What’s not to love about a Dembe episode, because what’s not to love about Dembe? The man has a heart so big that with his own dying breaths, he’d try to ease the pain of a child, after a lifetime devoted to trying to save the soul of a criminal. No, it’s never made sense that a man as good as Dembe would aid Raymond Reddington in his frequently homicidal criminal enterprises — and it absolutely never will — but I do enjoy the poetic language employed by the Blacklist writers in their attempts to try to make it make sense.
This week’s episode got back to what originally made The Blacklist unique: At its best, it is simultaneously serialized and episodic. There’s a titular case of the week, but there’s also an ongoing narrative where we basically try to figure out what the hell Lizzie’s deal is and why this criminal mastermind in lightly tinted sunglasses won’t leave her alone. So, it’s interesting that calling on two more minor characters made both sides of that foundational coin shine once more, but let’s not ask questions — let’s just revel in the ooey-gooey Dembe sweetness, and the signature Tom torture.
THE KILGANNON CORPORATION, NO. 48
Wednesday’s cold open was a shorty-but-a-scary. An idyllic blond family plays on a beach only for one daughter to glance out and see that there are 20 bodies floating up to shore that no one else noticed. Some are alive — most are not.
When she reports to Red, Liz tells him that for the first time in a long time, she’s happy. In return, Red tells Liz that migrants are dying all over the world thanks to inhumane human smugglers. And Red would know because apparently part of his former criminal empire involved providing access to desired countries at a fair price for quality service. Now that said criminal empire is more in the “rising from the ashes” phase, someone has stepped in to fill the void left by Red’s abandoned routes. Only, they’re not so interested in the humane aspect of transporting humans.
Enter Arthur Kilgannon, who’s in the process of transferring day-to-day Kilgannon criminal operations to his son, Colin. Arthur seems fine in the way that super-criminals are sometimes fine on this show, and Colin seems awful in the way that snotty sons of super-criminals typically are. Colin is interrogating a man he holds responsible for the recent smuggling deaths; at first it seems like he’s upset that his clients died, but it quickly becomes clear he’s upset that his clients died before paying him. So he shoots the guy. Colin’s father tells him that dead employees don’t make them money either. And Liz’s “father” tells her that they have to find whoever took over his smuggling routes or people will continue to die.
Red tells Cooper they’ll need to start in Greece since he knows the usurpers are still using his routes, and he suggests they send someone undercover. One of his people…
Enter Dembe. And Aram! What a duo. I love Aram being the Q to Dembe’s Bond as he inserts a tiny mic device on Dembe’s back molar. And I love even more that Dembe doesn’t need the explanation because he’s a cultured genius who also speaks eight languages. “Other than the fact that you sometimes have to kill people for a living, you’re like my role model,” Aram tells him.
Dembe is fully prepared, but when he makes his way into the back room of the smuggling portal in Greece, pretending to be a Nigerian native seeking safe transport to Berlin, things get tense. The man interviewing him demands that Dembe open his mouth, and the agents outside are sure he’s about to find his mic device. Instead, he’s looking to see that Dembe has clearly had western dental work done. But when Dembe doesn’t flinch at a gun to his head, he tells him it’s 3,000 Euros: “The Irish are no longer accepting payment upon arrival.”