Ever since The Blacklist started, it has pretended that the government has some sort of control over Reddington. Yet whenever Red feels the desire to go across the globe for a nice dinner or meet face-to-face with another person on the blacklist, he simply escapes the not-so-watchful eye of the FBI without any consequences. Now, after the attack on the black site, Red has fled and he is legitimately free again. By letting Red out from under the thumb of the government, the character is, for the first time, actually as fun to watch as the writers of The Blacklist seem to have thought he is from the beginning.
Now that the FBI has discovered that they have a mole, Reddington has been conducting his own independent investigation into who is leaking information. While the FBI seems more interested in investigating a serial killer than someone who has infiltrated their entire operation, Red is torturing and killing those who may have information on how Anslo Garrick and his team got into the black site.
This is by far the most fun Reddington has been on The Blacklist, as he’s finally showing his villainous side, instead of the smarmy “I’m smarter then everyone!” attitude he’s so used to showing. He ties up one informant, pours vodka all over him, then puts a burning cigar in the captive’s mouth. When it takes too long for the ash to fall to engulf the man in flames, Red just ends the set up with a gunshot to the heart. He invites himself over for beef stroganoff, then shoots his host and hides his screaming wife in the closet. When he finally figures out that the informant was his own assistant, he puts a bag over his head and suffocates him (NO, NOT SKINNY PETE!). This side of Red is exciting to watch, as opposed to the old Red who just gives the FBI pieces of information he feels they need and then laughs at their stupidity.
Even though the FBI has their mole and Reddington problems, they still hunt for a serial killer known as the Good Samaritan Killer. Elizabeth has had one of his victims die in her arms, so she has a personal connection to the case and wants to find the killer herself (which could, in turn, bring Red out of hiding. The killer finds victims of abuse, then finds the abuser and inflicts the exact same injuries, before calling the paramedics to come save them in their last moments of life. (It turns out that the killer was abused by his mother as a child and makes her watch his torture as revenge.)
It’s a sort of weird balance of stories though, as we’re supposed to enjoy Red’s torture for the sake of revenge, yet with the Good Samaritan Killer, The Blacklist wants us to find him disgusting for the understandable vengeance he exacts on the abusers of spouses and children.
With all the killers, possible father figures, and blacklist members to hunt down, Elizabeth has really been neglecting her husband, Tom, who she doesn’t even realize has a job interview in Nebraska until he jets off. The two claim they need to have a conversation about their relationship, but haven’t they been putting this off since like the first episode? Maybe one day they’ll get around to it, but this episode isn’t going to be it.
When Elizabeth gets home after catching and shooting the Good Samaritan Killer, she hears a visitor at her door. She thinks it’s her husband, but of course, it’s Red. He’s conducted his search and his end is now clean, but the FBI still has its own problems. Now he’s there to give Elizabeth the next name on the blacklist, as always. After an episode of exciting Red, are we likely heading back into the boring, slightly helpful Red? Probably. But maybe this second half of the season will still have flashes of the newly interesting Red, instead of just going back to things as normal.