If you’re like me, you’ve gone back and forth on Tom Keen. Is he a good guy, framed by the bad guys for things he never did and would never do, an innocent being used by evil forces to get to Liz and the FBI? Or is he a bad guy himself, lying to his wife and the FBI and up to no good? Tonight we found out the answer.
But first, Red is trying to find out what’s going with Jolene Parker, a.k.a. Lucy Brooks, the woman who faked her death and is now pretending to be a teacher to get close to Tom. Red already knows where she is; he wants his investigator (Lance Reddick, Fringe fans!) to find out where she’s been and what she’s been up to.
Meanwhile, Tom and Jolene are talking to other teachers about whether Lolita should be allowed in schools, which naturally leads them to talking about people having affairs and sex. They give each other knowing looks.
The case for the team this week involves prosecutor Mark Hastings, who is found bearded and thin and dazed, wandering a road in Pennsylvania after being missing for 12 years. Hastings was on a major case many years ago involving a man who was incarcerated unfairly. Hastings was a victim of the Judge, a mysterious figure who gets justice for innocent people who are sent to jail. The pleas are written out by inmates and passed along the prison, making their way to a state corrections book depository. Liz and Ressler find ex-con Frank Gordon working at the depository that provides inmates with reading materials. His conviction was overturned and now he’s working here. Ressler searches the workspace for Gordon while Liz stays behind (you can guess what’s coming). The flashlight Ressler is using goes out and Gordon punches Ressler and escapes. These agents need to take a cue from Mulder and Scully and carry their own flashlights.
Liz and Ressler find evidence about another inmate that might be innocent but is scheduled to be executed tomorrow, an ex-soldier who was tried and convicted of being an enemy combatant in 2003. The lead on that case? Harold Cooper. Will he be the next victim of the Judge? Liz and Ressler visit Rifkin, who tells them this whole “Judge” thing is a prison myth. Rifkin is being comforted by Ruth, a woman from the Amnesty Collective. Rifkin says Cooper beat him into a confession, under orders from Assistant U.S. Attorney Tom Connelly.
Meanwhile, Tom and Jolene are watching basketball at a bar and talking more about sex: While drinking, she tells Tom she has a fiancé. Jolene asks him where his wife is and if he lies. This is their cue to start having sex in a men’s room. A kid walks in on them, so they stop. Tom says he can’t continue. Before she leaves, Jolene gives Tom her room key.
Surprise, surprise: Ruth is actually working with Gordon, and they’re keeping prisoners on a farm. She’s the Judge!
The team figures out that Rifkin’s transfer took longer than it should have. What were they doing all that time? Liz talks to Munson, who worked on the Rifkin case. He confirms Cooper beat Rifkin to get a confession and he came forward because he feels that Rifkin might be innocent. Cooper meets with Connelly and says they have a problem with Rifkin.
Red’s investigator is looking around Jolene’s hotel room to see where she has been lately. He finds out she has been everywhere Red has been the past several months: Havana, Port au Prince, Miami, under various aliases. Something major is in the works, either several little targets or one big one.
Liz confronts Cooper and Connelly about the beating, and says she has a witness that says Connelly gave Cooper the order. Cooper admits it, but both he and Connelly warn her to stay off the case or her career is on the line. Rifkin is executed after declaring his innocence again. His last words to Ruth are “Good night, Mother.”
Connelly says he’ll make Cooper director of the FBI and then he’ll have to tell him all about his “secret weapon” (Red). Cooper and Connelly are kidnapped at gunpoint. They’re brought to the farm where they meet Gordon and the Judge. Liz calls Red and tells him what happened. Red says that if he ever wants to see Cooper again, she has to get to Hastings.
The Judge asks Cooper and Connelly how they plead and Connelly says “not guilty.” She finds them guilty anyway and all of the inmates at the farm start making noise. Cooper and Connelly are taken to another room where they are going to be electrocuted (a nastier fate than what happened to Rifkin, who was given lethal injection).
Red goes to see Richard, whom he roomed with at the Academy. Richard says that Red committed treason and rooming with him was the worse thing that ever happened to him. But enough about that: Red says he needs to know what really happened with Rifkin.
Liz visits Hastings, who is no help. As she’s about to leave he says “Goodnight, Mother.” Liz remembers that Rifkin said the same thing to the Amnesty Collective woman at the execution. This is the key Liz needs to tie Ruth to the revenge.
Red calls Liz and tells her he’s on his way with new information. The team goes to the farm and Liz tells the Judge that she has to hear new evidence about the Rifkin case from a top-level source (Red, of course). Red tells the Judge that actually, Rifkin was guilty of the war crimes and the Pentagon covered it up. Red knows that, because she released Hastings; she knew that the day would come when all this would end and she would surrender. Which she does. The prisoners are released. Connelly asks Cooper what happened. Cooper answers, “my secret weapon.”
Red tells Cooper that “a war is coming” and later he’ll need Cooper’s help, and he should remember he saved his life. He also wants Cooper to pull some strings with someone named Admiral Abraham.
Red then meets with his investigator, who shows him proof on a laptop that she’s been following Red on every one of his adventures lately. The investigator asks Red if he wants him to bring Jolene in, but Red says no. She’s on an assignment (Tom) and he wants to see how it plays out.
Tom goes to Jolene’s hotel room … but not to finish what they started. He says he loves his wife and he starts to leave. Jolene says “wrong answer.” Tom turns around and asks her if “they” sent her and if this was a test. He gets close to her and with an evil smirk says he loves his wife because that’s his job. Looks like there really is more to Tom Keen …
• I thought there was something actually admirable about the Judge. Not the whole killing/kidnapping of people for revenge (that’s a downer), but the fact that she actually knew that one day it would all end and they would give themselves up and how she actually knew Red was telling the truth about the new evidence. Okay, maybe not admirable, but logical and pragmatic. The case was actually wrapped up in a calm manner with no more needless death.
• Here’s an idea for a new The Blacklist drinking game: “Ressler-ing.” Every time Ressler is beaten up, fooled, or loses a suspect, take a shot. You’ll have a great buzz before 11 p.m.
• I’m sensing a pattern with episodes of The Blacklist. There’s a mix of two or three different plots for half of the episode, and then one of the plots takes over for the rest. And then, in the final moments, a big twist in the other plot is revealed, while a cool pop song plays on the soundtrack. This isn’t a criticism, just an observation. The endings of the episodes usually bump up my grades a bit.
• Dianne Wiest was terrific as the Judge, but I think it would have been quite funny if Judge Judy had gotten the role. “‘UM’ IS NOT ANSWER, MR. RESSLER!”
• Quote of the Week: “I LOVE hats … but that, honestly, that takes a certain kind of man. What size are you, 7 1/4? I’m a 7 1/2.” —Red, to his investigator, giving him some competition in the cool hat department.
(The Blacklist will be back in two weeks. Next week is the premiere of the latest J.J. Abrams drama, Believe, which will be the 97th J.J. Abrams show currently on the air.)