The Blacklist recap: Season 4, Episode 5
Despite their current rift, Red is finally upfront with Lizzie about his plan in this week’s Blacklister debriefing: The hematologist they found last week will get them to Kirk, but it’s the Blacklister they’re hunting for this week who will get Kirk to finally hand over baby Agnes. In fact, there are a lot of plainly stated truths flying around The Blacklist tonight — a rarity for this series, especially in season 4 when everyone is keeping something from someone. Namely, The Lizzie Problem™ (I don’t really have that trademarked… It’s patent pending, obviously).
It’s Lizzie herself who tells Red, “I’m in the middle, between you and Kirk, between Tom and Kirk. Can you at least admit how difficult that is?” But Red can’t, as he made up his mind a long time ago about Kirk. To Red, Kirk’s not Lizzie’s father, he’s a bad guy who only wants Agnes for her blood cells, etc. The difficulty with Lizzie — both in this Kirk scenario and as a recurring frustration with her character — is she never makes up her mind. She’s in a permanent state of toeing the line, ready to jump one way or another to whomever has the more convincing argument at the time: Red, Tom, Kirk, her ghost=mom, a file handed over by a random Russian man — whenever she feels like she’s finally getting a bit of the truth she so craves.
And I can understand why. It’s surely not easy to trust when you’re always un-repressing memories you’re not sure are real and finding devices that could start World War III in your stuffed bunny from childhood…a stuffed bunny that was burned in a fire during which you maybe shot your dad. Oh, and while we’re on the topic of Liz’s dad, it kind of seems like any man around the age of 50 could very well be him. I mean, I get it. But what I also know — and what Red knows — is that sooner or later, Lizzie is going to have to take herself out of the middle and pick a side. Elizabeth Keen may be able to toe the line all the time, but Masha Rostova is already smack dab in the center of this race.
THE LINDQUIST CONCERN, NO. 105
The episode opens on a you’re-in-trouble-pal trifecta: a storage unit, a mystery prototype of some device from which multicolored liquids bubble, and a sketchy man in a double-breasted suit. Said sketchy man is meeting with the inventor of said prototype and tells said inventor he’s about to become a very rich man. He then asks him who else knows about the device, poisons him with a champagne toast, and electrifies him to death in his own storage locker. So rude.
But the tiny little fish works: The doctor admits he should be seeing Kirk for a weekly appointment within the next 24 hours, but he won’t know where until Kirk calls him. Liz says she’s sticking by Red’s side until they safely extract Agnes, so while they wait, the Post Office works on The Lindquist Concern. They learn the most recent genius-inventor to mysteriously show up dead is our friend from the intro, Omar. They head to his office, where his coworkers divulge he mostly kept to himself, though he was clearly excited about an independent project he’d been recently working on. They also say if the FBI is going to get any useful information, they’ll have to talk to Omar’s wife…
Omar’s wife, who’s currently watching a suicide note she didn’t write print from Omar’s computer in their home basement. Man, that one creeped me out. And the note was, of course, courtesy of the creep who killed Omar, back to fake the suicide of the only other person who knew about his invention… Or so he thought. When Ressler and Samar make it to Omar’s house to find his wife dead and his lab wiped clean, they find one other thing: a photo strip tucked inside a book featuring Omar and one of his female coworkers looking mighty cozy.
NEXT: Patently awful behavior…
As it turns out, the coworker does know Omar a little better than she was letting on. They were having an affair no one knew about, just as no one else knew about his invention, revealed to be a desalination process that makes it possible to turn seawater into clean drinking water and could be scaled to outfit entire cities. And wouldn’t you know, Omar met an amazing guy last weekend — cue our creepster in tighty-whities staring at himself in the mirror — who told Omar all about how he could help him take the invention to market.
Because that’s what this guy does. He poses as a patent attorney at conferences and fairs, and “stumbles across” naïve geniuses looking for someone with business smarts. Guest star Adam Godley does an excellent job of fluctuating between what is clearly this guy’s authentic sad-sack nature and the aura of a charismatic, smooth-talking attorney with all the right answers. We see him do exactly that with a truly endearing little inventor named Riley, who’s thrilled to literally bump into a man who can get her the patent she needs in order to bring her genius to the masses.
As we watch this guy do his thing — shoot up a champagne bottle with a paralyzing agent in preparation for seeing Riley at their big meeting later — we also see Aram doing his thing. Using surveillance footage he found of Omar meeting the “patent lawyer,” he zooms in on the business card and sees all but three digits of the phone number, creates 246 possible number combinations, and narrows them down to a burner phone currently in a building of 112 people. But only one of them, Silas Gouldsberry, works at the U.S. Patent Office. And that is what we call a mic drop, people.
This all happens just in the nick of time — Silas is at Riley’s house listening to her describe how she created the holy grail of magnesium battery-energy storage. Indeed, those magic words earn her a one-way ticket to Paralysis-ville, but just as Silas turns on the car in Riley’s enclosed garage to finish off the job, Samar and Ressler show up. They’re able to save Riley, but Silas gets away with yet another revolutionary invention saved to the USB hidden in his tie clip.
He shows up next at the U.S. Patent Office to exert his revenge, both to the boss who treats him like an idiot and the person from his past who apparently paid him for an invention, made him think it was going to be huge, and then shelved it. But now, with 20 of his office mates being held hostage in the server room, he says he’s “come up with an idea that doesn’t need a patent…an idea that’s going to change the world.” When Aram sees Silas uploading a ton of data through the Patent Office’s server, the Post Office realizes he’s open-sourcing all the inventions he’s stolen over the years. Laurel Hitchins sweeps in to tell Cooper those revolutionary creations in medicine, energy, weaponry, and more could compromise national security. They have to take this guy out, hostages be damned.
Now that the Post Office possesses the secret weapon needed to convince Kirk to return Agnes, it’s up to Red and Lizzie to actually get to the guy. Unfortunately, they’re not working so well as a team right now. Kirk’s doctor gets the call they were waiting for and they head to Geneva, Switzerland. The doctor also takes a little extra time to tell Liz what a great guy her maybe-dad who kidnapped her daughter actually is: “I can’t defend everything that Alexander has done, but I can defend why he did it.” That’s interesting logic applicable to most of the The Blacklist characters, and the statement causes Lizzie to advise Red, “This doesn’t need to be another one of your scorched earth raids.” Red seethes back, “What a curious concern for a mama grizzly going after her cub.”
Damn, Red being as annoyed at Lizzie as she constantly is at him is disconcerting. He tells her that given her “feelings for Kirk,” accompanying him to the actual ambush on him would be unwise: “As you said, you’re in the middle. Given our mission, that’s not a point of view we can indulge.” Again, I say damn. But Red might want to turn the condescension dial down just a smidge, because…
NEXT: From Russia, with trickery…
Well, let’s back up a bit: At the episode’s start, Tom begged Ressler to give him something, anything, that might get them closer to finding Agnes. Ressler gave him what originally felt like the spy version of busywork, but it actually ended up paying off. Apparently, the Kremlin hates Kirk just as much as they do, but Ressler got shot down when he tried to work with the Russian attaché in D.C. However, Tom and his persuasive ways — coupled with just a little bit of “I’m a dad” sentimental stuff — gets the guy to hand over the Kremlin’s file on Kirk.
As Red waits with an ambush team in a warehouse for Kirk’s arrival, Kirk calls the doctor to confirm he’s running a little early. When the garage door opens to let the car in, Tom calls Lizzie, excited to tell her he got the file and found out Kirk is in Russia. Wait, Russia? But Red is waiting for Kirk in… IT’S A TRAP!
Liz calls Red to tell him as much, and even though he doesn’t listen to her, it stalls him just long enough to keep him out of the blast when the car pulling into the warehouse explodes. And yet, basically saving his life still isn’t quite enough to get Red to ease up on Liz. He seems convinced she’s not the one who tipped off Kirk, but he reminds her where they stand: “About Agnes, we’re in lockstep. But about Kirk — about who he is, about what he wants — we’re at odds.” But Lizzie’s got her reasons, too: “That’s because you can’t seem to accept that Kirk has answers to questions I’ve been asking my entire life.”
Has he really given her answers, though? Or has she just kind of picked up some memories and recovered diaries during the time he’s been in her life? Either way, she’s about to learn one more tidbit that seems to go in the pro-Kirk and con-Red columns: In the file Tom received, there’s a DNA report that contains — as Liz hisses at Red later back in the church — “proof that Alexander Kirk is [her] father.” She yells that Red lied to her when he told Liz her father was dead…and that she was the one who killed him.
“Everything that you’ve said from the start, from the very beginning. All lies.”
A few loose ends:
- I have to say, that harsh closing line might have had a little more impact if we hadn’t heard it all before. But you never know — if Red doesn’t quickly offer up some answers, maybe Liz really will pick a side and stick to it. Though, something about a piece of paper in a file handed over by a Russian official actually makes me more doubtful Alexander Kirk is her father. Perhaps it’s because the term “DNA report” sounds a little…unofficial.
- As for the importance of The Lindquist Concern, Red passes off Silas’ tie-clip USB to Laurel Hitchins to sell and keep as she pleases (he gets a 45-percent cut, natch), except for one piece of information: n patent filed by Matthew Hadj and Sonia Bloom. Is their invention the key to getting baby Agnes back?
- Kaplan’s Korner: No Mr. Kaplan sightings, only two heartbreaking mentions. First, Brimley tells Red and Dembe he’s getting hitched and says to pass the word along to Mr. Kaplan. And later, in the church, Dembe looks up from prayer and tells Red forgiveness won’t come “for Kate. For what I did.” Red tells him he did nothing. “Exactly,” Dembe replies.
- In more lighthearted Dembe news, Red tells him he should get the hematologist to take a look at that mole, and Dembe sasses back, “It’s a freckle!”
- Is Tom’s plain black baseball cap his new tortoise shell? Unacceptable.
- Oh, Samar and Aram, what a tangled web you weave. Aram’s girlfriend accidentally overflows his dishwasher and wants to plan them an epic date to make up for it, so who does she call? HIS BEST FRIEND, SAMAR. I found it really sweet she realized Samar was the person who knew him best, and I don’t mind at all if these two just stay besties… Just don’t split them up!
- For the record, Aram’s perfect date includes tacos, ginger beer, crispy beef, and some garlicy chicken Ressler thinks Samar threw in as sabotage: “You got nothing to worry about!”
- And finally: Samar, when you’re trying to warn a 24-year-old someone is about to kill her, don’t leave a voicemail … TEXT her!
Episode grade: B
James Spader is Raymond "Red" Reddington, a mastermind criminal who teams up with the FBI.