The Blacklist s4 ep 20


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.

Hawaii Five-0 s7 ep 25

A quick sidebar before we get started: as I hoped, I was able to catch up with the MacGyver/Hawaii Five-0 crossover episode, which was… fine. As it’s the only episode (of either iteration of MacGyver) I’ve ever seen, my observations are few in number and probably inaccurate: like everything else just now, it has a hot female hacker; there’s an unconvincing ship; and George Eads is doing a lot of the heavy lifting.

Anyway, to business. Moani, the girl rescued from sex traffickers a few episodes ago, gets in touch with Kono and provides her with a sketch of someone else who was involved in the trafficking ring. He’s identified as Deon Miller, and he’s still very much a part of the business; in fact, he’s found to be driving a truck with a trailer full of terrified girls.

What to do? Well, to start with the HPD (led by the returning Abby) uses some cars and barriers to set up what it thinks is a perimeter, in the hope that Miller will stop, but Miller just crashes through it. And then things get kind of weird. Miller’s being followed; everyone knows where he is – it’s even on TV; no-one knows where he’s going; yes, he’s probably got plenty of fuel, so he can keep moving for a while, but it’s an island, and there’s a limit to where he can go. Rather than just wait him out, though, maybe until he really needs to go to the john, Steve decides that immediate action is called for: the truck, he explains, is to be guided towards a tunnel, and when it emerges he’s going to jump on top of it, enter the trailer, free the girls, smack Miller around, etc. “Are you”, demands Danny, “completely whacked out of your head?” Probably; but he’s going to do it, and everyone – including Steve – keeps talking as if it’s more or less a suicide mission, without exploring the possibility that hanging around and doing nothing might work just at least as well.

Steve successfully jumps onto the truck, though and uses some sort of portable welding device to open the roof of the trailer and free the girls, although not without the usual violence, and some daring stuntwork. It’s all pretty intense, and it’s worth remembering that this is the 25th episode of the season; Alex O’Loughlin undoubtedly needs a rest.

And as this is the finale, a few threads need to be left dangling. Kono, earlier seen buying a pregnancy test, and despairing about how the Five-0’s successful operation will barely make a dent on child sex trafficking, hops on a plane to Carson City, Nevada, which was where Miller intended to take the girls. It still isn’t clear if Grace Park will be back for the eighth season, and it would be a shame if she weren’t, although I daresay the show could survive.

Meantime Steve isn’t feeling well, and it isn’t anything to do with Danny’s organ being inside him; it’s because he has radiation poisoning (!) from handling the dirty bomb earlier in the year. As Alex O’Loughlin has said before that he wouldn’t want to do more than eight seasons (although he seems to be relaxing his stance on that), it’s possible this is the start of that particular trail of breadcrumbs. I will be very much back next time, though: I thought this was the best season of H50 for years.

Nashville s5 ep 8

Juliette is off to church, to explain to Hallie and her congregation that she wants to record a gospel album, with them as the choir. A certain amount of criticism ensues: essentially, Caucasian with a bad-girl image and no history of belief in God coming in here making money from African-American Christians. Unsurprisingly, Juliette fires back and leaves, but – equally unsurprisingly, since endgame here is clearly Juli Goes Gospel – she returns the next day with a little more humility and apologises, which does the trick.

Meantime, the extraordinary news is that, after four and a half seasons, I think I’ve finally been cured of my long-standing Gunnlett obsession. And it’s Scarlett who’s done it. This week she decides that she can’t be with anyone just now, but that she might just hook up with Damien, and once again expects Gunnar to be fine with that. It’s not, she tells him peevishly, an “either/or”. Oh yes it is, he (correctly) replies: either you’re gonna sleep with him or you’re not. And she does. With the same Damien who, let’s not forget – although the show has – treated Scarlett appallingly in the name of art a few episodes ago. The only conclusion which can be drawn, unfortunately, is that she’s into that sort of thing. Anyway. Gunnar, dude; you can do better.

The minor drama in the Jaymes/Claybourne household this week is that Daphne has her first period, which is the sort of thing that the Nashville of seasons 1-4 wouldn’t have troubled itself with. Deacon’s befuddlement is quite sweet. The bigger problem is that Rayna’s stalker is… standing over 300 feet from her house. Well, I thought: he’s not much of a stalker, and I can’t imagine the TAU would have bothered itself with him. But then he turns out to be quite proficient at stalking after all – much better at that than, say, Rayna’s security goons are at keeping her safe – and, wielding a knife, confronts her within the Highway 65 offices. Rayna eventually manages to get away, but as she’s being driven home she’s in a car crash. So not a great evening for Rayna, really; but a passable episode.

Lethal Weapon s1 ep 15

A few days ago I was quite nice about Bull, which has finished its first season. It’s not my favourite new network show, though, because that, of course, is Lethal Weapon; which, if I’m being honest, is pretty much my favourite anything at the moment. When I reviewed the first episode I admitted to being amazed at how good it was, and week after week I’ve been amazed over and over again.

It’s not difficult to work out why. The script is great: action, laugh-out-loud zingers, real emotion, and an ability to switch mood without feeling too manipulative. Which, in turn, is where the actors comes in. Damon Wayans is a terrific Murtaugh, and he and Keesha Sharp (who was Mrs Johnnie Cochran in The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story) as Trish, his wife, are a supportive, affectionate, and sexy midlife married couple. Clayne Crawford is occasionally remarkable as the recently-widowed Riggs; capable, particularly in the earlier episodes, of moving me to tears as the depth of his loss was made apparent. And first among equals in the supporting cast is Kevin Rahm as Captain Avery, who I’ll watch with pleasure in anything, and who is really great here: the episode in which Avery’s career was under threat was a season highlight.

And this episode, ‘As Good As It Getz’, might have been one of the best so far. It had The Odd Couple’s Thomas Lennon turning in a dazzling cameo as ambulance-chasing lawyer Leo Getz, suddenly on the wrong side of a drug cartel; and, more significantly, the return of Hilarie Burton as DEA agent Karen Palmer, who has chemistry with Riggs, as all of the other characters have noticed. Which is great news, because the one thing this show has been lacking until now is a proper ship. In fact, just as I was writing down the words “you guys, I am ALREADY shipping them SO HARD” they – in all likelihood – made out in a lift. Squee! I am SO ON BOARD with #Riggsmer, as is everyone else in the show.

It continues to be the case that Lethal Weapon isn’t “great TV”. It isn’t edgy cable fodder with a tortured male antihero, it isn’t a streaming service’s latest “bingeworthy” (oh God oh God how I hate that concept) drama. But this was a seriously brilliant hour of TV. So I don’t just like this show, I like like it. In fact I would happily marry Lethal Weapon, move to the suburbs with it, and bear its children.

Public Service Announcement 25 of 2017: GLOW

The first season of Netflix’s latest comedy-drama GLOW is available from tomorrow (Friday) and, if critical reaction is anything to go by, may well be worth a look. Featuring Alison Brie from Mad Men and, weirdly, Kate Nash from “Foundations“, GLOW is a fictional story built around the 1980s real one of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling – for some people that alone will be enough to give it a big yes or a big no. Just in case it helps, though, reviews have been overwhelmingly positive. And, for those of us keeping an eye on gender politics and representation (or lack thereof) in both fiction and real-life, it’s worth noting that the creators, producers and most of the cast are women, and the story is obviously about women making progress in a particularly male-dominated time and profession – as far as I’m concerned, GLOW deserves credit for that at the very least.

The Blacklist s4 ep 19

This week’s Blacklister is Dr. Bogdan Krilov, a specialist in the science of memory manipulation; and, in fact, the person responsible for erasing Liz’s memories of The Fire. Mr. Kaplan has been in touch with him, so Red thinks he should be found, and – of course – the Task Force jumps to attention. Liz and Samar are on that, during which Liz will encounter Dr Selma Orchard, who also played around with Liz’s memory a couple of seasons back, and will discover that Dr. Krilov was inside her head as recently as two years ago. Liz seems to be a bid of a memory-manipulator magnet, it has to be said. And Red heads to Vienna on the trail of Mr. Kaplan. Almost early-to-mid-period James Bond-esque, this: cafés with sachertorte, trains with compartments and passenger lists.

Meantime, Ressler is still digging into the murder of Reven Wright, which I didn’t care that much about when it happened, still less a season and a half later, and which doesn’t seem to have a lot to do with the rest of the plot. Until… it does, and I don’t think I can say much more about that. Suffice to say that Mr. Kaplan’s plan is to bring down the Task Force which is shielding Red. And, as it happens, Detective Gale is trying to do the same thing; he’s worked out that mysterious mega-criminals started being arrested round about the time that Liz joined the Task Force, and concludes that Red is feeding intel to the FBI. It’s a busy and exciting episode; perhaps not quite up to the standard of the last couple of weeks, but very good indeed.

Cardinal s1 ep 5; s1 ep 6

Two very good episodes to finish. In episode 5 the plot strands are being drawn together: a hunter has found the body of Woody, the burglar who got unlucky last week, and from Woody’s internet search history Cardinal and Delorme deduce, very quickly, that since dude was looking at guitars this has to have something to do with the missing Keith and, therefore, with our serial killers. Another leap of logic takes them to the music shop where Eric works, and although he’s not there he becomes their main person of interest.

Meantime Delorme has concluded that Cardinal is paying someone off, rather than being bribed, and sure enough he hands money over to a mysterious woman who comes to his house. In domestic news Cardinal’s wife does a runner from her presumably not-very-secure care facility, and Lise has an argument with Josh – who seems, let’s be honest, to be a bit of a cock – over her entirely understandable desire not to bear his children.

And the episode finishes with a couple of shocks: Eric lures Cardinal and Delorme to a deserted school and shoots Delorme, although she’s wearing a bulletproof vest. When Eric tries to drive away Cardinal jumps into his van and, after a crash, shoots and kills him. But what Cardinal and Delorme don’t yet know is that Eric has an accomplice, Edie, who drags poor Keith into a car boot, then stabs him.

Which takes us into the sixth and final episode. With Keith and Edie both missing, the characters all start to talk as if Keith is dead, which of course is the biggest clue that he’s still alive. But we’ll get to that: first of all Delorme confronts Cardinal with her conclusions from her investigation into him, which are that he’s been taking money to avoid the truth coming out about him tipping off drug dealer Kyle Corbett about a raid, which led to a cop being killed. Cardinal doesn’t even try to deny it, which is also significant for those of us who watch procedurals. Sure enough, Cardinal has been taking the rap for someone else, and since that someone else is his wife, it starts to look very unlikely that he’s going to be hooking up with Delorme, even though Josh takes the hint and moves out.

Meantime Edie discovers that Keith has somehow escaped from the car boot, and takes the battle directly to Cardinal by going to his house and pointing a gun at his daughter, meaning that when Cardinal – who by now has found out about Edie – arrives home he gets shot a couple of times. Fortunately Delorme turns up a few minutes later to kill Edie and save Cardinal, but they still don’t sleep together. It’s like the writers just don’t care about shipping possibilities.

So Cardinal stayed on top of its plots, didn’t outstay its welcome, provided further evidence that Karine Vanasse has star quality, put Agnes Obel on the soundtrack, and finished with its two strongest episodes. I’d say it goes down as a success. Two more seasons are planned, and if the BBC buys them I’ll watch them.