The Blacklist recap: Slow your troll
- TV Show
We open on a gender stereotype — I mean, we open on an inept Dad making a school-banned peanut butter sandwich for his son because Mom is working the overnight shift at the hospital. Say hello to Graham Flynn (Colin Moss), congressional aide and unwitting patsy.
Flynn finds out from friends and social media that the hospital is on lockdown, so he rushes over. His wife lets him know that not only is she fine, but there was never any real danger. The entire event was staged on social media. "Who would do this?" she asks.
We know exactly who, and not only because it's the name of the episode.
Take a trip with me, folks, back to the season 3 premiere. Elizabeth and Red (James Spader) were on the run after she killed the Attorney General; Dembe's (Hisham Tawfiq) granddaughter was kidnapped over the Fulcrum; Cooper (Harry Lennix) was being held for helping Elizabeth; and, worst of all, Ressler (Diego Klattenhoff) was in charge. It was dark times!
In the middle of all that was a Blacklister named the Troll Farmer, aka Bo Chang (Aaron Yoo), whose team creates fake chaos events on social media to cover up crime. Red turned him into Ressler in exchange for getting Elizabeth some consideration.
Now, a newly released Chang is working for Wujing (Chin Han). We see him at the hospital breaking into Flynn's car to steal his congressional badge.
Chang and his team use the badge to infiltrate the location of a highly secret meeting between Flynn, the congressperson he works for, and NSA agents.
There, Agent Rod Thieman (Donnie Keshawarz) is demonstrating a multi-billion-dollar project called HexRoot, an advanced malware system deployed from a single briefcase that can infiltrate any cyber security in the world. I have no idea if HexRoot is spelled that way, all smooshed together, but it totally is, right?
Setting off a Troll Farm attack, Chang forces the meeting to evacuate and efficiently steals HexRoot. He would have gotten away with it, too, if not for a meddling observer at the hospital who told the Task Force about somebody breaking into a car.
Putting Red's information about the Troll Farmer working with Wujing together with the car theft, the Task Force is hot on Chang's trail. They arrive at the meeting only moments too late.
Over in Red's neck of the storyline, Rogelio's network has spotted someone Red's been looking for in New Orleans, so he sends Chuck (Jonathan Holtzman) off to find him. Despite Chuck being involved, this actually works, and the mystery man is soon back in NYC.
Chuck also tells Red that someone named Phillip has rejected his shipment of building supplies and is refusing to pay him — alarming enough that Red tracks him down for a face-to-face. Phillip admits that rumors are flying about Red working with a secret FBI task force. Red responds with a terrifying story involving a childhood farm, a one-eyed goat, and a mysterious shed.
The moral of the story is simple: Red will not be accepting rumors as an excuse to break their arrangement. "If something like this ever happens again, it won't end with a polite conversation." Phillips visibly gulps as Red strides away, so I think the message was received.
Back at the meeting site, NSA investigators aren't sharing information even though there is a tracker on HexRoot. Luckily, Dembe was able to spy on the coordinates and Cooper happily sends his agents to "outfox the foxes."
It works. Ressler bursts into Chang's lair, arrests him and his crew, and finds HexRoot sitting on the table.
Back at TFHQ, add Chang to our ongoing list of criminals reacting to Dembe's defection ("The Feds though? Really Dembe?"). Figuring out that Wujing wanted HexRoot to break into FBI files and prove Red's relationship with the agency, Dembe and Ressler pressure Chang into going through with the scheduled handoff.
Chang is livid that he's working for Red again. When Ressler corrects that he's working for the FBI, Chang rolls his eyes and retorts, "again with the charade! Just own it already, man." Ha!
At the park, things go sideways quickly. Chang is not met by Wujing, but instead by Alban Veseli (Daniel Sauli), who bonks Ressler over the head with the briefcase and tries to flee via motorized scooter. Somehow, this is not played for comedy.
Our agents chase him to the street, where he's rescued by none other than ex-CIA agent Richard Deever (Chris McKenna) — Malik's (Anya Banerjee) former turncoat partner. They escape.
Wujing Crew 1, Task Force 0.
Veseli is nervous about going back to Wujing empty handed, but Deever tells him it'll be fine… right before he hands him off to Red. The mystery man from New Orleans was, in fact, the double (Triple? Quadruple?) crosser.
Deever thinks their deal meant he could go free, while Red thinks it merely meant he'd let Deever live. Red calls Malik and tells her where to pick up her belated "Welcome to the Task Force" present.
Wujing Crew 0, Task Force 0, Raymond Reddington 1. As it should be, forever and ever, amen.
We end with a tense phone call between Cooper and Red, where each pointedly doesn't apologize for hiding information from the other. Red does admit there is another major secret he's been hiding, though, and he's ready to tell the Task Force. Whatever it is, it'll be enough that the showdown with Wujing should be over within the next 72 hours.
- Red tells Cooper the true story of former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright communicating messages to foreign leaders through her famous brooch collection. At the end of the episode, we see Red pin a vintage insect brooch to his black hat. What could it mean??
- Red visits Agnes, who is making baking videos despite not knowing how to bake. Red helps her in exchange for not being recorded, naturally.
- In another bout of adorable, Red brings Herbie's (Alex Brightman) baby a tiny pink fedora.
- Cooper agrees to hire Herbie full time. Welcome to the team!
- Dembe tells Malik that Red probably knows information about her late mother, so look for that to be revealed soon.
- When Cooper demands to know what Red is planning to do with Veseli, Red's growly retort of "Whatever the hell I want" made me fan myself. I'm a sucker for a dangerous Red.
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