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The Blacklist “General Ludd” 

The Blacklist - Season 1
Photo Credit: Will Hart/NBC

If there’s one thing I’ve learned watching The Blacklist, it’s this: Rule 1- Do not hang out with Elizabeth Keen. She is like this swirling vortex of doom and if you are in her not-even-immediate vicinity, you will get shot, stabbed, blown up, framed for something, kidnapped or your cancer will come back and you’ll be smothered by a pillow before the illness can kill you. Elizabeth Keen is like a little black cloud in a shoulder holster. It must be exhausting.

This week, we get as close to confirmation that Red Reddington is Lizzie’s biological father as I think we’re ever going to get as Red visits Keen’s dad, Sam, in the hospital. Cancer is kicking the elder Keen’s ass, and Red assures Sam that he will love and protect Elizabeth as Sam has always done, and that Sam, who adopted Elizabeth when she was four years old, will always be her dad. Awwww.

Then he smothers Sam, ostensibly because Sam insists that Elizabeth know ‘the truth’. Bringing us to Blacklist Rule Two: Never tell Red Reddington your plans. God may laugh when you tell him your plans, but Reddington will actually kill you.

Unlike a lot of people, I am perfectly fine with Red being Lizzie’s father. I think having the audience aware of that fact, while Elizabeth is slowly getting to know Red and discovering the truth on her own could be a very powerful narrative tool. The viewers’ frustration of ‘Is he or isn’t he?’ would be gone, and would allow the audience to relax and simply enjoy the relationship between the two without feeling the compulsion to dissect and analyze every single Red/Lizzie interaction. Like I do.

The Blacklist - Season 1
Photo Credit: David Giesbrecht/NBC

Our Criminal of the Week, General Ludd, is an Occupy-type faceless organization bent on bringing down capitalism (Why? Then you can’t buy stuff. We love stuff). Specifically its leader and domestic terrorist Bradley Holland/Nathaniel Wolff/Arthur Denning played with Julian Assange-level arrogance and confidence (and crappy blonde hair) by Justin Kirk (Weeds, Angels in America, Animal Practice). Kirk is one of the few actors I think could hold their own in a face-to-face confrontation with James Spader‘s Reddington, and I was disappointed only because their shared screen time was so limited.

In the grand scheme of things, the Ludd storyline was secondary to the slow, steady evolution of Red and Elizabeth’s relationship. Red is a manipulative genius, telling Lizzie to keep her father’s memory alive by talking about him.

In doing so, he manages to seamlessly tap into Elizabeth’s grief and need for closeness in the face of her loss, and is rewarded with time alone with Lizzie in a moment he completely manufactured, as she shares stories about her dad. It’s almost sweet, if you can forget the fact Red murdered Elizabeth’s dying father to get to this point. Otherwise, awwwww.

Passing Thoughts 

• Holland/Wolf/Denning should count his blessings that Reddington only robbed him of the new $100 bill printing plates he ripped off while blowing things up, and didn’t kill him, which seems to be Red’s fallback point when finally meeting up with his Blacklisters.

• I agree with Reddington: Suburban Soccer Mom Counterfeiter should absolutely consider moving her family to Malaysia. I’ve been. The monkeys are delightful and will steal your water right out of your bag. No wonder Red likes it.

• Elizabeth needs to stop being so surprised when Red does something criminal or self-serving after delivering the Blacklisters to her. Self-serving and criminal is kind of what he does.

The Blacklist airs Mondays at 10/9c on NBC.

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  1. andie


    I’ll miss you at TV Guide. I’m boycotting the site now. Here are a few thoughts about the ep:

    1)Did Red kill Sam because he wanted to reveal the truth to Lizzie, or because he didn’t want to wither and die of cancer while she watched? I got the impression it was a mercy killing from the way Sam seemed to be patting Red on the back during his death throes, like a “Thank you for doing this for me” gesture.

    2) Was Sam’s last name Holland as well? Could he be related to the General Ludd founder?

    3) How great was the “I know that YOU know that I know about X” conversation that Red had with Tom? By the end of it, Tom was skurred of Red. (^:^)

    1. Tobey Jeffery-Greer

      By the end of that, *I* was skurred of Red. Be afraid, Tom. Be really afraid.

      I wondered the same thing, regarding Red’s killing Sam. Is he being merciful or ensuring his secret is safe? Both? I think both.

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