Finally The Blacklist is back, and boy does it get off to an explosive start. This episode, entitled “Dr. Hans Koehler” sees Reddington attempting to rob a bank. The problem is, somebody else is already robbing it. As you may guess, Raymond’s attempt goes off without a hitch but the other team is not so lucky. Reddington never does anything without a plan and before long Raymond reveals to Liz what his purpose was. He needed to find information on the titular Dr. Koehler. Koehler has a history of giving criminals facial surgery to change their identity. Its a bait he dangles in front of the FBI knowing they cannot refuse.
And it wouldn’t be an episode The Blacklist if Cooper and Liz refused – they do not, but they do suspect that Reddington is withholding the salient details, as he always does. Meanwhile Liz continues to deal with the aftermath of season 5. She attempts to use her sister to track uncover their past and expose Reddington as a fraud. I am not sure where this story-line is going. We have been at this for over 5 seasons and this feels like yet another turn in an impossible saga, something I comment more on further below.
Meanwhile the team is busy on their manhunt for Koehler. To find Dr. Koehler the FBI and Reddington follow the standard procedure, they use one of his last client to uncover his whereabouts. The twist that follows is that Koehler is being held against his will. His latest clients wants to ensure he gets his makeover but then decides to eliminate the doctor for good measure. Koehler is able to say a few dying words to Reddington, words that upset the latter. The FBI uncovers more about the Koehler’s mystery client and Liz berates Reddington for not telling the truth from the start when the she discovers the client was a notorious assassin.
The episode ends with Reddington and Liz being unable to reconcile despite some soothing words. It feels like we have been here before. Raymond knows Liz is trying to undo him, but he cannot stop her as he needs to know what she will uncover. Liz for her part is unwilling to let sleeping dogs lie. For me this episode felt like one of the weaker ones of the show. The formula was too predictable, the humor was OK, but the all too familiar tension between Liz and Raymond as well the absence of meaningful actions on the characters means it feels the show is reaching the end of its run.
Now don’t get me wrong. I like The Blacklist, but often the show fails to make a lasting impression. Over the last five season we have been continuously forced to wonder if Raymond is Liz’s father. It never felt really that important, but I as the viewer went along with it. Now I no longer know where the shows stands. Season 5 ended with yet another twist: Raymond is supposedly not her father. And yet, I don’t believe that. It is yet another improbable twist in saga that should have been over after two seasons. The Blacklist is better than that, it used to be better than that.
This latest twist feel unsatisfactory and takes away more time from the highly entertaining secondary characters such as Ressler, Cooper, Aram and agent Navabi. They each were the focus of a sub-arc during the first three seasons and for each those arcs have completed, leaving the show in limbo story-wise.
Yes sure, Aram and Navabi are getting married, Ressler still issues with skeletons in the closet, but it will take to reinvigorate their story-lines and I don”t think the show has the time left to do so. Tonight will be the conclusion of this two-parter, maybe it will offer the tension and resolution I want.
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