The Blacklist: The Front (No. 74)
October 21, 2014 10:42 AM - Season 2, Episode 5 - Subscribe

An eco-terror cult tries to exterminate the human race by setting off a pneumonic plague pandemic using the strain responsible for the Black Death. Red continues to search for his daughter. Lizzie meets with some mysterious colleagues. No Paul Reubens this week.
posted by Small Dollar (13 comments total)
I have to go back and watch this. This is the first ep I put on and was bored enough to decide to watch a movie on netflix instead.
posted by miss-lapin at 10:57 AM on October 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'm really liking this season so far. Cynical Lizzie is much better than naive Lizzie from season one.
posted by Pendragon at 12:28 PM on October 21, 2014

That poor shark must be dizzy with all the people jumping over it.

Wannabe Dan Brown plotting? Check.
Conspiracy about Europeans (not Scandinavians) in North America over a hundred years before Columbus? Check.
Extra double conspiracy about people 700 years ago--before the germ theory was even a glimmer in anyone's eye--using the plague of all things as a biological weapon? Check.
Eco-terror cult leader somehow has the wherewithal to learn how to handle and replicate deadly viruses? Check.
Eco-terrorists somehow walk out of the oldest church in NYC wearing full Hazmat suits, nobody notices, and the FBI can't find them? Check.
Swathes of the airport infected with no cordon around the building to control egress of panicked people running away after gunshots when it would have made more sense to let the guy board the plane first? Check.
Obvious stupid romantic subplot developing? Check. (Let's be clear here; Aram (I hope I got his name right) is already on the fence about helping Red, and now he's involved with yet another of Red's employees? Seriously, is there anyone on the planet who doesn't work for Red?
Not one but TWO stupid cliffhanger unanswered questions? Check and check. (The fucking door, which may as well be the hatch from Lost, which this show is increasingly resembling, and whatever that key was that Red got from Pepper)
Idiot main character deliberately exposes self to proven deadly infection, and for bonus points then starts talking about babies and a husband because even kickass professional women aren't complete without unlocking those achievements? Check, check, and check.

There is literally nothing I can think of that could be behind that door that would justify its existence. And the only reason I didn't roll my eyes SO HARD at this episode was because doing so made them fall out of my head when I was watching Scorpion for the previous hour.

This show had great promise but everything has been squandered.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 1:06 PM on October 21, 2014 [4 favorites]

I enjoy the heck out of this show.

Ancient secret pneumonic plague ("which is airborne, and far more fatal" OF COURSE). A whole secret alternate history of the world is invented with name dropped myths (The Apophis Strain!), casual rewriting of the European re-discovery of the Americas (14th century, take that Columbus!!), and assuming the existence of historical warfare fought with weaponized bacteria created by ancient empires before germ theory was even invented.

Either they'll never bring any of that stuff up again, which shine on you crazy diamond tv show you don't owe anyone anything get on with your bad self, or my secret dream/theory is that everything we've seen so far is just a really long intro to a totally over the top urban science fantasy superhero schlock fest. Well it basically already is that, but explicitly, out in the open, where everyone can see. Some of the members/targets of the eponymous blacklist have had weird abilities, right? Like The Courier (who can't feel pain) or The Formula (who remembers all the books for the bad guy bank) or The Skeleton Key (same exact magic hacking device used in Arrow do you see where I'm going here?!). Everything has a veneer of plausibility, and sure there really are people with congenital analgesia or eidetic memory, but Arrow started out without superscience or the supernatural, and the blacklist is already made up of supervillains! It could happen!

So my new theory as of this episode is that Red is trying to bring down the Illuminati (who obvs made The Apophis Strain), which is the organization fronted by Fitch (Senator McBadGuy), Berlin is the front man for the Illuminati's enemy org (this all being the continuation of whatever ancient war caused them to create ancient biological weapons in the first place), Liz is pretty much Ophelia from Fringe (remember that fire?) and she's got some low-grade psycho-magical power or something and Red saved her from the Illuminati's research lab where they were growing clone children (remember The Alchemist and his synthetic DNA and maybe some proto-Cyprus Agency?), and so the big reveal is that her father is NO ONE.

Okay fantheory over, I still love the dark mirror dynamic between the FBI and Red. What the FBI is ignorant about, Red has a dossier on. When Red is calmly resolving a situation, the FBI is in a scramble. From this episode, "This map is worthless." "This map is priceless!"
posted by books for weapons at 2:32 PM on October 21, 2014 [3 favorites]

Having posted without previewing, I now see that everything fffm hates about this show is everything I LOVE. The series premiere started with a supervillain walking into the FBI and demanding to have a chip implanted in his neck, then so immediately the FBI starts up a black site and puts him in a plexiglass box. What's wrong with a regular jail cell? (Unless of course regular jail cells can't contain... MAGIC)

I never got aboard the Lost train, so maybe I have a higher tolerance for this stuff. It's trash, glorious trash, and I love it.
posted by books for weapons at 2:42 PM on October 21, 2014 [2 favorites]

I do like the intermittent wackiness of the show, like that time Lizzie discovered Tom's true affiliation when she found that mustachioed purple hippo toy in the trash at his hideout, or every one of Red's monologues, or when Ford placed Mustang ads starring Tom's actor Ryan Eggold during the season finale.

I just wish they'd tie more of the plots together, instead of being a sort of disconnected procedural. Eh, they've got time to develop a long-running plot what with the Netflix money and all, so whatever.
posted by Small Dollar at 4:40 PM on October 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

Totally agree, it's the epitome of conspiracy theory guilty pleasure, click it on, turn (the brain) off. Practice the Red wry ironic-semi-sneer in the privacy of your... never mind.
posted by sammyo at 5:13 PM on October 21, 2014

and so the big reveal is that her father is NO ONE.

Welp, I'm on board.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:22 PM on October 21, 2014 [1 favorite]

and so the big reveal is that her father is NO ONE.

The Orphan Blacklist ?
posted by Pendragon at 12:19 AM on October 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

My favorite thing to do with this show is to imagine that all of the little nicknames Red has for the various blacklisters are just Red's own personal nicknames. "They call him The Alchemist" Oh really? Do they? Or maybe everyone else know's him as Frank and you're the only one coming up with random super villian nicknames for everyone!
posted by Arbac at 11:53 AM on October 22, 2014 [8 favorites]

I really tried to get on board the wackiness this episode but I just couldn't. Then about halfway through I realized that the team was all calmly discussing the introduction of a disease to North America in the 14th century without one single person saying something like "But that's how so many of the First Nations were wiped out! The diseases that Europeans brought with them!" It would have taken one line to acknowledge the history. As it is, the episode is both unbelievable and unbelievably tone-deaf.

I say this as a dedicated Blacklist fan, but this episode was painful to watch.
posted by Mogur at 4:25 AM on October 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

Cynical Lizzie is much better than naive Lizzie from season one.

Naive Liz was an excellent counterpoint to Reddington, all the more so due to the sprinkled hints and developing theme that something dark and more complex lurked beneath her naivete. Between seasons 1 and 2 they seem to have skipped ahead several chapters in that development. Now it's like Liz is Red's rival—which could work, except it was too abrupt and the writers aren't actually embracing that dynamic and blowing it up into dramatic form.
posted by cribcage at 9:29 PM on October 24, 2014

I've flipped over to hate-watching this show. Of all the origins of the McGuffin virus, they pick a 14th century conspiracy with a map hidden in a painting? What, is thus show run as a charity for writers from Alias?
posted by Nelson at 10:09 PM on November 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

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