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The Blacklist Recap: Tom’s Thumb

THE BLACKLIST -- "The Pavlovich Brothers"

The promos for this week’s episode of The Blacklist touted it as “the episode you have to see to believe.” And you know what? They weren’t lying or hyping things too much this time. Not only did we get a lot of action, but there were actually some serious plot developments.

I have to admit I was a little confused/worried at the start of the episode, where we see several women in China being given injections. One collapses and is taken to an ambulance. Of course, it’s all a ploy. She’s actually being whisked out of China to Washington, D.C., by American agents. I was wondering if this is part of the Tom/Liz plot, or the next name on the Blacklist, or were they somehow connected, because I just want to see as much Red/Liz/Tom as possible and not another “case of the week.” The two plots actually were connected, even if it the case of the week turned out to be just a device to get to the meaty Red/Liz/Tom stuff.

After Liz and Tom talk about various husband-and-wife things (and she puts a tracker in his keys), Red informs Liz that the Pavlovich Brothers are back in town. No, they’re not a new circus/magic act. They’re the gang that kidnapped the General’s young daughter way back in the pilot episode. The Brothers succeed in getting the kidnapped woman, a Chinese scientist, back from the agents during a chopper raid in D.C. They take her to an old warehouse and inject her with something. She has just enough time to scrawl something on the wall before she passes out.

While the team finds out that the scientist was working on a germ-warfare program, Red calls Liz and says that Tom isn’t in school. He called in sick and is currently sitting in a park waiting for something, after going to a bank and making several phone calls. Red has an entire team of people following Tom, including a woman with a baby carriage, a skateboarder, and a man on a cell phone. Tom goes into the National Archives. Liz follows him, even though Red doesn’t want her to. Before Tom can make contact with a man with a briefcase, he notices Liz watching him from the stairs. He decides to call off the meeting and go home. Liz gets there a little while later and finds out that Tom has found the music box that Red made for her a couple of episodes ago. She tells him that she’s been looking for that. It’s something her father made for her. They ask how each other’s days went and Tom tells her that he went to the National Archives to book a field trip and could have sworn he saw her there. She says she wasn’t there. (At this point, they both know that the other knows what the other one knows, you know?) Tom pours her some wine and says that they’re eating in tonight instead of going out for Thai. But first he has to walk the dog (I completely forgot they even had a dog). It’s just a ruse, though. He leaves the dog outside the door and takes off. He goes to a pay phone and tells the people on the other end that Liz is onto him and he needs help getting out ASAP. He smashes the keys with his foot.

The team goes through the burned chopper wreckage for evidence. It’s a long story (it involves tobacco and corn, so you’ll just have to trust me), but Aram quickly figures out where the scientist is being held. Meanwhile, Red and Dembe threaten the man who picked up Tom at the National Archives. They take copies of his driver’s license. He tells them he’s just a messenger and has no idea who Tom is. Red wants a list of every drop the driver has made. He also wants the driver to make the next drop anyway.

The team gets to the hideout, but they’re too late. They’re all gone, because Red had come in earlier (thanks to Liz telling him where the scientist was being held), and when he showed up and announced his name, they simply lowered their guns. Tom finds what the scientist scrawled on the wall: a code. Aram figures out that it has something to do with Archimedes, with boats displacing water, which means that they’re taking the scientist out of the country. I could summarize this part of the episode in minute detail, describing what Ressler said or how this and that happened. But let me just say that Ressler and the team show up at the dock just as the bad guys are putting the box containing the scientist on to a ship. There’s a gun battle and the scientist is rescued. Hey, let’s get back to Liz and Tom!

Tom and the men sent to extract him are hiding in a building until it is safe to escape. A homeless man is going through a Dumpster and guards tell him to leave. He’s not a homeless man, though. He places a bomb in the Dumpster, which goes off. After a ton of gunfire aimed at all of the windows of the building. Tom and the team escape via cars. But after a short chase, Tom is captured. Guess who these guys are doing this for? They bring Tom to Liz’s house, and when she gets home, they say it’s “a gift from Red Reddington.” They leave, and Liz argues with Tom about their “love” and their life together. He keeps saying “I was doing my job,” as if that explains everything. He also says “it was the shoes.” That’s when he knew he had her. The third or fourth date, they ended up having sex. The next morning after she left for work, he was putting on his shoes and he noticed she had drawn a heart on them. He thought that was really cute. And ever since that moment, he has felt sorry for her, because he knew that he had her.

Liz decides to cut out the chitchat and just break one of Tom’s thumbs so he’ll talk. Of course, now that his thumb is broken, he can slip out of the handcuffs! A fight ensues, with lamps thrown and bodies thrown on top of coffee tables and legs kicked. In the end, Tom wins … but he doesn’t kill Liz. He tells her to handcuff herself to the stairs. He says he never intended to hurt her. He’s one of the good guys. And Red isn’t who she thinks he is. Tom even has proof. He tells her to take the mysterious key she found and go to a safety-deposit box at a bank, and she’ll find her answers. He says good-bye and leaves.

Red shows up and sees the entire house a mess and Liz sitting alone. He tells her that his people are following Tom. Liz asks Red how this all ends. Red says that this is an end, and then something new will begin. He tells her that she deserves the best in life, and why Tom had to work so hard to make her love him. She will be happy again one day.

Later, Liz goes to the safety-deposit box and finds an envelope …

Random Notes:

— I’m sure the FBI is very thorough when it comes to crime scenes, but I can’t really believe that someone would immediately notice a code scrawled on the wall of a rundown, dirty warehouse and be able to decipher what it means in a very short time. Then again, every episode is only an hour long.

— Tom is absolutely right: If you handcuff someone, you never, ever break his thumb. Doesn’t Liz watch any TV shows like The Blacklist? (Also, Tom actually explains to her that she shouldn’t have broken his thumb right before he attacks her, so she should have seen something coming but, well, didn’t.)

— So, the big car chase is done with brand new Ford vehicles, and in the next commercial break, we get a Ford commercial with the guy who plays Tom (Ryan Eggold). He says that he’s a bad guy, but there’s a glimmer of hope that there’s good in him too. Tonight’s episode was the first time I’ve ever thought that there might be, when he didn’t kill Liz and told her to look in the safety-deposit box. So either he’s lying to Liz for a bigger reason, or Red is lying to her for a bigger reason. It certainly would be an interesting twist if Red — the central character of the show — actually turned out to be the bad guy, and all this time, Tom is the good guy. If that’s the case, I wonder if viewers will root for Liz and Tom against Red because, let’s face it, James Spader is pretty damn charming.

— Again, I have to ask: Just how many people are on Red’s payroll? Whenever I see a guy walking a dog outside my house or the friendly barista at my local Starbucks, I’m going to wonder.

— So what’s in the envelope? I’m guessing it’s either evidence of Red’s various atrocities, proof that he killed Liz’s father, or an embarrassing list of films he has rented from Netflix.

Quote of the Week:

“I can’t even think of derivatives without thinking of that tutor in Manor Hall. Cindy something-or-other. Never wore a brassiere, always a bounce in her step.” —Red

Photo: Nicole Rivelli/NBC