We start off this week’s episode with a bit of a difference–we’re not getting a Blacklister handed to us by Reddington, but instead, a cold case of Liz’s from her profiling days at Quantico, The Capricorn Killer.
Liz is on a tear, needing to take Ian Garvey (Jonny Coyne) down for killing Tom and Detective Singleton, after watching Garvey act as pallbearer at Singleton’s funeral. But there is good news. A witness has been found who saw Garvey killing Singleton, one Tony Mejia (Octavio Gómez Berríos) a quiet, withdrawn man who is fond of fidget spinners. Cooper lays down the law to Liz though. She can’t interrogate the witness as she is the widow and victim, and besides, he has a case for her. She’s been specifically requested after a body is discovered with the same signature as her former case, the Capricorn Killer. Liz is suddenly interested in something other than vengeance, which was a welcome change, and heads to the remote woods with Ressler and Samar to meet the local agent on site who takes them to the body. The rather grisly find is on his knees, bound with a goat’s skull, and impaled with a sword down his mouth and out his back. At this point it reminded me more of Criminal Minds than The Blacklist, but our astute Liz cottons on that this is the work of a copycat and not the Capricorn Killer. This sword is not hand made as in the previous cases.
Meeting with Dr. Fulton (Martha Plimpton) again, Liz has finally opened up and getting to the nitty gritty of things. Finding the body and reopening the case was exhilarating to her. As they talk, Dr. Fulton pries out of Liz how driven she is to solve cases. One of her early unsolved cases, The Sandman, is discussed as Dr. Fulton zeroes in on where Liz’s passion lies. I began to like the doctor more at this point, despite my misgivings on her former obsession with Liz’s parentage and association with Reddington. She is really making Liz inspect just what she is made of. But I still don’t trust her. There is something off about the good doctor.
Aram, meanwhile, has been given a job to do by Cooper. Since Liz, Ressler and Navabi are all off working the Capricorn Killer case, the witness in the case against Ian Garvey needs to be put into protective custody and transported to the Post Office for questioning. Aram is shocked to hear a cop, Ian Garvey is suspected in the murder of Tom and Singleton. Aram is nervous, wondering why this is on his shoulders, but determines he can handle this because he’s now a trained field agent. And arriving at Belmont Police Station to pick up the witness, he’s met by, you guessed it, the bald bespectacled man himself, US Marshal Ian Garvey. And this was the Aram from Anslo Garrick. The one who pretended they were paper when he shot at the bad guys. In a great scene, he stood up to Garvey and got that witness out of there and back to the Post Office. When the witness identifies Ian Garvey in a photograph, Cooper starts the process of getting an arrest warrant for Garvey and reassures Liz it will soon be over. Somehow, I don’t think that will be as cut and dry as they think.
Liz and Ressler meet with the wife of Wendell Seivers, the now identified victim killed by the Capricorn Killer copycat, and Liz is drawn to photos on the mantle of their victim playing with handmade swords. Yeah, I knew as soon as Liz did. When they open the workshop where Wendell made his own swords, the creep factor dials up. And when they find a padlocked room that is a shrine to every previous victim, it falls into place. Their victim was the Capricorn Killer, killed in the same manner he’d dispatched all of his victims. Someone killed the serial killer. Dexter, anyone?
But in a more creepy and gruesome scene (how does The Blacklist get away with these scenes at 7pm Central?) we find a man being hacked to death with a chainsaw. He’s missing a lower leg and one arm, and is ritualistically being killed, we now realize, in the manner he’d formerly killed his own victims. Our Dexter wannabe has struck again, killing off another serial killer known as The TriState Butcher. And in perfect timing, Samar has tracked down where the sword used in the Capricorn Killer copycat case was shipped to, and as Liz and Ressler arrive, it’s right where the TriState Butcher is being butchered. Ressler takes off running after the perp, and I have to question how a middle aged dude can outrun super-fit and super-fast Ressler, but he did. All Ressler knows is it was a black guy he was chasing. Liz looks at the two cases, and the meticulous details in recreating the exact signature of each killer, and concludes the killer is an FBI profiler.
Reddington, meanwhile hasn’t been idle. While the task force are busy with the case, Red sets up a little trap for Garvey, who falls right into it feet first. But with Garvey in front of him, here is where Red has to choose. If he lets the witness sing in court, Garvey goes down and Liz gets justice for Tom and Singleton, but all of Red’s little secrets become public. Red can’t have that. He also needs Garvey alive to know where he’s stashed the bones, so killing him is not an option. Garvey, meanwhile, needs Red alive to get the whole truth to something. Garvey says he can take the bones public, yet he hasn’t and Red isn’t sure why. I’ve also wondered the same thing for months. We have a stalemate. Both men need something from the other. But Red’s still offering deals. The FBI know Garvey is a cop killer and are hunting him. But if Garvey gives Red the bag of bones, he can get Garvey out from under that little problem with the Feds. Garvey isn’t so easily swayed and has an offer of his own. If Red brings Garvey the witness, the bones will remain secret. High stakes, indeed. But wouldn’t you know it, while Aram is escorting the witness for safekeeping, masked gunmen take him from the FBI transport. But Aram gets a good look at one of the gunmen, and he has one blue eye, and one brown eye. File that away. It will be important.
Back in Dr. Fulton’s office, Liz is discussing the latest case and how it’s making her feel exhilarated. Their copycat, profiler killer is solving cases that the FBI couldn’t, and for that, Liz admires him. She also knows if he is an FBI profiler, he’d have to have had a psych evaluation. Why hadn’t these traits been picked up in him? Liz feels that if she could get the medical records of the other profilers who’d had similar shrink sessions to what she’s having, she could pin down who their perp is. Dr. Fulton won’t release them to her, but when Liz calls Red, it’s a piece of cake for him to get the records released. Sometimes it’s best not to know who Red calls in favors with. Armed with this new information, Liz narrows down who she believes their killer is. Anthony Hollis (Esau Pritchett) a profiler deemed unfit for duty after a psych evaluation for insubordination. She runs back to Dr. Fulton, shows her the file and asks for her opinion. Could Hollis be their killer? Dr. Fulton believes it’s possible.
Armed with this info, Liz stakes out Hollis, and when she sees him leaving his home, Ressler and Navabi head that way. Liz can’t arrest him as she doesn’t have her badge back. As Hollis takes off, Liz follows him while Ressler and Navabi trace her cell phone and follow her. Meanwhile, the Feds have raided Hollis’s home, finding files on the Capricorn Killer and TriState Butcher and a bunch of other old cases. He’s their guy, for sure. Stopping in the woods, with the light fading, Liz watches him, but is startled by Hollis at her car window, aiming a gun in her direction and needing her to go with him.
And this is where it gets very interesting. As Hollis leads her into a cabin, who should step out, but Dr. Fulton, telling Liz she has something she wants to share with her. I knew there was something about this doctor. Liz is stunned and furious. Not only is Dr. Fulton well aware that Anthony Hollis is who the FBI are looking for, but she trained him. Seems she also couldn’t sleep at night knowing some murders were unsolved, and took matters into her own hands, recruiting the best of the best to hunt them down. Men like Hollis, and Dr. Fulton wants to recruit Liz into her little band of justice seekers. And right when Liz can’t believe what she’s hearing, Dr. Fulton has a surprise for her. Remember the Sandman, one of Liz’s first unsolved cases? Guess who Dr. Fulton has stashed in the closet. The Sandman himself, and all Liz has to do is just smother him with a pillow like he did to his victims, and her recruitment will be complete. Horrified, but strangely drawn to the idea, Liz takes the pillow, right as the FBI burst in after tracking down her location. In the ensuing gunfight, Dr. Fulton takes off with agents after her, Liz among them. When Liz tracks down Dr. Fulton, she holds the doctor at gunpoint. “I can’t believe I read you wrong,” Dr. Fulton tells her. “Maybe you didn’t,” Liz replies, and lets Dr. Fulton go. Liz is becoming more like Reddington as the years go by. Back at the cabin, Ressler comes and sits beside Liz while the Crime Scene guys are cleaning up. When she tells Ressler “I tried,” I couldn’t help but wonder if she meant she tried to do the right thing and bring Dr. Fulton in, but couldn’t. But hey, at least one good thing happened today, Liz tells Ressler. They got a witness who can I.D. Garvey. “Silver linings,” Ressler tells her.
But back at the Post Office, Aram has terrible news. The witness is gone. Liz’s one chance to bring down Garvey in the court room vanishes and she’s sure Garvey got him and he’s already dead. But Liz is interrupted by Cooper appearing upstairs with Dr. Fulton. Liz didn’t turn her in, and she’s right there, recommending Liz be reinstated as an agent. But Liz still manages to surprise. When seeing out Dr. Fulton, she tells the shrink that one day, she’d like to know she can call on the doctor’s special skill set if needed. And just like Reddington, Liz now has a serial killer for hire. Kinda handy, if you ever need that sort of thing.
Meanwhile, Red is meeting with Garvey again, supposedly to hand over the witness. But Red has other ideas, and he’s taken the young man away from Garvey and the FBI and as long as Red’s alive, the witness will be safe and will never testify against Garvey. Once again, Garvey taunts Red. “You have no idea who I am. Aren’t you curious?” Yes, we are all curious about who Garvey is, and what he wants from Red. But Red reassures Garvey that once he’s found those bones, he will kill Garvey. And in a phone call at that moment, Liz tells him about Garvey taking their witness. And we all know Red took him. He also assures Liz that Ian Garvey will not get away from him – right as he’s looking at Garvey walking out the door. Oh, Red…this will not go down well with Liz.
This was a very fast paced episode with a lot packed into its 42 minutes of screen time. Some episodes of late have plodded along with the back story, but this episode flew with the reveals we got. I loved that I ended up liking Dr. Fulton, even though she was revealed to be the big bad behind the killing of the serial killers. We got a lot of development of Liz, learning to step back and let others handle the Garvey case the right way through the law. I’m not a fan of ‘badass Liz’ that we’ve seen at times in Season 5, but I am a fan of this more intelligent, deeper Liz who is thinking for herself.
The showdown with Garvey is coming, and I for one can’t wait to see how it all pans out. Red is playing both sides, and that can’t end well. But, this is Reddington, and he’s always five steps ahead of everyone else, so we have to believe he has an endgame in all of this.
We have to wait until April 4th before we find out more, with another mini hiatus over the next two weeks. These breaks make it very difficult to stay focused!
The Blacklist airs on NBC at 8/7c on Wednesdays.