This week’s episode of The Blacklist, titled “General Shiro,” was one of the weakest the show has produced in its six season run. The story barely moved forward, we had to suffer another appearance from Glenn the DMV employee (one of the show’s most irritating characters) and there were bugs. Lots and lots of bugs eating people from the inside out!
Some of the scenes were so gross that I had to look away until they were over. Honestly if you have a bug phobia, I wouldn’t recommend watching this episode. I didn’t think I had a bug phobia, but this episode made me realize that I might.
As I have mentioned in other reviews, The Blacklist is at its strongest when it focuses on the diverse identities of its characters, and the relationships between those characters.
There were two scenes that were diamonds in an otherwise unremarkable pile of coal. One was a scene in which Aram and Samar needed to interview an undocumented kitchen worker at a restaurant. The owner of the restaurant at first protected his employee, mentioning the toxic climate surrounding undocumented immigrants in America at the present time. It was only after Aram and Samar assured the restaurant owner that they would not put his employee in danger that he allowed them to talk to him. Before the interview started, Samar and Aram made the employee feel comfortable by sharing that they too were immigrants and refugees. Aram’s parents were immigrants, and Samar is a political refugee.
Samar and Aram are two characters that are often overlooked and pushed aside to focus on the relationship between Red and Liz, so it was a welcome development that we got to learn a little bit more about their backgrounds and see them use their backgrounds to connect with a frightened individual to make him feel safe.
The other good scene was the one in which Cooper went to visit Red in jail at the courthouse and they smoked cigars together. During this visit Red told the story of when Dembe saved his life during a shipwreck. It was a touching moment that gave us another glimpse into the most loving relationship in the show, the friendship between Red and Dembe.
I wish they would spend more time on moments like this, and the relationship between Red and Dembe rather than the toxic drama playing out between Red and Liz.
This scene also demonstrated the stark contrast between a person like Harold Cooper and a person like Liz Keen. Cooper can still see Red as a person, a man who is facing the death penalty and needs someone to treat him with a little kindness.
Cooper has been through his share of trauma, but he hasn’t allowed it to change who he is as a person. Liz on the other hand is completely self absorbed and has lost the ability to distinguish between right and wrong. She has also been through her fair share of trauma, but she has allowed her experiences to change her into someone without empathy.
Liz will do whatever she needs to find the truth, no matter how many people she hurts along the way. This isn’t the Liz Keen we used to know and root for. Character development is a good thing, but not when it turns a character into a hollow shell of the person they used to be, and that’s what has happened to Liz Keen.
Next week’s episode is a 2 hour event that looks like it might finally end Red’s trial and resolve this toxic drama between Red and Liz. Red’s trial better end with him escaping the death penalty, because James Spader’s performance as Raymond Reddington is the only thing keeping this show afloat in a puzzling array of frustrating story choices.
Check out the snyopsis and trailer for next week’s 2 hour event below!
The Blacklist airs Friday February 22 at 8/7c on NBC.