What a terrific episode this is. It starts with Red swaggering his way through a huge got-out-of-jail party, with lots of guest stars from the show’s deep bench: Glen, Heddie, Max; even Vontae, who now seems, delightfully, to be a part of Red’s support network. Meantime, Dembe is in Cuba, checking up on rumours that legendary (and real life) conman and fugitive Robert Vesco, thought to be long dead, is in fact still alive. This is of considerable significance to Red: Vesco, at one time his mentor, swindled him out of a vast sum of money before going on the run, reputedly in order to pursue the location of a shipwreck full of gold. So if he faked his own death, Red wants to know.
Vesco, of course, did indeed fake his own death. Keen and Ressler pursue a lead to small-town Nova Scotia, where he is inexplicably hiding out. He escapes them, and runs… straight into Red’s back seat. Money, demands Red. I want my money. Well, says Vesco (a tremendous turn by Stacy Keach), I don’t have your money, but I think I know how to find the shipwreck: help me and I can settle up.
This leads to a treasure hunt, a heist, and a chase all in one, as Vesco and Red decipher clues in old poems while Keen and Ressler follow close behind. It’s inventive and fun, and even if it could be argued that there wasn’t much point to it in the context of The Blacklist’s overarching backstory, since when did everything have to have a point?
Even the Samar plot arc was sweet rather than tiresome this week: she has to endure an exit interview conducted by the Mossad – which is, I suppose, a public sector employer after all – and supervised by the returning Oded Fehr as Agent Levi Shur. The Mossad wants to find out if she’s turned; she wants to conceal her medical condition from anyone who doesn’t need to know about it; and it develops in a way which ultimately obliges Aram to realise just how much he loves her.
“This”, grouches Ressler after the final twist, “was a complete waste of time”. You couldn’t be more wrong, Donald. You could not be more wrong.