Scott Gries/NBC

The Blacklist

S5 E20
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May 03, 2018 at 01:55 AM EDT

The Blacklist is really firing on all cylinders right now. And I do mean every cylinder; they have brought out all the gasoline tanks, and lit all the matches, and flicked every ignition, and they will stoke every flame standing between us and the contents of this duffel bag until, presumably, the season 5 finale. Witness protection daughters! Kidnapping! Pining! Sci-Fi world-building! Children being marched to fiery deaths! Whatever it takes to keep our grubby audience paws off that one big secret until the very last minute.

I expected that to annoy me more. I don’t love stalling tactics. But if this is stalling, it’s certainly an entertaining wait. The path to Ian Garvey over the last two weeks has made for a thrilling, clever ride, and those episodes stood out as two of this season’s strongest for that reasons. But once the dust settled, the aftermath of all that climaxing left me feeling a little cold heading into tonight’s episode, because we still didn’t have any answers. It felt almost guaranteed that tonight would be a let down: back to the basics of some random Blacklister and hunting down that same bag o’ bones we’ve been chasing after for the entirety of 2018. But then…

Boom! One of the lowest profile but most original Blacklister plots in quite some time. And boom! Jennifer Reddington is quickly becoming one of my favorite characters for calling her maybe-probably-dad out on exactly all of his maybe-probably-BS. I love Raymond Reddington as a character who has taken me on five seasons of criminal-slash-noble adventures, but the man has a bit of a savior complex when it comes to all the daughters he abandoned in order to protect them. Considering that both of their moms are dead, they both have just found other criminal men to put in their life, and they’re both, in fact, constantly in danger, all my jazz hands for Jennifer getting Red to admit that maybe all of his plans are not the best plans. Y’know, until whatever’s in that duffel bag throws all of this information in the metaphorical woodchipper and churns out some other version of the truth!

But that’s for future daddy-daughter encounters (oh, yeah, sorry Jen — every time you try to get out, they pull you back in, and oftentimes buy you a sunny apartment with gorgeous exposed brick). For now…

NICHOLAS T. MOORE, NO. 110

This episode starts out like The Witch meets The Quiet Place, leaving me both intrigued as to what this little girl and her dad were running away from in the snowy woods, and concerned that The Blacklist is about to go full tilt supernatural when the little girl is pulled out a jar of rust-colored powder and put two stripes on her father’s head, as though to protect him. Luckily for my fears — unluckily for his — the protection ward doesn’t work. As the little girl sprinkles the powder around her, some unseen force pulls the dad back into the woods. The little girl runs away, almost immediately out onto a highway where a truck barely brakes in time to avoid hitting her.

Lizzie finds out about the peculiar case of this little girl not because Red tells her she’s involved with the next Blacklister, but because he quickly tucks a newspaper away with an article about the little girl away when Lizzie comes to check on his concussion. You may recall that Red was recently in a major car crash and shot with a fun by Ian Garvey. He’s fine, he just has a concussion, and needs to stay in bed lest he drop dead from a cerebral hemorrhage. Naturally, he does not do that.

As Liz tells the others at the Post Office, she’s convinced Red was hiding the article about the “Girl From Another Time Found” because she’s connected to Ian Garvey and the missing duffel bag, so she wants to get to the girl while he’s still bedridden. (Here, we are just supposed to trust that Liz has learned absolutely nothing about Red over the last, which is…plausible.) The Li’l Jane Doe was found without out any identifying facorts walking on the western edge of New Hampshire, and though she has leukemia, she shows no traces of having been exposed to modern medicine, immunizations, or toxins that humans encounter on a daily basis. “Whatever Reddington is hiding,” Cooper says, “it’s time the truth came out.”

So Samar and Liz go to see the girl at a hospital in New Hampshire. They’re told that she’s been violent with the staff and won’t let anyone touch her, but when Liz goes in and says a few sweet things to her, the girl is all ears — because, of course, to know Lizzie is to love her. That is, until Liz almost steps over the circle of brown powder the girl has sprinkled around her bed and she begins screaming, “No! Don’t! You’re infected!” (Recap continues on next page)

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James Spader returns as Raymond ‘Red’ Reddington, a mastermind criminal who teams up with the FBI.
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