Previously on The Blacklist, ‘Luther Braxton (Conclusion)’
Several masked gunman enter an Uzbek church, during service. After a failed attempt at making a phone call on a sat phone, the priest is grabbed and held, with a scimitar at his throat. He pleads with the leader, in Uzbek, saying he’s a simple man of God. The leader: “Lies you tell; simple men of god don’t have sat phones. Call your cronies.” In perfectly unaccented English, the priest tells his handler the jig is up.
In D.C., Detective Wilcox is meeting with a woman about her missing husband. She says he has gone away before, for days at a time. And this is the point where I side-eye my husband; I wish a muthafucka would disappear for days at time. Turns out it’s the wife of the Harbormaster Tom killed. And she has the card Liz gave her. Aw, shit.
Back at HQ, Liz is showing the gadget she found to Aram, and asks if he can find out what it is and what it does, but Red interrupts before they can get further. It seems Liz isn’t answering his phone calls or returning Dembe’s messages and they have a case.
In Uzbekistan, there’s a missing priest who’s not a priest but a CIA agent. This is where I find out it’s illegal for the U.S. government to have an agent pose as a priest; noted. The kidnapper is Ruslan Denisov, a violent associate of Red’s and leader of a separatist group called SRU, translated to Supreme Republic of a Free, Righteous, and Independent Uzbekistan. Hmm, they must not understand how acronyms work. Ruslan pays for his agenda by kidnapping executives of foreign businesses and holding them for ransom. Red tells the team that the CIA will try to keep things quiet since they committed a crime.
Cooper meets with Hayworth from the CIA and the Deputy Attorney General to discuss how to get back the priest agent, but Hayworth keeps playing like he doesn’t know anything. He says IF there is a kidnapped agent, the CIA will get him back. The DAG tells him that Americans kidnapped overseas are FBI jurisdiction, but she can keep him involved—IF the priest is his man. She told his ass.
Liz and Ressler meet Commander Kushan when they arrive in Uzbekistan. He tells him to stay the hell outta his way; he will take down Denisov. Liz and Ressler notice they are being watched. When they get to their hotel, they are surprised to see Red there, meeting with mysterious men. Liz asks why he’s there and he doesn’t tell her because she don’t need to know every damn thing. Liz and Ressler get in the elevator, but it stops and the back opens; two men put hoods on their heads and take them to Denisov. Note to self: stand sideways in elevators.
Denisov tells them he has been trying to get the FBI’s attention for over a year; he took the priest agent to force their hand. A pipeline owned by an American oil company named Anneca is leaking and killing villagers. The company won’t do anything to fix it and the Uzbek lawyers can’t fight the American lawyers. SRU kidnapped an exec from Anneca who said the water was tested and found safe, but Denisov did his own test and proved otherwise. In a back room, Denisov lifts a cage with a man inside; he looks like he has a flesh eating disease. I threw up in my mouth a little. Denisov lets the exec go with Liz and Ressler water, but not agent priest; dude ain’t goin’ nowhere.
At the hospital Ressler finds out that the caged man has extensive Benzene poisoning from the pipeline water. An Executive VP from Anneca introduces himself and says they aren’t the problem; Denisov and SRU are sabotaging the pipeline themselves so they can collect money. Commander Kushan accuses Liz and Ressler of sneaking to talk to Denisov and he puts them under military guard at their hotel. Knowing they have to meet with Denisov later to negotiate, they try the elevator trick again; and it works. At the meeting, Red brokers the negotiation for Denisov.
Copper updates Hayworth and the DGA. They have a location for the village, several miles from the compound. Hayworth suggests sending a black ops team to the compound to take out Denisov but gets shot down. DGA: 2, Hayworth: 0.
Red and Denisov take Liz and Ressler on a tour of the village where they see firsthand, the effects of the pipeline water. Liz suggests contacting the State Department to put pressure on Anneca to fix the situation.
Detective Wilcox contacts Liz and asks her what she was doing on the rig that day. She says it’s classified.
The CIA tells Commander Kushan where to find the compound, and Hayworth tells his agents to get out in public so they have deniability. The compound is overtaken as Red and Liz watch a couple dance the Tango Milonga and Red spots a CIA agent. He knows something must have happened. None of the hostages are found in the compound.
Red expected the CIA to act but questions why Cooper would tell them where the compound is located; I mean, duh! Red cancels negotiations. Angry about his men being killed, Denisov goes to kill the priest agent. Red tells him to think about the end game.
Killing the agent will mean war, so they need to find out what he knows and why he was sent there. Am I the only person cheering for Denisov?
The priest agent tells them about Leonid Zhabin, a former cabinet member during the Soviet regime, who gave Anneca the rights to build the pipeline and took a kickback and part ownership. Zhabin blames himself for all the deaths and sick people. He’s very religious now, so he whips himself every day, in punishment. There’s nothing like a little self-flagellation to start your morning.
Red and Denisov find Zhabin to get details on the pipeline.
Liz tells Ressler about the Harbormaster and that Tom killed him, not her; as if that makes her blameless. Ressler asks if there is a witness and she looks dumbfounded. Someone please tell me how she became an FBI agent. Back in D.C., Detective Wilcox has found the witness, Sam. He tells Sam he knows he was on the rig and Sam all but pisses himself.
Red lets Liz and Ressler know that negotiations are back on and they should bring the Anneca exec with them to the meeting. At the meeting we find out a few key things:
- Although all contracts say the pipeline was built in 1992, the first one was built in 1988.
- Anneca rushed the job and the water killed hundreds of people; there’s a mass grave to prove it.
- Anneca paid Zhabin to cover up everything; see mass grave.
- As crazy as Zhabin is, he’s smart; he kept original documents.
The EVP offers reparations to those affected but the SRU refuses: they want Anneca out of Uzbekistan.
Anneca ceases their pipeline and leaves Uzbekistan, the priest agent is released, and Red corners Commander Kushan.
Detective Wilcox offers Sam a deal and like any good snitch, Sam caves and tells him he even knows where the body is and leads the police to it. Seriously, Agent Keen?!
Liz and Ressler are set to meet with Red and Denisov to get the priest agent. The CIA is lying in wait to Take out Denisov and capture Red. Weren’t they told to stand down?! As Hayworth is about to give the go, Cooper bursts in and tells him if anything happens to his agents, it’s his ass. Hayworth stands down.
Red tells Ruslan he will be punished for the things he’s done, but once he’s out of prison, he could run Uzbekistan; he’s a hero. He leaves him with a little gift: Commander Kushan, in a box.
Liz hears on a news bulletin, that the Uzbek government and a French oil company struck a deal for a new, nationalized pipeline. She finds Red talking with the Senior VP of the French oil company; one of the men she saw with Red she first arrived in Uzbekistan. In typical Liz fashion, she’s upset with Red for always having an angle. Did she just meet him?
Back in D.C., Aram tells Liz the gadget is beta technology, a recording device from the ‘80s or early ‘90s, but he doesn’t know it works. Aram was probably born when this technology was built! He tells her she should ask Red, but she says no and makes him promise he won’t mention it to Red either.
I really liked this episode. The typical Blacklister is evil, corrupt, and after their own gain, but Ruslan Denisov is a nice change of pace. Not that it’s good to kidnap people or kill them when the ransom isn’t paid, but at least he was doing it to help his country. I like seeing Red get back to his slick, double-dealing ways. I just wish Liz would use her damn brain. And stop getting kidnapped! How is it that Liz and Ressler keep getting kidnapped and shit? What the hell kind of training did they miss at the academy? When is Liz going to get better at reigning in her feelings and just doing her damn job? And why is she acting like she suddenly doesn’t know what kind of man Red is?