Tag Archives: Mark Gessner

The Blacklist: Women Can Be Serial Killers Too

Photo Courtesy Of NBC
Photo Courtesy Of NBC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

The most entertaining episodes of the NBC series “The Blacklist,” tend to have an exciting crime of the week, accompanied by one or two long-term issues, that may get rectified as the hour concludes, and the most recent episode entitled “The Deer Hunter,” fit that mold well. It also continued a tradition that’s occurred periodically throughout the show’s second campaign, bringing in big name guest stars, who are past their prime to portray the villain. This time Broadway and Film star Amanda Plummer, filled the bill, almost unrecognizable as a woman with severe demons. As for the long-term story-arcs, one got resolved, while one’s in a definitive state of flux.

We see a person in a parka with the hood up, trailing this rather large man through an urban setting, interspersed with FBI Agent Elizabeth Keen, lecturing a college class on an ongoing serial killer known as the “Deer Hunter,” the murders started taking place in 2003, stopped for a while then resumed recently, with six new victims found within the last few months.

Keen tells the class that the killer’s incredibly patient, then tracks the victim, like a hunter tracks game, killing the victims with a crossbow. The victims are men, all large and tall and she tells the students, she believes the victim’s small and weak and the killings are in retribution for someone who fit the same body type as the victims, who brutalized the killer as a child. She also mentions that the “Deer Hunter,” takes a ceremonial bite out of the victim’s liver, removing all the victim’s organs with surgical precision and leaving them in a pile near the body. The victims, with their abdomen’s slit open, are then hung by their feet outdoors.

Turns out Liz’s friend who helped her guard Tom on the boat and has only been referred to so far as the Samoan (Kind of like the Haitian, in Heroes,) has a name and it’s Samuel. He’s worked out a deal with Metro PD Detective Wilcox, to testify that Liz and Tom killed Harbor-Master Ames, but it’s clear Wilcox wants to pin the murder on Lizzie. He tells Samuel, that if he changes one comma when he testifies to Government officials the next day, he’ll spend the rest of his life in the slammer.

Raymond Reddington picks up a payphone in the metro-area and the man on the other end of the phone says, he’s sorry he cut their first call short, but he was unsure the line was secure. Red asks who he is and the man replies, he can’t tell him yet, at this point we see the man from the back. He’s in an apartment overlooking the payphone Red’s on. Raymond says that Alan Fitch told him about the safe that had his number, why did he want them to hook up? The man says not now face to face, I’ll call you tomorrow at a payphone at 92nd and Broadway at 2:00pm, then hangs up the phone. We see the back of the man’s head, he’s got close-cropped gray hair.

Reddington heads to the Task Force and talks with Liz privately, saying he needs to talk to her about the Fulcrum and her saying she doesn’t know anything, Red calls her out for lying. He says he’s studied body language and facial expressions for decades and she’s not even putting on a good act. He says how’s this I’ll help you find your serial killer then you tell me about the Fulcrum.

Raymond has nothing but sheer disdain for serial killers, lumping them in the sewer of the criminal pool, along with rapists and pedophiles. However Raymond says the Task Force’s main problem’s their searching for a man, while the killer’s obviously a woman. He then goes through a litany of reasons why it has to be a woman instead of a man.

Ressler and Keen get contacted by the Medical Examiner to see the body and he says that the killer’s been exact in everything they do to the body in the last six murders, no variations what so ever. As they walk to morgue, a guy bumps into Liz, they enter the room and the Medical Examiner says he left the body covered, Liz realizes the guy who bumped into her was at her lecture. They stop him from leaving on the elevator.

Turns out Red’s correct, the serial killer’s a woman in her mid-fifties, with dark rimmed glasses and unkempt hair and she lives on the planet Xenon. She has a canary in a cage and a cat, cleaning itself on a chair, we hear Cass Elliot on her stereo singing, suddenly she looks up at her canary.

She says not to look at her like that, I’m fine, I’ll be fine. I don’t like it anymore than you do, but somebody’s got to do this. She then grabs a manila folder, from a stack of them and says to the bird, Mommy’s got to go cross town now and take care of Chad Henry, then shows the canary the picture her next victim. I won’t be long.

The man’s named Chuck Kruse and he’s a writer for Metro Crime Daily, that’s why he attended her lecture as well and all he was doing was taking pictures of the corpse. He then literally laughs at the pair, for believing their chasing the “Deer Hunter.” He says the “Deer Hunter,” was an artist, the last six murders, were committed by a copy-cat.

Liz gets a call from Detective Wilcox who tells her that Samuel’s singing more than the serial killer’s canary. He’s testifying the next day to Federal Officials, he places you at the scene and says you and your husband are cold-blooded killers. He then says he’s certain once Samuel testifies, he’ll easily get a court order to check on any case she was working on when she met Ames. Liz says this conversation’s over, Wilcox counters with I believe it’s just beginning.

A gray-haired uniform enters Reddington’s car, it’s clear they’ve got along history, the officer named Edgar tells Red that Samuel’s being transferred the following day between two and four in the afternoon. Raymond says he need’s it moved, Edgar says he’d do anything in the world for him, but the time’s set, he then gives Red a brown paper bag containing his wife’s coffee cake for Raymond. Red thanks him and his wife and the officer leaves.

Donald’s poring over the evidence when she walks into the office he’s working in. He says he really thinks Kruse’s correct that the last six killings got murdered by a copycat, but he can’t prove it. He looks at Keen and asks what’s wrong, she says nothing, then closes the door and tells him about the call from Wilcox. Ressler says go to Cooper and have him go to the higher-ups, who’ll nip the investigation in the bud. They don’t want this Task-Force split up.

He then says Tom killed Ames, but the headlines will read FBI Agent arrested for murder, they’ll take a bite out of you Liz. At that point the light-bulb goes off over his head and he realizes, he can prove or disprove his theory. Forensics soon supplies, the evidence the first six murders, had a larger bite taken out than the last six, the killer’s a copy-cat.

We see a graphic telling us that we’re in Silver Springs, Maryland. We’re at the home of a young woman named Mary, who’s hired the serial killer, whose named Tracy to murder her husband, as he’s abusive. She’s worried about her son and herself and Tracy says, she’s tried going through the system and it’s let her down. She then asks if she has evil in her life and Mary says yes, she asks shouldn’t she be free of the evil and Mary responds yes again.

Tracy then says, she needs to know if Mary’s in or out, because if this comes back on Tracy, it will lead back to Mary as well. Mary looks Tracy in the eyes and says she’s in, Tracy claps Mary on the back and says good it’s done then. The next morning as Mary’s taking her son to school, he stops heading towards the bus staring at something, it’s daddy, hanging from a wire on their lawn, upside down with his abdomen slit open.

Liz and Donald head over to Mary’s house and question her, Mary says she knew something was wrong, as her husband worked construction and she didn’t hear from him. She says he’s normally home early, she then mentions if they believe her husband got killed by the “Deer Hunter” and Ressler says he does.

Mary says you folks really haven’t a clue about him and Keen says that some recent evidence has come to light, that’s given them new leads. Mary looks very uncomfortable and the agents soon leave. Ressler asked Liz why she told the victim’s wife that and Keen says she thinks Mary’s covering. Ressler agrees and they head back to headquarters.

The phone rings at 2:00 pm that afternoon, but Dembe answers it as Red’s not there. The man asks who he is and why he’s carrying a gun. Dembe apologizes for Mr. Reddington, but he had urgent business he needed to attend to and wants to reschedule. Again we see inside the apartment as the man chuckles and says that’s not how this works, then hangs up the phone.

Samuel’s getting transferred in a paddy-wagon with a cruiser in front, when suddenly both vehicles pull over. Edgar tells Samuel to hang loose, lets Red inside the wagon and tells him he’s got 70 seconds. Raymond then tells Samuel about a guy he went to high-school with who was the best dancer he’d ever seen. The next time he saw him was in 1988 in a grocery-store and the man was totally gray, he had a bad valve and was on the waiting list for a new heart until the day he died.

He then asked Samuel how long Isaac’s been on that list and Samuel asks how he knows about his brother? Raymond ignores the question, and says six-months, a year, possibly two and when will he get a heart and Samuel says they won’t say. Red says I can get your brother a new heart within a week, the finest doctors and the best rehab team on the planet and it won’t cost you a dime. Samuel asks why Red would do that for him and Raymond replies, because what Samuel’s going to do for him.

Aram and Samar come up with the commonality in all the cases, they all abused their significant other. The connection’s a service used by abuse victims called White Town Shelters. They go to the local branch and the branch manager promises to cooperate fully, however Tracy’s in the reception area and hears the conversation.

Back at her apartment Tracy’s talking to her assorted birds and cats, at first she says she’s overreacting, then says if Mary talks it would endanger the rest of the women. She’s not worried about herself, but she must protect the other women. She heads over to Mary’s but Ressler and Keen are heading there as well as Mary called them.

Tracy gets their first and she tells Mary the FBI’s figured it out and asks if Mary talked. She says they were over in the morning but she said nothing, they then pull up in the driveway and Tracy hits Mary in the head with a cutting board. Ressler goes to help Mary, while Liz runs after Tracy jumping a fence and seeing her, but then Liz get’s knocked out as Tracy hits her in the head with a shovel.

Keen come’s to in Tracy’s garage, she has Liz in a harness and is ready to kill and gut her. Keen head-butts the woman, but then she raises the harness and Liz’s suspended in mid-air. She tells Keen that her husband was the original “Deer Hunter,” but she caught him and he was going to kill her, but she killed him instead with his crossbow. She then thought there are other women living in the same situation she was in and it’s up to her to save them. She knows she’s sick and it’s a dirty job but she needs to do it.

Liz then says can I ask one last favor and Tracy says yes, Keen says if you’re going to kill me do it now, as I’m sick of your self-righteous lying. You’re a sicko and just like your husband you enjoy killing, you get a thrill each time you do it. You enjoy the buzz, you try to justify, what you’re doing, but you just enjoy killing.

Keen’s tactic worked and Tracy rushes to attack her, but she wraps her thighs around Tracy’s neck and starts choking the life out of her. She’s flashing back to Tom killing Ames, when suddenly Ressler busts through the door and tells Liz to stop. Keen let’s go and Tracy staggers away.

Detective Wilcox is in his glory, as he asks Samuel to tell the two Federal Officials what he told him about Agent Keen and her husband. Samuel says nothing, then Wilcox reminds him he’s under oath, the big man says he forgot. Wilcox then asks if he told him that FBI Agent Elizabeth Keen and her husband Tom killed Harbor-Master Ames and Samuel says, that’s what you want me to say. Wilcox chance to bust Liz is lost.

Red and Liz meet for coffee in an official building, Liz tells Red that he was right, the killer was a woman, he says she was right as the original was a man, then says together they were both right. Keen says she has the Fulcrum and will give it to Red if he tells her what’s on it. He says he’s already told her everything he can, if she finds out more her life will be endangered.

She says you don’t have to protect me and he says, on the contrary. If he hadn’t interceded earlier that day she’d be under indictment and she asked him what he did. He says nobody got hurt, actually a young man’s live was saved by the circumstances. She says, she’s leaving, but Red says the reason she’s holding onto the Fulcrum, is she believes if she gives it to him, she’ll never see him again, then he leaves.

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

Person Of Interest: Choosing The Right Scenario

Photo: JoJo Whilden/Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.
Photo: JoJo Whilden/Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

Warning: Spoiler Alert

The CBS series “Person Of Interest,” has featured what the show-runners call a trilogy in seasons three and four. In the trilogy that took place last season, the team lost a valuable member as NYPD Detective Jocelyn Carter, died at the hands of a corrupt cop. In the second episode of this season’s trilogy, the crew may have lost another member at the hands of a Samaritan operative, although whether the character actually died, was left unclear at the episode’s conclusion.

Whether or not “The Machine,” lost one of its human operatives, this episode was incredibly complex, original and entertaining throughout, as Harold Finch’s creation went toe-to-toe with Samaritan, to save the world’s economy. The show bent the envelope of Television, showing that the creators have plenty of tricks up their collective sleeves in the fourth season.

The first thing we see are clips from news reports, from the New York Stock Exchange, that the market’s bleeding heavily, destroying people’s lives in the process. We see a crowd gathered outside the NYSE, watching the tale of the ticker, Finch’s in the crowd and Root joins him soon after. She informs Harold that the Cold War with Samaritan’s heated up and they’re attempting to control the NYSE.

As they leave the crowd, Finch notices Root’s carrying a briefcase, which she soon tells Harold contains a software fix provided by “The Machine,” the only problem’s that they need to install the repair on site. She tells him all hands are needed, but both realize Sameen Shaw can’t help as her cover got blown. Her job’s to get the security code from the head of security for the Exchange and Root tells Shaw what subway car the man will ride.

Meanwhile, back at Samaritan Control, John Greer’s chortling about the damage he’s caused and the fear he’s inflicted. His operative Jeremy Lambert calls Greer and asks if he’s concerned that this act will make Samaritan too public. Greer chuckles, says it’s part of the new world order and wants Finch and company to try to stop Samaritan, as they’ll find a very chilling surprise.

Root and Finch enter the exchange telling the security guard they’ve come to fix some of the security cameras. The guard says the cameras are working fine, but suddenly a monitor goes dark and he tells Harold to give it a shot. In reality Reese and Fusco disconnected the camera and reconnect it seconds later. Root then tells the guard they need to check the feed to make sure it’s getting back to headquarters.

Root and Harold get on a freight elevator and Reese and Fusco soon join them, they take the elevator to the floor the server’s on. They get down there and are ready to patch in the repair software, when “The Machine,” alerts Root too late that they’ve been trapped by Samaritan operatives. They take cover in the employee break-room, but the door’s soon riddled by bullets. Harold says they need a plan, Root looks at the close circuit camera and asks for a little help please. Reese says this is fine time for your machine to go on the fritz Harold, Finch responds give it a second, it’s got a lot on its mind. But the word mind comes out of his mouth in slow motion and we see the bullets hitting a coffee pot and some fruit in slow-motion, then the screen goes black.

When we return we see prompts from “The Machine,” saying:

Updating Decision Engine

Reviewing Training Protocols

Re-Evaluating Core Concepts

The Machine,” flashes back to 2003, Harold sitting at a chess table in Central Park and everything’s in slow motion, but then revs up to normal speed. A man approaches Harold asking to play a game and Finch says he’s sorry but he’s playing with a friend, the man says that Harold’s sat there alone for three-hours. Finch responds his friend’s shy and secretive and the man walks off shaking his head. Harold’s teaching “The Machine” to play chess, communicating via his cell phone. He talks about how many moves one could possibly make and “The Machine,” catches on quick, but loses the first game to Finch.

We’re back in the present and we hear, Root, Reese and Finch repeat themselves then “The Machine,” chooses scenario 336,742 and relays the info to Root. She says got it and Fusco asks who she’s talking to, she then says she and Harold will go to the server room and Lionel and John will go the other way and secure their safety, then cut the tension cord on the elevator.

Shaw’s on the subway with the Exchange head of security, but there’s a suicide bomber on the train wearing an explosive vest, so she can’t get the code. Root says they’ll have to use the old-fashioned method, shoots the scanner and the doors open. She shoots four terminal operators, the fifth runs for his life, they head into the server room.

Things aren’t running as smoothly for Fusco and Reese, as they find a squad of Samaritan operatives on either side of them, one squad headed by Martine. She and Reese exchange death threats and Shaw tries to contact John to ask him how to talk down the suicide bomber, but Reese cuts her off. She pulls out her gun and says he either disarms the vest, or she’ll put a bullet between his eyes, the guy’s about to hit the detonator when she shoots him dead. She’s arrested seconds later at the next subway-stop.

Harold hooks up the software repair and then tells Root, he thought they were done for, right then he sees Lambert and more Samaritan operatives and Harold get’s shot and dies in Root’s arms. Then we realize this is just a simulation “The Machine’s” concocted and they’re still in the room being shot at. Same conversation happens and when Harold says mind again, things go back to slow motion.

Once again we’re back in Central Park in 2003 as Harold tries to impress on his creation, the amount of scenarios it has and if it makes a bad choice, it can correct it with another move. Were back in the break-room and this time Root’s told to do things the opposite way, so Lionel and Reese go to the server and she and Harold head to the elevator. Reese shoots the scanner, shoots the four operatives and they get to server room. Fusco tries to get the code from Finch but Finch sends him a text. Reese realizes Samaritan’s on their way, so he grabs Lionel and locks him in a room for his protection. John gets shot, then grapples with Lambert who shoots him three more times. He lies on the ground smiling and produces a hand grenade taking out the Samaritan operatives with him.

Roots grabbed an axe from a fire-box to chop the tension cord for the elevator, she calls Shaw and asks her when she’s going to admit she has feelings for Root. Sameen says she’s a psychopath and has no feelings, but she finally tells Root that if Samaritan destroys the world and they’re the only two left on the planet, they’ll talk about being together. She asks Root if that’s good enough and Root smiles says yes it is as she chops the cord, then gets killed by Martine and her squad. Simulation failed, back to the room, and the whole thing starts again.

Back in 2003 and “The Machine’s” become a chess grand-master in one afternoon. It asks if Harold wants to play again and Harold says no. When it asks why, Finch says he doesn’t like the game, it comes from a period when some people were perceived more valuable than others. He tells his creation not to make that mistake with people, every life’s just as worthy as any other.

Back to the room and Root’s told they should act as a team, first install the software then escape. This time when Root says ready to roll, Lionel grabs her and kisses her passionately. She asks why he did that and he replies, why the Hell not, it’s just a simulation.

Shaw talks down the suicide bomber and gets the code from the security guy from the exchange, they enter shoot four operators and the fifth runs off, they get the software installed then try to escape. We see Martine and a group of Samaritan operatives and the screen freezes, with the prompt saying this scenario has over a 97% chance of failure, but it’s the only option that gives them any hope for survival.

This time it’s real and Root announces they’ll do it all as a team, Shaw talks down the bomber and gets the code. They walk into the room, but instead of shooting this time Root tells them they need to borrow one of their terminals and the operators run away. They install the software and the market returns to normal. We see Greer watching the news and he says well all fun and games eventually come to an end.

They attempt to escape, but Reese takes a bullet, Root calls Sameen, but she shows up right next to her. Shaw says she crawled through 50 yards of an air vent but it’s not a good escape route. They get Reese on the elevator cut the tension cord but the elevator remains still. Shaw sees an override button across the room, she says she’ll press it while the others escape, Root starts to protest, but Shaw grabs her, kisses her, shuts the gate and presses the override button. Just then Martine arrives, shooting at Shaw, Sameen gets hit and falls to the floor but she’s still conscious. The elevator goes down in slow motion with Root weeping, they see Martine stand over Shaw, who stares Martine in the face, as the elevator drops from view we hear a gunshot. Is Shaw alive, or did Martine kill her. We’ll find out next week.

The Story Continues Next Tuesday Night at 10:00 pm on CBS.