The Blacklist: Redemption recap: 'Hostages'
Howard's still not dead, Tom is still probably Scottie's son, and Scottie finally knows about all of it
Scottie Hargrave is a potentially deranged villain; Howard Hargrave is a paranoid man with a mental illness and an office not unlike John Nash’s own doodle-space. For most of The Blacklist: Redemption‘s series run, we’ve been waiting for one of these things to prove true, with the natural assumption being that the other would then be proven untrue. Thursday’s episode does some subtle work toward suggesting that Scottie’s ulterior Halcyon motives and Howard’s wild-eyed paranoia might not be so mutually exclusive after all.
After all, the one person who has seemed to be the dividing line between their mysterious missions is also the person who connects them: Tom, as we’re reminded tonight. Last we left him, he had nearly told Scottie he was her long-lost son until he spotted proof in her office that Howard was maybe not as bonkers as he’d thought. So he cracked Scottie’s secret code that Howard had told him about, and it led him right to… a very alive Howard being found by Scottie. Great job, Tommy-boy, you’ve managed to piss off both of your maybe-parents, and you don’t even have a rebellious drunken night or girl in your room to show for it.
What he has is a ticking time bomb on his hands; Scottie has Howard, who Tom now believes to be right about… whatever mysterious thing it is Howard thinks Scottie is up to. And if Scottie has Howard, it’s only a matter of time until she traces him back to Tom, who has been lying to her, spying on her, and secretly being her son since he first abandoned his family (more on that later!) to work for her company. Add to all of that, Halcyon’s mission-of-the week is a hostage situation at the hands of a coupl’a sociopaths, and Tom is having himself what you might call a stressful work week!
Their Mission Should They Choose To Accept It: Hostages
The episode opens on a father, mother, and son being abducted in the middle of a rural road, even with a driver and security traveling with them. The people who take them are professionals, further proven when James Burton, the man in charge of the high-powered Lang family’s insurance, shows up in Scottie’s office. The Langs are being held for ransom by Diego Rocha, a retired Brazilian intelligence agent and current kidnap-and-ransom professional awful person. Rocha has made clear that if the feds become involved, the Langs will be killed, so Mr. Burton has come to Halcyon: “It’s on you to get them back. No pressure.”
Indeed, Scottie puts aside the pressure to show up to Howard’s bedside in full concerned-wife act. Just as Scottie is saying, “We’re going to get you help,” Howard is telling her, “I know who you are and I know what you’ve done.” As she continues to talk to about how they’ll get him the appropriate treatment, Howard tells her that he knows about Whitehall, knows she tried to have him killed — pretty much everything but the fact that he’s been working with their son she thinks is dead. He also makes multiple comments about her caloric intake, which I will deem weird but probably not of note.
Though it’s still unclear what Scottie is up to and if Howard is even right about, it seems pretty certain that she harbors no good will for him, unlike his son, who is on the other side of things trying to bust his dad out of his maybe-mom’s grips. Knowing her devotion to Howard, Tom decides to confide in Nez that he is indeed alive and needs their help. Nez quickly finds out that Howard is being kept in a private medical facility with major security, and just as quickly, Tom is tasing a dude in the parking lot, stealing his ID badge, and stuffing him in the trunk of his car. Tom Keen, superspy!
Inside, Howard is immediately agitated by his attempted rescue, saying, “The most important thing is that she trusts you!” But Tom retaliates back, “I’m helping you, Dad,” and Howard seems momentarily touched into submission (or sanity?) even though he’s shown little to no paternal instincts toward Tom thus far. Tom uses the badge to get through each door as they make their way toward an exit, but soon the man is discovered inside the car trunk outside and his ID badge is deactivated, and their only way out is the roof. Easy enough for superspy Tom Keen, but Howard insists Tom must go on without him: “Remember Whitehall — she has to tell you about Whitehall!”
Say what you will about Howard (I say, he’s kind of whiny and annoying), but the man is focused. And say what you will about Tom (I miss his Warby Parkers), but the man knows how to THROW HIMSELF OFF A ROOF.
He’s in a hurry, after all, because it’s up to him to make the initial meeting with Rocha to negotiate terms for the Langs’ release. But once Tom takes a tranq dart to the chest and is transported to the secret meeting, it quickly becomes clear that Rocha doesn’t care about the $5 million insurance policy that Mr. Burton has assured for the Langs’ safe return. No, he wants a safe return in exchange for a safe return: a member of his team, Carlos Cantara, was taken into custody by the FBI during a botched kidnapping job, and Rocha wants him back.
Some research reveals that Cantara was taken in by Rocha as a child and raised like a son to him… like a son he made part of his kidnap-and-ransom team at age 14, but still, this is an act of family devotion for Rocha, putting the Langs’ life even more in danger. You may be noticing a continued theme in Blacklist: Redemption of pseudo-children — Tom, the journalist neighbor of Scottie’s, Nez, now Cantara — and you will continue to notice Tom’s wild ‘n crazy family dynamics being mirrored in Cantara’s.
Scottie calls in a favor with her pal Heather Abernathy at the DOJ to see about getting Cantara released from prison in the name of saving three other lives, but Abernathy says that’s not possible; not because they can’t comply with ransom, but because Cantara isn’t a prisoner — he’s an informant. It turns out that Cantara wasn’t captured by the FBI; he got in touch with them and turned himself over during the intentionally botched job because he wanted a way out of the (pseudo) family business. Rather than continuing to kidnap and kill people for money, he’s been living a modest life under an alias in Queens.
Rocha chooses this time to call and inform Halcyon that if they don’t have Cantara to him in four hours, he’s going to start shooting Langs. Mr. Burton suggests that they offer the ransom money they would have otherwise paid to Rocha to Cantara instead in exchange for his cooperation. What he actually says is, “If Cantara agrees, he’s the hero of this story — it would be a pleasure to make him rich,” which seems a little… casual considering the circumstances. Stick that in your pocket.
Despite the dire circumstances, Scottie has to go check on Howard after she hears that there’s been “an incident” (y’know, that thing where her maybe-son tried to break out her not-dead-husband from his fake hospitalization). She decides this is a good time to figure out who in Halcyon Howard has been working with, and also a good time to tie some wires around Howard’s head and start shocking the hell out of him while acting sympathetic: “I don’t blame you… your illness is what makes you think I’m the enemy.” Okay, but could it also be that shock torture? But even a few good shocks won’t get Howard to admit what all the paper he burned in his apartment contained or who he’s working with. Without any answers, Scottie tells him, “Whitehall — I don’t think you have the capacity to understand what it could be.” She also gets the security footage from the facility’s parking lot at the time of Howard’s attempted escape on her way out. Ruh-roh.
For now, the image is too blurry to make out who tried to break Howard out, and it’s a good thing, because Tom has lives to save. He and Solomon show up at Cantara’s door and find that he now has a wife and child, and while that’s one reason to stay as far away from Rocha as possible, it’s also what they ultimately use to get him to comply. As he’s refusing to help, his wife comes out and says that he will be haunted by his past until Rocha is stopped. Then she negotiates the $1 million they offer up to $4 million. I like Cantara’s wife, and so does Solomon: “Mazel Tov, Carlos, you married up.”
Nez outfits one of Cantara’s shirt buttons with a discreet tracking device, and even though they insist it’s impossible to detect, he’s terrified of seeing Rocha again. The instructions specify that Tom must escort Cantara to the agreed upon location completely by himself, but Scottie has Solomon and Nez set up with sniper rifles in the woods where Rocha couldn’t possible see them. And yet, when his car pulls up, he calls Tom’s phone and makes it clear that if the two snipers don’t put down in three seconds, he’ll kill the Langs and their son. Scottie doesn’t understand how he could possible know they were there, but orders them to retreat.
And sure enough, everyone gets out of their cars, and in split-screen, the Langs hurry toward Tom, and Cantara makes his way toward Rocha’s embrace: “I told you I’d get you back.” It seems like everything might work out fine until Cantara gets in the car, and Rocha tells him, “The day you were arrested was one of the worst days of my life. But nothing compared to when I found out you had betrayed me — my son.” HOW DOES THIS MAN KNOW EVERYTHING?!
Well, that would be because this man is not the boss. He’s working for… the weaselly insurance guy, Mr. Burton! Indeed, Burton has been having his clients kidnapped, happily paying the ransom they hired his firm to be able to pay if necessary, and then pocketing a large chunk of that ransom to do whatever it is that complete and total sociopaths do with millions of dollars. And when Cantara is delivered to him, he’s very excited to show him just how disappointed he is that Cantara betrayed them, and also that he’s a total lunatic. He suspends Cantara three feet in the air by his wrists and starts talking about the ways that cows are bled out for slaughter. Rocha looks concerned with how things are transpiring, even more so when Burton cuts some artery in Cantara’s ankle that starts just pouring blood while telling him all the ways he’s going to torture him.
It’s awful. So thank goodness this show is a silly, silly ride through Silly Town because do you know how Halcyon tracks down Cantara? Well, that little Lang boy took Rocha’s cell phone before making the switch, of course, though our limited time with him had shown no affinity for pickpocketing before. Who cares! Through intel on the phone, and a nifty ultrasonic frequency device from DuMont, the whole Halcyon espionage gang busts into Burton’s literal slaughterhouse to get Cantara and multiple other hostages out of there in an excellent sequence of espionage.
But suddenly, as Tom is escorting Cantara out of the building, Burton busts out of a door with a gun trained on the pair. And even more suddenly, Burton is shot in the back by Rocha: “My son.” The relationship between a pseudo-parent who’s been betrayed by a pseudo-child is a complicated one, but those pseudo-family-ties run deep. Or, at least, let’s hope so…
DuMont has managed to render the blurry footage from the parking lot surveillance, and though he doesn’t know what it’s for, he hesitates to tell Scottie what he’s found. She insists, “The person on this tape is a sworn enemy of me and this company,” and he begrudgingly uploads a surveillance photo of superspy Tom Keen to the big screen. Scottie is, shall we say, shook.
Next thing we know, she’s calling Solomon as he packs up his sniper rifle and telling him she has a job for him, and him alone: “[Howard] has an associate I need you to eliminate.”
As “Low” by Gentle plays — “Careful, measure, tortured, stable / It doesn’t have to end this way / But this is where it stands” — we see Solomon readying his weapon while Scottie tells Howard that there’s no one else who could have tricked her into hiring her own personal Judas: “Something about him, he reminded me of you. Maybe it’s just the familiar scent of deception.” Howard laughs because isn’t your wife saying ironic things when she’s most certainly about to kill your son she doesn’t know is your son fun? But his face falls when she says she’s given Solomon the order to kill him. Howard says she can’t do that, and she says there’s nothing that could stop her.
“How about this: He’s your son,” Howard says.
A Few Loose Ends:
And, yeah, that does it. There’s a little more build-up of Solomon having his finger on the trigger just in time for the phone call, and Howard assuring Scottie he’ll tell her everything about where Tom/Christopher has been and how he found him, but Scottie calls it off.
“I swear sometimes…” “You just wanna put me in the crosshairs and pull the trigger? Believe me my brother, the feeling is mutual.” Ha!
The final shot of the episode is a highly emotional Scottie crying by herself over the Tom situation. And while I liked the initial reveal that Scottie might be a Russian spy doppel-mother and wanted it to be true, it’s seeming less and less possible with the amount of attachment that she continues to show to the idea of Christopher, which makes that big twist seem less and less successful.
That driver getting shot through the head was gruuuuesoooome — glad we didn’t have to watch Tom meet that end.
“Yes, I’ll go out with you. I’m allergic to shellfish, pick me up at 8:30.”
Nez bought drugs again; Nez quit drugs again.
The Blacklist: Redemption