The Blacklist: Mr. Solomon Conclusion
It's the children whom the world almost breaks who grow up to save it.
SPOILERS AHEAD. DO NOT READ UNLESS YOU'VE SEEN "MR. SOLOMON: CONCLUSION." IF YOU WANT TO GO IN COMPLETELY FRESH, MAYBE ALSO AVOID THIS VIDEO.
That quote that I started with, the beautiful thing Red said to Liz, gave me hope that everything would be alright. But nothing was and may never be again for poor Red.
My dreams on Thursday night were so vivid. They weren't dreams specifically about The Blacklist, but they certainly involved Raymond Reddington or James Spader. I don't know who it was. All I know is that a lot of things were going on, it was a life and death situation, and I woke up a few times and thought of things I would say in this inevitable post. The shock of what happened most definitely interferred with sleep. The whole episode was intense, especially the end, which I never saw coming. I guess I just assumed that Liz/Megan would have the baby at or near the end of the season and take a summer break.
Keep her heart beating, Nik. Please, just keep her heart beating.
Right here it got really desperate and Spader had yet another chance to be superb. Being stopped by Mr. Solomon and his crew when they were still a couple miles out from a hospital, Red could do nothing but plead and watch as the life drained out of Liz. The looks on Dembe and Ressler's faces when they opened the van door and Nik (doctor/Liz's ex) said he had to call time of death. The shot of the back of Cooper's head, looking down on Aram, frozen in devastation, who just got the call. Poor Aram, who had recently saved Liz from a desperate situation, which gave Amir Arison his biggest role and best scenes to date. And then Samar doubling over, overcome with tears, being embraced by Ressler. That scene of everyone getting the news was so depressing.
Out of all the beautiful and flawlessly-acted scenes in the series, this wordless one may be Spader's finest.
Then there was Mr. Kaplan slo-mo walking away with Liz's body, glancing down...looking for movement? Hoping for it when she knows it's not possible? Or hoping Liz doesn't wake up too soon from whatever may have been secretly given to her? In an earlier scene, she was so concerned for Liz that in a way it felt they may be related somehow. It makes me think there is a slim chance this could be a move by Mr. Kaplan to get Liz away from Red. She is in charge of getting things done, and she got the medical equipment. Maybe she ordered a little something extra. Mr. Kaplan was very concerned and even tore Red a new one after he blamed Dembe for not having enough protection for Liz. She told Red just how wrong he was and that, if anything, it was his fault for needing to be in Liz's life. I don't know that I would want to see what happens to her if Red ever found out that he was deceived that way.
If Liz did survive, I wouldn't think she was in on it because of what that would do to her team and Tom, and it meant leaving her child behind. It's more likely, with the trauma she suffered, that Liz just couldn't hold on. The scene after she passed seemed pretty definitive. And that is one of the most messed up, depressing things the writers could have done to Red, who has already lost so much. By 'depressing' I don't mean disappointing in the least. Those are two very different things and a depressing turn on a television show can have the deepest impact and make me love a show even more if done right.
And what an impact it was: Here, finally, was something Red couldn't get out of, after so long having all the answers, after Liz so recently surviving having a target on her back. He thought he could come out of the woodwork and take down his enemies with the FBI's help, quipping and monologuing away in the face of death, knowing he's the most clever one in the room, and counting on all his resources, contingencies, intelligence, and some luck to win the day. But not this time. Not when the stakes were higher than ever; not again. Red involved Liz in his dangerous life and she paid the price. I wonder how guilty he will feel about that.
Every episode of this series has had something to recommend it, because of what the writers have given Spader and the brilliant way he takes their words to somewhere incredible, adding a beating heart and layers of emotion.
I remember at the beginning fearing that Red would die many years down the road, probably in spectacular fashion, in the series finale. It never crossed my mind that Liz could be the one to fall, and so soon. I wonder if the writers had this storyline in reserve all along in case Megan Boone got pregnant in real life and wanted to be written out. (If so, I wish her well in her new mom role.) I also wonder if they always meant to kill off Liz at some point to cut the legs out from under Red and show him overwhelmed with grief and renewed vengeance, and if Megan's pregnancy moved up that timeline. TV series aren't set in stone, and to get from A to B there are any number of ways for them to go. They change when they have to, maybe even a change so drastic, with a character so important, in a series that could have years more of story to tell.
In real life, death is never convenient and it doesn't wait for business to be finished. I do appreciate seeing that represented on television on rare occasions, even if it leaves practically everything unresolved. Whether Liz's death was real or fake, it was quite real to Red. Now, not long after standing over an empty grave, thanking Aram for saving Liz's life, we get to see him alone and overcome with grief. Based on everything that's come before, I'm sure Spader will give a powerhouse performance.
Red's collapse by the car...I had a deathbed speech written for Red. Spader said no. The collapse sells it all. He's so right. #TheBlacklist— Daniel Cerone (@DanielVCerone) April 15, 2016
Even though this is now the most depressing episode, it is one of my favorites for the sheer power of the acting and speculation of how much the game may change, and for how Liz will never know who Red is and how he lost the chance to tell her. He had so many chances, but he just couldn't. That is, of course, if it really is the end. We'll see what they do in the next episode and wait until the finale. Maybe there will be some hint of a future reunion. I mean, Liz was so important for these three years, that ending it this way, with no resolution for her, seems an odd choice. I'm sure there are people who have been shipping Red and Liz that will stop watching, enraged that their ship not only just hit an iceberg, but also seems to have been torpedoed, kamikazed, and engulfed by the perfect storm.
I'm glad I don't make those kinds of hasty decisions. I don't think that I know what's best for a series. There are always a lot of factors driving decisions, especialy ones this big, and I cannot know what they are until they're revealed. A series that I have loved has to do something truly unforgivable for me to stop watching and then not capitalize on what they have done in order to propel the story and the characters forward. I don't watch purely hoping that people get together, and never saw Red and Liz as a couple, so this startling development doesn't ruin it for me. I watch for the individuals, for the performances, for the emotion they pour into it. If one is lost, the other is still there and I want to know what happens to them In the wake of tragedy. I don't just give up, like many knee-jerk commenters threaten when anything bad happens to any character on any show.
I've been amazed by James Spader many times before, and I'm really looking forward to seeing what he does with such a fresh, bone-deep wound to explore.
I have no idea what will come of this, and I absolutely want to see what the writers have planned. Liz may have been an enormous part of the show, but that's only because of Red. Raymond Reddington's story is the catalyst and the focus. Everything that happens revolves around him. I want to see how deeply this affects Red, and I don't want to miss any performance from James Spader that's guaranteed to make viewers a sobbing mess. We already got a glimpse of that -- Red quiet and lost in his grief, unable to move from Liz's side, holding her hand to his face, giving her a very long, sweet, devastated kiss goodbye, then walking to the car, collapsing, and Dembe catching him. Out of all the beautiful and flawlessly-acted scenes in the series, this wordless one may be Spader's finest. The heartbreak on the screen was palpable and I think exceeded even that scene in "Madeline Pratt" where he was talking about the loss of his family with tears in his eyes and trembling voice. I have a Tumblr post for that somewhere around here.
And then the tease for next week actually said to watch for Spader's performance. That also had me wondering how else he could astound me; he's already done it so much. Every episode of this series has had something to recommend it, because of what the writers have given Spader and the brilliant way he takes their words to somewhere incredible, adding a beating heart and layers of emotion. I can't wait for this. Sad that the season is almost over already, sad to know what just happened, and sad that I likely won't know until next September or October how Red will move on...or if all of this was just an elaborate late April Fool's joke. If this really was the end for Elizabeth Keen, though, I am ready for whatever The Blacklist has in store for the future. This tweet by the episode's writer gives a little hope.
Before I joined #TheBlacklist this season, I had to know...Red...Liz...their connection. Is there was a plan? There is a plan. It's awesome.— Daniel Cerone (@DanielVCerone) April 15, 2016
Of course, the plan may not need Liz to be alive. Even if Megan dedicates herself to being a stay-at-home mom, hopefully she can make a few flashback type appearances here and there, or as a manifestation of Red's desire to not let go of Liz, or maybe even pop up a ways down the road and say, "Hey, guess what? Not dead." That last one seems farfetched, by the way they filmed "Mr. Solomon: Conclusion" and for the glimpses of the upcoming funeral. But this was just such a devastating episode, I have to hold out hope until I see firm proof that Liz is actually in that coffin and of where the series is planning to go in the wake of such a loss. When I do, then I can let go, too. I would have loved for both Liz and Red to be happy in the end, but I never expected it. Instead, it seems we will get to see a new direction, and possibly reinvigoration, of the series. I've been amazed by James Spader many times before, and I'm really looking forward to seeing what he does with such a fresh, bone-deep wound to explore.
In script, Liz says to Red: "I do love..." Spader asked me if she was going to say "you." I said "yes." Spader said "cool." #TheBlacklist"— Daniel Cerone (@DanielVCerone) April 15, 2016
I wish I could have written more about The Blacklist this year. I didn't take notes on any episode, like I've done in the past. It's not about less interest, but about less time. I took on a big thing around the same time as TV season was starting last September and have been bogged down ever since writing about just two series instead of three. I didn't mean to cut out The Blacklist; it just happened that way, unfortunately. Then my Mom went to the hospital for three weeks in Janauary, and she's been back there again for the last three weeks. Visiting her has taken whatever time I had left, and I've gladly given it.
But The Blacklist just keeps getting more high stakes and this is the biggest thing that could have happened to Red, so I had to scratch out a moment to add my keystrokes to the opinions of what just happened in case I'm the only reasonable and understanding one out there. I bet the TBL and character tags on Tumblr are awash with emotion and indignation right now...but I'm sure if I check them out, I'll just find a dozen things to dispute with people who despise any kind of change, and I can't dedicate that kind of time anymore.
Seems more like a series finale is coming rather than a season finale. This episode itself seemed like a finale. I can't imagine how Red would recover after this, but I'm sure Liz's baby, Agnes, will help give him a new purpose. And Tom, who only recently started caring about others, now has the huge responsibility of caring for a child on his own. And Tom's life now is a sort of parallel to Red's: both having tragically lost loved ones because of the work they are involved in. However they proceed, The Blacklist gets deeper emotionally all the time and Liz's absence will truly be felt. This twist that I never imagined ensures that this series keeps its high standing among my top favorites. Now, let's see what else it can do.