Virginia Sherwood / NBC

The Blacklist Is Back-List!

And that's good news for almost everyone…um…not so fast, Liz.

We begin exactly where we left off last season, with Red, Dembe, and Mr. Kaplan at the scene of Liz and her baby's abduction. Man, does it ever bug me when shows do this. It's been a whole off-season and Red's still right there, steaming mad at Mr. Kaplan? Ugh, skip ahead, writers! Skip. Ahead.

...Nope. But we do get to see Red walk around Cuba with a head in a bag, the head of one of Liz's assailants, trying to find out who he worked for. Now, many people might say, "Take a picture! It'll last longer." But Red obviously doesn't go for that.

I make no secret of the fact that I deeply wish this series would transform into Alias Season 1, because that would mean that Elizabeth Keen would stop being such a discarded burger wrapper blown on the wind. Because maybe then she'd take some agency in what's going on around her, instead of just sitting there like Eeyore in a series of unconvincing wigs. And there's a brief moment in Elizabeth's first scene when it looks like the producers have heard my prayers. Elizabeth punches Alexander Kirk and then beats one of his henchmen down with a chair, but it ends quickly when a gun gets pointed at her. And then Liz can barely hold back tears when she's asking about what Kirk has done to Tom.

SIDEBAR: So, just imagine for a second that we swap Elizabeth Keen's gender real quick. And she's a dude wondering where his wife and child are, and he's supposed to be a top agent, but he's all weepy like this. Not cool, right? Yeah. This is my point. Ugh, with her tear ducts!

While Red busily searches for Liz, Tom finds himself stuffed into the trunk of a car driven by the pock-marked assassin from the end of last season and his lady-friend. They also have Tom and Liz's baby Agnes, and no concept of the proper way for an infant to be transported in a vehicle. Get a rear-facing seat, you hoodlums! Or any seat, really. The key to Red finding Liz includes locating Manuel Esteban, this week's Blacklist-er, who is blind and uses echolocation, like a bat. Or Daredevil, I guess.

Alexander Kirk and Red fight over who gets to be Liz's father. Maybe neither is Liz's father, but both are certainly vying for the position of "dysfunctional father figure." And in that competition, both are really making strong cases. We finally discover what the mysterious cause of Kirk's heretofore un-discussed bleeding is: a blood disorder. Ohhhh, thanks for zero time spent on Google, writers! What kind of blood disorder? The kind you could die from. Got it!

Tom swears to Kirk that he's coming to get him. Red arrives at Kirk's hideout too late to stop Kirk from escaping with Liz on a seaplane. And somewhere in there, we get a few moments of Liz actually kicking ass. Not super-effectively, mind you. But those few fleeting seconds are a hundred times more than in the final half of last season combined.

In the end, how Blacklist-y is this episode of The Blacklist? Run it through the machine!

Blacklist-y Element Present?
Liz is alive, but she's totally still boring, right? Despite brief flashes of Liz showing a backbone, she still doesn't have one-sixteenth the chutzpah or ingenuity of Mr. Kaplan.
Is Ressler still a total asshole Mostly no. He puts his job in jeopardy to free a bunch of people held in a dungeon by Esteban. And didn't GAF about it. So that's pretty admirable. That said, you just know he'll be an asshole again next week.
Red is one step ahead of everyone at all times! Red spends the entire episode two steps behind Alexander Kirk. Not a promising start for him.
This Blacklist-er should totally be on Red's list! Manuel Esteban is also a Chilean Spymaster, which qualifies him for inclusion.
Plot is immaterial! So suddenly, Tom's not a big enough badass to defeat only three bad guys? Didn't he beat up like a dozen bad guys at one point? Get back on that cardio, son!
Red's hat symbolizes his cool mastery of his surroundings! Red's sassy island number, sort of a Panama/Trilby hybrid, shows all of Cuba he's here for one thing: bullet distribution.
Dialog by ClicheBot 3000 "I hate getting into bed with Reddington," says Cynthia Panabaker. "I hate needing him…and his list."
Something deadly/dangerous is given a name equally suited to a weird sex move Before you attempt The Chilean Spymaster with your partner, make sure all hard edges and corners of the furniture in your bedroom are appropriately covered with foam or other padding. Also, definitely hydrate. You're gonna need it!
We get one more crumb about Red's obsession with Liz Well, maybe? Alexander Kirk has a different origin story to tell about Elizabeth Keen. Only time will tell how much truth it contains.
6 / 9
Final Score
Blacklist con sabor cubano!
Mark Cuban's Blacklist
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