The Blacklist 1.03 "Wujing"

A tv review article by: Natalie Amato

And we’ve made it to week three! This week on The Blacklist the episode begins with the murder of a well-dressed man for his fingerprints in Shanghai (the assailants cut off his hand) to decode a CIA encrypted message. The man behind this murder and several others is a Chinese man by the name of Wujing. When his attempts fail to reveal the actual message he calls Raymond Reddington.

Reddington agrees to take the job and thus brings this case to the Elizabeth Keen who is reluctant to participate. Eventually, Keen agrees to work with Reddington on one condition: that he be truthful with her about why he chose to work with her.

Keen accompanies Reddington to see Wujing under the identity of Caroline Gibbons, an encryption specialist. After a few bumps in the road the intercepted CIA message is decoded to reveal the identity of a CIA contractor and architect by the name of Henry Cho, who immediately becomes Wujing’s next target.  A race ensues between Wujing’s men and Agents Donald Ressler and Meera Malik. After a tussle between Ressler and some Chinese criminals (who clearly lack the fighting skills of the great Chinese kung fu icon Jackie Chan) the FBI saves Henry Cho from becoming another one of Wujing’s victims, and shortly after apprehends Wujing.

As expected the relationship between Keen and Reddington receives a few minutes of attention in every episode, and this episode is no different. Really, it’s fantastic in a way, because it keeps speculation high, and is a continuous thread through the season sparking audience curiosity.

Near the end of this episode Reddington fulfills his promise and gives Keen a reason for why he chose her. “Because of your father” is his answer. “What does that mean?” Keen says, while the rest of us are thinking it. At the end of this conversation in frustration Keen says to Reddington “You act like we’re the same, you’re wrong. I have a life, people who care about me. But you, this is all you have.” Reddington retorts with “I have you.”

The end of the episode, however, disproves Keen’s belief.  The scene is Keen standing in a room full of people looking more alone than ever. Likely, this is meant to represent her isolation from everyone around her. She can’t talk about her work to her friends, she seems to have no contact with family, and even her husband hasn’t been honest with her about who he is. She is essentially alone, just like Reddington.

The drama with Keen’s husband also continues through this episode. Keen takes a bullet and casing from the gun she found under the floorboards with her husband’s money and passports to be analyzed by the FBI. When she receives the results though, they are classified. It’ll be interesting to see what other creative ways Keen thinks of to uncover who her husband really is in future episodes. I realize it’s likely an episode (or part of one) will be dedicated to Keen surveilling her husband, but I’m hoping for something more outlandish and unconventional.

The pace of this episode is much more balanced. Although it may not have been as action packed as the previous two, it was definitely more organized and the plot was easier to follow. Yes, the story is fairly linear, but it allows the audience time to digest the information given before moving on.  At the same time, the episode still had an action scene or two and there were a couple suspenseful moments where even I was holding my breath. 

I liked this episode, even more than the first two. Can’t wait to see week four.

Natalie Amato is a ninja cappuccino-slinging barista by day, undercover freelancing graphic designer, photographer, and writer by night (...and sometimes during the day). 

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