Since I am neither an accounting professional, nor a criminal overlord, I don’t know that I’d everneeded to use the word “ledger” before I started watching The Blacklist. But once I did…there was no going back. “Ledger” is practically a pronoun on The Blacklist, and we’re on the hunt for yet another blood-soaked, leather-bound book in Wednesday night’s episode.
But while the serialized aspect of The Blacklist was treading in familiar territory, the procedural plot was trying something very fresh: child assassins. That might sound like the plot of the Kingsman franchise or what we’ve come to understand about Tom Keen’s (RIP) upbringing in the Major’s School for Sociopathically Gifted Youngsters, this storyline was built on a much more realistic, and therefore much darker foundation: child marriage.
I’ve been known to get a little hot under the collar when The Blacklist dips its toes into sensitive subject matter without really having the appropriate motivations to back it up — it can seem exploitative and flippant. But here, the series managed to, in its own way, make a statement on this very real issue, by having a character who really, truly cared about it, and was in a position to make a difference. Calling on Samar’s signature principled grit, and her personal connection to the issue, season 5’s reappearing tendency for risky storylines finally struck an appropriate balance of, shall we say…careful sensationalism.
Plus, the non-child-assassin stuff was a rollicking ride of Red(i) mindtricks (do you get it? do you get it???). Nothing like wreaking professional warfare on your enemy while psychologically torturing/protecting your maybe-daughter at the same time…
ANNA-GRACIA DUERTE, NO. 25
Perhaps all of the aforementioned nuances should have been clear form the jump, given that Janis Ian’s “At Seventeen” opened the episode: I learned the truth at seventeen / That love was meant for beauty queens / And high school girls with clear-skinned smiles / Who married young and then retired
Oof. We soon learn that the music is coming from a teenage girl’s headphones, who’s listening to her music so loudly she doesn’t even hear the man that appears to be her father come in. He tells her he can’t join her for dinner because he has a work meeting, and heads into his home office where he pulls out (hold onto your hats) a ledger, and makes a phone call. The man picks up the phone and tells Raymond Reddington that they have a deal…but if Ian Garvey ever finds out — BOOM! Gunshots! The man falls to the ground, his killer unseen.
When Liz arrives to visit Red for their Blacklister/Ian Garvey briefing, he tells her that the two go hand-in-hand this week: The recently murdered Jerry Juyal was the man in charge of smuggling drugs into the country for the Ian Garvey’s Nash Syndicate. But he didn’t work for them, merely with them, and he had just agreed to give Reddington a list of every one of the Nash Syndicate’s points of origin for the last 14 months…y’know, right before he was murdered in his home. Reddington assumes that Garvey killed Juyal to keep him from giving intel to Red, but Liz says the FBI has already deemed it a hate crime.
Apparently when Juyal took over running his port in Baltimore, he swapped the former management team for an all-Indian crew, which upset a group of local white nationalists. The FBI has pinned Juyal’s murder on the group’s leader, named — wait for it — Coogan Hudnutt. At the post office, they’re more concerned with finding the witness that was recently abducted from their care, they assume, by Garvey, but Red assures Liz that finding the ledger is more important to proving Garvey’s connection to the Nash Syndicate. But, as you’ll recall, it was actually Reddington that took the young man (probably to some luxurious island, thank goodness), in order to keep Garvey out of prison so that he still stands the chance of recovering his precious bag o’ bones.
So that should go well when Lizzie discovers that Red is the reason her husband’s nasty little killer isn’t currently behind bars…
And speaking of nasty, Red goes ahead and takes locating Coogan Hudnutt himself, by rolling into his white supremacist compound, shooting everyone (I think) in their non-vital organs before they can even draw their weapons. Red delivers Hudnutt to Brimley, Brimley does his thing — “who knew skin was so elastic” — and finds out that Hudnutt did indeed try to get some revenge on Jerry’s port operation, but he didn’t kill him.
At the same time, we see Jerry’s daughter Reva sitting at his wake. When she gets a text, she goes outside to meet another girl about her age who tells her: “Just remember, he was a terrible man and what he did to you was unforgivable.” The mystery young woman is clearly our Blacklister, Anna-Gracia Duerte, who meets with another teenage girl that “reached out through the network.” Anna-Gracia tells the other girl that she needs to be very clear with her what her help means: “If I get involved, he dies.” (Recap continues on next page)