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The Blacklist Ep. 1.17 “Ivan No. 88” Not Quite Off the Tracks

The Blacklist Ep. 1.17 “Ivan No. 88” Not Quite Off the Tracks

The Blacklist S01E17 promo image

The Blacklist, Season 1, Episode 17: “Ivan”
Written by J. R. Orci & Amanda Kate Shuman
Directed by Randy Zisk
Airs Mondays at 10pm EST on NBC

The scene viewers have been begging to see play out finally occurs this week-  Elizabeth Keen finally finds her husband’s secret spy shed and learns that he has been lying from the beginning about who he really is. While that scene may have been the payoff for viewers who wanted confrontation between the two newlyweds, Red’s mission to discover copycat Ivan’s plans for a tech device is what keeps this episode from going off the rails.

Ivan is probably the weakest villain of the week yet, mainly because the antagonist is a teenager with a crush; it’s hard to imagine viewers having sympathy for fake Ivan if the power in their apartments went out because of him. The problem with this third of the script is that the villain is underdeveloped. The story would have worked if the audience learned that the teen’s grandmother never paid attention to him.  Simple acts of unwarranted cruelty like that would cause the villain to want to prove himself, especially to his crush. This episode of The Blacklist is ultimately about two different forms of belief and how both can be misleading and lead to painful realizations.

One of the greatest things about The Blacklist is its ability to surprise the audience. Viewers never truly know what the outcome of a case is until its final minutes. Although the storyline with the teenager feels weak, it does do service to the overall story in terms of tying in the theme of belief. There is also one other person that ties into that theme well this week, Agent Ressler. After suffering a devastating loss in the death of Audrey, Ressler throws himself into his work. Ressler may be the character people most root for, his tough exterior sometimes cracking to reveal the pain of choices long past. He’s compelling and he helps this episode feel like more than just filler.

While Red has very little to do in this episode, he is there when Keen needs him most. Spader does a fantastic job of balancing Red’s cocky persona with his more enigmatic side, knowing when to play the joker holding all the cards and when to be raw and emote. He has the moment of the night, just before the credits roll. This episode resolves long-arching mysteries and raises more interesting questions. It looks like The Blacklist is rolling full speed toward a strong final five episodes.

Chike Coleman