In the penultimate “Blacklist: Redemption,” the mysterious “Whitehall” was finally revealed — and considering the name’s connection to “The Blacklist,” the reveal definitely left us scratching our heads.
That Scottie (Famke Janssen) lets Solomon (Edi Gathegi) torture Tom (Ryan Eggold) for Whitehall info even after learning that he’s her son tells us the show wasn’t kidding about its importance to this self-contained story…
Or that Scottie has the potential to go even darker than she likes to pretend, if the stakes are high enough. But are they? It’s a pretty tall order, no matter who or what Whitehall is, to justify this latest painful twist. Everything up to now with Scottie has been ambiguous in a Red Reddington (James Spader) way: For every bad deed, the show accrues thirty minutes of story to make us fall back in love with them. Scottie’s a deep, complex, funny, charming — you don’t cast Famke without full knowledge of her charisma; how it can make any character feel important and wonderful — lady, and the show needs us to believe that. So it’s close-up magic, like Liz (Meghan Boone) used to do: See how far down she can go before they bring her back up into the light. And this finale story is most ambitious in that regard.
Tom says he’s finally seen his mother for who she really is, and he works together with Howard (Terry O’Quinn) to figure out Whitehall without her. Turns out Whitehall is a man: Richard Whitehall (Clark Peters), a genius mathematician and programmer held captive, to work on a code for quantum computing that would allow anyone to decrypt important parts of the infrastructure — banks, the power grid, etc. Howard and Tom try to break Whitehall out of his plexiglass prison, but they’re eventually stopped and Scottie retains this valuable asset… Implying that part two of the season finale will be the big showdown over this genius code writer, though the teaser promises that “nothing is what it seems.”
In “Natalie Luca” — the “Blacklist” episode about the Typhoid Mary with Luschen’s Disease — Natalie tells Samar and Aram (Mozhan Marno & Amir Arison) that Whitehall is a weapons lab: “When Malik learned what Whitehall was doing … Hawthorne’s weapons lab. They weren’t trying to cure me, they were using me, my cells, to develop a biological weapon. Hawthorne has contracts with the government. We didn’t know who we could trust.”
That definitely doesn’t sound like “The Blacklist’s” Whitehall is the same as “Blacklist Redemption’s” Whitehall, but… what a weird coincidence. There are a million names the spinoff could have used — why use one from “The Blacklist” if it wasn’t an intentional connection?
Perhaps this will play into the season finale next week, before “The Blacklist” returns with a two-hour premiere, and perhaps it won’t. Either way, we’re hoping for a satisfying conclusion to this stylish, sophisticated, often-maddening spin-off.
Side note: Did anyone think Howard’s reaction to Liz (Megan Boone) telling him she can see Tom in his eyes was a little off? Not when he told her she makes Tom happy — but the immediate, knee-jerk reaction in his eyes to when she said that to him. It felt a little weird. Is it going to turn out Howard and Scottie aren’t Tom’s parents after all? And is there any way that could play out that won’t be obnoxious?
“The Blacklist: Redemption” brings its first season to an end Thursday, April 13 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.