A children’s entertainer dressed as a clown is horribly murdered. No harm no foul, I say, but for Red and the Task Force it sets off alarm bells: Brer Clown was one of Red’s homeboys, and as we know Red does not like people moving onto his turf. A quick look round the “similar M.O.” database apparently maintained by all American procedural dramas reveals that, of course, there are quite a few similarly M.O.’d killings out there, all bearing the mediaeval stamp of The Vehm, originally a group of 15th century German psychotic religious fanatics, whose affection for torture porn has brought them onto the radar of The Blacklist’s writers.
The modern reincarnation of The Vehm is wiping out paedophiles (who escaped justice), although it appears also to be staffed by paedophiles (who didn’t escape justice). It’s all enjoyably creepy, and for the first half of this episode everything’s going very well, unless you’re a paedophile. Then, though, it all starts to drift off track a little, with a corrupt Cardinal and some money-launderers taking the sting out of a story which was shaping up promisingly. And it’s not as if we can look to Tom for some spice this week: he is now aware of Liz’s pregnancy, and he and his rock-hard abs are back in snuggly-wuggly mode.
There are a few positives: Kevin Weisman is back as Marshall Flinkman from Alias; Samar is agreeably acerbic – “Nothing personal, but you sucked in bed” – when she discovers that Ressler didn’t want her to get her job back; and Aram is both the nicest and the coolest dude in the Task Force. “I don’t deserve a friend like you”, Samar tells him. Damn right you don’t, lady. The episode as a whole, though, is something of a missed opportunity.
As for Red: the show, much to its credit, continues to resist the temptation to sand the edges off his ruthlessness; his treatment of the man who assaulted Liz last week is impressively brutal, and the scene in which he forced that couple to sing and dance was downright sadistic. And I liked his reaction to Liz being stripped of her gun. Ressler: “So you think convicted felons should be allowed to carry guns?” Red: “All the ones I know do.”
As CJ alluded to in last week’s comments, though, there’s no longer even a pretence that the Task Force is doing anything other than furthering, more or less without question, the interests of the man who is, or was, number 1 on the FBI’s Most Wanted List. Whether this represents a change in direction for the show, or just apathy on the part of the producers, I don’t know.