The Blacklist is the perfect show for the internet age. Everybody loves lists! It's a rather clever setup, actually. This "blacklist" of Red's can really have a never-ending supply of cases for the Red and the FBI to work on, depending on how many seasons the show lasts. And if Red can keep finding other lists and other names ...
When we last left the show, before we were interrupted by two weeks of figure skating, bobsledding, and a different kind of red (Bob Costas's eyes), Liz had told Tom she wanted to hold off on adopting the baby. This is because of Red's constant warnings about Tom, plus Liz's own uncertainty about him. But they're keeping an ultrasound pic of the baby on the fridge, which seems like a cruel thing for Liz to do to Tom, since he still wants to go through with the adoption ASAP.
Meanwhile, Diane Fowler is missing and Cooper wants to know if Red knows anything about it. Red acts like he's surprised that Fowler is missing, but we know that when we last left him, he was shooting Fowler several times in her own home because he found out she was the mole.
This week's case involves Madeline Pratt, an old acquaintance of Red's who poses as his wife and steals something of his from the safe-deposit box in Turkey. She wants him to steal an effigy from a Syrian embassy, and he enlists the help of the FBI and Liz. She poses as his associate ("Nicole") and impresses Pratt immediately with her skills.
Tom asks Liz to go to a teacher's conference in Orlando, and she says yes. I guess the FBI is pretty flexible and you can give them just a few days' notice when you're working on a major case.
Cooper tells Malik that they both know that Fowler isn't walking back into HQ because she's dead, and he suspects Red. He tells her to investigate because he knows something is going on.
At the party, Red sees that Madeline has actually come to the party, even though she said she wasn't going to come because she's too high-profile. They dance and flirt and talk as they dance, while Liz uses a stolen ID to access a restricted area. An alarm goes off, and Red can be seen on monitors knocking out a guard on the stairs. Pratt tells everyone that Red is responsible. She take the effigy and escapes, making a phone call to a mysterious person who wanted it. So she not only has the statue, she has convinced everyone Red is responsible.
So we knew this was coming: Liz has to work overtime on this case and can't go to Orlando with Tom. He's unhappy and decides to leave immediately for the teacher's conference. Ressler offers to beat him up for Liz, but she declines.
The FBI finds out that there's a list hidden in the effigy, but it's not a list of people: It's a list of sites where the Soviets hid suitcase nukes across the United States. This case is becoming more and more complicated. Meanwhile, Red confronts Pratt on the street, but they're both tasered and kidnapped and put in a cell. Pratt tells Red that she has already sold the effigy to the Russians. The kidnappers come in to torture Red more.
And here's the great twist in the episode and one of my favorite moments of the season so far:Red explains to Pratt that the reason he never showed up to meet her years ago was because he ran out of gas and had to walk to his home on Christmas Eve. When he got home, he found the house filled with blood, his wife and daughter murdered. That's why he never showed up. After the guards drag Red out to torture him some more, Pratt is so overcome with sadness from Red's story that she yells to the kidnappers that she'll tell them where the nukes are. After she writes down the information, Red comes out from behind the corner, all cleaned up in his nice suit and happy. He was fooling her all along. These kidnappers work for him (everyone works for Red!). She calls him a son of a bitch.
Oh, and one of the kidnappers gives Red his hat.
Ressler and his team find the statue ... but it's filled with sand and nothing else. Red explains everything to Cooper. He has the coordinates of the bombs and wants to trade them for the effigy, which he still wants.
Liz calls Tom, but gets his cell. She goes home to an empty house while Tom, in Orlando, runs into Jolene (literally). Here we go!
At the end, Cooper gets a visit from a D.C. field office operative. He tells him to stop the investigation into Fowler's death. The orders come from the top. They'll be handling it from now on.
— Was Red's story about his family true or just something he cribbed from The Mentalist? It was either completely true, and he simply used it to his advantage, or a master class in emotional manipulation. Maybe a little of both?
— I've watched a lot of soap operas over the years, so I knew the second Liz told Tom she couldn't go to Orlando, it was going to be an opening for Tom to get with Jolene at the teacher's conference.
— Did you, like me, immediately think of Hellraiser's Pinhead when they showed Red getting acupuncture on his face?
— Question I need help with: What did Pratt's note to Red mean, "She's waiting for you in Florence"? Was the "she" the painting Pratt was smiling at? And why did Red want the effigy so much and place it on the table like that? Okay, I guess that's three questions I need help with.
— Quote of the week: "Lizzie, I know this must be very difficult for you, but we can't both lead." —Red, dancing with Liz