The Blacklist recap: 'Marko Jankowics'
That’s a two-word sentence of Biblical proportions when it comes to The Blacklist, and hearing it spoken by Red to Dembe in during the first hour of Friday’s two-part run was a jitter-inducing thrill. When I heard that two episodes would air this week, I assumed that the first hour would be something of a standard Blacklister-of-the-week episode that led into the second hour where we finally got to the good stuff like figuring out what the hell Reddington is up to, and—oh I don’t know—his true identity. To my memory, that’s how many of these two-parters have gone before…
That is not how things went on Friday night. This first hour was a w-i-l-d ride! Within the first 20 minutes alone, Liz has already plotted to kidnap someone, killed someone while very much not on FBI duty, and watched another person die in Ressler’s living room.
The feverish happenings of this hour are made all the more surprising due to the fact that this episode revolved around Liz and Ressler, not exactly two people who are usually at the forefront of creating hectic, adrenaline-inducing vibes. But with Red curtailed to a prison cell or a court room for most of season 6, it’s given the opportunity for other characters to show up and show out a little more (as well as allowing Red to really flex his intellectual muscles; at one point in the next episode, Judge Wilkins literally opens the floor for him to “testify in narrative form,” so get ready for that”).
Even with spotlight off of him though—in the end, what’s happening on The Blacklist always orbits fully around the Concierge of Crime himself, doesn’t it? At the end of this episode, once Other Daughter of Raymond Reddington has been kidnapped, witnessed her sister kill a number of Hungarian guards, and most likely had permanent damage done to her poor eyeball, Jennifer tells Liz she has to be done with all this. “Growing up, I was always so afraid of what he might do to me and my mother,” Jennifer tells Liz: “And now I’m equally afraid of what he’s making me want to do to him.”
Watching Liz operate in this first hour, the Red jumped out. Liz tells Jennifer that they’re doing what they need to do to survive, but after going deeper into this world than she’s ever gone before, Jennifer doesn’t see it that way; she thinks Liz is just getting used to it.
As Lis has strayed further toward figuring out the truth of this imposter’s identity—she’s also shown more and more how much of him she holds inside of her.
MARKO JANKOWICS, NO. 58
I touted last week’s bug-filled cold open as surely one of the grossest things The Blacklist has ever done, and I’d like to go ahead and throw this one into the running as well. And things start out so nicely!
We see a pregnant woman and her husband who have been waiting in a customs line for an hour get escorted to the front because the customs officer has an expecting wife of his own and wants to do something nice. The cute couple tells him they’re taking a trip from Montreal to D.C. for their babymoon. But when we see them next outside of the airport, they don’t seem like they’re headed out for a nice relaxing time…
Oh that’s right, it’s warehouspital™ time, and that is not a baby inside that baby bump. It’s also not some pillow stuffed inside a dress, lest you get any ideas that this won’t make your stomach turn; oh no, once the woman goes on the hospital table, the doctor opens up what look like very fresh stitches on her stomach and removes a plastic bladder full of drugs from her stomach. I will never look at boxed wine the same way again.
Elsewhere in DC, Liz has somehow tracked down the nurse that used to work for Hans Koehler, Marguerite Renard. She is Liz and Jennifer’s only lead on who could identify the imposter that took over Raymond Reddinton’s identity and Liz goes from 0 to 100 real fast talking about how that have to “get her.” Jennifer freaks out when she realizes Liz literally means they have to kidnap her to get the intel they need, but Liz tells her all she has to do is drive. Ultimately, that does not turn out to be entirely true…
Jennifer and Liz pull up on Renard walking her dog in a wealthy neighborhood and under the guise of asking directions, Liz forces Renard into the van at gunpoint. But when Jennifer starts to peel out, they’re immediately boxed in by an SUV, from which two guards jump out and start pulling the women from the car. Liz shoots the man who wrestles her to the ground right through the head, and the other man gets away with Jennifer and Renard.
If Liz feels bad about killing a civilian (a number of civilians!) this episode, she never mentions it. The next thing we know, she’s showing up at Ressler’s apartment with blood on her hands, and freaking out his new girlfriend Hannah. Liz whispers that she’s got a dead body in a stolen van in the parking garage, so Ressler’s like, Okay hon, a work thing’s come up, it’ll just be a few minutes!
If Ressler feels bad about aiding Liz in killing a number of civilians, he never mentions it. The righteousness of her cause to find the truth about Reddington is catching it seems, and she finally clues Ressler all the way in while the sit in the dead-body van. “So the bones in the duffel bag, the truth that Mr. Kaplan knew, the one that got Tom killed—it’s that Reddinton’s an imposter?” Ressler asks, summing all right up. Season 6 has felt a lot like a scavenger hunt for understanding, and I actually really liked this device wherein by wising Ressler up to the situation, we also got to have a check-in point of what Liz has accomplished so far in her search.
And boy, is she getting close. But also, her sister got kidnapped. So there’s that…
Ressler jumps right into action though, slicing off the dead guy’s fingerprint, running it at the empty Post Office in the middle of the night, and finding that he works for Mark Jancowics, a drug lord who specializes in creating pure LSD crystals: “one gram has a street value of almost $15,000, that’s $7 million a pound,” as Ressler tells it. So that means, the woman with the belly from the cold open? She was probably pregnant with about $50 million.
And now Jankowicz has Jennifer because, as it turns out, Marguerite Renard is his girlfriend, which would explain the fancy neighborhood and armed guard lookout. His assumption is that she works for the DEA and that’s why she would have been trying to push his girlfriend into a van in the dead of night. And you can’t really blame Jennifer, a pub owner, for not being quick on her feet under violent interrogation, but I do wish she could have kept her wits about her long enough to explain that the FBI agent who was accompanying her was off duty, and they were just attending to some personal family matters, really.
That truth eventually does come out though, and Jankowicz is not thrilled to hear from Jennifer that his girlfriend used to work for Hans Koehler, and his response isn’t pretty. So Ressler has the right idea when says they’re going to have to pull out the big guns to find Jennifer faster: Reddington.
Lizzie shows up to Red’s prison in the middle of the night and tells him that Jennifer has been kidnapped by Jankowicz. Red is surprised by a number of things, like the fact that Liz has been hanging out with Jennifer and that Jennifer, a non-drug-user is somehow involved with Eastern Europe’s number one purveyor of LSD. Liz insists that Jennifer just called her out of the blue tonight and said she was in trouble, and when she showed up to pick her up in Baltimore, things went south: one guy took Jennifer, and the other guy now resides (eternally, as it were) in her trunk…
Red knows something is up, but when Lizzie says she needs help—he helps. He uses the current tense environment I his prison to his advantage, telling a man with some gang trouble on his hands that he can help him out of a tough spot in exchange for some local Baltimore intel. When the man returns with the news that Jancowics does indeed own a house in Federal Hill where his girlfriend Marguerite Renard lives, Red gets a rare look of surprise on his face.
He calls Dembe (who he currently has on a mission to hunt down the address from last week’s bug-toxin business, but let’s save that for the next ep, shall we?) and tells him: “Elizabeth knows. She knows that I was once someone else; she doesn’t know who, but she’s looking for someone that could tell her.” Red tells Dembe that after he tells him how to locate Renard, and then says he’ll have to move fast because once they get off the phone, he’s going to give the same information to Liz; it’s the only way to save Jennifer’s life. This gives a nice, warm feeling of hope that perhaps there’s nothing Liz could do to make Red stop wanting to help her…
Sure, let’s go with that for now.
Red points Liz to one of Jancowics’s couriers that his prison informant told him about, Alexandra. Liz and Ressler track the girl down in the D.C. airport, and if you can believe this, she’s pregnant with a whole bunch of LSD. They take her back to Ressler’s apartment where, mid-interrogation, his girlfriend Hannah shows up again, and is like, Hey this bespoke living room interrogation of a pregnant girl doesn’t feel entirely FBI certified. Ressler gets her out of the apartment, but in the meantime, Alexandra has started going into shock.
While she was trying to get away in the airport, the girls fell down on her stomach, and now it seems the drugs have ruptured inside her body and she’s overdosing. Ressler cuts her stomach stitches open and yanks the bladder full of LSD out of the opening, but it’s too late—she dies in Ressler’s apartment. So, if you’re counting, that’s two bodies on Liz’s hands in less than 24 hours.
But perhaps it will all be worth it if they can get some truth out of this. In Canada, Jankowicz brings Renard into the room with poor Jennifer whose right eye now looks like a silver dollar, and asks if she ever worked for Hans Koehler. Renard looks terrified, but she admits that she did. Jankowicz is furious, saying that the FBI is after her, and now that means they’re after him too. About that time, FBI Agent Keen calls him from Alexandra’s phone a totally FBI-sanctioned trade of his dead drug mule and $50 million worth of product for Jennifer.
While Jankowicz is on the call, Renard up and decides to give Jennifer some info, perhaps seeing how much she risked to get to her in the first place. “I never spoke to Mr. Reddington or the woman who arranged for him to have the procedure,” Renard tells her. A woman, you say??? Renard says the woman was Russian, and when Jennifer asks if it was Katarina Rostova, Renard looks terrified, but she doesn’t confirm or deny.
Jankowicz agrees to the trade of Jennifer for his drugs, saying, “I make it a habit to avoid the FBI, but I get the impression you don’t want your colleagues to know about this any more than I do.” Oh, how right he is. In the garage where they all meet up, Jancowics marches Jennifer out to prove she’s alive, and when Ressler goes around back to get the LSD bladder, he tucks his gun underneath it. Good thing, because Jankwoicz starts to pull his own gun, saying that he can’t take the chance of them telling their FBI colleagues, but Ressler shoots him straight through the bag o’drugs, and Liz takes care of the rest of the guards before Jennifer can even blink.
So it’s no wonder that by the time they discover Renard is missing now and they’re back at square one, except with a stolen van literally full of bodies, Jennifer is feeling a little worn out. She tells Liz that she doesn’t think she can do this anymore. Liz assures her she can” “You’re like me! You’ll find a way to—” but where Liz says “survive,” Jennifer fills in: “To what? Get used to it.” Jennifer doesn’t want to get used to killing and kidnapping in order to find out the truth about a man she’d rather stay as far away as possible.
Liz makes no such claims. But she tells Jennifer that this will end—and when it does, she’ll find her.
A FEW LOOSE ENDS:
- The last we see of Renard, Dembe has her in the jet, and Red is telling him over the phone that now that Renard has mentioned Katarina’s name, Elizabeth will stop at nothing to find her: “You know what has to be done.”
- Listen, I’m trying to be chill about this, but what is happening with Liz and Ressler? Are they vibing, or are they just really good at murderin’ criminals together???
- This new girlfriend of Ressler’s was indeed the date he hired from AlterEgo a few episodes ago, but once she saw how he sometimes has blood-soaked women show up at his apartment, she decided it was time to see other people,
- The glorious return of Vonte! There was more happening with Red’s political play in prison, but with two hours’ worth of plot to get through, the main thing you need to know is… Red shanked someone with a burning hot meat thermometer tonight…but he did it for justice.
- Aram walking into the Post Office to tell Liz and Ressler all about his exciting weekend on Monday morning was just perfect…
James Spader is Raymond "Red" Reddington, a mastermind criminal who teams up with the FBI.