Season 1, Episode 22: “Berlin (No. 8), Part 2″ | Date: May 14, 2014
I can’t pinpoint the precise moment when “The Blacklist” went from a riveting weekly entertainment to something I watched passively while fiddling with my phone or surfing the Internet.
But that’s where the show was as it entered into the second part of its season finale. That’s where it stayed.
In fairness, the series probably couldn’t rescue itself. It was too committed to grafting a police procedural atop what could have been a truly dynamic action spy thriller.
The finale was exactly what I expected it to be. It was as author Hunter S. Thompson described his search for the American dream: “A lame jerk-around. A waste of time.” Thompson didn’t use the word “jerk.” He preferred another four-letter word.
That’s how I’ve come to feel about “The Blacklist.” The series had mysteries worth resolving: Who is Tom Keen (Ryan Eggold), the sketchy husband of FBI Agent Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone) and who is Keen’s real father?
Unsurprisingly, we learn the answer to neither in the finale. Just more hints and innuendo. Lies and misdirection. I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating: There’s a fine line between leaving the audience wanting more and jerking them around. “The Blacklist” is clearly jerking us around.
I usually don’t watch commercials but when you’re playing a vigorous game of Tetris while a mediocre show plays, sometimes you lose track of the remote and let one slip through. This happened Monday and another ad for the lovely Ford Mustang starred the actor who played Tom Keen. He coyly told the audience that who Keen was would have to be a mystery, but all would be one day be revealed.
This felt like the writers mocking me during the break. Haha, losers. We’re not going to tell you anything. We’re already renewed for next season. Forget about real answers. Sigh.
Weak writers did what they always do when they don’t have a good story: They killed an ancillary character. The victim was CIA Agent Blah Blah (Parminder Nagra), a character that I tended to forget was on the show. Her throat was slit. She died. Elizabeth Keen cried. My Kleenex box is still unopened.
Elizabeth, who is probably the worst FBI field agent ever, is taken prisoner by Tom. Tom uses her as leverage to try and free a man he believes to be Berlin, a guy who has a grudge against Red (James Spader).
She fights him, gets his gun and shoots him in the gut several times. He lives. Oh, he pretends to die. But he lives. We knew this. Otherwise that Mustang commercial would have lied to us. And we know advertising never lies.
Tom tells Elizabeth his father is still alive. Red says he died in a fire. The final shot of the episode is of Red tending to a gunshot wound, his back badly scarred by fire. Is he her father? Did he kill her father? Is he metaphorically saying that the man he was the night of the fire died in that terrible fire and he’s actually her father but not really her father?
Do I, as a viewer, still care?
I am beginning to think the answer is no.