I’ve said before that for those only interested in the larger story of The Blacklist, all a viewer truly needs to watch are the opening and closing moments of each episode. Best case scenario, The Blacklist will tie the person-of-the-week into the larger story or at least give us an interesting criminal to follow for an hour. What “The Major” does is seemingly attempt to prove my point, that an entire episode can have basically nothing in it besides the opening and closing moments, with nothing at all worthwhile in between.
“The Major” starts out with such promise too! We see a young Tom, being pursued by a man known as The Major, who recruits young kids who have special abilities to help them become anything. Their limo meeting seems like The Major is getting ready to recruit Tom to the X-Men or take him to Hogwarts, but instead The Major runs a finishing school for kids with superior intelligence, sociopathic tendencies and turns them into his own personal machines. This is what happened to Tom, that is until he became emotionally entangled with Liz.
Pretty strong beginning, huh? Are we going to learn more about Tom who is now undercover in Germany and covered in swastika tattoos? Not really. Instead, “The Major” ends up turning into a clip show. With Liz in court for the murder of Lieutenant Eugene Aimes, she must explain the show’s entire history to the judge in his chambers, or the entire Blacklist operation will be shut down, if it becomes public knowledge in court.
In this hour, Liz literally begins at the pilot episode and attempts to lay down all of the information we’ve learned so far. Not so surprising, when you state everything that has happened on this show, it starts to sound ridiculous—so ridiculous that the judge barely believes it. In fact, it all seems pretty stupid. This judge might be my favorite character, since he seems to be my surrogate, created for the show, complaining about how none of this makes sense and how silly it all is to believe.
There are really only two reasons for a clip show like this: 1.) they’ve got episodes to burn and don’t know how they’re going to fill up the time, or 2.) they want to catch up new viewers with what they’ve missed in the past. “The Major” feels like both are at play. The show has continued to remain indecisive, rarely making any choices and often leaving a loophole so they can eventually dig their way out. To be fair, there has also been a steady uptick in viewers since their post-Super Bowl slot, but throwing the story so far into montages and only focusing on selective elements doesn’t really do this show justice. Instead of showing us the hard “facts”—as of right now, that is—we should have also seen all the loose ends and weak decisions to switch things up, if they really want to give the audience a glimpse at what they can look forward to from here on out.
The last few minutes of “The Major” do save the episode from being a complete waste by giving us a few important details. For one, Liz’s prosecutor has found new evidence that he hopes will prove not only that Liz killed Aimes, but now that Liz and Cooper have committed perjury as well. But most important are the episode’s moments with Red, who earlier offhandedly mentioned he had hired Tom to spy on Liz before Berlin had. So now this Liz-Berlin-Tom-Red circle is now even more convoluted than before. Great. However, at the end of the episode, Dembe tells Reddington that yes, he should finally tell Liz the entire truth, rather than being the obnoxious, deceitful, closed off annoyance he’s been for these last two seasons. Hopefully Reddington will take that advice so we can move on to a new, better era of this show.
For the last few episodes, The Blacklist had been surprisingly decent, at least creating interesting villains and giving us a bit more depth on the larger stories. “The Major” hints at great changes to come that could improve everything, yet it does it in an episode that forces us to relive the past mistakes and ridiculousness. The Blacklist should move forward from its past and create a new path for itself, rather than forcing us to remember all these faults in this unfortunate and unnecessary episode.
Ross Bonaime is a D.C.-based freelance writer and regular contributor to Paste. You can follow him on Twitter.