The Blacklist (S06E21) “Anna McMahon”

With just one episode to go this season, The Blacklist offered us Anna McMahon (Jennifer Ferrin) as this week’s blacklister. This lady has an agenda, and there is nothing good about it.

The start of the episode had us in suburbanville, with the Grimm family preparing for their day. Remember way back when Bastien Moreau (Christopher Lambert) slipped that all important thumb drive in the kid’s backpack? This was that family. I immediately felt bad for them, being in Anna McMahon’s cross hairs. The dad, Jonathan Grimm (Nathan Darrow) had in fact discovered the errant thumb drive under his son’s bed. When he couldn’t decipher what was on it, he took it to his friend Sam Whatley (Luis Moreno). I mean, any father worth his salt would want to know what his son might have on it, right?

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And what was on it, of course, was the dossier outlining the plot against America. Jon went to Sam’s to investigate the contents of the drive (and kudos to Sam for cracking a Top Secret file), while Anna McMahon’s man, Sandquist (Ben Horner), visited Mrs Grimm, but the thumb drive was gone. And what did Sandquist do? Left Mrs Grimm and her son alone, and headed to pay Sam a visit. Meanwhile, Jon had seen Sam being ‘questioned’ over the dossier and high tailed it out of there back home. He then fled to a hotel with his terrified family.

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The task force, also on the trail of the thumb drive, tried to warn the Grimms. With their house empty, they figured the Grimms were laying low. And who could blame them. Having seen the contents of the dossier, they had no clue who they could trust. But thanks to Red (James Spader) calling on an old friend (and getting the door slammed in his face initially), they soon discovered where the Grimms were staying. As Ressler (Diego Klattenhoff) and Liz (Megan Boone) entered the room, Jon attacked them, fearing for his own life. After Liz stopped Ressler retaliating, they managed to convince the Grimms they really were the good guys.

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Cooper (Harry Lennix), meanwhile, had been busy.  When Anna McMahon burst into his office, demanding to know why the task force were looking for the Grimms, Cooper told her. And once again, Harold showed what a hero he is. He laid it on the table, that they knew she was involved in the plot against America. McMahon threatened to take Cooper’s job, and he calmly told her that she’d be going down, once they had the dossier. She in turn threatened to shut down the task force.  So the race was on, once McMahon knew the task force had found the Grimms. Cooper also discovered that the President was in on the plot against the country while waiting outside President Diaz (Benito Martinez) office. Cooper quickly left the White House.

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But having found the Grimms didn’t mean they’d found the thumb drive. Jon had mailed it to the Washington Post to get the plot out there. But while transporting the Grimms to the Post Office, Anna McMahon’s boys showed up. In the shootout that followed, Liz ran out of bullets (Really? After 4, maybe 6 shots?) and with Ressler unable to hold everyone off, Sandquist took Jon Grimm. One of the remaining goons leveled his gun at Liz, who, you know, was out of bullets (insert eye-roll), until Red came in, guns blazing and shot the guy. (I’m sorry, but that was just plain cheesy, making both Liz and Ressler look incompetent).

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By this time, the episode felt kinda like the Keystone Cops with both sides tracking down the mail to find the package. Sandquist apprehended a mail truck. Surrounded by mail, Jon Grimm failed to find the envelope he’d mailed. Even with Sandquists bit of gentle persuasion to the poor mail carrier with some pepper spray, Jon still couldn’t find it. Seriously, they’re looking for this all important envelope, and Sandquist and Co just stood around? Those guys couldn’t have looked too? It’s not surprising they didn’t find the envelope. Nor did they deserve to.

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Having got the location via the mail carriers handy dandy iPhone family tracker, Liz and Ressler landed on the scene. Another gunfight ensued between the FBI and McMahon’s men. Sandquist received a shot in the shoulder, while Jon Grimm got a couple of bullets in the chest for his efforts. As Jon lay dying, Liz ran to him, and just before he died, Jon gave her the package he’d mailed. He’d found it, and trusted Liz. The task force had the dossier.

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Back at the Post Office (the FBI one, not the mail one), they checked out the contents of the file. Red waxed lyrical about the name of the file, The Princip Initiative.  Princip was the assassin who took out Archduke Ferdinand of Austria. That event set in motion the chain of events that brought about the First World War. As Aram (Amir Arison) displayed the dossier’s information they discovered the plot was to assassinate the President during a Presidential debate the following night. The Third Estate had planned to protest it. They would be the perfect organization for McMahon to blame for taking out the President.

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A confused task force took in what they were reading. Diaz was part of a plot to assassinate…. himself? Or had McMahon told Diaz it was something else, and he was in on that, and unaware he was the real target? Or was it to do with the First Lady, Miriam Diaz (Regina Schneider)? She gave a cryptic reply when the President told her they were gearing up for a re-election campaign. “Are we?” she said, “Because I’m pretty sure there’s something you have to do first, and you haven’t done it.” Um… like deliberately get assassinated, ruin the country, and start a war?

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Cooper was not going to stand by and let the President die, but Anna McMahon had different ideas. She raided the Post Office with DHS agents, knowing the task force were aware of the plot, arresting Ressler and Aram for ‘conspiracy to commit murder’. McMahon ordered her men to find every file and all paperwork.

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She then had Cooper arrested and had the nerve to blame the plot to assassinate the President on the task force. McMahon had doctored footage to make it appear the task force had killed her Secret Service agents, as well as Jon Grimm and Sam Whatley when they tried to blow the whistle on the plot. A furious Cooper glanced downstairs, seeing the cuffed Ressler and Aram. “I told you I’d shut you down, Harold,” McMahon said.

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But Liz had been on the phone to Red while this went down, and unseen by McMahon’s men, snuck out of the Post Office. She was not going to let this happen.

FINAL THOUGHTS

While a lot happened in this episode, it felt unbalanced. Some parts rushed by. Other parts (searching through the mail…) felt far too long and drawn out. Other scenes were just plain cheesy. So an odd mix for the second to last episode of the season. While it did advance the story, I’d rather have seen less of the prolonged hunt for the thumb drive, and more of the result of finding it.

McMahon has been a worthy opponent to the task force, and ‘deserved’ a higher number than 60 on Red’s list. Pretty sure she’s not going to make it out alive next week. Will the President, though? Does he even want to?

Next week, McMahon locks Cooper, Ressler and Aram in the Box. I love it when the box makes an appearance. As set pieces go, it’s awesome! It’s hard to believe that next week is the final episode of season 6! With the mid season start in January, we had almost non-stop episodes, making this season go by at breakneck speed.

NBC announced today that The Blacklist will be moved back up to its Fall schedule, and keep its Friday night spot at 8/7c. That was welcome news! We don’t have to wait 8 months after next week, but ‘only’ 4 months for Season 7.

The Blacklist airs at 8/7c on Fridays on NBC.

Images courtesy NBC Will Hart | Sony/NBC | 2019 NBC Universal Media, LLC