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The Blacklist recap: Who is Berlin?

Who is Berlin and why is Reddington so afraid of him? We’re about to find out because he’s just landed stateside.

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The Blacklist Berlin
Eric Liebowitz/NBC

The Blacklist

TV Show
Current Status:
In Season
run date:
James Spader

Tell me who Berlin is NOW, Bokenkamp. I can’t afford to wait until Monday!

Just to terrorize us, The Blacklist only asked questions this week — but we can expect some juicy answers in the season finale. Bokenkamp brought in the big guns to set up the first season’s big showdown. It was no coincidence that poor (dead) flunkie had a black widow neck tattoo, because Berlin is the poisonous spider at the center of The Blacklist. Every name on Reddington’s hit list, every criminal the FBI has tracked, every creep spying on Liz Keen is a strand of silk that leads back to Berlin. He’s the key to all the secrets. Who is he? What has Reddington done to incur his wrath? How does Liz factor into this? Is Tom maybe Berlin? Is Dembe the coolest man alive? We don’t have the answers to any of these questions — except the last one, which is a firm “yes.” But let’s get to the recap, so we can begin the speculations about Berlin’s identity.

The plot of Berlin, Part 1 was Contagion meets U.S. Marshals, which made for a good combo. The cold open shows an armored car’s driver coughing up blood as he heads into a bank to make a pickup. He briefly glances down at syringe full of liquid — but instead of injecting himself with it, he calls 911 and leaves a goodbye message for his wife, clearly preparing to die. We get some more shots of him bleeding out of his ears and choking on blood before he keels over, lifeless, onto the floor of the bank. The bank security guard has the foresight to call the CDC. (Clearly he’d read the CDC’s pamphlet on preparing for the zombie pandemic. Alert the authorities to a possible outbreak? Check.) The CDC does not have the foresight to break the news slowly to the aggravated crowd of bank patrons. “Stay where you are. We have reason to believe that he might be contagious,” CDC Rep announces. Panic ensues. The whole crowd tries to rush the door, but security pulls a sidearm and enforces the quarantine with his gun. Boom! Do as I say.

Cut to Agents Keen and Ressler surveying the wreckage of Liz’s living room, which still has not been touched since Tom left. Liz has finally filled in her bestie on the whole Tom Keen Secret Spy saga, and he vows to help her get justice. I have to say Keen’s attempt at bravado left a lot to be desired. I was not feeling much weight behind her “I’m going to take him apart piece by piece until he tells me everything” line. You had him stapled to a chair once already, and he definitely won that round of spousal interrogation. Ah, but what the hell? Torture is a practiced art. The Blue-Eye Boy Scout gives her this earnest advice: “The only way out of this is right through it.”

Cue the music. Liz is being questioned by the Feds, now that she’s turned over all her information on “the man who calls himself Tom Keen.” One agent makes the mistake of calling Tom her husband, and Liz serves up a steaming cup of “bitch, please.” She spills on Tom, but covers things we already know. Tom revealed himself to Liz in order to gain access to the Black Site via his interrogation. Tom has three accomplices: Jolene Parker/Lucy Brooks, Craig Keen/Christopher Malley, and Gina Zanetakos. Remember her? She was the corporate assassin who maybe had a love affair with Tom. (At the time, Liz was highly offended. That rat fink may be a spy killer, but he’s my spy killer!) Well, that crafty wench Gina Z. has escaped from federal prison. The investigator puts his foot in his mouth a second time when he asks Liz if she wanted to help Tom escape. “That’s really a stupid question,” she says coldly. If looks could kill…

As the Feds are collecting evidence from her house, she snatches her singed bunny rabbit from one of the boxes. That’s the stuffed rabbit that she was holding on the night Little Liz was saved (by Reddington?) from her house fire, the fire that supposedly gave her the scar we see replicated on Tom’s things — so that clue is still in play.

NEXT: Bond, Tom Bond