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'The Blacklist' recap: 'Vanessa Cruz'

Red is lying, shots are flying, and “The Blacklist” is trying… to send us into full panic mode.

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Virginia Sherwood/NBC

The Blacklist

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

Was that a late April Fools’ joke? Was Raymond Reddington really just shot in the last minute of tonight’s Blacklist? In the chest? And was he bleeding out of his mouth? And perhaps even more unbelievable, did Liz actually tell Tom at one point during this episode that Red has a moral code and it doesn’t include lying to her?

If Tom hadn’t finally decided to tell her the truth, would Liz have continued to believe that Red has just been truthing it up with her this whole time? Would she have eventually forked over her tiny blackmail music box to Red because of how honest he’s been with her about the Fulcrum and her involvement with it, rather than because she wants him out of her life for good? No matter how terrible Lizzie’s honesty radar is, no matter why she decided to give Red the Fulcrum file, the truth is, Red is now lying on a road, bleeding out of his mouth, and all because the Director called a vote and Jasper betrayed him!

If it seem like I’m speaking another language and mostly just asking a lot of questions, it’s because a lot of major stuff went down in this episode of The Blacklist and most of it was pretty confusing. Okay, actually, just one major thing went down and a lot of other tiny things were tossed up in their air, likely to also come down at a near but unknown date; hopefully, at that point, Red will still be alive.

I mean… Red isn’t dead. Red can’t die—he is the sole owner of The Blacklist’s titular list. But if, as Red says, the best way to persuade a powerful man is to appeal to his vanity, then a great way to take power away from a man is to leave him bleeding out on the side of the road. And a Red without power is a Red we do not know. Nor are we familiar with a Red without Lizzie, which certainly seemed to be the direction things were going—for real this time, guys, I swear—before Red took a bullet to the general torso region.


The Blacklist is on a newly discovered hot streak of giving us episodic Blacklisters who we’d have any reason to care about. Now, why we should care about Vanessa Cruz, I have no idea just yet; but when Mr. Kaplan shows up personally to have a glass of airport cabernet with someone, I’m going to keep an open mind. Especially when this week’s episode showed where “owing Red one” can get you (here’s looking at you and your ultimate mortality, Mr. Hobbs). So, even though Vanessa Cruz’ whole shtick is incredible attention to detail, I’m going to let her handle the plot equivalent of collecting belly button lint and cigarette butts and get right down to the big stuff of why we’re being introduced to her… so that we can get to the really big, uh, potentially World War III causing stuff.

The episode begins with a woman in a dominatrix outfit of sorts shooting a man up with something that causes him to drown in the bathtub while she waltzes over to a laptop, transfers all of his funds somewhere, and promptly takes off her wig and colored contacts so she can return home to her girlfriend as a whole other person. The woman in the wig is Vanessa Cruz and she’s Red’s next assignment for the Post Office team. He informs Lizzie of this after arriving at her apartment, gun drawn, to find Tom there asking for her help to get the passports from his old box o’ spy stuff so he can start a new life. This is supposed to be the epic Red vs. Tom battle for Lizzie’s loyalties, but it’s really more of a, “Bro, you gotta go,” with a side of, “Fine, I’ll leave, but I’m not particularly thrilled about it,” than the showdown that was marketed to us.

But that’s fine because Liz has to get on with finding Vanessa Cruz. Apparently she’s the person behind multiple one-percenter-types being framed for white collar crimes that they didn’t commit, frequently right before they die. Ressler and Keen go to visit a man who claims he’s been framed by this woman, but has managed to land himself in jail rather than a coroner’s office. Mr. Conway claims that he was having an affair with a woman who would had access to all of his info to be able to frame him for a Ponzi scheme. But even with all of their correspondence and her extended presence in his life, detectives were never able to trace her to him. The same goes for Mr. Salinger, the man you may remember as being super dead in a bathtub from earlier. But where your average fleet of private detectives fails, Aram steps in to piece together bits and pieces of pictures, and gets his buddy, Osborne—“freaking Osborne!”—in forensics to piece together a print to figure out that all of these men had illicit relationships with Vanessa Cruz before they were framed.

NEXT: Framing for love, loving to frame…