TV Review: Red, Berlin, and ‘The Decembrist’ Square Off in ‘The Blacklist’ Mid-Season Finale

Caution: This review contains spoilers.

In the mid-season finale of “The Blacklist,” Reddington (James Spader) and Berlin (Peter Stomare) team up (temporarily) to go out after “the Decembrist.” It opens up with the family reunion between Berlin and his daughter, Zoe D’Antonio (Scottie Thompson). Unfortunately, it’s just as heartwarming as the one earlier in this season between Red and Naomi Hyland (Mary Louise-Parker).

Meanwhile, there’s a montage of how Tom (Ryan Eggold) came to be in that locked room, his recovery, and subsequent interrogations. Agent Keen’s (Megan Boone) questions to him go off in various directions, even so far as asking about the guests at their wedding. Liz seems to think herself in position of power over the situation; however, eventually Tom’s imprisonment would come to light and cause things to spiral out of control. Even if Agent Keen is a darker character and has started employing some of Red’s methods (such calling Mr. Kaplan) this season, she is certainly not in the same class as Raymond Reddington.

Back at work, Liz and her team uncover that the Decembrist is likely to be the Finance Minister in Russia, Kiryl Morzov (Alon Aboutboul). They’re forbidden to pursue the lead, as he is a high-ranking official, but it doesn’t stop Liz from giving the name to Reddington. Red and Berlin corner Morzov in Moscow, but they discover that he was just a puppet before Berlin pulls the trigger. The real Decembrist is none other than Alan Fitch (Alan Alda), who generally kept at bay the government entities out for Red’s blood.

The tenuous alliance breaks as Berlin launches an attack on Fitch. His weapon of choice is a neck bomb. When the scene cuts to Fitch’s location, the glass-eyed look was a big tip-off that Fitch knows it’s the end for him. The bomb squad makes an honest attempt to disarm the bomb, but not before they escort him to the glass box where Red was held in the first season. It’s an ironic turn of events, in that Fitch, a high-ranking government official to boot and scheming mastermind, ends up in Red’s box.

Red arrives and speaks with Fitch, who asks him about a “fulcrum.” Fitch also gives Red the combination to his safe, but dies in the middle of disclosing the location. It’s a downright suspenseful moment, because there’s no timer on the bomb to let us know when it’ll go off. The camera cuts away quickly to Red, but the ensuing large splash of blood and the empty chair is gross.

Captured earlier by Red, Berlin also knows that his time is up. He shares a bottle of vodka before the former shoots him point-blank in the chest. I have mixed feelings about Berlin. He was pretty creepy when he initially emerged as an adversary for Red, particularly in those moments at which he was holding Naomi as a prisoner. Like Red, he has a wide net of henchmen and assets. However, neither he nor Alan Fitch can match the sort of aura that Red carries, which can easily make you comfortable and then shake your core with fear within seconds. I imagine many viewers may be curious about the next archenemy to come into the mix when the series continues again in February. Let’s hope that the new baddie lives up to the hype.

“Reddington is the bane of my existence,” Liz Keen stated earlier in the series, a point to continue wrestling with in upcoming episodes. In their conversation at the end of the episode, Red defines love as “being powerless.” He gives her what looks to be a comforting hug. Yet one might wonder if he’s just obsessed with Liz or if he actually has genuine affection for her. He appears to be in control of everything, when apparently love makes you lose control.

Is Liz just a means to an end in the grand scheme of things for Red? What is the connection between Red and Liz? Is this really the last we’ve seen of Tom Keen? Is the “fulcrum” some sort of weapon? Check in with NBC in February to find out!

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


Author: Pat Cuadros

TV & Film Blogger @blogcritics

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