TV Rundown: Nov 16 - 22: 'The Blacklist' Signs Off, 'Reign' Moves Forward - Plus, Reactions to 'The Last Kingdom' & 'Vampire Diaries'

The Blacklist signed off on the fall portion of its third season’s 2015 run with an episode that took several unexpected detours, the most significant being Red’s abduction at the hands of a gang of highway bandits who attempted to barter him for a hefty payoff. Not seeing the mechanics of how on earth Red was taken by a band of hooligans as inept as the ones depicted, made the storyline difficult to buy into.

Plus, who would’ve expected that after 8 episodes spent with Liz and Red on the run evading federal authorities, their undoing would be a caravan of crazies? It’s unclear if it was the jarring nature of their introduction or just the set up to begin with, that made the plot twist hard to accept.

The big news out of the fall finale was Liz’s capture by Ressler, Aram turning against Samar (leading to her expulsion from the task force), Harold learning of his wife’s affair and Reven being murdered by Laurel Hitchin. One of the themes of “Kings of the Highway (No. 108)” was falling on your sword to do the right thing.

The story Ressler relayed to Reven about his father refusing to cave to corruption stoked her fire to confront a cabal higher up without backup, ultimately losing her life in the process. It’s a thorny moral issue. She stood up for the right thing but lost her life.

Ressler’s father did the right thing and also lost his life, leaving his son without a father and his family vulnerable to reprisal. So was it really the right thing to do? It’s clear that if Ressler were to continue probing that issue any further, it would pull the thread to his entire existence.

If there is one thing “The Blacklist” continues to delve into with terrific depth it is the consequences of these decisions and the implications that trying to follow the book can have. In the world of “The Blacklist” nothing is ever black and white, or even grey, it’s all very convoluted and infinitely complex. While Red and Liz are the anchor characters, it is this consistent query that gives the show its thematic legs.

Reign took its first steps forward without Francis with a highly entertaining and somber hour. Mary and Catherine united to secure the latter’s position as regent, Narcisse adjusted to marriage with Lola and Elizabeth continued her pursuit of Dudley. Mary and Catherine’s scenes together were phenomenal.

The part where Mary expressed how difficult it would be to move on from Francis was particularly moving. Catherine’s scheming and the surprisingly provocative scene between her and Narcisse provided a needed jolt of light hearted energy to the episode. 

The only downside to the hour was Elizabeth’s storyline. The love triangle between her, Dudley and his wife Amy is growing tired, as there’s no one in it to really root for. Elizabeth and Dudley’s connection is not that mind blowing and he’s clearly a terrible person, as is his wife.

Elizabeth isn’t all that likable either. Her behavior is rather manic and self-absorbed. The actress portraying her (Rachel Skorsten) is marvelous as the fiery queen. She just needs a storyline that encompasses something beyond Elizabeth’s love life. There were a lot more interesting things that comprised Queen Elizabeth I's identity, than which suitor she wanted to be with. 

The Last Kingdom proved what a difference two episodes can make. In the span of two installments, Uhtred went from coming-of-age hero to despicable zero. The beginning of his downfall came when he rushed into a church, demanding to be given credit for slaying Ubba.

King Alfred’s subsequent verdict on how Uhtred would atone for his sin set off a chain of tantrums from the petulant brute. First he killed the manager of his wife’s farm because he believed he was skimming from him. Then he threw a rock at the man’s grieving children (striking one of them), plundered a neighboring land and topped it all off by absconding with the king of that land’s second wife, who he ended up abandoning his family for.

The disrespect and cold brutality he showed Mildreth, his son and the mourning children, he left fatherless was despicable. It was also an abrupt about-face for a guy who up until those episodes hadn’t been an out and out terrible person.

He’d shown his wife his tender side, fought valiantly to get back to her and their baby and willingly went as a hostage to aid Alfred’s interests with the Danes. While his earlier behavior could be chalked up to immaturity, his latest actions spoke to a disloyal brat with minimal prospects at redemption. It needs to be said "Uhtred is putrid" - that quote coming from my awesome dad.

The Vampire Diaries followed up its craziest episode ending pronouncement to date by offering viewers a cruel shred of hope they were actually rethinking the whole “womb swap” debacle. Well, those hopes were dashed by episode’s end with the reveal of a cloaking spell.

There’s so much about this plot that is distasteful, it’s difficult to know where to begin. The idea of this involuntary surrogacy being foisted upon Caroline without her permission and Alaric guilting her into going through with it is just, well, gross.

He didn’t even question whether it was too much to ask of her, on an emotional or physical level. He seemed to presume she’d be cool with it, like he was asking her make him a sandwich. 

He’s using his grief as carte blanche to take advantage of Caroline and it’s really out of character. He used to be a pretty decent guy (as far as the moral integrity of “Vampire Diaries” characters go). Ever since this season began he has been so self-involved. He has done nothing to really demonstrate he’s dad material either.

He hits the bottle every time something doesn’t go his way, an indicator of a man with a substance abuse issue not a father-of-the-year contender. The whole situation is icky, to say the least. One last thing, why wouldn’t the coven transfer the twins into a mortal and why can’t the twins be re-transferred into a willing participant? Clearly, no one should be over thinking this plot.

[Featured Image by NBC]

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