The Blacklist Review: “Quon Zhang” (Season 2, Episode 20)

The Blacklist

Let’s be honest, if you come across a guy digging up a grave in the middle of the night in the semi-darkness, do yourself a favor and leave them be. This week’s The Blacklist dabbled in the icky world of grave-robbing, and while the intention was certainly superstitious, it had nothing to do with Frankenstein, which is the only socially acceptable reason for grave-robbing if there is such a thing. There’s not, by the way. If this week’s Blacklister seems weak on the balance, it’s only because this is a “moving the furniture” episode. Simply put, The Blacklist was putting key pieces into place for the final two outings of the season.

First, though, let’s take a minute to salute James Spader, who made his bow on theater screens everywhere tonight as the evil robot Ultron in Avengers: Age of Ultron. The smooth sounds of Spader’s voice full of joy being the bad guy is the one thing that Red and Ultron have in common, but it wasn’t the voice Red had tonight on The Blacklist, as he struggled with his health and to keep other secrets from being revealed to Liz. Normally, even when Red doesn’t want to tell a secret he still makes a game of it, but tonight all he could say was one line about not telling Liz the truth. It might be a safe assumption that Liz’s entry last week into Red’s mysterious inner-sanctum has rattled him. Well, that and all the aimless walking he has to do to rehabilitate.

The point of fascination for Liz, a picture of her younger self being pushed on a swing by a woman, becomes her new obsession. Yes, the woman is Liz’s mom, and yes, she was there the night of the fire. Did Red love her? Did she die because of him? What about Red’s line about her dying of weakness and shame? Red pleaded the fifth on all of that except to say that Elizabeth Keen is basically Paige Jennings from The Americans, the daughter of Russian spies who defected to the United States. Another mysterious Russian connection, like Berlin and his lost daughter.

Sadly, what answers Liz did get are with the assistance of Tom, who she returned to at the end of the hour when the mission of the week ended with mixed results, and her own search for answers about her past went no where fast. I guess we’ll just have to make peace with the idea that Tom’s not going anywhere, and that he may even be useful, although it would be nice to get a more satisfactory reason that Liz would lean on him for emotional support other than the fact that he’s there. Also, it’s starting to be weird that Tom can walk around with an SS tattoo visible on his neck and no one says boo about it. At least the person he’s talking to should give him the stink eye at the sight of it.