Spoilers for the first half of tonight’s episode of The Blacklist (“The Brockton College Killer”) are discussed below.
The Blacklist’s first half of the April 26 two-parter delivered a doozy. Right off the top, the series had Liz share her shocking secret with Red: that she was the one who turned him. That action that led to him getting arrested, put on trial, convicted, and sentenced to death. He only narrowly escaped the whole affair. Episode director Lisa Robinson chatted with CinemaBlend about the episode, and she had this to say about it:
I was very excited when I read this episode. I feel like there's a lot of development of the characters here that is really exciting. I think this is a big moment for Liz’s character and also for Dembe. In terms of trying to handle this situation with Red.
The truth bomb that Liz was holding and convinced Dembe to carry for her exploded in the first half of the two-parter. Red took it stoically, but really he was stung, hurt, and felt betrayed. He went off to clear his head after learning everything. That intriguingly led him to the door of Katarina Rostova’s oft-seen father, Dom.
The duo ended up working on a car together. Talk of truth, consequences, justice, and revenge was not far behind. Red’s emotional conflict over the betrayal of Liz and in his mind, Dembe, sent him reeling. How deep did The Blacklist get on Red’s overall mythos when the first hour was over? Director Lisa Robinson said:
I feel like it goes really deep because he is extremely connected to Liz and also to Dembe, and this is sort of bringing the people he cares about the most forward into conflict. I think that is where the story seems to be going here and definitely in this episode, I feel we engage, we dig into that deeper, so I think that that is potentially very unsettling for Red. I think this is a very challenging moment for him, in terms of the story and where his relationship with Liz and Dembe, where those relationships are going.
Those relationships were in tumultuous if fragmented condition when the episode was over. By the end of the first half of The Blacklist’s two-parter, Red had come to a realization. Dembe did not need his forgiveness. A heartfelt speech by Red was not enough to turn back time though. Dembe had made a huge choice. He left.
Red and Dembe are over. The issue that led to the now ginormous chasm between them was Liz’s doing. She came into Red’s apartment to find him in a really good mood. He was not in one when she left. Opening on such a comic note, only to see it end so dramatically was something to behold. What was it like to direct such a wide-ranging scene? Director Lisa Robinson weighed in, saying:
I think that Red's character, he can be very serious and very chilling and at the same time very playful. And that tone sort of infuses the whole show and makes it a very distinct tone, which I love. And so, really thinking about how to use [the] camera and blocking to capture what they’re doing so well. And also to make sure Dembe is really a part of the scene, even though he's listening in for most of the time because so much of what Red, as the scene shifts to a darker tone, so much of what Red is saying is also aimed at Dembe as well.
This is a stellar insight regarding Red and the series' tonality, in my opinion. Dembe proved vital, and the ending shot of Red’s speech to Dembe also managed to keep Dembe in focus. The use of a nearby mirror almost split-screen the two men. As for the scene of Liz's reveal, Lisa Robson said this:
Towards the end of the scene, we really feel the weight of Dembe knowing that there has been this shift for them in their relationship. Something has happened here, and something is coming. So, I think that on one hand, this scene was quite simple in how we blocked and [shot] it. But I also think that the actors are bringing so much that I feel like my main job was to make sure that I captured all of these moments.
Lisa Robinson certainly captured everything. In a first half that ran the gamut of emotions, it was a lot to take in. The heartbreaking turn in Red and Dembe’s relationship is a devastating one.
Find out what happens next when The Blacklist continues with new episodes on Fridays at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.