So about those bones…
That duffle bag of skeleton parts that’s been at the center of NBC’s The Blacklist throughout Season 5 has been much debated by fans in the build-up to tonight’s season finale, and viewers can rest easy (or not) in the satisfaction of knowing that the bones belong to…
Really, stop reading here if you don’t want to know.
In an episode that included more than one oddity – yes, that was cult filmmaker John Waters appearing as himself in a cameo at a tailor shop, getting fitted for one of his trademark bespoke suits – FBI agent Liz Keen (Megan Boone) and super criminal Raymond “Red” Reddington (James Spader) were on a collision course with special guest Blacklister Sutton Ross (Julian Sands), a 1980s-era stealer of international trade secrets who got harshly duped way back when by Red himself.
Ross, out for vengeance, knows the secret of the bones – who they belong to and why they’re so important to Red. Turns out – and truly, stop here if you don’t want to know – the bones are Red.
The episode, written by John Eisendrath & Jon Bokenkamp & Lukas Reiter and directed by Bill Roe, built to one of the series’ twistiest moments ever, with Liz revealing – to the ghost or perhaps memory of her late husband Tom, no less (Ryan Eggold, in a surprise graveside appearance) – that she’d been in cahoots with Ross all along, and that divulged that the bones in the bag were those of the real Raymond Reddington, and that the Red who Liz (and viewers) have known these past five seasons is an imposter.
“I’m dying to hear how you pulled this off,” says Tom, maybe or maybe not getting his own joke.
In any case, The Blacklist pulled off something even a rarer than a mere double-cross: Tonight’s finale was a reverse-Vader. Liz, Darth Spader is not your father.
The reveal nicely set up what viewers can expect of Season 6, with Liz vowing to find out the true identity of the faux-Red and why he’s been pretending all these years.
“Why he spent the last 30 years pretending to be Raymond Reddington,” Liz wonders aloud to the husband who died trying to solve the mystery of the bones, “I’m going to figure all that out, and then I’m going to destroy him!”
And she’ll have help: Half-sister Jennifer (Fiona Dourif), introduced earlier this season, is on Team Liz. “I’m not alone,” Liz assures Ghost Tom, “I have help.” When Jennifer appears at the cemetery – the earthly Jennifer, no spirit – and asks Liz if she’s ready to go, Liz offers a firm, “Oh yeah, I’m ready.”
For reasons not explained, Fake Red seems to have at least a bit of family on his side: The episode’s final moments find him burning the bones while Liz’s maternal grandfather Dom (Brian Dennehy, reprising the role) looks on.
The Rashomon-style final scene, in which we revisit earlier moments from the episode but with new knowledge (of Liz’s scheming with Ross, chiefly) and perspective, also reminded us of earlier victims of the bones mystery. In flashbacks, we see the final, sometimes bloody, moments of characters played by, among others, Jane Alexander and Mary-Louise Parker.
Tonight’s finale also wrapped up a secondary plot from last week, with happier results: The comatose Mossad agent Samar (Mozhan Marnò) rejoined the woke, and even remembered the marriage proposal made by lovestruck FBI techie Aram (Amir Arison) while she was out. How could she not, with Etta James’ “At Last” playing as Aram slipped his grandma’s ring onto her finger?
Ghosts, fake dads, John Waters, mysterious skeletons and Etta James. No one can say The Blacklist doesn’t go for broke, even with throw-away lines and cross-network snipes: “Did he talk?,” someone asks following a torturous off-camera interrogation.
“Like Whoopi on The View,” came the response.