This week’s Blacklister – and even Red is calling them that these days – is The Caretaker, who looks after highly sensitive documents containing the secrets of “powerful and dangerous people”, including the usual politicians, criminals, corporations, etc., to be released only on their instructions. Where he hoards them is pretty unpleasant; how he gets them is good fun. (The tubes are a thing, even if there’s not much chance, these days, of them actually being used for that purpose. Nor is it the first time they’ve featured in a TV drama.)
The Caretaker has released one of his secret documents, which leads to the death of an American embassy official in China. After some swift detective work by Red he’s apprehended before the first ad break, so we know there’s much more to come. It turns out that The Caretaker’s daughter has been abducted by someone who has threatened to kill her unless he releases another document: this time, one containing a secret deal between an airline and the German government. “Under no circumstances”, snaps Red, “can that become public knowledge”.
Well, at that point we know that it will, and sure enough Cooper orders its release to save The Caretaker’s daughter. There might be a little diplomatic embarrassment, he reasons, and the Germans could have hurt fee-fees, but whatever. Thing is, of course, you would think that German pride is very high on the list of things Red really couldn’t care less about, which suggests that his warning is about something else. And, sure enough, the US government suddenly has an urgent need of German intel to stop terrorists detonating a bomb in New York City, while the Germans are all, uh, no, we’re not talking to you. “I don’t mean to gloat”, Red gloats, “but boy, did I tell you so”.
The bomb is found by Ressler – who is still being a complete asshole – and Samar. It – inevitably – has a LED clock counting down to detonation, and lots of wires to cut. In fairness, the show comes up with a new spin on this deeply tired trope: Aram is remotely guiding Ressler through the wire-snipping, but with 30 seconds to go he stops and demands that Ressler apologises to Samar for his behaviour, which Ressler eventually does with a very poor grace. It’s quite funny, even if (a) IRL it would result in Aram being sacked and probably executed for treason; and (b) good guy though he is, is it not time for Aram to summon up a little dignity? You’ve been friendzoned, dude. Live with it.
It’s reasonably obvious who’s behind the abduction, but that’s beside the point: Red wants something which was stolen from The Caretaker, and gets it from a remarkably ungracious Cooper, who could perhaps have been a little nicer about Red saving his ass, and thousands of lives with it. (Red also generously provides Cooper with a little marriage guidance.) The object Red wants is linked to Liz’s ongoing motherhunting, and his continual attempts to thwart her, which make his claim to the moral high ground vis a vis Tom’s forthcoming marriage to Liz all the more unfathomable. It’s inarguable that Tom engaged BITD in some weapons-grade deception of Liz, but is Red any better? The Blacklist, though, doesn’t trade in plausibility or consistency, and nor should it. A very good episode.