Wives seeking justice and revenge for their husbands seem to be the current theme of The Blacklist, and this episode was consistent.
We open with our Blacklister of the week, Pattie Sue Edwards (Liza J. Bennett) sitting in a diner where she has just unleashed a fast-acting virus to the unsuspecting patrons. The waitress serving her falls sick with a red rash and flu symptoms, before collapsing and general mayhem breaks out. As far as viruses go, it wasn’t as gross as some we’ve had with the special effects department penchant for nasty, blood boiling, pus-filled lesions erupting everywhere. I for one was thankful for that. As the CDC arrive and quarantine the place, Edwards leaves the diner. She puffs an inhaler keeping her immune to the virus. She’s one cool customer.
While this is unfolding, Reddington is making an uninvited house call to Detective Singleton (Evan Parke) to have a little bedside chat at gunpoint. He’s also enjoying the memory foam mattress. All he wants is for Singleton not to divulge his relationship with the FBI, but Singleton is rather put out at his methods. Our detective was lucky he got off so lightly with Reddington holding a gun on him. Others have not fared so well. Meeting with Cooper and Liz, Singleton tells them he’s been keeping his ear to the ground and trying to get a lead on which cop is Damascus, and Tom’s killer, but so far he’s got nothing.
And right under Cooper’s nose, Liz and Singleton devise a plan to make out they’re meeting with Navarro (remember him? Yeah, the one Liz stewed) who will spill the beans on everything. So whoever shows up to silence him will either be Damascus or someone working for him. When Liz fills Reddington in on the plan, he’s not so sure it will be as cut and dry as Liz and Singleton think. A bad cop is hard to arrest and convict. This will not end in the courthouse, but on the street. People should listen when Red tells them things.
Reddington meets with his freed arsonist, Earl Fagen (C. Thomas Howell) with an offer too good to refuse. Red needs the firebug to torch one of his businesses that’s become a liability, thanks to the IRS sniffing around wanting an audit. Perfect plan. Just torch the business, and there will be no audit and no trail back to Red’s money laundering. Then we learn it’s the Critter Cabin that Reddington wants to torch! I think we all let out cries of ‘not the dog place!’ But Red’s forging on ahead with the plan, even down to having Smokey visit the vet and confiscate some dogs and cats he’s put down, so they can ‘die’ in the fire. Score one for Red.
Reddington hears of the viral outbreak at the diner in New York. Convinced it’s the client of someone he turned down months ago who was looking for a fast acting, maximum impact pathogen, he gives the case to Liz. And it was a pleasant change to see her back in the war room, briefing the task force again. She’s only on restricted duties though, as Dr. Fulton still hasn’t cleared her.
Cooper sends Ressler and Navabi off to meet with the CDC onsite and get the latest from them. My first thought was, all these CDC peeps are talking about an airborne pathogen, and you guys aren’t wearing gas masks this time? They were outside the quarantined blocks around the diner, but still… this bug is airborne. After viewing security footage from inside the diner, showing our Blacklister, they send the images off to Aram to do his thing.
Meanwhile, the woman of the hour, Pattie Sue Edwards has just left a briefcase inside an elevator at a hospital, and it’s letting off gas. But it seems she’s got a different plan now. She didn’t leave another virus, but the cure. Love it when you think it’s one thing, and you get something else on this show. The CDC can’t dish it out yet though. They need to test her antidote before it’s safe to use.
Aram has found the Blacklister’s identity, and wouldn’t you know it, she is a biochemist who worked for USAMRIID. Her husband was a Navy SEAL accused of stealing a load of confiscated opium in Syria. He was then killed by another SEAL, in ‘self-defense’. Pattie Sue knows her innocent husband was the victim of the men who stole the opium. She then lost her security clearance and resigned from USAMRIID. No wonder she’s plotting some revenge stuff here.
Red, meanwhile, is still dealing with that pesky tax problem with the auditor. Seems the man can be bought though, and Red has just the ticket to do that. If he can get the auditors son into a swanky private school that denied him, then the auditor could just look away and not audit the Critter Cabin. With some fast talking with the stuffy high school principal, and some outright threats and dirty dealing – Red at his best – he does get the son into the school.
And just like that, the Critter Cabin fire is off. It’s all going swimmingly until the auditor has to inform Red that he’s off the case, and a new auditor is coming in the morning. Red is not a happy camper, and the auditor’s son is no longer getting into the posh school. The on again, off again fire is on again and Smokey’s little hoard of dead pets get to shine.
Meanwhile, Detective Singleton is making it known among his task force that Navarro is about to sing to the Feds, letting them know everything about the Nash Syndicate. And guess who he’s telling. Our bald friend, Ian Garvey, who is sweating a little more than he should be. He can’t have Navarro exposing everything.
Back at the CDC encampment outside the quarantine zone, Ressler and Samar are getting an education on viruses. And right in the middle of that, computer alarms sound, and flashing messages of Access Denied. The entire CDC system is down. And here, we have to stretch belief for the sake of a good story. It seems, when they uploaded the data from the virus from the infected people into the CDC system, it had a computer virus embedded in it, and that took down their entire system.
Okay, I’ll buy it. But only because Aram explains it so well to Cooper. Edwards goal is now clear. She set off the virus to gain access to the CDC’s computer network and lock everyone else out. The only way to know what she’s accessing is to get into the CDC’s server farm and guess where that is? Yeah, right in the middle of the quarantine zone.
Liz and Singleton are now staking out the house waiting on Damascus or one of his men. And while sharing a coffee, they talk about their kids. And right there, I knew Singleton would likely die. They humanized him, so I knew the writing was on the wall. A car pulls up outside their supposed safe house, and they intercept his call as Judson (Shane Patrick Kearns) lets his boss know no one was there. It will take a little while, but they’ll be able to find out what number he called. Liz will need Aram’s help to find that number.
Meanwhile, Aram isn’t so enthusiastic anymore. Suited up in a yellow Hazmat suit, he’s getting ready to head into the quarantine area and access the CDC server farm. After a kiss for luck from Samar, he heads into the zone alone, talking like a gerbil on meth – as Ressler would, and has said regarding Aram in the past. Terrified, the poor guy is in danger of using up the air inside his suit.
But good old Aram gets the job done, despite sweating buckets. Edwards had accessed the CDC, SIPRNet and DoD databases. She’s got a DNA sample and is trying to find someone it matches. And her sample matches a retired Navy SEAL, Caleb James Cronin (Dennis Flanagan), the man cleared of killing her husband in self-defense. Being Special Ops, she had not known his identity. And now she can find where he is.
Back at the Post Office, Aram has recovered from his foray into the dead zone, and is helping Liz trace the number, discovering that the burner came from Singleton’s office building. Singleton realizes it’s someone close to him, and Liz calls the number. As the burner phone rings, Singleton finds it at Ian Garvey’s desk. And Garvey is right behind him, threatening his kids if Singleton does anything stupid. Then he asks Singleton to take a ride with him. And it’s not a request. I didn’t like Garvey before, but now I really dislike the man. Jonny Coyne is reveling in this evil role and doing a fantastic job with Garvey.
Our Blacklister has tracked down Cronin, the man who killed her husband. She’s infected him with a fast-acting virus, while she puffs on her antidote inhaler. If he talks, she’ll give him the antidote. If not, then he’ll be dead in three hours. But he’s stubborn, even as his body reacts to the virus coursing through his veins, he doesn’t give in and tell her. These Navy SEALs are tough. So tough, in fact, that he breaks the zip tie that’s holding him to the chair.
They struggle for the gun and in the fight he steps right on her inhaler and crushes it. Now she’s exposed to the same virus, minus her antidote. That’s called karma, lady. There’s only one thing they can do, and that’s getting to her house where there is more of her antidote. Her intent was never to kill him, just get him to confess.
Ressler and Navabi are not far behind, and realizing where she’s heading, they set up a roadblock to stop her getting to her home. The CDC gathers at the site, along with the antidote that’s now tested and deemed safe to use. Ressler, back to his sharp self after his recent blackmailer problems, approaches Cronin. I was thinking ‘don’t breathe too deep’ as he got near them. But a determined Ressler compels Cronin to tell the truth about what happened to Edward’s husband in Syria, before he will allow any treatment.
And knowing he is about to die if he doesn’t get the antidote, Cronin sings like a canary. He killed her husband after he had found them stealing the opium, and he gives the names of the other men involved. Ressler allows the CDC in to treat them, and then the police arrest them both. And in a lovely gesture, they let Pattie Sue attend a formal funeral for her husband, complete with the 21-gun salute he deserved. Ressler stands right there with her, and as he watches them place the flag in her cuffed hands, I couldn’t help but wonder if he was thinking of his own father’s funeral and the flag handed to his mother.
The following morning, the Critter Cabin is still standing and didn’t catch fire overnight. Smokey is about to have a conniption fit. It’s 9am, the new auditor is almost on their doorstep, and he’s sure he and Heddie are about to go to jail for cooking the books. Red just couldn’t bring himself to burn the place down. He likes it there. We like it too, Red. As the IRS auditor arrives, Smokey is still having a meltdown. Until the auditor tells them that there was a fire in the IRS basement overnight which destroyed all their audit records.
The audit is cancelled. I loved it. Red got his reprieve from the tax man, Earl Fagen got to play with fire again, and Smokey and Heddie escaped jail time. And just as importantly, we still get to see the Critter Cabin and Red with dogs again. That’s what you call a win-win situation. Red at his finest.
Meanwhile, a worried Liz hasn’t heard from Singleton. Cooper calls her with something and meets her at an address. They’ve found a body, and you guessed it, it’s our dear departed Singleton. I was sad he died, despite knowing it had to happen. He’d grown on me. Stabbed to death, wallet gone, it looks like a robbery. Murdered by the man Liz is looking for, Singleton died without being able to divulge that name.
But as she’s standing at the body, Liz hears a voice. A voice she’s heard before in her apartment the night Tom died. And turning to the voice, her eyes fall on Ian Garvey at the scene. She’s found the man who killed Tom.
I thought this was a well-rounded episode, with lots going on with the task force, the virus and CDC, Liz’s hunt, and Red wheedling his way out from under the IRS. It had a little of everything, and it ended up being an enjoyable episode. It was fun seeing Aram in the Hazmat suit. Seeing Ressler prevent Cronin from getting the antidote until he confessed was great. I also loved the Hell Gate Bridge location at the end. Hat’s off to the location scouts again. They know their stuff and while New York has to stand in for a lot of places when they shoot (it will be Paris in a few episodes), it’s always better when they set the episode in New York and let the city shine.
Red did a lot of wheeling and dealing in this episode, and while it wasn’t life and death – well, apart from our furry four-legged friends lives at stake – he was on his game. The back and forth with the fire was fun and I am glad to see they brought C. Thomas Howell back to reprise his role as Earl Fagen. I like a show to have a memory, and this one does. And Michael Aranov as Smokey Putnam is always a great addition to an episode. Oh, and if you’re wondering what Smokey said in Cant Carny speak to Red, it was one word, “incomprehensible,” referring to the new tax laws. I always like to decipher when they speak with all their ‘eaz’ in the words.
Next week is shaping up to be a great showdown between Liz and the task force, and Ian Garvey. What were your thoughts on this week’s episode, and Pattie Sue Edwards?
The Blacklist airs on NBC at 8/7c on Wednesdays.