The Blacklist: 5 Things We Learned From the Midseason Premiere

The Blacklist Midseason Premiere

If you tuned into the final minutes of Super Bowl XLIX, you might think pop culture’s biggest rivalry is currently that between the Patriots and the Seahawks.

But The Blacklist‘s midseason premiere introduced another pair of foes, one much more sinister than anything on the football field.

I’m speaking, of course, about the rivalry between Ray Reddington and Luther Braxton (played by Sons of Anarchy‘s Ron Perlman), which came to light in Part 1 of the NBC drama’s two-part episode. (The second half airs Feb. 5, when the show moves to its new Thursdays-at-9 time slot.)

Sunday’s hour was filled with exposition, teeing up quite a few loose ends that need tying up later this week. Let’s highlight the big takeaways from “Luther Braxton”:

WHO IS LUTHER BRAXTON? AND WHAT’S HIS BEEF WITH RED?
A high-ranking No. 21 on The Blacklist, Braxton is a thief who “plans his heists to occur in the midst of chaos.” He’s currently being kept in solitary confinement at an off-off-off-site facility, dubbed The Factory — well, not for long, after he MacGyvers himself out of the cell and kills all the prison guards. And though we don’t learn specifics about his beef with Red, we do learn that Braxton was responsible for a number of casualties when he faced off against the fugitive in Belgrade, years ago.

WHAT DOES BRAXTON WANT?
Braxton’s after The Fulcrum AKA a very important blackmail file that will prove the existence of a clandestine organization whose exposure could mean very bad things for national security. Red, Liz and the rest of the task force, of course, are trying to stop Braxton’s finding The Fulcrum — but that doesn’t go so well, after Agent Ressler and Samar Navabi are kidnapped by Braxton’s men.

And if The Fulcrum weren’t enough, Braxton also wants a master code that will help him break into the clandestine organization’s network. Harold Cooper isn’t about to hand over the code… until he realizes Navabi will be killed if he doesn’t, which forces him to spill the beans.

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WHAT DANGER IS RED IN?
Um… kind of a lot. See, the cabal has long been under the impression that Red possessed The Fulcrum. Now that they know he doesn’t have it, Red is no longer a threat — but he does need to be eliminated. Despite Cooper’s protests, the organization launches a number of missiles that target The Factory and, more importantly, Red.

HOW IS LIZ TIED TO ALL OF THIS?
It wouldn’t be an episode of The Blacklist if Liz weren’t majorly involved — unbeknownst to her, of course — in Red’s latest rivalry. As Red and Liz prepare to mess up Braxton’s plan via The Factory’s boiler room, Red admits to Liz, “If I don’t get Braxton, what he’ll discover is that he can’t get The Fulcrum without you.” We echo Liz’s sentiment when she asks, “What do you mean, ‘without me’?”

ARE LIZ AND BRAXTON LINKED?
Somehow, yes. When Liz and Red finally come face-to-face with their adversary, Braxton hints at some serious knowledge about Liz’s past. He knows about “the house, the fire and the girl,” then asks Red, “She was there that night, wasn’t she? She’s the one?” Just as Liz gets instructed to shoot Braxton, those aforementioned missiles very inconveniently land at The Factory’s front door.

OK, your turn. What did you think of The Blacklist‘s midseason premiere? Grade the episode via our poll below, then hit the comments to back up your choice!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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55 Comments
  1. GeoDiva says:

    How many times can Ressler be held captive? Otherwise, it was good. Glad The Blacklist is back!

  2. Tran says:

    I give it an A. I’m always a huge fan of The Blacklist since the beginning and it continues to have mind-blowing action and heart pounding suspense. Kudos to Ron Perlman for his Emmy worthy performance as Luther Braxton. This episode feels like a movie and the ending really blew me away and set up for the conclusion of the two-part story when the series moves to Thursdays @ 9 this week (watch out SCANDAL). Red was going all Jack Bauer when he uses a shotgun during a prison riot and I give credit to Aram who’s still my favorite on the show for his great one liners. Come Thursday, I’ll be tuning for Blacklist instead of Scandal.

    • Imzadi says:

      It’s not just The Blacklist and Scandal, it’s Reign as well. Fortunately I have two TiVos that each record two shows at once, so I can watch one and record the other two for next-day viewing. I may also have to do that with How to Get Away with Murder, Elementary, and Allegiance, if I like the new show also. I’m already recording Beat Bobby Flay at its repeat showing.

      • Tran says:

        I have ON DEMAND for my digital cable.

      • cookie says:

        I have AT&T U VERSE and It allows u to record 4 shows at once. U should check it out, it’s great!! I love my U VERSE! !! Also On THE West Coast I Missed THE ending cause super bowl ran late. Only got the first 40 minutes. Trying to watch last 15 minutes on hulu.

  3. kate says:

    I really feel like we are once again be convinced we have answers and get nothing. I mean I suppose I can wait for nbc’s spoiler promo. Of course we will all only learn what a traumatized little girl knew.

  4. pianomanndave says:

    Small correction: Blacklist is moving to Thursday nights at 9:00, NOT 10:00!

  5. Patti Singer says:

    James Spader is riveting as Red Redington. The addition of Ron Perlman to the mix was mind blowing. This was an extremely well done episode, and I can hardly wait for Thursday’s conclusion. This REALLY is must watch TV at its best.

  6. Isabel says:

    I think it was awesome but now I’m really confused but in a really good way!!!!

  7. TV Gord says:

    I loved seeing Janel Moloney and David Straithairn! I hope they end up recurring!

  8. karen says:

    heart pounding! been a fan of Spader since he was a lad! though I agree how many times can ressler be near death and return unscathed? Bokencamp is a genius!

  9. Dj says:

    B+ only because I’m starting to tire out on the Liz/Red plot. A+ for airing the Avengers 2 trailer durning the show. Spader is so wickedly bad.

  10. Blah says:

    So mysterious government agents are chasing a conspiracy known as fulcrum. Brandon routh is after the death of his wife creepily chasing a blonde who loves someone else but he screwed it up for now. Heroes is on NBC and so is Zach Levi.

    Good to see 2015 with some great new ideas

  11. sladewilson says:

    Watching Red go gonzo at the end with the shottie was cool. I hope we finally get some definitive answers but I highly doubt it…

  12. Linnster says:

    I almost always knit while I’m watching TV, but I had to put my knitting down and actually concentrate on this entire episode it was that riveting. Way to go, Red.

  13. Kate says:

    Did anyone else notice they were talking about Fulcrum? Think it’s an homage to NBC’s Chuck?

    • Tran says:

      The Fulcrum is a “blackmail file” Luther Braxton wants. Remember in Homeland Season Four Episode 10 where Haqqani and his henchmen seize control of the U.S. Embassy and all Haqqani wants is the “list”.

  14. Linda says:

    Ron Perlman makes everything better! He’s so good at being bad!!

  15. Joey Padron says:

    great episode. can’t wait to see what happens in part 2!

  16. bj says:

    I learned to PVR the next two shows after it’s listed since the game ran a little late and the 15 minute after show that was listed ran for an hour.

  17. Eileen hudson says:

    Missiles over the top, not necessary. Please don’t turn into another 24hrs.

    • Erin2 says:

      Missiles are over the top on a show dealing with the government, terrorists and the world’s most dangerous criminals???? Go watch Nashville or something!

  18. Katherine215 says:

    Love the show, but I’m getting pretty tired of the mystery surrounding Liz’s childhood and her relationship to Red. Just tell us and move on with the story already. There’s no way whatever they come up with is going to be nearly as interesting as they’ve built it up to be.

  19. Samantha says:

    another excellent episode I just wish they would stop making Liz so stupid and blind. I also would like to see her have a little backbone once again with weapon in hand bad guy in site her hand is shaking like a leaf.

  20. Andrea says:

    Please give Liz a spine, the character is to wishy washy for being a FBI agent, time for the writers to toughen her up to behave savvy…

    • Jean Alica says:

      Leave Liz alone. There is nothing wrong with the character. When she was a four year old child she experience a horror that left her with nothing but a pair of PJs and a singed toy rabbit. We are almost certain of the person who we think rescued her. There was only one place he could take her and that was to his home and the next day the long journey to Sam. As for now well Sam is dead and she has failed marriage to a man who turned the manipulation of another human being into an art form. She has tried hiding things from Reddington and she knows it does not work. What l do know about this character is she is really stubborn and sometimes that works for her but not always. Like Reddington she has also learned how to use people. All FBI agents have their pluses and minuses and given her history Elizabeth Keen has come a long way.

  21. Rusty says:

    Love the show. Have been a fan since the beginning. I am a bit of a stickler for accuracy. I like when the FBI folks go to get Red they get there from the east coast in a matter of hours. Must be using some new hyper sonic helicopter, capable of speeds greater than 3000 MPH. When the F-22’s were launched to attack the ‘Factory’, they were launched from Wright Patterson AFB, which is located in Ohio. Flight time ’20 minutes???’ The black site is located in the Bearing Sea. Even a SR-71 flying at top speed couldn’t get there in 20 minutes. I know its nit picking. But do any of the writers even know how to look at a map? It’s over 3500 miles!! This is just one example of the show stretching the limits of credibility. Yeah, Yeah it’s fiction. The security of the place was worse than a jail in a small town. Seeing all of the screw-ups on the show every week is one of the things I enjoy. I am glad that they keep screwing things up, keeps me on my toes :)

    • Dan Cz says:

      I thought it was F-22s, not choppers, that were sent, but that would still be an impossible task. Both time-wise and fuel-wise. Especially when they have F-22s at Elmendorf AFB in Anchorage.

      And speaking of Anchorage, that’s the city they labeled as Juneau at the beginning of part 2 of this episode.

  22. schumi8 says:

    There is just something about Jame Spader….I really hope the Blacklist wins the ratings on Thursday night!!!

    • Tran says:

      We’ll see but don’t count out on Scandal just yet if the rest of its Season Four episodes gets even more crazier and crazier and crazier…#SaveOliviaPope

  23. Luis says:

    This is starting to get a little tedious; the writers need to move us forward on the connection between Liz and Red. On the other hand, Janel Moloney AND Ron Perlman? SCORE!!

  24. Artie says:

    The show is kind of over the top but as with the show “24”, cannot wait for the next episode.

  25. SuSu says:

    Spader is Soo good in this. I know he’s a baddie but I wish I had him on my side. Missiles “over the top”??!!! I can’t think of better way to sink a ship full of real baddies. Guess we could give them a lollipop & hope they choke on the stick

  26. Sandymoschetti@hotmail.com says:

    I love this show. Always keeps you your toes. Much like 24 did. It was great last night, can’t wait till Thursday.

  27. gabcedar says:

    I love the Blacklist .it’s a great action packed show :) I watched the first episode and I was hooked!. I recommend watching it too and you will find your self on the edge of your seat wanting more. Thanks for reading have a great tv night everyone:)

  28. Liz says:

    What a way to kick off 2015. Rock solid episode – every time they feed you with (half) answers, new questions arise. Now I’m not too sure how I’m supposed to see the Liz/Red relationship anymore. In the series’ very first episode Red told Liz that if there’s anyone that’s going to give him a second chance, it’s her. But in what way? Does she truly mean something to him or is she just a means to an end (apparently somehow playing a crucial part in the whole fulcrum mystery)? Is the fulcrum the only reason he turned himself in in episode 1? To get close to Liz and eventually gain her trust? It’s a little confusing… why is Liz ‘the one’? Ugh, so many questions and not enough answers!

  29. PatioPrincess says:

    I liked the episode, but, I can’t say I really, really liked it because there wasn’t enough Ressler in it. There can never be enough Ressler for me. Also, I’m tired of them trying to hold back his awesomeness. It’s like they’ve put a governor on him and won’t let him go full out bad ass. Why are they neutering him? I want my Ressler and I want him now! Full strength and full speed. Make it so!

  30. friend12 says:

    Spader is eval with at time a conscience(or maybe not) that makes the show and Perlman is another of those absolutely eval character and I hope he survives the 2nd show. The rest are interesting and to a degree filler at times. I can’t wait to see what happens next.

    Don’t forget Spader is Ultron another absolutely eval character, but, with absolutely no conscience.

  31. huston spence says:

    casting pee wee herman in the beginning was pure genious casting ron perlman in mid season was oredictable and boring . off pearlman quick and bring back pee wee.

  32. CharlieB says:

    It’s getting boring with the same thing over and over again. Red is presumed dead when Liz is giving him CPR, and no results. But when the guard comes in and says: wake up, Red leaps to his feet like he was just napping?? Really??

  33. gary a says:

    a fail, red shoots everyone why didn’t he just shoot braxton instead of telling liz to shoot him.
    problems with many shows like gibbs getting cold cocked on ncis instead of just killing the guy.

    • Jean Alica says:

      James Spader is so special and I just adore Reddington. It was worth buying a smart TV. As far as this episode goes I got everything I ever wanted and I was not alone in thinking that in my house that evening.

  34. X says:

    We say above average and not awesome because at the beginning of the show you say it may contain nudity but it never does! You should show boobies, then it would have been awesome!