It was a case of The Blacklist meets Ocean’s 11 last night, with a fun caper in Paris for the team. We’ve seen this type of episode before, where Reddington and co pull off a heist or kidnapping, as in the 100th episode, and The Director back in Season 3. This episode was indeed a blast, as promised by the creator, Jon Bokenkamp. He was right, it was a fast paced load of fun with Red at his hilarious best.
With last week’s Nash Drug Syndicate ledger in hand, Reddington finally has that leverage over Ian Garvey (Jonny Coyne) that he’s been after all season. By throwing a well aimed spanner in Garvey’s drug supply, Garvey was off his game, faced with backlash from his own organisation because of a shipment that had been detained at the port by the DEA. What Garvey doesn’t yet realize is that Reddington now has information on Garvey’s head honcho drug supplier, located in Afghanistan. But in a rather fortuitous stroke of luck, our drug supplier, the titular Zarak Mosadek (Bernard White), is heading to Paris. Red relays all of this to Liz in a deserted movie theatre, while lounging back and offering to share his popcorn with her. What a gentleman. After Liz briefs the task force, the team get to step away from the Post Office for a while and travel to Paris so that Red can have a little chat with the drug dealer. But Ressler and Samar arrive on Reddington’s private jet minus Liz, much to Red’s consternation.
Liz has other things on her mind, and needs Aram’s help while Red is out the way. That help turns out to be getting information out of Internal Affairs, after they basically have cleared Ian Garvey of any wrongdoing, despite Liz’s accusations. She can’t have that and ropes in a reluctant Aram, who pulls off his role admirably, supposedly being knocked off his bicycle by our IA guy’s car. With Aram playing decoy, Liz hurriedly hacks the IA guy’s laptop in the back of his car, and copies all info on Ian Garvey to her thumb drive. Back at the Post Office, Liz and Aram pour over all the files, but come up empty handed. Garvey looks as squeaky clean as IA think he is. Until Liz wonders why Garvey drives 50 miles away every Friday lunch time to Pete’s Tavern, apparently famous for their hot wings. Are the wings really THAT good? Time to find out what our Mr Garvey finds so interesting up there.
Meanwhile, across the Atlantic in Paris, Red’s having a good time while Ressler and Samar are feeling rather bored and stood up in the hotel. Red’s been busy “obtaining” intel regarding the security detail surround their target Zarak Mosadek, while Dembe raids the kitchen and makes up a lovely cheese platter, complete with walnuts. Oh, to have a Dembe. Armed with the intel he needs, Reddington finally makes it back to the hotel and proceeds to fill in Ressler and Samar on his little plan. And it’s a doozy – and a whole lot of fun. Watching James Spader deliver his lines in this segment was a joy. Reddington was like a kid in a candy store, delightedly relaying his plan, while Ressler and Samar were not nearly as excited. Small points like ‘blowing the elevator with explosives’ and ‘kidnapping an Afghan Drug Lord’ didn’t sound all that fun to them. But with Reddington as the ring leader, what could possibly go wrong, right? Right?
Back in Baltimore, Aram and Liz are sitting in the car outside Pete’s Tavern, when Liz’s hunch pays off, and in walks Garvey. As they watch, nothing happens. He doesn’t order food. Not even those famous hot wings that Aram would fancy right about then. Garvey just sits and drinks a beer, then after 45 minutes, gets up to leave. Liz is stumped. There HAS to be more to this than meets the eye. And there is, because as soon as he steps out of the tavern, Garvey talks with one of the tavern staff, and it’s very obvious he knows her, embracing her head gently in his hands. Is she the reason he travels 50 miles a week? Snapping photos, Liz keeps her eye on the woman, while Aram checks his laptop for the tavern staff. She is Lillian Roth (Fiona Dourif), a seemingly unassuming tavern worker. Now Liz is really curious. Who is this woman, and what is she to Ian Garvey?
Across the Atlantic, our merry band of men (and one woman) are all in place for the kidnapping of Zarak Mosadek from his hotel. They also have help, from a ‘spry young fellow’ of about 80 years old, in Jean-Phillipe (Pierre Epstein), an old Frenchman who is completely smitten with Samar. This old guy was awesome! The plan is simple. Blow the elevator cables. When it crashes to the basement – assuming everyone survives, a mere technicality according to Reddington – they then kidnap Mosadek. But wouldn’t you know it, those pesky Greeks who sold Jean-Phillipe the explosives sold him a bad batch. The elevator car comes to a screeching halt on the 3rd Floor, not the basement as planned, hanging by one cable. But our trusty team are on it, and with Ressler’s help, Dembe manages to free Mosadek, and his two unconscious henchmen, and then whisk Mosadek away to safety for that little chat with Reddington just before the elevator crashes to the basement.
And it’s here that Reddington is taken by surprise, and that doesn’t happen very often. He is completely unaware that Mosadek’s son has been kidnapped by the Taliban, and that is why he’s in Paris, to pay the ransom of $10 million in diamonds. And Reddington just got in the way of that deal. Ever one to make the best of any situation and think on his feet, Red doesn’t miss a beat and comes up with a new plan. We get your boy back, and you repay me by cutting off Garvey’s drug supply. Seems like a reasonable trade, in Reddington’s world. There’s just one tiny problem. When Ressler calls Cooper to fill him in, Cooper needs to discuss it with Cynthia Panabaker (Deirdre Lovejoy). And in a brilliant double speak scene, she long-handedly tells Cooper ‘no way’, and completely confirms – while denying it – that Mosadek is in fact an informant for the US Military. The US can’t waltz in and save the boy and blow Mosadek’s cover and viablility. The boy is on his own. But when have rules ever stopped Reddington? And we know Cooper is well aware of that.
The plan to rescue the boy is on, and the ransom exchange is to take place in a cemetery – which kinda isn’t the sort of place an anxious father would want to find his boy, right? With Ressler and Samar following at a distance, keeping tabs on Mosadek, they suddenly lose sight of him. He appears to have vanished. Or did he? Ressler finds a mausoleum that Mosadek must have gone into, and a hatch leading down into the catacombs below. The Taliban have Mosadek’s son, Mateen, hostage, and once Mosadek hands over the $10 million in diamonds, he expects to have his boy returned. But the Taliban have other ideas. See, they’ve cottoned on to the fact Mosadek is working with the US, and they are not happy about it. So unhappy, in fact, that despite receiving the ransom, they are holding a gun to his son’s head. Enter Ressler and Samar, and a whole lot of shots fired in the catacombs, but to no avail. The boys life is temporarily saved, but the leader of the Taliban group runs with the boy and Mosadek.
Reddington hasn’t been idle while Ressler and Samar are in the catacombs. He knows where the tunnels come out, and it’s a lovely stained glass windowed church. And in another hilarious scene, Red plays the flustered official, trying to get everyone to evacuate the church due to a gas leak. The furnace in the basement is giving off fumes, he insists, but is then informed by the church administrator lady that they don’t have a basement. Red switches tack but still keeps on getting people out. But he’s not fast enough, as the Taliban leader, Mateen and Mosadek appear. More shots are fired, this time in that beautiful church as people dive for cover. As the Taliban leader holds a gun to the boy’s head again, Ressler appears from the catacombs and shoots her dead, saving the boy – again. That poor lad will be scarred for life. With the melee under control, Reddington assures everyone the gas leak problem has been resolved. Then coolly retrieves the $10 million in diamonds from the dead Taliban leader, and gives them to the church official to cover the damages. Oh, Red, you do have a heart of gold. And with Red’s end of the bargain met and the boy saved, Mosadek agrees to make things difficult for Garvey by cutting his supply and paying him a visit in person. Mission accomplished.
Meanwhile, Liz is outside Pete’s Tavern as the mystery woman is locking up for the night. Wheedling her way in with a story of a lost handbag, Liz then confronts Lillian Roth, letting her know she’s an FBI agent, and needs information on Ian Garvey. And somehow, she convinces this Lillian to accompany her back to her crime scene apartment, and shows her the evidence wall. The woman is tight lipped as Liz goes over the case against Garvey, unconvinced. When Liz lets Lillian tell her side of the story, she speaks of a completely different Garvey than the one we’ve come to know. She talks of him being there for her, like a father, looking out for her. He’s the US Marshall who took her into Witness Protection, gave her a new identity, and he has watched over her diligently for years. At this reveal, little alarm bells start ringing as we remember way back in Season 2, with Reddington’s wife Naomi and her daughter Jennifer, who were in Witness Protection. Lillian tells Liz that Ian Garvey has been hiding her and protecting her from her real father – one Raymond Reddington. Cue shocked Liz. Have we just found Jennifer Reddington?
This was a FUN episode, with a shocker at the end. To be honest, I personally wasn’t shocked, because I had read Jennifer would be making her appearance, so it was kinda obvious that this mystery woman of Garvey’s has to be Jennifer. But to the majority of the audience, it came as a big shock. Things just got VERY interesting. But what is the connection to Jennifer (assuming it is her) and the bones that Garvey has? We have a few more episodes this season to find that answer.
The Paris Caper (that could have been the title) was a barrel of laughs through most of it, and Red’s enthusiasm during it was infectious. I haven’t laughed that much in an episode for some time, and it was great. The locations for Paris were on the Upper West Side of NY, and it really played its part well in setting the scenes.
We get a week off next week, and then we return on April 25th with episode 519, “Ian Garvey: Conclusion”. Will he be killed by Red after he retrieves his duffel bag of bones? Will he be saved by Liz to pay for his crimes and subsequently rot in jail? How will Jennifer feel toward Reddington with either of these scenarios? We’ll know in two weeks!
The Blacklist airs on NBC at 8/7c on Wednesdays.
Images courtesy NBC.