The Blacklist: Redemption recap: 'Whitehall'
So what is Whitehall (other than the most talked about line item since your office’s Party committee officially got a margarita machine added to the budget)? Why, it’s not a thing but a dudeof course! And what’s Dr. Dude have that’s so important? Why, he cracked quantum computing, of course! And what is quantum computing? Why it’s… something about the way computers store information… and ones and zeros spinning in different directions… and it’s totally revolutionary!
Listen, I’m aware quantum computing is, theoretically, a thing, and that to some people binary bits transitioning into quantum bits is not a bunch of mumbo-jumbo — but it’s also not much of a reveal for something we’ve been chasing for weeks. The Blacklist: Redemption has a lot going for it: a good cast, interesting characters, the ability to repurpose the Ocean’s Eleven soundtrack, all that fun spy stuff, and even more fun spy stuff, this time featuring a split-screen and funky gadgets…
But it is not sticking this serialized landing. At one point, Tom Keen tells Howard Hargrave — who is totally not crazy, he totally promises — that he has a million questions for him regarding a random personal history nugget he just offered up; Howard responds, “And I’ve got a million answers when this is all over.” That’s what it’s starting to feel like Redemption is doing to us: Like Howard, it’s dragging us along, asking us to trust it even though time is thinning out what little evidence there ever was that we should. Much as Howard is not a character I’ve come to trust (or like very much), this eyebrow-raise of an answer to the question Redemption has been drawing out for weeks isn’t making me trust that next week’s clash will tie this all up into one riveting package. But if it does, this is what you need to know…
Their Mission Should They Choose to Accept It: Whitehall
So, Scottie knows that Tom is her son because Howard told her, but Tom doesn’t know she knows… got it? Tom finally makes a visit back home to his beloved wife Lizzie (spy baby Agnes was presumably out on spy business) to tell her that Scottie has Howard and he needs the FBI’s help getting him back. Liz rightfully asks, “And you trust him more than her?” For some reason, he does. He also reminds Liz, “Both my father and Reddington say that I will never find out what she’s up to if she knows who I am.”
Too late, buddy, she’s on to you! When Tom gets back to the New York office, he’s informed Scottie needs him in her office on urgent matters. And the second you see her stroking that favorite beach picture from the trip he disappeared, you know this won’t go well. Facing away from him, she waxes darkly poetic about the moment she realized he was missing, not because of a sound, but because of a maternal closeness that can’t be explained — DRAMATIC CHAIR TURN — “that’s how I felt about you, even when I didn’t know why.” She tells Tom/Christopher she’s been searching for him, and now that she’s finally found him, he’s broken her heart.
Tom, perhaps in some sort of childhood regression, whines, “You’re telling me one thing and he’s telling me something else. I don’t know what to believe!” I dunno Tom, maybe sit down and sketch out a few questions you’d like to ask instead of just accepting what everybody tells you. But I understand it’s a complicated situation. See, Tom believes his dad that Scottie is up to no good, but he has no idea what that no good is. So when Scottie begs him to tell her what he knows about Whitehall, he has nothing to tell her — because he has no idea what Whitehall is, just that it was some mysterious line item Scottie kept from Howard, so that must mean she’s a Russian doppel-spy bent on destroying national security.
On the other hand, Scottie tells Tom that the matter of national security is preventing Howard from getting to Whitehall. Tom continues to insist that he doesn’t know anything, so Scottie tells him, “I’m not sure if that’s true, but I guess we’ll find out.” Which is to say, she has Solomon take him into a room and beat the crap out of him with a sock full’a pool balls. But bloodying Tom up can’t make him any less clueless about this situation — in fact, it seems to make him go the other way. All of a sudden he’s all, “She betrayed her child, she betrayed her husband, and she’s going to betray you, too,” to Solomon. There’s not much time to ponder that though, because Tom is suddenly charging Solomon with his metal chair and, as he is the world’s foremost superspy, has himself uncuffed and Solomon cuffed to a pipe in a matter of moments.
Meanwhile, Scottie is rubber-baby-buggy-bumpers’in it as Agent Cooper — COOPS IN DA HOUSE!!! — heads to the private medical facility to bust her not-dead husband out, and her no-longer-missing son runs rampant through her offices trying to escape. Scottie Hargrave is not doing so well right now. So she takes matters in her own hands; after Tom has taken down upwards of 30 people on his own, he rounds a final corner to find Scottie in a red dress, gun trained on him. There’s a lot of “What are you gonna do, shoot your own son/mother/husband” talk that goes around this episode, and it all starts here.
Scottie tells Tom he let his delusional father get in his head, and Tom, proving her wrong, starts very rationally screaming, “You’re a cold, heartless killer who would murder her own son if it got her what she needed!” He puts his head against her gun and asks if Whitehall is worth killing him: “Then do it!” But it’s all a play to get the gun away from her. They both end up on the ground, and it’s Tom who ends up with a gun trained on his mother now. More, “What are you gonna do, shoot your mother,” but this time Tom is ready with a quippy comeback: “No, I’m not like you. I guess I take after my father.” BURN!
Speaking of Tom’s father, Cooper took Howard into FBI custody because the medical facility had kept him over three days without his consent or a court order. And somehow FBI custody turns into Howard getting free rein to go meet up with Tom in a comic book store because for some reason everyone trusts Howard implicitly — it must be the way he’s always making complete sense and being so transparent with his plans, motivations, and intentions.
Even more surprising? Next on Howard’s free-roam agenda: Radio Shack. He tells Tom they’re going to build a satellite dish to hack into the Artax network (Blacklist: Original Recipe reference!). Since he designed the servers, he knows — and only he knows — that there’s a backdoor they can hack into. While they construct this satellite atop a roof, using superglue and double-sided tape and fun montage footage, Howard finally reveals a little of what motivated him to create Halcyon and why he’s fighting so hard against Scottie. Growing up in Warsaw, he saw America as the land of opportunity, and he “wanted to be a part of that, wanted to protect it.” He tells Tom, “We have to stay vigilant if we don’t want to lose the things we hold most dear.”
But that’s all Tom gets for now, because they have to stay vigilant. Howard uses an algorithm to find any unusual expenditures, tracks a mystery cargo transport, and finds that the crate was delivered to a factory in West Hill. They assume that this mystery thing is Whitehall, but they’re not the only ones making assumptions — DuMont immediately sees that their system has been hacked, and Scottie knows exactly who it is and exactly where they’ll be headed. She casually mentions to the group that Howard is alive and he’s against her with Tom, who is their long-lost son. Halcyon really needs an H.R. department.
Scottie sends Solomon, Nez, and a team after Howard and Tom, but they still have a small lead. They get to the location where they tracked the crate’s delivery, break into the warehouse, and find…a laboratory? With a man being held inside a Plexiglas room covered wall to wall in equations? Howard seems to recognize the man and immediately goes to let him out of the room, and Tom, finally asking some questions, points his gun at the both of them and demands to know who the man is…
“Whitehall! I am Richard Whitehall.”
Howard tells him they’ll get him out, but he says he has to get his research: “The code is a breakthrough in theoretical computation, superposition, and entanglement.” Yes, of course! Everything is making sense now. But there’s no time for Whitehall to explain how he has a blueprint for the prototype of whatever the hell he’s talking about, because Scottie’s people are there. Whitehall is taken by guards before he can get outside, but Howard and Tom get outside and immediately come face to face with Nez. Her allegiances have remained ambiguous all episode, but she seems truly startled to see Howard.
In her moment of weakness, Solomon appears — he has no such weakness. With his gun trained on them, he instructs Nez to get the bag of research. She checks it, tells him it’s in there, then hands the bag to Solomon. Then she shows him the ring she’s just pulled from the explosive device she apparently placed in the bag. Sneaky, sneaky.
In the hubbub, the newly formed team of Howard, Tom, and Nez escapes to a place where Howard can adequately explain what we’ve been waiting for weeks to hear: what nefarious business Scottie is getting up to with Whitehall. Howard explains that Whitehall has cracked quantum computing — and y’know what, I’m just going to quote Howard on this one: “Traditional computers store information in bits which can represent a 1 or a 0. Quantum computing takes advantage of quantum particles by spinning in two different directions at once. Meaning they can represent both a 1 and a 0 at the same time, making them exponentially faster than today’s machines.”
Have you picked your jaw up off the floor yet? Should you not be connecting all these dots, Howard further explains that with this kind of speed, Scottie could decrypt any communication in seconds, blackmail anyone she wanted to, hack anything she wanted to: “The woman would be unstoppable.” They have to get back on the inside of Halcyon, and since they’ve already used their ticket through the backdoor, Howard says the only way in is through the front.
Cue Howard Hargrave, very much alive, giving a press conference in front of the Halcyon building. He tells the world what he’s been telling Tom all along: Scottie convinced the board he was not of sound mind and tried to crash his plane and make it look like an accident, so he faked his own death. He plans to bring evidence of this to the authorities, but he knows Scottie’s world-renowned defense attorneys will be able to drag this out for months, maybe even years. He assures the cameras that the country cannot wait that long: “So I will do everything in my power to take back the company that I created.”
“I know you’re watching, honey. And I’m coming for you.”
A Few Loose Ends:
I think maybe everyone on this show is a villain?
“Look on the bright side: When I’m done with you, no one will ever say, ‘You know he’s more than just a pretty face.'” It’s gonna take more than a few pool balls to mess up that handsome mug, Solomon.
What is happening with this Kat/Trevor/Scottie story line? He has to end up being some kind of spy-rostitute, right? This isn’t just for character-building is it?
Tom, while cuffing Solomon to a pipe: “Why can’t we just be friends?” Solomon: “You’re my best friend!”
Was the blueprint for the prototype in that bag Nez blew up? I couldn’t tell if she was bluffing.