At the outset of The Blacklist Season 3 I was pleasantly surprised to see that the new season had seemingly delivered on Jon Bokenkamp's promise to effectively reboot the series, with a new dynamic and new set of rules.
Episodes 1 - 3 Recap
Elizabeth "Liz" Keen (Megan Boone)'s Hail Mary at the conclusion of Episode 1, The Troll Farmer, left her a 'guest' of the Russian Embassy. In Episode 2 Marvin Gerard Liz gets in a little over her head, quickly dropping the pretence of actually being a Russia spy (cause we all knew that couldn't hold up for very long), she barters information on the Cabal to the Russians in exchange for Diplomatic Immunity from her own country.
Despite generally still being a bit of a dick thus far, Agent Donald Ressler (Diego Klattenhoff) saves Liz from the Russian Cabal agents, and she's back on the run with Raymond "Red" Reddington (James Spader) again.
I have to admit the whole 'getting out of Washington' thing took longer than expected, but it's worth it to see the villainous side of Red come out as he waves his shotgun around and takes hostages during Marvin Gerard, all in the name of misdirection.
Red: "We're not going to be able to fight our way out of this Lizzie, we're going to have to think our way out."
Meanwhile Harold Cooper (Harry Lennix) is getting levered out of the FBI at risk of being demoted or imprisoned. He resists, continuing to search for the Russian assassin Karakurt (Michael Massee).
Third episode Eli Matchett wasn't quite as engaging as the previous two, but it was still perfectly watchable. Red and Liz escaped Washington to head for Iowa, investigating the bioengineering firm/Cabal money-launderer Verdiant in order to gain leverage with a view to clearing Liz's name. Eli Matchett (Don Harvey), a farmer spurned by the company is engineering a virus with which he intends to take revenge on Verdiant, and it is this thread they follow that leads them to the Cabal operative within Verdiant, Susan Hanover (Cindy Katz).
Liz's Existential Crisis
Liz: "I don't know what happened. I used to consider myself lucky. I had a husband I loved, a job I always wanted. I was the kind of person good things happened to."
Being on the run shows to take a lot of adjusting to as Liz struggles with the events unfolding around her and those which result from her own actions.
After a life spent working for the FBI and within the confines of the law to now be viewed by others as dangerous, as a threat, as someone terrifying, is something that she's going to have to learn to cope with; especially as she becomes more closely aligned with both Red and her mother, the mysterious Katarina Rostova.
Liz: "I shot a cop."
Red: "Yes, you did."
Liz: "I killed the Attorney General of the United States."
Red: "Yes. And when you did that you crossed a threshold, leaving your world and entering mine. Bad things are gonna find you now Lizzie. This life has a mind and a momentum of its own and that's a reality you need to accept. Bad things happen to good people."
Liz: "Am I a good person? I'm not so sure anymore."
Red: "I'm sure."
She risks everything to save the FBI agent (Eric Bryant) she shot during Eli Matchett, lingering over the guilt that she may have caused the death of an innocent man with a family, wondering how Red manages it.
The Development of Red & Liz's Relationship
Speaking of Red, if you ever needed any more proof that Red isn't Liz's father, there was the way he spoke at the conclusion of Marvin Gerard:
Red: "I'm not saying its easy to ignore the way people look at you, but I hope you can find some solace in the fact that when I look at you...
That's Polaris, the North Star, that's how sailors used to find their way home. When I look at you thats what I see, I see my way home."
So, they end up sailing off on a ship. It seemed a little too easy given that the FBI were still on their tail, but to be honest two episodes of Ressler et al chasing them was quite enough to be getting along with.
One thing I did find odd was the fact that Ressler and Samar Navabi (Mozhan Marnò) seem to have easily shed the tensions between them from the first episode, their argument forgotten. I had expected to see more of them clashing, though I suppose it's still early days for this season and tensions will spike the longer Red and Liz are on the run.
I enjoyed the reappearance of Tom Keen/Jacob Phelps (Ryan Eggold), however brief it may have been. His character has always been pretty interesting, though I'm still not convinced as to the legitimacy of his relationship with Liz now. Seeing Tom working with Cooper to go after Karakurt could be very interesting too, or it could just blow up in their face.
Edi Gathegi continues to steal the show as Mr. Solomon with all that barely contained quiet menace. Poor Dembe (Hisham Tawfiq), to be honest I'm surprised it took so long for Red to notice he was missing. Given the nature of their father-son relationship I can't imagine he'd take the situation very well. Red finally learned of his abduction at the conclusion of Eli Matchett, so it looks like things are really going to kick off on that front when we return to The Blacklist for Episode 4: The Djinn tomorrow night.