Excellent. The midseason opener gives us an Indiana Jones plotline of stolen artifacts and some juicy morsels of backstory on Lizzie and Reddington. Granted, both characters threw salt on the ground and said they were lying, but didn’t the tales ring true to you? I think it’s that old adage that the best lies are wrapped in truth. We can speculate on how much is true later. The lurking question at the root of this episode is: What happens now that Diane Fowler has been killed? Some wheels are starting to turn in the higher ranks of the agency and it’s looking like things could get ugly for our people at the Post Office. (I feel like there’s a “going postal” joke to be made here.)
We open on Istanbul. At the Turk Nazlan Bank, where a young Meryl Streep is mourning the loss of her husband by prying open his safety deposit box. (Are safety deposit boxes still a thing? Do you become more mysterious when you rent one or is that something that depends on how long you’ve had it, like interest on an investment? Ponder.) Well, young Meryl Streep gets a real evil smile when she sees the contents of the box, and then we get a real furrowed brow when the bank agent calls her “Mrs. Reddington.” Whaaaat? As she leaves the building, wrapping herself in a silk scarf, the bank’s alarm goes off and she disappears into the sea of street vendors.
Cut to Reddington getting acupuncture. It’s so nice to see a man get so much pleasure out of life’s little indulgences, you know? We could all take a cue from Red on this. In between administering deathblows to terrorists and spymasters, he can still find the time to decompress with a little Eastern medicine. But he is not pleased to find out that his box in Istanbul has been cleared out. Dembe delivers a note from Mrs. Red: “Windsor Lounge, 8pm, -- M.”
We know Red well enough to know they’re not actually married, but obviously there’s a history here. The lounge exchange confirms this. It also confirms that young Meryl Streep is working out a personal vendetta against Red for the time he stood her up in Florence, which turns out to be a bigger deal than we first realize. The old woman scorned storyline. But that’s all we get for now, because we are forced to spend sometime with Tom and Liz.
Even though the procedural aspects of the show can be weak, that can be forgiven. The real thorn in my side is the saga of Tom and Liz’s marriage. The show has given us no reason to believe in their relationship. We don’t love Tom and Liz. Let’s hope they 86 Tom soon, which might happen next week! Thank God.
So we’re back to bitching about the baby. Or no baby. But there’s still a sad ultrasound picture of the maybe baby on the fridge, taunting everyone. Enough. She can’t even make it home for dinner. What makes them think they should have a child? But that’s not today’s problem. Today, we are granted a reprieve from the conversation because Tom gets hotheaded when Liz brushes off the news that their friends are having a child and he storms out. Please don’t come back, Tom.
Lizard let Tom stomp away and rushed over to meet the main man in her life, Red. He’s pacing around Jordan Belfort’s beautiful home. Some stockbroker who's dodging the feds has left his house unattended, and Red knows the housekeeper (obviously). But Red is in a huff because he can’t stand the Vermeer in the living room! The woman in the painting is rather homely. It must be one of the earlier Vermeers, before he met Scarlett Johansson. “She’s breathtakingly unattractive, but she’s worth over 40 million dollars,” Red says. “I got up in the middle of the night for a snack and she absolutely ruined my appetite.” I would watch a whole show of James Spader complaining about his first world problems.
Now we finally get young Meryl Streep’s name, Madeline Pratt, “a thief and a woman of…singular talents.” Red tastes the word “singular” as he says it, practically licking his lips. Jeez. Pratt is the next name on The Blacklist and she has enlisted Red to help her with some Indiana Jones plot to steal an Egyptian relic. Then comes the exchange where Liz and Red have to size each other up for the day. Who is going to win the deflection game?
Liz: “Now you want something of hers and you expect the FBI to help you get it.”
Red: “It was the right decision. Not to have the baby.”
Liz: “What did she take from you?”
Red: “I’m sorry for your suffering.”
I’d say it’s a draw.
With no persuading Liz agrees to help Red with Madeline Pratt, so they head off to meet David Lee from The Good Wife. David Lee tells them that they are looking for “the effigy,” which holds inside of it a list of Soviet spies called the Kungur Six and finding the spies would be “the holy grail of US counter-intelligence.” I mean, Indiana Jones right?
At the Post Office, Cooper and Malik are abuzz over the disappearance of Diane Fowler. Malik is getting Cooper all riled about it and throws Reddington under the bus. I don’t understand her game. She turned Diane’s name over to Reddington, knowing full well that he was going to handle her like her handles all of his Blacklisters – with swift and deadly justice. So why is she acting all ruffled about it now? She seemed to agree that Diane was a traitor, so isn’t it best she’s been eliminated?
Cooper tries to threaten Red for information on Diane. If ever there was a definition of futility, it’s trying to get information out of Reddington. Red does his “I’m so bored by what you’re saying I’ll just have my own conversation” thing, cutting Cooper off mid-diatribe: “who decided on this wood paneling?”
Cooper: “If I find out you had anything to do with the disappearance of Diane Fowler, you’ll spend the rest of your life in a box.”
Red: “You smell nice. Something new?”
Cooper: “Did you hear me?”
Red: “Madeline Pratt.”
Poor Coop. No one is scared of him. The pretty ginger used to be the sad one, but now it’s Coop. He gets bossed around by Red and later by Special Agent Scary Gary, who pulls major rank on the Fowler investigation. He should just go back to being Boyd and handle the Dollhouse. He was much better at that.
Madeline Pratt turns out to be a jewel thief parading as a socialite. She likes to steal pretty things and sometimes things that affect national security – this effigy hits both of those marks. Currently the gold statue is being held at a secure wing of the Syrian Embassy and Ms. Pratt doesn’t want to do the job personally, so she’s asked Reddington to do it. (Insert skeptical side-eye here.) Red thinks Pratt has a Russian buyer for the effigy, since the Russians want to protect the identity of the Kungur Six. Coop does his duty and says “hell no,” but changes his mind 15 seconds later when Reddington throws Agent Keen’s name out there, calling her an “ace of spades” at thieving. Ressler, who is always so quick to assume Keen is guilty, demands to know if she has a criminal record. “So you don’t have a criminal record because you’ve never committed a crime or because you were never caught?” He asks and she replies, “Yes.” Instead of going, “that wasn’t an answer,” Cooper is like, “Great, let’s get this heist rolling.”
Liz goes in for the jewel thief interview with Madeline Pratt, and she passes with flying colors because it turns out she is a thief! Red prompts Liz to tell Maddie about Frank. Liz quickly picks up the line and says Frank was a guy she knew in high school with whom she'd grifted. Could be true, could be false. But then Red says, “Tell her about Omaha,” and Liz looks visibly shaken – Red definitely struck a chord. Liz tells a story about how she and her boyfriend were stealing from a mall shop when the security guard almost caught Frank. To save this boy who she thought meant everything to her (hmm sounds like another relationship we hate), 17-year-old Liz takes the security guard outside and “kisses him off.” To prove herself further, Liz palms Madeline’s phone. Finally, something really interesting about Lizzie! She was a petty crook as a little girl ad she can do hand magic. I like this side of her.
NEXT PAGE: Madeline and Liz get down to planning