'The Blacklist' season 7 episode 11 review: Red encounters counterfeits and family drama amidst Liz's optimism
Contains spoilers for season 7 episode 11: 'Victoria Fenberg'
NBC's hit crime thriller 'The Blacklist' is back - and boy it is good to be reunited with possibly the best crime-solving crook on television - Raymond Red Reddington.
James Spader brings his age-old charm into a character that has consistently wowed, amused, and amazed us for seven years in a row, and his chemistry with Megan Boone's FBI agent Elizabeth Keene is just as impeccable as ever.
Speaking of Liz, the ongoing mystery surrounding her mother's death still remains intact, and in the backdrop of her stern faith in Katarina Rostova still being alive, Red finds himself tackling some top-notch elite level family drama revolving a rebellious daughter and a scorned employee.
Red's pursuit of collecting antiques sees him and Dembe Zuma travel to an old acquaintance, but unfortunately they are ambushed. People looking to capture Red have kidnapped the collector's daughter and want Red in exchange for her safety. Luckily for Red, he is able to see through the lies right on time and manages to escape by creating a distraction as his enemies arrive, leaving with an antique nesting casket which he thinks is the real deal.
He is, sadly, disappointed once again when a friend who dabbles in antiques informs him that the casket is fake and Red was fooled. But that sparks off a whole other adventure for Red - and the glee and humor that Spader pours into his character is deeply commendable and the only factor keeping things interesting for some times.
As Red tries to get to the roots of the counterfeit's origins, back home, Liz and her team of FBI agents are able to discover the museum owning the collection of caskets - the Fenberg gallery. Thus is uncovered a tale of revenge and rebellion as it turns out that Fenberg's daughter Victoria herself is responsible for the forged antiques.
But Victoria's agenda to teach her father a lesson for being a high profile drug mafia isn't just her own mission; her accomplice is an employee of the gallery who lost his son during a gas line explosion at the company grounds and therefore wants to seek revenge by suing them.
Using the money from selling forged antiques, the employee has been funding his lawsuit so far - something that is hindered just in time thanks to Liz's tenacity and Red's crafty manipulation.
Red's pursuit of the forger sends him through a string of accomplices in the crimes and each one of them is taken down by the former crook with style and panache. From ambushing people in hotel lobbies to popping up in their bathrooms as they are soaking in the tub, Red employs several tongue-in-cheek ways to get to Victoria.
Even when he comes across her, he presents her with the possibility of a shared venture instead of holding her accountable for teaching daddy a lesson. As for back home, right when Victoria and her accomplice think they have successfully swapped the last remaining original piece of art with the forged one, Liz and her team show up, with none other than agent Donald Ressler, who is able to close in on her as the prime suspect in the string of forgeries.
The progression of the plot with the mystery unfolding is like any other classic procedural - sprinkled with jargon and rapid discourse amongst the team of FBI experts that makes one intrigued by their sharp intelligence. But with the episode being a mid-season premiere, it is perhaps those very signature tropes that help the episode sail through and strike a chord.
There's also an interesting parallel that Red draws between a collector's hopes in stolen antiques being real that makes them overlook the salient details of forgeries and Liz's ardent conviction in her mother still being alive. The essence of drama is brought in by Aram's complicated relationship with Elodie on one hand as he debates on whether they should break up, and on the other hand, Liz and Donald's evolving relationship which allows them to open up to each other further. All in all, it's a decent return that definitely makes one look forward to the latter half of the season.
'The Blacklist' season 7 airs at 8 pm only on NBC.