The Blacklist recap: A gig's a gig
- TV Show
Of all the Blacklisters, the Freelancer (Daniel Sauli) might be able to lay claim as the most purely annoyed by Red.
First, wayyyy back in his season 1 eponymous episode, the Freelancer was hired by Red and then promptly arrested. Elizabeth broke him out of prison during her crime spree of season 8, only for him to get caught again after she hired him to kill Chemical Mary Bremmer. I mean, can a mass murderer catch a break? Maybe! Because he's back and as mass-murdery as ever.
We open in Baltimore Harbor, where our baddie impersonates a Coast Guard inspector to access a ferry's engine room. He wears a gas mask and uses a chemical that literally melts part of the hull, so maybe not the best day for a cruise.
If we needed proof that Red (James Spader) can wax poetic about anything, a quick hop to Cooper's (Harry Lennix) kitchen finds him extolling the virtues of the New Jersey Turnpike. To be fair, he was able to buy a three-foot gummy snake for Agnes.
He's also feeling guilty about Robert Vesco, but the guilt trip is interrupted by a phone call about the ferry sinking. After letting Cooper know that Wujing (Chin Han) has broken the Freelancer out of jail, Red takes a bit of a tone with the paid informant that didn't get to him before the ship went down.
At TFHQ, Cooper says the Freelancer needs no introduction, then introduces him anyway. His boring/real name is Alban Veseli, and he hides assassinations in large-scale catastrophes, like a ferry sinking. Malik (Anya Banerjee) has already found some candidates onboard the ferry, like a city councilperson and a couple of criminal types, but nothing clicks, so Dembe (Hisham Tawfiq) and Ressler (Diego Klattenhoff) head off to the docks.
There, a suspicious photog is rude enough to the mother of a potential ferry victim that Dembe stops his criminal investigation to chastise him. Later, they also find the large plastic gloves the Freelancer had worn that could contain trace evidence.
Dembe points out the backlog at the FBI lab, but Ressler finally proves he's been paying attention by suggesting they bring in a (Red) ringer.
We find out that the informant who dropped the ball is Rogelio (Gerardo Rodriguez), a familiar face that runs a network of hospitality workers and undocumented folks. Red drops by Rogelio's house only to find the entire family working on making luxury bedding, a distracting side-hustle that Red tells him has cost a few dozen lives.
Rogelio promises to be better and Red promises to be a good house guest; he's staying for a couple of days. It'll give him a chance to test out the sheets.
Malik escorts Herbie (Alex Brightman) into TFHQ. To her visible dismay, he's a chatterbox, wanting assurances he's not being kidnapped by the government and guessing which alphabet agency they work for (not NCIS, though, because he watches that show and "it's nothing like this"). She leads him to a computer and then, I assume, finds some aspirin.
Herbie really is the best, though, and quickly finds a bacteria nicknamed "iron devouring" on the gloves. Malik traces the fake group that bought the bacteria from the highly regulated lab that houses it, and they quickly get a list of their purchases.
Some of the items on that list were bought after the ferry sinking, so that means there's another job planned. Herbie tells Cooper he's staying now that he's invested in the case, plus, he has a sitter until 6 p.m. Cooper tells poor Malik to show him the break room and she barely suppresses an eye roll.
Proving Red right about focusing on one task at a time, Rogelio gets a tip about another attack at a hotel in D.C. They set off, minus Malik, who has to stay to take care of Herbie. Y'all, she did not go to MI-6 school, which I hope is called the James Bond Excellence in Spycraft and Bartending Academy, to be treated like this.
At the hotel, Ressler and Dembe walk past a gaggle of photographers before being told that the potential fire was put out before it could start. They interview an adulterer, an extremely high kid, and a true-crime loving bank teller before realizing none of these folks are typical Freelance victims.
This leads Red and Rogelio to have a very intense conversation with the terrified maid who gave them the tip about the hotel — it's clear she was bribed by the Freelancer to give them the info.
Red realizes this means someone has linked him and Rogelio together, but the only time they've ever slipped up was a picture a small tabloid published of them six years earlier.
Red calls Dembe to share his suspicions and together they conclude that these attacks are designed for Wujing to prove Red's relationship to the Task Force. Every time a tip gets through to Red, the same FBI agents appear. And how could Wujing prove this to others? Dembe glares at the skeevy photographer on the sidewalk.
His name is Keith Perry (Kristopher Kling) and the Task Force anticipates that he'll be at the next attack, too. He's in the wind for now, but Herbie finishes a Red Bull quickly enough to discover that Perry's camera has a wireless adapter that allows for real-time cloud uploads.
A quick subpoena later, and the Task Force has a location. It's an apartment building in Alexandria that shares a retaining wall with the Potomac River, so off they go, even Malik.
Once there, Malik spots Perry and his camera immediately and arrests him. Ressler and Dembe find the Freelancer in the basement, but he's a surprisingly good fighter, so it takes both of them to knock him out. With only a few seconds left, they manage to stop the device (by hacking at the power source with an axe), but by the time it's all over… the Freelancer has escaped.
Rogelio is sending Red off with a Tupperware full of delicious home cooking. Red is thankful for the hospitality and offers to invest in the bedding business, but Rogelio makes a lovely speech about how much he's been able to save over the years because of Red. His dream is fully funded.
It's good for Red to see that not everyone who works for him suffers; for every Robert Vesco, there is also a Rogelio.
So now we know that Wujing wanted photographic evidence of the Task Force and Red working together, but it's not until the final scenes that we learn exactly who the pictures were for — and it is a doozy. A Wujing employee meets up with the remaining members of the Fisker Army, the mercenary group Marvin Gerard hired to kill Red last year. Their leader, Henrick Fisker, is still jailed, but the rest of them are hard at work. Once they see the pictures, they're eager to join Wujing's war.
- Red is scared of rollercoasters!
- Herbie to Dembe: "How does it feel to be on the straight and narrow?" Dembe: "It doesn't feel straight or narrow."
- Ressler receives his one-year sobriety chip, mazel! The group leader asks him to become a sponsor for a newbie that is also in law enforcement, so I assume we'll see more of him.
- Red puts a premium on manners and decorum, so I call foul on him using Rogelio's wife's bathrobe without permission. That's a huge breach of etiquette… and also gross.
Sign up for Entertainment Weekly's free daily newsletter to get breaking TV news, exclusive first looks, recaps, reviews, interviews with your favorite stars, and more.