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'The Blacklist' Season 7 Finale Review: Liz finally embraces her darkness with a brilliant animated screenplay

Red appoints the FBI with the case of 'The Kazanjian Brothers', who could lead him to the truth about Katarina Rostova, testing both Liz's loyalties and her inner darkness
UPDATED MAY 16, 2020

Spoilers for 'The Blacklist' Season 7 Episode 19 'The Kazanjian Brothers'

'The Blacklist' Season 7 just did what very few in television history have been able to achieve: a very gritty, darker than usual, graphic novel-esque animated season finale. This was just the right gift for cutting this season short. After patiently waiting for a whole week, ever since news of 'The Blacklist' splitting its newly instated finale to half live-action and half animated arrived, the wait came to an explosive end. With more drawn out monologues comes a greater responsibility to give that particular character a certain unmissable edge — something we see with a steadily deteriorating Raymond 'Red' Reddington, and in Elizabeth Keene every time she switches sides. That said, it all boils down to the final decision she makes between her lying, scheming mother, Katarina Rostova, and her shady mentor — Red. 

Episode 19's titular 'Kazanjian Brothers' are a hitman duo who can be shooting down people in broad daylight to rescue an accountant worried about getting in trouble with the cops. Soon it becomes clear that this man they saved work for all the bad guys — dirty politicians, judges up for sale, other hitmen, and the likes. Of course, Red hands the case to Liz but he can't quite tell why she looks shifty. Up until this point, we see Liz visit her grandpa and even confront Katarina for having her followed, but it is something Katarina asks Liz that might explain her growing distance from Red, who is still in the dark about Liz knowing her mother is alive.

Katarina asks Liz if she is on her side, picking up right where they left off in the previous episode, and even being her daughter isn't enough for the Russian spy. And for when these thought-provoking moments on the episode don't strike as hard, it is the side by side text boxes explaining the developments of the episode with relevant information in each scene that excel. Giving it a graphic spin, the writers don't shy away from projecting action that reminds us of flipping through the pages of our favorite comic book. That paired with Liz's dilemma makes for the perfect action-content balance. Liz realizes Red might have given them the case because the murderous brothers could be his clue to unraveling all past fugitives, including Katarina. And it's only convenient because Katarina doesn't know yet that Red's using the task force to find her whereabouts.

Laila Robins as Katarina Rostova, Megan Boone as Elizabeth Keene (NBC)

By this point, it's given that Liz can't quite help herself from solving the case, let alone truly stick by Katarina's side with Red's propositions looming large. And we all know how this pans out every time — with Liz debating whether or not she should be on her mother's side, only to end up being on Red's. The predictability of the plot is made easier by the animation — as text bosses hint at Liz's intuition and we get to watch her kick some major animated a** with pop-rock blaring in the background. 

When Liz engages in a shootout with the Kazanjian brothers, she mentions her mother's name, which makes them leave the venue automatically — thus confirming her doubts over Red. And through these subtle little moments of enlightenment, the writing once again paints Red is more than just colors of a man with a terrible past. It all boils down to the confrontation we have been waiting to see ever since the prospect of Katarina being alive emerged, and as Liz verbally attacks Red in the middle of the kitchen, her frustration comes pouring out with Red consistently trying to be the better man. It is only when Red collapses and has yet another attack that the puzzle pieces fall into place. With no one to call, Liz ends up calling Katarina to get Red to a doctor, but Red can't really see or hear anything clearly, so when he regains senses, all of this is a blur.

Consistently throughout the episode, Liz can be seen siding with Red; taking up his case knowing full well it will lead him to her mother, and saving his life, once again, with the help of her mother. It's obvious why Katarina would have doubts about her own daughter's loyalty, and also probably why the end twists everything with have known about Elizabeth, as she can be seen climbing on the ledge of the building, most likely about to jump off and pull the exact same stunt her mother had in the past: fake her own death. In her final monologue with her grandfather who lies resting in a coma, Liz can be seen asking him to forget all she had said about choosing a side because she is on her mother's side now. And that culminating with her on the ledge only establishes that Liz is, in fact, her mother's daughter. There's no holding her back from this darkness of Red's she always tried to escape. 

'The Blacklist' Season 7 finale aired on Friday at 8 pm only on NBC.