BWW Opinion: THE BLACKLIST - Where is Season Four Heading?
With a show like THE BLACKLIST, it's always wise to sit back and to take stock occasionally. It's especially wise to do so after potential game-changing episodes. Though it could be argued that every episode of this series is a possible game-changer, there are ones that are clearly setting up certain expectations. Last Thursday's episode, "Gaia," is one of those. Let's look at it in light of recent show PR as well as the episode itself, and see what we can predict of the future in the dystopia that is Red Reddington's world.
The most surprising thing about this episode is just how much news just isn't news. To wit: Alexander Kirk claims he wants Baby Agnes in order to keep his family together - and away from Red - but surprise... or no surprise... he's in it for the stem cells. If you haven't cottoned to Kirk having a lingering, potentially fatal blood illness, you haven't watched the show since before the end of Season 3. And if you haven't suspected that Baby Agnes is somehow a pawn in Kirk's game, the same conclusion is true. Well, folks, he needs stem cells. Agnes has plenty. Only one problem - she's presumably too young to harvest any for him, but Kirk is a blacklister, so there wasn't any SUSPICION that he might be a nice guy, was there?
And we learned last week that Samar is transferring. It's presumably because of the insanity in the PRESSURE COOKER that is the super-secret lair of The Post Office. Well, yeah, things do go insane in there, and people who are supposed to be dead are alive, and you never know which team you're playing for. But enough about details. We all know what is really going on here. Samar and Aram have had a massive case of television Unresolved Sexual Tension since the day she arrived at the task force. But they've had horrible timing. Samar slept with Ressler, when they really didn't have any interesting sexual tension - which is why his "anything I can do to convince you to stay" speech is just a little cringe-worthy. And now that she tried turning to Aram to convince her not to leave, she discovered that Aram has a female acquaintance that is neither Samar Navabi nor a computer with a sexy voice. She is a real, live, fairly hot American girl, which is not good news for Samar, who is a real, live, very hot Iranian woman with an incredibly sexy voice but no Aram. Fix this, producers. This is not Ziva and Tony on NCIS. Give us a break.
Also in the world of failed relationships? Try Liz and not-Tom. Liz is put on a video feed with Baby Agnes that depends on THE FEED not being traced for her to keep contact with her daughter. Liz makes sure that not-Tom knows this is Rule Number One. With the incredible intellect for which he is justly not famous, not-Tom traces the feed, causing it to be shut down. Contact with the kidnapped Baby Agnes is immediately severed. It's amazing that not-Tom's neck wasn't severed, because Liz trusted him to do the semi-right thing for once. She clearly forgot that he is as good at not doing the right thing as Aram is good at pulling amazing feats of computer magic out of thin air in thirty seconds or less. As he did this week when he took control of a helicopter's flight instruments from his desk. Can this marriage be saved?
It's doubtful that this marriage can be saved at the moment, because Ryan Eggold, playing the super-spy hubby from hell, has a spin-off series starting, as currently scheduled, over THE BLACKLIST's winter break. If the new show is successful - my own money is that it won't be that successful, unless there's much more to it than the tale of not-Tom/Jacob/Whoever meets and works with his also-killer mommy and finds out about his past (or not) - Eggold will be making only occasional visits to THE BLACKLIST. Odds are that this is the event that will start the rift that will ease Eggold off of full-time appearance on THE BLACKLIST; the timing is right.
Who's telling the truth to Liz - Kirk or Red? Hint: Red is the star of the show, one that has engendered a spin-off series and that is, right now, fairly likely to be renewed. Kirk is a blacklister. Also, Red loves Baby Agnes, while Kirk sees her as a medical instrument, so who do you trust slightly more, audience? Further, this series works on the concept of long story arcs that mess up Liz's personal life: Adoption. Marital problems. Killing the Attorney General and playing fugitive for half a season. Getting pregnant. Playing dead and coming back to life. Kirk is the latest story arc, not a permanent theme by himself. And a renewed show means that Red and Liz have to keep working with or against each other for the rest of the series, so... put your money down on Red, not black, for the lies that are slightly closer to truth.
Speaking of story arcs, surely you guessed last week that a) audience favorite, Mr. Kaplan, was going to live, and that b) she probably was not rescued by a Good Samaritan. Now we find she's been shackled to a bed by her rescuer. The producers say she'll have a stand-alone story arc for a bit. This is good news. It means more Mr. Kaplan for the audience, and more chances to see the amazing work of Susan Blommaert, one of the best stage and screen performers that people don't know. Given that Mr. Kaplan has the same enormous degree of magic power as Aram, though in different areas of life, it's almost a foregone conclusion that she'll escape, though the exact amount of Stephen King wackiness to her current predicament isn't yet established.
The other unpredictable element to the Mr. Kaplan saga? What will happen between her and Red once she does escape. Remember, Red did try to kill her, so this can't have an immediate kiss-and-make-up element to it. Imagine Mr. Kaplan going rogue for a while. If anyone on this show can go rogue and make us love it, it would be her. But will she be re-introduced to her former employer by saving Red's life in one of his frequent fixes? Will she take the large amount of money she's clearly acquired (she wears vicuna coats and Chanel suits, folks) and retire to Aruba? Say it ain't so, Mr. Kaplan. We love you, and you and your Mary Poppins handbags must never leave us.
Or the producers could contract with JK Rowling to produce a spin-off with Aram and Mr. Kaplan teaching at their obvious alma mater, Hogwarts. You know there's a wand somewhere in those enormous purses that Mr. Kaplan carries.
And the most mysterious and shocking revelation of the series occurred in this episode. Glen of the DMV and Dembe... are into bowling. WHO KNEW?
Well, fellow BLACKLIST addicts... what happens next?
Photo credit: NBC Universal