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The Blacklist recap: 'The Front'

The FBI tries to prevent the Black Death 2.0 while Red tries to track down an unidentified girl.

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The Blacklist Recap
Michael Parmelee/NBC

The Blacklist

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

Things the jury is still out on at the end of tonight’s Blacklist: that damn door; that key; if the Post Office special task force has any protocol to speak of. Things the jury is certain of: This was a very unfortunately timed episode about the rapid spread of a virus.

Yes, the pneumonic plague is in town, it’s brought a new, well-dressed cult with it, and together, they’re going to steal the Declaration of Independence. I mean, a map…they’re going to steal a map. A map written by priests on the back of a 14th century painting that will lead them to the secret family recipe for Bush’s Baked Beans a virus strong enough to wipe out humanity. You know, to save the environment. All this while Red uses more government employees than ever before to help him find his daughter. I mean, Jennifer! Oh man, five episodes into Season 2 and I’m already starting to lose it. What is behind that door? Who is Pepper, and why does she have an old-timey key? And exactly which brown-haired girl of the many brown-haired girls is “the girl” that Red thinks “everything rests on?”


Relationships are forming, being tested, and redefining themselves all over the Post Office—and it’s all a lot to keep up with. Lizzie realizes that she relishes Red’s attention just as much as she loathes it. Red starts stalking a new young woman. Aram gets to emotional first base with Samar. In fact, Aram has a bit of a DTR with everyone; this was a very Aram-heavy episode. And it’s lucky to have that going for it considering that we were once again encouraged to use hashtag-Lizzie’s-secret in the face of The Door. Give it up, Bokenkamp! That door will only remain interesting for so long. (All cards on the table: It’s still really interesting.)

A little overly-prolonged suspense, I can handle. But asking me to believe that Manic Pixie Dream Agent Elizabeth Keen thinks that a dude dropping a bag of bones is as dangerous as said dude getting away, crushing those bones up into an infectious, plague-y powder, and sprinkling it onto his cult’s Captain Crunch before they head off to the airport is simply too much incompetence to swallow this far into Liz’s FBI career. As someone pointed out in last week’s comments, along with her scalp, Megan Boone’s best work has been set free in Season 2—but the same cannot be said for Elizabeth “Stop or I’ll shoot, unless you take the next five minutes to tell me a good reason not to” Keen,. This was more obvious than ever in tonight’s episode.

Perhaps Samar calling Lizzie on her supremely poor judgment at least means that her inexplicable actions in the face of mass murderers over the last few episodes can be explained by the unhinging process that began when it was revealed that her whole life was a lie. Tonight, she’s feeling pretty nostalgic for that lie-life, and you know what that means: Tom flashbacks!

The episode opens with The Blacklist’s trademark style: the Blacklister-of-the-week’s first victim is in trouble, as evidenced by the shaky-cam tracking their movement. Tonight’s episode opener is Carrie-Ann Beck, who’s on the run from someone and calls on a redheaded gal pal to come help her out. Unfortunately, the redhead brings with her the very person Carrie-Ann is running from: her husband, Maddox, who promptly helps her get hit by a car, then steals something from her jacket. We know that the perfectly-mussed thief is Carrie-Ann’s husband because Red helpfully mentions that fact and this case to Lizzie during the “I Have Something I Need and This Is Where the FBI Comes In” portion of the show.

Carrie-Ann and Maddox Beck had been presumed dead until Carrie-Ann was found nearly-dead on the street. They were once the leaders of The Front, an environmentalist group with extreme practices. Though Carrie-Ann tried to keep their retaliations more tame, Maddox began taking The Front’s movement toward “a level of destruction that [Red finds] chilling,” which at first seems pretty hilarious, considering Red’s kill count—until we learn that the “destruction” he’s so chilled by is aimed at, uh, all of humankind.

In addition to Carrie-Ann being pregnant when she’s found, she also has 700-year-old clay under her fingernails. This just proves my theory that women with bangs have a lot of secrets. Luckily, Aram and the Post Office gang have a more helpful theory: The clay turns out to be 14th century raw Sienna soil, used by painters from the Sienese School, and a painting just so happens to have been recently stolen from a Sienese exhibit.

And that’s because Maddox Beck has that very painting under a black light back on his compound. It lights up like an episode of Room Raiders, revealing some sort of ancient code. One call to Nicolas Cage an FBI ancient art expert tells the team that the code is actually a map, and it’s a bit of an urban legend: The Black Death originally spread because an Apophis Strain was weaponized and accidentally released, creating what’s now known as the pneumonic plague. The legend is that after killing nearly 200 million people, four priests were tasked with hiding the origin of the plague at “the end of the earth,” and the map on the painting leads to that “end.”

NEXT: Spoiler alert: Not a myth!