[Hiatus:] Tom and Red, again (11/29/2014)

@Belle, I re-read your post on how/why Tom may have worked for Red. It definitely lays out as good a case as can be made. The writers love to “surprise” (jerk around?) the viewers, so I think there is a good chance they may being choosing this route. I found your walk-through soothing in a way.

11:43 am November 15, 2014
Belle wrote:

“At the end of last season, after Tom left Liz, Red hired a man to follow Tom, a man with a spider tattoo. Tom told the man (Jesse) : “You don’t know who I am. But the man that you work for he’s ve careful. He’s cautious. He’s controlled. He’s ruthless. I know all that ’cause I followed him for years.”

“So this is definite proof that Tom had been following Red, but it’s not clear when this took place, or who Tom was collecting intelligence for. It’s hard to believe Tom would have the time to follow Red when he had to maintain his undercover identity as a full time teacher and loving husband. But most of the pictures on Tom’s wall of clues seemed to be recent and included the Blacklist cases, so his “years” of surveillance must have coincided with his years of marriage to Liz. (This also explains how Tom knew about Mr. Kaplan.)

“It’s still not clear if Berlin was the one who hired Tom to follow Red, or if someone else was involved. It’s possible Berlin recruited Tom after the marriage, and there was another faction (yet to be revealed) that hired Tom to follow Red. Berlin told Red that it was Red’s obsession with Elizabeth Keen that led Berlin to find Red.

“Red under attack ➔ Red hires Tom ➔ Liz marries Tom ➔ Berlin finds Liz and hires Tom (just speculation)

When Tom held a gun to Liz’s head in the finale, he was no longer Red’s employee. In fact, when Red turned himself into the FBI and started working with Liz and the task force, he had probably lost all contact with Tom, and knew Tom had another agenda. Red had lost the allegiance of the man he had hired to protect Liz, so Red had to come out of hiding to take care of the job himself.”

The one issue (besides the body count) that I would have with a long-term Tom/Red relationship would be with the direction and the acting. We know the cast are great actors, but should the «characters» they play be great actors, too? It seems to me this is a flaw. Yet we’ve seen it with Tom, Ressler (in his improv with Lorca) and, of course, with Red. I can accept it for the Red character, who is an accomplished “master of deception,” and maybe Tom who, as a character, was hired to do what was essentially, an “acting job,” playing Liz’s husband. Ressler’s “act” to save his life from Lorca, though, strains credulity.

But I am still trying to figure out what the “rules” are for the exact amount of disbelief we are supposed to suspend for this series. I think the showrunners need to work on this, though I realize this is hard to do when you are unsure how long the series will run and therefore how many diversions and detours will be required. This is a particular challenge in what they are trying to do, marrying procedural and serial elements, and I appreciate it.

When I was in grad school, my best friend (who now teaches Women’s Studies at the U of MD), argued that the serial form (like long-running soap operas) reflects how woman experience life, as an extended narrative of ups and downs of long-term relationships with families and friends. Whereas the procedural (or episodic) form (think individual sports events, episodes of Star Trek, battles, even sexual encounters) is more in keeping with how men experience the world. By making The Blacklist a combined form, they are interweaving these two sensibilities. Perhaps they should call this combined form “tantric.”  http://bit.ly/1tpDGfr.

I’ve noticed from reviews that guys seem to think episodes are good ‘when a lot of things explode’ but can get annoyed/bored with too much of “backstory” (serial) material is included (“nothing ‘happened'”). I’ve found I often like episodes that male reviewers don’t and vice versa. The Blacklist has a strong female following for a “cop show,” often winning the night among women. It will be interesting to see what happens when it goes up against Scandal. Anyway, it’s possible to take this kind of analysis too far, I think, but there it is.

Anyway, my interest in this show has not diminished – yet – and I’m working on some backgrounders, eg, large-scale NIH-funded projects to do large-population genotyping even as individuals’ access to this data is being curtailed; and a review of new ways social media is being used by media companies, advertisers and show developers. Let’s just say, it’s a “growth area.”

Thank you @A.M & @Richard, for your recommendations of shows to get me through the hiatus, including Person of Interest, 24 (most recent season), Fringe (scifi), Forever, Scorpion, Lost (or maybe not) and if Game of Thrones has “toned down the nudity,” maybe… Also, my son recommended Hannibal.

[Cross-posted at WSJ Speakeasy, modified (stuff moved around); link: http://on.wsj.com/12745Z5 then search for 9:45 am November 29, 2014 ]


Another thing that interests me is how The Blacklist attracts so many in “The Demo” ratings demographic (ages 18-49). I have four Millennial-aged children and I think it may have something to do with the fact they are the first generation to rely almost exclusively on computers for information. Having come of age during the Great Recession, they have a high level of mistrust of all “official” sources of information, compared with older generations. Pew did a large survey of Millennials a few months ago which identified these characteristics and others http://pewrsr.ch/10OU1Tc. So, more later…

“Tantra means technique – a technique for the fulfillment of desires. Man has no control over his desires. (“That’s what love is .”) A desire is claimed as one’s own only after it comes to one’s mind. Desires are products of latent tendencies/vasanas. Through the fulfillment of the desires,‘vasanas’ are eliminated. Tantra provides the methodology whereby, through the fulfillment of one’s desires, liberation is attained. Liberation means understanding one’s own nature. From that understanding, one realizes that the world is nothing but the manifestation of the consciousness of which we are, but only a part. It is also a way of living which provides aesthetic enjoyment and knowledge.”  http://en.m.wikiquote.org/wiki/Tantra

The Tantric tradition was based on a dialogue between and the idea of  a co-equal relationship between the god Shiva and the goddess Shakti http://bit.ly/1v4oAk6. Its elevation of the female was responsible for much of the backlash against it and changes in how the tradition is celebrated.

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