The Blacklist (S07E03) “Les Fleurs Du Mal”

The third episode of The Blacklist for season 7, Les Fleur Du Mal, introduced us to a society for rich (spoiled) bored folks seeking thrills in death. Tempting and watching death, to be precise. When the episode begins with a man locked inside a box, sweating because he can’t disarm a bomb, you know you’re watching The Blacklist. And in a scene we’ve seen before – Alan Fitch anyone? – our hapless victim failed in his attempt. The rich and fabulous applauded as blood splattered all over the walls of the glass box.

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The case didn’t appear relevant, until Frankie (Natalie Paul) informed Red (James Spader) that Louis T Steinhil (David Meunier) had created an illusion for the group of thrill-seekers. Red in turn gave the case to Liz (Megan Boone) and the task force. Red, meanwhile went off in search of someone who could give him information on Katarina Rostova’s (Laila Robins) whereabouts. Which was entirely frustrating, because as we the audience are well aware – Katarina has moved in right across from Liz. And Red, who always knows everything about everyone’s business and then some, doesn’t know that. So yes, frustrating.

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After Liz gave the briefing, Cooper (Harry Lennix) had Ressler (Diego Klattenhoff) and Aram – yes, Aram, not Liz – head out to speak to a Mrs Elodie Radcliffe (Elizabeth Bogush) regarding Les Fleur Du Mal.  Cooper, meanwhile, gave a puzzled Liz the mom talk. She’s a single mom, and if she needs to leave early, come in late, etc, etc, she can. Um, yeah. What happened to the Harold Cooper in Season One who told Meera that the job came first, regardless of her family? Apparently, the episode writers forgot about that Harold.

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Ressler and Aram met with Elodie Radcliffe to discuss Les Fleur Du Mal.  Her husband, Charles (Rich Mollo), had returned from one of their ‘Defiance’ events completely paralyzed and non responsive. Basically brain dead, and she wants answers. She’d been told it was a diving accident, but knew Les Fleur Du Mal were responsible. They had all but killed Charles. And in about 30 seconds, Aram ‘makes a connection’ with this woman, through their shared loss. Yeah…. totally believable….

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So when Ressler was to be the one to go undercover with Elodie, Aram stepped in. Because of his ‘connection’ with Elodie, he and Elodie would make a more convincing couple. So… wouldn’t the fact that Ressler’s pregnant fiance had died in his arms make him also have this ‘shared loss connection’ to Elodie? Apparently not, for the sake of plot device in this episode. So Cooper then gave Aram the dad talk, asked how Aram had been doing since Samar left, etc, etc. Aram convinced Cooper he was ready to move on and he could do this. So Cooper allowed Aram to go in.

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Enter Shameel Aubeelauck, billionaire playboy – Aram’s undercover identity, complete with white turtle neck to match his white pants. It’s not often that Aram gets out of the Post Office, but when he does, the writers love affair with his character shines through in buckets. They hatched the plan. Aram (Shameel) and Elodie would enter The Defiance at an undisclosed location. They would then assemble a tracking device once inside, and the task force could track their location. So, right on plan, suavely attired Shameel and Elodie entered the Defiance, and waltzed pass security. Simple. Until it wasn’t. Of course, there was a jamming device at the location. The task force had no idea where Aram or Elodie were.

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Aram did a quick security sweep, and disarmed the jammers right before game time. Everyone was wearing supplied bracelets that lit up when the bingo barrel spun, ready to drop a name. And guess who was chosen? No, not Aram. Elodie was their next victim, um, player. Horrified, she called out to Aram to help her, totally forgetting that his name was Shameel tonight. They revealed the Defiance chamber. A glass walled container she had to unlock and escape from, before it suffocated her with tiny glass balls. Let the games begin. As Elodie struggled, Aram watched in horror as the container filled.

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And then… well, in a completely unbelievable scene, Aram announced he was FBI, grabbed a gun, shot two guys in quick succession, then shot the tank. When the glass didn’t break, he threw the now empty gun at the glass, shattering it. Aram Bond saved the girl. It was laughable. Honestly so over the top and out of character for Aram. In a previous Season One episode that these writers ignored, Aram had barely known which end of the gun to hold. He’d only shot at paper. ‘Pretend they’re paper’, Liz had helpfully told him. Yet now he’s a super marksman. Right….

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Oh, but we weren’t done. Having caused mayhem and destruction, Aram Bond then whisked the girl away, hid in a dark corridor at close quarters, and then kissed Elodie. Samar, the love of Aram’s life, is still out there and Elodie is MARRIED, yet we’re supposed to buy into this romantic moment. Sorry, a big pass from me. By the time Ressler and Liz arrived, guns blazing to arrest everyone, I could barely see it through my eye rolls. Aram’s story finished with him calling on Elodie that night ‘to finish what they’d started’. Right. I wonder if her husband was nearby.

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In other more down to earth and believable parts of the episode, Red found a guy who had information on the Townsend Directive. Someone on the inside. We got another ‘Reddington walking through a restaurant kitchen’ scene (we should make that a drinking game) to meet the guy. But Red needed some dirt on said thug to get his cooperation. Enter Frankie, with a plan. And it was great. All she needed to do was catch said thug with an FBI agent, and snap a pic. Instant leverage. Frankie got the pic, winning Red’s admiration and a job offer. But something sneaky is up. Frankie told Red it was her wedding anniversary. Red sent champagne to the restaurant, but discovered Frankie was not there. He knew she had lied.

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And in other news, Katarina took full advantage of her proximity to Liz and Agnes (Sarah, Katherine and Emily Kell). Liz, the worst FBI profiler EVER, let this stranger into her home, where Katarina quickly palmed the front door key and made an impression of it. Once Liz’s apartment was empty, Katarina entered with her new key, then replaced one of Agnes’s dolls with a bugged doll. So not only is Red oblivious that Katarina is THAT close, Cooper’s FBI security detail are also blind as bats. Katarina has free run of Liz’s empty apartment, and NO ONE suspects anything is amiss. Really??

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Back in her apartment, Katarina listened in that evening as Liz spoke on the phone. When Liz received the address of Steinhil, Katarina got it too. She then beat Red to the punch. When Red arrived to interrogate Steinhill, Katarina had already killed him. I don’t like seeing Red made to look a fool so easily by this woman. The episode ended with Liz once more inviting Katarina in to read to Agnes. Smiling sweetly at the scene of this ‘lovely’ woman reading to her daughter, Liz is once more being completely played.

THOUGHTS

I’ve really tried not to let rip on just how bad I thought this episode was. And it wasn’t even that it was mainly Aram, because Amir did a good job with what he was given. It was that it was completely out of character for Aram. And no, it wasn’t even that I’m a Ressler fan and he missed out on the undercover op. Trust me, I would have hated seeing him having to act out this script. And – I am about 75% sure this Elodie is going to end up being another Janet/Elise story. Not real, and a Katarina plant to access the task force.

The episode was over the top and unbalanced. Too much Aram, barely any Liz, Ressler or Cooper, and unforgivably – barely any Red. When Reddington is the B story in an episode, you know something is wrong. James Spader should never be delegated to the backup story, while the 4th billed actor takes the lead. If the powers that be want to stay on the air and get a season 8, they have to give better than this. The live numbers were abysmal – 0.4 which is cancellation level. The show is no longer giving the audience that riveting story it once did. If people stop watching live, as is happening, the show will not survive. The writers must pull out better than we’ve got so far this season. Of the three episodes, so far only 702 has come close to being good.

It’s a shame that the show has dropped to these levels. Sadly, the pool of established writers has dwindled, and new, less experienced writers are getting episodes. And it is showing.

The Blacklist airs on Friday at 8/7c on NBC.

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