The Blacklist (S07E07) “Hannah Hayes”

This week’s episode of The Blacklist was out there – even for this show. When the episode opens with a pig mask adorned chained prisoner, you know it will not be a normal hour of TV.

Then we leave our chained up dude, none the wiser why he’s a prisoner, and find a man waking up. The first thing he sees is a sea of blue and pink balloons floating above him. Plus a bevy full of pills with a rather disconcerting note attached, that failure to take the meds will cause death.  As our guy stumbles out of bed, clutching his belly he exits the room – and finds himself in a storage facility.

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When the man calls his assistant, we discover he has been missing for three months. And that he’s the Governor, Richard Sweeney (Mark Deklin), who just showed back up on election day.  Where has he been? The question he has is far more pressing though. Why did they do this to him? In horror, he reveals a scarred belly to his wife, swearing he will never mention what happened. And as episode writer Daniel Cerone tweeted, ‘no, it’s not a tummy tuck’. They left us to ponder on that a little longer (though last week’s promo spoiled that.)

Red (James Spader) gets wind of the events, and gives Liz (Megan Boone) the case, interrupting his barbecuing at his RV camper. Yes, Red was glamping with Frank (Brett Cullen), aka The Stranger, who he introduced to Liz. After briefing the task force, Liz and Ressler (Diego Klattenhoff) interview the resurrected Governor Sweeney. And he’s all smiles. Can’t remember a thing that happened. They must have drugged him and kept him comatose the entire time. Right… Liz and Ressler don’t believe a word of it. Especially since the Governor (ex Governor by now, as he lost the election) has no muscle wasting.

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But what they got was information on Sweeney’s kidnapping. A man called Wendell Willis (Jonathan Gregg) kidnapped him from a Chinese restaurant across the street from his office. When Liz and Ressler arrive at Wendell’s address, a very cute young girl answered the door. She called for her mommy. And guess who mom was? Yeah, the woman holding the man in the pig mask hostage in her basement. But all smiles, mom – Hannah Hayes (Stacey Roca) – cooperates, showing the agents the building out back that Wendell Willis rents.

But Wendell wasn’t there. Nor was he the chained up dude in the basement. Wendell was sweet talking lobbyist James Robson (Hugh Hysell), then kidnapped him. He was the latest in the line to receive what they did to Governor Sweeney, and possibly Pastor Andrew Darvis ( Adam Lazarre-White). Ressler visited Darvis, who they suspect was a previous kidnap victim, despite his public announcement that he had been on a sabbatical. Taken by a woman, she had tested his faith in the most unGodly way. He called his mother to the room, holding a baby boy. Darvis then proudly presented his son, Luke – who he had given birth to. Cue surprised Ressler, and millions of gasps along the line of ‘jumping the shark’ from viewers.

Ressler informed the incredulous Task Force of what happened to Darvis, and what they had done to Governor Sweeney. No wonder the politician wasn’t talking. The woman performed two procedures on the men. One to implant a uterus. Then a second to implant a fertilized embryo into said uterus. They released the men once there was a viable fetal heartbeat. And here was the ultimate irony – the Governor, begging his doctor to ‘get this thing out of me’ could not abort the fetus, thanks to the law HE had passed. Sick, but yeah, ironic. As Pastor Darvis explained to Ressler, the kidnappers target men who advocate for government control of women’s bodies, then they take control of the men’s bodies in the same way.

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Aram (Amir Arison) and Park (Laura Sohn) tracked who the woman doctor was. One Hannah Hayes. The one Ressler and Liz had previously met. But Hayes was gone when they burst in to stop the surgery on James Robson. Racing to her home, they found her in the basement, gun on the chained dude. And here, we learned who the man in the leather Hannibal Lecter style pig mask was. Hannah Hayes rapist. The one responsible for her daughter, the cute little girl who had answered the door. Hannah then used her rapists sperm to impregnate the men. This lady needs serious help…

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They imprisoned Hayes for trying to get an abortion. Once free, daughter in tow, she turned the tables on the men responsible. Hannah shot and killed her rapist, while Ressler and Aram held her at gunpoint. (On questioning why two armed agents let that happen, Daniel Cerone explained the blocking for the scene was off. Hayes was actually between the agents and chained dude, so they couldn’t shoot, but it didn’t come across that way.) Hayes was in custody, while they saved Robson from his surgery. We got to see Pastor Darvis cradling his son, Luke, again. But what of ex Governor Sweeney? Well, he went to New York to get the abortion, because it was ‘legal’ there…kinda.

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Meanwhile, Katarina (Laila Robins) was playing nanny to Agnes (Sarah & Emily Kell) and received a call from her MI6 contact. He needed to meet, so Katarina suggested a mud pie play date for Agnes at Rock Creek Park. And Liz, still blind to all of this, smiled and agreed.  Katarina’s contact, Skip Sutherland (Cillian O’Sullivan) handed her Ilya Koslov’s file – and current address. But it seems Russian thugs followed Skip, resulting in a fight to the death in the park bathrooms. They took Skip, while Katarina killed one of their men. And right at that moment, Agnes walked in and saw the dead dude. “He’s just sleeping, so let’s not tell mommy about this, right, Agnes?” says Katarina.  I don’t see a little girl keeping that secret for long.

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Katarina assumed that Reddington sent the men. But Red had nothing to do with it. He and Frank had just tracked down Patrick Masuda (Sky Smith), the man they’d been looking for, only to find out he was a well spoken teenage street thug. In Red’s RV, Red got information on Constance Drucker, though insisted on referring to her as Katarina Rostova. Patrick’s parents died while stepping in to help their neighbour Constance. Since their death, Katarina looked out for Patrick throughout his life, even though not related (sound familiar?) She even enlisted Norman Devane (Jefferson Mays) to cure Patrick’s fatal disease. He was like a son to her.

Katarina realized Red had her golden boy when Red called her from Patrick’s phone. And cue the crocodile tears, realizing Patrick’s life was in danger. “There are rules, Raymond!” But as Red reminded her, she broke those rules when she shot Dom (Brian Dennehy). And Red was all set to shoot Patrick (I’m not sure he would have) but Dembe (Hisham Tawfiq) stopped him. But Katarina made a rare mistake. She let slip to Red about the park attack, thinking Red had set it up. He hadn’t, but realized Morozov (Daniyar), (the thug he’d got on his side to tell him any news on Katarina) had betrayed him. They let Patrick go, telling him to make a better life for himself.

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Red caught up with Morozov, killed him, then sweet talked hostage Skip into a better deal on his side of the fence, against Katarina. And Skip spilled the beans on what he’d given Katarina. Ilya Koslov’s current address. Red’s eyes grew big as saucers. But he was too late. Katarina had beat him to Ilya. “Hello, Ilya, long time no see,“ she told our Stranger, Red’s childhood friend, Frank Bloom when he opened the door.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Well, this was one for the books. Pregnant men. Something writer Daniel Cerone insisted is a fact, and men will give birth within a few years. It still felt very radical, even for this show.

But the case aside, the big reveal at the end fell flat. It has been obvious for some time now that the Stranger, Frank, was Ilya. Which begs the question – just who is Red? And no, I don’t buy into a gender change to explain who he is.

I don’t mind so much that Red isn’t Ilya, but I wonder why the writers hand us ‘answers’ only to retract them time and time again. They walked back almost everything in Rassvet (S06E19). But not completely. I think there was still a lot of truth in that episode. Just not the entire truth. I think the plan WAS for Ilya to become Red, but that didn’t happen. I just hope we get an answer soon. But this show has never hurried on providing answers, so I think we’re still in for a wait on that.

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

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