TV Review: ‘The Blacklist’ Continues to Shine in ‘The Freelancer’

Caution: Spoiler alert.

This week, Reddington shows he can still call the shots even though he’s being held at high security facilities. He’s offered his so-called “Blacklist” of heinous criminals but only if the authorities will grant him immunity, a special tracking chip, and a special staff. Unfortunately, his record as an international criminal and informant only infuriates the Attorney General, who wants to press charges against him. Both Red and Agent Elizabeth Keen are given polygraph tests, which he deems to be a “waste of time.”

It remains to be seen how Red knows about upcoming disturbances, but this week he predicted an incident at Decatur. It turns out to be a train derailment that kills 60 people. One of the victims was a councilwoman who had some shady dealings. The perpetrator, Red tells Agent Keen, is known as the “Freelancer,” staging big “accidents” to kill off targets. The clues to solving the case are in Montreal, which means Red and Agent Keen get a fancy dinner in a Canadian restaurant. Red jokes about passing her off as either his girlfriend or daughter. Elizabeth profiles Red at his request and tells him, “You need me and you hate that about yourself because it makes you vulnerable.” However, it’s clear that they are not working as a team because Red always has his own agenda and continues to leave Agent Keen in the dark.

Red says his informant revealed that the next target is Floriana Campo (Isabella Rossellini), who heads a foundation to rescue victims of human trafficking. However, he refuses to lend more assistance because his demands have not been met. Agent Keen speaks with Mrs. Campo and gets her to agree to the FBI’s protection at an upcoming fundraiser. The Attorney General grants some concessions to Red “off the books,” but also sticks in a CIA agent whom Red characterizes as “attractive but treacherous.”

The strange twist is astonishing at the fundraiser, when the Freelancer (masquerading as a waiter) is apprehended and questioned. He was hired by Reddington and he gave Campo a drink laced with barbiturates. Ironically, as Red points out to Agent Keen, Campo is a hypocrite who uses the foundation as a front. Campo runs the Eberhardt Cartel that is responsible for human trafficking as well as for killing her late husband. Since Red hired the Freelancer for this job, it seems that Campo was the actual entry on Red’s blacklist.

We also find that Agent Keen still does not trust Red. She suspects that he planted the gun, money, and fake passports in her house to turn her against her husband, Tom. Red insists that he is not responsible for that, instead putting the focus on what she intends to do next. According to him, Elizabeth can confront Tom, turn him in, or resort to a third option. In the end, she takes the third option, placing the box back under the floorboards and installing a new carpet. Have we seen the last of Tom’s questionable activities?

As always, Red has some great one-liners, throwing in humor even when the others are serious. His jokes about passing Agent Keen as his girlfriend continue to raise central questions: why does he take an interest in her? Did he know her parents? He tells Elizabeth that everything she believes about herself is a lie. When he confronts Campo, he states boldly, “The FBI works for me now.” Reddington just reeks of mystery and nonchalance, which makes another question tempting: is his agenda only about the blacklist?

“The Blacklist” airs Monday evenings on NBC at 10|9c.


Author: Pat Cuadros

TV & Film Blogger @blogcritics

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