Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Blacklist Recap: Season 2 Premier - Lord Baltimore, Episode 2.01

Red's Wife, the Cat Fanatic   

Written by Chompstick

Finally!  It's been over four months since Raymond Reddington last delivered one liners amid the carnage on our Monday nights.  And what a return it was.  Red, adorned with his fedora (essential rainforest gear in this west central African nation) appears in the back of a jeep in Cameroon.  His adolescent captors are firing a RPG at a second Jeep in pursuit, all to the strains of ZZ Top's "La Grange".  Red is brought in front of Yibari, a guy sitting in his Barcalounger in the jungle.  No one can stare down a pistol at close range with indifference like Red.

`An Edgier Liz
He tells Yibari that he found him, not the other way around, and then proposes a business transaction:  the names of the bounty hunters hired by Berlin to find Red, in exchange for $3 million which Red happened to bring with him. After two Hellfire missiles explode nearby, Yibari gives up the name Lord Baltimore.  And Red sets the pile of moola on fire.

Back in DC, Special Agent Martin, the insufferable creep subbing for Cooper, is arguing with the Deputy Attorney General about the $12 million he has approved for Red to use.  She wants to rein in Mr. Reddington.  Elsewhere in a motel room, Elizabeth Keen, special task force agent, is lying on the bed staring at the ceiling plastered with all the evidence against Tom. On a side note, Hudson the dog has reappeared as a much smaller dog.  Every time he's seen he has shrunk.  By mid-season he'll be a Chihuahua.  Later, Red meets with Liz, who is channeling her inner Lara Croft and has become a little more kick-ass.  He tells her he is being hunted by Lord Baltimore. We see that someone in a car is trailing Liz, and the eyeglasses on the dashboard hint that they could be Tom's Warby Parkers; or is it a Red herring? After returning to the post office, Aram reports to the task force that he has discovered a "data miner", the long-haired brunette Rowan Mills (Krysten Ritter) sporting eyelashes that look like thousand-leggers that have set up camp on her eyelids.  She had $250,000 funneled through her IRA to an off-shore account, causing the FBI to suspect her.

Berlin on Ice . . .

Not dead, but bathing in it.  Brrr. He is visited by his minion Marcus, and after smashing his head on the bathtub, he tells him he has 24 hours to deliver Red. Rowan receives a phone call with an electronically disguised female voice telling her to stay away from the FBI.  Naturally, in the next scene she's meeting with the FBI. Computer whiz Aram traces the call to a house that happens to be owned by Rowan but she insists she knows nothing about it. We see Marcus watching.  Rowan reveals that she is a twin and that her sister Nora, evidently the black sheep of the family, was employed by a crooked security firm and died 7 years prior.  Rowan gradually comes to the realization that Nora must still be alive.

Red is back on the scene, showing up at the house of FBI Assistant Director of Counter-Terrorism, Harold Cooper.  The scruffy, bearded Cooper, with nasty scars on his neck from being slashed (would they have healed that well in just 2 months?), is almost unrecognizable.  Red is unrelenting in his calm but urgent request for Cooper to return to work. To convey his earnestness, Red gives Cooper a thumb drive containing the lone copy of evidence of Red and Cooper's time together in Kuwait. Before exiting, the ever omniscient Red tells Cooper that he is aware of his recent diagnosis.  Hmm.

Nora the Sniper

The Girl With the Falcon Tattoo

We return to Red as he is snatched from a hotel lobby by a team of professional infiltrators who stuff Red into a Blackhawk helicopter while Dembe lies injured on the floor with Red's lonely fedora. We see a rare instance of Red's emotions breaking through his professional facade; he almost winces with disappointment in himself for being captured. At this point, it feels like the writers have put two hours worth of action into the first fifteen minutes. I'm exhausted!

A former Mossad agent, Samar Navabi (Mozhan MarnĂ²), is behind the abduction because she thinks Red is responsible for a "dust up" that resulted in the death of three of her people in Haifa.  Red initially believes her to be Lord Baltimore until he hears her speak Hebrew and figures out who she is.   Eyeing a falcon tattoo on her inner arm, he concludes that the falcon represents her brother, Shahin, who was killed in a bombing in 2009. In Farsi, Shahin means falcon.

The Oxblood Geometric Homing Device

How did Navabi find Red, a feat so many others have failed to do?  She cleverly placed nano-particle markers in every single $205 Zegna tie, in Red's preferred color and pattern, on the East Coast. They have a nice chat and Red tells the long-haired brunette (again!) that he is about to be rescued by the same guy she was reporting to.

Meanwhile, the panicky Rowan is home alone when Marcus slips in and puts a 75 year old Ink Spots LP on an old record player.  The melody seems to snap Rowan out of some type of trance and she transforms into a no-nonsense baddie.  At the house of Rowan and Nora's mother, Ressler discovers Nora's body in a freezer hidden in an old van on the property. Nora looks like an extra in Night of the Living Dead.

The Biggest Reveal Since the Pilot

Berlin Exacting Revenge on Red's Wife
Following the theme, the third long-haired brunette, Naomi Hyland (Mary-Louise Parker), is at home with her husband and friends when Liz and some U.S. Marshalls arrive. (The casting director of The Blacklist must have been rejected by an all-blond cheerleading squad in high school and still holds a grudge.)  Aram assertains the person they are looking for subscribes to The Wall Street Journal and Cat Fanatic Magazine, and when Red sees her dossier with photos, he figures out that Berlin's target was Naomi, not himself.

Dun Dun Duuuun!  Naomi is Red's wife!! She has been in protective custody for twenty years and it turns out she does/did indeed have a daughter who is alive and also in protective custody.  Jon Bokenkamp said that Parker's character is "tied inextricably to Red". I'd say! I did not see this coming. Naomi states that Liz "can't imagine what it's like to have a man like Raymond Reddington turn your life upside down". Uh, I think she can.

Before Liz's team can remove her, Marcus and his thugs barge in, Tase everyone, and kidnap Naomi, but not before Liz shoots Marcus in the leg.  In the meantime, Ms. Sharp Shooter Rowan is holed up in a house across the street where she snuffs out three G-men on the street with one mean looking sniper rifle.  As she leaves the house, Liz tackles her to the ground.

Next up is a disturbing scene with Captain Hook Berlin and a distraught Naomi in what appears to be a fleabag motel room.  He forces her to lie on the bed and then takes a Polaroid head shot of her in the same manner as the photos in The Stewmaker's album.

Lady Baltimore

It appears that Lord Baltimore is Lady Baltimore, more specifically Nora.  In a plot twist straight out of a daytime soap opera, the evil twin faked her own death, killed the twin she envied, and took Rowan's identity. But that identity was caused by Dissociative Identity Disorder, a split that occurred in Nora's psyche so that the personality of each sister lived within her.  Neither side was aware of the other, and the Ink Spots record was the trigger for Nora to appear.

In custody, Marcus cops a deal and rolls over on Nora.  After playing the record, Liz gets a crumbling Rowan to transform into Nora. "My echo, my shadow, me."  Dave Porter, the show's composer, deserves an Emmy for the talent he has matching lyrics to the action. (Here's an excellent website with music from every Blacklist episode, by name and scene,  Season 1 and Season 2.)

Ressler and crew infiltrate an abandoned building, but it is deserted, everyone dead save one man who tells Red where Berlin took Naomi.  Red and Dembe crash the motel room but there are no occupants.  On the pillow is a locket matching Berlin's, but with a picture of Naomi in it.

Red receives a digit
The writers crammed a packed sequence into the last three minutes. Liz gets her marriage annulment documents, someone's still watching her, Ressler is at home popping pills, Cooper returns to work, and Liz chops off her long brunette hair - no more silly wig. And one less long-haired brunette. It looks fantastic and signifies a stronger Liz who is starting to stand her own two feet.

But most critically, in his hotel room Red receives a package containing two items.  There is a cell phone on which he calls Berlin, who tells him in a bone chilling voice, "I'm going to do to your wife what you did to my daughter.  I'm gonna send her back to you piece, by piece, by piece". Then Red pulls out a box containing a woman's severed finger, presumably Naomi's.

Well, it was a pleasure to bring you this recap after watching the show three times, finishing off a box of Entenmann's donuts, and watching Love Boat reruns while writing in the wee hours of the morning.  What are your thoughts on the season premier?

I am left wondering when we will find out more about the thumb drive Red gave Cooper. My guess is it won't be brought out again until Red is in an impossible situation and only the information the thumb drive can help. I find it intriguing that Red and Copper have a secret connection, and we have now been waiting for fo three seasons for it to be exposed.

If you are interested in a compilation of Unexplained Objects (like the thumb drive), Abandoned Plot Ideas, and The Kidnapped Files, click here for a link to this sub page in The Blacklist Reference Page.

Please comment on the Lord Baltimore page.