Reconvo: The Blacklist S2 Ep. 5 The Front


Veruca Salt and L.T. Milroy

Talk about art imitating life. Amidst Ebola dominating headlines around the world, this week’s Blacklist checks in with a story about trying to contain a deadly virus before it spreads.

A woman is on the phone, talking about how everyone will die, and she’s going to the police.

01 scared woman

V: Yeah, when you’re talking to the one person you can trust, and they say, “Soooo, where are you? We could totally go to the police together! SURE I’ll come alone!” you know they’re totally selling you out. Which happens.

The friend comes and totally does not look guilty at all. Then a skeevy-looking guy gets out of another car. The friend says, “I’m sorry.”

03 friend i'm sorry

LT: The skeevy guy says, “Where is it?” As they struggle with her purse, she winds up in traffic and gets hit by a taxi. The guy runs over and takes something from her purse, then quickly takes off.

V: He’s a prince. She’s lying there bleeding, and all he can do is rifle through her purse. And he called HER selfish!

02 bloody woman

We don’t see what he takes. Also, did the taxi even stop? He didn’t seem part of the plan.

LT: Lizzie is still bitching to Red about that sniper he has shadowing her. You know, that guy who saved her life last week? She doesn’t want him around. She says she can take care of herself. Well, yeah, I guess you can, Liz, but not all that well. You should take assistance wherever it’s offered, especially from Red.

Red seems to be doing something technical.

05 something technical

V: When Liz asks what he’s doing, he changes the subject to the incident we saw in the opening. Liz being the exceptional profiler she is totally lets it slide that he didn’t answer her.

LT: She is strangely incurious for someone who searches out information for a living, isn’t she? The woman who was killed is named Carrie-Ann Beck. She and her husband, Maddox, headed up a group called The Front.

04 the front

V: Holy crap. The guy rifling through her purse without even caring she was lying there dead, was her husband? THAT totally sucks.

LT: It’s an environmental group that used to be popular but had fallen out of favor with environmentalists after it got too radical. It was thought they died after they tried to bomb a BP office in England in response to the oil spill, but they went underground. Maddox believes the human race must be eradicated in order for nature to continue. Yes, of course, without humans, all the animals of the world will be safe…except for the ones killing each other.

V: Dude, did you catch the part where Red thinks they’re advocates for a level of destruction he finds chilling? When Red thinks something is chilling, you should perk up and take notice. I guess Carrie-Ann died for being the moderate one in the relationship.

Back at the FBI, it’s Cooper’s turn to think Red is wrong. He says they can’t believe Maddox killed Carrie-Ann, just because Reddington says so. Yes, Cooper. You can. Anyway, he wants them to go to the morgue to find out the cause of death, except she’s not at the morgue. She’s at the hospital, labor and delivery. She’s thirty weeks along and the baby is fine, except for having a crazy-ass dad who wants to kill everyone and a brain-dead mom. Welcome to the world, Baby Beck!

LT: Turns out Carrie-Ann also has seven-hundred-year-old clay under her fingernails. The soil dates back to the fourteenth century and is called raw Sienna. Aram does some research and discovers it was used by painters of the Sienese school. The Prado in Madrid is exhibiting a bunch of paintings from the Sienese school, and one of them was stolen. At first it’s assumed the Becks were fighting over it to fund their operation, but it was the least-valuable painting, so they wonder what the Becks could have wanted it for.

V: Cut to Maddox in his apartment hanging the painting.

06 hanging a painting

Then he bathes the room in blacklight, and a pattern appears in the painting.

 07 patterns

He takes digital pictures of it then prints them out. He puts all of them on the wall and stands back. Also, he has a bunch of rat cages there, which must be for the experiments.

08 mice and pictures

LT: In this week’s comic relief, Red waits at the DMV. Seems even the all-powerful Red isn’t powerful enough to escape that hell. He watches as other unfortunates wile away their wait by wrestling with the soda machine. He also accepts an offer of a gummy bear from a little kid sitting next to him.

09 gummy bear

Red is good with kids. He just doesn’t always play well with adults.

V: I laughed out loud when they called number seventy-six, and he had number 114.

LT: Welcome to the real world, Red, if only briefly! Enjoy your stay. But Red isn’t there on auto business. After complaining about having to wait forty-five minutes (!), he’s in the office of a DMV worker who’s also a Red employee.

10 dmv guy

It looks like he’s been put on the task of finding Red’s daughter but isn’t getting enough results. Red tells him he’s fired and to hand over all the research on her whereabouts.

DMV guy defends himself by saying he’s been distracted by his mother who has cancer, but Red says he doesn’t believe him, because he always has another story. Apparently the time before, his brother had Legionnaire’s disease, and before that his house was flooded. Red leaves without roughing up the guy, though, and says he’s a good tracker, but his mouth “runs like a scalded dog.”

V: It was sweet the way at first Red tried to be sympathetic, until the story got bigger and sadder.

LT: Aram finds the code under the painting that Maddox had been looking at, which is brought out by thermal imaging.

11 the code

No one knows what it means, so Cooper brings in Lillian Sharp, an expert on such matters, to help them.

Meanwhile, at an office building, Liz goes to visit a woman who says, “Is he still out there?” and seems upset this is all taking so long. Liz pays her then tells her she’ll pay double if the woman sticks with it for one more week.

V: It doesn’t escape my attention she looks exactly like, and is dressed almost like, Liz.

13 looks like keen 2

The woman goes upstairs, while Liz slips out the back. Meanwhile, sniper guy sits outside on a stoop and watches the woman he thinks is Liz, through an upstairs window.

14 sniper on stoop

After a while, Liz comes back through the same back door, tells the woman to be back next week at the same time, and leaves through the front door, where the sniper continues to watch her. He is also very good at his job.

LT: Lillian tells the FBI the strange writing is a map, and it concerns the so-called Apophis Strain of the deadly end-of-world pneumonic plague, which means it’s airborne. But it’s also an old legend she says experts don’t take seriously, about four priests who were supposed to take the strain to the end of the world. Cooper wants to know if the map indicates where in the world it’s hidden, but she laughs and says the map is worthless.

But that’s just what she tells the feds. Lillian is another in Red’s employ, and she calls him immediately.

V: Then Red calls Liz, who gets into yet another pissing match with Lillian. There’s a little tiff about who can trust whom.

LT: Lillian withheld the information she has about the deadly Strain, which she knows is real and will wreak havoc if released. One of the priests transporting it got sick and swallowed it whole to protect it, then took it to his grave. The others survived and created the map, which shows where the priest is buried. It’s Burial Ridge Island, the largest Native American burial ground in New York.

V: Liz and Ressler rush there, only to find out from Aram that Maddox beat them to the site. But he didn’t get the bones, as they were moved hundreds of years ago. What was left there was a marker. An addendum to the map.

15 addendum

 So, why the subterfuge with Cooper, if Liz was going to bring Ressler and Aram into the mix?

Also, I love how Samar looks at Aram when he does hugely complicated math equations in his head.

16 samar impressed

LT: Red wanders into the FBI, which I guess he can do whenever, and gives a warm greeting to Aram and Samar. Aram says Liz isn’t there, but Red isn’t looking for her. He’s looking for Aram.

V: Aram’s already stuttery and jittery around Red, and I’m sure this look doesn’t help.

17 red is dangerous

LT: Then he gives Aram an assignment to look for a woman that Red’s other people haven’t been able to find, who is, of course, Jennifer. He can give no details. Aram says it won’t be easy with nothing to go on and is worried about what might happen if he fails. He’s looking a little nervous and underneath is likely terrified. He no doubt knows what happens to those who disappoint Red. But Red seems like he wants Aram to think there are dire circumstances for not finding her and just says to get on it, because she’s critical in his war against Berlin.

V: Aram’s calculations of the addendum, written in Cyrillic, lead Liz and Ressler to Holy Trinity Church in New York City.

18 HT church

In the basement, Liz comes across Maddox in a hazmat suit. He’s holding the container of the priest’s bones that have the highly contagious plague.

19 bags of bones

 If Liz shoots him, he says he’ll drop the bags, and it will spread.

20 crazy guy

She hesitates and is hit from behind. Maddox escapes. Once again, ladies and gentleman, the greatest FBI agent in the world gets knocked out. Because yes, merely dropping the bones in those bags, will release a deadly disease. Liz’s ability to read people apparently doesn’t extend to knowing when she’s being fed a line of bull. But then again, she lived with Tom for years and never suspected a thing.

LT: Samar can’t believe that Liz let Maddox axxnd the plague get away. Then privately, Amar kisses some Liz ass by telling her she’s such an amazing agent that if she does something, it must be the right thing. Ugh. Has this guy ever watched Liz in action? She appreciates the ass-kissing. Then Amar gets stupid and lets on that he’s on assignment for Red. Liz is not happy.

V: Aram is sweet, but he’s right. He’s lousy under pressure.

LT: Maddox preaches to his sheeple about how humans must become extinct in order to preserve life on earth.

21 sheeple

I say we start with him. But of course, he’s an all-talk-and-no-action sniveling little coward, as we’ll soon see.

V: Most of the whack-a-doodles are.

Looks like he’s already cultivating the disease.

22 working on the plague

Watching him inject it into the cute little white mouse was so sad. But not as sad as poor Sharon, who appears to be the first human victim. Maddox tells her “It’s time.” She looks quite enthusiastic about the whole thing.

23 poor sharon

LT: In a scene that would give Oedipus nightmares, Liz tells Red he can’t use the FBI to look for his daughter.

V: She tries to stab him right where it counts by telling him he abandoned his daughter and how he upended Naomi’s life, but she won’t let Red do that to his daughter. Meanwhile, Red seems to be impressed she figured out his daughter is the woman he’s looking for.

LT: Red accuses her of being jealous, but he assures her that finding his daughter “won’t in any way compromise our relationship.” Yikes. Whatever that relationship is.

V: Red does the thing where he changes the subject to the case, but for once, Liz ain’t biting. She tells him Aram is not going to find his daughter. Oh, please. He so totally is.

LT: Then Liz says to get rid of the sniper, or she will.

V: This is Red’s, Oh, really? face.

24 red oh really

Red immediately calls sniper dude to tell him Liz seems even more agitated than usual and believes she’s hiding something, because of how urgently she wants him gone and may try to manipulate the situation.

But sniper guy is distracted.

25 peeping tom

LT: In her motel room, Liz has opened her curtains and started to undress then flashes him. But before he can get too excited, she writes bite me on the window. She’s a classy girl. No wonder she’s so invaluable to the government.

But even as he assures Red he has eyes on her as they’re speaking, we see Liz is at that warehouse-type place we saw at the end of last episode, and it’s the other woman she talked to earlier doing the strip tease. Some big guy tells Liz she shouldn’t be there at night by herself.

26 big guy

She asks if she can go inside, and he doesn’t answer, so she gets up and goes through the door.

LT: This has already been dragged out long enough. At first it was shocking to think it might be Tom, but after so much time, it would be kind of anti-climactic to have Liz open the door to a chained-and-beaten-up Tom. At this point it’s like, what else ya got? The longer they wait with the reveal, the higher the stakes get.

V: Poor Sharon has taken a dose of the plague.

27 poor sharon 1

Then she walks her infected ass all over DC.

29 poor sharon 3

 Oh, Sharon, this is the price you pay for being stupid and blindly following a crazy man.

30 poor sharon 4

LT: Due to her efforts, there are 2,300 people being quarantined. The plague has no known cure. Beck has altered the strain, he has the only known cure, and the quarantined people have nine hours to live.

Aram has somehow traced a rat hair found on Maddox’s wife to Maddox’s apartment, and his lab is raided.

31 storming the castle

Red is back at the DMV.

33 red at the dmb

The DMV guy came through. It looks like the woman (Red’s daughter?) Red has been looking for, and her name is Zoe D’Antonio.

32 jennifer

V: She…kinda looks like Liz, right? I know her as the chick from NCIS.

LT: Red looks at the file then bitches some more about the DMV experience. As he’s leaving, a new soda machine arrives. Red’s little gift to the weary denizens of beaurocracy. DMV guy seems amused.

At the lab, Liz finds a world map marked with red dots that signify twenty-four cities on every continent.

34 map

V: This means they’ll be flying, so the FAA is notified.

LT: Then Maddox lectures to his cranially challenged followers. He gives out masks as he drones on about the evils of humanity.

35 sheeple

They inhale from the masks then go forth to spread the plague.

36 idiot

V: A car is quarantined at Dulles. There was one of those lovely inhaler masks found outside the car. The guy managed to board a plane to Panama City, so I guess the FAA is doing a bang-up job. There was no red flag at all on him, even though it was a one-way ticket, he had no baggage, and purchased the ticket within the last eight hours. How could they have known? Aram searches for the same criteria, which is kind of like closing the barn door, but whatever. They find one guy who is still in the incubation period.

Some others managed to get on planes to Sao Paolo and Moscow, but quarantine won’t do any good for those poor saps. Only the cure.

At the airport, the agents run around screaming, “FEDERAL AGENTS!” then are surprised when the incubation guy isn’t at the gate.

LT: Samar spots him and chases him down. After she tackles him, they struggle, and he manages to give her a dose of plague.

37 samar gets blasted

Then he shoots her. Liz appears and shoots him. He and Samar are in a room off the main concourse. She promptly shuts the door and tells Liz through the glass that she’s been exposed.

38 through the glass

Liz opens the door anyway, and now they both have eight hours to live. Why would Liz risk her life to keep someone she doesn’t even like, company in her last hours? It doesn’t make much sense, but it makes for some entertaining teevee.

V: The only thing I can think of is that Samar was also shot, so Liz thought she would die from that sooner?

LT: The FBI has quarantined eighteen flights and arrested suspects. But there’s still the matter of Liz and Samar, both of whom have been shown to matter to Red. Aram places a call to tell him.

V: Yes, because it’s been proven that if you want crap done, you don’t use the endless supplies at your disposal. You call Red who hacks through the RED tape.

Aram tells him the pair has been infected. Red asks about Maddox, who Aram is charged with finding and is the main reason he called Red. Aram says it’s like he’s off the grid. Red, in his usual cryptic way, says, “Well, there you have it” and hangs up.

LT: Liz tells Samar about what she thought her life would be like. Just a couple-a chicks sittin’ around talking, except in this case, they think they’ll be dead in a few hours. Liz reminisces about how perfect she thought it would be with Tom. Then Red came into her life, and everything changed. Honey, you had already married some sort of secret agent bad guy, so you were in the crosshairs before you ever met Red. Whatever, Liz thinks she’s doomed and is apparently idealizing her life.

Samar wonders what exactly Red is to her. We’d like to know that, too. Then Liz admits to being jealous of the girl Red is trying to find. Wow, paging Mr. Oedipus again!

V: That really was bizarre. Would she have rather lived in ignorance? What would have happened if Red hadn’t alerted her to who Tom was? She could have adopted a baby with a dangerous man who was only there to spy on her. How does she not get that?

Anyway, they figure out that Carrie-Ann’s baby probably saved them all, since that’s why she wanted to alert people to what they were doing.

LT: Aram has found Maddox. He tells Cooper where to find him but adds that Red has a head start. Like that’s anything unusual.

Red gets to Maddox’s place before the feds, of course.

39 red gets there first

Maddox is there with his chippy; so it looks like he’s a crappy husband as well as a deeply disturbed and delusional human being. What a catch! Red starts in with one of his speeches, this one highlighting how he used to admire Maddox, before he became a raving loon.

V: The story of the guy who went on a seventy-four day hunger strike for Maddox’s cause was one of his better ones. I love the color he throws in there, including the weight of the guy, IN KILOGRAMS.

LT: He says that people who are willing to die for a cause are either saints or megalomaniacs, and Maddox is no saint. Red then reveals that Maddox has a cure for the plague, which he has hidden for himself and his mistress. Good old Dembe has retrieved it.

40 dembe has the cure

V: Then Red turns to the mistress and indicates there’s some secret she’s been keeping from Maddox. Maddox is dying to find out, but she just looks like a deer in headlights.

41 pepper's got a secret

LT: When Red tells her he doesn’t have much time, she indicates an old bottle in a tree, one of many colored bottles she’s been hanging throughout the episode.

48  colored bottles

Inside is a key. Red takes the key and leaves, just as sirens wail in the distance. As always, he’s a couple of steps ahead of the law.

Liz and Samar are recovering in the hospital. Red is at Liz’s bedside and takes her hand.

42 red with liz

Aram is with Samar, and she takes his hand, which makes him happy.

45 aram hand holding

Aw. I still think she’d eat him alive.

V: I don’t know what the key was or what that secret was, but it must have been a doozy, as Maddox and his beloved are dead, and it looks like it’s the result of a murder/suicide. The hazmat team arrives, even though the death doesn’t seem to have to do with the disease.

43  they fell


LT: Red is alone watching old home movies, presumably of his daughter, but who knows at this point.

44 home movies

V: Also, Liz looks in on Carrie-Ann’s baby and seems to reminisce on her awesome fake life with Tom.

45,5 fake life with tom

What kind of freaky alternate reality is she living in, where Tom would have been a loving husband and father?

LT: That was kind of mind-blowing. Maybe she wants a kid, but with Tom? Is there some significance to this, beyond Liz being rather dim? It’s almost looking like she wants Tom back.

In the last scene, Red’s on the street, watching a food truck.

 47 food truck

A woman emerges and takes out the trash. It’s the lady who was in the DMV picture

46 red's daughter

Looks like Red has found his daughter?  I see the beginnings of an awesome episode of Food Truck Wars!!

So, what do you think that key was to? And what was Pepper’s secret that she took to the grave with her? Next week, Ressler in a cage! And we finally find out what’s behind that stupid door.

If it is Tom, maybe they’ll get together and raise Carrie-Ann’s baby and live happily ever after, with Red as the godfather. Then Liz can make a house out of gingerbread and gumdrops!

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