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The Blacklist: General Ludd

I love the beginnings of “The Blacklist.” They remind me of the beginnings of “Fringe” – someone doing something normal and then something weird happens. In this episode, a dad and his kid are tossing a football back and forth in the park. Suddenly, there’s a thunderous noise and plane parts and charred human remains are raining down on them. I see therapy in this kid’s future – probably the dad’s too.

Then we hear an ominous voice akin to the Guy Fawkes character in “V for Vendetta”: “The storm has come. A wave of death and destruction, aimed at the few who’ve left so little for so many. It will wash away the greedy. And when it does, you can thank General Ludd.”

Back at Tom and Liz’s pad, the intensity of the past few eps seems to be behind them. They’re having a little fun in the shower as the mystery surveillance people look on. Then Liz gets a call from her dad, who’s in a hospital in Nebraska. But is he really her dad? The plot continues to thicken in this episode.

I love Red in a “he calls the shots awesomely” kind of way. He’s reminding Cooper that he’s not a consultant for the agency. He brings cases to them – remember? And he wants access to the agency’s ViCAP program. That’s short for Violent Criminal Apprehension Program.

Red also says of the plane crash, “It’s a movement.” He thinks General Ludd is behind the attack, the leader of a group who take their name from the Luddites, a militant wing of a popular struggle against early industrial capitalism.

The plane explosion was caused by a home-made bomb, placed on the plane inside a shipping crate. Turns out it was Justin Kirk with creepily white hair. Read Melanie Votaw’s interview with him, in which he talks about “The Blacklist” and “Last Love.”

I guess white hair is creepy now – note Benedict Cumberbatch in “The Fifth Estate” and Javier Bardem in “Skyfall.” My friend Rebecca Reynolds calls it “hair acting.” I quite agree.

Liz and Ressler learn the identity of Justin Kirk’s character: Nathaniel Wolf. He’s changed his face over the years, and Red and Liz make a visit to one of Red’s assets – a plastic surgeon played by Andrew Dice Clay. Red has his hands in everything, doesn’t he? And apparently, HE’s had some work done over the years.

“I never tire of being correct,” says Red. Oh, and he also knows about Liz’s “father” and the fact that the cancer has come back and it’s spread to his liver. He makes a little visit to see the good man. They have a few chuckles, and then Red says this:

“I finally had a chance to see her, Sam. There’s a fire inside she definitely got from you. She’s volatile, unpredictable … soft, then hard, then soft again. Stronger than she knows. You gave her an incredible gift, Sam. Taking her in and loving her as your own.”

Sam wants to tell Liz the truth before he dies, but Red says he can’t let him do that. And later, “You will always be her father, Sam. I can only hope to love her and protect her as you have.” And then, Red kills Sam by pillow suffocation! And seals it with a kiss on the forehead. Oh, that Red. What a snarled mess of brain matter in there.

Nathaniel is planning another crash. By the time Liz and Ressler get to the airport, the plane explodes on the runway. Nathaniel had one of the airport staff put his bag in first class while he supposedly went to retrieve something he forgot.

When Liz tries to catch a flight out to see her dad, she learns all the flights are grounded. And then, the ominous voice and masked face appears on the screen at the FBI, noting that corporate America is destroying the middle class on which this country was built. I so agree.

The storyline rests on Nathaniel moving currency by plane or — if the planes are grounded — by truck. It’s all an elaborate heist.

In Nebraska, Tom learns that Sam died. So he goes to a park, and, what do you know, Red sits down by him and they share a little chat and some coffee together. Tom tells Red that Sam took her in when she was four years old and adopted her, raised her as a single parent. It’ll be tough to tell her.

Red replies, “It’ll undoubtedly take some time, but I’m sure she’ll be fine. He’ll always be there with her, standing in the shadows to keep her safe, laughing at her in the light, watching through her eyes all those who get close. He’ll always be there. She will be fine.”

That’s a pretty intense statement for a stranger to say to someone, isn’t it? But they’re not strangers, are they? They must know each other, right? All signs point to that.

Meanwhile, Liz and Ressler track down Nathaniel, who’s getting ready to move some cash via truck. On a city street, a big mass of cash explodes, raining down on people as Nathaniel walks away. How come I’m never in the exact spot where this happens? Oh right, it only happens in the movies and on TV.

But it wasn’t just about the money. On the truck was a safe with a hard drive containing software upgrades for the new hundred dollar bill (which I had occasion to see this past week – the new bills look like play money).

Somehow, Red ends up meeting Nathaniel on the runway. Red says Nathaniel must really want this country’s financial system to fail. He knows he gave the feds a fake hard drive. So of course, Red takes the real hard drive – because he’s into that money-making venture (an earlier scene had him chatting up a suburban housewife who prints money on the side for him). The feds show up and nab Nathaniel.

I love the end scenes of “The Blacklist” too. This one is the funeral for Sam. Liz and Tom are there. She lays some flowers on the casket. I wonder who the other people are at the funeral. Family members? Friends? She seems friendly with them.

And then we see Red looking at the ViCAP database. He’s looking at a photo of a woman on the screen. Who is it? Apparently, a violent criminal of some sort.

Liz knows that Red took the safe from Wolf. “I’m sorry about your father,” says Red, doing his usual “change the subject” thing. “How was the funeral? This is going to be a difficult time. The best way to keep the memory of your father alive is to talk about it. Tell me some stories.” And there they are, on a swing set with Liz telling stories to Red.

Your thoughts on this week’s episode of “The Blacklist”? What do you think about this new twist of Sam dying and Red saying cryptic things to Tom? 

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