My theory about The Blacklist holds strong: Every other episode is filler. After an awesome cliffhanger last week, one that promised to answer the show’s most interesting question (Is Liz’s husband a double agent?), we return right where we left off, but rather than wow us with a huge shift in status quo, the confrontation between Liz and Tom goes nowhere fast.
The cold open shows a guy and his lady friend blowing up a car; this serves to show us that they are really good at building bombs. There’s also a line about making the next one radioactive, and for a brief moment, I hope that this show will suddenly become about the radioactive fallout from tonight’s car explosion. The key figure in this scene is a woman we’ll come to know in a bit as Gina Zanetakos, a blacklister who Red suggests has major ties to Tom.
Speaking of Tom, the confrontation between him and Liz ends with Tom agreeing to be taken into FBI custody. They put a bag over his head and take him to headquarters, then interrogate him for the remainder of the episode. He insists he’s been set up. He’s never seen the gun, box or passports that Liz found under their living room floor. Alpha Cop, of course, doesn’t believe him. Actually, no one believes him, except for Liz, who suddenly wonders if she’s been set up by Red. FBI Director Cooper wants Liz to sit out the rest of the investigation, but Red has other plans. He shows up in Cooper’s office, threatening to expose some secret that ties into Cooper’s past in Kuwait. Whatever Cooper was up to, the threat is enough for him to ignore all better judgement (and probably FBI protocol) and reinstate Liz.
Red dishes on Gina: she’s an assassin, she’s hard to catch, oh, and by the way… she’s Tom’s secret lover. Liz is obviously upset by this, forgetting that Red’s a master manipulator; she’s on a mission to find Gina and disprove her connection to Tom. This turns out to be pretty easy, as they’re able to track Gina to a hotel where she happens to be wearing a horrible blonde wig and in the process of murdering a Middle Eastern man. She heads for the exit just as the FBI (always a step behind) reaches the room she was in.
Gina, finding the stairs locked (WHAT?!) hops into an elevator, it looks like she’s getting away clean until… Alpha Cop ends up in the same elevator! On this show, in cases of emergency, everyone takes the elevator instead of stairs. Which works out for us, because we get to see Alpha Cop get his ass handed to him by this woman, who is easily half his size. She leaps on his back like a spider-monkey and chokes him to unconsciousness. Why does the super assassin let him live instead of killing him? Because this is The Blacklist, where anyone can act out of character at any time!
Don’t worry, though, the writers have made Gina just stupid enough that she drops her cell phone in the elevator while fighting Alpha Cop. Thank goodness because they use her cell phone to put together her larger plan: use a car rigged with radioactive explosives as a dirty bomb!
Meanwhile the lone Competent Female Fed, whose name I discovered this week is Malik, is still in the interrogation room with Tom. She shows him a picture of the man Tom claims he met with for his job interview at the Angel Hotel, but Tom says the man in the picture isn’t the guy he met with. Suddenly it’s looking more likely that Tom is somebody’s patsy. This is probably the show’s biggest flaw/strongest asset and it puts them in a weird position. The Tom mystery is one of the show’s strongest plotlines; If they answer the question one way or the other, it could change the whole status quo of the series (not a bad thing), but clearly the writer’s aren’t ready for a shift of that size and so this back and forth tease will probably continue through the remainder of the season.
The rest of the World’s Dumbest FBI Team searches Gina’s apartment, and Liz finds a box eerily similar to the one she found in her own house. This box also contains a gun and passports, only these belong to Gina Zanetakos (Zany Tacos?). Also within the box are pictures of several of Gina’s targets, including a picture of the man Tom is believed to have murdered. So it looks like Tom is truly being set up, but why and by whom? This is where Liz is at when Alpha Cop steps out of Gina’s bedroom with a photo of Tom saying, “we found this next to her bed.” SCANDALOUS!!!!
More bad news about Tom drives Liz back to Red, a clear pattern that Liz seems to not notice she’s fallen into. Red assures her that she cannot believe Tom, no matter how innocent he seems. Liz doesn’t know who to believe anymore, but Red promises her he will never lie to her and that she can always trust him. Seems like a manipulation, but there’s a softening in Red when it comes to Liz suggesting perhaps his words are genuine.
THEORY OF THE WEEK: Red’s family was killed by a bad dude. That bad dude will turn out to be Liz’s father. Liz being Red’s daughter is just too obvious at this point to be anything more than a red herring.
Red pulls some strings with the bomb maker, offering him a large cut of some sweet trafficking money to spill on the bomb details. Maxwell, the bomb maker, explains that the explosion is set to happen in 19 hours (a pit opens in my stomach as I worry we’ll have to watch them search for all 19 of those hours), and then Red leverages Maxwell to call Gina and find out where the bomb is.
Alpha Cop and Liz follow Red’s instructions and track down Gina. There’s a chase that ends in a cat fight in a public restroom. Liz and Gina go at it like a couple of Jerry Springer guests, with Gina getting the upper hand. Just when it looks like Liz is done for, Alpha Cop bursts in to the rescue. He kicks Gina in the head and… oh, no, that would make too much sense. I’m sorry, folks. What actually happens is Alpha Cop bursts into the bathroom and shoots Gina like six times in the chest. Liz and I facepalm at the exact same moment.
A bit later, back at FBI HQ, Liz is rightfully pissed at Alpha Cop. He’s a dick about it, saying he did his job, and Cooper backs him up, quickly changing the subject from their incompetence to finding the dirty bomb that’s set to explode. Lucky for the bomb’s potential victims, Liz figures out that the bomb is at the Port of Houston. How does she figure this out? You see, earlier in the episode, Liz walks in on Red while he’s finishing a phone call. On that phone call he mentions the Port of New Orleans, and this helps Liz realize that if you blow up the Houston port, all traffic is diverted to the New Orleans port and… (the sound of Shawn’s brain oozing out of his ears).
Anyway, the bomb is in the port. Everyone rushes to find/stop it from exploding. They find it. There’s less than a few minutes left on the timer and the Bomb Squad tech’s best suggestion is that they all run as fast as they can so as not to be vaporized. Thankfully, Alpha Cop has an idea that only he could’ve concocted in his endless quest to be a real-life action-movie hero: if they can get the car into the water before it explodes, the water will prevent the radiation from spreading. They have plenty of cranes in the Port, but Alpha Cop opts to drive the car himself. He speeds towards the water, leaping from the car at the last possible second; The car plunges into the water, immediately sinks to the bottom (as cars do), and explodes. Everyone is saved and Alpha Cop levels up.
In the penultimate scene of the episode the FBI, having cleared Tom of all suspicion, releases him… into their bullpen. Not outside, or even back home, or even in a non-descript hallway. They bring him to the epicenter of their investigation so he can hug Liz, and then conveniently notice a picture on one of their white boards. The picture is of one of Red’s associates, but Tom instantly identifies him as the man claiming to be the head of the school Tom was interviewing with. Liz goes to see Red and call him out on his bullshit. Red calmly responds by telling her that she’s still being manipulated by Tom, that Tom cannot be trusted. She tells Red to go to hell and storms out of the room.
In the final scene of the show we’re shown Apple Eating Man and his buddy as they continue to spy on Liz and Tom via the hidden camera’s they planted in their apartment. Apple Eating Man admits he does not know what is really going on with Tom, but says it is clear Tom does not work for Red, clarifying absolutely nothing about anything, but also not introducing any new elements to the mystery of who the hell Tom really is.
That’s it. We’ll see if my theory holds true and next week’s episode actually progresses the plot instead of treading water for 48 minutes. Enough about me…. what did YOU think of the episode? What’re your theories? How about turn ons/turn offs? Tell me everything about yourself in the comments below.