BWW Recap: The Task Force Crumbles Like the 'Berlin' Wall on NBC's THE BLACKLIST
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We cold-open on a uniformed guy in New York who's coughing up blood and watching himself have the shakes as he conceals from his wife that he looks like he's dying - instead, they discuss their kid's school production that night. But as he sits in the back of an armored car, coughing up more, he reaches in his jacket for an injector case that's empty, and then stumbling into a Manhattan bank, his eyes now blurring. After calling 911, he stumbles more out from the men's room and collapses. It's not pretty. Medics pull up and want the whole bank quarantined out of fear that he's got a contagious, wildly deadly virus. Because this is what dying of contagious and wildly deadly viruses looks like. We discover from the title card that this is all about Berlin, No. 8 on Raymond Reddington's blacklist. Yes, Berlin is a person. We know that now from seeing the title card - the FBI still doesn't yet. (And given what we've been given to understand, how is Berlin only Number Eight?)
Lizzie confesses to Ressler about Tom's evildoing. She admits, "I should have let you rough him up." Ressler is a good buddy and offers to do it as soon as he can, but warns her that "the only way out of this thing is through it." Which means giving tons of statements about The Person Formerly Known As Tom Keen Also Formerly Known As Her Husband, because she doesn't want anyone calling her married to Whoever It Is That Isn't Really Tom Keen. Let's call him Not-Tom for short, shall we?
She met him in 2010 in Georgetown, where he inserted himself into her life, apparently by evil design. There are clips of flashbacks as she tells bits about him. She thinks his purpose was to spy on Red, and that he was deliberately trying to get her to take him to the Post Office black site earlier in the season to have him questioned so that he could get inside and look around.
She knows of three associates of Not-Tom's - his now-dead brother, the now-dead Jolene, and the imprisoned Gina Zanetakos, his maybe-girlfriend. Only she's told that Gina's not so imprisoned, having just escaped from Danbury. Oh, goody. Gina always brings the tea and cookies.
While Not-Tom is cornering a tail set on him by Red, Red is on his jet, telling Dembe that "it's worse than I thought" as he reviews notes and figures. This is not going to be one of those snappy-conversation episodes. Meanwhile, Not-Tom has decided to have tea and conversation with the tail in order to find out what he knows, which isn't much. Not-Tom says that Red, whom it seems he's followed for years, may have been cautious, but his own employer, Berlin, is more so. Looks like the tea and conversation is going to end abruptly and messily for Not-Tom's guest. Not-Tom's rapidly becoming as busy as Norman Bates or Hannibal Lecter, only more efficient.
Lizzie marches into Cooper's office to resign. Red is there. She doesn't care. Cooper doesn't want her resignation, he wants her on Red's new case, having to do with the armored car guard who died at the bank. Lizzie says she can't work with Red because he killed her father. With great tact, sympathy, and understanding, mainly none, Cooper tells her she's not resigning until this case is over, no matter what.
We discover that Blankenship, the guard, was poisoned by the wildly contagious, virulently deadly, incurable Cullen virus that makes Ebola look friendly and fun. It also convinces me that the writers don't like sparkly vampires any more than I do. Cullen? Blood coming from people's faces? Really, folks, this is a "Twilight" gag. Red believes that this is part of a concerted attack on Red and everyone associated with him, even though he has no connection to the guard, because Red's powers of Perception are deeper than can be imagined by mere FBI agents. He knows this even though he, frustratingly, cannot psychically intuit the identity of the person attacking him. He has this whole list of evildoers and can't figure this? How is this the only thing on the planet not known to Raymond Reddington, International Man of Mystery? But this mysterious unknown person doesn't care how many people he kills "as long as one of them is me," explains Red. Cut to this week's Ryan Eggold mysterious spy Mustang commercial.
Traveling to the bank and meeting with the assembled national security and health department flunkies of doom, Lizzie and Ressler discover that the guard wasn't contagious at all. The guard was infected with a cleverly mutated strain of the Cullen virus that was targeted to him. Nice work, since Cullen is so deadly that no one is even legally allowed to study it. Someone has clearly been messing with Things That Man Was Not Meant To Know. Maybe vampiric things that man was not meant to know.
Red gives Lizzie Not-Tom's super-secret Code Book of Doom. It contains very little about Red, surprisingly for Mr. "I've been tailing him for years." It contains more on the task force, and most on Lizzie herself. Like Chekov's gun, this obviously will become wildly important shortly.
Amazingly, the empty injector case carried by the guard proves to have contained the supposedly non-existent antidote to the wildly contagious and supposedly incurable Cullen virus. (A crucifix, to keep the sparkly vampires away?)
Red takes Lizzie to meet the world's greatest virologist, Dr. Sanders, better known as the incredible John Glover, who's previously enjoyed studying Cullen only slightly illegally. He calls it "spooky stuff - bad news." He believes it's the instrument of the apocalypse, which has not four, but five, horsemen. Then he informs Red that his most recent work on it has been assisted by Space Agent UD 4126. Red is playing along to get information, but Lizzie has no time for Sanders' insanity - the doctor is researching, somehow, from a mental hospital in which he's institutionalized. But hey, that doesn't mean he's not a genius! He's just a really mad scientist! She walks off, threatening to fly back to DC separately from Red's very comfortable plane and accusing Red of never having done one unselfish thing in his life.
The Fierce Bad Agent from the DC office who previously ordered Cooper off of the Diane Fowler investigation returns to further ruin Cooper's digestion. If Lizzie walks from the task force, Red's immunity deal is off. Lizzie's not trusted anyway because of her harboring of the evil Not-Tom, and Cooper's own future is about to be in question. All he wants to know is how Reddington's going to be brought in. Although Ressler and Malik swear to support Lizzie no matter what she does, Lizzie's in doubt.