Is anyone else getting just a teensy bit tired of the fake-shock dream sequences? Seems like I’ve seen them in several shows over the past week alone – which is why during the opening scene of this week’s “The Blacklist,” I knew right away it was a dream.
The Dream: Liz tells Tom she has to ask him something. She’s got the brochure for The Angel Station Hotel, and says a man was shot and killed in that hotel. “Were you involved?” she says. “In the murder?” Tom then goes all ballistic and starts choking her. But … of course, it’s a dream.
Cut to the blacklist character of the week – a guy known as “The Courier” is stuffing a guy into the back of a truck. “My name is Seth Nelson,” says the guy, and then he manages to grab a knife and stab The Courier right in the heart. In the heart, people! But the guy doesn’t die. He just keeps on doing what he’s doing, and pretty soon, poor Seth is entombed in a refrigerator beneath the ground. He’s got an oxygen mask, but the clock is ticking.
Cut to Red sitting in a nice home. As I’ve questioned in previous recaps, apparently Red can just wander here, there and everywhere. I know he’s got that chip in his neck, but seriously. Like that’s going to stop him if he really wants to get out of this situation. Which – I guess – he doesn’t. He’s there helping Liz for a reason. We’re just not sure what that reason is yet.
So it turns out this nice house used to be the residence of someone named Frederick Hempstead, a well-known writer who filled the place with all sorts of things – manuscripts, unsent letters, and “some sort of distilled alcohol,” explains Red. Frederick was waiting tables when he and Red met. When Frederick’s mother died, he couldn’t afford to keep living there, so Red bought the place for him.
Which brings up my central question: Is Red good or bad? I mean, who knows if his purchase of the house for this guy had strings attached, but there are certainly elements of good and bad in his personality. He seems to care for Liz, but on the other hand, he’ll shoot people point-blank with seemingly no remorse.
He explains to Liz that The Courier’s involvement in a transaction virtually guarantees success. He will kill anyone who gets in his way, and he’s scheduled to deliver a package worth $20 million to an Iranian spy at the Winston Farmer’s Market in 2 hours and 45 minutes.
Quick scene of The Courier stitching up his own heart wound! And then back to Liz, who’s at the farmer’s market with Agent Malik. The Courier takes off and they follow him on a wild car chase. Ever notice that when someone shoots at a car in the movies or on TV, it never stops the car? They just go merrily about their way, but in this case, Liz and Malik actually crash into him – at which point he gets out of the car and comes towards them with a scary-looking assault weapon.
They somehow manage to catch him (why didn’t he shoot them?), but not before he takes something from his pocket and sticks it into his heart wound.
Back at the FBI station, Liz and Malik grill The Courier. The guy is covered in scars, and it turns out he’s got that condition where he feels no pain. That’s pretty handy for a guy named The Courier, because he can just easily stash away small packages into crevices on his body. Did the FBI not think to check those wounds? That seems like FBI 101. It takes Red to figure that one out.
Liz: “You’re not telling us everything.”
Red: “Let me put your mind at ease. I’m never telling you everything.”
They get a doctor in there, and he pulls the little chip out of The Courier’s heart wound (which made me cringe), and the FBI figures out that the guy in the video on the chip is named Seth Nelson. He works tech support for a cable company and lives in Maryland with his parents. So why is he worth $20 million? Turns out he’s one of the NSA’s best analysts, and if he’s coerced into working for a foreign power, the damage would be catastrophic.
Ressler: “The guy’s a psychopath.”
Cooper: “Luckily, we happen to have our own psychopath.”
Here’s where Red evades Liz’s questions by asking what she’s learned about Tom. That the gun she found in the box is connected to an open homicide, she says. She thinks it was a Russian tourist who was murdered in Boston, and she and Tom were in Boston at the time.
Red then gives her some info that should be helpful in finding The Courier’s safe house. And by the way, “Thank you … for being honest with me,” he says. “In my life, I don’t encounter that frequently.”
At the safe house, they learn The Courier’s name: Tommy Phelps. And Liz finds a photo of two young boys. Tommy’s brother is a weak spot for him.
Meanwhile, The Courier has five objects embedded inside him – some are surrounded by scar tissues and have been there a while. There’s also a key and another chip. Which makes me wonder if there’s ever been infection issues with this form of package delivery. Surely the body must reject foreign objects made out of unsanitary metal and plastic, right?
Anyway, The Courier says he’ll tell them were Seth is in exchange for immunity. No deal. His brother, brought in from a federal prison, gives a sad story about their past. Their dad knocked them around a lot. And when Tommy was 11, his dad started hosting dog fights – between Tommy and a dog. Remember, he can’t feel pain. But “what it did to him over time – Tommy’s broken,” says his brother. “Somewhere in his head a switch flipped.”
At this point, Ressler volunteers to go undercover to an ex-French intelligence woman who makes a handsome sum selling secrets. She was the one who handed Seth over to The Courier. But she’s still expecting her cash, so they send Ressler in to tell her the deal is off, and the plan is to follow her to Seth.
Red: “If you really want her to talk, I should meet with her.”
Ressler: “Every time you meet, someone ends up dead.”
Red: “We’ve gotten off to a rocky start.”
Cooper: “You’ve killed three people.”
Red: “I’m not perfect.”
At the woman’s club, Ressler beats up a guy inside. There’s a little flirty thing happening with Malik, who’s watching on a surveillance camera. “That was hot,” she tells Liz. “You know he can hear you, right?” says Liz. “Yep,” says Malik.
Ressler tells the woman there’s no money. “The Iranian was working with the FBI,” he says. “Your NSA geek is where you left him last night. We’re done here. Don’t contact me again.”
Only she doesn’t let him go. She wants to know if it’s really him. “They say you can’t feel pain – prove it.” So Ressler smashes a glass and cuts his arm.
But she’s not convinced. If the Iranian is dead, the real courier would have killed her too, she says. The team swarms the club and they take her in, just as Liz gets a text from Tom. “Come home now. Need to talk.”
Meanwhile, the real Courier is chained in the back of an FBI vehicle, and he manages to cut one of his handy things out of his body and use it to unlock his chains. Seriously, again, you’d think the FBI might consider that possibility.
Red tells the team to let the woman go.
Red: “I’ll make her talk.”
Red: “You don’t want me to answer that.”
Red has a little chat with the woman.
Red: “Better make it a double.” (He shows up as she’s pouring a drink.)
Woman: “If this is about that incident in Paris…”
Red: “Oh we’ll always have Paris.”
Woman: “What do you want?”
Red: “So many things, but right now, I want some information. Where is the NSA agent?”
He coerces it out of her, as Ressler and Malik kill The Courier in a shootout. Seth now has 40 minutes of air left (again with the ticking-clock “24” vibe). They track him to a remote area with a bunch of appliances in a heap, and find him in the refrigerator buried in the ground. He’s officially dead, but Ressler gives him CPR and brings him back to life.
“I died once in Marrakesh,” says Red. “Two and a half minutes. You wouldn’t believe what I saw on the other side.” I’d like to know.
We see Red whispering something to Seth, and then…
Seth: “How can I ever replay you?”
Red: “I’m sure we’ll think of something.”
Liz: “Don’t even think about it.”
Red: “What? The boy wishes to express gratitude. I’m merely playing my part in the ritual.”
There’s a little moment between Liz and Ressler. She asks him, that story he told the woman, about his job being the only thing he has left… “I was undercover,” he says. “I said what I had to say.”
Then we learn about that little whispering exchange between Red and Seth. Red got the classified file about the Angel Station Hotel, and sent it to Liz, with “The answers you seek” written on it.
During the brief glimpse we got from the file (I ran it back and watched it a few times), we learn that there was a mole named Victor Fokin, with a “possible connection with unsanctioned double agent.” There’s a photo of Tom in the file, so … I’m guessing he’s the double agent…?
Back at Frederick’s house, we learn that Red got the file in a one-time offer for Liz. But Red’s assistant is unclear why he’d do that. “The right question and we could have made the world tremble. Finally found our adversary. Why did you waste it on the girl?”
Red: “Not wasted, my friend. Circumstances are far more complex than we ever imagined. I’m betting on the long play, the future.”
“Your future’s arriving now,” says the assistant, as Liz pulls up outside. She comes in and Red hands her a drink of the mysterious distilled alcohol.
Liz: “I don’t even know why I’m here.” (I know – because she has no one else who knows about this particular thing in her life.)
Red: “Funny, all these wonderful manuscripts, and my favorite thing is still the view from the sofa. I love how the light breaks through the trees.”
Last scene: Liz goes home and we see her entering the house on the surveillance camera the guys set up across the street. Tom is sitting there with the box, filled with the passports, money and gun. “We need to talk,” says Liz. And he just looks at her.
Your thoughts on this episode of “The Blacklist”? Do you think Tom is a double agent? And who is the adversary that Red’s assistant was talking about? Leave thoughts below.