This episode is the second leg of a double-parter, and it’s a little less satisfying than last week’s. I suspect that might be because it’s very evidently setting up the President’s consigliere McMahon as the Big Bad for the back half of the season. Mind you, she’s significantly more convincing in that role than the (nominal) President himself, a milquetoast who at one point is reduced to bellowing “I am the President of the United States!” at Cooper. Dude: if you have to say it…
Anyway, we pick up with Red still strapped to a gurney, needles in his arms, executioners waiting for the good word. And Cooper still trying to persuade POTUS to stay Red’s execution, because Red – and only he – knows where to find the person who killed Ava Ziegler, the murdered German diplomat (INSECTS). This works out, and Red is sprung having been given 48 hours to find the assassin, cheerfully admitting to Dembe and Liz on his way out that he has no idea where Ziegler’s killer is.
Meantime McMahon is quarterbacking a search using Bastien Moreau, this and last week’s Blacklister, for the MacGuffin-y dossier which contains proof that she and POTUS are part of a conspiracy against America, or…something? It scarcely matters at this stage, I suppose; Red has already seen her for what she is. And when he and Moreau confront each other, he is able to use that information to turn Moreau against McMahon. Moreau, you see, is ideologically-driven rather than a gun for hire, and thought he was working in the service of a German nationalist group called, improbably, Black Fist.
Moreau is captured by Ressler, but shot – by another of McMahon’s operatives – before he can provide any useful intel. By then he’d dropped the dossier – in USB drive form – in an unsuspecting schoolkid’s bag. Red’s immunity agreement is restored, and the lovely Vontae is paroled as part of the deal. Answering my question from last week, everyone agrees to pretend that Red has broken out of prison, so that he can go back to being a CI: or, as Cooper puts it, “We have our work cut out for us. We know there are people plotting against our country. As is all too often the case, we’re looking straight down the barrel of what’s wrong with the world. But tonight, we’re also witness to something pretty great: the man we hate to love lives to fight another day”. Red, unsentimentally, remarks on how the Task Force office “reeks of stress and anxiety, coffee and deodorized body odor”.
So we’re back to normal. Except that McMahon herself is going to be overseeing the Task Force. And that Samar is leaving the FBI, because of her health. As ever I’ve tried not to look for spoilers, but it did feel like farewell. I hope not.