The Blacklist Recap: Keen, Keen, the Killing Machine

The Blacklist

Mako Tanida
Season 1 Episode 16
Editor’s Rating 3 stars

The Blacklist

Mako Tanida
Season 1 Episode 16
Editor’s Rating 3 stars
Photo: Eric Liebowitz/NBC

I’ve been noticing a few reviewers and recappers saying that the reveal regarding Tom Keen took too long, that they should have revealed who he was and what he was doing a lot sooner, maybe even as a cliffhanger before the Olympics break. I disagree. I think the slow-burn reveal helped the show’s mystique and kept us guessing. Maybe not guessing whether or not there was more to Tom than he let on — I think we all knew there was something else going on with him — but the way it was going to be revealed, and what he was going to do afterward.

Tonight, we were introduced to the real Keen. When he finally went into agent mode, and started fighting and shooting and acting tough, he transformed from a guy who looks like he could be a hipster typing a screenplay in a Brooklyn coffee shop to a man who can kill coldly with his bare hands. It was rather exciting. And now we can move on to the second level of this show.

The case involves Mako Tanida, an escapee from a Japanese prison. He later holds a sword on the neck of FBI Agent Raimo, who, along with some other FBI agents, had captured Tanida during the FBI’s hunt for Red. Tanida tells Raimo to disembowel himself, or he’ll do it for him and then kill his family. Raimo gets Tanida to promise that if he does as instructed, he’ll spare his family. Tanida agrees. Raimo kills himself.

Meanwhile, Jolene shows up at Liz and Tom’s, much to Tom’s dismay. She says she’s looking for a place to stay in the neighborhood.

At the Raimo’s funeral, Ressler’s best friend and fellow FBI agent Bobby blames Red. Ressler wants to talk to Red, but Red is also looking for Ressler. They meet. Red knows Tanida escaped and Japan is keeping it a secret because they don’t want anyone to know their prison isn’t escape-proof. He might be coming after other FBI agents. Shortly thereafter, Tanida finds Agent Maguire and kills him. He’s hunting down the agents one by one, and Ressler might be next.

The team finds out that Tanida’s brother was running the crime syndicate while Tanida was in prison. They also find out rather quickly that Tanida is in the U.S. and using an alias (computers are fantastic things).

Tom argues with Jolene about her appearance at his house. Tom explains about Liz finding his “go bag” with the money and I.D.s under the floorboards, the cameras in the house, the guy Red sent in to stab him. Tom wants to know if Jolene knows anything about the people who were watching him from across the street, and she says she doesn’t. He says he could have put a bullet into Red’s head at the hospital, but Jolene tells him that wasn’t his mission. Red hires the Cowboy to keep tabs on Tom and Jolene.

Ressler realizes that Audrey might be in danger and goes to her apartment. They get into Tom’s car to get away when they are rammed by Tanida and his cohorts. For some reason, Ressler gets out of the car to confront Tanida instead of caring for an injured Audrey. And then, again for some reason, Audrey gets out of the car and walks toward Ressler and Tanida, who are fighting. Tanida shoots Audrey and escapes. Audrey dies in Ressler’s arms.

Ressler meets with Bobby, who tells him to talk to Red because he must be behind this. Ressler meets with Red who actually gives him a clue to where Tanida may be, a secret hospital. Ressler and Bobby go there and find a patient who tells them where they can find Tanida. Red sees the pictures of Tom and Jolene together and asks the Cowboy to bring Jolene to him. The Cowboy follows Jolene into a parking lot and is about to take her with a knife when Tom comes up from behind him and knocks him out.

Liz meets with Red and Red tells her that he told Ressler how to find Tanida. Red tells her that Tanida’s brother was killed the day Tanida was captured and hadn’t been running any syndicate. Ressler finds Tanida just as the FBI figures someone else is running the crime empire. The team finds out it was someone who knew what was going on with the task force. Someone inside. It was Bobby (the tagline of this show should be TRUST NO ONE).

Tom interrogates the Cowboy and argues with Jolene about it. Tom explains to her that Red is actually doing all this because he’s looking for her. Tom tells her she needs to change her tactics. She needs to call Liz and tell her she’s no longer looking for a place and she’s leaving town. The Cowboy tells her not to do it, because once she’s done with the phone call, he’s going to kill her. She makes the call anyway, and helpfully turns her back to do it. When she’s done with the call … Tom kills her! The Cowboy tries to get up but Tom knocks him out. Tom smothers Jolene with a tarp. He then shoots the Cowboy while he’s helpless on the ground, still tied up.

Ressler and Bobby are driving Tanida and Tanida starts to talk about what happened during his capture. Bobby keeps telling him to shut up, but Ressler knows something is up. Bobby pulls a gun and shoots Tanida. Ressler fights with Bobby and the car goes off the road and flips over in the woods. Ressler chases Bobby, who is injured, and captures him. Ressler explains that it’s because of Red that he actually got three more months with Audrey, and it was Bobby who is at fault for Audrey’s death. Ressler wants Bobby to kill himself like the other agents did or he’ll kill him himself.

Liz and the team find the overturned car. They find Ressler in the woods holding a gun on Bobby and tell him not to shoot. Bobby actually wants Ressler to shoot him because he won’t survive in prison. Ressler shoots the gun, but not at Bobby, and then walks away. Bobby decides to kill himself with the knife. Back at the car, the team finds that Tanida has escaped. Meanwhile, Dembe tells Red that both Jolene and the Cowboy have vanished. We see Tom has buried both of them in the woods. Tom then goes home to take a shower with Liz.

As the episode closes, Red goes to see the ballet alone (he’s a huge benefactor, so they can put on an entire performance of Swan Lake just for him). He sends Dembe to Ressler’s house with a note that says that one day he will learn to live with what happened. Maybe not now, but someday. Eventually he will be okay. Oh, and he also gives him a box with Tanida’s head in it.

Random notes:

— Once again, part of me wants to slap Ressler in the head, à la Gibbs on NCIS, even if he did lose his girlfriend and best friend in the same week. Why didn’t he bring other agents to Audrey’s apartment when he went to protect her? I know, because they wouldn’t have been alone with Tanida and his crew attacked. Sorry, but Ressler got her killed as much as Tanida/Bobby did (though how cruel to have him find a pregnancy test in the trash).

— I’m hoping that Red will simply show Liz the pictures of Tom and Jolene meeting at Tom’s secret headquarters, but I’m assuming they’ll drag out that plot for a while, either to hold that confrontation for the season finale, and/or because Red wants to hide Liz from the whole truth for a while longer for his own reasons.

— It took me a while to realize that this show isn’t afraid of killing off characters without a second thought. Think about it: We’ve lost Fowler, Liz’s dad, the people watching Tom and Liz from across the street. And tonight we lost Jolene, Audrey, and the Cowboy. Give the show credit for going places in the plot that some shows wouldn’t. While some of the resolutions to the main cases each week can be somewhat predictable, the stuff that happens around the edges — and the way those things happen — keep us guessing. Too bad we never found out the Cowboy’s real name, though.

— You knew that Bobby was a bad guy, right? He was the last agent left and seemed to be too much on Ressler’s side.

— “Mako Tanida” is an anagram of “A Kinda Moat.” This doesn’t mean anything, but I thought I’d mention it.

Quote of the week:

Red: “Once you cross over, there are things in the darkness that can keep your heart from ever feeling the light again.”

Ressler: “All I feel is hate.”

Red: “Good. You’re gonna need it.”

The Blacklist Recap: Keen, the Killing Machine