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“T” and Sympathy, The Blacklist “The Alchemist” 

Photo Credit: Will Hart/NBC
Photo Credit: Will Hart/NBC

I think I’ve been pretty clear, consistently, in my love for The Blacklist. Even when I don’t particularly like what’s going on in a particular episode, my appreciation for the series holds strong, and I can play the long game. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, here, kids. I can wait out any weakness.

That almost changed with “The Alchemist.” It wasn’t the fact the Villain of the Week was less than compelling. (Changing bad guy DNA so they can disappear? Is he a wizard?) It wasn’t the weak writing (Everyone watching knew within seconds that The Alchemist’s estranged family wasn’t dead; that he had forced them out of their home and he had killed some poor woman and child and left them in their place. For God’s sake, that’s what the man does. Why did highly trained FBI agents not tweak on that immediately upon entering the home?) And it wasn’t the fact I had to sit through a baby shower. A. Baby. Shower. I didn’t have one of my own when I was pregnant, I hate them so much, why would I subject myself to one on my favorite show?

Nope. It was none of those things. It was the fact that “The Alchemist” actually made me feel sorry for Elizabeth Keen. I know! Usually I just want Lizzie to be quiet in order to free up more screen time for Red to chew scenery and be sarcastic, but, man, Keen has my sympathies this week. The girl has troubles. And they start with “T.” And that stands for “Tom.” And that awful woman at the ill-conceived shower who wouldn’t shut her yap about Lizzie’s choices regarding taking time off work to bond with a baby they don’t even have yet. You need to stop it, lady. Now. Not your business.

Here’s the thing: Tom actually knows what Lizzie’s life is like. Most people married to secret agents or spies or highly placed officers of the law don’t. Secrecy is in the nature of the business. It’s hard and it’s stressful and it’s made worse when your spouse doesn’t understand why you’re gone all the hours God sends and why you’re really, really cranky sometimes. It can be very isolating, and very lonely.

But Tom should understand; he’s been to The Post Office. He’s been questioned. He’s seen the guns. He’s been under surveillance and been in danger and he knows what the deal is and yet, he still insists on being a jerk about all this. “Oh. Just take an indeterminate amount of time off from protecting America and chasing murderers and guys who change the DNA of felons. And if you don’t it means you DON’T LOVE OUR BABY.” Tom is an ass.

Photo Credit: Will Hart/NBC
Photo Credit: Will Hart/NBC

And someone who recognizes this has placed a hot girl in Tom’s path. We can tell, because she’s a previously unseen “substitute teacher” strategically located in the master bedroom’s bathroom, practicing saying her name in the mirror during the horrible baby shower, (that’s not suspicious at all). She invites an unhappy and maritally dissatisfied Tom to an art show, which is about three steps to the left of, “Come on up to my loft and see my etchings.”

And he goes because Lizzie is late for dinner. Keep in mind she was late for dinner because she’d put herself in front of an armed crazy person who’d recently killed a woman and small child so he could kidnap his own family and was holding an entire convenience store full of people hostage, but, you know, Tom has feelings. He made noodles.

Photo Credit: Will Hart/NBC
Photo Credit: Will Hart/NBC

Even Red wasn’t there for Liz this week, like he usually is. It’s established that his “Blacklist” project isn’t an altogether altruistic endeavor; he gets as much, if not more out of helping hunt down and capture (kill) the people on the list as Elizabeth and the FBI, but this time he was downright cold about the fact he wasn’t interested in anything other than obtaining the list of clients The Alchemist had accrued.

Leaving Elizabeth by herself in the sanctuary, (even if it was to go bust Meera Malik for being the mole) with the names he wanted emphasized the fact that, this time, she was alone. Having her stand in her empty apartment, while Tom’s phone rang unanswered as he drank and laughed with someone else at an art show just drove that point home, and, dammit, if that didn’t make me feel sympathetic for Elizabeth Keen.

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

For more on The Blacklist, check out Tobey’s Q&A with EPs John Eisendrath, Jon Bokenkamp and Blacklist star Parminder Nagra.

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