Blacklist Recap: Stupid People and Skeleton Keys

The Blacklist

Season 1 Episode 17
Editor’s Rating 2 stars

The Blacklist

Season 1 Episode 17
Editor’s Rating 2 stars
Photo: NBC

Okay, I have to say it: This episode contained one of the stupidest scenes you’ll see on TV this season. When Liz shows up at Tom’s secret headquarters (alone, again, naturally) and is looking around with her gun drawn, you would think that one of two things will happen, that either Tom would run off because he had warning she was outside, or that the two would finally have a confrontation and a fight.

Instead what we got was an almost Three Stooges–level game of cat and mouse in which Tom hides behind a tarp and, when Liz opens up said tarp, he simply walks around the other side of the tarp. I guess Liz was absent the day they taught everyone about tarps as the FBI academy. Honestly, I played games of hide-and-seek when I was a kid that were more complex.

And then what does Tom do, even though he has had plenty of time to simply get away? He hides behind a noisy door and has to push the door into Liz, which knocks her over. Then he simply punches her in the face and runs off — and yet somehow, during this entire time, Liz isn’t able to see his face.

Like I said, this episode contained one of the stupidest scenes you’ll see on TV this season.

The beginning of this episode was a lot like Person of Interest, with all-knowing cameras watching someone’s every move. A secret computer lab is hacked and the only worker there takes off with a secret prototype so the person doesn’t get it. But before he can escape, someone hacks into his car’s computer system and activates the airbag, which deploys and kills the driver. The mystery man takes off with the prototype.

Meanwhile, the Cleaner meets Red and Dembe and shows them the bodies of Jolene and the Cowboy (gold stars to those readers who guessed last week that the ground was too frozen to bury them too deep). The cops go to Liz and Tom’s house to talk to them about Jolene being missing. Liz seems suspicious of the answers Tom gives. Liz gives Aram Jolene’s phone number and asks him to find out all he can about her.

The case this week involves the cyber-criminal Ivan, who Red believes is behind the theft of that prototype. Red warns Liz that whatever he has planned should scare everyone. It’s only the beginning of something bigger.

Aram finds out the airbag was set off before the crash. The team finds the case the prototype was housed in, and before they can examine it, another team of agents shows up and wants it. The guy who was killed was working for them on Project Skeleton Key. Basically it’s a computer that can do and control everything. It can cut through secure networks at the push of a button.

Red goes to a restaurant in Minsk, Belarus, to confront Ivan about the theft of the prototype. Red says that he’ll help Ivan escape if he gives him back the millions he stole from Red years earlier (at this rate, Red Reddington is going to be the Oprah Winfrey of the espionage world). Ivan transfers it via computer in the restaurant’s kitchen as Red compliments the chef on the delicious pierogies. Outside, Red shoots Ressler, but it was all a trick to get Ivan to trust Red and tell him everything.

Liz finds out that Jolene was Lucy Brooks, a violent criminal, and tells Tom, who acts all squeaky-clean and dumb.

Red discovers that Ivan has no idea what is going on, with the hacking or the theft of the prototype. Whoever is doing it is covering his tracks really well. The hacker got into many secure sites, including social security. The team finds out that payments of $1,200 are going to a woman’s account. She tells them her grandson always helps her with the home tech stuff. So it looks like it’s not international evil guy Ivan doing all of this it’s the Doogie Howser of computers, 17 year-old Harrison Lee!

Meanwhile, Liz shows up at the address in Jolene’s records, Tom’s secret HQ. She calls Tom from there and he sees her on the security cameras and panics, which leads to the stupid scene described above. Tom makes his way to a pay phone (yes, they still exist), and tells someone that he’s been compromised and has to change plans. Will those plans involve killing Liz?

Cops show up at high school, where the grandson is intensely watching a girl eat lunch. He escapes when the police and the FBI team show up. He hacks into the school’s fire alarm system to mix in with other kids and escape.

As Red continues to work on building something in his workshop, Liz shows him a picture of Jolene and asks if he knows her. Red says he can’t help her. She blames Red for Jolene being in her life and says thank God she has Tom. Red says he has never lied to her.

Harrison cuts out the power to D.C. He has activated the Skeleton Key. What is his plan? Control the web? Destroy the city? Take control of every electronic device and take revenge on his school enemies? Nah. He’s in love! Specifically, he’s in love with Abby, the daughter of the man working on the prototype. The team goes to his house but it’s too late. Abby has already gone to Harrison, lured there via computer. She thought she was chatting with her best friend Jackie but it was really Harrison, who gets her to follow the street lights he is controlling and meet him in a dark, empty subway stop. And she does this, because every teenage girl would follow magic street lights controlled by her best friend during a major blackout even though this best friend has never shown any street light-controlling abilities before. Also, Abby has apparently never seen any modern horror flicks. Harrison confesses his love for her and she of course freaks out.

Thankfully, Liz shows up and chases Harrison into a subway car, which he can control (Apple should really get the license on this prototype). Harrison thinks his life is over and programs the subway car to crash. Liz convinces Harrison not to do it and he stops the subway before it can crash. A very quick end to this week’s case.

But we’re more interested in Liz and Tom, right? Liz goes home and tells Tom about what happened to her. While Tom is making dinner, Liz is looking at an email of evidence photos. She sees in the trash the goofy toy that she gave him at the start of the episode. Hey, now she knows! She goes to Red’s so he can tell her “I told you so,” but he’s too nice to say that. Instead, he plays her a music box that reminds her of nightmares she used to have as a kid. She remembers her dad humming that song after the nightmares. It was the music box that Red was building this whole episode. He wants her to know that everything is going to be okay.

Random Notes:

— It’s too bad that the main case this week turned out to be nothing more than a Very Special Episode of The Blacklist, with a teen so in love with someone who doesn’t even know he exists that he’s willing to do anything to win her heart, even steal the high-tech prototype her dad is working on so she doesn’t have to move with him for his job. It was like My So-Called Hacker Life. And wasn’t it awfully quick how Liz talked him into stopping the train and giving up, because Abby wouldn’t want him to do it and the guy he killed was only killed in an accident, not on purpose? Oh, those wacky kids these days and their computers! Maybe he’ll become a regular character now, with Red really making him a job offer like he joked to Liz.

— So Red didn’t tell Liz about Tom and Jolene so she could figure it out herself? Good thing one of them didn’t kill her in the meantime, eh? Red tells Liz that he has never lied to her, but isn’t withholding the truth the same as a lie, Red?

— We went through over half a season not knowing what was going on with Tom, with actor Ryan Eggold playing it straight in every scene. Now the camera shows every evil look in his eyes/smirk he makes behind Liz’s back, and it’s fun to hear his high-pitched voice while he’s cocking a gun.

— Odd that Red’s plan to get Ivan out of the restaurant boiled down to “hey, let’s go out the back way, the FBI will never think of looking there!” And Ivan buys it?

— Tom dumping the toy was a silly mistake. It would have been more fun if Liz had figured out it was him from his cologne (or at the very least finger prints left at the scene). But it looks like the show has taken a turn now that Liz knows. It’s going to be a cat and mouse game between the two for the rest of the season.

— Now that Audrey is dead and Liz knows Tom is evil, could this be the door opening to a Liz–Don Ressler pairing? If so, we should give them the shipper name “Diz,” and fans who want them to get together? Dizzies!

Quote of the Week:

“Another fabulous example of your taxes at work. Another reason I don’t pay taxes.” —Red

Blacklist Recap: ‘Ivan’