Over at the Post Office, which is increasingly an afterthought in the minds of both the audience and Liz, the team of lovable, bumbling FBI agents are sorting out this week's crisis. The Pavloviches specialize in extraction. They "cut their teeth on Milosevic's protective detail during the ethnic cleansing in the Yugoslavian Wars." There's a resumé builder. I guess a background in mass killings explains why they don't shoot for subtlety on their jobs. Reddington fed Liz the intel that the Pavloviches were after Xiaoping Li, an immunologist who had been picked up by the Americans after she signaled that she'd be willing to turn over classified info about a Chinese biological weapons program. So the Feds saddle up and ride out to pick up Li personally. To no one's surprise but their own, the Feds lose the woman to the Serbians, who brought bigger guns and a helicopter to the party.
Now that the Feds are batting zero, Agent Malik mentions that Li doesn't just have knowledge of any old biological weapons program; she actually has the formula for an internationally forbidden, deadly compound called "Whitefog," which would represent the biggest intelligence coup in a decade. Well...damn. Their only lead is the burned remnants of the chopper, where the Serbs ditched it in some field. In the midst of this dire revelation, Liz gets a call from Red, who tells her that Tom is suspiciously not at school today. Liz is incensed. She sprints out of the office, calling over her shoulder, "Text me when you hear anything about the helicopter." Yeah, you go. We'll handle the germ warfare.
Liz and Red sit in a car, watching Tom insidiously read a newspaper in the park. (Wouldn't it be amazing if he was just playing hooky? A super spy has got to get bored with 4th grade reading. I was bored with 4th grade reading.) Today, though, Tom's on a mission, and as he moves toward the National Archives building, Red sends his investigators after him. I love Red's hires. Every single character he employs is brilliant. His PI's turn out to be college kids making out, a mom with a baby stroller, a skateboarder and a financier, all of whom blend in perfectly. Cue Liz's irrational stage of crazy: she leaps out of the car and, with no pretense of stealth, just runs right into the building after Tom. Tom is about to make a parcel exchange with man in a trench coat, but feels eyes on him and turns around to find his wife peering over a balcony. So he aborts the mission and disappears. Ladies and gentlemen, a slow clap for the FBI agent. At some point, you gotta help yourself, Liz.
When she gets home, Tom is there with a wine bottle open and Red's music chest playing. He found it in the basement and asks Liz where it came from. She says her father gave it to her (which might not be lie, since Red could be her dad), but Tom doesn't buy it. I'm not sure what the music box signals to Tom, but it obviously means something more than just "my wife has a new toy." He asks, point blank, if she was at the Archive today, and she mumbles about being cooped up at the office. "Well, the woman I saw wasn't half as beautiful as you are right now," he says and kisses her on the lips before heading to the door to walk the dog. He stares at her and when she asks "what?" he answers, "Nothing. Love you. I'll be right back." And then, the next things Liz knows, the dog is scratching at the door and Tom has evaporated. After watching the scene a second time, it occurred to me that Tom didn't have to say those things -- how beautiful she was, that he loved her. He could've just said "I'm heading out with the dog, honey" and left it at that. I think he was sad to leave. I think maybe he kind of does love her. Or maybe I'm just hoping he does, because otherwise it's too painful to think about how he led Liz on.
NEXT: Could Tom really leave?