Jan 14, 2014
WSJ Speakeasy's Jason Evans on the Blacklist
It has been about a month since we left our beloved Red and Liz from “The Blacklist.” Tonight’s episode promises to be a fun one because “Red is a man on a mission.” At least that is what Blacklist Executive Producer Jon Bokenkamp told me in an interview. Check out everything he has to say about the show’s success and where it is going.
As I am sure you recall, when we last left our characters, they were reeling from the invasion of the FBI blacksite by Anslo Garrick. Garrick had the help of some mole within the FBI that allowed him to kill a bunch of agents and grab and torture Red. No one knows who the mole is. Red, meanwhile, is free of his FBI tracker and can do whatever he wants. But I bet he will still be keeping a close eye on whatever Liz is up to! Let’s see what happens tonight…
Things begin at a Chuck E CheeseCEC -0.68% kind of place. A woman named Karen is dropping her son off at a party. A man named James comes up and chats with her. He gives her some punch. A few moments later, Karen goes outside and collapses. When she comes to, James has her. He drugged her and kidnaped her. He has her strapped to some kind of operating table with a bunch of tools and medical equipment. He talks about how he is going to puncture her lung and break her collarbone.
James later leaves Karen dying by the side of the road. James is a serial killer known as “The Good Samaritan.” He killer is played by noted character actor Frank Whaley, who I will forever remember from his role in the film Pulp Fiction.
We check in with Tom and Liz. A surveillance van has been watching their house all night. Liz tells Tom that everyone from the FBI blacksite has been under nonstop surveillance while they try to figure out who the mole is. Tom says he wants to be a normal couple and that he is going to interview for a teaching job in Nebraska. Liz doesn’t like that idea but before they can talk about it, she finds out that The Good Samaritan has struck again. She has been investigating the Samaritan for many years.
AT FBI HQ we see all the members of the Blacklist FBI team being questioned as the Bureau tries to figure out who the mole is. FBI Dir. Cooper explains that he wants to let Liz look into the Samaritan case as a way of putting her back on the streets, hoping Red will reach out to her and allowing the FBI to capture Red again.
Time to check in with Red. He is standing over the coffin of his bodyguard, Luli, who was killed by Anslo Garrick. Red tracks down a man who worked with “the man with the apple,” who has been watching Liz through secret cameras in her house. One by one, we see Red talking to people who worked against him. They were all underlings who seem to know nothing. Still, each of the people he questions end up dead. Red is truly “on fire!”
Liz is back at home. He phone rings and it is Red. He knows she is looking into the Good Samaritan. Red gives Liz a hint about the case, saying that maybe she should look into how the Samaritan tortures his victims to see if there is some pattern there. Liz figures out that the latest Samaritan victim was given the exact same injuries her child suffered from, perhaps indicating that the child was abused and the Samaritan was exacting some kind of revenge.
Dir. Cooper tells Agent Malik that she has been cleared and he wants her to help him figure out who the mole is. He wants her to look into some secret bank accounts to see if the FBI mole is getting money from them.
Back to Red, who bursts into a restaurant and shoots a bunch of bodyguards belonging to a man named Theordore. He has figured out that Theodore is the one who paid off all the underlings. After some intense questioning, Theodore tells Red that the money was wired to his New York office. Red then kills him (in a fun way that makes it appear Red is going to burn him but ends with Red just shooting Theo instead).
Liz and Agent Ressler, who is still recovering from his bad leg wound, go to question the Samaritan’s victim’s son. He tells them that his mom abused him. Liz figures out that the Samaritan is a vigilante, targeting abusers. We see the vigilante tending to his mother, who is in a wheel chair. It reminds me of a scene out of Psycho with Norman Bates, though the Samaritan’s mom is not dead, she just appears immobile.
The Samaritan works in a hospital ER. That is how he is able to see the medical records on people who make repeated visits to the hospital due to injuries from abuse.
Red approaches a man named Henry in New York. Red tells Henry that he knows Henry was “the bank” for the operation against Red. He tells Henry to give him all the wire transfer info. Red says he needs the info by tomorrow.
Agent Malik figures out that the bank transactions all lead back to FBI tech specialist Aram. But before she can pick him up, we find that Red has him. Red tells Aram that he must hack into a bank account and transfer 5 million dollars into one of Red’s accounts. Red puts a colt 45 on the table and explains that he can take the gun apart and put it back together in 2 minutes. He tells Aram that if Aram has not figured out how to transfer the money in those 2 minutes, Red will use the re-assembled gun to kill Aram.
What follows is an incredible intense scene of Aram furiously typing on the computer while Red plays with the gun parts. Aram beats the deadline and explains how he did the untraceable transaction. Red says the untraceable transaction proves that Aram is not the mole. The mole left behind an easy to follow money trail. Red says he is going to find the mole and kill him.
Back to the Samaritan case. He is in a domestic abuse support group containing the boyfriend of a woman the Samaritan helped in the hospital. The Samaritan tells the group how his mother abused him. He says he has moved forward and is now close to his mother. Later, he talks to the boyfriend.
Red goes to visit the banker, Henry at Henry’s home. He knows Henry set up a dummy bank transaction to set up Aram. Red shoots Henry in the leg at the dinner table while Henry’s wife screams. “I want a name, Henry” he says. “Newton Phillips,” says Henry. Red leaves Henry alive.
The Samaritan has taken the abusive boyfriend to his “operating room.” The Samaritan wheels his mother in so she can watch him torture the boyfriend. All of the serial killings appear to be part of an elaborate and ongoing revenge plan on his mother.
At the FBI, Liz puts everything together and figure out that the Samaritan is an ER nurse who works at different hospitals. She knows his identity and figures out he is committing all his murders at his mother’s home. Liz bursts in just in time to stop the Samaritan from killing anyone else. She shoots him as he is about to kill his mother.
Back at the FBI, Aram turns himself in and gives Dir. Cooper evidence that clears Aram. Cooper looks at the evidence and says, “Who is Newton Philips?”
We see Red dumping the ashes of Luli in the ocean. One of Red’s henchmen is nearby. Red calls out of the man, who is named Newton. Newton tells Red that the bad guys threatened his family and forced him to help them get Red. Red pulls out a plastic bag and slowly chokes Newton to death.
We see FBI Director Diane Fowler talking to three senior government officials. She tells them that the threat to the FBI has been eliminated. One of the men leans forward and begin berating her. It is Alan Alda!!! He’s the mysterious man who was behind Red’s torture. Well, that’s a twist we did not see coming!
Liz is back home and Red is there waiting for her. She wants to know if Red is back to work on the Blacklist. He tells her that he still knows someone on the inside was helping in the plan to get him. But, he is back to work on catching Blacklisters again.
And the episode is over!
This was another tour-de-force by James Spader. He has so much fun playing bad Red and we saw a lot of bad Red tonight. The story of the Samaritan was a bit of a yawner, it just did not matter to the overall plot. I am somewhat disappointed that Red did not figure out who the ultimate mole is, but that is probably something that will come in time. And it was nice to see that Alan Alda is going to do more than just show up for one episode. I wonder if they will ever start calling him by name or at least tell us what his job is. It appears he is some kind of high-ranking intelligence official. Someone high-up enough that he would be called to testify before a senate committee.
So, what did you think of the return of the show? Did you enjoy Red’s quest to find and kill everyone who had betrayed him? Chime in in the comment section and we’ll have a conversation. See you there!
If you want to read more of Jason Evans’ commentary on the Movie and TV industry, follow him on Twitter @TVFilmTalk and be sure to check our Speakeasy every Monday and Wednesday for his recaps of “The Blacklist” and “Arrow.”