The Blacklist Review: “Luther Braxton” (Season 2, Episode 9)

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Of course, it was a big whoop. Our adversary of the week is Luther Braxton, played with intimidating perfection by Ron Perlman. Not many actors can play thoughtful and thuggish in equal measure quite like Perlman, and he does not disappoint here. It’s easy to believe Braxton as a natural adversary for Red, as he too has a talent and reputation for executing impossible heist with an endless rolodex of nefariously talented associates. Unlike Red though, Braxton is a man of intimidating presence and not of friendly charm. Unless I’m mistaken, the first time we hear Braxton talk is when he lets the mainland know that “The Factory” is under his control.

“The Factory” is an interesting stage for the episode, and it reminds one of prison from John Woo’s Face/Off, the one where FBI Agent John Travolta posing as terrorist Nicolas Cage is sent to in order to get valuable intel. “The Factory,” and Red’s infiltration of it, serve much of the same function in “Luther Braxton” with the inference that “The Factory” is the Arkham Asylum for the worst black operatives in the world of The Blacklist. So what information is everyone after at “The Factory?” The Fulcrum, of course.

With Braxton having spent months sneaking a team into “The Factory” posing as prisoners, and with Red crashing the party, all to get the Fulcrum, it again begs the question, what exactly is the Fulcrum? According to Red, it’s blackmail material on a group of people who would be jailed or killed if it were to ever be learned just how bad they are. The late Alan Fitch was one of them, and despite his assurances to Red that some members of the group could be persuaded not to launch total war against him, that turns out to not be the case so much.

Replacing Fitch as the face of this cabal is “The Director,” played by David Strathairn, who correctly deduces that Red’s attempts to stop Braxton means that he doesn’t have the Fulcrum after all, and then goes further by approving an air strike on “The Factory” to take out, well, everybody. It’s easy to understand what the Fulcrum is, but it’s still not entirely clear what it contains. We knew what the Syndicate was protecting on The X-Files, but what’s the story behind The Blacklist’s cabal? That’s still very much in the dark.

By the way, is Janel Moloney’s Kat Goodson in on the cabal, or is she just a company (as in CIA) woman? Either way, Donna Moss has come a long way from her days trading barbs with Josh Lyman on The West Wing.

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