The Blacklist recap: Two Lies & a Truth with Raymond Reddington
Y’know, after 114 episodes of The Blacklist, you really have to start wondering: just how many abandoned warehouses, in fact, host state-of-the-art medical facilities for criminals? Is it every warehouse you see? Every other warehouse you see? Two out of three episodes in season 6 alone have kicked off in warehouspitals™, and for the entire time we’ve known Red, he has gotten his check-ups, life-saves, and bullet wounds treated exclusively at warehouspitals™ worldwide.
But The Blacklist is a rather heightened world, of course, so where two out of every three warehouses is curing cancer or creating world-ending diseases in their world, it’s probably only, like, one out of every three in ours. Yes, The Blacklist does love to go all out on Raymond Reddington’s heightened world of interwoven crime, featuring non-stop shady syndicates; many, many a walk-in freezer that actually leads into an alley; and of course, the perfect Johnny Cash track for every shooting spree. And yet, with all that flare for the dramatic, this series still loves to toy with a universal human ethos, cutting right through that Venn diagram of fact and fiction.
And this week, everyone is obsessed with *The Truth*: when one is morally obligated to tell the truth, when one is morally excused from not telling the truth; who’s owed the truth, when it’s okay to not tell the truth under oath if you super-believe that the lie is for the betterment of the world.
I’ll admit that while I found the Boston Legal roleplay in Friday’s episode to be a real hoot, and loved Becky Ann Baker as the no-nonsense-but-also-discreetly-down-for-a-little-nonsense judge, I’m not totally sure what the message we’re supposed to be receiving here is.
When Raymond Reddington — truly a world-class truth-bender when it suits his purposes, and I will not hear otherwise — is going on a diatribe about how “the sad fact is that the facts have never mattered less than they do today,” I don’t really know what I’m supposed to do with that. And when Red uses Cooper’s own principled goodness against him to force his hand into telling the truth about the immunity agreement, only for him to then decide to lie on the stand and say he’s not aware of any crimes Red may have committed while protected by said immunity agreement — what am I to do with that?
I guess, at the end of all that courtroom proselytizing about The Truth, the real lesson to be learned was in the completely separate Blacklister-procedural story all along. When it’s revealed that one Blacklister-partner has been deceived by the other, Samar tells the victim: “Sometimes it’s the people closest to you that you have to watch out for,” and the camera pans to Lizzie and Red.
Because once you realize that everyone so whole-heartedly sees their own version of the truth as the noblest one, you eventually realize that can only be a prescription for betrayal.
THE PHARMACIST, NO. 123
Oh yes, that was a pharmacy pun! Because it’s all fun and games until a bunch of desperately ill people come to a warehouspital for a solution, inject themselves with what they believe will be a very expensive cure for their rare illness, and immediately all die right in front of the pharmacist who made the alleged cure.
Over in the cleanest holding cell in the world, Red doesn’t care about Lizzie telling him that Cooper’s been ordered to deny the existence of the Task Force because he’s conveniently overheard a news story the Marshals were watching. Five people found dead in a warehouse, and he thinks it has something to with a man he recently invested some funding into: the fantastically named Spalding Stark, a.k.a. The Pharmacist.
Stark presented himself to Red as a renegade biohacker, dedicated to enhancing human life, but following the deaths of five people at his hand, he’s now worried that Spark isn’t the visionary he thought, but “the worst kind of charlatan — the kind who preys on the weakest among us for financial gain.” (Recap continues on next page)
And it would certainly seem that way, except that Aram insists Stark is a biohacking icon (a thing!). Apparently he infected himself with malaria because he had invented a cure for it, but the FDA wouldn’t allow it into human testing — and then he totally contracted malaria and was paralyzed along one side of his body. It’s that kind of insane commitment to cures that makes him a legend, but Red has assigned him as the Blacklister, and even though Ressler is 100 percent right every single time he points out that Red wouldn’t suddenly prioritize this guy for no reason, they still have to check it out.
In the meantime, Cooper and Liz head to the beginning of Red’s trial with Judge Roberta Wilkins presiding, and it gets off to a…flippant start with Red being represented by a public defender who waives the reading of his rights and charges. Red asks to speak, saying, “Given how quickly things are preceding, I get the distinct impression that Jerry here has a bus to catch.” Judge Wilkins is not amused, but she allows Red to approach the bench, where he…
Informs her that he has an immunity agreement with the federal government. Even though he has explicitly been told that Cooper’s higher-ups, a.k.a., the federal government, have no intentions of honoring that agreement. When the judge chews out the prosecuting attorney, Mr. Sima, for not telling her about this, he insists he knows of no such immunity agreement (despite that little visit to the Post Office by U.S. Attorney Holt last week, who I assume is his boss). So Red suggests that Judge Wilkins just ask Assistant Director Harold Cooper of the FBI who’s sitting right out there in the courtroom.
As Liz later complains, Red knows that Cooper is so honest and decent that he would rather damage his career than lie. Indeed, Cooper agrees that’s true: “Liz, the Reddington agreement exists — the kind of government that would deny it doesn’t deny facts and make reality whatever it says is reality…I reject it and I won’t be a part of it.” And that’s basically what he tells Judge Wilkins in her chambers, setting into motion the opportunity for Red to prove the immunity agreement exists via the courtroom testimony of one Asst. Director Harold Cooper. Naturally, Red will be ditching Jerry and representing himself.
That leaves Samar, Ressler, and Aram to investigate the Pharmacist. The owner of the warehouse where the five bodies were found confirms that he did, indeed, rent out the space to a Spalding Stark, he thought, to store medical equipment. Inside, they find that Stark overlooked removing one of the injection guns. It has a unique enough design that Aram is able to show it to one of his online biohacking pals (Aram spin-off! Aram spin-off!) and identify the lab where it was manufactured: NexHack, a company co-owned by…the warehouse owner, Warren Kirby.
Ressler visits Crown Life Pharmaceuticals to find out more about MCDD, the illness Stark’s now-dead patients were all suffering from, and a big wig tells him they provide the only treatment for MCDD, but there is no cure, and patients nearing the end might get desperate enough to try something risky. Indeed, when he’s brought into the Post Office, Warren Kirby admits that was the case with him when Stark, his pharmacist, proposed an untested cure. He did give Stark the space in his warehouse, but only because he thought he would be curing more MCDD patients, just like he cured him. He knows Stark wouldn’t have killed those people on purpose, but he also doesn’t know how they ended up dead. (Recap continues on next page)
In a closed court room, Judge Wilkins hears Cooper’s testimony, starting with the defense. And Raymond Reddington only has one question regarding the immunity agreement: “Would you do it again?” Oh Red, always going right for my heartstrings!
Harold answers simply: yes. So Red tacks on one more question: “Why?” Cooper says they made this deal so that Reddington could help the FBI find criminals they never even knew existed, and he’s done precisely that, saving countless lives from evil people, dangerous weapons, and catastrophic outbreaks in the process. “So would I do it again? You’re damn right I would.”
I do love Cooper’s flair for the dramatic, but the prosecutor, Mr. Sima, does not.
Sima asks Cooper if he’s aware that Reddington has been indicted on multiple accounts of treason, for selling the nation’s highly classified secrets, and for betraying the country. Cooper responds that he’s aware of the allegations, but Reddington is still innocent until proven guilty, per the Constitution. Sima expresses his disgust and asks, “If not the defendant, is anyone too offensive to be given a free pass by your standards?” Cooper insists that Reddington’s pass has not been free, he’s had to earn his freedom and abide by the rules…
Which, okay, Cooper really walked right into that one. “To your knowledge, has Raymond Reddington committed any unsanctioned crimes since becoming an informant in your task force?”
And. Cooper. Says. No. After a brief montage of Red murdering Diane Fowler, Mr. Kaplan, Anslo Garrett, and so many unseen lackeys in between! But with that lie on the books, and the ultimate fact that Red has never been convicted of his crimes because he’s never been tried for them because he had an immunity agreement…Judge Wilkins rules that the immunity agreement stands. “He violated it!” Sime immediately calls out. “The agreement bars us from prosecuting the defendant unless he violated it, under which terms we would then have a right to declare it null and void.” And sure, that is true, Red has violated the terms of the agreement that demands he follow the law, like a bajillion times — but what crime could Sima possibly know about all the sudden?
“When you were arrested, you had an unregistered weapon in your possession,” he stutters out, and because the serial number was scratched off, that becomes a federal offense, a.k.a., a violation of the immunity agreement. Red is certainly surprised by this turn of events, but not thrown: he says the gun was found during an unlawful search and seizure, in which case it would not be admissible into evidence.
So, y’all, we are headed back to the courtroom for a “suppression hearing” next week, and I really do not know what show we’re on anymore…
Oh, that’s right, it’s The Blacklist, where the evil, murderous pharmacist wasn’t actually evil or murderous — he was sabotaged! The reports from the five victims’ bodies reveal that they were killed by a superfluous toxin that seemed to have been added to the formula that had previously cured Warren Kirby. Further digging reveals that Stark has a partner, Ethan Webb, who joined forces with him after he was fired from Crown Life for stealing proprietary data. AND THIS JUST IN: Stark and Webb have recruited another batch of MCDD patients to a warehouspital because Stark believes the last deaths must have been the result of an error. The sketchy bottle Webb pulls from his pocket to add into the injection guns behind his partner’s back suggests otherwise…
But we still don’t know why after two years of partnership, Webb would start sabotaging Stark’s hard-earned cure for MCDD. That is until Ressler throws him down a flight of stairs, takes him back to the Post Office, and Webb admits that he wasn’t fired by Crown Life; he was planted by them to put an end to Stark’s MCDD cure so that they could continue making billions off their medicines that merely treat MCDD, but don’t cure it. Ressler seems thrilled to have this guy on multiple counts of murder, but let’s not forget that earlier he was beating his “Red’s ulterior motives” drum quite melodically, and — if you can believe this — he was right.
Dembe asks Liz to speak to Stark alone, and once together, Stark tells Dembe not to worry: he’s making progress, and this situation won’t slow him down. “I hope not,” Dembe says. “Mr. Reddington is counting on you.”
Dun, dun, dunnnnnnnn.
A FEW LOOSE ENDS
Is Red sick???? That seems too simple an explanation, doesn’t it?
But there is something up with poor Samar’s health. I hated watching her not be able to think of the word “sabotage,” but I kind of loved her using an online thesaurus to figure out the word later — like looking in a recappin’ mirror.
“Don’t stare at his head, he hates that.” “She’s staring at my head, I hate that!”