The Blacklist s4 ep 21; s4 ep 22

End-of-season spoilers

In the first part of this season-ending double-bill, Red’s empire is crumbling: Mr. Kaplan is emptying his accounts, meaning that he can’t pay anyone, and his reputation is draining away with his money. Which poses an interesting question: what is Red Reddington if not a wealthy international mega-criminal; and, specifically, what use is he to the Task Force in that eventuality? Not much use at all, is the conclusion. Particularly with Detective Julian Gale getting in the way. So as far as Liz is concerned it’s all hands on deck to find Mr. Kaplan, notwithstanding that Red arranged for Liz to be abducted and kidnapped by the Debt Collector in order that she could be used as Kaplan-bait. There’s almost a shrug of the shoulders as they rationalise this. It’s Red. He does shit like that, the old rogue.

Mr. Kaplan’s next move is to hire Mario Dixon, top thief, to steal the signed copy of Red’s immunity deal from a storage facility. (A terrific sequence, this one, moving quickly from the removal of an eyeball to a motorcycle escaping from the rear of a van.) But Red is on top of this: he captures Mario, who in keeping with his status as a mercenary quickly offers to give Mr. Kaplan up. Once he does, of course, Red kills him, in keeping with his status as a sociopathic criminal, then drops in on Liz’s grandfather Dom (played by Brian Dennehy, and last seen in season 3) in order to pick something up.

And, when Red and Mr. Kaplan finally meet, in a theatre, the “something” is revealed to be Red’s last and best offer: a private island where she can live out her days, wealthy and safe. She declines, but before negotiations or shooting can commence Agent Gale and the FBI come bursting in, and Red gets away. Mr. Kaplan, however, offers to testify against Red in return for immunity.

It’s an excellent episode. But the next one is better. A grand jury – which has already heard from Aram, who did his very best not to dob Red and the Task Force in – takes like five seconds to confirm that Mr. Kaplan has the goods on Red, and offers her immunity. She asks for 24 hours to put her affairs in order; this means a trip to a place called Tansi Farms where she digs up a suitcase and puts it in a locker at a bus station.

Meantime, Red is sitting in a downmarket hotel destroying evidence of multiple IDs, and Harold Cooper is wondering – not for the first time, surely – why the hell Red walked into their lives in the first place, particularly as it looks as if Liz, and the rest of them, are going to jail as a result. So he roots around in an evidence vault, dugs out a bloodstained shirt worn by Red years ago, and sends off for DNA testing to find out once and for all if Red is Liz’s father.

We’ll get to that. Red, meantime, is still hard at work: he tracks down one Harry Prescott, a superstar fixer, and through Prescott finds the body of Reven Wright, which has a bullet in it from Laurel Hitchin’s gun. Using that as leverage, Hitchin is persuaded to shut down the grand jury, much to Aram’s relief, as he’s been stuck in the cells for refusing to testify against the Task Force.

But Liz doesn’t know that Red’s plan has worked, and she’s set up a meeting with Mr. Kaplan. Red and the Task Force are tracking Liz, but Red’s men get there first, leading to Mr. Kaplan shooting – and killing? – Red’s lieutenant Baz (played by the magnificently-named Bazzel Baz).

Mr. Kaplan gets away from that one, but the Task Force pins her down on a bridge, and Red confronts her. She once again refuses any sort of peace deal, and tells Red that if she dies her associate will tell Liz about the secret of Tansi Farms. Red still won’t shoot her, so Mr. Kaplan dives off the bridge, as we knew she would. We see her floating face-down in the water, but is she dead? As this show brought Liz back from actual death, I’m not convinced.

And then all sorts of things happen. Ressler goes to confront Hitchin and, somewhat randomly, kills her by accident. Then calls Prescott to do the cleaning. I wonder if he’ll be a regular next season? Aram discovers that girlfriend Janet ratted him out to the grand jury, heads to Task Force HQ, and makes out with Samar. The DNA test confirms, inevitably, that Red is Liz’s dad, news which Liz treats with a certain degree of equanimity: she heads over to Red’s hotel for a shouting match, but ends up acknowledging that she is her father’s daughter – “Guess what”, she tells Red, “I am like you” – and hugging him. (This scene is, perhaps, Megan Boone’s finest piece of acting on this show.)

But we’re still not done. Red confirms to Dembe that Liz thinks Red’s-your-daddy was the big secret, and not the really big secret: the suitcase, Tansi Farms. Dembe observes that he doesn’t think Liz will ever be ready to find out what Red did to Katarina, and Red makes it clear that they need to find the suitcase. However, someone’s already there… and it’s Tom, who opens the suitcase to reveal human bones, then calls someone: “Mr. Kaplan’s instructions were very specific. I’m on my way”.

Which ends season 4. It got a little bogged down in the middle, but the post-hiatus run of episodes was, in my view, as strong as anything we’ve seen from this show since the first season. Moreover, with Red on the ropes, Liz now confirmed as family, Tom floating somewhere between all of them, and a mysterious suitcase full of bones out there, the prospects for season 5 look good. For example: would Liz assist in reviving Red’s criminal organisation? Or would the Task Force, now seemingly insulated from criticism, on the basis that they get more from a powerful Red than a diminished one?

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