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The Blacklist recap: 'Monarch Douglas Bank'

It’s a meeting of the (evil) minds as Red finally comes face to face with his current nemesis, Berlin—and turns the (evil) tables on him. Kind of.

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The Blacklist
Eric Liebowitz/NBC

The Blacklist

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

“Revenge isn’t a passion—it’s a disease. It eats at your mind and poisons your soul.”

—Raymond Reddington. Who else?

For most serialized network dramas, transitional episodes in the middle of a storyline are the pits: there’s not a clear end game, nothing to really root for or against, and half of the plot points may not have any payoff for weeks. On The Blacklist, episodes where you’re flying blind for 48 of the show’s 60 minutes, storing away information that might be helpful by the season finale, are often the most engaging. So it’s pretty impressive that the followup to last week’s Blacklister-of-the-week premiere manages to pile on the narrative question marks, give some definitive movement to the Berlin storyline, catch a whole heap of criminals, and put Peter Stormare, and his hook, and James Spader, and his hat on one park bench.

I’m not saying I love being confused all the time. But generally, the more confusion, and the deeper we go into Red’s psyche, the sweeter the payoff will be when answers inevitably come (oh, please let them come). So, allow me to quote Agent Cooper when I say, “Who the hell is Samar Navabi?”


With our second triple-digit Blacklister in Season 2, it’s officially a trend: Red is shooting easy targets. He has his hands full with Berlin and his annoying little habit of removing people’s body parts and sending them off in padded envelopes.

Yes, Red’s former wife, Naomi—now one finger and molar lighter than she was a few days ago—is a chink in his previously inerrable façade. I would listen to James Spader read any number of phone books in any number of slow, belabored cadences, but Reddington’s omnipresent ability to be 1,800 steps ahead of everyone else has always made the character a little too untouchable. But with one skeezy air kiss at the end of tonight’s big face-off, it became clearer than ever that Berlin, while not better than Red at his own game, is at least a worthy adversary. Red may be matching him kidnapping for kidnapping, but he still hasn’t been able to get ahead of this man.

For goodness sake: Lizzie had to save him tonight.

At the top of the episode, Red admits to Mr. Kaplan that he’s “out on the far end of the limb” after calling her in to clean up three more casualties from his mission to find Naomi. Lizzie has been on a different kind of recon hunt, and visits Red to tell him what her research has uncovered on his former wife: their daughter was placed in Naomi’s protective custody in 1990 when they went into witness protection. But as their U.S. Marshal lost contact with them seven years ago, the daughter is currently unaccounted for. Red tells Lizzie that the woman currently giving him a manicure used to date a nine-fingered bullfighter and is a trained surgeon. It’s a fairly typical interaction, all told.

Red is much more interested in the recent break-in at the Warsaw branch of Monarch Douglas Bank, “the preferred bank of international criminals, dictators, terrorists, and hedge fund managers.” According to the bank’s official statement about the robbery, nothing was stolen; according to Agent Cooper, the Treasury says Monarch’s record is clean. But Red says there’s a list of criminals a mile long who funnel money there—so it’s off to Warsaw for Ressler, Liz, and Liz’ fancy new haircut.

NEXT: What does your doughnut say about your kidnapping technique?