The Blacklist recap: A Round of Sudden Death

Tom and Liz renew their wedding vows, but there is nothing romantic about this marriage of spy convenience. Meanwhile, a dying man plots murder-suicide.
Ep. 18 | Aired Mar 31, 2014

Craig Blankenhorn/NBC

I've been dreading this. Another episode like "The Stewmaker" that has a villain who is nauseatingly disgusting and threatening. This week's Blacklister is Milton Bobbit, a.k.a. "The Undertaker," a decomposing zombie Mushroom-Man who (am I a terrible person for saying this?) looked so putrid, I had to stop eating my dinner because it started to taste like compost. In the end, Mushroom was actually terminally ill and kind of a good guy, but boy was he hard to watch. In other news, Red and Liz made some (a little) headway on the story of Tom Keen. We met Craig Keen, Tom's "estranged brother" who also worked for Berlin, but his narrative came to an abrupt conclusion.

Really every new character came to an abrupt conclusion in this episode. We'd meet someone and then a few minutes later, blam! Up in flames or out a window. I do appreciate that The Blacklist mixes up the pacing on each show, so you never know what you're in for: Some are slower and more emotional, others are more manic and gut-wrenching.

The cold open starts with a middle-aged woman hailing a taxi to La Guardia Airport. From the car she calls her kid to say she'll be home soon. When she hangs up, the taxi driver decides his favorite movie is Speed. He kisses a photo of his wife on the dash, and turns them both into an inferno when he drives into the back of a construction truck. And so begins the sudden death.

Cut to a shot of a gaunt man opening a file folder with the dead driver's picture in it next to a piece of paper that says "Client Information." He drops the photo into a shredder and orders a wire transfer. So we know he's responsible, but we don't know how or why. Then we follow this already scary looking man back to his apartment, which is the stuff of nightmares. He lives in a dark hovel, growing a dozen strains of fungus. Mushrooms cover the tables, soaking up fluorescent lighting, or hang from the ceiling in soil-filled lantern sacks. He clips some samples and throws them into a blender. As if he was chilling out and having an after-work beer, he removes his clothes and sits in his easy chair -- but as the camera pans across his body, purplish in the dimness, we see that he's oozing from numerous sores on his body. And just to ratchet up the level of grotesque, he removes his nose. Yep, takes it right off and airs out his nasal cavity like a grinning skeleton. The camera is trained on his horrifying face, hanging open and loose like something from the mind of Clive Barker, as he puts the straw in his mouth and slurps up his greyish fungus shake. I'll never sleep again.

The next scene begins with Liz telling Tom that she "feels a little wonky." As do we all, sister. As do we all. If ever there was a way to make Tom seem like a ray of freaking sunshine, it was showing his pancake breakfast after the zombified Mushroom-Man. I want a hug from anyone -- even Tom right now. Tom is desperate to reel Liz in again, since she seems unimpressed by his pancakes and his spy job depends on her trusting him, so he does the only thing a person does when their marriage is falling apart like it was made by Ikea: He asks her to renew their wedding vows. Liz musters up enough of a "yes" that she doesn't blow her cover. But once Tom leaves for work, she's understandably furious. She's trapped in a fake marriage, betrayed by her closest friend and lover, but she has to carry on the charade. In slow motion, she dramatically shatters plates and scatters picture frames.

NEXT: Operation Who is Tom Keen?


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