The Blacklist: Too Many Brush Fires Cause Red To Get Burnt

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Episode recaps
Photo by: Virginia Sherwood/NBC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

Network Television, during the month of April begins ramp-up time for series. With the TV campaign reaching its conclusion in early to mid May, shows start getting more daring and revealing. Plots bubbling beneath the surface see the light of day, as shows get down to a handful of episodes. The NBC series “The Blacklist,” began its stretch drive with an episode entitled “Vanessa Cruz,” concluding with an event even Raymond Reddington missed the signals for. The result, bonds frayed and one character fighting for their life as the screen went black.

Things seemed like they’re getting back on track two episodes earlier, for the FBI Task-Force working with Criminal Informant Reddington, a case against Agent Liz Keen got thrown out of Superior Court, to insure National Security. Keen’s former husband Tom, came back to the USA and admitted he killed the Harbor Master and that Liz had no involvement. Even the tense relationship between Red and Liz started looking like it reached a détente.

The previous episode took place on Lizzie’s birthday, she wound up with an unexpected and unwanted present, Tom still in the Metro D.C. area, called her asking for help. He’d avoid death twice in the next few hours, once at the hand of his mentor and handler The Major, the second by the German gang he infiltrated on assignment. Tom turned on The Major, telling the Germans what he’d gone after, in exchange for insuring Liz’s safety. He’d take her by surprise at the episode’s conclusion, hiding in her motel room until she returned, telling her he had no place else to go.

Before we see Liz and Tom however, we find ourselves in a hotel bathroom, where a gray-haired man lies in a bath tub, passionately kissing a redhead, wearing a black bra and panties, with Angel Wings tattooed on the back of her shoulder blades. The woman injects the man with a hypodermic needle, telling him it’s to help him relax. He seems paralyzed lying in the tub and his breathing becomes short and rapid, she withdraws 27 million from his bank account via his laptop. She kisses him and he sinks below the water, drowning in the tub as she leaves the room.

We watch her back at her place, as she removes her wig, revealing long jet-black hair and as she showers, her tattoo goes down the drain. Back in her own identity she goes to visit her lover, another woman named Abby Issa. Abby’s ecstatic to see her and tells her about the continuing drama with her boss who keeps leering at her during office-hours. The woman tells Abby she’ll eventually have to hire a lawyer and take her boss to court.

We join Tom and Liz, minutes after last week’s ending, with Tom begging his ex-wife to get him the fake passports, he hid under the floorboards of their home, now in the FBI evidence facility. She tells him she won’t do that and tells him he needs to leave. When she opens the door Red and Dembe are standing there with pistols aimed, telling Keen he needs to get out now.

Tom exits and Raymond enters Keen’s room asking if he wasn’t clear enough, she told him Tom was there when she arrived. He asks her to remember her life with him, then to imagine how better her life would be with him gone. She says she doesn’t need to imagine, Red’s pleased by that statement, then tells her he has a case.

Keen heads back to Task-Force headquarters and informs her teammates of the information she obtained from Reddington. She then brings up three prominent wealthy business man, who bilked the public then took their own lives. Problem being, each of these members of the one percent, got set up and then killed but in a way that appeared to be suicide. One victim Lester Charles Conway, survived and serving a sentence in a Federal prison, Liz and Donald Ressler head to the prison to talk to Conway.

Conway tells the agents he got set up by a woman he had an affair with for six-months, who went by the name Claudia Sanchez. He hid the relationship from his wife, but Sanchez set him up as an embezzler, ruining his reputation and bankrupting his clients. They thank him for his input and head back to headquarters.

Red’s talking with his associate Roger Hobbs, about the cartel and says they’re voting the following day. Hobbs lobbied for Reddington, getting a powerful member to assure Hobbs could count on his vote, which guaranteed the support of two other members. Roger says it’s up to Roger Jasper at this point, an ally of The Director, (The Director of National Security for the United States) the man on the Cartel that wants Reddington eliminated. Roger tells Red if he truly has the Fulcrum he best reveal it shortly.

Aram’s buddy got a full fingerprint from the partial prints the suspect left at Conway’s house and the residences of the other victims. The perp’s identified as Vanessa Ann Cruz, who’s last reported address was her mother’s home in Edison, New Jersey, leading to another field trip for Ressler and Keen.

Vanessa’s mother tells the agents her daughter died a few years earlier, Keen and Ressler don’t contradict her. She tells the pair that Vanessa was a good girl, living with the consequences of her one mistake, a bad marriage. Her husband was an investment counselor, accused of embezzlement who took the easy way out, jumping off a bridge, rather than face his accusers. She says a couple of months later, Vanessa clothes were found on the sand of Rockaway Beach, neatly folded, her body’s still missing. She says her daughter arranged for her before she passed, getting an insurance policy, that’s paid off her mortgage and helped her make ends meet.

Samar Navabi looks at the letter Vanessa’s mother gave Liz and Donald, she says that it’s a shelf-corporation meaning it’s established to be used for certain circumstances, left on the shelf for months and sometimes years. Keen calls up Red, tells her they found the name of their suspect and asks what he knows about shelf-corporations? Raymond responds, he’d be happy to help her with her search of shelf-corporations, but he needs her to give him the Fulcrum immediately.

Lizzie tells Red she’s not about to do that, he emphasizes this is a life or death situation. Thinking Reddington’s over-dramatizing the situation, she says she knows how badly he wants it, but he knows how much she wants things revealed to her. He’s short with her and hangs up on her.

Tom’s trying to lose himself in the crowd of the city, he accidentally bumps into another guy and sincerely apologizes. His phone rings, terrified he answers it, he hears a familiar voice say it’s me, what do you know about shelf-corporations?

Lizzie says that she believes Cruz bought her shelf-corporations from the folks Tom dealt with, as all her properties and Tom’s are named after lakes from Minnesota. He says he’ll see his connection, she suggests they drive there together. Tom’s only chance of getting his passport’s depends on helping Lizzie, he drives them to his connection.

A young woman in a wheelchair, greets Tom like a long-lost brother, he hugs her warmly and introduces Liz. He says she got conned by some goons, and he needs info. She shakes her head, saying that he realizes that’s not cool, she then looks at Liz and asks if she’s Tom’s woman, she responds she’s his ball and chain. Lizzie gets the mailing address and calls Ressler, who heads there with a SWAT-TEAM in tow.

Roger Hobbs has a meeting with the Cartel swing-vote, Kenneth Jasper, who says he can’t see any reason to support Reddington. Suddenly Red’s voice’s heard and Jasper gets angry with Hobbs, for ambushing him. Hobbs asks the other Cartel member to hear Raymond out. Red says that depending on Jasper’s vote, the Director could be gone the following day.

Jasper says he sounds like he’s threatening an assassination, Raymond replies Ambitious Debt Must Be Paid. Kenneth says that’s Caesar, Raymond says one of his favorites, the play not the man. He then says Caesar was a brilliant military tactician but couldn’t smell an assassination plot to save his life. Raymond says that Caesar like the Director are filled with Pride, the subtlest, but most deadly of the Seven Deadly Sins. Red says that the vote’s to consolidate the Director’s power, if Jasper supports him, he’ll become a loyal servant. If he votes with Red, he’ll run the Cartel. The two shake hands.

We learn the real motivation behind Cruz’s setting up victims and stealing their funds, she’s not looking for a financial windfall, she’s attempting to avenge the death of her late husband Hernando. Hernando Cruz was about to reveal evidence that would sink a huge deal for his parent company, so he was set up to appear he embezzled, then killed and made it look like a suicide by throwing him off a bridge. All the people she killed, conspired to kill Hernando, including inmate Lester Conway.

She’s in the process of setting up Abby, as she’s pretended to be her to Abby’s boss, who also was involved in the death of Hernando. She’s pretended to be Abby and keeps leading the boss to believe he’s on the verge of an affair with Abby, as Vanessa’s arranged close encounters, while the exec can’t see her, due to masks and other tricks. That’s why he keeps leering at Abby and why she’s about to hire a lawyer to sue him for sexual-harassment.

Vanessa sets up an encounter with Abby’s boss, while her lover says she’s close to hiring an attorney and thanks Cruz for her support and strength, inspiring her to take this action. Cruz arranges for Abby to arrive at the hotel, after she believes the boss will die, having Abby arrive at a room, vacant except for her dead boss, shot with a gun Cruz bought under Abby’s name.

The exec arrives  seeing Cruz from the back dressed as Abby complete with a short wig, she turns around quickly and he realizes he’s in deep trouble. She tells the man, she’s sorry that she’s involving Abby as she’s truly good and so innocent, just like Hernando.

Hobbs arrives for the Cartel vote, he’s about to go through the security procedure, when the Director appears, tells the guard Roger’s one of the good ones and embraces him. They walk towards the meeting room, but he only sees the Director and Kenneth Jasper. He asks if the other members are running late and Jasper says the votes taken place. Roger looks at the Director, whose eyes are cold and hard as steel.

He asks Hobbs about his loyalty and he says that he believe Reddington’s got the Fulcrum and if they kill him, they’re crimes will become public, leading them all to stiff jail-sentences, or in some cases death. The Director tells Hobbs he’s heading to the airport, he’s catching a plane to Europe, without calling his family and he’s never to return. Two thugs grab Roger to take him to the car.

Vanessa’s about to kill Abby’s boss, when Abby enters the suite, her jaw almost hitting the floor when she sees what’s occurring. Vanessa loses her cool demeanor quickly. Liz and Donald figured out Cruz’s plan, they enter the room and tell the woman with her back turned to turn around slowly. It’s Abby saying, she said she made a terrible mistake. Cruz escapes, the boss survives and will get tried as an accomplice in the murder of Hernando Cruz.

Raymond’s landline rings, he picks it up and hears Jasper say it’s done. He asks where Hobbs is and Jasper says he asked Kenneth to call Reddington and arrange a meeting for the three of them. Red says Roger would want that, but he’s dead, he was to call Red when the voting finished. That he didn’t place the call tells criminal mastermind that Hobbs is gone. He says Jasper crossed Hobbs and himself, by breaking his word.

Jasper attempts to keep his charade going, but Reddington silences him quickly. He tells him he best run as fast as the prairie wind, as he’s coming for him. When he finds Kenneth, he’ll slice the forked-tongue out of his mouth and hand it to the Director. He then slams the phone down, turns to Dembe and says it’s time to go away. Dembe tells Raymond that Liz called and wants to talk about the Fulcrum.

Tom drives Liz back home and then he parks the car and walks out, he asks Lizzie if someone like him can make a fresh-start and begin anew? She says that’s what your profession is correct? He chuckles and says he’s serious. She asks if he can be honest and he nods his head. She says despite all the plans and tricks he was up to, some of their marriage was real. She says your my biggest failure as a profiler.

He responds she was his greatest success, because at times he felt truly loved and like he actually had a life. She asks where the passports came from and he says Berlin. She says he’s lying and he says he can’t say more. She kisses him, he asks what’s that for, she says that’s goodbye Tom. He returns, tells her Red gave him the passports and says that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Raymond and Dembe arrive for their meeting with Liz. She tells Reddington, she’s spent the last 42-hours with a pathological liar, she expects him to give her a simple yes or no answer. He says yes he initially hired Tom to enter her life, her face goes ice-cold. He tries to explain, she tells him to save it, then gives him the Fulcrum saying that’s all he ever wanted from her. A gunshot rings out, hits Red in the chest and he goes limp as blood dribbles from his mouth. Lizzie calls out Reddington, as Dembe attempts to revive him, but he’s non-responsive. It will be a very interesting last four episodes for The Blacklist.

The Story Continues Thursday at 9:00 pm on NBC.

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