Liz Gets Closer to the Truth on 'The Blacklist' - Plus 'Reign,' 'Vikings'

Sony Pictures Television/NBC

In the action-packed follow-up to “The Blacklist’s” previous episode’s major cliffhanger. Liz, Dembe, and others scrambled to save a wounded Red. After the assassination attempt, “The Fulcrum” was finally unveiled along with Red’s secret lair and the truth behind his employment with Tom. “The Blacklist” showed signs of reinvigorated life in its return.

It’s no secret that the show has been in a bit of a sophomore slump, and it showed massive strides in turning that around for its last batch of episodes. There was definitive forward momentum in the arc of Liz and Red’s connection, and the evidence continued to point to him being her father. This is the most obvious reason, and it’s the only logical one that works.

Why else would a man like Red go to the lengths to protect Liz? Why would he keep a high school picture of her? How would he have a picture of her as a kid with a mystery woman? Why would he hire a man like Tom to protect her 24/7 and fire him when he got intimate with Liz? That is a total dad move. Why the show is playing possum with revealing it is befuddling. They won’t be losing anything story-wise. Exploring who her mother is and why he’s kept his distance, only to draw her back into his life when she’s a grown adult, still leaves many stories to be told. 

Side Notes/Burning Questions: The mole reveal was predictable and a letdown. They were the most likely suspect, to begin with. Tom’s speech to Red was very telling and a positive sign for a Liz/Tom reunion. Red holding off baddies despite his condition was classic Red, fearlessly badass.

The Vampire Diaries | Elena’s facial expression when Damon said he would take the cure with her, was one of the most confusing mixed signals in the history of “Vampire Diaries.” It was a blend of surprise, hesitation, repulsion, and ‘how can I keep this from happening?’ Nina Dobrev’s exit story is clearly in full swing, and with Elena complaining more than usual about no longer being human, it seems that exit will include fulfilling her long-held wish.

The issue with that is if Elena were alive and human, there’s no real reason she wouldn’t remain in Mystic Falls. So she’ll die or inexplicably leave town to hang out with Jeremy and never be discussed a la Peyton on “One Tree Hill again.” The most interesting thing that could come from this storyline would be Damon actually becoming human and playing with a different side of his personality. It would also give Ian Somerhalder something to play beside Damon’s one-note angst.  

Side Notes/Burning Questions: Why didn’t Elena, a pre-med student with an ample history of vampires who’ve turned off their humanity switch, make a copy of Caroline’s mom’s letter? Why couldn’t Stefan reveal his humanity switch had turned back on before he burnt the letter? It was so nice to see Bonnie standing up to Damon. It’s about time she fought for her own happiness. 

Reign | While he began the episode framed for a crime he didn’t commit, Conde was eventually revealed for what he really is, a royal opportunist. Mary won’t be able to sweep his latest deed under the rug, and Francis’ spot-on analysis of Conde’s taking advantage of her, should rattle her resolve. Why Mary feels she owes a low life like Conde, any loyalty is gob-smacking.

The guy is guilty of everything Francis accused him of, and his comeuppance cannot come soon enough. It was great to see Catherine springing into action to draw justice closer, and by the episode’s end, he seemed cornered. As for Mary, only a sharp rebuke of Conde and a complete withdrawal of her feelings can save what remains of her character. There is definitely a willingness to sympathize with her as a victim of his manipulations. However, only when she admits what Conde’s done to her will her redemption come into play. 

Side Notes/Burning Questions: Lola and Narcisse’s chemistry continues to be refreshing. Nonetheless, Catherine and Narcisse are a perfect match, given their penchant for the diabolical. Has Bash moved on, or is he trying to make Kenna jealous? Despite Bash’s bravery and heroic rescue of kids, Kenna was still making eyes at another man, sighing.

Vikings | The most shocking revelation of the season finale was how upsetting the thought of the series without Ragnar was. It wasn’t until thinking he was gone that the true magnitude of his impact on the show hit home. Michael Hirst has created a vastly complex character. Ragnar isn’t your run-of-the-mill protagonist or antagonist. He’s conniving, ruthless, predatory, and capable of startling brutality.

On the flip side, he’s shown a capacity for forgiveness with his willingness to give his brother several second chances, and he’s a loving father. He’s a more evolved character, impossible to categorize as a hero or a villain. He’s a survivor with the ambition to go further than just hanging on by his fingernails. He’s a driver, a thriving survivor working to enrich his and his people’s quality of life through whatever suffering he believes needs bearing. 

Earlier this season, Ecbert asked whether he was a good man, to which he replied, “Yes.” A sly glint crept into his eye when asked whether he was corrupt as he answered, “Yes.” Those two answers don’t go hand in hand, but for a split second, Ragnar’s genuine belief that they could co-exist made one do a double take, his confidence almost selling the mirage.

As well-written as the character is, actor Travis Fimmel has ripped Ragnar off the pages with a performance that constantly keeps you guessing. He embodies him with an unnerving wickedness and compassion that is disconcerting in its sincerity. It’s a daring portrayal that breaks the mold of what one would expect when thinking of a stereotypical Viking warrior, giving the show a great deal of its edge.

Even after three seasons of watching this character do the most horrible things, you can’t help hoping he’ll somehow find redemption or an evolved level of humanity. “Vikings” wouldn’t be “Vikings” without him, and thankfully fans won’t have to find that out through experience.
Arrow | To save Thea’s life, Oliver relented to Ra’s Al Guhl’s demands, joining the League of Assassins as Ra’s eventual successor. Of course, arguments were attempting to dissuade him, and he continued regardless. The issue is that Oliver never considered taking out the League of Assassins with a sneak attack or bait-and-switch tactic. This is a coven of ruthless killers who do nothing positive for the world; who knows if the “justice” they delve for is truly that. Not to mention they pose a global threat, as opposed to the isolated instances Team Arrow focuses on in Starling City.

Let’s move on to the relationship portion of the episode. Why Felicity? Why? Perhaps the better question is how could Felicity choose Oliver over Ray? The choice was sadly inevitable, given Ray is headed for the big spin-off in the sky, and since reports haven’t placed Felicity in the cards to join him, her decision was a foregone conclusion. It didn’t make the bitter taste of her decision any less sour. Ray continued to prove he was the bigger person, still loaning his private jet to Oliver and company so they could fly to Ra’s Al Guhl’s hangout and revive Thea, Lazarus-style.

Felicity and Oliver’s hook-up felt rushed, not just the events leading up to it. Their tryst lasted .5 seconds before Oliver was recounting his latest flashback. Why would sleeping with Felicity enact flashback mode? Speaking of the flashbacks, they have become increasingly tedious, dragging the show’s momentum down exponentially. They have always been the series’ weakest link, as they add absolutely nothing to the current narrative. There is enough story material going on in the present without weighing the proceedings down with these thankless plot points in the past.

Side Notes/Burning Questions: Can Olicity’s “will they/won’t they” flirtation sustain a full-blown relationship? Will Oliver ever stop having flashbacks at the most inopportune moments? Why did no one discuss the bizarre sight of Thea leaping from the Lazarus Jacuzzi? The show captured the anguished dread of leaving Oliver behind with a sentimentality that didn’t completely overdo it.