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'The Blacklist' recap: 'Miles McGrath'

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Eric Liebowitz/NBC

The Blacklist

type:
TV Show
Current Status:
In Season
seasons:
2
run date:
09/23/13
performer:
James Spader
broadcaster:
NBC
genre:
Drama

“You believe your family is in danger because of who I am. But what you don’t seem to grasp is you’re also in danger because of who you are.”

That’s what Red tells Liz while standing beside the gravestone of one Elizabeth Keen — his reunion point of choice for the first in-person conversation between himself and Elizabeth since she faked her own death to get away from him. Oh yeah… he’s salty, alright.

But he’s also correct. The quote above seems to be the thesis statement for season 4 of The Blacklist: Yes, Liz’s life has been nothing but hell, bold haircuts, and unplanned pregnancies since Raymond Reddington fedora’d his way into it, but as with so many relationships, that has turned out to be less about the person and more about the timing. Red’s presence in Lizzie’s life might run parallel with the uptick in people trying to kidnap her all the time, but he’s not the reason; Liz’s mysterious past was always coming for her, Red is merely part of it. Lizzie… you just straight up in danger, girl.

And Red, the mere harbinger of that danger as he would claim, seems to have finally reached his limit on treating Liz with the kid gloves. In Thursday’s episode, Red might understand why Liz ran, but he’s not just going to lie down and accept her inability to grasp the inescapable nature of her past. You know what I don’t understand though…

WHAT IS HAPPENING WITH MR. KAPLAN AND COULD SOMEONE PLEASE GET HER A NICE WARM CUP OF TEA OR SOMETHING?! That’s right, Mr. Kaplan might be dying but she Ain’t. Dead. Yet. But before we can get to her, Thursday’s episode opens on a Blacklister we can finally sink our teeth into… one with a with a sociopathic-Zuckerberg vibe.

MILES MCGRATH, NO. 65

To the tune of !!!’s “Yadnus,” men in full battle gear rise out of a body of water and storm a power plant as a mystery man watches on his monitors slurping an energy drink. “In the beginning there was light. Then I said, ‘Let there be darkness,'” he says, knocking out the power to an entire city. But it turns out the man isn’t such a mystery after all… he’s Miles McGrath, the key to finding Alexander Kirk and his itty bitty hostage, baby Agnes.

Red meets up with Lizzie at her gravestone to tell her that, given her recent proclivity toward going rogue, he’ll be handling the tracking down of Kirk and Agnes on his own. Liz says that she understands that everyone feels betrayed by her actions, “But my daughter is missing and if you have any idea how to find her, you have to tell me.” And Red has three words for her: “No I don’t.” Okay, but he also has some other words for her, which are telling her exactly who he’s looking for — “a uniquely inventive young man named Miles McGrath” — and exactly where he’s going to find him.

In fact Red talks a pretty big game of how he’s going to be keeping Liz in the dark since she’s been mucking everything up lately and getting all her daughters kidnapped, but he’s hardly any less informative to the Post Office than usual. For example, they know right away that McGrath was a child prodigy who created a huge social media platform while at Princeton, but when his board realized that he was a high-functioning sociopath, they kicked him out. He sued (because sociopaths have entrepreneurial rights, too) and used all the money to become a venture capitalist from criminals. That’s right… he invests in crime for a cut of the profits. Aram thinks that’s pretty genius, and I have to admit, that is a Shark Tank spin-off I would watch (as well as one about Robert Herjavec and his Dancing With the Stars bride).

Lizzie and the Post Office don’t know what McGrath’s connection is to Kirk, but Red did helpfully mention exactly which hotel he’s going to track him down in London. So Cooper borrows two New Scotland Yard detectives to go scope out the scene, and when McGrath’s sidekick spots them, he kills them both, plus the guard who sees him, because what the hell I guess. Red immediately calls up the Post Office for a scolding: Now three families will have to bury their loved ones and his best lead on finding Kirk is on high alert. Was Red not clear that he needed some him-time to track down sociopaths on his own right now?!

NEXT: The Blacklist meets Silicon Valley… [pagebreak]

Indeed, McGrath is on high alert. Played by Quantico’s Tate Ellington (as a no-question-about-it-bonafide-100-percent bad guy here though), McGrath has the unbound ego of Jesse Eisenberg in The Social Network with the nerdy swagger of Andrew Garfield in The Social Network. He saunters up to a couple of ex-Navy Seals he’s working with and asks if they’ve ever played Call of Duty. They have not. Then he lets the head Seal in charge, Halbeck, know that a member of his crew was spotted leaving the London hotel earlier, and that’s going to be a problem. Halbeck says that’s one of his best guys and he’s not losing him — cue that guy getting shot through the head on his morning jog. McGrath tells his apparent business partner to leave the strategy up to him and to find a new crew member: “I don’t intend to lose my investment.”

But hey, that’s what happens when you enter the Tank! And McGrath is right, the Post Office is on his tail thanks to the guy from Halbeck’s team. With Aram’s photo-editing skills, they’re able to trace him as a fromer Seal, and when they tell Red about it, he recalls a Seal friend of his who formed an elite heist team post-retirement. That guy is Halbeck, and Red once hired his team to retrieve a watch he left on a nightstand. I really loved Halbeck greeting him with, “Don’t tell me you lost that damn watch again.” Red says he wants to hire his team (for cufflink extraction, perhaps), but when Halbeck tells him he’s already in bed with another partner who killed one of his best guys, Red ever so thoughtfully offers to loan out one of his men in exchange for a cut. And that man…

Is Tom! But not before Tom and Liz get back up to their old Bonnie & Clyde high jinks for which you know and love them. In an earlier scene, Tom and Liz are in the office of some higher up at the FBI who’s telling them there’s not much more the FBI can tell them about Agnes’ whereabouts. When Tom screams, “She works for the Bureau!” and slams his hands down on the desk, I feel the need to remind him that Lizzie did work for the Bureau until — and not to be nitpicky here, but — she killed the Attorney General of the United States, went on the run with one of the FBI’s Most Wanted, and once she was pardoned and hired back to the FBI as a contractor, faked her own death to get unlimited vacation days… not exactly employee of the month.

But silly me — it was all part of the plan! When Tom gets worked up, Liz starts crying, and that’s when he slips her the I.D. card he’s slammed his hand onto to steal off the desk. She calls the agent on their case to get him out of his office, then breaks in using the stolen I.D. where she takes photos of all the case files and steals pieces of evidence taken from the raid of Kirk’s home. Somebody’s working on a promotion!

Okay, but the stolen FBI goods do prove pretty interesting. Among them is Katarina Rostova’s journal where she — HIGH ALERT — talks about her affair with Raymond Reddington. Now, I’ve read enough beach-read thrillers to know that diaries can be faked, but Lizzie is seeing this as the real deal. Like, literally — as she reads the journal, she’s seeing visions of her mom writing in it over at the kitchen island: “Look at me: in love with a man I was meant to seduce — an American! Raymond wants me to run, take Masha … But how could I do that to her? She’s my entire life, she’s everything.” Tom snaps Liz out of what seems to be a full-blown hallucination and she tells him, “Reddington didn’t just have an affair with my mother — she was assigned to him, to be in his life. The same way you were assigned to be in mine.” Noooooow, that is the kind of freaky coincidence that might send me jumping deep into my own psyche, but for her part, Lizzie just seems kind of frisky.

And hug him while you got him, girl, because Tom is about to go into the lion’s den. He shows up to his heist team interview, and after proving that he can choke the guy that’s choking him, Halbeck hires him for the mission that McGrath has invested in: jumping on a train. And that’s all Tom knows when he jumps onto a train with the rest of his team and immediately loses his connection to the Post Office. As it turns out… the train belongs to the CDC and is currently moving six containers holding every single Class A infectious substance known to man. Class A infectious substances are basically killer diseases and they’re being transported because their former resting place recently lost power for 72 hours — sound familiar? — which triggered transport protocol.

NEXT: Boy On the Train (with Infectious Diseases)… [pagebreak]

But when Ressler and Samar show up to the spot the train should be headed, it’s not there. In fact, it’s not anywhere that Aram calculates it should be. So Ressler and Samar trace the tracks back to the train’s last known location and find that McGrath built a second rail line within the last three weeks. That rail line leads to a hanger where McGrath’s sidekick has showed up to pick up “sample number 17,” and the rest of the infectious samples belong to Halbeck. And just as that guys pulls off, guess who pulls up: Red. He feigns annoyance that Halbeck potentially sent the best samples off to McGrath and asks for some contact details so he can at least try to buy them back.

But Red’s not in the infectious diseases business, he’s in the finding Kirk business, so he doesn’t waste any time once he finds McGrath. He shoots his sidekick and tells McGrath to call up Kirk and arrange a delivery point. But when Red arrives, no one is there. Cooper calls to tell him that the CDC confirmed that “sample number 17” contained cultures of the Robowski virus. Recognition passes over Red’s face, he gets out of the car and answers a nearby pay phone: “Well done, Constantine.” From there, Raymond Reddington and Alexander Kirk/Constantine Rostov have a conversation that is simultaneously casual and ridden with subtext. Kirk says he knew Red would be there because, “I’m the better man, always have been.” And Red, not entirely clueless, responds: “So it’s true then, after all these years, everything you feared has happened.”

And now Red knows why Kirk wanted the virus, as he relays to Lizzie once Kirk refuses to hand Agnes back in exchange for it. (And just after Liz has yet another vision of her mother writing about how Constantine has “an accursed disease” that has afflicted Rostov men for generations, where she reaches out and touches her dead mother’s hand.) Red tells Liz that Kirk is dying and the Robowski disease was to be a temporary cure for the rare blood disorder that runs in his family. See, Kirk’s disease prevents his body from producing enough blood cells, whereas the Robowski virus results in a rare form of Leukemia that creates the opposite problem: too many blood cells.

It’s simple math. Crazy math — but simple. Just as simple as it is for Red to now understand why Constantine Rostov was so desperate to find his alleged long-lost daughter: “He needs a biological descendent to save his life … That’s what you are: a collection of cells. This isn’t about saving you from me. This is about saving you for him.” Kirk doesn’t have Lizzie anymore though… he has Agnes.

A FEW LOOSE ENDS:

  • As far as twists go, this one wasn’t too shocking — one too many blood transfusions spotted through keyholes in the last few episodes for that. But that doesn’t make the why of Kirk needing a biological descendent any less interesting… what exactly does he need from Lizzie and/or Agnes in order to save his life?
  • I know, I know, I’ve gone all this time without checking on poor Mr. Kaplan! But in this episode she a loose end in every sense of the phrase. Interspersed in quick scenes throughout the hour, we see her drag herself from her bloody patch in what was to be her “pristine” eternal resting spot to a river where she catches a glance of her bloody reflection and seems… disheartened. Then a dog finds her, followed after by his owner who doesn’t exactly seem… concerned. And the episode ends with her being dragged on a make-shift gurney to who-knows-where which seems a little… ominous.
  • This week, on As the Post Office Turns: Aram doesn’t hate Lizzie but he hates what she did, Samar might very well hate Lizzie for what she did, and when she calls Aram at home to chat about how she also hates making dinner for one (!!!) and ask his opinion about her decision to transfer departments, she hears a woman in his apartment — a woman who has just walked in from a jog and had gotten NAKED — and quickly says she didn’t mean to interrupt. Ahhhhhhhh!!!
  • There was yet another mention of the reliability (or lack thereof) of children’s memories tonight.
  • I love when shows have to make up fake social media platforms. The Blacklist’s version of Twitter/Facebook/Snapchat: OnScreen.
  • “Turn-offs include redheads and long walks.” Um, RUDE.
  • Regarding Lizzie’s hallucinations that include physical touching, I know this is a long shot, but what if The Blacklist just like… turns into a sci-fi show. It’s either that, or Lizzie is going crazy, I’m torn.
  • And finally, which Blacklist character is which Shark? I’ll get you started: Ressler is Mr. Wonderful — GO!

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