The Blacklist (S06E18) “The Brockton College Killer”

Part one of this weeks double episode of The Blacklist, The Brockton College Killer, gave us a cold case. Literally. Frozen corpses. But the heart of the episode was with Red (James Spader), Liz (Megan Boone) and Dembe (Hisham Tawfiq).

After months of keeping her secret, Liz finally had to tell Red just what she’d done. After Smokey Putnam’s (Michael Aranov) shocking death last week, Red was set to meet with Max Rudiger (Dikran Tulaine). Max had been with Red in New York on the day they arrested him. Now, if I were Red, I’d have spoken to Max first, but hey, that’s just me. Dembe had given Liz the ultimatum – if she didn’t tell Red, then he would. And amazingly, Liz faced Red, and calmly told him Max didn’t turn him into the Police. She had. And the look of horror on Red’s face was heartbreaking. And yet, he knew. As soon as he was behind bars, and Liz was looking for Dr Hans Koehler’s (Kenneth Tigar)  nurse, Red knew.

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In tears, Liz explained that she’d felt justified in getting answers, but now she didn’t need them. Because Red almost died after what she did. Who Red was today was all that mattered. Red learned that both Liz and Dembe had kept the secret. And unable to face either of them,  Red left. He needed to think, and went to visit Dom (Brian Dennehy) to do so. Because Red considered excommunication of Liz and Dembe, something Dom had done in the past. Dembe, meanwhile sought guidance at his mosque once more.

Some of the best scenes of the episode were with Red and Dom repairing his old car. These two men have always had a complicated relationship. Familiar, yet estranged. Dom takes no crap from Red, and it’s refreshing to see. As Red explained Red and Dembe’s betrayal, he pondered what to do. He already knew how to exact revenge. What he didn’t know was how to forgive and live with the hurt of betrayal. Could he forgive both Liz and Dembe? Dom asked him straight. How much do you love Dembe?

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Upset and concerned about Dembe, Liz went to work on the Blacklister case Red had given her. And the case was very straightforward. Honestly, I figured it out in the first few minutes. Tobias Carlyle (Edmund Donovan) was in prison for crimes he had not committed. Social media podcaster, Kimberly Owens (Sarah Nicole Deaver), led the pack in wanting Tobias freed due to lack of evidence. Caryle had known all three murder victims 6 years ago, the sum total of evidence against him. So when a new frozen body turned up, how could he have done it? It looked like someone had framed him, and they released him.

A professor with a penchant for college girls looked the likely suspect, until the task force proved they’d also framed him. Once free, Carlyle visited Kimberly Owens to thank her for her support. And there (no surprise) Owens turned the tables. When Tobias discovered what looked like the murder weapon, he was horrified. Owens attacked him, screaming that he was ungrateful after everything she had done. She had killed the latest victim, and framed the professor, all to secure Carlyle’s freedom. With Tobias incapacitated, she then deposited him in the deep freeze, where he was rescued by the task force.

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Back from Dom’s, Red arrived at his Bethesda apartment and found Dembe packing. And in a beautiful, heartfelt monologue, Red told Dembe of how deep their friendship was. That their friendship was born of suffering and desperation, trust and compassion. And that despite what Dembe had done, he needed no forgiveness. Dembe could do no wrong in their relationship. Dembe thanked Red, and I thought for a second all was okay. Strained, but okay. Until Dembe said he could not forgive Red. All the secrets had become too much. I’m sure Smokey’s death was the final straw. Dembe told Red he had followed his path for long enough, and now he needed to follow his own. And he left.

Ressler (Diego Klattenhoff) had also been busy with his investigation into the mystery man in the photo. He didn’t know it was Dom, but we did. After obtaining a bunch of quarters from a candy machine at the post office Dom visited, he had Aram (Amir Arison) run prints on each coin. But nothing came up. No leads, until a Russian diplomat followed Ressler. The man warned Ressler to stop investigating Katarina Rostova’s father. The prints had not panned out, but Ressler discovered that the man in the photo was Liz’s grandfather.

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Armed with this information, Ressler told Liz he had found her grandfather. Stunned, she asked to see the photograph, and immediately recognized Dom, but she had known him as Oleander. The episode ended with Liz knocking on Dom’s door. When Dom recognized her, he asked what he could do for her. Liz’s reply – “You could begin by saying hello to your granddaughter.”

FINAL THOUGHTS

This episode felt unbalanced. Just too much Blacklister, when we were itching to get back to Red and Dom, Dembe, and Liz. A soul-searching Red was in a difficult place. And for weeks, I’d feared what revenge Red would exact on Dembe. I knew he could not touch Liz, apart from ignoring her calls. Dembe was the one I was afraid for. So it was a complete switch when Dembe could not forgive Red, and walked away. I don’t feel it’s permanent though. If Red needs Dembe, I feel he will return. There is deep love there, and that cannot be ignored.

I wasn’t too surprised at how ‘well’ Red took Liz’s confession. It rocked him, yes. Not that she’d done it, but that he had tried to believe she had not. The scenes with Red and Liz, and Red and Dembe were great this episode.

This was part one of a double episode, and it wasted no time moving into the second episode, “Rassvet”.

The Blacklist airs at 9/8c on Fridays on NBC. It will move to a new time of 8/7c from May 3rd.

Images courtesy NBC Virginia Sherwood | Sony/NBC | 2019 NBC Universal Media, LLC