There are just some shows you connect with, and “The Blacklist” is one of those shows for me. I think it’s a combination of the mysterious storyline, the great writing and, of course, James Spader, who keeps you guessing from one minute to the next. From moment to moment, you never know if he’ll be evil or good, happy or sad, crazy or brilliant. But one thing’s for sure. There’s a lot going on in that mind of his.
This week’s episode involves a guy known as “The Stewmaker,” so called because of his penchant for using chemicals to dissolve human bodies. Well, someone had to take over where Walter White left off.
The opening scene we see him in action – checking into a hotel (with his dog!), taking his fake teeth out, taking off his wig, and shaving his body. Is that where he gets all those scars from? I didn’t really get the connection there.
Then he puts plastic over the entire room – always a bad sign. Some poor schmuck ends up in a bathtub full of chemicals.
Meanwhile, in the FBI Storage Facility, Liz is still looking into that classified homicide. She finds a file: “Angel Station, June 23, 2012.”
She’s also working on a case involving a Mexican drug dealer, Hector Lorca, played by the best bad guy in the business – Clifton Collins, Jr. I interviewed him a few years back, and he is one of the busiest guys in the entertainment industry. He does both movies and TV, and has been working consistently for many, many years, often in guest-starring roles or “bad guy” roles.
Red wants to see Liz – alone, of course. He’s sitting outside all dapper in a hat and vest, tie and shades. Always the dandy dresser. He congratulates her on Hector Lorca, but says the case is about to go sideways. Lorca’s people have reached out to him. He’s asking for transpo out of the country and a new ID to establish his operations elsewhere.
In the courtroom at the trial, the witness is poisoned and Hector miraculously gets away. Yep, Red was right. Again. When will these people start paying attention to what he says?
At home, Liz is looking at the ballistics report, and things are super awkward with her husband, who always looks guilty as sin to me. He sees the date she wrote on the notepad – June 23, 2012. They were in Boston that weekend. He had a job interview (riiiggghhhttt). He’s hiding something.
After the agents investigate the hotel room and find nothing, Red says to look for tape residue on the walls. Yep, The Stewmaker is in town. “You’re going to need a plumber,” he says. “He’s a chemical expert who turns his victims into chemical stew.” He’s also a trophy collector.
Soon enough, a helicopter erupts in a fiery blaze and Liz is kidnapped and forced to endure much pain in a remote cabin in the woods, thanks to Mr. Stewmaker. Red tells the crew he wants to meet with Lorca alone. “When confronting complex equations, the simplest solution is most often the correct one,” he tells them. “You lost her. I can find her. It’s that simple.”
Red meets with Lorca. Notice how no matter where Red goes, people seem to know who he is and fear him? And he always knows exactly where to look for people.
He’s also willing to walk away from a deal, which is exactly what he starts to do when Lorca refuses to give up any intel on the Stewmaker or where Liz might be. But maybe Red’s deal is worth reconsidering. The Stewmaker’s name is Stanley R. Cornish.
Red is very resourceful – he takes that info and calls to get Stanley’s cell phone tracker rebooted to his mobile device so he can track him (because I guess the FBI didn’t think of this).
Meanwhile, Liz is using her profiling skills on Stanley, who’s prepping some nasty looking chemicals to use on her. “What about family?” she says. “You seem like … a father. You have kids? A son? How old is he? How old is your son?”
As Ressler and Malik quiz Stanley’s wife on his whereabouts, Red is already at the remote cabin with a plan to save Liz. One step ahead. And he even brings meat for the dog. As Liz is in a medically-induced paralysis in a wheelchair, Red turns to Stanley. “Ok! Shall we get started?” he says cheerfully.
Then Red says this: “A farmer comes home one day and finds that everything he loves is taken from him … years go by. his suffering becomes complicated. One day he stops, the farmer who is no longer a farmer. Sees the wreckage he’s left in his wake. It is now he who burns, it is he who slaughters. and he knows in his heart he must pay. Doesn’t he, Stanley?”
Ok, I have no idea what any of that means, but one thing is clear. He is not letting Stanley leave that cabin. Instead, he pushes him into the tub of his own chemicals, just as the other agents arrive.
“How’d you get in here?” says Malik.
“That’s a pretty blouse,” says Red.
Then, Red picks up a book with photos of all of Stanley’s victims. He takes one of the pictures out and saves it. Gives the rest to the agents.
“You’re no better than him,” says Liz.
“You gonna tell on me, Lizzie? Tell Harold how bad I’ve been?” says Red.
“You’re a monster,” she says (obviously forgetting that he just saved her life).
“Yes,” he says.
“How can you live with that?” she says.
“By saving your life,” he says.
And Lorca? He’s on Red’s jet.
Any guesses on who’s in the picture he looks at in the end scene? His daughter? Wife?
Meanwhile, Tom books a weekend getaway for him and Liz. At the “Angel Station Hotel.” The plot thickens.