Reconvo: The Blacklist S1 Ep. 2 Monarch Douglas Bank

BLACKLIST

by Veruca Salt and L.T. Milroy

It’s time for another confusing installment of The Blacklist, where absurd plot twists go to die! Your recappers have done their best to iron out all of this week’s wrinkles, which are considerable. Or maybe you don’t really care about all that and just watch to partake in the Cult of Red. That’s ok, too. It’s a big tent.

LT: A bank is being robbed. We’ll find out soon just how important that bank is.

bank robbery

 V: And the guy who calls Red with the info about the robbery says, “But we both know what they were after.” So, I’m guessing it’s not great-grandma’s jewelry.

LT: Linda Hunt is back to clean up Red’s mess! Real interesting relationship between these two. I wonder if we’ll ever get any details on how it came about.

V: She’s a little taller than Linda, but yeah, put Linda in a stretching machine, and they’re twins.

LT: I always love the droll conversations between her and Red while she cleans up his latest collection of dead bodies.

V: I was surprised they were a bit contentious at the beginning. Seems she’s not happy with the whole sitch with the wife, but Red basically tells her to STFU and do her job. Then at the end he apologizes and says he’s out on a limb, and she grabs his hand. Tells him to relax and read a book…

hand holding

LT: Seriously, these two are the best couple on the show.

 V: Yeah. Almost mother/son.  It’s moments like those that really make the character of Red so three-dimensional. They have amazing chemistry.

Then right after that beautiful, touching moment, The Cleaner says “Oh, dear” and Red has to go over and put a bullet in the head of one of the guys who’s still alive.

shot to the head

 LT: Way to kill the moment…and other things…

 V: I love when this show reminds me it can be awesome.

Yeesh. Why does Mrs. Reddington look like Berlin is paying her a genuine compliment here when he says her mouth is so beautiful?

 mrs. reddington

 LT: In a way I’m glad it was just a tooth he wound up removing. The way he was looking at her mouth, I couldn’t imagine what kind of weird sickness he was dreaming up.

Mary Louise Parker is looking quite distressed, and it’s not just the plastic surgery.

V: She also seems remarkably well and quite the spitfire for someone who’d gotten her finger hacked off.  She tries to convince Berlin that Red doesn’t care about her. Has she not figured out that Berlin is totally nuts, and you can’t reason with crazy?

LT: Given his lifestyle, I wouldn’t figure Red to be a manicure-type guy, but there he is getting one. It’s mainly to introduce us to his manicurist, who will be back later in the episode. No character is superfluous on this show.

 manicure

V: Yeah, we’re clued into that right away when Red tells Lizzy the manicurist was a trauma surgeon in Havana who dropped out in her last year of residency.

LT: Of course she is!

Lizzy gives Red, and us, the 411 on his family. His daughter was placed in protective custody with her mother in 1990. Contact was lost seven years ago, and the daughter is unaccounted for. So Lizzy’s not his kid, unless we find out Red was a skank and has babies and baby mamas scattered all over the country.

V: He referred to “Jennifer,” and it was unclear whether that was the mother or the daughter.

Anyway, he changes the subject and introduces us to the current blacklister, because why let a little kidnapping get in the way of the job at hand? However, it’s not a person. It’s a thing.

monarch douglas bank

Monarch Douglas Banks is the preferred bank of international criminals, terrorists, dictators, and hedge fund managers. They’re headquartered in the U.S. Deposits insured by the FDIC. This means it falls under the agency of our favorite super agent. They have sixty-three locations, but the home of their criminal enterprise is at a branch in Warsaw, which up until those charming men in white busted in, it was presumed crazy to try and rob it.  The official statement is that nothing was taken, but ol’ Red, who never speaks in riddles, clarifies the other guy’s earlier statement by saying they took “everything.” That narrows it down, right?

Cooper, proving once again how great it is to have him back because he’s so good at his job, says his contacts at treasury assure him Monarch’s records are spotless, and all of those bad men couldn’t possibly be funneling all of their ill-gotten gains through it.

Ah, it turns out everything is “the ledger” of all of that criminal activity.

Everyone kinda tries to pretend nothing is wrong as they stop dead in their tracks and kind of stare at Ressler as he walks in late.

Ressler's late

His assurance that his train was late sounds really solid. That man is a slick, trained agent, I tell ya. It’s so hard to read the nuance. In any event, he and Lizzy are going to Warsaw.

But first, because these are agents who are always aware of their surroundings, Ressler and Lizzy have someone taking pictures of them from a car, only this time we see it’s that Mossad chick from last week who kidnapped Red.

  taking pictures

 LT: Red receives a tooth in the mail, after getting a finger last week.

tooth

 

Berlin continues to deconstruct Naomi and taunt Red with it.

V: Red looks worried. I repeat, RED LOOKS WORRIED.

red worried

 He never worries. This means we should all worry.

The guy Ressler and Keen meet in Warsaw, Agent Paul Salerno, seems slippery to me right away.

salerno

He starts saying how he heard they were an “elite task force” and crap like that. Oh, and they can’t make arrests, and they can’t be armed. I’m sure this will go like clockwork, and there will be no need for their guns at any point.

The scene is still being processed (Wow, that looks like a lot of cash).

processing the scene

Strickland, the EVP of Operations, flew out there from Manhattan. He tells them,the sources that said nothing was taken were wrong.

strickland

The thieves made away with bearer bonds and stuff. That press release is going to be fixed first thing tomorrow, yesiree!

Then Strickland walks over to this guy and starts talking about “the formula.”

Strickland is pissed about the press release, but this guy is all THE FORMULA and Strickland is like, Yeah, the formula is the problem. It’s missing, and that means the money is missing.the formula

I wonder if the formula is the one for Coca Cola. I hear the security on that is pretty tight.

LT: Unlike Bush’s baked beans. Dogs leak that secret.

V: Anyway, no fix=everyone dies.

Ressler notices some cameras right outside the bank that caught the robbers going in and coming out.

LT: Five robbers go into the bank but six exit. A close-up reveals one is a woman, and she looks scared.

V: It wasn’t a robbery. It was a kidnapping! Is she the ledger? Is she the formula? I must know these things!

We do find out she was an employee named Kaja, who Strickland claims not to know, and the other guy, who seems trustworthy, says she must have forgotten to swipe her card.

They go to Kaja’s apartment and HOLY GREAT BIG CAMERA, Batman!

camera

 Plus, she had guards to pick her up, take her home, etc. Sounds like a dream job.

They find the getaway van. Via phone with Lizzy, Red tells her to go through a whole rigamarole where they set a substance on fire that was found on the dashboard to see if it’s flammable, only for him to tell them it’s jelly doughnut filling.

Berlin is not happy with Strickland’s explanation about this snafu and wants him to come and meet face-to-face. Strickland must know how well meetings go with Berlin, because this is the look on his face in response to the request.

strickland berlin face

 Mrs. Reddington hides a bone from her dinner to ready herself for an escape attempt I’m sure will go well.

bone

 Ah, the jelly doughnut WAS a clue, as here’s Red in Warsaw with Appolonia, the bakery owner, who is most definitely not that singer who was Prince’s protégé.

appolonia

LT: That’s the first thing I thought, too. “Wow, Appolonia has let herself go!” The enthusiastic bite that Red takes out of that jelly doughnut is almost pornographic.

V: Considering he said it tasted just like Patty Sutton, you’re not wrong. Dembe might have blushed.

LT: The bakery doubles as a bunker, complete with a big stash of arms.

bunker

V:  It appears that some of her customers robbed the bank, and if they come under scrutiny, so will she.  Appie obviously gives up the goods on where Kaja is, because next thing we know, Kaja is being rescued.

LT: Only she didn’t want to be freed. They’ve ruined her escape plans.

kaja

V: Yeah, she didn’t exactly throw herself into Ressler’s arms. Words you never want to hear from a rescued hostage: “What are you doing here?” And she doesn’t want Strickland to know where she is, because of course, he’s working with Berlin.

Speaking of, there they are with their face-to-face meeting as Strickland is tap dancing as fast as he can, using terms like “threat assessment” to ease Berlin’s mind. But I don’t think Berlin is buying what Strickland is selling, as he promises Strickland if things go haywire, Berlin will “peel him like a grape.”

peel you like a grape

LT: And I doubt it will be as much fun as when Mae West does it, Beulah.

V: Strickland assures Berlin they are protected by The Formula. When Berlin asks how “she” does it, we’re taken to…Kaja! She IS the formula! Ressler is interviewing her in a soundproof room as Lizzy watches.

LT: Kaja has extraordinary recall skills, known as an eidetic memory.

V: Ooh! She has like what Marilu Henner has, where she can recall all of the events from any date of any year she’s been alive, including what day of the week it was, what she had for breakfast, and what the big news stories were.

LT: Yes, which means she has all of the bad guys’ financial information in her head, for safekeeping. Great plan! Because it’s not like anything would ever happen to her, so no need for backup required.

Seems she drained the accounts of all of the dictators and international criminals.

V: She’s got a good memory, but she ain’t too bright.

Lizzy tells all of this to Salerno…and I KNEW IT! He was a slippery devil!

LT: Salerno slugs Lizzy, then they battle while Ressler is unaware, due to the soundproof glass and can’t see them through the two-way mirror.

Lizzy punched

V: It’s kind of hilarious that Lizzie is in a fight for her life, where she’s being thrown over a desk and generally destroying the room, as Ressler sitswith Kaja having a nice conversation.
Lizzy fight

LT: As they fight for the gun, it goes off and shatters the glass.

shattered blass

It at last clues Ressler in to what’s happening, but he’s surprisingly slow to help Lizzy out (due to those pills, perhaps?).

V: Slow? He was nearly catatonic. Lizzy had to scream “RESSLER!” a few times as Salerno keeps punching her, while Ressler just kind of looked like he was trying to solve a difficult puzzle.

ressler delayed reaction

But for once Lizzy was actually in tune. She calls him on his reaction time and has actually been side-eyeing Ressler since he walked in late. Why wasn’t she this observant when she was married to Tom?

LT: Then who shows up to pick up the slack? Mossad woman, who shoots Salerno and tells the trio to scram, as the bad guys with huge guns make their way up.

 V: In the cab, another hysterical scene. It seems Kaja caught a bullet fragment, and Ressler is trying to stem the flow of blood, as he and Lizzy discuss how bad the wound is. It’s a nice moment when  Kaja screams, “You know I can hear everything you’re saying!”

Mrs. Reddington makes her escape attempt. Berlin looks unhurried as he goes to fetch her.

LT: Gee, it wasn’t too obvious that she wasn’t going anywhere. Scenes like this are blatant time-fillers, as we know exactly what’s going to happen before it starts.

V: The scummy cab driver, who was worried Kaja was messing up his car with all of her blood, alerts the police at the road block about the bleeding woman, but the gang is long gone by the time the cops check out the car.

LT: Cabbie was probably on Berlin’s payroll, too. What’s this world coming to when you can’t even trust a scummy cab driver?

V: Meanwhile, Lizzy and the gang are in a stolen car, as they call Cooper and fill him in. He’s also puzzled when Lizzy asks why they’re being trailed by Mossad. Anyway, Aram gives them the location of the nearest landline. They need to get off the grid.

Who ya gonna call? RED REDDINGTON! Though Liz is worried about the dirty cops between her and the person Red has sent to rescue them, Red says he’s arranged for a diversion.

big boom

“Big boom.”

LT: He arranges for the trio to escape in a box car.

V: Kaja isn’t looking so hot.

 boxcar

And, yes, Naomi’s escape plan goes as well as expected.

caught

Ooh, Ressler is sharing some of his pain pills with Kaja. I guess he didn’t take all of them at once.

LT: Nice of Ressler. It’s a good man who shares his drugs.

V: And oh, look. There’s Red, hijacking the boxcar due to all of the police waiting for them at the end of the line.

Red hijack

Ressler tries to be the tough guy and insists he won’t let Red take Kaja, but Red assures him that while the men he’s taken with him for this little mission won’t kill Ressler, they will “restrain him vigorously” if necessary.

restrain vigorously

Ressler probably backs down because he’s not exactly working at full capacity. The good news is, Red’s taking Kaja to the gulf stream where he has a medical professional, and Ressler and Lizzy have first-class tickets home. So stop your bitching, Ressler.

LT: Just as Berlin is ready to excise another of Naomi’s body parts, he gets a call from Red. Timing is everything. This has gone far enough, and Red wants a face-to-face meeting.

let's meet

And where else to have that meeting than the Coney Island boardwalk. Yes, in New York. I know we were just in Poland. The world is indeed Red’s oyster.

 coney island

Actually, as implausible as it is that this meeting is being conducted in public in Coney Island, the scenery is so great that I’m willing to overlook that.

red and berlin

 V: I did love how Red was telling Berlin how toxic revenge is.

LT: Red should know. He thrives on toxins!

So, Red says they have a common enemy: whoever told Berlin that Red killed his daughter. Then he says that Berlin is done whittling down Naomi, and that he has something Berlin values more than revenge: his money. He wants to trade it for his wife.

Berlin also lets Red know that he found Red through Elizabeth Keen.

V: Boy, did you see Red’s face when Berlin said her name? He was sitting there so smug just a moment before.

 you mentioned lizzy

LT: He knows Lizzy is very important to Red. He knows there’s a bond there, but he doesn’t say what it is, so we still don’t know, either.

V: Back at home, the much-more-effectual-than-the-replacement Cooper has realized he’s lost complete control over the operation. Ressler comes up with a theory, which Cooper immediately agrees to, because he’s the BOSS, that Red was the perpetrator of the whole thing, since he twigged them to the bank, which…isn’t that what Red is supposed to do? Anyway, Ressler’s theory that Red had a bunch of money in the bank and captured Kaja to get it back is shot down by Lizzy.

LT: As they try to figure out how to get Kaja back, Cooper mentions she’ll need medical attention from someone Red trusts.

V: Hmmm…didn’t Red outright tell them, in plain English, that he had medical attention waiting for her on his boat? So maybe…Lizzy or Ressler could have piped up with this info? Just saying.

Anyway, Lizzy immediately comes up with the manicurist, which again, she could have come up with a long time ago, since she already had this information. Then she phones Red to call him an embezzler, a thief, etc., like these are the worst sins Red has committed. Of course he arranged for them to be on the case, so he could get Kaja and get Berlin’s money.

That Lizzy. She’s the best agent the FBI has.

So, for once Red didn’t arrange the robbery. He just “took advantage of an opportunity.”

LT: I love how Red, on the phone tending to life and death matters, hands off the stuffed toy he just won on the boardwalk to a little girl. She and her mother smile at Red, but he never looks at them, and just keeps talking. Yet another example of Red’s all-consuming awesomeness.

 red hands off the bear

V: Like I said, every once in a while we’re reminded how great this show can be.

LT: It looks like Red’s going to be left in the lurch.

V: I was shocked by how Lizzy went against Red and was basically saying, “Yeah, sorry your wife will die, and Berlin will kill you, too, but we’re tying up the funds, so he can’t get the money. It funds TERROR.”

LT: But apparently Lizzy has decided to bail him out.

V: Because Lizzy is her own person and is not at all Red’s puppet.

LT: Red gives Berlin the bank codes, Berlin gets his money back, and Red gets Naomi, a few body parts lighter.

the return of naomi

V: Cooper, always in the loop and in control, is shocked to learn Salerno officially doesn’t exist, even though he was laundering money through the bank, and the FBI uses Monarch to fund operations, like the one they just did.

LT: Liz apologizes for being a little rough on Ressler after his delayed reaction in Poland. Considering these people rely on each other for their lives, literally, I didn’t think Liz was out of line. His reaction time was crap, and I hope he appreciates it, though it doesn’t appear he does. It also seems like Lizzy might know about Ressler’s pill problem.

V: Gosh, I hope so. Because otherwise this is like Tom all over again, where she suspects something, sees evidence of it, then wimps out in the end.

LT: Like on Dexter, where no one in a station full of presumably well-trained cops was able to sense a serial killer among them.

V: Mossad lady meets with Cooper and gives him a bunch of intel but won’t reveal her sources. He asks her what she wants.

mossad lady meets with cooper

LT: Liz visits Red in his hotel room (in Coney Island? Warsaw? Minskapinsk? Who knows?). She says she transferred the money to keep him safe because he’s an investment, I think that hurt Red, a little bit. He wonders who Lizzy’s source is that told her Berlin had his money in the bank.

V: When Liz worries that Kaja might not have given the FBI all of the info, and her incentive would be a new identity and a sizeable contribution to her pension in exchange for protecting Red and his friends, Red says:

“Lizzy, don’t be absurd. I don’t have any friends.”

I don't have any friends

LT: When we last see Red, he’s speaking with Mossad woman who tells him, “I’m in.” Looks like she’s going to join forces with the FBI, to keep an eye on Red’s ‘investments’. Red has a mole!

And Naomi drives into the night with Dembe…

That’s it! Your recappers are exhausted from trying to keep up with Red and his antics.

Will Lizzy not realize the extent of Ressler’s drug problem, until his reaction time is hours instead of seconds? Will Naomi learn to type with nine fingers? Do we ever find out who was following Lizzy last week? And will Red get himself some friends?

Let’s all tune in next week and find out.

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