The Blacklist s5 ep 7

It’s an arresting opening: a family’s seaside picnic is interrupted when dozens of dead and half-dead bodies start watching up on the beach. They’re the victims of this week’s Blacklisters, a human smuggling operation run by Irish father and son Arthur and Colin Kilgannon (‘The Kilgannon Corporation’, according to the episode title, although I don’t recall anyone using that term.)

Red is particularly sore about this because, as he admits to Liz, before his empire crumbled he used to have a nice little business in this area himself, getting people away from whatever they were fleeing from, offering a decent service at a fair price, insofar as these terms have meaning in this particular discipline. The Kilgannons muscled in, with an inferior product, and he’d like to elbow them out and take the business back. Unusually, Cooper’s onto this from the outset, rather than doing what he normally does, and realising by the end of an episode that he’s risked his job once again to facilitate Red’s business interests. So he’s prepared to commit FBI resources to finding the people responsible for the dead bodies, but not to actually putting Red in charge of an international people-smuggling business which will exploit people a bit less.

Deal, says Red, and Dembe goes undercover as a would-be migrant, with a tracking device in his tooth. Inevitably the FBI will lose contact with him, because that’s what happens with tracking devices; and there’ll be a race against time to find and save him,  because that’s what happens with undercover operatives. Actually, though, it’s all pretty good, and (insofar as Mr First World here can judge) the episode does a reasonably good job of humanising those who are so desperate that they resort to paying people to smuggle them across borders.

Meantime, though, Tom has managed to find himself a whole lot of trouble, while not finding himself the missing McGuffin O’Bones, which – as it happens – we don’t seem to have seen for a while now. He and Lena, still being followed by Bucky out of Nashville, have managed to track Pete to a motel. Pete is adamant that he didn’t kill Dr Nik, but just as he and Tom are hashing this out they’re snatched by a gang, then interrogated by a dude wearing courageous spectacles who wants to find Red. Pete and Lena are unable to help, and are dealt with appropriately. I assumed that Specs Dude was working for Bucky, but I was wrong; and Bucky, meantime, is actually in Red’s employ, which I didn’t know either. Highly enjoyable, but also portentous: something bad is coming.

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