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"The Blacklist" Season Six Talkback (Spoilers)

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The Penguin

All Hail the King!
Staff member
"...I know now that those bones in that bag are Raymond Reddington's, the real Raymond Reddington--my father. I know that this man is an impostor. Why he came into my life, why he took your life, why he spent the last 30 years pretending to be Raymond Reddington... I'm gonna figure all that out, and then I'm going to destroy him."

The sixth and final season of The Blacklist is premiering right now on NBC! Then tune in on Friday at 8 ET for part two!

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"Dr. Hans Koehler" - Season Premiere
Thursday, January 3, 2019 @ 10 p.m. ET/9 CT on NBC
Red and the Task Force search for a plastic surgeon who creates new identities for wanted criminals. Meanwhile, Liz and her sister Jennifer secretly investigate the events that took place the night the real Raymond Reddington died.

Season One talkback
Season Two talkback
Season Three talkback
Season Four talkback
"The Blacklist: Redemption" talkback
Season Five talkback


Fone Bone

Matt Zimmer
The Blacklist "Dr. Hans Koehler"

I liked the bank robbery at the beginning a lot. But do you know what? All of the sly double-entendres at the end grated. If Liz WANTED Red to know exactly what she was up to, mission accomplished. Both pronouns and lies exist for a reason, Liz. Use them.

But it wasn't a terrible start to the season by any means. ***1/2.

The Blacklist "The Corsican"

This episode was definitely running short on time. There is no other explanation as to why there was an entire act devoted to defusing a bomb interspersed with Red making a fake jokey speech at the U.N.

For the record, Liz is detestable. Just for the record. I understand her misgivings during the episode for the amount of lives "Red" has saved, but that's too little too late. And as she noted this guy has been Red longer than her father ever was.

Good stuff is coming up in the next few weeks. The genius thing about Liz being the traitor is that she is (along with perhaps Dembe) the only person Red might be inclined to someday forgive. They did NOT just blow up the entire show to do it, and it was a juicy betrayal anyways. Plus they were kind enough to reveal it to the audience in the very first week, instead of jerking us around for months on end. More stuff like that, please. It is really not to much to ask from my TV.

Red got the worst luck with the beat cop he did. Besides the fact that he's honest, and not willing to take cartoonishly expensive bribes, he has no imagination or sense of humor. He is never going to be charmed by Red, which is why he has slipped through the police's fingers for as long as he has. Somehow Red got stuck with a beat cop too stupid to be fooled by him. How ironic is that?

I love the autograph thing. I bet the cop throws it out. He shouldn't. It IS actually worth money. But I think the cop is too honest and stupid for his own good.

Great episode (if a bit meandering in the middle) but I'm much more excited about the weeks to come. ****.

The Penguin

All Hail the King!
Staff member
Week two, episode three, finds The Blacklist in its actual time slot, Fridays at 9 ET. Right now on NBC.

"The Pharmacist"
Friday, January 11, 2019 @ 9 p.m. ET/8 CT on NBC
Red defends himself in court, while the task force hunts a renegade doctor and biohacker.

Fone Bone

Matt Zimmer
The Blacklist "The Pharmacist"

I now see a huge problem with the season, and it wasn't actually an issue in the last couple of weeks, so I figured the series wouldn't be dumb enough to make this mistake. What I had assumed was that the goal would be breaking Red out of prison and going back to the status quo. He could have a few weeks in prison and we could see a messy trial with Red playing dumb, and that would be it. But I'm thinking the show isn't thinking of the larger implications of Red revealing the immunity agreement. Simply because Red was publicly arrested, it was on the news, and he visibly went to prison. Lets say the judge rules in his favor after a few weeks of back and forth. How are they going to explain such a high profile criminal going free? There is no explanation. It's possible if Red IS freed, perhaps the government would stage a prison break to keep his cover, but that's really the only way out, and as a storytelling device a prison break has drawbacks too. Because Red revealed the immunity agreement, there is no guarantee the people in charge would ever make it again, especially if Red is going to tell a judge about it. It would probably be safer for everyone if they just considered Red's five years of service valuable, but they threw him to the wolves anyways. Instead, the agreement being discussed at all makes me think this is going to be a lot more complicated than it needs to be.

Case in point: Harold should not have lied on the stand. He said he did it to protect himself and the team. In reality, the lie compromises them both. Because I think Cooper could definitely justify in hindsight the times he's looked the other way without losing his job. The only difference is that Red would lose the agreement. It would be in HAROLD'S best interest to tell the truth. Which tells me he lied because he likes Red. Which is totally dumb. I'm a little annoyed to be honest.

I like that hacker place Aram took Navabi to, and that they watch American Ninja Warrior in their spare time.

Is Red dying? TBD...

It's weird and unusual that the Blacklister of the week is actually innocent. I was glad he was, but the guy who sabotaged him was a total dirtbag. I was pleased when Ressler told him he was gonna be charged for attempting to murder a federal agent.

I don't know why Red is a criminal. He should be a freaking lawyer. That was amazing.

I think the show is writing itself into a hole that only a prison break can fill. But unfortunately, I don't know if I'd buy things returning to the status quo if that actually happened. We'll see. But this was the first week of the season I started to have misgivings. ***1/2.

Fone Bone

Matt Zimmer
The Blacklist "The Pawnbrokers"

I found the premise a bit ludicrous, but I was willing to give it a shot as it was going along. The verdict? Red's "Plan" as it were, wasn't actually a Xanatos Gambit. It was Xanatos Roulette, or more like Xanatos 50-Car-Pile-Up. In the series' defense, Red never pretended it was a sure thing. But the fact that it worked was more coincidental than genius.

I regret the guy who stole the intelligence was killed when he was. A guy that dumb, who gambles 200 grand on a single hand of poker, who goes back to the Pawnbrokers demanding the drives back without the money deserves to be publicly shamed. He also deserved to die for treason, but I dislike that no-one will ever really know exactly how stupid he is unless the Pawnbroker who survived confesses every aspect of their crimes that they aren't actually on the hook for. I sort of think this is the guy who would actually DESERVE a little side-eye from Liz, Ressler and Navabi.

I like the moment where Ressler is trying to figure out how to tell the guy his wife died. But she was murderer. It's not like she didn't know what she was getting into, and neither did this guy. This is the life they chose to lead. My sympathy for him isn't limited, it's actually nonexistent.

I had reservations of Red cautiously looking around the prison at the beginning, which is one of the reasons I wasn't sure I'd like the episode. But once he lured the mouse, I got it. My initial objection is that Red Reddington as we know him, does not object to harsh living conditions. Being in them for long stretches at a time, was a huge part of his job earlier in his career. In fact, when Mr. Kaplan ruined him, Red was borderline excited at being around average and rundown places, and thought of it as a new adventure. I grant that prison is something else entirely, but I didn't like the idea that he was squicked out or afraid to get his hands dirty.

Him luring the rat tells me he's just getting accustomed to his surroundings, and sizing up what advantages are available to him, which IS in character. Frankly the biggest thing I objected to in hindsight is that knowing what we know now, Red gave Liz the Blacklister case far too early in the episode to actually be believable. But as I already said, the episode was already full-stop ridiculous anyways.

And of course Red banged that guy's mother. Not his wife. That was be too easy, and not humiliating enough for him. It HAD to be his mother. Good stuff.

Liz's sister said something interesting (but true) that I'm just going to fault the show for. Because this is true, the show is failing. When Liz says even if Red wins, at least it brought them together the sister says, "That's not enough." And you know what? The fact that she believes that says Liz AND the show have never treated her like an actual sister. I know and remember the name Nadia from Alias by heart and always will. She didn't turn out to be as important to the canon as we hoped, but the family drama was such a huge part of Sydney Bristow's life that I remember her as well as Dixon, Weiss, Francie, Will, and Marshall, and the other bit players on that show. This is "The Sister's" second season on the show, and I still can't remember her name. That is wrong, and that is on this show. There has not been enough bonding or family drama between her and Liz and Red. Barely any in fact. And the fact that there's been none so far this season borders on a travesty.

But as ludicrous as this was, I enjoyed it (more or less). Prison Break: The Series was far stupider about the same subject, and I still shut off my brain and watched that. I'll live with this. ***1/2.

Fone Bone

Matt Zimmer
The Blacklist "Alter Ego"

Red is an amazing lawyer, but I have to agree with the judge in siding with the cop. It was fascinating, but even though the search was probably unjust, it wasn't illegal either. It was judgment call, nothing else. Cops break taillights, and say they hear shouting in the apartment all the time, and we as a society just go along with it. Whether or not the cop searched him because he had a chip on his shoulder or not is irrelevant. He believed he was doing his job correctly. Maybe I'd think differently if he hadn't instantly rebuffed Red's bribe to make his rich beyond his wildest dreams by letting him go a couple of weeks ago, but the fact that he thought the notion was ridiculous, and wasn't tempted for a second, says he was operating in good faith the entire time. It's to Red's eternal chagrin that he got nabbed by an honest cop. This would be much easier if he didn't.

Prediction: Red is not going to kill (or try to kill) Liz. What he is gonna do is cut ties with her and consider her dead to him. That's probably fairer in his mind than she deserves, but he DOES love her, and she along with Dembe are the only people left that is true. Unlike Mr. Kaplan, he will let her live. But he won't forgive her, or at least not for any simple lame apology.

I would have liked to have seen a prequel miniseries about Red and Dembe. I want to see their actual backstory. We listen to Red take advice from both Dembe and Liz, and what strikes me as the difference between the two relationships is that Red always seriously considers Dembe's advice. He usually doesn't take it (while he never takes Liz's) but he gives it actual consideration. As seen tonight that probably has to do with the fact that Dembe is almost always right. While Liz is almost always wrong. It is fascinating that Liz feels the need to betray this man and blame him for all of her problems. Whether he killed her father or not, she would literally be nothing without him. And it amazes me that Liz has this amazing gift and is always throwing it back in his face.

Do you know what she could have done instead? Confronted him and demanded the truth. Like an adult. Next week's previews makes it sound like Red might kill the last guy who knew his secret, but he wouldn't if Liz hadn't already admitted she knew the most important part of it. Liz is one of the characters with the worst sense of judgment on any show I watch, and I might not have as huge a problem with it if any of the other characters told her that. But unfortunately almost all of the dumb stuff she does is done in secret, and nobody has gotten to point out what a dumbass she is. And considering the one guy who usually knows the secret is Red, he would have done better telling her this truth earlier on. I can believe she isn't his daughter. She's inherited none of his wits and good judgment.

I can't believe the villains of the week thought that was a good plan, and that they'd get away with it. Maybe they should have researched the guy they killed, and found out what he was into before they did something that rash and dumb, but as far as dumb rednecks go, they really should not be looking down at the kid they targeted as stupid. He's only stupid compared to them. They are utterly out of their depth amateurs. They were unworthy of being on The Blacklist. It's embarrassing the woman got as far in the fight with Liz as she did. Even the dumb kid got the better of the guy with the gun pretty easily. Funny, elderly couple elevator banter though, am I right?

I'll tell you one good thing about Red still being in jail. I am going to look forward to the courtroom scenes. I can picture him winning over an entire jury over every single charge made against him. Not every single jury will be as smart and fair as that judge. And that's what I think might have to be his salvation. And honestly, that would work for me. The prison break idea I had a few episodes ago is pretty far off the table in my mind due to the questions it raises, but Red being acquitted on all charges instead would be much juicier. Although to be honest, he only REALLY needs to be acquitted on the gun charge. And I can easily see him convincing a jury there. Maybe a win for Red is not as grand for Red as I'm making it in my head.

I think the thing that has made me unhappy is the fact that somebody as dull-witted and rash as Liz has the upper hand with Red. That doesn't just strikes me as unfair, it's obscene. Which is why I don't see him forgiving her anytime soon.

For the record, Aram. Not cool. Whether she has aphasia or not. Sometimes people's private hobbies are private, and they don't want or need other people horning in on them. If Navabi wanted to play word puzzles with Aram, she would have asked already. And if the tables were turned, I'm pretty sure he'd only have to tell her no once.

More Red in court please. Less Liz whinging please. ***1/2.

Fone Bone

Matt Zimmer
The Blacklist "The Ethicist"

One of the things that concerns me about some of the high-concept Blacklisters out there is that I'm worried that the show is giving potentially bad people out there ideas for evil and villainy that would never have occurred to them before this show existed. A value assessment serial killer is one of those things I hope the show doesn't actually trigger. I think the gimmicks of the villains are sometimes too clever for their own good.

I would never claim that about Liz though. She's as dumb as a brick. She never stopped to consider that somebody would actually check her easily disproven lie that Red gave her the case? What did she think would happen? Now she's got Ressler all up in the middle of this mess. Liz remains the primetime character I watch with the least sense of actions and consequences. That fact that she is still out there causing the damage she is with no-one calling her on it in season 6 is nigh inexcusable.

I like Red evenly saying that he doesn't get angry, he gets even. I especially liked that the shrink unknowingly pegged the idea that he was his living life as an impostor. It is almost eerie how easily and accurately a good shrink is able to tell you the reasons you suck. The worst part is they tend to be right. Which is why I don't like or trust shrinks.

I had some problems with the episode, and if Liz's newfound sister is the only one calling b.s. on her, that's a bad thing for Season 6. **1/2.

Fone Bone

Matt Zimmer
The Blacklist "General Shiro"

It's always good to see Mark Linn-Baker getting cast in dramatic roles. He was wasted on the sitcom Perfect Strangers. He's really talented at playing quirky characters, in this case a psychopath.

I hate Gus. I have always found him repulsive, but I was hoping beyond hope Dembe would kill him by the end of the episode. No such luck. I was disgusted Red felt the need to apologize to HIM.

Speaking of Dembe, I think we finally got a good idea about what Red owes Dembe. The dude didn't just save his life. He brought him back from death. That is a far more significant debt owed.

I just want to toss Gus in a giant blender and press frappe. ***1/2.

The Penguin

All Hail the King!
Staff member
Not one, but two episodes of The Blacklist tonight! One right now and one at 9 ET.

"Marlo Jankowics"
Friday, January 11, 2019 @ 8 p.m. ET/7 CT on NBC
Liz and Jennifer's pursuit of a lead puts them in unexpected danger; Red mediates a prison gang war.

"Minister D"
Friday, January 11, 2019 @ 9 p.m. ET/8 CT on NBC
As his trial begins, Red puts Liz on the case of a Blacklister who he says can prove his innocence.

Fone Bone

Matt Zimmer
The Blacklist "Marko Jankowics"

Liz is like no help to Ressler and Jennifer whatsoever. Right while Ressler is trying to smooth things over with his girlfriend, Liz is busy screaming at a seemingly pregnant woman. I also can't believe she still expects Jennifer to be on-board after being kidnapped and tortured.

I love the guy asking why he should trust Red and Red seriously saying, "Because I am far more in your debt than you are in mine, and for far more than you know." One of the things I like about Red is that he's totally honest about stuff like that. A lesser criminal would downplay how much the guy just helped him out.

Good first part. ****.

The Blacklist "Minister D"

Man, I watch too much Berlanti. I forgot how much fun courtroom stuff can be in the right hands. It's a bit shocking, because Law & Order: SVU doesn't do as much court stuff as the original series. And this was about as great as that.

I love Red's cross-examination of Ressler. If I were the jury, I would be questioning why those two were acting so affectionately with each other, but for all I know that actually happened. That was fun.

The problem with Dembe keeping Liz's secret is that much like Liz, Red isn't going to stop until he gets the truth. Neither of these lies are sustainable in the long run.

Poor Navabi. At least Aram seems to be a bit more aware of what she is suffering.

Great courtroom stuff made a great episode. ****1/2.

Fone Bone

Matt Zimmer
The Blacklist "The Cryptobanker"

Leave it to Liz to ruin everything.

The real problem with The Blacklist is that I fear its creative high-concept villains will give some seriously bad ideas to some very bad people in real life, if it hasn't already. The crime here struck me as a particularly bad one to put in the public consciousness.

Aram argues with the little girl over whether or not the comic book superhero Banshee has force fields, but the superhero I would have argued against is Apocalypse because he's actually a villain. Plus, as she noted about Banshee, when he yells, people back away, so that's the same thing.

Liz can't but help messing everything up. ***1/2.

Fone Bone

Matt Zimmer
The Blacklist "Bastien Moreau"

I have conflicting feelings about that. The episode had to navigate a couple of very treacherous ideas, and since I didn't actually see the resolution here, we'll have to wait a week, and possibly many more, to see how they do. But I think the things the episode dealt with were sort of secondary to the fact that this performance of James Spader's needs to go on his Emmy reel. Every tragic moment is played perfectly. I thought the scene where he grabs the doctor's arm and tells him scarily that it was offensive that he was coddling him was perfect. But when he later apologizes, it somehow made it even better. And I agreed with Red both times. The doctor WAS being offensive, and Red had far more honor and guts in him whenever he had previously killed somebody. But he's also right that the doctor is just doing his job. It's not the doctor's fault that state sponsored execution is the morbid joke it has become. But lord, I understand why Red was initially steamed. It's NOT a medical procedure. It is literaly first degree murder, and that doesn't get any more in the first degree than that.

Now to talk about the themes in the episode that I have to wait and see about.

The first is that the major tension of the episode is no actual tension at all. I will confess I never believed either Liz or Tom were really dead when the show pretended they were, but they put up an acceptable game there as far as the show was concerned. That's partly why I was as P.O.-ed as I was that the show lived down to my worst expectations. The difference here is that the audience knows Red is not going to be executed. He's the main character of the show, and the show has been renewed for another season. None of the characters, Red included, know that however, because they don't know they are on a TV show, and that Red is the main character. Basically the writer's job here is totally different from when they killed Liz and Tom. There they were trying to convince the more foolish and naive audience members that it was a tougher show than it was. Here, I think they are operating under the assumption that the audience KNOWS the actual outcome, and all they can do is give us a good rollercoaster before Red squeaks through. And I frankly like that feeling more than the jerked around feeling I felt with both Tom and Liz. I am under no obligation to take the threat as seriously as the characters do. And since the writers aren't acting otherwise, I can enjoy it.

That being said, finding out if it's a good rollercoaster is only something I'd be able to accurately do NEXT week. We'll see for sure then.

The other treacherous idea was the evil President. I like that The Blacklist uses a fictionalized President because it's easier to root for characters not supposedly working for a country as real-world corrupt as ours is. Except now they are using the fictional President to make an allegory for how corrupt the current real administration is. Can I just point out how risky that is? Supergirl has made a mess of a similar premise, but there Baker is simply a bad President, not a literal criminal (that we know of yet, at least). The problem I have with making The Blacklist's president party to a murder conspiracy is that even if they are exploring the ideas behind a corrupt President to do an allegory for Trump, I think that's only the kind of thing that would really work in hindsight after Trump is gone. I expect some amazing television starting in (hopefully) 2021, but as of now, as corrupt as things are, they are all such a huge question mark in this country. It seems to me, in this episode at least, the ticking clock scenario suggests the President will be found out next week. And the fall-out from that will probably be inadequate, no matter what it is. The show could show how a country is supposed to work with corrupt Presidents, and have him arrested and put on trial for treason. And good for the show for showing how this SHOULD work. Except that's not how things DO work. Apparently, in the real world you can commit treason (Russia) and be a party to murder and genocide (Puerto Rico and border separation), and not get impeached because Congress is too gutless and cowardly, and the public is too brainwashed and stupid to demand it.

Or the show could show the President getting away with it, and make him a Blacklister to be taken down at the end of the season or series. That has a certain appeal, but it would also be a huge bummer, and make the heroes' day-to-day job a lot harder than it would need to be than if they weren't answering to a murderer and a traitor. And I don't want to see that show. Supergirl's season already sucks for that exact reason, and that's the sanitized version. This would strike me as even harder to stomach.

We'll see how it goes. But either way, I'm skeptical.

When Liz says "I love you," the words that passed my lips were, "You did this. He is in this situation because of you. And he's loving and comforting and supporting you without realizing that fact." I like that the show gave us the dynamic that Liz is a scumbag and the secret villain in their relationship. The problem is that Liz is still a character on the show, and I find it troubling that the show expects me to forgive her for this, much less for Red to do it. Spader deserves an Emmy for tonight. But his performance also made it so that I would never forgive Liz again.

I loved the stuff with Aram in the bathroom, with the fob falling in the toilet. That was some fine comedy on a show not very much known for comedy.

I enjoyed that very much. But I believe I'd only truly be able to accurately review its real quality with a season or two's hindsight. But what I just saw was worth four out of five stars for this week at least. ****.


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