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The Blacklist- S2E9- Luther Braxton (No. 21)

The episode opens on a special news bulletin: Red has been captured in Hong Kong and has been taken into U.S. custody. Red is moved from China, to Korea by the U.S. military, and then secreted away to a black site prison on the Bering Sea. At their super-secret headquarters, Agent Cooper and the rest of the team realizes Red is off the radar. The CIA won’t tell Cooper where Red is and this is where we learn that 41 U.S. government officials know that Red is an FBI asset. That’s like 40 too many.

There is some discussion about how he has evaded arrest for over 25 years, only to be captured in Hong Kong for a high profile assassination. Ressler goes on the record, stating Red must have wanted to be arrested on purpose. As Navabi gets on board with this idea, Liz joins them and concludes Red must be being held by an intelligence group. With the aid of a CIA analyst, Ressler discovers that Red is being held at a black site called The Factory. Cue slightly alarmed reactions from all present: Navabi says that’s bad news, Aram can’t believe it’s real, and Liz, as usual, is clueless. [Insert eye roll here.]

The Factory is a high level detention facility for those who can endure torture and severe interrogation. Sounds like a good time to be had by all. Cooper knows the end result of time there so the team is determined to save Red. There’s only one problem: the CIA won’t allow such a thing. Cooper then points out that Red’s capture was probably by design and they need to find out just who Red intends to see during his stay at The Factory.

Red is chained, while standing, to the walls of a cell, with no comforts like a bed or a toilet. I know this is prison, but damn! Red offers the guard tightening his chains $50,000 to allow him to speak to the warden. The warden goes to talk to Red, asking why he offered a bribe to the guard. Red tells him that Luther Braxton will escape from his cell in The Factory, within 12 hours, and will take over the facility, taking several lives while he’s at it. Braxton plans to steal classified intelligence that is important in maintaining national security. And wouldn’t you know it, the warden blows him off.

Luther Braxton is being interrogated, and by interrogated, I mean electrocuted. The man throwing the switch states that he won’t talk so they should continue in about two hours. The guard, who is unbuckling him from the electric chair, slips a cable into Braxton’s mouth. Ewww. Which Braxton swallows? Double eww.

In his office, Cooper finds Kat, who will liaison with the task force, and the Director.

The Blacklist

The Director says he received information that Red warned of the planned escape of Luther Braxton and asks Cooper about their connection. Cooper’s answer: “Who’s Luther Braxton?”

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The team learns that Braxton is a highly organized, murderous thief. As they discuss his numerous heists, Braxton removes the cable from his mouth and begins rigging an elaborate electrocution device of his own, MacGyver-style. Braxton was proclaimed dead months ago, but Kat tells the team that the CIA does that a lot; faking deaths so they can torture information out of detainees. Ressler continues to prove himself a smart cookie, and says he bets Red and Braxton have history. He is sent to find out what Red is up to, along with Navabi and Liz.

An unsuspecting guard is delivering Braxton his chow, when he is electrocuted at the cell door. Mental note: always look for a puddle of water outside the door of your captive. Alarms blare as Braxton calmly sits on his cot, awaiting his moment to wreak havoc on the prison. Braxton makes quick work of the guards that smoke and enter his cell, setting off an explosive, then taking the gun of the fallen and dispatching the rest with a few bullets. As this is happening, the warden enters Red’s cell and demands information then lets it slip that Red is being evac’d out and Red tells him to call off the evac. Braxton closes the tunnel that leads to solitary and begins releasing a cadre of unsavories who were also in solitary. As the chopper approaches, the team reads off the names of the other prisoners; Braxton has formed his own band of brothers of recent detainees with special skill sets. Fully armed, the brothers set about completely taking over The Factory, making hostages of the guards and warden.

As the team arrives an officer tells them they have to leave because the facility is locked down. The brothers come behind him, and he is shot in the back; Navabi is shot in the leg, and all of them are taken hostage. All except Liz, who manages to go unseen.

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Desmond, the guard, is moving Red to another location in the facility when Red once again offers him $50K. All he has to do is help Red help him stay alive. Whew, that’s a mouthful.

Brother Computer Whiz is trying to access a computer and asks Braxton if he’s sure he wants to go ahead. Braxton says yes and the facility begins to lose power. Braxton tells someone via walkie-talkie that he has taken over The Factory and he wants to speak to someone in charge. Ressler, Navabi, and the unknown guard are in a torture room, bound and standing on blocks with chains around their necks.

And no, not the good chains like Run-DMC wore, but scary chains that can kill you. They are hanging where their toes barely touch the blocks. Brother Beard tells them that the room where they are is where the prisoners go to be killed, after their minds are gone. This can’t end well.

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Back at HQ, Aram informs Cooper that he can’t get in touch with the team and The Factory has gone dark. A hostage negotiator has come to talk to Braxton and help with the hostage situation. Braxton says he wants to talk to someone in charge and the negotiator says he needs to first talk to the warden, who is put on the phone and promptly killed by Braxton, who demands to speak with someone in authority.

Liz has made it inside the facility and is skulking down halls when Red pulls her into a room. He wants to know why she is there, and he tells her that her government is being robbed. The Fulcrum, a blackmail file that proves a powerful, clandestine group exists, is what Braxton is after. If leaked, these people would go to prison or be executed. Gulp. Red tells her The Fulcrum isn’t in The Factory but the key to getting it is and he plans to stop Braxton. He tells her to leave, but she doesn’t and instead declares she’s going to help him. And by help him I mean follow him and ask a bunch of ridiculous, irrelevant questions as he goes about completing his mission. How will he be able to do this? Red is the man and has guys of his own in the facility. Red and Liz are in the warden’s office with Desmond, Khan, The German, and an unnamed man. Khan tells Red that in order for Braxton to get the info he wants, he’ll have to access the server.

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The German has an idea about how to get them into the server room to thwart Braxton’s plan: blow up the boiler room and it will destroy the server room…or the whole damn prison. Catch: the only way into the boiler room is via an air duct that is less than 24 in. square. One guess who’s going in the air duct! The unnamed man asks why he’s there and Red tells him he’s there for what his Cartel did in Reynosa, just before shooting him in the head. Mental note to self: if you haven’t been mentioned in the scheme, don’t bring attention to yourself. Brother Computer Whiz sees that the warden’s office has been breached and alerts Braxton, who calls the office. He and Red have a nice conversation about the good old days in Belgrade and things biting you in the ass. Red tells Braxton he won’t get The Fulcrum and Braxton tells him in order to stop him, Red has to have balls. Oop! He tried it!

Still hanging out in the torture room, Navabi tries to appeal to her captors, asking them to let the wounded guard down. Braxton joins them, while communicating with Cooper. Since the facility is on lockdown, all existing codes are no longer valid. But there is a master code that will override all and Braxton wants it. Cooper says he’ll get his people working on it, so Braxton shoots a female guard in the head. He tells Copper that he he’s standing in front of Navabi in a noose, and that if Cooper doesn’t give him the code in ten minutes, he will hang her. Cooper talks with Kat about the code and that he plans to give it to Braxton. Kat says he can’t because the code won’t be used to break out of The Factory, but to gain access to sensitive intel that Braxton can use to cripple the government. What’s that saying about putting all your eggs in one basket? Back on the line with Braxton, Cooper tries to stall so he won’t have to give up the code.

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Braxton uses the chain lift to strangle Navabi, as all at HQ listens. As she struggles, Cooper gives up the code and Navabi is lowered. Navabi asks Brother Beard if he enjoys inflicting this pain and though it’s clear he doesn’t, he says if the person deserves it, then yes, he does. On his way out of the room, he lowers the wounded guard so his feet fully touch the block.

Aram tells Cooper that once the servers are rebooted, Braxton will have the access he needs. The only way to stop him is to flip the switch on the network, which will take hours. In the air duct, Liz is making her way to the boiler room, with Khan’s direction. Brother Computer Whiz and a few cohorts are in the server room, getting ready to reboot. A coughing Liz lets Red and The German into the boiler room and Red asks if she’s okay. After getting a yes, Red launches into story about a famous cat burglar who decided to steal something for himself, a Qing dynasty vase. Red never heard from him again, and the burglar was found years later stuck in the air vent of establishment he was robbing. Oookay….

The German tells them that the boiler equipment has safeguards he didn’t figure and won’t blow the way he thought it would. Instead, two people will have to manually increase the pressure, every 90 seconds, and it won’t be him. Liz insists she and Red can do this without dying. The German and Khan beat a hasty retreat.

Back in D.C., the Director is meeting with the clandestine group, filling them in on what’s happening with Red, Braxton, and The Fulcrum. The group decides to destroy The Factory along with Red and the threats he has hanging over their heads. The Director tells Kat that an airstrike will be aimed against The Factory and though she offers to send in an extraction team, he declines. Planes will be in the sky within the hour.

As Brother Computer Whiz begins the slowest download in history, Red and Liz go about manually resetting the pressure valves. Liz takes this opportunity to get more information about The Fulcrum from Red. He tells her that the clandestine group thinks he has it and without it, they will have him killed. When she accuses of him of being selfish, he says he used to be normal and tells her about these fish in Mexico, who were lost in darkness and adapted; they became ugly in survival. He goes on to liken himself to the fish and wonders if a sliver of light made its way into the cave, would he seek it out. He tells Liz that he doesn’t want Braxton to find out that he can’t get The Fulcrum without her. Before she can find out what that means, the rest of the merry band of brothers get into the boiler room as it is about to blow and begin shooting. It blows before they can fully escape and it takes out the server room. Liz is able to get herself out of the debris, but Red is unconscious and unresponsive. She begins CPR but hears the Brothers coming, so she pulls a slab of plaster over Red, so they don’t see him. She is captured and taken to Braxton.

Cooper tells Kat that blowing up the facility is not a good choice, because many lives will be lost. She tells him she doesn’t agree with the course of action, but he gave up the code and here they are. Cooper threatens to not let the situation lay, but Kat points out that the operation was deep cover. And we know what happens to whistleblowers.

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Desmond finds Red under the plaster and helps him up from the debris, and as soon as he’s up he asks about Liz. Brother Black takes Liz to Braxton and tells him the server is gone, several of their brothers are dead, and the prisoners are on the loose; then need to blow this pop stand. Upset by this turn of events, Braxton punches the hell out of Liz. He asks about Red and she tells him that he’s dead. Back in the warden’s office, Red suits up to save Liz, but Desmond tells him the prisoners are free and he has to go through them to get to her. Red doesn’t look bothered at all.

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Walking through the yard, Red encounters a bear of a man who tells him he’s “gonna need that shot gun.” Red gives it to him; buckshot straight to the chest. Brother Scarface tells Braxton that he’s heard reports of gunfire and can’t raise anyone on the comms. Braxton guesses, correctly that it must be Red and he tells Scarface to go get the chopper, while Red strolls, oh so casually down the halls, with that shotgun like it’s a part of his anatomy.

With only a few minutes until missile impact, Brother Beard and his cohorts go back to the torture room, to execute Navabi, Ressler, and the guard. As Braxton prepares to shoot Liz in the back of the head, Red shoots the shit out of everyone in vicinity, killing everyone but Braxton with that one clip. Liz gets up and pulls a gun on Braxton, as if she didn’t need Red’s help. Red tells Braxton that he doesn’t know what he’s getting himself into by trying to get The Fulcrum; it’s a target on your back. Braxton tells him he knows the stories, when it disappeared, the fire, the girl, and it hits him: Liz is the girl. Red tells Liz to shoot Braxton, but the missiles are seen outside the window and hit the facility.

Score | 8/10This was another good episode. The writing and callback kept me on my toes and the acting was superb. There was a lot of insight into Red’s character. I love that he has a story or anecdote about every damn thing that happens. It makes me wonder if this stuff really happened or if he just has a good imagination. Also his timing of the stories always makes me go “hmmm”. I enjoyed seeing Red at turns vulnerable, enraged, and vengeful. That’s not a bad guy to have on your side. Not unless you do something to his people in Reynosa. I’m still not a fan of Liz. I feel like there needs to be some growth in her character. She’s still going off, half-cocked and not listening to people. I would hope more exposure to Red and his world would make her a bit more cautious. Covering his body and saying he was dead is a step in the right direction.

It’s so good to see Janel Maloney back on the screen and my heart screeched when I saw David Strathairn. I hope the writers take advantage of their talent and give them more to do on the show.

Final thought: is it just me, or did Red lose a little around the middle? He’s looking good

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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