The Blacklist Season 1 Review “Berlin: Conclusion”

The Blacklist Episode 22 Berlin: Conclusion (6)

The title of tonight’s episode of The Blacklist strongly suggested resolution. Most shows (including this one) title the second part of two-episode arcs “Part 2”. Instead, The Blacklist titled their second part “Conclusion”. I’m not going to pull out Webster’s dictionary here, but the word conclusion usually suggests some sort of finality or resolution to a piece of work. What the show offered to the viewer in the season finale was something gussied up to look like a conclusion, but there was really no conclusion to be found. Even worse, the show drudged up old questions and put them back in the hopper. I understand the show’s desire to have questions for a second season. After all, the very premise of the show seems rather untenable. However, bringing back the same questions for a second run through is cause for real concern. Depending on what happens with the summer breakout sessions, the show could decide to run another 22 episodes of the same long form narrative. Obviously, it can choose to dial it back and return to its procedural roots. But every time it reaches back into that well, it’s going to feel like already trampled ground. If that works for most of the audience, then fine, but I can’t imagine the same amount of audience ready to sign up for Red’s Mystery Attacker II: Death Boogaloo.

All told, tonight’s finale had lot of the problematic elements from most of the show’s season interlaced with things that make this show rather watchable when it wants to be. The show has some fully formed characters with Liz, Tom (RIP), Red, and even Ressler had a few nice moments. However, the show chose to “raise the stakes” of the finale by killing or brutally injuring two of people who have the least to offer. In Meera, the show never gave her a enough to do to get her character off the ground. She had one episode where she becomes a person for a few moments, but she’s mostly just a replaceable piece that the show tried to pitch as something more (she had two kids!). The Blacklist has always thought it could retrofit emotions onto something it gave the audience no reason to care about in the moment. Even Cooper doesn’t move the needle. He’s just a standard-issue bureaucrat almost intentionally designed to be uninteresting. Yet his attack is met with concerned looks at a hospital bedside and excitement over even the slightest movement of his hand. His life or death creates no ripple effects for the show, but it seems like the writers of the series refuse to believe it. Nonetheless, they got rid of a few characters that weren’t working at all. If nothing else, it’s addition by subtraction if they can bring in the right people to replace them (Cooper has to be replaced at least).

And then there’s Red. Spader gets to go full Spader in this episode. He gives monologues, references places that sound made up, and gets to walk through guarded buildings like he’s playing a video game. A lot of it is incredibly glorious if not absurdly ridiculous. He’s the obvious life blood of the show, and he gets to go out very strong here. However, watching him undress to reveal burn marks on his back made my head hurt. Liz’s paternity has been an issue that just won’t die (unlike everyone else). It’s a fairly uninteresting plot driver that should be investigated and resolved, and not the source of a series long mystery. Seeing Red’s burn marks doesn’t automatically make them the father, but it raises an issue the audience had probably forgotten about in lieu of more interesting storylines. I appreciate The Blacklist wanting to have stories to begin the second season with, but the show needed some new material, not just a remix.