It was a case of The Blacklist meeting Boston Legal on the third episode of Season 6, The Pharmacist.
For years, fans of The Blacklist have been asking for William Shatner to guest star as a Blacklister. Well, we didn’t get that, but we got Reddington (James Spader) playing lawyer, giving us his best Alan Shore as he went toe to toe with Judge Roberta Wilkins (Becky Ann Baker). The courtroom scenes were brilliant. Red at his sharp, witty self, with that typical Red humor thrown in. Does anything faze this man (whoever he is)? Apparently not.
Exuding confidence, Red opted to represent himself, dismissing his court appointed lawyer. He would never put his fate in someone else’s hands. As AUSA Michael Sima (Ken Leung) lay down the law to the judge, Red gave as good as he got. Sima raised valid points. Reddington was number one one the FBI’s most wanted list. (I had to wonder at that point what happened to numbers one through 3, since Red was originally number 4, but I digress.) Things were looking dire for Red. He didn’t have a leg to stand on, faced with decades of crimes.
But Red had an ace up his sleeve. His immunity agreement as an informant with Main Justice. As soon as he mentioned this to a very stunned judge, the tide changed in Red’s favor. Demanding the truth (while Sima kept whining), the judge needed answers. Red calmly said that there was one person who could validate his claim. Harold Cooper (Harry Lennix), who was sitting in the courtroom. Stunned, Cooper had a hard choice. Did he follow Cynthia Panabaker’s (Deirdre Lovejoy) orders and disavow any knowledge of the agreement, or did he tell the truth? And Cooper told the truth. Yes, there was such an immunity agreement in place. After the judge demanded a copy of the agreement, the court recessed for the day.
Further questioning by Sima put Cooper in a difficult position. When Sima asked if Reddington had committed any crimes while under the protection of the immunity agreement, Cooper hesitated. Yes, Red had committed crimes. But Cooper deflected the question, and answered that he had not directly witnessed any crimes. And he told the truth. No, he hadn’t directly witnessed Reddington commit crimes. Cooper was my hero at this point. He won over the judge too, who had read the agreement. Faced with the irrefutable truth that Reddington was indeed protected by Main Justice as an informant, Judge Wilkins ruled that the immunity agreement was valid. Red was a free man – for about 2.5 seconds.
AUSA Sima immediately stated that Red had violated the agreement, stopping everyone in their tracks. Red had been in possession of an unregistered firearm when arrested. Red agreed, stating that was only a State offence. But when Sima stated that the gun had the serial number filed off, there was no denying that was a Federal offence, and Red had indeed violated his immunity agreement. Red immediately demanded the gun be struck from the proceedings, and the judge granted him a hearing to suppress the gun. All well and good, but in the meantime, Red was transported to Colton Prison for safe keeping.
The case of the week was secondary to Red’s great performance in court. Facing jail, Red still gave Liz (Megan Boone) a Blacklister case. Spalding Stark (David Wilson Barnes), known as The Pharmacist. A brilliant chemist, Red had invested money in the man’s groundbreaking research two years before. Perhaps Stark is not the visionary Red perceived him to be. Five bodies discovered in a warehouse appeared to be part of a medical experiment. As the opening scene revealed, the desperately ill patients had injected themselves with a promised cure for their multiple complex developmental disorder (MCDD), a disease similar to Parkinson’s.
After meeting with Stark’s former employer, Crown Life Pharmaceuticals, they discover who Stark’s assistant is. Ethan Webb (Lee Aaron Rosen) a researcher fired by Crown Life for stealing information. He then became Stark’s assistant in their search for an MCDD cure. But things, of course, were not as they appeared. Webb wasn’t fired, but planted into Stark’s life to sabotage his research. Crown Life stood to lose millions per year if a cure for MCDD existed. Sadly, Spalding Stark had a cure, but Ethan Webb put poison in each injection. The patients then injected that poison along with the cure, killing themselves. So our Blacklister wasn’t the bad guy after all. His assistant was.
In a very interesting turn of events, Dembe asked to talk with Spalding Stark. Liz agreed, and at that point, Dembe spoke more than he has in five years. Reddington needed to know if Spalding was still making progress. Stark assured Dembe he was, and this was not going to stop him. Interesting. What does Red want with the research this pharmacist is working on? I am sure this will pay off in a future episode.
This was not an action episode like last week, but it was a blast watching Red in the court room. He reveled in it, defending himself and calmly deflecting the accusations against him. I never watched Boston Legal, so missed a reference in the episode. During story telling – yes, even facing the death penalty, we got a Redtime story – Red mentioned fishing with a judge. That judge and fishing trip was in a Boston Legal episode. A great Easter egg for the Boston Legal fans.
There was further evidence that something is off with Samar. She could not remember the word ‘sabotage’ when interrogating Stark. She needed to look it up to discover the word she could not recall. The lack of oxygen to her brain is causing problems.
This episode was almost a bridge episode, taking us from Red on the outside to his new life in prison. Future episodes will explore his life on this inside, and I for one am sure it will not take Red long to rule that prison block. He’s still Red, even when you strip away the three piece suit, his finances, and his contacts. Red will find a way to rise above this, and it’s promising to be a wild ride.
And let’s not forget, Liz is still out to get the truth. But she is clearly torn, seeing Red in prison. I can only hope that if Red does face the death penalty in future, Liz’s conscience will wake up. It doesn’t matter who this man is. He obviously cares and has gone to great lengths for decades to protect her.
The Blacklist is on NBC on Friday at 9/8c.
Photos courtesy of NBC Universal, photos by Virginia Sherwood/NBC.