Let’s just get this straight from the jump: That. Episode. Was. Bonkers.
It felt a little bit like the writers took all of the leftover notecards from the “Random Ideas” bulletin board that had been collecting since season 1, stacked them up, and then, instead of putting them in the recycling bin, someone in the back of the room was like, “Hey, you know what would be crazy…” And that’s how we ended up with an episode that combined an eccentric billionaire who’s freezing geniuses, a Blacklister that operates from a permanently airborne jet, Tom in a nonconsensual fight club, Red giving a culinary upstart her own restaurant in order to break into a bank, and a couple of frozen thumbs rolling around in a safe deposit box. Because you know what they say about a box full of thumbs: “Raymond Reddington must have been here.”
There was so much to keep up with in this episode that I almost forgot about how this is the third week in a row that Red’s been after a person presumably listed on his own numerically organized “Blacklist” (you know — the premise of the popular television series, The Blacklist) without actually knowing who they were first. While the purpose of the titular Blackist has always been — on at least the slimmest surface level — for Reddington to aid the FBI in catching the world’s most dangerous criminals, it now seems to serve solely as a means for the FBI to aid their No. 1 most-wanted criminal in finding other criminals that can assist in exonerating Liz, its No. 2 most-wanted criminal.
The frozen thumbs almost made me not think about those things. Almost.
But these are semantics, right? There’s a billionaire out there assembling a cryogenic Noah’s ark. And he’s doing it at cruising altitude of 39,000 feet!
SIR CRISPIN CRANDALL, NO. 86
First things first: Dembe is doing just fine, even if he doesn’t want to drink Lizzie’s tea. He’s back together with the two leads of your favorite complicated relationship, and the whole gang is headed to Montreal on Red’s jet. Red calls Ressler — everyone’s second-favorite complicated relationship — with the next name on The Blacklist: Andras Halmi. Although this ultimately is not the name of the Blacklister from which this episode gets its title, if you were to take a drink every time anyone said Andras Halmi’s name in this episode…well, you would probably end up about like Andras Halmi did.
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Halmi, one of the foremost economists in the world and the Director’s most-trusted advisor, has recently gone missing — and he’s not the only one. Two geneticists, two civil engineers…the most brilliant minds in a variety of fields are going missing in pairs. And the Post Office team, who are willing to cooperate with Red
because they always are under the assurance that finding Halmi will get the Director out of their hair at headquarters, discover that the pairs are always male and female. Someone is building an ark…which, if you ask this recapper, is much more interesting than someone building yet another cult.
And that someone is the excellently named Crispin Crandall, who’s currently showing a recently abducted male mathematician around the airplane (which seems to be more like a blimp in interior space) where he does all his best utopian plotting. Crandall tells the man, who appears to have and ALS-like disease along the lines of Stephen Hawking, that his plans for him will “free that beautiful mind” from his broken body. And then he says seven words that you don’t know just how horrifying they’ll be until you hear them: “Good news, we’ve found you a mate.” So — confirmed — this guy is a real freak.
NEXT: Two-by-two, thumb-by-thumb…[pagebreak]
Luckily, the FBI has also figured out which female mathematics scholar Crandall will be after, so they get there shortly after his men have abducted her, cutting off their car, and taking the chase on foot. Ressler brings in one of the thugs to the Post Office, and thanks to some light Biblical child-threatening by the Director, he tells them where to find Crandall’s headquarters. When they get there, they find a cryogenics lab with rows and rows of frozen bodies in Captain America tubes, but none of them are the scientists. It turns out that Crandall has a very legal and legitimate cryogenics firm where people can sign up to be frozen until the point in the future where technology has advanced to find the cure for their disease, disorder, etc.
But Crandall, that stinker, keeps all his most important ice cubes up in the air. As you can imagine, it’s hard to pull over a jet full of innocents, no matter how loud your siren is. But given that three important parties are working on parallel trajectories, some way, some how, someone was going to be getting to Halmi. The Director has brought Mr. Solomon into the mix — or rather, Mr. Solomon has welcomed himself into the mix — and he’s the one who discovers that Ressler has been hiding the “finding Halmi” aspect of their joint mission with Red. And while the Director’s reaction to that news is suspect, and these two clearly hate each other, they both want Red and Lizzie dead.
But there’s one goal that everyone shares: get to Andras Halmi (drink!) first. Although we as the audience have had no idea why Red so badly needs to find Halmi or why the Director so badly needs to stop him for the entirety of the episode, everything clicks into place in rapid succession. Crandall lands; Red arrives and tells him he’s a twisted weirdo and then shoot him; Solomon and his goons arrive moments later; the FBI arrives many moments later because Red fed them false information about where the plane would be landing. And that’s because he needed to spend those precious moments before anyone else arrived getting his hands on Halmi’s sweet, sweet thumbs. And by that, I mean, he chopped off both thumbs of a cryogenically frozen man and high-tailed it out of there.
And once Solomon reports back that Halmi is down two phalanges, the Director knows just what Red is up to. You see, while the FBI has been tracking Halmi via Crandall for him, he and Lizzie have been in Montreal working with Marvin Gerard, the lawyer Red sprung from prison a few episodes ago. They’re working on that crack Gerard found in the Fulcrum, which oddly involves constructing some sort of building and bribing the inspector not to shut it down for its many, many violations. They end up promising the space to the inspector’s amateur chef girlfriend for her own restaurant, because they only need it for one day and for one reason: It’s built over the safe of the bank that holds Halmi’s safe deposit box…
The safe deposit box that the Director is now barreling toward, calling ahead with specific CIA orders not to open it for any third parties. The safe deposit box that requires two thumb prints to open. The safe deposit box that’s empty by the time the Director gets it (save two blue thumbs, of course). And the safe deposit box that contains evidence proving that the Director has been scamming the Cabal out of millions of dollars so that he could make a run for it when the time is right. So much for that little plan, pal — Red and Ressler are comin’ for ya. And probably Solomon, too.
NEXT: Tom’s got a crazy look in his eye…[pagebreak]
So everything has turned out pretty well, right? WRONG. Because I haven’t even told you about Tom — oh, Tom. I will give him that Cooper chewing him out for killing the Russian mobster in the hopes that Karakurt’s brother-in-law will come after him would be a little annoying considering that Cooper wasn’t exactly offering up any plans himself. But it also seems like he realizes in that moment, without the comforting presence of his favorite waitress, that the plan was pretty rash. But what’s done is done, and now Tom has to face the consequences. Tom tells Cooper that he can live with Asher being a casualty to his mobster plan if it means exonerating Liz, but he quickly rushes to his house afterward to warn him and Gwenn that the mob will be after them. He ditches the accent and turns back into Tom Keen to tell them they need to run just as the goon squad arrives. Once again, Gwenn is a little too present and in the action to feel like just a bit character that we’re seeing the last of tonight, but for now, she’s able to escape while the two men are taken.
And that’s how Tom and Asher wake up outside an abandoned factory, beaten, bruised, and chained by their necks to each other, informed that the only way to pay for what they’ve done is to fight each other…to the death. There’s a big crowd of what appear to be the Newsies, all grown up and a little worse for wear, cheering them on. At first it seems like Tom isn’t going to fight. And then Asher starts fighting because he says they’ll kill them both if they don’t. And then Tom screams, “I didn’t come here to fight; I came here for the Russian,” so they give Asher a knife to spice things up. Asher comes at him, and Tom gets the knife and has the nerve to say, “Don’t make me do this,” as though a) there’s another option and b) it’s Asher’s fault that
he wore a pastel yellow sweater to a knife fight they’re there fighting to the death at all.
It’s a very illogical but also harrowing escalation of events. And it all ends exactly how Tom wanted it to: He’s brought to the brother-in-law, and there sits Karakurt with his new face. Tom tells him plainly, “I’m the guy that’s taking you back to D.C. for framing my wife for murder,” and then he tells the group at large just as specifically how he plans to kill all of them and take Karakurt—and then he does exactly that, ending the episode with an overhead shot of him manually dragging Karakurt behind him down the alley where he very recently murdered his best-friend-for-two-weeks.
This episode is simply chock-full of crazy mofos.
A Few Loose Ends:
- No matter how you feel about the Tom story line, surely we can all agree that Ryan Eggold is turning in some gold this season?
- But with all of that alleyway violence on top of Samar’s headshot from behind, complete with car window fully doused in blood, this was a pretty graphic episode.
- Speaking of: Mark this episode down in the “What’s up with those looks, Samar?” and “What’s up with that chick Gwenn?” columns. What is up with them??
- The Director and Mr. Solomon are both awful, but I love the idea of one of them eliminating the other and therefore loved their tense conversation on the roof. Two great villains, two great actors.
- After Red reveals to the Director that he knows about his little escape fund, he tells him that the only way out of this is to clear Lizzie’s name. The Director declines, and so Red tells him what’s up: “I’m going to bring this whole damn thing down on you, Peter. And when I do your own people will beg me to kill you to stop the bleeding.” You’re going down, bud.