The Blacklist Review: “The Deer Hunter” (Season 2, Episode13)


The Blacklist

Although it would have been a brazen move to turn Liz into a member of The Blacklist by either sending her to jail or making her a fugitive, there was actually very little chance of that. So, why the drawn out ticking time clock of the unusually effective Detective Martin Wilcox? Drama! Forget the fact that she’s the center of the an international conspiracy, forget the fact that she’s basically seen her own life blow up in her face, and forget the fact nothing is certain in her life, including her past. We still have to threaten dear old Agent Keen with prison for a murder she didn’t commit. Oh yeah, and there’s a serial killer running around, too.

Leaving aside the relative low-risk chance that she’d go to prison, we’re reminded this week that Liz is a profiler, and like the Criminal Minds gang, she’s exceptionally well-versed in reading too much into the behavior of a deviant serial killer. We see her give a lecture on a killer called “The Deer Hunter,” a weirdo that hunts men, digs out all the organs, strings them up and takes a “ceremonial” bite of the liver. Messed up? Certainly. But in a TV landscape filled with wonderfully gross and quirky killers, “The Deer Hunter” wouldn’t even be fit to warm the bench with the rogues gallery of Hannibal.

Of course, Hannibal’s Will Graham is an effective profiler, Elizabeth Keen is not. It seems like everyone knows more about “The Deer Hunter” than Liz, even though she’s the expert, and I don’t just mean Red. Red points out that “The Deer Hunter” is not a man but rather a woman, and a crime blogger has discovered that the woman isn’t even the original “Deer Hunter” but a copycat. Of course, the killer turns out to be not someone that kills for a love of killing, but the slightly cooky Tracy Solobotkin, who has a house full of cats, argues with her bird, and kills husbands of abused wives as retribution.

It’s not an original motive, even for The Blacklist, but the show doubled down on crazy by casting Amanda Plummer as Tracy. Plummer is great at being charmingly off-putting. She’s not scary crazy, but she seems more like one of those people you see on the streets talking to themselves, carrying on whole conversations with invisible cohorts. She also borders on being a bit too quirky, as we see her talking to her bird while miming, almost unconsciously, the body language of that bird, while later in the episode she gives almost touching monologue about how she suffered under the hands of her husband, the real “Deer Hunter,” and how she basically took back her strength by becoming him. It sounds nuts, but Plummer makes you believe it.

But for “The Deer Hunter” being so evasive, it seemed rather easy to catch her once Liz and the FBI were able to “discover” the perfectly apparent clues right in front of them. What Liz lacks in insight, she makes up for in viciousness, and despite getting captured by Amanda during a chase scene set to the wonderfully odd musical cue of The Turtles hit “Happy Together,” Agent Keene demonstrates that she herself is one emotional outburst away from studying criminals to being one.

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