Red gets held hostage and the Task Force attempts a rescue.
The Blacklist - Season 2

We open on a weed influencer — yes, in 2023 those are words that go together — live-streaming his review of a convenience store selection of blunt wraps. The cashier is barely tolerating these shenanigans as she rings up another customer, who we follow as she leaves the store. 

That customer sees an extremely sketchy guy with a revolver tucked into his waistband enter the store and lock the door. It's a robbery, she and I and you all think simultaneously, and we are all correct.

This is clearly not a Blacklister — it's just a dumb guy with a gun — so why are we here? Well, as the robber slaps the phone out of the influencer's hand, we see a familiar fedora lurking in the back corner.

Ha! This criminal is so screwed.

The video that was being livestreamed goes viral as news teams cover the robbery-turned-hostage situation. Dembe (Hisham Tawfiq) is already on his way to the small town outside Philadelphia when he clues in Cooper (Harry Lennix). 

Hilariously, Cooper first asks why Red (James Spader) is robbing a store. Once he's convinced that Red is actually a victim for once, Cooper is on board to get their highly valuable asset out of there without being spotted by law enforcement or the media.

The Blacklist
Harry Lennix as Harold Cooper
| Credit: Will Hart/NBC

This is especially important because his to-do list includes explaining the events of Wujing's death to Senator Cynthia Panabaker (Deirdre Lovejoy). He's not anticipating a fun convo with the boss. 

Ressler (Diego Klattenhoff) and Dembe arrive at the scene, spotting a Zoomer car (think Zipcar) in the parking lot. These quick rentals are one of the ways Red has been traveling lately. 

They talk to the witness, who is still slurping her iced coffee while confirming she saw the robber holding a revolver. She also lists who's in the store: the influencer, the clerk, an older woman, someone in a Phillies hat, and… an older man in fedora.

Panabaker arrives and is PISSED to hear about how Red played the Task Force and murdered folks on federal grounds. Cooper tries to calm her down, but she insists that unless Red meets with her before the end of the day, she'll tell the Attorney General everything. Presumably, that would be the end of the Task Force. 

Back at the store, Dembe tries calling the gunman, who threatens to shoot hostages if the SWAT team that is now on site enters. The SWAT leader (Royce Johnson) gets ready to breach anyway, but then the clerk sticks her head out and yells for them not to shoot. "The crazy man is dead!" she announces.

Inside the store, the clerk explains the gunman wanted to rob the safe and hit her with his gun. The influencer wrestled with him and the gun went off. The older man in the fedora is there too, but it's definitely not Red. 

The Blacklist
Royce Johnson as Sergeant McGinley, Diego Klattenhoff as Donald Ressler
| Credit: Will Hart/NBC

So maybe Red wasn't ever there at all?

Ressler thinks they can just leave now, but Dembe is slightly better at their job today. He points out there's no one wearing a Phillies hat and that the gun they recovered isn't a revolver — it's an expensive Browning with wood handles. It's Red's gun. 

Red was definitely there. 

They gather the hostages together, and we get a flashback of what happened as they're interviewing folks. Fedora guy explains he was on one side of the store while his wife was on the other side getting her yogurt. The gunman took them hostage because the clerk couldn't open the safe — the manager with the key wouldn't be in for another hour.

Dembe asks the woman about the person in the Phillies cap, and she points to a tall rack of hats and says "You mean those?" Maybe the witness didn't actually see a person, just the hat. 

Ressler checks in with Cooper to assure him that even if Red was there, he's clearly gotten away without being seen. But with Panabaker's deadline looming, Cooper tells his agent to "break those witnesses" and figure out where their guy is. 

Ressler tells the four hostages that Red is the FBI's most-wanted criminal and he knows they're helping him. Dembe helpfully explains to fedora guy that he's wearing about 5k worth of Italian finery, so maybe drop the act. 

The civilians break. Yes, Red was in the store. Once the gunman hit the clerk and the influencer, Red shot him point blank (this tracks; Red would never put up with a criminal pistol whipping a woman for no reason).

Red threatened the hostages, telling them he's someone "they don't want to cross," then swapped hats and coats with the older man. The influencer explains Red left from the back door heading to the bus stop a couple of blocks away.

Dembe is surprised Red would threaten normal people but rationalizes that he must have felt trapped.  

The bus that Red must have taken after he left the store is heading to D.C. When Malik (Anya Banerjee) calls the driver, she confirms that there is an older white male passenger on her bus wearing a Phillies hat. 

But of course, when the bus pulls into D.C., it's not Red, just a random guy in a Phillies cap. It was a bus out of Philadelphia; there had to be at least one. 

So where is Red??

We cut to a bar where the hostages are gathering. It turns out Red promised them a lot of money, and they toast to this "honorable man" who will keep his promises. And he does! Chuck arrives with giant duffle bags full of cash, like a fully-armed Santa.

The Blacklist

We finally see what really happened. Red did shoot the gunman, but then he tells the stunned witnesses exactly what to say to the police. He could threaten them, he points out, but he'd rather make them "jackpot rich. Dreams come true rich." 

These people are not suckers, and they've had a rough day! They agree.

Back at the store, the police have shut down the crime scene for the night. Red emerges from a storage space under the flooring, walks out the front door, gets in his Zoomer car, and drives away. 

Once again: Task Force 0, Red 1.

It's been a while since Red has scared the living bejeezus out of someone by lurking in the dark, so it was fun to see Panabaker gasp when she turned on the light to find our re-fedora'd buddy in her kitchen.

Red knows he missed their meeting but wants to chat. Panabaker, sounding exhausted, says she can't cover for his "casual disregard for humanity" anymore. She knows he has blackmail material on her (remember when she asked him to torture one of the evil doctors who kidnapped her daughter-in-law?) and that her career will be over, but she's telling the Attorney General everything in the morning.

Red pulls out his recording of Panabaker's crimes and tosses it on the table. He doesn't want to blackmail her; he wants her to support the Task Force because they do important work. Wujing was his mess to clean up, he says, and walks away.

Panabaker cancels the meeting with the Attorney General. The Blacklist will continue.

The Back-list:

  • Malik discovers she's adopted — information just sitting in her Mom's file. You'd think Cooper would have known? 
  • So what was Red doing in Philadelphia anyway? Picking up art books from the Barnes Foundation for Agnes, who's delighted by "Pinky's mysterious ways." 
  • "Caught Up in a Robbery" is a time-tested trope that I love. It always makes for fun episodes of TV shows, from E.R. to The X-Files. Glad to see the Blacklist do their version.
  • Folks, we are halfway through the final season! Now that Red has erased himself from the Task Force files, has Panabaker back on his side, and has gotten Wujing taken care of… what's next?  

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The Blacklist - Season 2
The Blacklist

James Spader is Raymond "Red" Reddington, a mastermind criminal who teams up with the FBI.

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