For UK viewers, a double-bill to start. Liz and Red are in hiding, with Ressler locking down the centre of Washington, D.C., to make sure they can’t get away. I’ve seen enough 24 to know a hard perimeter when I see one, and this one looks pretty damn hard. So Red – who, as we know, has friends everywhere – hits up an old ally, and he and Liz conceal themselves in his basement. He’s waiting for Ressler to get fed up and soften his perimeter; he’s also enlisted the help of this episode’s Blacklister, The Troll Farmer, who needs a week to do whatever it is he does.
There’s an interesting development when Liz dyes her hair blonde, and Red is plainly discomfited: is it because Liz reminds him of her mother, and/or is it because Red wants to jump her? We don’t have much time to ponder it, as Red’s friend’s gf/sister – didn’t catch it – rats them out, meaning that they have to move again, and ask The Troll Farmer – revealed to be a tech expert – to accelerate his timescale from a week to, oh, an hour should be enough. The TF’s task is to use social media to muddy the waters, so he creates lots of Lizzington sightings all over the city, meaning that it should be easier for them to get away. They split up, and while Red manages to get outside Ressler’s cordon Liz is spotted. Doubling down on the enemy-of-the-state thing she makes for the Russian Embassy and asks for asylum. Might just make getting her job back a little harder in the future, I suppose.
And meantime there’s a chilling little scene, apparently unrelated to the rest of the episode, in which a softly-spoken but terrifying kidnapper abducts a baby. It turns out he – the softly-spoken etc., not the baby – is an associate of the Director of Clandestine Services, and the baby is Dembe’s granddaughter, being used to get to Dembe, and in turn to Red. It’s a very good episode, from a show which perhaps had something to prove after the mixed bag that was its second season.
We really get lift-off, though, in the next episode, ‘Marvin Gerard’. Liz is still in the Russian Embassy, using her birth name, Masha Rostova, and claiming to be a deep cover FSB operative, throwing in a suggestion that, as her mother was also a spy, espionage is passed genetically. I’m not sure that’s how it works, and the Russians clearly aren’t buying it either. But at least she’s alive for now, and she’s going to be properly debriefed. In Moscow, mind you, which means that she’s going to be transferred to the airport. Red knows that The Cabal – honestly, I’d be quite happy if we could lose them, or at least their stupid name – is going to use this as an opportunity to kill Liz, so he tips off Ressler, who hijacks the convoy carrying Liz, meaning that she can escape.
That, in turn, leads to Liz and Red meeting in secret at a cafe; once again, though, the police are tipped off, and it leads to the customers being taken hostage. Red demands that Gerard, prisoner and former attorney, is brought to the cafe. As ever, though, Red knows more than everyone else, and he’s got something in mind.
While all of this is going on the rest of the regular cast get something to do: Cooper is downgraded to some desk job or other, Aram and Samar assist in Operation Track Liz – although Aram, at least, clearly doesn’t think she’s done anything wrong – and kidnap dude starts to beat the crap out of Dembe. And just as I was thinking that the best episodes of The Blacklist all have Tom in them, who should materialise out of the shadows? Great stuff.