from WSJ Speakeasy
Feb 25, 2014
Jason Evans Counts Down the Blacklist
I used to love the Olympics. Then, NBC decided to put “The Blacklist” on a three week hiatus to make room for the Olympics. I have been going through serious “Blacklist” withdrawal lately! Thank goodness we all get our weekly dose of Spader-ific acting tonight.
In case you forgot where things left off on The Blacklist, Liz decided that she just could not adopt a baby at this time in her life, which came as a huge shock to “is he a good guy or is he a bad guy?” husband Tom. Tom went off to cry about it in the arms of his new friend, Jolene (who sure appears to be Lucy Brooks, the woman Red has been searching for in recent episodes). Meanwhile, Red had cleaned up all the remaining messy leaks from his kidnapping by killing FBI Director/secret mole, Dianne Fowler with a few shots to the gut. She died slowly and painfully, but not before telling Red that she knew what had happened to his family.
So, with all that in mind, let’s see where our story moves tonight…
The episode begins in Turkey where a grieving widow is accessing her husband’s safety deposit box. “I’m sorry for your loss, Ms. Reddington,” the bank manager says. The woman smiles as she opens the box. Red, who is getting acupuncture, is told by an assistant that the box in Istanbul has been cleared out. The woman who took it left a note asking Red to meet her a the Windsor Lounge.
The woman and Red are old friends who joke about meetings in Macau and Florence. The document she stole from his box are worth over $10 million but she says she only took them to get his attention. The woman is Madeline Pratt.
At Liz and Tom’s house, Tom is still having trouble coming to grips with Liz not wanting to adopt. Tom says that a friend of theirs is pregnant and storms out, not wanting to talk to Liz any more.
Red and Liz meet at Red’s fabulous house (which actually belongs to a hedge fund manager who is on the run from the SEC). He tells Liz about Madeline Pratt, who is an expert in human communications. Red says she has asked him to help her in a heist.
They go to see Novak, who deals in the black market of rare and exotic antiques. Novak, by the way, is played by noted character actor Zach Grenier who you will recognize from dozens of films and TV appearances most notably his ongoing role as David Lee on the CBS’ The Good Wife. They ask Novak about some Syrian statue or effigy. Supposedly, a list of secret Russian agents from before the cold war ended are stored inside the effigy. Getting the list would be a huge intelligence coup.
Red is back at the FBI blacksite. Dir Cooper asks Red where Fowler is. He suspects Red had something to do with her disappearance. Yeah, like Red is going to tell him about that!
Red tells them about Pratt, who is a well-known socialite with relationships with powerful people. He tells them that Pratt wants to steal the effigy from the Syrian Embassy, which is where it is at the moment. Red says Liz should go undercover to help Pratt steal it, allowing the US to get the effigy and get Pratt at the same time. The danger though is that because she is going to be on Syrian soil, the FBI cannot rescue her if anything goes wrong.
Liz auditions for Pratt and does a good job, pickpocketing Pratt’s cell phone. She is hired to help steal the effigy. Pratt arranges for Liz to go to a party at the Syrian Embassy. Liz has to steal the effigy from a safe. There is a cool sequence where Liz displays her slippery fingers by stealing an ID badge from a Syrian official.
Tom is headed to a teacher’s conference in Orlando that weekend and wants Liz to come with him. She agrees.
It is the night of the theft and Red is Liz’s date for the Embassy party. He tells Liz that something is up because Pratt has not told them some key details of the heist, including the fact that she and her Syrian boyfriend are going to be at the party that night. They may be using Liz as a diversion so Pratt can steal the effigy herself. By going with Liz, Red can protect her.
At the blacksite, Cooper says he thinks Fowler is dead and that Red is the chief suspect. He wants Agent Malik to help him look into it.
Red and Liz are at the party. Pratt is there too. Red and Liz dance for a moment to help Liz calm her nerves. They create a distraction so Liz can go steal the effigy. Meanwhile, Red goes to dance with Pratt. He tells her they can get away right now. She only wants to know why Red disappeared last summer when they were in Florence.
Liz breaks into the Syrian safe, but it was all a trap. Alarms go off and embassy guards are everywhere. Pratt’s Russian/Syrian boyfriend grabs her and says, “I have to get you to the safe room.” Clearly, her plan was to be taken there so she could steal the effigy herself. Guards descend on Liz and Red goes off to figure out what he can do to help. Along the way, Red keeps on taking out Syrian guards. He’s cold and efficient. He manages to rescue Liz via a funny bit where he overpowers a guard after pretending to be a gay friend of Syria’s president. Meanwhile, Pratt uses all the distractions to steal the effigy.
Tom is getting ready to go to Orland with Liz but she calls him to say she is too busy at work. He’s angry and says they could use some time apart. He is going to Orlando without her.
The FBI figures out that a local man with ties to a Syrian warlord is connected to the effigy. After questioning him, they realize that the effigy does not contain the identity of 6 Russian agents, but actually 6 Russian nukes that are hidden inside the US.
Red finds Pratt and wants the coordinates of the Russian nukes. As they are talking about it, two men come up in a van and grab them. Pratt wakes up inside a prison. Nearby, a tortured Red lays on the floor. When the two of them are alone, Pratt tells Red that she already sold the effigy to the Russians. He responds by telling her a story from 20 years ago about how he ran out of gas on the way home to his family on Christmas eve. He got home late as a result and when he got there the whole house was covered in blood. It is a disturbing, but touching story about Red’s tortured life and his terrible loss. The story makes Pratt tear up and cry. He says the reason he did not show up in Florence last summer to meet Pratt was that he cannot suffer a loss like that again.
After Red finishes the story, the Syrians who grabbed them come in to take Red out for more torture. Pratt cannot bear it and tells them where the effigy is located in exchange for them not hurting Red any more. It turns out the whole thing was a setup. Red was never being tortured, he was doing all this to trick Pratt. She’s furious at him and asks if the story about his family was true. He doesn’t answer.
The FBI rushes to find the effigy, hoping that the Russian have not gotten there first. But, they have and there is a big shootout. The Russian bad guy fights with Ressler for a bit before being captured. When Ressler looks inside the effigy, nothing is in it except sand.
Dir Cooper tells Red that nothing about this went right. No list of missing briefcase nukes and the FBI was note even able to find Pratt, who seemed to have escape from Red’s capture. Cooper figure out that Red knows the locations of the bombs. Red is happy to trade the bombs for the effigy itself, though it is certainly not clear why he would want it seeing as it was empty.
Liz thinks Tom is going to leave her. She tells Ressler about it and he cancels his dinner plans with his new girlfriend (who is his ex fiancée) to listen to her story. At the teacher’s conference, Tom runs into Jolene/Lucy and smiles.
Cooper has a meeting with an FBI agent named Walter Gary Martin, who seems very mysterious. He says he knows that Cooper is looking into the disappearance of Fowler. He tells Cooper to stop. Now. He is very forceful and says the DC office is handling the case. “We’ll take it from here,” he says in a very menacing voice.
And the episode is over!
As Blacklist episodes go this was unusual. For the first time I can recall, the subject of the episode, Madeline Pratt, end up just fine – neither captured nor dead. She’s presumably back in Florence. Also, it is very unclear why Red wanted the effigy in the end. Some of what happened involving the hunt for the effigy by the FBI and the Russians doesn’t really make sense. I need to think about it a bit more, but this episode just felt “off” at times. It is clear that Liz and Tom’s relationship is headed downhill. I wonder if they can recover. It is clear that we are going to find out a lot more about Jolene/Lucy next week, which is a major part of the current mythology. I can’t wait for that!
So what did you think? It is your turn to share your thoughts and theories about the show by posting something in the comment section. As always, I’ll be highlighting the most thought-provoking posts in my recap next week. I’ll 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.
from WSJ Speakeasy
from WSJ Speakeasy