It’s not too often that The Blacklist surprises, but tonight’s adventure, titled “Karakurt” after its primary antagonist, managed to do just that. Although it didn’t necessarily take a break from the now well-worn formula where Red hands out a mission, makes a few snarky comments, watches as the FBI fumbles the lead and comes in at the end to save the day, it did deliver a pretty good last minute twist. The endgame of the Cabal comes a little more into focus as well, but admittedly, it seems rather lame. Meanwhile, Red remains coy about Agent’s Keen background if for no other purpose then next week is the season finale, so the stakes for that have to be huge.
Okay, so maybe not that much has changed.
Karkurt, which is Russian for spider, apparently, is an old school black ops Russian assassin but with new school tactics. His target is unknown, but that target will be eliminated using a virus that’s keyed specifically to their DNA (what Red’s contact calls a WID, or Weapon of Individual Destruction). Sure, it’s been done before on other shows, but this time it’s being done to advance the cause of a shadowy group of powerful people seeking world control.
With the week’s adventure knee-deep in Russian business, Liz presses the opportunity to get more out of Red about her mother, the KGB spy Katerina Rostova. From the sounds of it, Liz’s mom was Black Widow, except Katerina is a ghost that even the most experienced intelligence agent thinks is an amalgam of a half-dozen other tall tales from the Cold War. In other words, she’s imaginary, a campfire story for young spies. Naturally, this will probably turn out to be a false assumption. Why would Red be so cagey about a mythical figure, after all? Unless the truth is worse.
One gets the feeling that Liz’s mother is going to turn out to be Irina Derevko, the KGB-trained mom of Alias agent Sydney Bristow. Is Lena Olin available? In fact, I got a strange Alias vibe from everything that happened this week. Connolly was the conniving Sloan, Cooper was the hapless Dixon, and Tom somehow is the put-upon Will Tippin, indulging in a puppy dog crush on a woman who’s way too good for him. Except with an SS tattoo. Really, how does one walk into a hipster cafe, order tea and toast, and make no attempt whatsoever to cover up the very prominent SS tattoo on his neck?
Basically, all that was missing was a Rambaldi device, a magical MacGuffin that all involved are chasing with reckless abandon. So, what are Connolly and the Cabal chasing? A Cold War 2.0 with Russia where presumably interests in defense, technology, weapons and espionage will be satisfied with new demand. Honestly, I hope the Cabal’s plan goes beyond the plot from Michael Moore’s Canadian Bacon, because the world’s changed a lot in the last 25 years and if the real world political tensions with Russia have taught us anything, it’s that the Iron Curtain is not so easily reconstituted, no matter how many people on both sides want it that way.