The Blacklist (S06E10) “The Cryptobanker”

In this weeks offering of The Blacklist, titled The Cryptobanker, we dabbled in bitcoins, and a daring plan by Reddington (James Spader). The Cryptobanker himself wasn’t the main part of this episode. The highlight was Reddington’s plan to extricate himself from his jail cell once and for all.

Reddington and his new crew – Vontae Jones (Coy Stewart) and Vega Montero (Javier Molina) hatched a seedling of a plan. Red had no intention of still being in prison once his trial was done in about 8 weeks.  And so confident in his eventual release, he had Liz make a reservation at  Gene & Georgetti’s restaurant in Chicago.  But back in court, AUSA Michael Sima (Ken Leung) pulled a fast one, when he told the jury of Reddington’s immunity agreement. After clearing the court room, Judge Wilkins (Becky Ann Baker) demanded to know what Sima was up to. Simple. Sima wanted to charge the Task Force as co-conspirators in Reddington’s activities.

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But Red wasn’t standing for that. If Sima insisted on putting the Task Force on trial, Red would stop him. And how? By immediately pleading guilty on all counts, ending the trial.  With this new turn of events, the jury moved onto deliberating on Red’s sentence. The judge made it very clear that he risked death by lethal injection by pleading guilty. Red stood firm, protecting the Task Force, and every case they had ever worked on. Back at the jail, Red had a new plan, moving his escape plan up significantly. Instead of 8 weeks, he now had until Thursday, at 4pm. Arming Vontae and Vega with a list of items he needed, the stage was set.

NUP 184102 0365 - The Blacklist (S06E10) "The Cryptobanker"Liz (Megan Boone) took the stand to make her witness impact statement,  asking for leniency in Red’s sentencing. When she profiled Red, talking about his love for her and life, and doing the right thing, I was almost in tears. It was a lovely  moment. Yes, Liz is the reason Red is in jail. We all know that. But we have also seen time and again she didn’t think it through. Liz didn’t even want to turn him in at the last moment, but was persuaded by Jennifer (Fiona Dourif). She has never wanted him to die, and still cares for him.

So Thursday, at 4pm, Red met with Warden Macatee (Mike Boland) for a little chat about the prison laundry problem. All a ruse, of course. With a carefully placed baited piece of meat, Red subdued the Warden’s dog, Duke. And in short order, the warden was knocked out with ether. A swift change of clothes, and Reddington became the warden. Enter Vontae and Vega, complete with hair from the prison barber, and Red got a fake beard. Now, Red did something here that was actually his downfall. On the intercom with ‘his’ secretary, he asked her to get something from the vending machine. He needed the exit clear, I got that, but he should have sent her on a longer errand, right?

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Red’s plan was awesome. It went off great, as he sauntered through the prison, Duke at his side. He looked like Warden Macatee, with the hat, glasses and beard. And it was all going great, until… well, the real warden was discovered. Concerned at why he’d plead guilty, Liz came to talk to Red. She didn’t know he was escaping. Had no clue. Following their dual secrets, neither Red nor Liz have confided in each other this season. But, here’s the thing – Red’s deception would have been discovered at that moment without Liz even being there.  The warden’s secretary had his snack from the vending machine, and was walking into the warden’s office either way.

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So, on finding the unconscious warden, the alarms blared. Red was so close. Literally 10 seconds away from freedom. As Dembe arrived in the helicopter, the prison guards ran toward Red, stopping his escape. Red waved off the helicopter, sending Dembe away. He did not want Dembe arrested as an accessory. On his knees, Red watched as his freedom flew away. Liz saw it unfold, and clearly would not have shown up if Red had told her he was planning to escape right at that moment. Later, in chains, Red thanked Liz for what she said on the stand in his defense. And that she needs to find the man in Cairo. Hhhmm. Red does have a plan, after all.

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In the midst of all this, Red did give the Task Force a case. He’d uncovered a conspiracy involving the halls of power. No details on when the strike would happen though. For that, he needed them to find The Cryptobanker.  So with their case, the Task Force swung into action. Their blacklister’s target was Matt Pierson (Korey Jackson), the head of a leading pacemaker manufacturer. The cryptobanker had already proven he was capable of carrying out his threats, by accessing the pacemaker fitted in Pierson’s daughter Jamie (Mia Mei Williamson).

Knowing he could kill his daughter at any time, Pierson let Aram (Amir Arison) help them. Aram built a fancy Farady cage in Jamie’s bedroom,to block the blacklister from controlling the girl’s pacemaker. What the Cryptobanker didn’t count on was Pierson cutting the pacemaker wires, permanently stopping the blacklister from harming his daughter. But in retaliation, the blacklister went to Plan B. If he couldn’t extort the CEO by threatening his daughter, he’d stop 1,000 pacemakers in 24 hours unless Pierson paid $6 million in bitcoin.

After accessing the company database, Aram found one patient who bought a pacemaker, but never had it fitted. Their prime suspect, they tracked him down. But right as Pierson agreed to pay the ransom in exchange for the code to release the threat, everything went wrong.  The Cryptobanker’s Russian cohort was killed right before he could send the access code.

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Down to the wire, with minutes to spare, Ressler (Diego Klattenhoff), Samar (Mozhan Marno) and Aram found The Cryptobanker. Right at the deadline, Aram got the code to Pierson. With seconds to go, they averted the threat to the 1,000 pacemakers. Score one for the Task Force, again.

At the very end of the episode, the jury returned with their sentencing verdict. Death by lethal injection. Red got the death penalty.

 

FINAL THOUGHTS
The prison break was both great to watch, and incredibly frustrating. So, so close, and yet so far. It’s not often we see a plan of Red’s go awry, but this one did.  But I still don’t blame Liz for stopping Red’s attempt. There has been a ton, and I mean a TON, of Liz-hate this week. All putting the blame squarely on her for the plan not working. But I don’t see it that way. It was quite literally a failure to communicate on both sides, plus the warden’s secretary discovered his unconscious form.

The Liz hate has reached an all time high, but I for one, don’t feel that toward her. She has wanted answers for years. Dembe has begged Red to tell her the truth. People have died with Red withholding his truth and secrets. While I appreciate that Red is entitled to his secrets, I also understand why Liz is angry. And while she did put him in jail to get those answers, she never imagined he’d get the death penalty. Red’s immunity agreement should have got him released in a few weeks, which is all Liz wanted. Some time to investigate Red’s past.

So next week, Red is in the execution chamber. Now, while I know there is no way they are killing him, it’s going to be a tense hour. It’s also part one of a two parter, and Bastien Moreau, The Corsican (Christopher Lambert) is back. What’s the bet the episode ends right at the stroke of midnight, with the needle poised? Yeah, I bet we have to wait a whole week for the execution! But this is The Blacklist. It’s pretty much guaranteed they will do that to us viewers.

Oh, and final thought – what’s with Liz trying to sound like Clint Eastwood these past few weeks? This whispering, half spoken, edgy, super spy voice is just kinda weird…

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

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