I don’t know what they were putting in the water in The Blacklist’s writers’ room when they were putting the post-hiatus run together, but this is another storming episode. The Blacklister of the Week is Edgar Grant, a mild-mannered school janitor known as The Debt Collector. He’s a sociopath-for-hire who is paid by people who want to extract a fitting revenge on those they think have wronged them, and he’s after Liz.
So when he abducts Liz, there are a few questions: who wants revenge on our beloved Liz, why does he want it, where has The Debt Collector taken her, what does he plan to do, and can he be stopped? With no better options, and the corpse of a previous Collector victim to examine, Red offers Mr. Kaplan a truce: they need to work together to save Liz. Mr. Kaplan agrees, sort of, which among other things takes her to the school where Grant works, giving her a brief but wonderful opportunity to prove that she’s the best substitute teacher ever.
The Task Force, meantime, has worked out that the Collector was hired by one Tyson Pryor, a former professor convicted years ago, after the intervention of a young FBI profiler, for sending anthrax through the post. Now terminally ill, Pryor has been released on compassionate grounds, but when confronted claims – plausibly – to have nothing whatever to do with Liz’s abduction.
And he’s telling the truth. Because The Debt Collector was hired by Red, in order to dangle Liz as bait for Mr. Kaplan. And it’s working: the Collector has taken Liz to a remote lodge, where Red and Dembe are already waiting. Mr. Kaplan isn’t far behind, and Ressler and the FBI come charging in fairly quickly thereafter. A tense standoff ensues. But what Ressler doesn’t know is that Detective Julian Gale is onto him and the Task Force, and has followed Ressler in order to take a shot at Red; which he does, but without success.
So everyone gets away, just about, and Red now has to reckon with two crucial facts: Mr. Kaplan isn’t prepared to allow for the possibility of peaceful co-existence, and whoever it was who tried to shoot him is a new player entirely. Which sets us up very nicely for this week’s season-ending double-bill.