Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Blacklist Recap: Dr. Linus Creel, Episode 2.04

We Make Bad Dreams Come True
by Chompstick

A busy street. Virginia suburb. Crowded sidewalk.  Deep breathing -- in, out -- in, out.
No, it's not Darth Vader!  We're in a crazy lady's head.

She stands outside a bank as cars zip by, horns honk, babies cry, her heart pounds, pedestrians jostle past.  She's on sensory overload and seems about to crumble. And she's not the only nutter on the block; sitting in a car across the street, watching her, is a gray-haired man ... well only partially haired since he's pulling out tufts of it.

The woman, Maddie Thornhill, goes inside the bank to beg them not to foreclose on her house. There have been false accusations made about her and she has lost her job, but the bankers can't help her. She leaves the bank highly agitated, and I'm sure it's not helpful to see the bank sign outside advertising, "We make dreams come true". Maddie returns to the bank with a gun and fires three shots to the delight of Hair Man who is speaking into a recorder:  "Activation of AR105 complete, final phase successful."

In a cabin somewhere in rural Maryland, Naomi is shouting at Red, "The answer is noI gave up one life. Do you think I'm gonna start over, do it all again?! You're crazier than I imagined!...What do you think I'm gonna do? Stay here in in this? I can't believe you brought me here." 

Naomi's caustic barrage continues, "I kept my end of the bargain, didn't say anything about you or Elizabeth. How much does she know?" she demands of Red, to which he replies, "Very little."  She continues, "A-are the, are the two of you, what, working together? I don't even want to know how you pulled that off."  Finally, she tells Red she will never tell him where Jennifer, her daughter, is.

Red thinks he has successfully convinced Naomi that she and her current husband, Frank, need new identities that can only be provided by him.  He has the documents ready for them.

Time for Red to serve up a plateful of case du jour for Liz. New no-nonsense Liz wants to know where Red is hiding Naomi, insisting that she might have vital information regarding Berlin's whereabouts or identity. Liz is wise enough to realize Red is keeping Naomi away from her inquiring mind, not the FBI in general. 

Assassins in Tinfoil Hats
As usual, Red's response is a quick switcheroo to whatever he wants to talk about -- in this case, Maddie Thornhill, the woman who went ballistic in the bank.  Red thinks her psychotic break, and perhaps those of seven other random murderers in the DMV (DC, Maryland, Virginia), was brought about through a government social psychology experiment. 

At the post office Liz briefs the team on Red's theory, telling them it is Red's contention the U.S. government is still involved in mind control experiments and that the recent crime sprees by Maddie and two other individuals are not random; the behavior of these individuals was orchestrated by the government.  In a private meeting with Liz, Cooper is emotional when confirming the truth of these allegations. His sadness and resignation to these horrors is portrayed through his eyes - good acting from the under-utilized Harry Lennix. Cooper tells Liz that Subproject 7 is the black-budget project funded by the Defense Intelligence Agency. They test the theory of using genetic predispositions to activate antisocial behavior (to put it mildly). The scientists and doctors implement wacky experiments using drugs, electromagnetic pulses, and microwaves broadcasting messages.

Liz asks Aram to pull Frank and Naomi's phone records. Then the crime fighting team of Liz and Ressler conducts several interviews with Maddie, her employer, and ex-boyfriend and discover a pattern of anonymous, unfounded accusations and general character decimation.  Aram further educates the team on the genetic component of these experiments, MAO-A2R, and how it is linked to aggressive behavior, and in this case, turned the experiment subjects into killers. Samar also found eleven other cases in the last eighteen months with the gene as their only commonality. 

Cooper refers Liz and Ressler to Senator Sheridan for their search. Sheridan is the "leading voice in Congress on mental health for 20 years". Of course, Sheridan acknowledges that mind control experiments occurred but denied that any worked.  "Have we studied mind control? Yes. Does it work? About as often as a blind squirrel finds an acorn."  Now in my opinion, a blind squirrel might have a serious problem running into trees, but with a squirrel's highly developed sense of smell, finding an acorn would be a breeze.  I could find a piece of chocolate cake across the neighborhood while blindfolded. Same thing.  Sheridan is evading the question in true political fashion. He says he will send all reports to the task force, though.

Cabin Fever

Back at the cabin that Naomi loathes, she is trying to convince Frank they can't be protected by the FBI, but Frank says the only place he's going is back to Philly.  The first revelation of the night comes from Naomi when she says, "Carla Reddington was a miserable housewife married to a miserable man." OMG! Naomi's real name is Carla! 

Liz receives the black-budget reports from Sheridan and, unsurprisingly, they are all redacted and encoded.  Handily, Samar knows a code-breaker, known as The Polyglot, who works with Mossad and is able to decipher the documents. 

That Money Printing Machine Sure is Coming in Handy this Season
Naturally, Red knows the Polyglot, real name Haskell, and he and Liz show up at his door.  The writers would have us believe that all of Earth's inhabitants live in DC judging from the way Red and Liz pop up like a toaster at everyone's door. When Haskell opens the door and sees Red, he slams it in his face. A truly rewarding moment for those of us who thrive on the comic relief James Spader delivers so perfectly each week.  They have an exchange about Red's corrupting nature leading to a night of debauchery and a gambling loss of $50K for Haskell.  

H:  I have no interest in seeing you. Go away. You're not welcome here.
R:  Haskell, I told you I'm sorry. What more can I say? 
H:  You knew I was in recovery.
R:  I didn't.  Okay I did. But you were having such a great time. And after everything that happened with Sheryl and that Cuban, the boxer, what was his name?
H:  I'm not talking to you about this.

Of course Red knows how to heal old wounds.  He's brought along a bag loaded with cash, which he seems to do every few episodes. Those satchels come in handy.  I wonder if he has a closet full.  He probably owns the Louis Vuitton Co.

Unlucky Number 7 
Red introduces Liz as a blogger researching Subproject 7 and Haskell lights up. He explains that Sub 7 arose from the human genome project.  Using DNA from the brains of mass murderers, they worked to identify people predisposed to become assassins and then created a three step process to activate the deviant behavior. One, disrupt the routine of everyday life. Two, destabilize the sense of self worth. Three, sever emotional bonds. When shown a photograph of the team, Liz recognizes Dr. Creep as someone familiar and Haskell provides his name. A lab assistant at the time, Creep is now in private practice, he tells them, and it turns out, was on staff at the hospital for all eleven recent killers.

With this knowledge, Liz asks the King of Fake IDs, Aram, to fabricate a nice thick medical record for her with lots of psych treatment.

His Bark is Bad, 
But His Bite is Worse
Cut to an agitated woman (Monica) entering suburban home, threatening Frank on the phone: "You said you were leaving your wife. Well, I don't care if it's a bad time. Either you tell her about us or I will." Standing in front of her with an adorable well-fed yellow Labrador Retriever is the man who has surpassed Mr. Kaplan as The Blacklist's Most Fascinating Character.  Mr. Vargas, played by the wonderfully quirky Paul Reubens, is none too happy about having to serve as the indoor pooper scooper and he lets her have it.  

V:   That dog's been here all day. You leave your dog inside all day? Who does that? What kind of monster leaves their dog with no water, no food?! 
M:   Who the hell are you? 
V:   He's done his business inside twice! Do you have any idea the psychological damage that can do to a dog? 
M:   I don't know how you got in here.
V:   I spent the last 20 minutes cleaning up after him.  
Where's his leash? I'm taking him for a walk.
M:  You are not taking my dog for a walk!  Who are you? I'm calling the police right now.
V:   Calm yourself down. We have a few things to talk about.

Animal lovers are nuts. As a hard-core animal activist I'm allowed to say that. The guy puts a slug through someone without blinking an eye, but leave the dog inside for the day and you're subjected to his diatribe about being a MONSTER!  Oh the irony. I love Vargas, and his new canine friend.

City Dog
At the cabin, Red takes Frank on a non-optional walk.  Frank looks like he'd rather be a social psychology lab rat.  An SUV shows up and Mr. Vargas and the yellow lab climb out. 

F:   That's Monica's dog. What the hell have you done? 
R:  You're finished with Monica.
F:   Where is she? 
R:  We had a few words, and, thanks to my friend's rather judicious rescue, we also have a dog.
F;   Monica, what did you do?
R:  She's fine.  But from this point forward there is only Naomi.

Frank threatens to call the police but Red takes care of that with a sharp pointy stick pressed against his neck.  "You make her [Naomi] happy, that is the only reason you're still here." As he concludes his unveiled threats, Red throws the stick for the dog to fetch. The dog, who's lying on the ground, continues to lie on the ground, ignoring the stick. "City dog," Red chuckles.  That's what's known as a Labrador Receiver. Frank has a threat-induced change of heart and tells Naomi they can't return to Philly.

Did Liz Fly Over the Cuckoo's Nest?
Next up is Dr. Tuft with one of his patients, Duncan, a distraught young man. Creep violated his Hippocratic Oath by reporting Duncan to his school for cheating.  Later at home, Duncan is seen messaging with Amber, the online girl he loves but who is breaking his heart.  She has a new guy and she doesn't give a flying fig about Duncan anymore. Enraged and inconsolable, Duncan leaves with two guns. 

Liz shows up in the ER as "Angela", armed with a fat psychiatric file and a cover story that her husband left her. Aram and Samar are outside in the van listening in. Creep is the on-call creep doc and needs to give Angela a psych consult. "Says here you've been having some troubles with your husband," he inquires. "That's an understatement," she says wryly.  She admits to having taken pills and ending up in a psychiatric hospital during college.  In the van, Samar bets Aram $100 that Liz is telling the truth about herself. "No way," scoffs Aram. "$200."

"Angela" tells Creep that she would kill her husband, Tom, if she could get away with it. "I'd chain him up. And I'd force him to tell me about all of the lies, the secrets he kept. I'd make him my prisoner."  Foreshadowing? From their surveillance position, Aram and Samar glance at each other nervously, each mulling over whether this is Liz's truth or not.  Creep, I'm sure, is ecstatic at hearing of this potential for violence. He says her emotions are the result of her genetics. That anger, violence, and love are baked in (and I'm thinking back to Red's story of the Hansel and Gretel puppet show from last season).  "The more time you spend with your parents, the more of yourself you see in them. For better or for worse, they're a glimpse into your future."  Too bad Liz can't remember her parents who she says died when she was four. She elaborates that her father (no mention of mom) died in a fire when she was four, but she can't remember clearly.  Maybe she is only remembering what Red has told her? "You think I don't want to remember?" she demands.

Creep leaves the room to expedite Angela's blood tests. As soon as he exits, Liz digs his laptop from his bag, and long story short(er), Aram gives her instructions via the mic in her ear and she succeeds in snagging Creep's password to all his patient files.

Back at the post office, Aram finds the files of twelve patients - the eleven murderers and one more, Duncan.  At his apartment Liz, Ressler, and Samar discover the messages from Amber and determine that she's fake, the creation of Creep who's trying to lure Duncan to a community forum on gun violence. Creep wants to be present when one of his experiments plays out.  At the forum, Creep is desperately trying to have his scientific work on MAO-A2R recognized. 

Room Service, Ma'am
Duncan shows up firing the two guns into the air. Trying to provoke him, Creep cruelly tells him Amber doesn't exist, and that he was being manipulated.  "Do you think that I want to die? I don't.
But I have run out of ways to get people to pay attention. Do this, and the world will listen. They'll examine my life, my research. That can't happen unless you pull the trigger." And so despite Liz's attempt to talk him down, Duncan grants Creep his wish and shoots him. Creep grabs Liz and holds her with a gun to her head. Ressler threatens to kill him but someone beats him to it. Samar spots a sniper on a rooftop. Ah, the gorgeous Motel Man saves Liz's life! Creep's last words to Liz are, "You should know I saw your test results. You know what they said?" 

Did I mention that Motel Man really delivered and came to Liz's rescue?

At the beginning of the end of the episode, Samar gives Liz her hospital records with the test results, which Samar kept out of evidence. She asks Liz, "Do you think Reddington could have known, when he gave you this case, that you'd find out?"  Samar is clearly protecting Liz when she leaves her office and tells Aram that he won the bet; Liz made up everything. A gleeful Aram is off to Red Lobster for his crustacean fix. Ten dozen shrimp, to be exact, according to their menu prices.  I have a disease that compels me to look this stuff up.

Aram gives Naomi and Frank's phone records to Liz and she is able to locate the cabin.

L:   Hello, Mrs. Hyland.
N:   Does Raymond know you're here? 
L:   No. He doesn't want us to talk.
N:   You have questions you think I can answer about the past.
L:   Yes. The day Raymond Reddington walked into my life, everything changed, everything I believed about ... Why doesn't he want me to see you? 
N:   You tell me.
L:   I think it might be because you know something about how the two of us might be connected.
N:   He wants something from you. It's a game. It's a manipulation. He's made you feel a connection that makes you feel like you matter somehow. And there's no one on earth who can make a woman feel like the center of his universe more than Raymond Reddington. I'll tell you this, though. He's not who you think he is.
L:   What does he want from me? 

But that question goes unanswered because the irritated Red, who has been listening at the door, walks in. Naomi gets up and quickly leaves the room with her head down, almost submissively, like a ... Yellow Lab puppy.  "Agent Keen, I hope you had an illuminating conversation," he says with  several shakes of his head. Do I detect annoyance? Disappointment at something not going according to his plan? He called her Agent Keen, not Lizzy, which is the same way he addressed her in her dream last week. 

Saying Goodbye to Your
Fake Former Wife

It's time for Naomi and Frank to leave. In a very poignant scene, Naomi/Carla and Red say goodbye to each other. Naomi admits to Red that she doesn't know where Jennifer is. "She knew you would come for her one day and she left." (How can your heart not break for this poor woman?)  Red gently cups her face in both hands and tenderly kisses her forehead. When he pulls away, she gives him a barely perceptible air kiss and then quietly says, "Please tell her". Before she walks away, Red slips her what appears to be a note.  It's a very moving scene.

After Naomi and Frank depart, Liz asks Red who the sniper is and how long he's been following her. Red confirms that Motel Man has been in his employ since the day Malik died. Before she walks away he says, "If I knew better, I'd say you were hiding something." 

This is the perfect segue into the scene we've all been waiting for since it appeared in the preview. Liz is sitting in a garage-like building, a beer in one hand and keys in the other. She's staring at a padlocked door. I think we were all expecting to get more answers on what *coughTomcough* is behind that door.

We were rewarded with a few answers this week:

- Motel Man works for Red and is protecting Liz.
- Naomi's real name is Carla Reddington.
- She knows 'Elizabeth' from when she was young and seems to care for her.
- She knows something major, probably everything, about Liz and begs Red to tell her the truth.
- Red is manipulating Liz in a fashion similar to the formula Dr. Creep was using in his experiments.
- The writers like dogs.
- Liz was possibly telling Dr. Creep her true story.
- I like dogs.
- Creep's final comment about Liz's test results are inconclusive. He could have been teasing her either way.  

How do these answers further your evolving theories?
Leave your comments on The Blacklist - Episode 2.4, Dr. Linus Creel Discussion page.