The Blacklist recap: Arioch Cain
Code Red, Code Red: Raymond Reddington is in over his head.
Sorry, I rhyme when I’m nervous, and I’m nervous because all in one episode, Red calls someone “better” than himself, tells Ressler that he’s failing, and gets completely and totally duped by a man in a wig wearing a turtleneck. I felt sure that Red knew something was up with Dembe’s “death” or that he had been working with Vargas all along… But no, Red might finally have just one-too-many balls in the air. Or maybe it’s just that he’s finally met his match in Mr. Solomon, a man who is more than willing to extort Red’s only two real weaknesses.
Last week’s episode raised the question, what does Elizabeth Keen really want? This week, the punctuation comes at the end of a query that this show has been underscoring since episode 1: What is Elizabeth Keen worth? Why is she worth Red’s obsession, the endless risks he’s taken for her well-being? Why was she worth being spied on by Tom, and then married by Tom, and then loved by Tom, and now protected by him? Why did Cooper perjure himself for her? Why does the entire FBI seem to think it’s okay to protect a wanted terrorist? What makes her worth that?
Tonight, we sort of get an answer: Very technically, it seems that Elizabeth Keen is worth $700,390. And while she might be worth protecting to that select group of people — to the rest of the world, she’s worth killing.
ARIOCH CAIN, NO. 50
“Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked.” –Psalm 1:1
I don’t think I could have handled one more trip to the E.R. with one of Lizzie’s growing collection of gunshot victims. But I don’t know if I was pleased or shocked to see her apathetic stares as Red killed anyone and everyone who posed a threat to her tonight. I do know that being just as in the dark about Lizzie’s new moral compass as Lizzie is herself has made her a much more interesting character this season. The Blacklist has managed to base its entire season 3 plot around Lizzie, while making it more from the point of view of Red, simultaneously giving us more Spader and a reason to care about anyone but Spader/Red. That’s some feat. Red doesn’t believe that his main girl Liz walks in step with the wicked, of course. But he also killed, like, eight people tonight, so everyone’s moral compass is a little questionable around these parts. Lizzie’s inherent goodness is an area that Raymond Reddington and I tend to disagree on, and as it turns out, the rest of the Bitcoin-loving world has their hesitations, as well.
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Sure, some of their information is wrong (Masha Rostova), but some of it isn’t (Attorney General), but one way or another, someone has put a bounty on Elizabeth Keen’s head. Red finds out that a notorious vigilante named Wendigo is coming after Liz; he’s known for targeting people whom he deems unworthy (drink!) of society. Red goes to see Ressler at a Narcotics Anonymous meeting to ask for the FBI’s help in finding Wendigo. So Ressler, when faced with an international crime lord, makes no moves to arrest him, and then tasks his FBI team with protecting a suspected terrorist. Oh, that’s unfair; it’s like he tells Aram: “We’re not going after Wendigo to protect her, we’re going after him to find her.” Yeah…so you can protect her.
NEXT: Elizabeth Keen is not a terrorist…
But Ressler is under a lot of stress; right after defending his right to protect find Liz at the Post Office, he has to go defend her at a presidential commission for the Lizzie’s accused crimes — when pushed he says that she’s not a terrorist and that when “given a fair trial by a jury of her peers, there aren’t 12 people in America who wouldn’t agree with me.” The National Security Adviser, Laurel Hitchens, has also brought in the Director; he’s been absent for a while, but don’t worry: He’s just as slimy as ever. He calls all of the Cabal accusations nonsense, and Hitchens must believe him because by the end of the episode she’s given the Director and Ressler orders for the CIA and FBI to work together on bringing in Elizabeth Keen.
There’s no way this ends well, but it won’t matter if Lizzie’s dead. While Red was displaying totally inappropriate N.A. behavior, he also arranged transport for Liz, but Red is really not on his 18-steps-ahead game this episode. Wendigo is waiting for Liz, and he shoots many a bullet at her, but Liz manages to evade him and make it to the waiting arms of Red. I mean, seriously with that hug — did not see that coming! I guess all it takes is a few hours together in a wood-paneled storage container to make a gal totally come around to her weird father-figure/mentor/life-ruiner/guardian angel.
Samar finds a bullet with “Psalm 1:1” engraved on it, and through his weapons’ maker, Red and Lizzie track Wendigo down at his vigilante lair. An absolutely ludicrous roof chase ensues, in which Wendigo jumps off a small ledge and Liz stares at him in shock for 20 seconds before following, giving him enough time to make a running leap for the next building over and catch the side, leaving him dangling…and staring up at Red. He tells Red that there are more people coming for Lizzie and he can’t stop them. So, Red pushed him off the ledge to his death.
But killing Wendigo doesn’t make what he said untrue. Someone named Arioch Cain has put up a page for Lizzie on Deadnotalive.org — cue mine and Samar’s simultaneous scoff — and civilians have contributed over $700,000 for a crowdsourced bounty on her head. Aram tracks down the guy who runs the site and even does a kickass (well, Aram’s version of kickass) job of interrogating him, but it turns out that the page can’t be removed unless the person who created it takes it down. All someone has to do to collect the bounty is show proof that Liz is dead and use a unique identifier like Wendigo’s Bible bullets. So basically, anyone and everyone could be trying to kill Liz at this very moment, and since she refuses to tuck her blond hair up into her baseball cap, her murder seems imminent.
They can’t go back into hiding just yet, though, because Red tells Lizzie that he’s made contact with Dembe. But when he arrives at the meeting place their protocol dictated, it’s only Mr. Vargas there who tells him that Dembe didn’t make it out. Red says that they’ll “avenge this good man’s death” in a way that really had me thinking he was onto Pee-wee. But no, Red and Liz walk right into the airplane hangar that serves as Mr. Solomon’s trap. They’re forced to surrender to him, and before you know it, Liz is strapped to a table and Solomon is telling us what his whole deal is: “To do what I do well, I need my enemies to fear me. Every life that I take sends a message: Style counts. One must work slowly.” What he means is that he’s about to fillet Lizzie like a bottle-blond salmon.
NEXT: Whatcha gonna do when Dembe comes for you?
But after all their intimate moments together, this guy still hasn’t figured out that Dembe is the No. 1 stunner in this crew. And, even though he’s spent a lot of this series lurking in the shadows, the man knows how to enter a room. Just when things are looking truly dire for Liz and Red, Dembe stomps in with a gun in each hand, shoots everyone (except Solomon, who gets away), frees Liz, gives Red the sweetest post-murder hug, and immediately collapses, as if he’d saved everything left within himself to rescue his friends and once it was done, so was he. But our guy will be alright. He has to be. He’s Dembe!
But Liz is still in danger. Aram reports back to Red that the only way Lizzie’s kill page is coming down is if she is, in fact, killed. Red says that can be arranged, and even though a fleeting look of fear crosses Lizzie’s face, we all know what that means — they’ll fake it, and with the help of Mr. Kaplan, even the most reputable news sites are reporting it, which we see in a scene of a teenage girl coming downstairs to tell her dad that, “She’s dead!” Huh…that random family seems particularly invested in the death of Elizabeth Keen.
And that’s because — record scratch — Liz’s bounty page came from their house. But the dad isn’t Arioch Cain; the daughter is. Her mother was killed in one of the bombings ordered by the Cabal, which she believes was executed by Liz. But Liz tells her about how she also lost her mother when she was young. She swears up and down to the girl that she wasn’t responsible for the bombings, but that she’ll find the people who were. And so she takes the page down, canceling the bounty on Liz’s head.
But Liz is still very much a wanted woman. And her actions don’t seem to be getting any less wicked…
A Few Loose Ends:
- Tom’s poor little rich boy story line actually commandeered a number of scenes in this episode, but the gist is this: His new pal Asher is being extorted by some Russians, and those are the very Russians who are somehow involved with Karakurt. So Tom — excuse me, Matt Buckley — is going to take care of that little problem for Asher, one kill-shot at a time, with the intention of bringing the Russians, and Karakurt, right to him.
- Okay, who were they trying to play with that flash-forward?
- So…that 14-year-old girl with pink highlights is No. 50 on the Blacklist?
- “I couldn’t get past the requirement to believe in a power greater than myself.” Oh, Red.
- “You shot an elephant?” Lizzie is fine with all the human murder, but she would have to find a new Clyde to her Bonnie if Red had shot an elephant.
- Soooo, Samar really wants Liz to own up to her actions. And while I am totally in her boat on that, the fact that she’s the only known person on this show to have come into contact with Liz and not become convinced that she has golden feces probably means that something is up there.
- Who put Lizzie’s bounty page up? “Haters!” according to Aram.
James Spader is Raymond "Red" Reddington, a mastermind criminal who teams up with the FBI.