Saturday, April 22, 2017
The Blacklist - Dembe Zuma / Requiem
The Blacklist's two-episode mid-season premiere sets up the next big threat to Raymond Reddington (James Spader). While the first episode deals primarily with the red herring that is Dembe's (Hisham Tawfiq) apparent disloyalty, the second episode features on the back story of Mr. Kaplan (Susan Blommaert), including the events which led her into the lives of all the show's major players. There's quite a bit of history rewriting here which I'm not 100% certain would hold up if you went back an re-watched the show's First Season. That said, events here do help explain how Kaplan (played in the flashbacks by Joanna Adler) got her chosen name and profession, and why she was so willing to betray Red for Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone), who she has apparently known for quite some time.
Of the two episodes, "Requiem" works better than "Dembe Zuma." The twist of having Dembe not be a traitor lacks much punch. I'd have preferred if he was truly working for Kaplan and had second thoughts. Instead he's brought back into the fold after some really dumb decision-making that only earns him an arrow in the leg, Red's displeasure, and reveals a bit about Aram's (Amir Arison) love life to the rest of the team. The flashbacks to Kaplan's backstory also see the return of Katarina Rostova (Lotte Verbeek) and a young Lizzie. As to the current version of a character, had Red set out to make a stronger enemy, I'm not sure he could have done so. There is however one big plothole both episodes ignore. Kaplan's actions here, and likely through the next series of episodes, will weaken Red, but that also means each move exposes Liz to more and more danger. Is that something her protector would really do?