by Veruca Salt and L.T. Milroy
Holy confusion, Batman! Your recappers have set their sights on The Blacklist, which opened its second season this week. The show proved as delightfully convoluted as ever, with several subplots thrown in to go along with all the mess that was already unfolding at the close of last season.
We’ll be here every week, trying to make sense of James Spader’s bad-ass Red Reddington and all the craziness that follows him around.
LT: Now, this is how to open a season! No knowledge of this show is really required to enjoy the first scene, wherein Red reminds us of his total awesomeness, in case it slipped our minds.
V: Red: (calmly) Tell him to put the gun down (in response to the “boy soldier” putting a gun to his head).
Dictator: Shoots boy soldier.
LT: It’s a thing of beauty to watch him hand over three million dollars to this dictator, demand information, call in missiles for inspiration, light a huge cigar, douse the money with alcohol, get the intel he seeks, then set the money on fire. With the huge cigar. Even when being threatened by a murderous dictator, he holds all the cards.
The money was to get the names of the other assassins who will soon be getting in line to also put a gun to Red’s head. The dictator had his thirty seconds. He chose to squander it by laughing at Red. Look, fella, when Red uses the phrase, “Or so help me God, I will make it rain fire on you,” take the man seriously.
I love when people underestimate him.
“Get the water!”
LT: One would assume word would have gotten out by now, about underestimating Red. No good ever comes of it.
The mystery of this episode is, who is Lord Baltimore? I always thought it was Frank Pembleton. No, I guess he’s the Lord of Baltimore.
V: Funny. My first thought was “Lord Voldemort.” Anyway, he’s number 104 on the list.
Who is this new lady who is quite upset Red burned up that three mil? Oh, it also seems like the total Red has shelled out for “intel” is twelve million. Open up that pocketbook, FBI!
She’s the Deputy Attorney General. And the other guy is a temp while Cooper recovers.
Though the way they stated their titles for those of us in the dark, was a bit clunky. Maybe they should have had her sitting at a desk with a big “DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL” sign.
She wants to talk to Red. Yeah, Ressler, you give her the 4-1-1 on Red’s “I only talk to Elizabeth Keen” rule.
Speaking of Lizzy, there she is! Lying on a bed in a motel room. How exciting!
Oh, good. Gratuitous, “Hot female lead walks around in matching black lacey bra and panties” scene. Because, sure, all women do that when they’re alone.
LT: She’s cleavage cop! What, you mean all women don’t parade around the house in their Victoria’s Secret-wear all the time?
Poor Lizzy’s life is a mess since the FBI agent who’s supposedly deeply in tune with what makes people tick found out her husband of four years was really an imposter sent to spy on her. She’s using aliases, living in motel rooms and out of her car. Probably hanging out at night at Laundromats and Quiznos. She’s afraid Tom will return, but Ressler says he’s dead.
V: Lizzie is unconcerned with people finding out she Googled, “Jobs for former FBI profilers who are really bad at their job,” but Red puts an end to that attitude and tells her what anybody who owns a computer knows. That anything and everything about a person can be found in five minutes on the internet. LB is a tracker and data miner who uses this information and may lead them to Berlin.
LT: One thing that is still to be explained about Red is why he values Lizzy’s opinion so much. The tie between them is this show’s biggest mystery.
V: Have you not gotten by now that she’s the best agent, ever?
LT: That’s what they all keep saying. Also, Lizzy is being followed and watched throughout this entire episode. We don’t know by whom, as of yet.
V: Can’t tell if it’s a he or she, because of course they need to wear gloves and a hood Death would covet.
Boy, the creepy guy with the binoculars saw through Lizzy’s “hooded shirt” disguise. They’re good!
Favorite line: “He’s more than a bounty hunter, he’s a statistician.”
Stop, Lizzy. I’m shaking in my boots.
Aram’s line comes a close second. He says LB is an urban legend who “roams the deep web, hunting those who don’t wish to be found.”
Lizzy had asked Aram to look for any irregularities in the accounts of employees in the six big data firms. One person stood out. Rowan Mills, who works as a data engineer at Quancord Analytics.
Her computer was hacked and $250,000 was deposited into her I.R.A. She claims to not know it happened and did immediately report it.
LT: Anyone wishing to hack me in this fashion certainly needs no permission to proceed.
V: Unlucky for her, thirty seconds after Rowan received it, the money was shot out to an offshore account. Unless that was her offshore account, she was only rich for half a minute.
Apparently, someone went hunting around in her accounts at an earlier date, and Lizzy makes an observation that shows what a crack agent she is: “They were looking for someone who doesn’t want to be found.” Where have I heard that before? Oh, right. Two minutes ago when Aram said the exact same thing. Anyway, Rowan agrees the information this data hunter got could help them track down this elusive doesn’t-want-to-be-found person.
Back in the car, Lizzy freaks out on Ressler about how easy it is to track someone and is not singing along to the old Rockwell tune when she says she feels someone is watching her.
I mean, I just…I can’t believe this woman who works for the FBI and has seen what they’ve been able to dig up on anyone and everyone through technology, is this surprised about how easy it is to track someone through technology.
LT: Yes, Lizzy, it’s called the Internet. Don’t tell her about Google, her head will explode.
V: She’s already pointed out she’s completely unconcerned with Google. Apparently nobody during her FBI training filled her in on how criminals have gone to jail based on their Google searches. Perhaps she also needs to watch the Investigation Discovery channel.
Ressler tries to convince Lizzy Tom is dead, but she just wants to know if he’s talked to Dr. Friedman. Ressler thinks he’s fine, what with Lizzy being board-certified and all.
Yeah, Ressler, she’s great at this stuff.
LT: Really, has he met Lizzy? You know, the one who was married to some double agent for four years and never had an inkling? He’s going to her to get his head straightened out? Why does everyone seem to think she walks on water, when we’ve seen her in action and know her skill set leaves much to be desired?
V: This is the huge problem with a Mary Sue character, where everyone talks about how awesome a person is, without giving an actual demonstration of it.
So, Berlin lies in a bathtub filled with water and ice. Hey, way to up the ante on the ice bucket challenge there, buddy!
Anyway, his informant, Marcus, lets him know LB has found Red, but with the FBI involved, blah blah blah, it’s going to cost him more money. Berlin responds to this in the way you’d think: By slamming Marcus’s head on the bathtub and nearly drowning him.
Next time Berlin says, “No additional expenses,” I guess they’ll know he means business.
Ooh, the electronic voice that gives me turn-by-turn directions is not pleased with Rowan talking to the FBI. They told her not to do it anymore, so she immediately goes and talks to them.
LT: That was a WTF moment, to be sure. Way to paint a target on yourself, honey.
V: When Lizzy talks with Aram, he says he’s confused, because the person who broke into Rowan’s computer stole a bunch of data, but Red is a luddite, so why would Berlin hire this guy to track him? Wait, they’re just asking this NOW?
Lizzy thinks he may be tracking one of them. Let’s see…who has ties to Red…and goes to see him all the time…a person who is the only one Red will talk to…nope. I’m drawing a blank.
It looks like Rowan is being set up for people to think she’s LB.
There’s Red and his patented deal where he sits in a chair and waits for the owner of the house to come home, so he can scare the bejeezus out of them.
LT: I don’t care how many times he does this, it will never get old!
V: In this case it’s Cooper, who’s scruffy and walking around with a cane.
Red is there to encourage him to come back, as his replacement is both untrustworthy and incompetent.
LT: Let me guess. Is it Lizzy? Just kidding!
V: Well, I mean, good old Harold may have been trustworthy, but competent? Meh.
Anyway, by way of encouragement, Red gives Cooper the only copy he has of “their little adventure in Kuwait.” Cooper is unmoved until…Red talks about some mysterious “diagnosis” Cooper got at the hospital.
Wait. Rowan has a twin sister she thought was dead? Okay…
LT: So, Red is taken away by a helicopter landing on a mall in DC. That seems entirely plausible.
V: But first there’s much gunfire and tear gas and PANDEMONIUM!
V: Dembe gets knocked out and Red is taken to a woman who likes to wear all black and act tough. She’s Mossad. At first I thought she was Rowan’s twin sister. They look a lot alike.
She talks in poetry in a deep voice. Says stuff like “earth-tone palette.” Anyway, as promised, Mr. Temp comes in to free Red using the term “national security.” Crisis averted in a completely anticlimactic way. Red’s five hundred other abductions were much more edge-of-your-seat.
LT: Lizzy determines that Lord Baltimore isn’t looking for Red. Lizzy talks on the phone with Red as he goes through a bunch of pictures of people who may be targets and gives him a list of characteristics LB had been looking for during that little data mining session. Red sees a picture of Naomi, played by Mary-Louise Parker, and stops.
He reveals she’s his wife. Apparently, Red went to the corner store for some milk twenty years ago and got sidetracked. Naomi has a new husband and whole new life, and is partying with hubby and friends when US Marshalls arrive to take her away.
V: This woman has a subscription to Cat Fancy magazine?
LT: Just because she’s been living a fake life doesn’t mean that she’s not a well-rounded individual…
V: Berlin’s informant, Marcus, walks into Rowan’s place and…puts on a record? I’m not using that term euphemistically. I’m talking a turntable and black vinyl. Look it up, kids.
Also, she has a turntable sitting out? The song he plays is The Ink Spots singing We Three.
LT: Great song, hit number-one in 1940, kids. Look that up, too.
V: It’s to jog her memory as to who she really is. It does, just as Ressler finds a van in Rowan’s mommy’s backyard with…some mummified remains.
Yes, of course. Rowan is her sister, Nora, the one who got abused by her uncle and has all the combat training. She’s got that split personality disorder, which sometimes happens to someone with a history like Nora’s. I guess since she is Lord Baltimore and was the one going through her own computer, she knows where Naomi is, because there’s Row/Nora all “Do your damn job” to the thugs worried about the cops surrounding the place.
While Naomi is adamant she’s not leaving again, Nora snipers the two guys standing guard outside Naomi’s building.
These are marshals, right? Don’t they wear those bullet-proof vests?
LT: Not when it’s not convenient to the plot.
V: Anyway, Marcus and the rest of the thugs walk in and make REALLY quick work of the agents inside. Lizzy’s only defense is to crouch down and yell, “We need backup!” into her walkie-talkie, rather than getting Naomi the heck out of there.
Where’s all her shooting skills now? That woman was Die Hard not too long ago. Now she’s taken out by a taser?
LT: I hate when shows render formerly ass-kicking characters helpless. Particularly cop shows. I kept waiting for Lizzy to get up and show off those Ninja skills we’ve seen in the past. Instead she just lied on the floor like a sack of laundry. Some character consistency would be nice.
V: At least she manages to shoot Marcus before he shoots her AND tackles Row/Nora to the ground. ‘But still, it happens too late.
Of course, by now Nora’s Rowan again and can’t give them any info. Marcus has survived and they’re putting almost no pressure on him for the info on where Naomi is. They’re satisfied with “Nora knows everything.” Good. I’m glad they’re taking the criminal’s word for it. But after finding a pic of Marcus from Rowan’s apartment, Lizzy just walks in, threatens him with life in prison, and he gives up the goods about the Ink Spots song being her trigger.
LT: I don’t think I’ve ever seen a bad guy fold so quickly! For a moment I thought he might be trying to trick them, but nope, he’s just a really bad villain.
V: Seriously. I think when she walked in, she did kind of apply slight pressure to the wound he’s nursing after she shot him.
But he was so bad-ass when his blood was spilling all into Berlin’s bathtub. One word from Lizzy, and he folds like a cheap card table, because she’s just that good.
Lizzy’s figured out Nora came back, murdered Rowan, and became Rowan. Are you getting all of this? Because Lizzy is using ALL of her training on Nora. That is to say, merely yelling facts at her while playing the song. Nora tells Lizzy where they can find Naomi, who of course is long gone, with Nora’s men lying bloody all over the floor. When Lizzy delivers the news to Red that one person survived, he informs her the surviving guy has a message that needs to be delivered to only him.
Wait. So, the guy doesn’t say, “I have a message for Red Reddington?” I mean, if Lizzy didn’t hand the guy the phone—and by the way, NOT tell him it was Red—would he have delivered the message?
LT: How silly was that? He had the phone put to his face and immediately knew what to do, with no prompting at all? I thought maybe I missed something, but it’s just plot holes big enough to drive a semi through.
V: Anyway, the one-handed man delivered the message, “The bluejay. On Benning Road.Number 604.”
Oh, this can’t be good.
Red gets to the location where Berlin was holding Naomi and finds a pocket watch with her picture.
I guess Red’s “pep talk” worked. Cooper is back.
The happy ending is short-lived. Red gets a package, and I’m SO scared.
Oh, God. It’s a finger. I’m not happy.
LT: The finger belonged to Naomi, whom Berlin has begun to dismantle. To punish Red for what Red did to Berlin’s daughter. And to up the grossness factor of this show, which apparently the writers didn’t think was high enough.
V: Yes. Apparently just having an entire episode where Red goes around killing people, was child’s play. Now we get a severed finger in a box.
Ressler finally has his showdown with Friedman, who threatens him with suspension, to no avail.
LT: Then later we see him at home, popping pills. Poor Ressler. Whatever happened to Lizzie’s shrink skills?
V: Maybe she told him, “Pop a pill or two. You’ll feel better.”
LT: By show’s end, Lizzy has been granted an annulment from Tom but has decided to keep her last name, because Tom was a fake and Keen was never his last name, anyway. Oookay. She also signifies a new life by cutting her hair.
V: Thus marks the end of the wig. A moment of silence, please.
LT: But she’s still being watched. By Tom? Or by someone totally new we haven’t been introduced to yet? I hope it’s Tom. I think those crazy kids can still work things out…
V: You know what? I agree. Tom did fall in love with Lizzy, because she is perfect and beautiful and awesome at her job! She’s an angel who walks among us.
So ends another Blacklist. Are you confused? We all are! To wrap it up, Red’s ex is missing a finger, he’s bested by a criminal who’s even more sociopathic than he is, and Lizzy is being watched by a mysterious person who wears a Death robe and gloves and and never gets out of (his?) car. Also, Lizzy is great at her job.
Next week: Berlin and Red meet face-to-face. This should go well.