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The Blacklist – S2E18 – Vanessa Cruz (No. 117)

Previously on The Blacklist, ‘The Longevity Initiative’

A sexy redhead with angel wings tattooed on her back, kisses a man in a bathtub. He flinches and she tells him she gave him something to help him relax. As he struggles to breathe, she uses his computer to transfer funds and I can’t help but notice the nice lingerie set she’s wearing. She kisses him on the forehead as he submerges then leaves. She later removes her wig and contacts, and takes a shower, washing away the tattoo.


In her hotel room, Tom asks for the passports Liz turned in as evidence. He explains that while saving her saved him, the Germans and his handler want him dead. Liz says thanks for the save but he has to go. She opens the door to find Red and Dembe with guns drawn on Tom. Liz pulls her gun on them and says, “No.” Hey now, this is interesting. I like this Liz.

Red tells Tom to get out and Tom reminds him that he was out and Red brought him back in. Touché. Tom leaves and Red tries to warn Liz. “I understand what it’s like to be drawn to something that is unhealthy, to a part of yourself that you are afraid of.” He tells her she needs to remember what life was like with Tom and imagine what it could be without him. With a straight face, she tells him she doesn’t have to. Good thing Red has a new case because that was getting awkward.

At HQ, Liz lists the names of several rich businessmen who have been murdered or imprisoned, for bilking people out of their money. Ressler, the brains of the operation, asks why he should care about criminals and Liz tells him all of them were framed by the same woman. This Blacklister hates the 1% and goes to great lengths to set them up, tarnishing their reputations, taking their money, and sometimes killing them. The body of her latest victim was found dead in a hotel room.


Roger Dobbs tells Red the Director has called for a vote. If the one remaining vote is not in Red’s favor, the Director will have majority to act against him. Dobbs tells him to get busy using The Fulcrum or his ass is grass. They work up a plan to persuade the swing vote. At their secret meet, Red promises the top spot to the swing vote, if he goes along with getting rid of the Director. They shake on it.


A mysterious woman, Vanessa Cruz has set up several men to take the fall for stealing millions of dollars from innocent people.

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She is in a relationship with a woman named Abby who she is posing as, to set up Abby’s boss, Mason Carlton. He has been sexually harassing Abby for some time and Vanessa encourages her to go to HR. As Abby, Vanessa IMs Carlton a selfie in more nice lingerie. She directs him to his desk drawer, where he finds a motel key, a gimp mask and a note to meet her at a motel ASAP. At the motel, in a short wig and another nice piece of lingerie (Seriously, is that La Perla?), she gives him a drink then puts the used glass in a plastic bag. Cuffs in hand, she tells him to get undressed. Several drops of hot candle wax later, this dude is in ecstasy. So much so he doesn’t notice her going through his pockets or taking hair from his comb. Back on the bed, she licks up his chest then bites him, drawing blood, gets dressed then leaves his cuffed to the bed. Vanessa meets Abby for a drink and Abby tells her that she talked to a lawyer about Carlton and that she will file a sexual harassment claim against Carlton. Vanessa says they should celebrate by booking a room at a hotel. Abby tells Vanessa she loves her and Vanessa is surprised, but she says she loves her, too.


Navabi sets out to speak to the wife of the latest victim while Liz and Ressler visit one of the marks, Lester Charles Conway, in prison. Ressler can hardly contain his disdain, but Conway insists he was framed by a woman with whom he was having an affair; an undocumented, seasonal worker who had access to his passwords, phone, and computer. See, this is what he gets for giving his passwords to his side piece.

Conway says she knew how to move money and use shell corporations to create a lot of evidence against him. Conway and the bathtub victim both had professional investigators who could not identify the Blacklister, using pictures of parts of her face. Not to fret; Aram is on the case. He puts the pieces together and voila; a face. Gathering all the partial prints she left at the crime scenes of her victims, Aram sends them to a friend who was able to put them together to find a match and get a name. Note to self: wipe fingerprints from everything. You never know!

Liz and Ressler visit the last known address of Vanessa Cruz, only to find out from her mother that she is presumed dead. The mother tells them about Vanessa and her bad choices in men. She makes a statement about women making the same mistakes with men and Ressler side eyes the hell out of Liz and doesn’t hide it! The mother tells them about how Vanessa’s husband was doing insider trading and killed himself when he was caught, though Vanessa insisted he was framed. Vanessa set up an insurance policy, payable upon her death, with her mother as beneficiary. The team realizes the insurance company is fake; it’s a shelf corporation and Vanessa has used other shelf corporations to set up her victims. Liz contacts Red and asks for his help finding someone who sells these fake businesses, but Red tells her there’s no tit without tat; if she wants a name, he needs The Fulcrum. She balks, because she’s a Fed, like that’s stopped her from doing questionable shit in the past, but whatever.

The Adventures of Tom and Liz

On the street, Tom pickpockets a man, then gets a phone call from Liz. She’ll give him the passports if he helps her find someone who brokers shelf companies. She knows that’s how he was getting money, because she found a similar bank name while sifting through his multiple lies. He and Liz go see his contact and get a mailing address for Vanessa Cruz. While cruising the streets, Tom comments that he’s no worse than Red. Liz doesn’t agree because bitterness and all that. He tells her Red is dangerous and it’s obvious he wants to spill the tea, but she interrupts him to say that Red has a moral code; one that doesn’t include lying to her. Girl, if you only knew.

He tells Liz about his plans for the future and it really feels like he may be able to make that pipe dream come true. When they get to their destination, Tom asks if it’s possible for someone like him to start over. She tells him he has to be honest; everything in their marriage couldn’t have been pretend because he’s not that good an actor. She tells him he is her biggest failure as a profiler and he tells her she is his greatest success because she made him feel like someone cared for him. I got a little verklempt here; why can’t these two work things out? Liz tries takes one last shot and asks how he got government-issued passports. He tells her Berlin had a connect and she knows he’s lying. He says he can’t tell her the truth and she kisses him goodbye. Sad face.

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Ressler for the Win!

At Vanessa’s lair, Ressler finds dossiers and evidence she has collected to set up several more people, including potential victims. He finds trace evidence for someone who worked with Vanessa’s husband and begins to understand what the real motivation is. He discovers the men who Vanessa framed conspired together to set up her husband. They learn from Conway, that they were all prepared to illegally make some money, but Vanessa’s husband found out and refused to be a party to it. He went to his boss, to blow the whistle, but the boss, Mason Carlton, was in on it. They had Vanessa’s husband killed then framed him.

“Run like the prairie wind, because I’m coming for you. And when I find you, I’m going to cut out that forked tongue of yours and deliver it to the Director myself.” – Red
Bad Luck Carlton

Later, Vanessa IMs Carlton to meet her in the hotel room she booked for Abby and though he hesitates, he gives in because like she says, he loves the game. In the hotel room, Carlton finds out too late that he isn’t meeting Abby. I think he gets it when Vanessa pulls out the gun.

She ties him to a chair and shoots him up with drugs. Like any good villain, she talks too damn much, explaining who she is and why she’s doing this. The end result of her plan is for him to kill Abby for trying to blackmail him, then him turning the gun on himself. But Abby arrives and Vanessa falters. Hotel security calls the room to speak with Carlton, but Vanessa hangs up then leaves. Liz and Ressler get to the room and Abby tells them Vanessa said she made a mistake.

Exiting the hotel from a sketch door, Vanessa removes her wig and throws it away in a nearby trashcan. Liz and Ressler exit the same door right behind her, but Vanessa is long gone. Wonder of wonders, Liz looks in the trashcan and finds the wig. Typically, TV cops don’t look in obvious places, but little Miss Wet-behind-the-ears goes trash diving for clues she didn’t know existed. Mmmkay. At the airport, Mr. Kaplan approaches Vanessa and tells her the jig is up; since the FBI is on to her she can either ride or accept Red’s help.

Rock the Vote

Dobbs meets with the Director and wouldn’t you know it, the swing vote is there, too. Voting is done and the Director is a wee bit upset that Dobbs was working with Red. After all, their assemblage of evil made Dobbs. Oh, the betrayal.

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The Director tells Dobbs to leave the country, don’t contact his family, don’t pass Go, don’t collect $200, and don’t ever come back. But we all know he’s getting iced, right? Swing Vote calls Red and tells him all’s well that ends well; the vote went his way. Red doesn’t buy it and tells him Dobbs was supposed to call after the vote, but he didn’t so he must be dead. He tells Swing Vote he better get to running because he’s coming after him. He tells Dembe it’s time to bounce, but Dembe says Liz called and wants to meet about The Fulcrum.

Red, Liz, and The Fulcrum

Red and Liz meet out in the open and he can tell right away that she’s upset. She tells him that she just spent some time with Tom and he told her something she wants Red to confirm. Without preamble, Red says yes, he hired Tom to be in her life. He tries to explain but Liz won’t let him. She gives him The Fulcrum and says she wants it all to stop.

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She begins to leave but before she can, Red is shot. Dembe and Liz protect Red’s fallen body and return fire as more shots ring out. And Red bleeds all over the damn place.

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Score | 8/10Red’s Best Line:

[about Julius Caesar] “One of my favorites. The play, not so much the man. The man was a bit full of himself. He did have a brilliant military mind, be couldn’t smell a plot to save his life. Intentional pun.”

This was a very good episode. The pace was slower than usual, but that made for very good character development. Vanessa Cruz as a Blacklister reminded me a lot of Ruslan Denisov; someone doing bad for a good or honorable reason. I really enjoyed the scenes with Tom and Liz; I’m hoping for a web series that chronicles their adventures. I would love it if those two could work things out. Every relationship has its issues; I’m sure they can get past this.

About Teanna W (61 Articles)
Teanna is a self-proclaimed library goddess, who loves to talk about cataloging techniques as much as she loves to talk about her geek obsessions. She spends her leisure time painting her nails, watching too much TV, playing too many video games, and shaking it too much on the dance floor…sometimes all at the same time!
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2 Comments on The Blacklist – S2E18 – Vanessa Cruz (No. 117)

  1. I’ve been waiting for this recap.

  2. I enjoyed this episode a lot. I mean Vanessa Cruz took identity theft to a whole new level. She was like, it’s levels to this shit. I mean, she just didn’t steal your name, social security number and ruin your credit. This women had DNA samples of her victims and future victims.

    I wish there was a way that Liz and Tom can be together, again. :/

    Now off to send flowers to Red while he recuperates all of April and part of May.

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