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Recaps

The Blacklist “The Judge” 

Photo Credit: Virginia Sherwood/NBC
Photo Credit: Virginia Sherwood/NBC

It was, of course, only a matter of time from when we were first introduced to the shifty Jolene Parker (AKA Lucy Brooks) that the music team on The Blacklist would find an appropriate time to slip in Dolly Parton‘s iconic song, ‘Jolene.’

This version, played at the end of “The Judge” when Tom Keen heads to Jolene’s hotel room, is actually Parton’s original song, but slowed down by some genius by about half, which lends more melancholy and aching pain to the arrangement than the faster version.

It’s haunting and perfect to the episode, especially when Tom reveals to Jolene that Elizabeth Keen, his wife, is simply his assignment, and means absolutely less than nothing to him.

Assigned by whom, we don’t know yet, but the fact that Jolene has been tailing Red around the world (a fact brought to us by a cowboy hat wearing freelancer hired by Red to look into Jolene’s history) and she seems to have been sent as some sort of Tom Keen Infidelity Loyalty Test (a Jezebel litmus strip, if you will). I think it’s safe to assume Jolene and Tom are working for the same shadow organization, and whoever is running that, knows how Red and Lizzie are connected, why Liz is so important to Red and that Red, eventually, was going to come back for Elizabeth. That’s why they placed Tom in her path, so they’d have an established agent in place when Red finally surfaced. That? Is some Machiavellian work. Brava.

Speaking of Red, he didn’t really have much to do in this episode, except track down the proof that convinced this week’s Blacklister, The Judge, to surrender quietly. Much like last week’s Madeline Pratt, The Judge isn’t the typical Blacklister. She’s not ultra-violent, not a master-criminal, not creating designer babies for rich people. She does take her self-appointed position of ‘spiritual advisor’ to inmates really, really seriously and that whole, “eye for an eye” thing is carved really deep in her psyche.

Photo Credit: Virginia Sherwood/NBC
Photo Credit: Virginia Sherwood/NBC

Ruth Kipling (Dianne Wiest: In Treatment; Law and Order) has convinced herself she’s meting out justice when she kidnaps and imprisons people in her barn that she feels have impeded the proper process of law. However many years a specific inmate who has sought her help has lost because of a judge’s, lawyer’s, District Attorney’s mis-use of the system, she, in turn, takes from them.

It’s an interesting premise, and I liked it. I think it’s fair to say that most people can acknowledge that sometimes, not everyone gets the fairest of trials, and that justice isn’t always served. Making people accountable in this most Thunderdome of ways intrigues me. I’m not advocating it, mind, but if my dad served 30 years for something he didn’t do because some Crown Attorney (Canada, yo) withheld evidence, I’d be pissed, too.

I didn’t even need the inclusion of Harold Cooper’s kidnapping and near electrocution at the hands of the Judge and her minions to keep me interested in this story-line. Cooper, 20-years-ago, beat a confession out of a soldier turned Taliban member who took part in the slaughter of a village. The man was guilty, but the fact was, Cooper still beat the confession out of him, a fact Elizabeth chose not to disclose to the authorities after he was rescued, even though that’s really, really illegal. The irony of Liz withholding information, after putting away the Judge, seems to be lost on everyone.

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

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