The Blacklist recap: new black market phone, who dis?
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The Blacklist has finally returned after a month-long hiatus!
The midseason finale tied up some loose ends between Reddington (James Spader) and Dembe (Hisham Tawfiq), which now allows Red to focus on what truly matters to him — finding the person responsible for Liz's (Megan Boone) murder. Unfortunately, this newfound purpose in his life is causing some trouble for his criminal enterprise. Episode 10 opens up with the return of Heddie (Aida Turturro), Red's trusted employee, as she checks in on factory workers preparing to ship out some pirated soybeans. Yes. Pirated soybeans. That is a thing. As she is overseeing the production, they are suddenly raided by the FBI.
Marvin (Fisher Stevens) is back in Red's trailer with that "I told you so" look on his face, telling Red that he should have seen the raid coming. Red, having been too preoccupied with Liz's case, realizes that he needs to get his act together or else he'll lose his entire enterprise. But first, Red wants Marvin to try to get Heddie out of prison, because as sweet and dedicated as she is to Red, she is also unpredictable, making her a liability.
Red, meanwhile, will work with the Task Force to take down another adversary on the Blacklist that may prove useful.
ARCANE WIRELESS, NO. 154
Red presents Cooper (Harry Lennix) with a name on the Blacklist: Arcane Wireless. Well, it's not a name, but a black market operating system that cannot be tapped or traced by law enforcement. Run by The Seer (Jeremy Davidson), Arcane Wireless is an invite-only company that sells untraceable beta phones to crime organizations.
We get a sneak peek into The Seer's operations as he meets with a new potential client, human trafficking crime lord Odin Interdonato (John Sharian). Odin is interested in The Seer's product, but wants to be sure it's the real deal, so he brings his own tech expert to test The Seer's phone. The confident — and maybe a little too cocky — Seer casually takes out his phone and calls 911, threatening the dispatcher with bombs planted around the metro area. He leaves the phone on mute to allow them to attempt to trace the call, leaving Odin and his men a little nervous. If it doesn't work, a SWAT team would be at their location within the hour, but The Seer doesn't seem worried at all as he takes out a pack of cards to play solitaire. After an hour, and no SWAT to be seen, Odin's tech guy checks out the coding and is impressed with the product. Odin makes a deal with The Seer to purchase every phone he has.
With the news of Arcane Wireless' plans to go wide, Cooper turns to his tech genius, Aram (Amir Arison), to figure out where to begin in finding this network. Aram turns to head of information security and his former mentor at the bureau, FJ Powell (Dan Shor), to find out more about Arcane Wireless. Needless to say, Aram doesn't have the fondest memories of FJ, who once told him that he will never be as good as him. Ouch.
Their meeting is filled with tension as Aram outranks FJ, forcing his former mentor to work with him on cracking the Arcane Wireless case. FJ begrudgingly shows Aram an Arcane Wireless phone found on one of The Seer's clients, a biker from the Mount Port Motorcycle Club who is now in FBI custody for money laundering. Making things even more awkward between the two, Aram finds out that FJ applied for his old CTO position at GreyLook, which includes ownership shares that Aram had previously given up. Double ouch.
Without FJ's knowledge, Aram takes the phone to the Post Office to dissect. Still angry at the idea of FJ vying for Aram's old job, he begins to have regrets for not taking his shares of GreyLook. Feeling defeated, he eventually gives up on the phone, but is encouraged by Park, who believes Aram is the better tech guy, to look over FJ's work in case something was missed. He reviews the trace again and finds information on the server that he knows FJ would have spotted.
Dembe and Ressler (Diego Klattenhoff) interrogate the arrested biker about where he got his phone, threatening to tell his biker gang that he's a snitch. He reveals the name of his colleague, Riggs, as the person who got the phones for the club. Meanwhile, Riggs is hanging out at a bar and is greeted by The Seer, who doesn't want the FBI snooping in on his operation, and is kidnapped before Ressler and Dembe arrive.
After reviewing surveillance footage from the store across from the bar, the Task Force identifies The Seer as William Myers, a phone software engineer working for the Lyon crime syndicate. Having worked with the Lyon family before, Red calls a meeting between head Alonso Lyon (Garry Pastore) and Mount Port Motorcycle Club president Clyde MacFarland (Tracy Howe) to show them footage of The Seer walking out with Riggs, who is assumed to be dead. Alonso argues he didn't order the hit and that The Seer does his own personal business, which has benefited both Alonso and Clyde's organizations. Clyde is angry over Riggs' death, and demands that someone has to pay. To prevent an all-out war between the two crime establishments, Red offers The Seer as payback and offers to handle it for them.
Alonso then confronts The Seer over Riggs' murder and demands a meeting with him. The Seer, who is in the middle of meeting with Odin, provides his location to Alonso. We come to find out that Red was in on the call and promises Alonso to make the hit on The Seer as swift and painless as possible. Instead, Red alerts Cooper and his team of The Seer's location.
It does make me wonder why Alonso and Clyde are not curious as to why Red is getting involved in their conflict. Sure, war between gangs is bad for business, but to take Red's word on the whole thing? Why are they not questioning Red's motive? I know Alonso has worked with Red before, but Clyde has no idea who this man is and what he stands for, but sure, trust him.
As all of this is happening, Aram confronts FJ about the trace and accuses his former mentor of being a traitor. Like a boss, FJ proceeds to question Aram's true intentions for the accusations, which caught me off guard. Instead of trying to prove his innocence, FJ calmly tells Aram that taking down the Arcane Network would affect the entire Bureau and the country… because FJ is the creator of Arcane Wireless.
What?! What a twist!
As Dembe, Ressler, and agents are ready to arrest The Seer and Odin at the meeting location, Aram rushes into the Post Office to tell Cooper that The Seer is actually a deep undercover FBI agent and that the Arcane Network actually belongs to the FBI in order to track criminals, but it is too late. The FBI takes down Odin and arrests The Seer, who warns Ressler that they have no idea what they've done.
Back at the Post Office, The Seer, now wearing FBI gear, reveals their failed plan to bug Odin's entire organization using Arcane Wireless. He also reveals that Riggs is alive and in a safehouse ready to be released. But, here's the real kicker… we find out that The Seer and Arcane Wireless' main target was actually Raymond Reddington. They were able to infiltrate some of Red's business dealings — hence, the takedown at the soybean factory — but are now back to square one, all thanks to the Task Force.
With this new information, Cooper is enraged at Red for tricking him into closing down Arcane Wireless' operation for Red's benefit. Red assures Cooper that the information from the network will help take down the Lyon crime syndicate and the Mount Port Motorcycle Gang — and just so happens to help him as well. Now that Red's business dealings are safe, he can go back to his main objective and help us, the audience, to get closer to the truth.
BUT WHAT ABOUT HEDDIE?
We can't forget about Red's faithful employee who has been with him since season 5.
Marvin visits Heddie in jail. Through Marvin's "hearing aid", which ingeniously turns out to be an earphone, Heddie is able to communicate with Red. He tells her to be quiet, promising to take care of the situation. As Heddie's legal counsel, Marvin attempts to negotiate some offers to the prosecution for Heddie's freedom, but the prosecutor is only willing to let her go in exchange for information on Raymond Reddington. She immediately refuses.
The prosecution makes a few attempts to change her mind, including forcing new counsel since there seems to be a conflict of interest with Marvin being on Red's payroll. This scares Marvin a bit, and he warns Red that Heddie may testify if she is shaken enough, but Red tells Marvin to do whatever it takes to influence the right people to get her out.
Heddie meets her new defense attorney, who tries to convince her to snitch on Red in order to save herself. They offer her Witness Protection and a fresh start at a new life away from Red. Heddie is unsure of what to do. But — surprise, surprise! — we later find out that the defense attorney actually works for Red, and that Heddie did not take the offer. Red and Marvin are relieved by Heddie's loyalty, making Red more determined than ever to get her out. And, after all the chaos from the Arcane Wireless situation, he succeeds in doing so.
Marvin returns to the prison and berates the prosecutor for attempting to sway his client by giving her new counsel. The prosecutor attempts to make Marvin feel bad about Heddie going to prison for Red's actions, but Marvin isn't having it. In good ole' Raymond Reddington fashion, Marvin brokers a deal with the prosecution to leave Heddie free and clear of all charges in exchange for Red not revealing to other crime organizations the truth behind Arcane Wireless. Of course, this works, and Heddie is freed and welcomed back into Red's team with open arms.
I'm glad that Heddie remained loyal to Red. It was very telling during Red's meeting with Alonso and Clyde how he feels about his employees and how expendable they are: "I've had to part company with people, myself. I think we all have. Peace and prosperity for all is sometimes more important than one particular person." It honestly would have been devastating if she had chosen the Witness Protection Program, because we all know that Red would have had her killed. I'm just glad Heddie and her macaws live to see another day.
SOME LOOSE ENDS
At the end of the episode, Aram apologizes to FJ for accusing him of being a traitor, ruining the entire operation, and for resenting him for applying to Aram's old job. FJ gives Aram a pep talk, proving to us that FJ isn't such a bad guy, and praises Aram for his work on GreyLook and his honorable choice to stay with the Bureau. This was exactly the push that Aram needed in order to fully accept his decision to stay with the FBI. He even called his former colleagues at GreyLook to refer FJ for his old position. If that's not moving on, then I don't know what is.
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