TV Show Review

TV Review: THE BLACKLIST: Season 5, Episode 5: Ilyas Surkov (No. 54) [NBC]

Megan Boone Diego Klattenhoff The Blacklist

The Blacklist: Ilyas Surkov (No. 54) Review

The Blacklist: Season 5, Episode 5: Ilyas Surkov (No. 54) is a solid outing with a story that stands out as the strongest this season has told so far.

Although there hasn’t been a truly bad episode yet, Season 5 has been marked by largely uneven shows that excel in an area or two and fall short almost everywhere else. This couldn’t be further from the truth in last Wednesday’s episode, which manages to hit all the right notes and then some.

For a program as steeped in the world and culture of the intelligence community, the CIA has played a surprisingly small role. Indeed, the agency hasn’t really been featured in a major way since the end of Season 2 and beginning of Season 3, where the demise of the organization’s National Clandestine Services director ended the threat posed to Liz (Megan Boone) and Red (James Spader) from them.  This is something of a misstep on the writers’ part in my opinion, since a group that has meddled in matters of the utmost national security as much as the FBI task force would almost certainly interact with their counterparts at the CIA more. Fortunately, it appears that the show is ready to revisit the agency, but as you can imagine, not everything is as it seems.

While the CIA under the Director was outright hostile to the team, the way they are depicted now is more ambiguous and their agenda is much less clear. They still have an edge to them, but they are at least operating on the same side as the FBI now. When Cooper (Harry Lennix) confronts Cox (Frederic Lehne), his opposite number from the CIA about the questionable activities his agency is engaging in, it feels like one friend warning another against crossing a boundary rather than a hero exposing his enemy.

Enriching the exchange even further is the fact that Cox reminds Cooper he has taken part in some illicit activities himself, striking a serious “we’re not so different” note with his comment. What makes the comparison so potent is that it’s absolutely true, and both Cooper and the viewer know it. It makes you think about everything not just Cooper but Liz, Red, and the rest of the characters have done over the course of the show and ask yourself “what makes them different from the bad guys?” Cooper, of course, has an answer: he knows what he does may not be right and will accept responsibility for his actions if it comes to that. It’s a heady exchange that not only separates our heroes from their enemies, but The Blacklist from lesser shows as well.

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About the author

Reggie Peralta

An aspiring writer, longtime film junkie, and former disc jockey (where I graduated with a BA in Political Science), I've made the jump from penning book reviews and current events editorials for to writing movie and TV news and reviews.

When I'm not working towards my certificate in Radio and Television/Video Production at Fullerton College, I enjoy reading (horror, science fiction, and historical/political nonfiction are particular favorites), participating in my school's TV and theatre clubs, attending movie screenings, plays, concerts, and other events, and trying to come up with pithy things to say on social media. Believe it or not, there are occasions where I find time to write for my own leisure.

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