story instead of just prolonging it for as long as possible. Letting Liz on Tom's big secret makes every interaction between the two so much more potent. He was so boring before the reveal and their interactions were suppose to be the stabile thing for her. The thing she can rely on no matter how difficult the job got. That complexity never really took shape as the show was more concerned with saying he was duplicitous. Now, there's a point of intrigue.

The last five minutes save "Ivan" from being a complete disaster. Red and Liz have such a tumultuous relationship. And yet, it's nice seeing him be so compassionate to her in the wake of such a tragic discovery. She doesn't have the full story - and neither does he - but it's going to change her entire world. The two of them are actually the most stable relationship on the show even though she doesn't trust him for ever telling her the whole truth.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Ivan" was written by J.R. Orci & Amanda Kate Shuman and directed by Randy Zisk.
  • Hey, it's that annoying teenage daughter from Hostages playing an annoying teenage daughter.
  • For a story about technology, the show really don't do anything bigger with Aram. And that makes me sad as he's one of the only supporting characters to kinda pop.
  • The show also basically glosses over the events that happened with Ressler last week. He's back at work because he needs the distraction. Well, that's one way not to dig deeper into the emotional swell of that character.
  • I found the episode to be awkwardly directed - especially the sequences on the train.
  • Also, why would Liz call Tom before heading into the warehouse? Just so it would seem more easy for him to collect and destroy all the evidence? He had surveillance cameras he could have seen her and bolted. Their conversation wasn't necessary.