Blindspot recap: Rich's past comes back to haunt the team
We waited long enough for Zapata and Reade to once again come into contact with each other for the first time since the former fled the country with Blake by her side, so it’s a welcome sight to see “Naughty Monkey Kicks at Tree” immediately put us back inside Reade’s apartment, where Zapata has a gun pointed at his head. Her and Claudia have come for access to the FBI’s servers on orders from Madeline Burke. They tie him to a chair, and Claudia begins going through the kitchen drawers, assessing what she can use as a weapon of torture like she’s Bruce Willis in Pulp Fiction. She eventually settles on a a knife and carving fork, heating up the latter on the stovetop to make for a grisly weapon.
Reade, not wanting to have a hot carving fork applied to his face, tries to talk some sense into Zapata. He’s confused and hurt, and he wants to know what happened to her. So, she lays it out. She says she worked her way up through the ranks of the NYPD, FBI, and CIA, but all she found was corruption and people looking out for themselves. Now, she’s doing the same, looking after herself before she gets burned by the CIA or FBI. When Reade starts talking back, she knocks him out with a quick pistol-whip; a moment of anger, or a way for Zapata to make sure Reade doesn’t get tortured? The blow allows Zapata some time to think and see if she can get into the FBI servers. Whether she’s truly still on Reade’s side or not, she clearly trying to protect him to a certain extent.
Back at the office, another tattoo case is getting underway without Reade, who Patterson says is taking a sick day (Zapata sent an email from his computer). This tattoo, which is the outline of a scythe, leads the team to a notorious assassin named, you guessed it, the Scythe. They bring Keaton in for backup, and he says the CIA believes the Scythe has Russian connections because he’s sabotaged some foreign dealings in the past, specifically involving oil deals with Saudi Arabia. They get a hit on his whereabouts, which is Clovis Labs, a place where they do all kinds of different medical research.
When the team shows up, the Scythe has already executed his hit, poisoning a doctor with a needle. The team does capture him, though, and when they bring him in for questioning, they get quite the surprise. The elevator doors open, the Scythe sees Rich, and he loses his mind. “It’s you! You’re the reason I do what I do,” he says, which flatters and worries Rich all at the same time. Rich can’t figure out why this international assassin knows him… until he begins to recite his manifesto. As it turns out, Rich was involved in quite a few scams in his criminal days, and one of those scams involved tricking environmentalists into giving him money to “offset their carbon footprint thought things like planting trees.” Of course, Rich didn’t do any of that, but apparently his radical environmentalist manifesto lived on. He created an algorithm that would crawl the web for environmental-tinged writing from authors and journalists and such, and then create a word soup of hippie-dippie nonsense that, apparently, inspired domestic terrorism in the time since Rich forgot all about it.
After doing a little digging, Patterson finds out that the Scythe has ties to Daniel Katzovich, the leader of the Environmental Liberation Movement, a group known for a number of terrorist attacks in the name of saving the planet. The doctor who was killed was part of the movement too, and was stockpiling white phosphorus, a chemical that starts fires that can’t be put out. So when the Scythe says New York will burn to the ground, he means it. The movement is planning an attack, and the team doesn’t have much time to figure out how it’s happening. (Recap continues on next page)
Mixed in with this terrorist plot is Jane desperately trying to figure out Shepherd’s location. She’s narrowed it down to a few CIA black sites, and she’s got Violet doing some searches. But she’s running out of time — she’s slowly dying from the poison, and the potential cure revealed in this episode won’t work on her — so she decides to speed things up by simply asking Keaton to visit Shepherd. She tells him that she’s dying, and that she needs to see her one more time. Keaton initially refuses, but when Jane invokes a favor she’s owed, he says they’ll go the next day and that they’ll be back by the afternoon. You have to admit, it’s rather hilarious to watch an FBI and CIA agent makes plans during the height of a chemical crisis.
While Reade eventually cracks back at the apartment after Claudia uses Zapata against him, threatening to kill her if he doesn’t give up the password for the servers, the team tracks down Daniel’s home, which acts as the central hub for the ELM. They use Rich to get inside, putting him undercover as his environmental huckster, the one who inspired this movement in the first place. His presence is enough to get him and Weller inside the self-sustaining commune — it’s a giant beachside house, just so we’re clear — but they can’t find the phosphorus. Instead, Weller finds a bunch of empty barrels and bunch of empty boxes that used to have drones in them. That’s, um, not great. The ELM is planning an aerial chemical attack, and the team has no idea where or when it’s happening.
Rich embraces his inner spy and manages to snag Daniel’s phone, which gives Weller just enough time to copy some of the data. Before he can get it all, though, they’re burned. Weller and Rich make a run for it, while Daniel puts his team into action, saying they need to get the drones off before the police find out about their plot. Weller and Jane escape just fine, but Rich hops in the bed of Daniel’s truck in order to track his location. The only problem? Daniel’s set off an EMP, which means the comms are down and Rich has no way to communicate with the team.
All he can do is buy everyone some time. After a failed call with an OnStar employee — a great plan, but too easily mistaken for a prank call — Rich embodies his radical environmentalist persona as best he can, killing time by questioning Daniel’s logic of burning a city full of garbage to the ground. Daniel doesn’t care, though, he just wants to end the life of all the “over-consumers.” He doesn’t get that chance, as the team, working on the bit of information they got off Daniel’s phone, shows up just in time to stop the attack. The operation doesn’t go down smoothly however, as Keaton gets shot and ends up in a medically induced coma, which kind of ruins Jane’s planned road trip.
But Jane doesn’t need that. Keaton gave her enough information that she can realistically figure out which black site is housing Shepherd, and she relays that information to Violet. As the episode comes to an end, Violet is working on getting Shepherd out, Reade has told the whole team about his ordeal, and Zapata kills Claudia in front of Madeline Burke. “What was that all about?” says Madeline with the cool tenor of a true supervillain. Zapata says she did some digging and found out that Claudia was an MI-6 agent, and Madeline thanks her for doing the deed, saying she’d been told there was perhaps a mole in her ranks.
Zapata has to be that mole. Does Keaton know it? Will he live to tell the FBI the truth? Or is Zapata truly turned? My money’s on her working deep undercover, but no matter what the truth is, she’s likely in over her head and running out of friends to rely on.