A nicely creepy cold open: a grave is robbed and a corpse retrieved by someone who promises that she’s going to be “so pretty”. Ew. The perp is this week’s Blacklister, Quon Zhang – at least I think it is, I don’t recall a formal introduction – a smuggler who’s been working for the Cabal, hence Red’s interest. Team Red thinks Quon might be using dead bodies to transport explosives, so when they track down the stolen corpse, by now in a casket, they need to check it out. To start with they use a coffin-opening robot – which is cool – and when that fails to find anything, Marshall Flinkman from Alias, making a welcome return to The Blacklist, is sent in to examine the corpse. But he doesn’t find anything either.
And this isn’t the only nod to Alias this week. Liz (with Tom’s doe-eyed and devoted help, obvs) is trying to find out about the woman in the picture she retrieved from Red’s flat last week. Red eventually concedes that it’s Liz’s mother, but refuses to tell her anything else about the night of the fire. And not in the usual Red manner either; this time he seems to mean it. He does, though, let slip that Liz’s mother was a KGB agent, just like Sydney Bristow’s.
Meantime, the Red/Cabal thing is going on, with – as expected – an assist from Ersatz Gene Hackman from last week. I did, however, notice that when Samar was about to interrogate one or other of The Cabal’s endless supply of elderly white guys, she opened up a chef’s knife roll full of torture implements. Are these now standard issue for torturers? Can anyone remember the last time someone was about to get the pliers/blowtorch treatment from someone who didn’t carry their kit in one of these?
Anyway, it turns out that Quon isn’t smuggling explosives into China using corpses, but he’s up to something else, which is simultaneously more unpleasant and less interesting. In fact, he’s really only there to set up the next episode’s Blacklister, Karakurt. And Red’s battle with The Cabal, which I still can’t quite get my head round, will persist throughout the episode, ending with another “ew” moment. The thing is, I don’t care all that much about The Cabal, as I’ve said before. Which means that this was something of a disappointment.