We gave it a B-
Congrats are in order! Liz and Tom just tied the knot, Cooper managed to get through his B-plot without compromising every ounce of his integrity, and Dembe definitely just secured himself a mini-golf championship. Mazel tov, indeed.
When an episode is split between Cooper trying to help a kid we don’t know, Tom working with a woman we barely know, and Liz and Samar saying lines like “Our two victims with nothing in common owned a murder business together” — an absurd, but highly accurate statement, by the way — you know we’re not really dealing with a pivotal hour of The Blacklist. But as with any time this show flies fast and loose with the laws of logic and neuroscience, we are dealing with some kind of Blacklister. Enter: anterograde amnesia. It’s like Groundhog’s Day if Groundhog’s Day was super murder-y!
Going off twists and turns alone, I might have given this Blacklister plot high marks. But if Reddington’s C.I. status is being evaluated off the quality of his tips, I’m concerned, given that this return-of-a-notorious-murder-business basically ended up being a super-mad-mom with a proclivity for vengeance who was, by the by, completely done murderin’ by the time the Post Office crew got to her. Not a very impressive look for the FBI, especially when their boss is out carrying around unregistered guns and decking drug dealers.
But, hey, I’m not here for a Task Force performance evaluation; I’m here to page you Blacklister number: 9-0…
THE TRAVEL AGENCY, NO. 90
The episode opens with a man waking up to a radio alarm clock proudly announcing that Roxette’s new single just pushed Janet Jackson off the chart, placing us somewhere around 1989. I immediately note that there’s no title card telling us the date like there often is in a Blacklist flashback, but my Lizzie-like profiler intuition stops there. The man sits down to breakfast with his wife as Tom Brokaw reports on the fall of the Berlin Wall — so, definitely 1989 then. The man’s wife tells him that their girls have left for school already; he gets a page (hey, did you hear, it’s 1989!) announcing it’s time for him to leave too.
The page reads “342,” and we next see him at a P.O. box marked 342, retrieving a red folder. Inside is a dossier of information on a man who he tracks down at a Pennsylvania farm and shoots dead while he’s chopping wood. Between this and Stranger Things, the ’80s seem like a really wild ride.
Over a practice round of mini-golf — Red and Dembe have a tournament scheduled for the weekend — Red tells Lizzie that he’s come into contact with a man named Mitchell Dunning who believes he’s about to be assassinated and that an organization called The Travel Agency will be performing said assassination. As Aram’s research reveals back at the Post Office, the Travel Agency was “a consortium of anonymous killers” in operation for nearly 30 years until it mysteriously closed its murder-doors 12 years ago… until now, it seems.
Cooper has another matter to attend to, so he puts Ressler in charge of tracking down Dunning. When Samar and Liz find him in Dupont Circle, he’s frantically packing his car alongside his wife. And just as he’s trying to tell them they must have the wrong guy, he’s not trying to avoid an assassination attempt, he’s shot twice in the chest. Liz and Samar don’t see where the shots come from, but we see the same Oldsmobile from the episode’s opening murder, only this time, the barrel of a gun is retracting back into the trunk from where the Oldsmobile symbol should be. Handy.
In Dunning’s car, they find a newspaper article detailing the recent murder of a man who was chopping wood at his farm among Dunning’s packed things.
And speaking of leads, Tom doesn’t have any new info on the whereabouts of his bag o’ bones, but he’s about to find out someone else does. As he’s exiting the D.C. courthouse, Dembe kindly invites him to join Red in his car. “Mr. Kaplan gave you a suitcase,” Reddington says. “In it was a skeleton she never should have unearthed and whose identity must remain secret.” Red insists that persisting in his quest to I.D. the bones will only put him and anyone else he involves in harm’s way (R.I.P. Dr. Nik). “Secrets put people in harm’s way,” says Tom. I guffaw.
Tom at least has the decency to say that “keeping [people] in the dark” is a talent that he and Red share. But he goes on to say he’s “not in that business” anymore because on the Keen family coat of arms, the Latin clearly states: Delusion is our Name, Secrets are our Game.
(Recap continues on page 2)