The Blacklist recap: This old song
Reddington promises to tell Liz everything — and this time he's got the props to prove it.
With all this talk about the Friends reunion on HBO Max, it only seems right that we start this Blacklist recap off with a classic quote from its long-running NBC forebear: I have no idea what's going on, but I am excited!
It might not be very confidence-inducing to hear your trusty Blacklist recapper say that she couldn't be any more confused about what's to come after the end of this episode — but here we are. I mean, I've got my theories and my guesses, but as far as what's on the page… as far as what Reddington is yammering on about while standing in front of what appears to be the entryway into one of the bunkers from GoldenEye 007 on Nintendo 64… well, I'm absolutely clueless.
As is Elizabeth Keen! So I have a great amount of empathy for how she must be feeling in this episode as Reddington tells her over and over that she's about to get all the answers she's been begging to hear for years, only to then put her in a car, fly her to Latvia, drive her out to the middle of nowhere, and start talking about how an entire sophisticated intelligence network was erected decades ago with the sole purpose of keeping her safe when, as far as she knows, she has been running for her life for the last [checks watch] eight-ish years. Frankly, I don't know how Liz isn't screaming, "Just give me the goods, old man!" for this entire episode. But she is way ahead of the audience in at least one regard: Liz actually gets to see what's inside that bunker when its mysterious stone doors part at the episode's end.
We've heard Reddington assure Liz that it was finally time to give her the answers she seeks before, after which he's done everything from giving her itty-bitty answers that don't really matter to flat-out lying about being Ilya Koslov. And we — the audience and Liz — have no assurance that this time will be any different. But we do know that he's never used a prop quite as big as a bunker before, and we also know that Raymond Reddington just officially confirmed to former FBI Agent Elizabeth Keen that he is, in fact, the long-rumored N13…
We just don't know exactly what that really means. Yet.
GODWIN PAGE, NO. 141
Last we left Reddington and Liz, they were stuck together inside Bino's clubhouse, forced to rely on one another to escape Townsend's men closing in from the outside. But Liz is none too keen (ugh, sorry) to keep that temporary partnership with Reddington alive, so the moment they make it out through an underground tunnel into a convenience store, she slips outside and tells a cop that the man wearing a fedora has a gun, giving her time to escape. Then she calls Cooper, and though she doesn't seem to know what she's going to do at the beginning of the call, Cooper's pleas to let him help her eventually lead her to surrender to the FBI.
Which leads to an extremely gratifying sequence wherein Elizabeth Keen is willingly marched into the Post Office's nifty titanium gold alloy Box, just as Raymond Reddington once was. (You know, the Box that has literally never stopped anything bad from happening, but that everyone is always convinced is the ultimate safety precaution.) Unfortunately, at some point one of the many entities who want Liz in their possession realizes that if they can't get Liz out of the box, they can get the box out of the Post Office.
And that's when things go full-Fast-Five. While Liz makes her one allotted phone call to Ressler, who's really not doing well in the hospital, a commando helicopter descends on the Post Office, blows through the roof above the Box, attaches a bunch of hooks and loops to said helicopter and said Box, and yanks the entire thing right out of there, whipping Liz through the air to whereabouts unknown. Cooper immediately goes with the assumption that it's Townsend who's taken Liz — even though everyone from you to me to the faceless agents guarding Liz (who seemed to do absolutely nothing as she was attacked) to an enraged Cynthia Panabaker (who has to take upward of seven Uber trips to the Post Office this episode) knows that the airlifting party was, of course, Raymond Reddington.
And the show wastes no time in revealing that to us, as Liz is next seen tearing around the corner of a horse stable, demanding to know what Reddington was thinking. But she's shushed by Bremley's wife, Edna, who's been there interrogating — Blacklister alert! — Godwin Page, Townsend's right-hand-man (the bald European one, not the tall GQ one) who Reddington has managed to capture. Edna tells Reddington she's implanted a tracking chip in the back of Page's neck so that when he's eventually cut loose and makes his way to Townsend, he will lead Reddington right to Townsend as well.
While straight-up padlocking Liz into a stable, Reddington tells her he hopes she'll think of her stay as more of a guest than a prisoner. Unfortunately for him, he places his guest in the stable right next to his other guest, so by the time Page wakes up, Liz has formulated a plan with the tiny knife she stole from Edna's bag.
Liz tells Page that she has a way to get him out of there and lead Townsend directly to Reddington — if Page can promise that they'll only murder Reddington, and leave her, Agnes, and the FBI alone. Townsend has made it extremely clear that he wants to murder Liz in front of Reddington in order to achieve the most well-rounded revenge possible, but Page tells Liz that he can convince him to settle for just murdering Reddington. So Liz hands him the knife she stole and tells him to dig the chip out of the back of his neck. Once he does, she confirms that it's the kind of tracking device that can be intercepted, so if he memorizes the tracking number, Townsend can track the chip himself. Liz will turn on the chip to lead Townsend to Reddington once she knows that Townsend has accepted her terms. And she'll know that because Page is to tell Townsend to book a room at the Golden Leaf Hotel under the name Margaret French, and if that room is booked when Liz calls, she'll know their deal is on.
If you're wondering how Liz will get a phone from her stable-prison, you'll soon find out that it's because Liz asks to call and make arrangements for Agnes' care, and Dembe and Red just… fork over a cell phone and let her step away to make a private call. Not even on speakerphone! So when Page does escape by knifing his guard, and when Townsend does agree to Liz's only-murder-Reddington terms, and when Liz does get that confirmation by calling the Golden Leaf Hotel and asking for Margaret French on Dembe's cell phone, she does ultimately reach Townsend, who tells her they're prepared to intercept the chip as she turns it on.
And even though Reddington doesn't suspect the reality of the phone call Liz just made in front of him, he knows that she must have helped Page escape, and therefore that they have to change their location. So he loads Liz into a car and tells her that he's been keeping certain secrets from her for hew own good. "Oh, this old song," Liz mutters. But that's when Reddington tells her that "her own good" now requires him to tell her everything. And after hearing this… Liz still turns on the tracking chip to lead Townsend straight to Reddington.
Now, this could mean a few things, most likely that Liz doesn't believe Reddington will ever tell her the whole truth. But it may also mean that whether she gets answers or not, Liz still wants Reddington dead. Whichever it is, we'll never know because Reddington's car ride to answers quickly turns into a plane ride to answers, and Townsend can only watch as Reddington flies right over him. When Liz wakes from an eight-hour slumber and they're still in their air, she learns that they're flying to Riga, Latvia. She looks down at the approaching land and spies a river splitting in two that looks suspiciously like her burn scar. Reddington tells her he's recognized the similarity before too: "That scar is a permanent reminder of how the choices we made have affected your life forever."
The answer of who that "we" is seems to reside in Latvia. The driver who takes Reddington, Liz, and Dembe out to a nondescript field tells Liz it's "an honor" to meet her. In the field is what appears to be the entryway to a large bunker, which Reddington describes as the epicenter: "I brought you here because this is where it all started." And just when Liz is starting to get annoyed with Reddington talking in circles, he says he'll start with a question she already knows the answer to: the identity of N13. It is Reddington, but he says he never stole anything — the Sikorski Archive was a gift from one of Liz's mother's closest friends and colleagues.
Liz insists that Reddington is lying because she knows Reddington made the world believe her mother stole the Sikorski Archive. "You need to forget what you think you know," Reddington says, which seems like apt advice when it comes to anything Liz believes about her mother. But for the rest, I'll have to leave it directly to the N13 horse's mouth: "Katarina Rostova was never framed… or killed,' Reddington says. "The Sikorsky Archive was a seed, the beginning of what would become one of the most sophisticated intelligence networks in existence. A network meticulously crafted with her knowledge and blessing to serve one guiding purpose: to give me the power to keep you safe, and your mother hidden."
Reddington gestures toward the bunker doors and says his life's work is inside. "So what is this?" Liz asks. And as the doors open, and they peer inside, Reddington tells her: "This is the Blacklist."
Altogether now: Okayyyy???
A FEW LOOSE ENDS:
- Between the bunker that holds all the answers and the flying titanium box, there are also some pretty dire stakes swirling around in this episode. Like Panabaker telling Cooper and Aram that upon her abduction from the Post Office, the DOJ issued a directive to "eliminate" Elizabeth Keen, and as soon as that's done, they'll disavow all knowledge that the Post Office Task Force ever existed.
- Also, Ressler is in the hospital for this entire episode with a permanently damaged lung and sepsis, and it's not looking good. They wouldn't kill off Ressler, would they?!
- Is Katarina Rostova… IN THAT BUNKER? Or, ahem, nearby??? That would, of course, only work alongside my ongoing belief that the woman Reddington killed earlier this season was never Liz's mother, given that she had almost no affection for Liz, and that it definitely didn't seem like Reddington "knew her better than she knew herself," as he says of Liz's mother in this episode. Also, Reddington said Katarina Rostova was never killed?
- Liz asking Godwin Page if he knows why she represents a weakness to Reddington was adorable. What if this random Blacklister had just unraveled the entire mystery of her life right there in that horse-stable-prison. It was worth a try!
- Speaking of Godwin, what's the status of that tracking chip now? Is Townsend about to roll up to the bunker?
- Liz is handed like six different cell phones while being held prisoner by, like, six different parties in this episode, and never once does she actually call her daughter. PTL for Mrs. French. What if she's in the bunker.
(Video courtesy of NBC)