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You are here You are here: Home Videos Movie Reviews The Blacklist
 Hollywood Movies Overview 

Esoteric Hollywood Movies     From: Vigilant Citizen



During the last years, a new trend appeared in Hollywood: secret societies being at the center of movie intrigues.

Some might find this surprising since secret societies are supposed to be… well… secret. Many people in the movie industry are part of those Brotherhoods so what is the reasoning behind this?

To Conclude: The trend of seeing secret societies in books and movies is not about to end.

These works are now appearing as a result of the democratization of information, which allows regular people to access information which was previously inaccessible. These movies serve the same purpose as occult symbols: to reveal and to conceal.

They reveal to the initiates while they mislead the profane.

Hollywood movies have been used to promote numerous agendas such as the Vietnam war, the fear of Communism, the fear of Islamic terrorism, the promotion of American values, etc.

The movies analyzed above simply promote a new agenda, which is disinformation about secret societies.

Keyhole visions into what’s going on behind the scenes     From: Female Illuminati



People establish and join secret societies because they seek power. Once they've achieved great power as well as wealth, they sometimes want to brag about it and let others know about their special status. To further this desire, members of secret societies - from Jesuits to Satanists - make use of the media. Highly financed movies are made to communicate to us on a non-verbal level. These movies are often ostensibly based on the books of commissioned writers, themselves lower-level agents of powerful secret societies.

Hollywood movies occasionally provide us with keyhole visions into what’s going on behind the scenes; although not enough for laymen and symbolically illiterate people to decipher and understand. That’s why so many people remain ignorant about secret societies and their ways. However if we do a little serious research, it becomes easier to see what is going on. This process is occasionally helped by whistle-blowing movies from Hollywood and other media orgs, movies such as Brotherhood of the Bell, To the Devil a Daughter, The Devil Rides Out, The Omen, Bladerunner, Freejack, Judge Dread, Fifth Element, Tombraider, The Formula, James Bond, The Da Vinci Code, National Treasure, Skulls, Eyes Wide Shut, and so on. As we said, perhaps we are deliberately BEING TOLD what is going on by the elites themselves. It’s an intriguing thought.

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Excerpts various Hollywood movies are published here for educational purposes only, and (hopefully) within the guidelines of "Fair Use".1

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  The Blacklist  (TV series)  
Introduction

A tip for this program came from a comment on Zero Hedge.

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The comment on ZH was in response to an article about a wing segment that washed ashore on Réunion Island 16 months after the disappearance of Malaysian Airline flight 370. Throughout the comment section to this article were various conspiracy theories as to why this plane disappeared, most of which centered around the fact that twenty employees of Freescale Semiconductor were on-board the aircraft. Comment 6368187 gives a detailed account of this theory.

Episode #2 of The Blacklist (The Freelancer No. 145) revolves around a hired assasin who hides his killings within larger wrecks and "disasters" that otherwise seem to be random.

Synopsis (from: Wikipedia)

The Blacklist is an American crime drama television series that premiered on NBC on September 23, 2013. Raymond "Red" Reddington, a former United States Navy officer turned high-profile criminal, voluntarily surrenders to the Federal Bureau of Investigation after eluding capture for decades. He tells the FBI that he has a list of the most dangerous criminals in the world that he has compiled over the years and is willing to guide their operations in exchange for immunity from prosecution. However he insists on working exclusively with a rookie FBI profiler by the name of Elizabeth Keen.

Premise

Raymond "Red" Reddington, a former US Naval Intelligence officer who had disappeared twenty years earlier to become one of the FBI's Ten Most Wanted Fugitives, surrenders himself to FBI Assistant Director Harold Cooper at the J. Edgar Hoover Building in Washington, D.C. Taken to an FBI "black site", Reddington claims he wishes to help the FBI track down and apprehend the criminals and terrorists he spent the last twenty years associating with; individuals that are so dangerous and devious that the United States government is unaware of their very existence.

He offers Cooper his knowledge and assistance on two conditions: immunity from prosecution, and that he work exclusively with Elizabeth Keen, a rookie profiler newly assigned to Cooper. Keen and Cooper are suspicious of Reddington's interest in her but he will only say that she is "very special". After Cooper tests Reddington's offer in locating and killing a terrorist in the first episode, Reddington reveals that this man was only the first on his "blacklist" of global criminals, which he has compiled over his criminal career, and states that he and the FBI have a mutual interest in eliminating them.

As the series progresses, the mysteries of Reddington's and Liz's lives, and his interest in her, are revealed slowly. Twists are introduced involving other characters.

Critical response

The first season of The Blacklist received strong reviews from television critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, the show has a rating of 82%, based on 45 reviews, with an average rating of 7/10. The site's consensus reads, "James Spader is riveting as a criminal-turned-informant, and his presence goes a long way toward making this twisty but occasionally implausible crime procedural compelling". On Metacritic, the series has a score of 74 out of 100, based on 31 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".

David Wiegand of the San Francisco Chronicle said about the pilot, "You think you know this situation and how it will turn out, but there are surprising, yet entirely credible, twists throughout Monday's episode". Robert Bianco of USA Today said, "The Blacklist is a solid weekly crime show built around a genuine TV star. That's the kind of series the networks have to be able to pull off to survive. And with Spader in command, odds are NBC will". Tim Goodman of The Hollywood Reporter praised both Spader's performance and the procedural elements of the show, writing "there's an over-arching element to the premise as well that makes it intriguing without making it overly complicated."

‘The Blacklist’ Creator Reveals Some of the Show’s Secrets

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James Spader as ‘Red’ in ‘The Blacklist’
Patrick Ecclesine/NBC

From: The Wall Street Journal | Jan 13, 2014

If you are like me, you have been in “The Blacklist” withdrawal for the past few weeks. While the hit show didn’t leave us on a dramatic cliffhanger when it took its winter break, the adrenaline rush of the storming of the FBI black site, the kidnapping and torture of Red, and then Red’s confrontation with the mysterious and powerful character played by Alan Alda left all of us out of breath and eager for what would come next.

So, in my quest to figure out what will come next, I went straight to the source. I spoke with the show’s executive producer and creator, Jon Bokenkamp.

So, I hear one of the reasons you agreed to this is that you actually read my blog.

Yup and I love it. We’re so in the show and have no life at the moment and I’m not really aware of what is going on out there. My one way to connect with other people outside of the writer’s room and know what people think of the show is on these various blogs. Your blog has really smart people who are watching. They have great theories. I had one of the guys in the writer’s room make a big list of all the theories. Who knows, maybe there’s some great idea out there that we haven’t even thought of. We’ll take the ideas wherever we can get them.

All of us are having a lot of fun speculating about it. Did you know you were making a hit when you were working on this?

No! I really just love the character of Red and the larger mystery at the core of this. That’s what drew me to it. And now it is fun to look at all the different angles the show can go. But there’s never any sense that you have a hit. There’s such a strange confluence of things that have to happen; from the right script to the right actor to people connecting with the show. There’s so much out of  your control that it’s a surreal experience when it all happens just right.

I feel like you’ve created this hybrid of a show. It’s a procedural and a mystery. Sort of “CSI” meets “Lost” or “Law & Order” combined with the “X-Files.” Is that what you were going for?

Yeah, absolutely. I am not really interested in a straight-up procedural, case-of-the-week show. That isn’t the kind of television I am interested in. I’m drawn to the bigger mysteries of serialized storytelling but that seems to have a shorter shelf-life and isn’t really network TV. We always talked about this being a 70-30 split. We’re still trying to find the right mix of serialized and case-of-the-week storytelling. What’s special about this is we have the ability to do both.

There were a couple episodes early on that felt like there wasn’t much that happened with the mystery story, but that certainly hasn’t been the case the past couple episodes!

I worry about that in returning because it is a show that has a lot of those stand-alone episodes. We always intended for it to be that way. But it has been more heavily serialized the past few episodes and will continue to be for the next one or two. I hope people aren’t disappointed when we have more of those episodes that are just a good Blacklist case and don’t have as much about the mystery of our central characters.

We get that you can’t just tell your serialized story. You are making a show that you hope to be on for many years. You’d probably run out of story if you did nothing but the mystery.

Yeah, we could burn through it very quickly. It’s tough. The mystery stories are more fun in the writer’s room but we don’t want to burn through it. We’ve got a lot of good mythology to tell and it’s hard to resist going there. When you’re having trouble with a story and are wondering how it will hold up, it’s easy to say let’s go back to the larger mythology and tell a little nugget of that. But we can’t always do that because we do hope to be on the air for a while.

Well, while we like catching the Blacklist bad guys, the mysteries are what keep us coming back. We have Red’s history, and his relationship with Liz, and we have Liz’s relationship with Tom and whether Tom is who he says he is. What is your favorite mystery on the show?

I’m really intrigued by the mystery of Tom and who he is. That’s one where it’s really interesting to me to read the blogs and see what people say. I love seeing how much people love or hate this guy. It’s a storyline that people really want to talk about. It makes it kinda fun.

I call him Tom Bond on the blog, because I am convinced he is a spy. Can you tell me if he is?

Oh please! You know I can’t tell you that. Ha! I will tell you that we are going to start exploring him a little more closely. We are going to have some answers about Tom and Liz coming up. That’s not a story we are going to be putting on the back burner.

Do you worry about what happens if you give answers and people aren’t satisfied?

Not really. I figure if I am surprised by it and the other writers in the room are surprised by it that’s all we can do. I’ve had movies and scripts that I loved that people didn’t really like. I don’t think anyone knows the magic formula for what connects or why this show has connected so well. I try not to think about how well things will be received. If I’m surprised and enjoy it, that’s all I can do.

I think back to what happened when “Lost” gave answers and people were not satisfied and to when the “X-Files” took too long to give answers and viewers stopped watching. What do you do?

(Sigh) It’s hard. That is a concern. But we do and we will continue to give answers. It’s not something we are going to tease out forever. We do know the answers, not to all of the questions, but we know the important ones We have signposts of where we want to be along the way as we get to the end. How we get there, the exact path we take, is the fun part for the writers. We’re just telling the best story we can and hopefully people will be satisfied.

Do you have a long-term plan, are there things that aren’t revealed today that you plan to get to in season three or five or whatever?

There’s some of that. I have had long conversations with James Spader and other writers about where the show is ultimately going. What’s difficult for me is I’ve never done TV before. I primarily write movie thrillers and in that medium it’s all about the ending and reverse engineering your story from the ending to the beginning. But in TV you can’t work in that reverse capacity because you don’t know how long you are going to be on the air. It is exciting though to take our time as we arrive at some of these big turns.

Who is your favorite character… or should I reverse that question and ask you to tell me why Red is your favorite character?

Spader does a marvelous job. I think everyone’s doing a wonderful job, but he has a strong perspective on who he thinks the character is. We’ve had lots of long conversations about what kind of person Red is, what kind of music does he listen to and things like that. Red loves being Red and living life to the fullest so we are always trying to find situations that are fun and funny and dangerous for him to experience.

Can you confirm for me that the scars on Lizzie’s hand and the markings on the boxes that have been found are the same?

Uhhh, I cannot confirm that, but it sure is interesting that they look similar, isn’t it?

Give me one hint at something that will be revealed in the second half of the season? Are we going to find out if Tom really is a spy? Are we going to know if Red really is Lizzie’s father?

What’s interesting to me is we do answer questions. We’ve answered both of those. In the last episode, Liz asked the father question and Red gave her an answer. A few episodes ago we took Tom into the blacksite and the FBI cleared him. But, I do think it is most exciting when we give an answer that raises more questions. So, do you feel like those two questions have been answered?

Actually, I am going to take Red at his word when he said he was not Lizzie’s father. I believe him. I think the notion that Red was Lizzie’s father was so telegraphed from the beginning that I never suspected it was true. But just because the FBI cleared Tom at the blackstite doesn’t close the book on that to me. Red is warning Liz too much about Tom for there not to be something more there.

I will tell you that there are answers that we will be giving about… how do I delicately state this… we will be answering things about both Red’s family and about his background. One of the interesting things to me is getting to know who Red is in a better capacity. And we are going to continue to explore Tom and Liz’s relationship. I wish I could give you a better answer than that.

Okay, I will tell you one thing that will happen when the show starts up again. When we come back, we will see Red on fire. He is a man on a mission. That is going to be fun. We are going to see him dealing with the repercussions of what happened during the incursion into the black site.

Follow Jason Evans on Twitter @TVFilmTalk and check back in every Monday and Wednesday for his recaps of “The Blacklist” and “Arrow.”

Spoiler Alert!

The following tabs all contain spoilers.

Tab# 5 is a general commentary on the series

Tabs# 6, 7 and 8 relate to the last episode of season 2.
Episode 22 - Masha Rostova / Tom Connolly (No. 11)

Tab# 9 is a review of the first episode of season 2 from Slate.

Tab# 10 is a review of the first episode of season 2 from PopMatters.

blacklist poster

Why ‘The Blacklist’ Should Ditch Its Origin Story Mystery

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[This article may contain SPOILERS for The Blacklist.]

From: Screen Rant

For nearly two seasons, audiences have been asked to ponder whether or not James Spader’s Raymond “Red” Reddington is in fact the father of Megan Boone’s FBI Profiler, Elizabeth Keen. It has also been left to ponder what something called the Fulcrum is, and what it has to do with a clandestine organization that may or may not surreptitiously run the world. These are intriguing questions for anyone who has enjoyed The Blacklist, NBC’s violent crime thriller with a twist.

But after nearly two seasons of teasing, and going back and forth over the same questions, it’s time to move past asking questions; it’s time to see what the story the show is hinting at is really about. But because the series is still locked in the increasingly tired 22-episode per season format, there is already a more interesting show being presented when the series forgets those larger mysteries and goes all-in on its procedural elements. So, that being said, if The Blacklist isn’t going to move forward with its mythology and use it to transform the story into something more propulsive, compelling, and willing to explore the ramifications of those questions, it might be best to ditch it altogether.

As much evidence as there is that the series has a mythology akin to something like, say, The X-Files, the truth of the matter is, the two mythologies differ by way of one important distinction. While The X-Files revolved around the potential discovery of a global (and perhaps, intergalactic) conspiracy, one that either is or is not being conducted behind the scenes of the United State’s government, The Blacklist essentially revolves around one man withholding information from someone who may or may not be his daughter. That’s like putting the Cigarette Smoking Man front and center of The X-Filesuniverse, while constantly intimating that Scully may in fact be the fruit of his cancer-ridden loins.

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You may be pondering that concept and thinking to yourself, “Well, that actually doesn’t sound so bad,” and it doesn’t; but what would make this scenario work is the level of change the unholy alliance of Scully and the Cigarette Smoking Man could potentially bring about. That would require Scully to be let in on the enigmatic world that her ashtray-smelling paterfamilias is a part of. If not, then the whole thing isn’t nearly as compelling. That’s because withholding information prevents the series from moving forward into more intriguing territory. It keeps it locked in a holding pattern that refuses to reveal what’s at stake.

Another key difference between The X-Files and The Blacklist is: Mulder and Scully (differing levels of skepticism aside) are operating at the same level of knowledge, as they confront the series’ central question. They are both more or less in the dark, united in a quest for the truth (because, it’s out there, dammit), and that makes the amount information – or truth – that they do not know a part of the intrigue. This allows for the mythology of the series to also focus heavily on the personal relationship between Mulder and Scully; it creates a sense of familiarity, a sense of shorthand, and a sense of compassion that makes subsequent episodes – Monster of the Week or mythology heavy – more emotionally gripping and meaningful. There are genuine feelings at stake, feelings that the audience can parse through the character’s open interactions.

The same is only partially true of The Blacklist. The mythology heavy episodes have created the beginnings of a solid relationship between Red and Liz. But because the series has teased that there is something more, the audience – much like the series – is left dipping their toe in what could be a deep and rewarding emotional bond between the two. The audience needs to know where they stand with regard to the characters’ connection. Not knowing keeps the emotional connection in the shallow end of the relationship pool, even when the series keeps insisting it will plunge into its depths.

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Much of this has to do with the kind of sagacious character the audience has been condition to view Red as being. It has been alluded to that Red is in possession of some information that could change everything for him and for Liz (and possibly the FBI and the world, if you think about it). After all, episode after episode, Red is seen raining down deus ex machinas in the form of former associates and Evil Facebook friends (that’s a thing, right?) who basically prove him right nearly 100 percent of the time. It also makes him capable of overcoming nearly any obstacle in his way.

So, it is safe to assume that Red knows everything that characters like Liz, Ressler, and Cooper need or want to know, but is unwilling to share the truth with them. The problem is: keeping the information locked away in Reddington’s inimitable brain creates a power vacuum that ostensibly prevents the storyline from moving forward. The question, then, is why? Suspense? As Kurt Vonnegut once saidabout writing short stories, “To hell with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.” Replace “readers” with viewers and “pages” with episodes” and you have a terrific argument against The Blacklist‘s current brand of storytelling.

Sure, writing a short story from beginning to end and keeping a television show on the air for five, six, maybe seven seasons are two very different animals, but the idea still rings true. Besides, withholding information that is not only crucial to the primary relationship, but could also make a sometimes-fun series far more engaging and entertaining, overlooks the one facet of television writing that too many series are guilty of overlooking: every storyline should ostensibly be saying, “yes, and…

Essentially, stop stalling and tell your story already. There are consequences to whether or not Liz is Red’s daughter. There are consequences to finding out what the cabal of scary old white people plans to do with the world. Let’s explore those consequences instead of constantly asking, “what’s really going on?” and then inevitably reworking the parameters of what that means.

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Venturing past the answers to its most burning questions is where The Blacklist should be going. There is an intriguing story there, but if it continues to take one step forward, and two steps back, it should just ditch the mythology altogether, because when the show goes heavy on the procedural, it can be a lot of fun.

This season alone has seen a handful of episodes that prove this point. Episodes like ‘Ruslan Denisov,’ ‘The Kenyon Family,’ ‘The Deer Hunter,’ and ‘The Longevity Initiative.’ These are hours in which The Blacklist proudly flies its freak flag, sending FBI agents to Uzbekistan where elevators have false walls leading to secret passageways, and Liz and Ressler find themselves in the middle of a Central Asian version of Erin Brockovich. Or how about ‘The Kenyon Family’ where a backwoods cult boots its preteen males into the woods like hillbilly Spartans, unwittingly forging agents of group’s demise in a crucible that was meant to kill them. The list goes on, and actually gets weirder when Amanda Plummer becomes a Hannibalesque serial killer, putting the actress one deranged murderer away from earning the Jeremy Davies Award for Television Excellence.

Aside from the wonderfully outlandish plotlines, these episodes have one thing in common: they are propulsive. They tell a complete story from beginning to end. Yes, there are bits of the larger conspiracy and hints of the secrets Red is keeping thrown in like so many bar snacks at happy hour, but that’s the thing about these procedure-heavy episodes: they keep the audience engaged; they keep them at the bar ordering cheap drinks and having fun for a prescribed amount of time. The mythology is more like going all-in on a bender. Viewers might think the promise of a big reveal is what lures them back for another go-round with Reddington and the FBI team he has wrapped around his little finger – but really, the way the show keeps repeatedly treading over the same questions again and again, it’s more akin to thinking “hair of the dog” will cure your wicked hangover – you’re just plying your brain with alcohol to keep from dealing with the pain of your choices.

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And that’s the choice The Blacklist faces: endure the hangover and embrace what’s on the other side, or focus on slinging dollar well drinks week after week, since it’s pretty good at doing that.

The argument isn’t that The Blacklist‘s mythology isn’t worth watching; it’s that the way the mythology is being handled makes that part of the show tedious, and it makes the piecemeal reveals – that are often reversed, mind you – equally tedious. There is a story here, one that The Blacklist clearly wants to tell, and one that the audience clearly wants to see. So why not tell the story? Is it the fear that revealing everything will be like firing its one magic bullet, leaving Raymond Reddington with nothing but an empty chamber?

Well, that may very well be the case, but that’s the risk of storytelling. And the longer The Blacklistholds on to its secrets, the more evident it will become that this series started a gunfight, but forgot to bring extra ammunition. If it’s not – and there is something on the other side of Red’s secret – well, then it’s time to find out. But if that’s not something the show it willing to do, then it should abandon the larger storyline and become a straight procedural, because that’s something the show actually does well, and there’s no reason it can do so in perpetuity.

k yeomanBY: 
twitter @kevintheyeoman

'The Blacklist' Creator on "Devastating" Finale Death

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A scene from Thursday's finale of The Blacklist

[Warning: This story contains spoilers from Tuesday's season two finale of NBC's The Blacklist.]

quote small leftRed is "heartbroken" over Liz learning the "horrible truth" about her past, Jon Bokenkamp tells THR.quote small right

From: The Hollywood Reporter | May 14, 2015

Liz (Megan Boone) is finally learning more about the night of the fire on The Blacklist.

The NBC drama closed out its second season Thursday with the FBI agent shooting and killing Tom Connolly (Reed Birney) after confronting him for poisoning Cooper (Harry Lennix) and framing her for murder. As Connolly dies, Liz flashes back to the night of the fire and remembers shooting her father years ago as her parents were fighting. The episode ends with Red (James Spader) and Liz on the lam from the FBI.

Executive producer Jon Bokenkamp tells The Hollywood Reporter that the episode's conclusion had been in the works for the duration of the show's run. "The image of Liz's wanted poster going up next to Reddington's wanted poster is something we've talked about for a long time and one of those signpost moments in the series that we knew we wanted to hit," he says.

With the episode's "devastating" turn of events, Bokenkamp says that Liz's "line of good and bad has become blurred," as the finale "hardens her in ways and makes her more jaded and careful and really more like Reddington in a lot of ways."

"Red is heartbroken that, [despite] everything he's tried to do in this season to protect her from this horrible truth, she has discovered it, "Bokenkamp explains, adding that the new season will see him continuing to struggle with this sense of having failed Liz. "[This storyline] opens and takes us into a new chapter where she is no longer just an FBI agent — they have a real journey that they're about to go on. They're entering the third season as fugitives."

One storyline that will be central to the third season is Liz and Ressler's (Diego Klattenhoff) dynamic, as he is tasked with hunting Liz down after having grown to respect her. The coming episodes will see a "complete shift between those two characters," Bokenkamp promises.

Liz and Tom's Romantic Shocker

Another twist in the finale involved Liz going to Tom (Ryan Eggold) for support and then sleeping with him, although she ultimately turned down his offer to leave with him in his boat. By the close of the episode, Tom had disappeared.

"On a certain level, Liz turning to Tom is a desire to escape everything about herself and become something entirely new," the showrunner says. "That relationship is incredibly dysfunctional. I don't think there's much that's healthy about it, but I think both characters are grappling with big questions of identity and questions of wanting to become something that they're not."

For the time being, the night of passion doesn't necessarily portend a rosy future for the pair. "[Their hook-up] is a moment of honesty between those two characters; it doesn't mean that either of them believe that they're going to move into a home with a picket fence," Bokenkamp acknowledges. "They both recognize that will never happen."

What did you think of the finale and Liz's revelation? Sound off in the comments!

Email:
Twitter: @_RyanGajewski

Click for video transcripts   

The Truth Will Out

My name is Raymond Reddington.
The United States government has placed me atop of the list of most wanted fugitives, for a colorful and not uninteresting assortment of crimes, most of which I have committed.
That's who I am.
You, in turn, are by my estimation 11 of the finest investigative journalist in the world.
I'm here to tell you a story.
[Camera angle shifts and we now are looking at the contents of the "Fulcrum" displayed on a 15'×15' screen behind Reddington.]
I'm sure you recognize many of the faces behind me. They are among the most powerful men and women on the planet. They are also part of a global conspiracy. A shadow organization that spans across every continent, and has for the last three decades, consisting of leaders and world government and the private sector. Some call this group, "The Cabal".
The world you live in is the world they want you to think you live in. They start wars, create chaos, and when it suits them, they resolve it.
Cabal members will move more money in the next quarter than the World Bank will in the next year. Their alliance affect sea-change in every aspect of human life, the value and distribution of commodities, money, weapons, water, fuel, the food we eat to live, the information we rely on to tell us who we are.
[Question from a journalist] What do you expect us to do with this information?
[Reddington] Study it, investigate it to determine the truth, and then report it.
Let me be clear. Investigating this group will immediately position you as a threat. If you do what I am asking, you will be putting your lives and the lives of those you love at grave risk.
In the end, the truth will out. Not all of us will live to see that day. But, the truth will out.
Shooting Tom Connolly

Connolly: We have a little something in mind for all of you, including treason charges and the death penalty for Reddington. So, are we finished here? Because I think it's cocktail hour.
[Keen pulls out a gun and aims it at Connolly.]
Connolly: Oh, what are you going to do agent Keen, arrest me?
Cooper: Keen, put it down.
Connolly: I am nothing. I'm a cog in a very large wheel, shoot me, and somebody at least as powerful will take my place, you just won't know who.
Cooper: Agent Keen, if you do this you become everything they say you are.
Keen: Can't let him…
Cooper: Elizabeth, listen to me. That conversation we had in my hospital room, the good person I told you I didn't want to loose, the agent you were before all of this. You do this and she's gone.
[Keen pulls the trigger and shoots Connolly.]
Cooper: Run
 
"He who complains has already lost." [1]


quote small leftThe secret of change is to focus all of
    your energy, not on fighting the old,
    but on building the new.quote small right

I am sadly amused by the use of this device (leaking it to the press). In the video at right, Reddington assembles 11 of the finest investigative journalist in the world to disclose and distribute copies of the evidence contained in the Fulcrum's files. Reddington adds the warning, “you will be putting your lives and the lives of those you love at grave risk”.

As if any mainstream media would publish this material.

As if any journalist working on this story would not suffer a fate similar to Michael Hastings, Dr. David Kelly, Danny Jowenko, or countless other casualities of the 'Cabal'.

But, as seen in the next video (at right), "The Times" has this story top-right on the front page.

Apparently, the journalist who wrote this story is scheduled to soon suffer an untimely death to serve as an example to others contemplating taking on the Cabal.

If true, Reddington's purpose for putting into play such a series of events remains to be seen.

As Connolly says, “I'm a cog in a very large wheel…” Nobody can fight and win against the Cabal.

With this disclosure of the details of the heretofore mysterious Fulcrum, the creditability of a threat to the Cabal seems less likely. The 'Truth' outed by the Fulcrum disclosure is but the tip of the iceberg.

It is difficult to imagine how this series could ever reach the point of exposing what controls the Cabal!


Keen shoots and kills the U.S. Attorney General!

What could possibly rehabilitate Elizabeth Keen now?

Trauma based mind control?

Or was she a 'sleeper' who was 'triggered' by events and/or something said immediately prior to drawing the gun and pulling the trigger (à la Millie / November in Dollhouse).

‘The Blacklist’ Finale – A War Fought On Many Fronts

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[This is a review of The Blacklist season 2, episode 22. There will be SPOILERS.]

From: Screen Rant

For what its worth, The Blacklist was on something of a roll in the weeks leading up to the season 2 finale. The series seemed poised to confront the biggest problems facing its unnecessarily complicated narrative, and to streamline the story in such a way that better defined where it was headed and why. With Liz and Red hot on the trail of the Cabal, and Tom/Jacob ready to become Liz’s sidekick in her quest to find out the truth about her past, things were lining up rather nicely.

But the series has been here before, and it has managed to reverse course or to stall in the kind of fashion you would expect from a show that has one story to tell, but desperately wants to do that over the course of seven or eight seasons. Needless to say, with all the promos for the finale suggesting a revelation of sorts, there was a kind of heightened expectation that the end of season 2 would either deliver on its promises, or it would perform one heck of an up-and-back that would settle things nicely into a familiar status quo.

As such, it’s nice to see that while ‘Masha Rostova’ didn’t exactly deliver the kind of bombshell the series had been teasing (with regard to Liz and Red’s relationship), it didn’t exactly shy away from it either. The big reveal that comes from Liz remembering the night her father died essentially refutes the notion that she’s Red’s daughter, by making her responsible for the death she’s been trying so hard to recall. As it turns out, Red put all those blocked memories in place, so that he could take on the role of a “sin-eater” and absolve Liz for shooting her abusive father.

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The revelation is unexpected, and thus packs a certain emotional punch. But at the same time, it doesn’t make a lot of sense, and the questions still swirling around it are as troublesome (if not more so) than having Liz not know. Moreover, The Blacklist has officially gone down a tricky path by claiming to reveal something from a memory the audience already knows to have been manipulated in some way. Whether they plan to or not, the whole situation reads like a temporary solution to the problem at hand. Sure, the series may take this Liz-killed-her-dad ball and run with it, but it reads as being already prepared to be retconned – something that dilutes the efficacy of the reveal, in some ways.

Furthermore, having Red classify himself as the sin-eater does the character little justice without the show telling the audience why he would do such a thing. This is the kind of moment that requires the series to deliver motivation along with revelation; The Blacklist settled for just delivering the latter.

So, what’s it all mean? Liz killed her father for abusing her mother, but we know so little about the situation, the revelation begins to fall apart as soon as you look at it beyond the surface-level intrigue (e.g. knowing that Liz was responsible for the action she’d suspected Red of for almost two seasons now). Liz is now aware of a moment in her life that she wasn’t aware of before, but the moment fails to answer the question: So what?

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The same goes for Liz’s shooting of the attorney general. Sure, by ending the season with Liz joining Red on the FBI’s most wanted list, the audience is treated to an unexpected character shake-up that could produce dividends for the overarching narrative down the line… but that doesn’t explain why Liz pulled the trigger. The cold-blooded execution of Tom Connolly (there were entirely too many Toms on this show, anyway) in the episode’s final moments, Red’s plan to out the Cabal by handing the information contained in the Fulcrum to 11 investigative journalists (the first salvo in their war against the clandestine organization headed up by the Director) – all that is fascinating, and potentially game changing. It certainly sets up a season 3 that will be dramatically different from the two that came before. However, when you look at how Liz got there, the one big decision that she made – to kill a man in cold blood (in addition to the smaller, but still strange one to sleep with Tom/Jacob and lament not going away with him on his boat) rang false.

And that leads to a good question: At what point is it better for a series to play into the audience’s expectations, than to swerve at the last moment in an attempt to skirt them? Those swerves may very well pay off by making The Blacklist a better show, one that is willing to switch up its formula in order to serve the larger story that has been unearthed this season. If that’s true, then these hard-to-believe choices will be easier to overlook; right now, though, they feel a little like trying to fit a square peg in a round hole – or that the characters can simply be re-tuned to fit the needs of the narrative.

There’s a light at the end of the tunnel, however, and that is the question of what the future will bring. As mentioned above, season 3 will likely start out as a very different animal, and for a show whose basic premise already feels a little tired, that could be very rewarding. Whether or not the narrative will continue on this unexpected path is another matter entirely. In the end, despite all the debatable actions that brought the series to this place, the question of what comes next looms large. It’s not a cliffhanger; it’s something better: a potential new start. And it is certainly a compelling reason to tune in when the series returns in the fall.

The Guilt-Free Antihero  From: Slate

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James Spader in The Blacklist.

quote small leftJames Spader in The Blacklist, the hit series that lets you have your darkness and enjoy it too.quote small right

The Blacklist, NBC’s series about a brilliant criminal mastermind who for mysterious reasons begins to help the FBI apprehend serious evildoers, is one of the big hits of the fall season. Starring James Spader in de facto scene-stealing mode, the show, which airs Monday nights, has more than 10 million viewers a week in the all-important demo and has already been given a full season order by NBC. Its premise is simple, but savvy to the point of elegance: As Grantland’s Andy Greenwald succinctly put it, “it's a cop procedural with a criminal as the lead investigator,” the powerhouse marriage of a reliable genre and the trendiest of archetypes, the antihero.

As this high-concept premise suggests, The Blacklist is both utterly shameless and, in its way, genuinely (if cynically) sophisticated. Its protagonist, Raymond “Red” Reddington, will manipulate, kill, flatter, scare, flirt, joke to get what he wants, namely the trust and affection of a young FBI agent. The Blacklist will manipulate, kill, flatter, scare, flirt, joke to get what it wants, our attention and affection. The Blacklist has coolly learned one of the lessons of The Sopranos and Breaking Bad — that despite their creators’ best intentions, scads of viewers thrilled to the violence and troubled murderers they contained, even if they were not “meant” to — and has decided to offer them up, guilt free. The Blacklist, like its protagonist, is not concerned with ethics, just opportunity.

Spader stars as Reddington, who, in the first episode, promises to help the FBI nail a huge list of very bad guys, but only if he can work with a brand new agent named Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boon). His Reddington is a man of refined tastes, the amoral aesthete who appreciates poetry, a good tumbler of scotch, and beautiful women. Like most of Spader’s recent characters he is a strange, alluring mixture of clipped line readings, smarm, freaky sexual bravado, and deranged self-possession. Unlike most male actors who have an outsized on-screen presence, Spader vamps, crossing the line into camp like it’s the threshold to his front door. (What I would not do to see him and Jessica Lange in American Horror Story mode in a room!) It’s a kicky, kinky, and mannered performance grounded by an implacable, if inexplicable, self-confidence.

The early episodes heavily intimated that Keen is Reddington’s biological daughter. Every conversation the pair have had about why he insists on working with her has been carefully constructed so that it will signify differently in retrospect if and when we find out he is her father. On a sting, he tells Lizzie she can pretend to be his daughter; later, he explains he is interested in her primarily because of her father. Creator Jon Bokenkamp has learned from Lost: Don’t tease mysteries you can’t answer.

Bokenkamp cribs widely, in fact. Red owes so much to Hannibal Lecter, I presume his favorite meal is a meat course served with fava beans and chianti, he just hasn’t mentioned it yet. Keen’s house is being surveilled by a number of thuggish men, a setup straight out of HomelandIn one episode, Keen and Red hunt an assassin, nicknamed “The Stewmaker,” who dissolves his victims in the bathtub using chemicals and a gas mask, like he has learned how to get rid of corpses from Jesse and Walt. (Skinny Pete also appears on the show, implausibly, as Red’s polished attaché.) Last week, in a story straight from the original Scandinavian version of The Bridge, a guy got buried alive. And this is to say nothing of all the procedural plots The Blacklist happily lifts from. If these nods to other TV shows are lazy, that’s part of The Blacklist’s bravado, its brazen willingness to cadge from the best, no untended wallet safe in its presence.

The Blacklist is aware of the morally complex protagonists who have come before it in the golden age of the antihero, but it is not burdened by grandiose ambitions: It’s pure pop. Unlike Boardwalk Empire, Ray Donovan, Magic CityHell on Wheels, and other shows made in The Sopranos  image with long faces and nothing new to say about their tortured semi-good, semi-bad guys, The Blacklist delivers its no news with a fresh, fun attitude.

I can’t say that I find this ethically acceptable. (Emily Nussbaum, in her review for The New Yorker, called the show “odious torture porn,” and she’s not wrong.) But I also can’t deny that I find it a more entertaining than any of the aforementioned Fauxpranos. The Blacklist makes you like the bad guy without feeling bad about it. It’s a slick piece of work. It’s the kind of show that has Red getting decked out in sunglasses while “Sympathy for the Devil” plays (Bokenkamp knows his Scorsese too), the cool customer who, the show jokingly points out, has now unexpectedly murdered three people in just six missions. Reddington, with nearly the panache ofSome Like It Hot’s Osgoodshrugs the homicides off with an “I’m not perfect.” In another bit, Red tells a CIA agent, “You look like the CIA.” “What does the CIA look like?” she asks. “Attractive but treacherous,” Red answers — and a couple of scenes later she effectively extracts information from a source by sticking her fingers into his bloody compound fracture. A recent episode was devoted to trapping a killer who couldn’t feel pain and hid objects in his own self-inflicted wounds, a perfect villain forThe Blacklist, a show in which nothing is supposed to hurt.

willa paskin authorbioWilla Paskin is Slate’s television critic.

Berlin Is Still at It in 'The Blacklist'  From: PopMatters

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quote small leftUnlike weekly procedurals that wrap up everything with a bow, the knots tied in The Blacklist are entwined on frayed ribbon that runs the risk of falling apart.quote small right

Knots

Someone is after Red (James Spader). Someone is always after Red. And so again, on 22 September, The Blacklist‘s Season Two launched into a wild gun battle between insurgents in Cameroon firing at an armored vehicle from a machine gun mounted in the back of jeep. Red lay on the floor, seeming the victim, finally, of his past and his arrogance.

But his arrogance iw just getting started. He actually wants to be found in order to discover who else is looking for him. After a couple of hellfire missiles, he accomplishes that mission and also torches three million dollars with the tip of a lit cigar. So much for the opening four minutes.

At the same time, Elizabeth (Megan Boone) is playing her version of Homeland’s Carrie Matheson, complete with underwear, gun, and wall of evidence. We soon learn that she’s been living in hotel rooms under a number of aliases, trying to stay out of Berlin’s (Peter Stormare) crosshairs.

Big Data

This episode isn’t about resolving anything for Keen. It’s more about how our technical world has turned all of us into potential targets. Red explains early on that as much we complain about the NSA, we willingly we give our intimate details to “big data”. This is all very top of mind for the audience, given Home Depot’s recent security breach, which may have compromised some 56 million credit cards, only the latest in a number of similar hacking attacks. 

And so The Blacklist, through “Lord Baltimore”, a tracker who uses big data to build profiles of people whom other people want found, explores the next existential threat to our technically reliant lifestyles. The show makes the point as data mining tools transform mundane ones and zeros on servers into targets on people’s heads. Israel’s Mossad are tge first data miners to get to Reddington; they take an unusual approach, making their tracking exceptionally visual, in the form of a tracking tool around Red’s neck.

To reinforce the image, several characters in the first bureau scene spout off about the deep web, data analytics, and data mining. Street cred is established. Throughout the episode, in a very unsettling way, dots are connected: tracking markers in ties, drugs people take, World War II documentaries we’re watching on Netflix, subscriptions to theWall Street Journal and Cat Fanatic

Once any profile is built, searches bring together data that triangulates to the target. Enough circles and the center of the Venn Diagram gets pretty small. Given our current world, it may be fitting that The Blacklist centers on the tension we all feel about the access we want and what we must give up to get that access. It’s an apt metaphor, as well, for a central character who is giving up so much for what we can only guess will be an uneasy peace.

Antifragile

To continue along the information superhighway, we also learn that human brains are as much information machines as computers, and equally susceptible to programming and bugs.

Brains as computers applies as much for the rather bifurcated “Lord Baltimore” as it does for self-medicating Detective Ressler (Diego Klattenhoff). The two characters face very different psychological disturbances and equally diverse forms of resilience. Baltimore’s alter ego, Rowan Mills (Krysten Ritter), and Ressler also represent different aspects of what Nassim Taleb calls “antifragile” in his book Antifragile. Some things, he argues, like brains and muscles, don’t shatter under stress, but instead gain strength.

Perhaps this theory will be tested in the season to come, as Keen and Harold Cooper (Harry Lennix) might manifest their antifragile natures.

Hurting Red

It turns out that the primary head targeted by Berlin and Baltimore belongs to Mary Louise Parker. She’s not just a close Reddington associate but, we are informed, she’s also his former wife. Parker’s Naomi Highland has been living in protective custody for years, and neither her new husband nor friends have any clue about her past life until a US Marshall shows up in the kitchen, followed by bad guys who eventually abduct her.

This plot point reveals that Berlin isn’t only looking to harm Reddington directly, but to do so through the people he cares about. As Kahn so memorably put it in Star Trek II, Berlin wants to hurt Reddington and keep on hurting him.

Uncertainty

Unlike weekly procedurals that wrap up everything with a bow, the knots tied in The Blacklist are entwined on frayed ribbon that runs the risk of falling apart later in the season at the most inopportune times. Berlin is just revving his revenge engine and Naomi has barely revealed herself. And of course, there will be new associates to track, and killers to track down.

Among all the death and destruction, there is, on Monday, one moment of television cheer, complete with applause, Cooper returns from his convalescence to lead the team and relieve a couple of guest stars of future work. It’s good to know a boss you trust has your back. That’s a moment of comfort in an uncertain world.

One thing is for certain: the most disturbing scene in the episode involved Berlin’s reaction to increased expenses on his search for Highland. As a consultant, I fill out many expense reports. I hope none of my clients ever finds it necessary to slam my head into a porcelain clawfoot bathtub and nearly drown me to make their point. That would certainly test my antifragility.

daniel rasmusDaniel W. Rasmus, the principal analyst at Serious Insights, is a writer, poet and strategist who lives outside of Seattle, WA.

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