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The Blacklist Review S02E17

Health, well being and immortality are the order of the day for the most recent instalment of The Blacklist.

Reddington drops by the FBI taskforce headquarters to drop off a few birthday presents for Keen: a bottle of wine she made with Sam as a child, a secondary bottle of wine in case the first is undrinkable, and the Blacklister of the week – a private company called The Longevity Initiative, which has been founded by Roger Hobbs, a tech billionaire who wants to live forever. Powell, the top scientist behind the Initiative, has begun conducting human trials; by cutting off the top of people’s skulls and poking around in their brain matter until they die.

Powell definitely proves to be one of the better villains of the week for The Blacklist. He’s a nicely rounded out character and on that, despite his actions, you can’t help but to feel a little sorry for. Joshua Close is deserving of praise for his portrayal of Powell; I’ve only seen him in a few things so far, but he is definitely someone to watch out for in the future. His scene with Reddington, as Reddington abducts him in order to see if his work is transferrable to Keen’s little memory problem and Powell admits that he isn’t working on immortality, but rather on reversing brain damage, is touching and the wounds of his past are almost tangible.

Meanwhile, Cooper and his wife start off the episode on a high: he’s walking without a cane and he’s feeling great. The trial is working. Naturally, that’s about the point when the alarm bells start to go off, and it’s pretty obvious that by the end of the episode, Cooper is going to be in a worse-off position than he started in. This comes in the form of Tom Connelly, who tries to warn Cooper off Roger Hobbs, as Hobbs has multiple defence contracts with America. Cooper, being Cooper, ignores Connelly’s warning but soon learns the error of his ways: his doctor tells him he may become ineligible for the medical trial and thus be kicked out. And so, Cooper begins to feel the noose around his neck tighten, courtesy of Connelly. This is probably one of the storylines that I am most looking forward to watching unfold – how far will Cooper go to appease Connelly and save himself? Will Connelly push him too far, demand too much? Will Cooper put his own health above truth and justice, or will he hang himself, so to speak, before he compromises his own morals?

Not!Tom is also feeling the consequences of his own actions in this instalment. He’s severely lacking in the friends department since Reddington broke up his little German party: the Major, the man who made Not!Tom into the man he is today, tries to put a bullet in his skull but is interrupted by Tom’s former German buddies, who are holding a serious grudge. The Germans attempt to blood eagle (helpful hint: do NOT Google that) the Major in order to get information out of Tom, but he resists: he’ll stick Keen and the full force of the FBI on them if they continue. The Germans give in and let them go, but there is definitely the sense that this is not nearly the end of Tom’s troubles. With no other options, Tom falls back to his last resort: Liz.

The episode ends with a nice bonding moment between Ressler and Keen, as Keen has an identity crisis all over Ressler – is today really her birthday? Is Elizabeth really her name? Who is she? It’s refreshing to see Keen admit her own invulnerabilities and to have some sort of deep and meaningful moment with someone else than Red. I vote for more bromance moments between these two for future episodes.

‘The Longevity Initiative’ is definitely one of the better The Blacklist episodes. It hits a lot of the right notes: a villain who is a well-developed character and not merely evil for the sake of evil; emotional strain for all our favourites; and progression in the overarching storyline for the season. Things have definitely been put on an unsustainable path – Cooper on a leash, Red’s obsession with Keen’s lost memory, Keen and Tom – and it’s starting to pick up speed towards the season finale.

Review by Hannah Fitzpatrick.

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Hannah Fitzpatrick

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