Last week Liz opens the door of her luxe shipping container to find herself on a ship; this week, she and Red are back on Iowan dry land. It’s time, says Red, to fight back against The Cabal. To do this they’re going to target Verdiant Industries, the world’s largest agribusiness not called Monsanto, which makes money by selling overpriced GMO seeds to farmers. Verdiant, I mean. Not Monsanto.
It’s a classic example of a scenario which is engineered like a Matryoshka doll. There’s a group of activist farmers, called Los Segadores, who can’t afford Verdiant’s seeds. Los Segadores took part in a raid on a Verdiant facility in order to steal data detailing how the company modifies its corn seeds. Red wants this because Verdiant also launders money for The Cabal, and possession of this information will give him leverage. But this week’s Blacklister, Eli Matchett, who also participated in the raid, shoots his Segadores comrades so that he has sole access to the data. Instead of revenge against Verdant, though, he has something else in mind. And even when we find out what that is, there’s another question: is Matchett working for someone and, if so, who and why? It’s a potentially convoluted plot, but the episode is something of a masterclass in telling an improbable story in an economical and exciting way.
While Red and Keen are chasing Matchett, Ressler – a “law-enforcement robot”, sniffs Reddington – and Samar are chasing them. I ask again: does anyone on the writing staff remember that Samar was originally introduced as Red’s eyes and ears on the Task Force? They get close, but Red and Keen stay one step ahead, although at one stage Keen is obliged to shoot an off-duty cop, leading to a little angsting about the lines she’s crossing. Red, joyously, recruits his DMV mole Glen to track Dembe, who’s still getting pool-balled half to death by kidnap dude from last week, who brings Vargas in to join the occasionally-recurring-character torture party now going on. And Tom’s spending way too much time sitting in that restaurant waiting for Liz to call him – although even without trying, and even while visibly pining for someone else, the effer can still charm a hot waitress into giving up her phone number. Dude needs a distraction, and Cooper’s good enough to give him one. The Blacklist has come out firing at the start of its third season; this was enormously entertaining.