The Blacklist (S06E06) “The Ethicist”

This week’s episode of The Blacklist, The Ethicist,  gave us a tension filled ride. Reddington (James Spader) faced charges of treason, while Liz (Megan Boone) played a game of cat and mouse with the task force.

Back in court, Reddington requested a psych evaluation on himself, before he’d declare himself fit to defend himself. It was all a ploy, of course, to get to the Federal Medical Center in Springfield, Missouri. And what was in the medical center? A patient, Atticus Rodrick (P J Marshall), someone Red needed to talk with. With his immunity agreement gone, Red was already working on a new one. However, Atticus wasn’t talking, having been doped up to the eyeballs with meds.

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Red’s visit came at a price though. He did actually have to undergo psych evaluation sessions with the shrink, Dr Grey (LisaGay Hamilton). The good doctor felt Red was  more than competent to stand trial. And yet, Red was truly trying to come to grips with just what he’d done wrong. Had he killed people? Yes, but as he pointed out, polluting rivers, raising the speed limit and unjust wars kill people. Everything he had ever done, in his mind, had been just.

Back out in the common area, Red executed his plan to get Atticus talking. And it all involved a pack of Skittles from the vending machine, and swapping out the meds Atticus took. So simple, yet only Red could do it with such flair. Unfortunately, Atticus was on those strong meds for a reason, and without them he got violent. Red literally dragged him off poor Dr Grey when Atticus attacked her. But before Atticus returned completely to his zombie state, he finally gave Red the information he was after. A name – General Shiro – who happens to be next week’s Blacklister.

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Back with the shrink, the doctor recognized that in saving her from Atticus, Red was able to distinguish between right and wrong. Dr Grey then gave Red a few home truths. He led a double life, pretending to be someone he was not. He was hiding a side of himself that he never let anyone see. And while most people saw Red as an iconic bad guy, he was really just an imposter. Whoa! She nailed it! She declared him competent for trial. And armed with the information he went for, Red left Missouri, and returned to his prison cell. He retrieved a cell phone that Dembe (Hisham Tawfiq) had sent down the sewer pipe, then gave Dembe the name of General Shiro.

Meanwhile, with Red gone, Liz had no case to give the task force. But she had a plan. Liz needed their help to track down a former doctor, Gerald Klepper (Frank Wood), a patient of Dr Hans Koehler (Kenneth Tigar) who she and Jennifer (Fiona Dourif) believed may have known who Reddington used to be. Briefing the task force,  Klepper had killed 17 people in apparent mercy killings some years ago. He then had his appearance surgically altered and disappeared. Liz lied to them, making out that Reddington had given her the case to find where (and  who) Klepper was today, and the task force went to work.

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Their first stop was to a Private Investigator the families of the dead patients had hired. What the police had assumed to be mercy killings was anything but. Klepper dealt in ethics. A cost analysis of who should live and who should die, according to cost factors. His patients were simply too much of a strain on medical resources if they survived, so he killed them. The PI had no idea who Klepper was now, and the trail had gone cold. But Aram discovered that Klepper had a kidney transplant in 2010, and discovered who Klepper had become – Cameron Morella. His most recent case had left a young woman dead in a hotel room, leading them to Klepper’s latest contact, Digby Tamerlane (Daniel Cosgrove). And after rounding up Tamerlane, he gave them Klepper’s phone number.

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Except, Liz didn’t give Ressler (Diego Klattenhoff) the right phone number. While she sent the task force on a wild goose chase, Liz and Jennifer paid Dr Klepper a visit. Pressed for time, knowing the task force would soon track down the RV park where Klepper lived, Liz got right down to it. Did Klepper know who Reddington used to be? Had he seen Red at Dr Koehlers, while they were both patients at the same time? And right here, the tension dialed up a notch. Klepper hadn’t seen Red back then, but knew who had the information Liz and Jennifer sought.

But Klepper would only give them the name if they gave him his gun. It made sense. His cost analysis showed he was better off dead than in prison. Liz only had a future in the FBI if he could never tell that she had been there. Liz gave Klepper the gun, and in turn he gave them the name of Koehler’s nurse, who knew all the patients. Marguerite Renard. And his end of the bargain met, Klepper killed himself just as Ressler and Samar (Mozhan Marno) arrived, moments after Liz left the scene.

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Looking at the body, Ressler noticed a phone underneath, and took it. And on that phone he found a number, and it was one number off what Liz had previously given them to track down. When Liz came back to the Post Office, Ressler called her out on the events. He knew this wasn’t Reddington’s blacklister, it was hers. Torn, swearing she hadn’t killed Klepper, but had let him suicide, Liz told Ressler that she believed the benefits outweighed the cost. One day, she would tell him what was going on.  It was up to him if he told Cooper (Harry Lennix) what she had done. And when pressed, Ressler did not tell Cooper.

FINAL THOUGHTS

This was a great episode. Probably the best one this season. It was tight, and well paced between Reddington’s story and the task force. I knew going in to this season that we’d see a cat and mouse game between Red and Liz, but I never expected to see one between Liz and the task force! It was amazing, watching them working with a different goal in mind, while Liz played them and Red. She got the information she needed. We can assume now that she and Jennifer will be tracking down the nurse.

How long before Red realizes what Liz is doing behind his back? He’s about to stand trial for treason, and faces the death penalty, yet he is working on a new immunity agreement. Liz and Jennifer are closing in on someone who can tell them who Red was. Things are really heating up!

I know some fans are not liking this ‘hateful Liz’ this season. But it really is amazing to watch and has taken the show to a new level. The same players are on the board, but the King is temporarily out of commission while the Queen plays her hand.  I can’t wait to see where we head in the next few episodes!

The Blacklist airs at 9/8c on Fridays on NBC.

Images courtesy NBC Will Hart | Sony/NBC | 2018 NBCUniversal Media, LLC