The cat's out of the bag on Tom's deception and Jolene's secret identity, meanwhile a young boy tries to impress his crush with a cyber-weapon.

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The Blacklist
Credit: Craig Blankenhorn/NBC

This episode was slow on the action, but it really packed in some emotional catharsis and plot developments that we were sorely missing. Liz has finally caught on to Tom’s duplicity and she discovered Jolene’s identity. Thank God. There’s a certain point when the audience can’t take it anymore. There’s only so much yelling at the TV that we do before we throw our hands up and go, “Screw it, girl friend.” You go on down into that dark basement to investigate the suspicious sound of steel being scraped across a cement floor. See if I care. But we can all heave a sigh of relief because she knows now. And based on the preview for next week, she and Red set some Tom Traps and I am stoked about it!

The Blacklister this week was a Red Herring because the computer hacker that Reddington wanted punished (Ivan, No. 88) turned out not to be the man behind this week’s crime. The culprit was just a high school boy who happened to be a computer whiz with an obsessive crush on the daughter of a NSA agent who was developing a “skeleton key” cyber-hacking device for the U.S. government. Kids these days.

So the episode started off with a man typing away in a secret computer lab when pages start shooting out of his printer with the phrase “SMILE” written over and over. My first thought was, poltergeist! But no, this isn’t The Vampire Diaries. The computer guy panics and grabs some tech hardware before bolting streetside, where he places a phone call and says that he has “the prototype.” He gets in a car and all the security cameras on the street follow him. We flash to a man in a dark hoodie sitting on a park bench with a laptop; he’s watching all the camera feeds. He somehow triggers the airbag in the man’s car and the car runs into an embankment and bursts into flames, but not before Hoodie can reach in and snatch the tricked-out iPad that was sitting in a special case in the passenger seat. I swear, muggers will try anything to get your Apple products these days.

In the woods outside of DC, Red and Dembe are taking a little winter jaunt to dig up the bodies that Tom buried last week. Or rather to hire Mr. Kaplan, a petite old lady with a beautiful coat that Red covets. Her husky voice and sharp replies tell us she’s a perfect match for Red (series regular?). She’s clearly great at what she does, and apparently what she does is — depending on the need — locate crime scenes or make them disappear. Red’s got all the best contacts. “How long have they been dead?” he asks Mr. Kaplan. “Eight days from the looks of the decay, but I can do a field autopsy if you’d like more details,” she replies. But he wants the bodies left where they are, presumably for Liz to find later, and makes a 911 call to report a “missing persons.”

NEXT PAGE: Fate comes knocking on Tom’s door…

Back at the Macbeth household, Tom and Liz are playing happy married couple (cringe). Liz gives Tom a little plastic light-up toy, called Uncle Flippo, to take to school to impress his 4th grade class. (Uncle Flippo is a big deal with the kids in Blacklist world.) Their flirty banter (double cringe) is interrupted by a policeman knocking at their front door asking questions about Jolene Parker, who’s been missing for a week. Tom seems on edge, obviously, but Liz is just pressing forward asking questions, completely unsuspecting.

Liz pops in on Reddington at his workshop (he has new digs almost every episode) where he’s filing down some metal cogs. Liz makes a bomb-building joke and asks if she should be worried. “Yes, but not about this,” he says. Red Reddington, the teller of truths. He’s referring to a newspaper clipping he found about a car crash — the one we saw earlier — and he suspects a cyber terrorist named Ivan. Subtext though, he’s definitely warning Liz to be worried about Tom. But Red is elaborating on his grudge against Yvonne (that’s how Russians pronounce “Ivan”). “He stole from me,” Red says. “His brother and I shared a lovely meal of jellied meat and a gallon of vodka all the while Ivan had his hand in my pocket.”

Liz is unmoved. “Ivan took credit for the hit,” Red continues. “In some deep, dark recess of the internet inhabited only by scary people and reckless teenagers…” (Weird, they must be at The 13th Step.)”…a place where curiosity inevitably kills the cat.” After a weighty pause, we’re all wondering — will curiosity kill Liz? Or will it be her deluded feelings of love and trust for Tom that ultimately do her in? Still to come!

It’s back to the Post Office to round up the team and catch this Ivan hooligan. All hands are on deck for this one, including Agent Ressler, who’s still at work even though his girlfriend just died in his arms eight days ago. Liz is concerned for him and tells him he should take time off. “Work distracts me from thinking about Audrey,” he says. “I can distract you from thinking about Audrey,” replies Liz…no, wait that was me who said that. Aram posits that with a serial number off the car he can tell if the systems have been tampered with electronically, so the team packs up and hits the junkyard, where Liz snubs the poor guy working the day shift in January. Something about the way she said, “Thanks, we’ll take it from here,” sounded so bitchy.

Aram discovers the car’s airbag was deployed pre-crash, and find a signature on the coding that spells IVAN. Just as Ressler notices the fancy iPad case that the computer guy was carrying his tablet in, the NSA rolls up to tell the Feebies to back off their crime scene. Then Agent Cooper turns up and there’s a pissing contest. Conclusion: total inter-agency cooperation. The NSA reveals that the stolen iPad is something the U.S. just developed for cyber warfare called a “skeleton key” because it’s a program that can open any security system in the world. So basically Live Free or Die Hard. The head engineer, David Fisher, said that the team had completed their first phase of development and was about to relocate to Colorado.

“So the federal government has armed a cyber terrorist with the equivalent of a nuclear warhead,” says Red when Liz brings him up to speed back at his workshop. “Another fabulous example of your tax dollars at work. Yet another reason why I don’t pay taxes.” Naturally Red takes the reins and flies to Minsk, Belarus to track down Ivan for the vodka and witty repartee for the Feds. Red sits down and says, “Perhaps the face escapes you, my card,” and tosses down his FBI Most Wanted poster. All we learn is that someone has been impersonating Ivan online and the skeleton key is in the hands of an unknown hacker.

The exchange does give us some gem lines though. Red looks over Ivan’s should at his iPad, “Don’t you find all those little fingerprints on the screen distracting or does that sort of thing not bother you?” Ressler and Red stage a shootout where it looks like Ressler gets shot in the chest, but it’s just a dye pack. Thank God. I feel like no one is safe on TV anymore after last night’s episode of The Good Wife.

NEXT PAGE: Liz cuddles up to the enemy…

Liz has finally mustered up enough suspicion to search Jolene’s name in the ViCAP database of violent criminals and discovers that “Jolene” is an alias for Lucy Brooks, who has been convicted of a handful of felonies and most recently ditched her parole officer in Santa Fe two years ago. We still don’t know how Jolene/Lucy fits into the larger puzzle of Liz and Red’s lives, but in case we need these down the road, her other listed aliases are: Molly Paplow, Kara Lewis, and Erin Lissel. Then to the surprise of us all — Liz apologizes to Tom for bringing a crazy killer into the house. “You never really know people, do you?” Tom croons as he rubs to Liz’s back. (Get me outta here. This is so gross.) Liz is fired up to track down Lucy though, so she’s super pleased when Aram tells her he managed to dig up Lucy’s cell records and find an address from where she placed her last phone call (i.e. Tom’s lair, but Liz doesn’t know that.) “Aram, you’re amazing,” Liz cries and Aram smiles the cutest, widest, most adorable grin. Get him more screen time.

So Liz charges off to check out the address, but for reasons that are entirely inexplicable, she calls Tom before walking into the building. She calls Tom because one would make sure to notify one’s 4th grade teacher husband and not one’s FBI partner that she’s scoping out a known criminal’s potential hideout. #ClearHeadedKeen move right there. Then comes a wicked intense scene where Liz walks through Tom’s lair always one step away from him, but never able to see him. I was biting my nails off. Right when it seems like she’d leave without seeing him, he makes a noise and when she turns toward it, he bashes her with the door he’s hiding behind and then beats her in the back of the head before he runs off. All she catches is that he was about six feet tall, slim and dark-haired — still she is unable to make the connection. When the police get to the scene, she asks them to forward her the evidence photos, so she can check them out later.

Meanwhile, the Feds have traced the skeleton key to an old lady’s house because the hacker had increased her monthly Social Security benefits. Turns out it’s her high school-aged grandson, Harrison Leigh, who is the fake-Ivan super-hacker. So why the criminal masterminding? Because he is stalker-level obsessed with a girl in his class who happens to be the daughter of David Fisher, the skeleton key engineer who is moving the family to Colorado next week. But not if Harrison steals the prototype! Or at least that was how his thought-process worked.

You know, usually I’m pretty freaked out by stalker characters (appropriately so, I would say) but this little guy captured my heart. (All I heard was, “Call me. Stalk you.”) He seemed sad, not psychotic. I mean, he’s obviously a super-genius, of course he’s going to be socially awkward. He lured daughter Fisher out of her house once he killed the power to all of Washington D.C. (Life Free Die Hard!) and using Harry Potter’s lamppost trick he lit her way into a subway tunnel where he professed his love for her. Unsurprisingly, she recoiled from his intensity and the lonely subway tunnel that she was now trapped in, but the Feds were already there. They chased poor Harrison into a subway car and Liz shot her way into the window of the moving train, which was probably the most badass thing I’ve ever seen her do. Too bad it was on such a nonsense mission. Liz just barely managed to talk him into saving them from driving off the rails (Taking Pelham 123!). She opened with “It all ends here,” the kind of thing you should never say to a suicide case. But she got the job done. (*We never find out what happens to Harrison, but I hope Red hired him and took him under his wing.*)

After it’s over, Liz asks Ressler if he wants to get dinner, since she can see he’s sad and lonely. But her invitation is for him to third-wheel at a family dinner that Tom is cooking. Lizard, do you think a man who just watched his ex-fiancée bleed to death wants to join you for an intimate couple’s dinner??? Obviously not. Why wouldn’t she have done the polite thing and offered to skip family dinner and get some casual Chinese take-out with him instead? #ClearHeadedKeen

At the end of the episode Liz goes through a number of tantrums and revelations. First she asks Red for help finding Jolene and he says no. Presumably because he wants her to come to her own conclusions. But we know how Elizabeth Keen’s reasoning works (read: faulty), so she accuses Red of bringing Jolene into her life and says, “Before you, my marriage was great. Thank God I have Tom. At least I always know the truth with him. All you ever do is lie to me.” Red just says, “I’ve never lied to you.” (If that’s a true statement then he can’t be her father because he told her point blank that he wasn’t.) God, Liz — I want to punch you in the face. Wake up and smell the lying psychopath. He’s not your coworker, he’s your husband!! “Have fun with your project,” she spits as she storms out of the room. He is still working on the same metal device.

Then she goes home to Tom and he brings up “Jolene’s apartment” a.k.a. his hideout. He actually asks about her beating — or his beating her, rather. How sick is this guy? She tells him that she was knocked down and he goes, “The thought of someone doing that to you… some stranger…” while stroking her face. My skin was crawling off my body.

But then as Tom goes to get a bottle of wine for Liz to drown herself in, she checks her email and finds the photos from the crime scene at Tom’s warehouse. One picture in particular shows what was in the trash can and guess what it was? The Uncle Flippo toy she had given Tom that morning.

And right then comes the bolt of lightning. After all this time, after all the clues, this is the final one that clicks it all into place for Liz. Tom is a spy and a killer. Tom is the person that his fake passports and money said he was. Tom is the person that Red said he was. Tom is not at all who she thought he was. “After two years of marriage, I know that face means you’re upset,” he says looking at her. All I heard was, “You slept with a lying psycho-killer for two years.”

She tries to put on a show and cover her facial expression, and he must have bought it because the next thing you know she’s out of there and knocking on Red’s door. Red was expecting her. He places a shiny wooden music box from the 1940s on the table in front of her, the thing he’s been working on all day, and it plays a song she knows from her childhood. She recalls the flashes of fire and smoke from her earliest memories the same flashbacks we’ve seen before of someone in a black coat carrying a stuffed rabbit through a burning house. Her father used to hum her this song when she was having nightmares, Liz says as she breaks down crying. “You spent days building that damn thing. You knew about the song, about my father. You knew I’d find out the truth and you wanted me…”

Red finishes for her: “To know that everything is okay. You are going to be okay.”

Television, does it get any better than this?

Episode Recaps

The Blacklist - Season 2
The Blacklist

James Spader is Raymond "Red" Reddington, a mastermind criminal who teams up with the FBI.

type
  • TV Show
seasons
  • 8
rating
genre
network
  • NBC
stream service

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