'The Blacklist' Season 7 Episode 12 Review: Red's journey to remote island is a tryst with past love and fate

'The Blacklist' Season 7 Episode 12 Review: Red's journey to remote island is a tryst with past love and fate
Cassandra and Red (NBC)

Spoiler alert for 'The Blacklist' Season 7 Episode 12

NBC's 'The Blacklist' returns with its Season 7 Episode 12 to offer us a peek into the world of Raymond 'Red' Reddington, before he decided to call shotgun and begin enjoying life mostly from the passenger seat. For the crook turned trusted contributor in the FBI's most complex cases surrounding art and collectors' assets, the journey this time promises it all - reuniting with old friends, old banter, old passions - and of course - an old relationship which succumbed to the misfortune of turning sour.

All of this unfolds amidst a tricky art collectible trade going on to add just that right bit of thrill that comes with each episode of the procedural drama and one really can't complain. 

James Spader's Red is vivacious as ever - as he reassures his trusted consort Dembe that leaving him in the company of ruthless business-minded people like himself is a great idea. But for all those wondering at this point if the episode might fall prey to the lack of a Red/Dember subplot, they should know that the episode makes up for it by throwing Red, right into the middle of what looks like the most dramatic love affair gone wrong.

It's a game of hearts being pawned by two maestros of the sport - as is made clear by the piercing disposal of Cassandra which somehow leaves Red's suave confidence a little fumbling.

It's obvious Cassandra is not the only one Red has a history with, when it comes to the rest of the inhabitants of the mansion for the weekend. There's the snarky, but hilarious Anika who Red seems to have chatty banter with, a restrained Barkhoud - always trying to play within the lines, a stereotypical sketchy looking, Vodka obsessed Russian whose aim in life is to submerge people in alcohol and the effective, bad decisions, and also another toughie called Margo who doesn't shy away from a drinking game or two. We soon learn that they have all been asked to show up with their individual pieces from a giant collection of antique caskets, a masterplan orchestrated by Cassandra who fears someone is trying to buy their entire collection out, but why? 

Joely Richardson as Cassandra Bianchi, James Spader as Raymond 'Red' Reddington (NBC)

The curiosity piques in the episode in little instances. While there's Red's ex Cassandra, trying to explain what the possible reason for their urgent need to sell could be, we see Margo suffer a nosebleed before randomly dropping dead. It's obvious, the story is a roulette right now and the timing couldn't be worse because none of them were allowed weapons inside the premises of a mansion built on an island that brags about its secrecy and privacy for 'resolving old disputes'. 

In the end, we learn the bad guy was the mansion's manager slash concierge who welcomed Red and Dembe upon their arrival in the island, but thanks to his devious plan, the true extent of Red's vulnerability comes out. One able to save his and Cassandra's life from the bad guys', Red breaks down into an emotional well where Spader's signature parlay of rapid sarcasm and quick wit into the tongue-in-cheek character takes time off.

It is a different Red, the one we don't usually get to see but look forward to often. In his most vulnerable moments, Red isn't alongside Elizabeth or Agbes; he is more than just a sassy confrontational father figure who knows best.

In today's episode, Red is hurt but healed, reminded once again just why he and Cassandra could never work it out, but also of the immaculate potential and chemistry that the two still maintain as a couple. When all is over, Red even takes her to watch Agnes' dance recital as Sleeping Beauty, but this progression is nipped in the bud because of course, Red can't have nice things nor settle down so easily.

For an episode that doesn't focus on Liz and the FBI for 90 percent of the time, the story uses Red's dedication to the force and Keene's lives as what compels Cassandra to not meddle with the peace he has found. It's ironic but also expected, just like Red's questionable methods of approaching cases.

'The Blacklist' Season 7 airs on Fridays at 8 pm only on NBC.

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