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The Blacklist “Ivan” 

Photo Credit: Craig Blankenhorn/NBC
Photo Credit: Craig Blankenhorn/NBC

Before I watched The Blacklist this week, I was thinking about Red Reddington, because that’s what I do in my off-time; I think about my shows and my people. And I was thinking about how Red had made a de facto family out of the people he let get close to him – not that there were a lot – and how loyal he was to them, because that’s what one does, I guess, when one’s wife and daughter are murdered at Christmas and one decides to turn to a life of international crime to cope. One must either turn brutally cold and be forever alone or one must choose very carefully who gets close and becomes family.

And then when this week’s episode, “Ivan” got going and Red tracked down suspected cyber-criminal, the titular Ivan in Belarus, and Red took a moment to stop and really appreciate the piroshki at Ivan’s table in the restaurant (and seriously, a good piroshki will change your life) before shuffling him out the kitchen (and complimenting the chef) I realized one of the things I loved about Red was how he appreciated life.

Eating beef jelly and drinking vodka. Art. Orange sherbet in the middle of the night. Re-staging his daughter’s performance of Swan Lake. The feel of a warm coat and kissing an old friend on the cheek before she led him to the woodland burial site of The Cowboy (Lance Reddick) and Jolene/Lucy Brooks. I don’t know if the writers meant to do it, but that, to me, was the perfect embodiment of Red Reddington. “Hello, my love! Your coat is divine. Absolute perfection. Where are the corpses? I would be lost without you. Please re-bury them? Such a treasure.”

Photo Credit: Craig Blankenhorn/NBC
Photo Credit: Craig Blankenhorn/NBC

“Ivan” was a bit of a bait and switch. The cyber-criminal hiding out in Belarus with the tasty piroshki wasn’t responsible for the theft of the NSA’s skeleton key or the death of an NSA agent in a car accident. That was down to a genius high-school student named Harrison, who stole the skeleton key to stop his girl-crush from having to move out of state because her dad was head of the project, and the project was moving to Colorado.

So, copying her lunch, stalking all her electronic movements, shutting down the city’s power, texting her as her friend and stealing a subway train as opposed to just leaving a note in her locker? Fundamental proof that no matter how intelligent they are, or that, terrifyingly, they will inherit the world, hormonal teenage boys are inherently idiots. Dude. Instead of taking time out from running from the FBI at school, stopping and dicking around, hacking into the school’s emergency protocol system to evacuate the building, next time just pull the fire alarm.

Harrison led the girl he loved as far as he could. He guided her down darkened streets and placed lights in her path, one at a time. In the end, it was her decision what to do, whether to stay or to go. To run away or to face him. She could only go down the path he had laid out for her for so long, until she learned the truth – that he had lied to her about who he was.

Photo Credit: Craig Blankenhorn/NBC
Photo Credit: Craig Blankenhorn/NBC

Meanwhile, Elizabeth is looking at crime-scene photo of Tom’s secret warehouse, with a gift she gave him in the trash, and she finally realizes that Red has been leading her down all the right avenues and leaving her to make her own mind up about what her truths are.

The music box is a nice touch. While Red had been working on it throughout the episode, I’d been thinking, “He has such interesting hobbies.” But hearing that her father had hummed her the same old tune to comfort her after her nightmares and Red was readying it for when, inevitably, she came to him for comfort when she needed him, it made a lot more sense. One chooses one’s family very carefully, after all.

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

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