The Blacklist (S07E06) “Dr. Lewis Powell”

In this weeks Blacklist episode, Dr. Lewis Powell, the blacklister case was secondary to staffing issues. Red (James Spader) was concerned there was a traitor in his organization, while the task force dealt with a new agent.

The episode opened with a bomb laden scientist on a disturbing video. Dr. Michael Alexander (Allen McCullough), dressed to the nines as a terrorist, threatened to destroy his unethical bosses and co-workers at DXE labs. Police descended on him as he arrived at work, talking on his phone to his wife. But the police took his phone to be a detonator, and shot first and asked questions later. Dr. Alexander was dead, and no bomb in sight. Ooops. So what happened?  The bomb video was fake, stitched together using old footage of Dr Alexander, melded with a Russian bomb-strapped terrorist, according to Red’s resident kid genius, Tadashi (Alex Shimizu). A deep fake that looked like the real deal, from someone who clearly wanted Alexander dead.

Back at the Post Office, a young woman (who looked like a 15 year old) interrupted Liz’s (Megan Boone) briefing. Enter Agent Alina Park (Laura Sohn), newly assigned to the task force, despite Red’s objections. Red wanted Frankie in the task force, an option I was totally on board with. In her first two minutes, Park fan-girled over Ressler (Diego Klattenhoff) and pissed off Aram (Amir Arison). Seems Park had already used some techy stuff to figure out where the video originated. A frosty Aram wasn’t concerned that she was replacing Samar – but that she was replacing him.  But no matter, Aram had a lunch date with Elodie (Elizabeth Bogush), so he left them in the very capable hands of Agent-Perfect-In-Every-Way, and disappeared.

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And ugh. I hated, I mean hated, the next scene. Elodie’s lunch date involved a little bit of breaking and entering into a very cool octagonal house. When a nervous Aram followed her through a window, he discovered Elodie upstairs.  Naked, in the master bed, and inviting Aram. So Aram, lusting after this woman, joined her. Seriously?? Afterwards, they fell asleep, and woke to hear the home owner returning. Rushing downstairs, scaring the crap out of the elderly owner, Aram flashed his badge, and he and Elodie ran from the house. Aram wasn’t happy that they’d broken the law. He’s an FBI agent (bit late to remember that NOW, Aram) and can’t break the law. So Elodie basically gave him the ultimatum that she needed to take risks to feel alive. She had hoped he did too, or it was a deal breaker. And love-sick Aram stayed with her. Ugh.

Meanwhile, Cooper (Harry Lennix) sent Ressler and Park out to talk to the bomb originator. But the kid wasn’t responsible, despite his mother thinking her son needed to be hauled off for his porn addiction. Someone had hacked his computer, so it only looked like he had done it. And again, we got a glimpse of someone in a wheelchair and ventilator, watching everything. The task force tracked a payment, and that led them to one Walter Higgins (Gene Gillette).

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And here, we got a look at Red’s team in action… kinda. Brimley (Teddy Coluca) got a tad heavy handed, and accidentally killed the guy – despite stretching those leg muscles beforehand. But Brimley was off his game thanks to elevated blood sugar after eating some Ribston Pippin apples. Add to that, Red’s cleaners were late (that Beltway traffic, you know?) frustrating Red. So Liz and Park walked in on this scene, causing an unimpressed Park to wonder why she had needed to make a good impression at all.

Interviewing another potential victim did give them a name though. Dr. Lewis Powell (Wayne Pyle). Aram and Park paid him a visit, fearing he was the next target. Except, Lewis Powell, the ventilatored, wheelchair bound guy, was dead, parked in front of multiple video monitors. Monitors that gave us a view of what was happening at software company, Fleet AI. Utter chaos, actually. Seems Powell’s own AI system had just gone all HAL, and ‘taken Dr. Powell offline’, by disabling his pacemaker. The computer – Clark, as in Lewis and Clark – had created the video that killed Alexander. Now it was about to destroy Fleet AI and everyone inside.

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Ressler and Liz were also at Fleet AI, and with fire and paramedics still five minutes out, set about rescuing folks. While Clark overrode safety protocols, trapping workers inside burning areas, Ressler helped rescue them. He also got a very awkward hug for his troubles from a relieved worker. Aram tried talking HAL, I mean, Clark, down, but Park had other ideas and unplugged it, finally stopping the problems at Fleet AI. So Dr. Lewis Powell wasn’t actually the blacklister. His computer was. Okay then…

Back to those staffing issues. Park, unsure if working ‘for’ Reddington was going to work, was re-evaluating things.  Liz wanted her on the team, yet Red did not want her on the task force. (I was SO with Red on this one). After her first day, Park decided she was done, but wanted to tell Red in person. So off she went to talk to him.

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As for Red, he had a traitor in his midst, and asked Frankie to flush them out. But Frankie (Natalie Paul) was taken by one of Katarina Rostova’s (Laila Robins) men. Remember, Frankie first worked for her when she had kidnapped Red in Paris. So Katarina (via video) had a way Frankie could redeem herself. One of Red’s associates was about to turn, and Katarina wanted them first. So, we see Frankie approach our cute ex-jail bird, Vontae (Coy Stewart), and took him with her to meet Katarina. Once at the warehouse, they tied Vontae to a chair. So… Vontae is betraying Red? I doubt that. Didn’t buy it for a second.

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Katarina (again by video) demands Frankie inform Reddington she’s found his traitor, and get him to the warehouse. Katarina’s honchos will be waiting. Red gets killed. Frankie gets forgiven – and a briefcase load of cash – and keeps breathing. But things don’t quite go according to plan. Or at least, not the plan Frankie expected. All of this, Katarina kidnapping her, getting her to flush out Red’s traitor was a setup. Red had done his own deep fake to catch his traitor. And that traitor was Frankie, not Vontae. And it was so obvious all along, that it failed to deliver.

At this moment, Park arrived, coming to tell Red she was quitting, but walked in on Red aiming a gun at traitorous Frankie.  At that moment, Frankie grabbed the gun and held it on Red. Park drew her weapon on Frankie, and a swift round of “I’ll shoot him before you shoot me,” ensued. Park wasn’t having that though, and shot Red in the arm to diffuse the situation. I would have shot Frankie in the arm, but that’s just me. Anyway, Frankie dropped her weapon, and did the only intelligent thing she’d done all episode, and ran. But here things got a little, well, weird. Park turned all ninja, and beat the crap out of Frankie, sending her through a glass door.

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Just as Park was about to finish Frankie off with a piece of broken glass, Red and Dembe stopped her. Red then did what he’d been doing when so rudely interrupted. He shot and killed Frankie as she lay bloodied and beaten on the ground. Damn… I liked Frankie. Hate that her arc ended that way. A bloodied and disheveled Park composed herself somewhat, and explained she’d come there to quit. He was too brutal for the likes of her. Um, yeah. Just take a look at yourself Agent Park. You just beat a woman within an inch of her life, and were about to stab her to death, and Red is the one who is too brutal?

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So, with the day done, Frankie gone, and Park quitting, Red wasn’t finished yet. Seems he hadn’t liked by-the-book Park, but was impressed with Ninja Park. So she got the job, despite her actions. A surprised Park told Liz that they may not want her, once they heard what had happened in Anchorage.

FINAL THOUGHTS

This was a rather frustrating episode. The deep fake to catch Frankie was sooo obvious. The first clue was that Katarina spoke to Frankie via video – on an episode about fake videos. Not to mention we all know that Vontae would never betray Red. The kid adores him. Red is ‘the man’ to him. But I wanted Frankie to stay on the show.  She was new, yet I cared about her. And it sucks that we lost her to promote Agent Park.

Yes, Agent park was the main problem with this episode. They do not need her. So a secret task force invites a kid fresh out of the Academy? She doesn’t fit. Red didn’t like her, and with good reason. Her turn to Ninja Park at the end was so cliche (she’s Asian) and over the top, and did nothing to make me like her. And I honestly don’t care what happened to her in Anchorage. But we’re going to get that story, regardless. We don’t need a new story on a character we don’t care about, when we have SO many unanswered questions and untold stories among the regular cast.

The blacklister case was a little surprising, that the computer had killed Powell. But so far fetched, even for The Blacklist! It did offer some good scenes with Liz and Ressler rescuing the Fleet AI workers though.

And the story line with Aram and Elodie is painful to watch. It’s unbearable. Everyone has forgotten that Elodie and her husband promised to love, honour and cherish till death do us part. So because the husband is non responsive and needs 24 hour care, we’re supposed to give his wife a pass? We’re supposed to understand why ‘she needs a life too’? Sorry. Not for me. They are tarnishing Aram’s character, and the whole thing is just plain ridiculous.

They have also changed Red’s character and scenes too much. Where is the steel eyed criminal who people cringed from? Now we have him waxing lyrical about cooking and recipes, and salt and pepper shakers. That irreverent streak in him has always been fun, having him break into an unrelated story at the most inopportune moments. But now they have taken that too far, to the point he’s painted as a bit of a doddering old man at times. And I don’t like it.

And what happened with the note that Aram inadvertently received last week? I’d much rather have seen that addressed, than Aram being an accessory to breaking into a house to have sex with a married woman in the home owner’s bed. I can only hope next week offers a better story line.

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

Images courtesy NBC Virginia Sherwood | Sony/NBC | 2019 NBC Universal Media, LLC