The Blacklist returned last night with a bang: a very bloody, very disturbing bang, with a lot of questionable decisions and a really gross bleeding eye. Seriously, I’m never going to recover from that. To review: when last we saw the team, Ressler was in the hospital and everyone else had been tasked with finding Red, who disappeared after escaping from his captors and killing Anslo Garrick.
“The Good Samaritan Killer” starts three weeks later and no progress has been made on finding Red, which is a surprise to literally no one except sassy white-haired boss lady. Meanwhile, the department is also still trying to uncover the identity of the mole who must have been helping Anslo and co. The whole team has been interrogated, but the rather nasty interrogator has only succeeded in making everyone else annoyed and uncooperative.
The Good Samaritan Killer, this week’s blacklister, is a kind of Norman Bates, but without the creepy preserved dead lady. Instead of killing his mother, he has her wheelchair bound and unresponsive in his house. It’s really not any less creepy. Like Frederick Barnes earlier this season (probably my favorite member of the blacklist), The Good Samaritan Killer, while being a homicidal maniac, lives a bit more in the grey area of life than, say, Anslo. The Good Samaritan kills with a conscious.
The episode starts with a mother at a balloon-filled child’s birthday party, which means clearly something extra-horrible is going to happen soon to offset all that happy. A man comes up to her, claiming to be a parent and offering her a glass of punch which she takes and actually drinks! Honey, no! She makes it to her car and then collapses, unconscious, which everyone in the audience saw coming, and wakes up tied to a table. The man from earlier, a.k.a not actually a friendly fellow parent, speaks to her like a warped doctor, methodically explaining exactly how he is going to torture her and what he is going to break. After he’s finished with that, he leaves her dying body in the back of a car and calls an ambulance.
In the Keen household, the Nebraska debate is still not over because they’ve apparently spent three weeks arguing and not coming to a conclusion. Tom’s thinks they need to flee to be safe and have a normal life, which would be more convincing if he weren’t a secretly psycho hipster assassin or whatever Red seems to think he is. Elizabeth is neither a psycho assassin nor a hipster and therefore has no urge to uproot her entire life and move to the Great Plains. Too bad Tom is ignoring her wishes and intentions and is flying out to interview for a job there. Moments after he leaves she gets a call from the other psycho assassin in her life, who wants to give her a hand catching the Good Samaritan Killer, who she apparently helped chase during his past killing spree. I kind of thought Elizabeth was completely green when Red plucked her out of obscurity in the pilot, so I’m confused as to when she could have been chasing a serial killer, but let’s just go with it. She explains that she can’t see proper connections between the varied victims in the case until Red points out that the injuries inflicted on them might be related to the victims and not the killer. With this information, she’s able to discover that all the victims had family members who had once received the same injuries. It seems as though the Good Samaritan Killer only goes after abusers.
Elizabeth tells the team this, but fails to mention to Cooper that Red called. Because when your life is being torn apart to see if you’re a mole in the FBI, it’s a good idea to hide your involvement with escaped felons.
Speaking of Red, let’s discuss him for a minute. Oh my god. Raymond Reddington, you need to calm down right now. Red is not pleased about the Anslo Garrick fiasco and so has made it his mission to take down all the people that helped the plot against him. And when I say take down, I really do mean take down. Red should really be the name on the blacklist this week because he kills way more people in the episode than the Good Samaritan Killer does. He goes through person after person, targeting everyone down to the paramedic who took the chip out of his neck. They all explain that they were kept mostly in the dark and know little about the people that hired them. Then they all wind up dead in a ditch. Classy, Red. His worst kill is the man who funneled the money, whom he pours half a bottle of vodka on (and then drinks the other half). He lights up a cigar next to the man, recalling the girl he first smoked one with as if they’re merely old friends catching up to chat. “Funny little bat-faced girl. I adored her!” he laughs fondly, before putting the lit cigar in the man’s mouth and waiting for it to light him on fire. Still classy, Red. He gets impatient though, declares, “the suspense is killing me!” and just shoots the guy.
There’s nothing here out of character and nothing that should really be surprising. Reddington is a criminal that we’ve seen kill with ease several times. Still, most of the Red moments we had before this involved Elizabeth and he was being paternal and on his best behavior. Here we see Red angry and unleashed, operating at his worst. He’s not just a brutal murderer, killing relatively innocent people to get revenge and to tie up loose ends. He’s a thoughtless and somewhat sadistic killer, laughing at and mocking his victims. The serial killer targeting abusers looks tame compared to Reddington and his bottle of vodka.
His next step is track down the banker, showing up at his house and charming his wife into thinking that he is her husband’s (Henry’s) old crew buddy from college. He’s so charming and terrifyingly playful, exclaiming how much he loves stroganoff and telling Henry’s wife that she’s “fun.” Then, with little warning, he shoots Henry, turning the night into a interrogation to uncover who the final person who got paid in the Garrick scandal was. In true Blacklist fashion, it’s still a weirdly hilarious scene, with dry quips like “Janice, stop with the yelling, it’s just a flesh wound” and “My sincerest apologies. I’ll take a rain check on the stroganoff. It smells delicious!”
Meanwhile, we get a (fleeting) resolution to the mole story when Malik finds a bank account under a pseudonym that links back to Aram. No! He’s too adorable to be evil! Before they can apprehend him, however, Red does, explaining that if he doesn’t reroute a large sum of money into one of Red’s personal accounts in the time it takes to strip and reassemble a gun or Red will kill him. “That’s really messed up,” Aram replies, and I’m really inclined to agree. Okay, this seems like a strange comment, but this scene has really good sound mixing. The clicking of the keys and the clicking of the gun are very sharp and interesting to listen to. I don’t know why, but trust me on this one. It’s like that awesome Kit Kat commercial with all the crunching. Aram gets the money transferred untraceably, and Red gives him a bullet as a souvenir instead of using it to shoot him. “You’re innocent.…You’re obviously far too clever to have accepted payment that was so easily traceable,” he explains, sending the tech guru back to the FBI with evidence to exonerate himself.
The Good Samaritan Killer, whose real name is apparently Karl Hoffman goes to a support group and tells the story of his childhood abuse, which his mother called “tough love.” However, he’s really there to chat it up with the husband of an abused woman he met earlier, a husband who soon finds himself tied up in a familiar basement. We see that he forces his mother to watch these killings to teach her a lesson about what he went through as a child. He then recreates the injuries the kidnapped man inflicted on his wife, which involves tearing his retina with pronged metal scissors. Excuse me while I die a little inside. I really do not like eye violence. The FBI discover that the same nurse was on duty when all the family members were hurt, linking the cases, and are able to locate the house and stop the murder, but not before there’s a very bloody eye and a very unhappy reviewer.
Red catches up with Newton Phillips, the name he got from Henry. Newton explains that he only participated to protect his family, and Red is sympathetic. And by sympathetic, I mean he kills him anyway, but he does it painlessly. Because Red is not in a forgiving mood today. Neither is Elizabeth, actually, who tells the almost victim “If you ever touch her again, if you so much as look at her sideways, I will find you, and I’ll do to you myself what I probably should have let Karl Hoffman do to you in that garage.” She’s definitely not the innocent profiler we met in episode one anymore.
White-haired boss lady explains to a board of equally white-haired men that the mole (Newton) has been dealt with (although there has to be another one in the department). She’s promptly dressed down by…the man who captured and threatened Red last episode! Uh oh. He mentions a senate meeting he’s going to, so he’s clearly someone of importance. Across town, Red walks into Elizabeth’s house, and, after an awkward moment, he tells her he’s proud of her work on the case. They’re adorable. Have I mentioned that? I’m ignoring Red’s confession last episode and pretending he’s her father anyway. She welcomes him back with a smile, playfully asking if he brought her anything. “The next name on the blacklist”, he responds, the NBC’s best show is officially back for the second half of season 1!
“The Good Samaritan Killer” didn’t have any of the impact or shocks of the last two episodes, but it cleaned up the loose ends well and reunited our wonderful characters. I’d also like to commend the music, which did not sound like a CW soundtrack this time around. I vote for more Johnny Cash in the future. Until next week, guys!