Friday, March 6, 2015

The Blacklist Recap: Earl King VI Ep 2.14

Taking Sibling Rivalry to a New High
Recap by Chompstick

Two years ago, on Georgia's moss-draped Jekyll Island, a wheelchair bound curmudgeon met with his two adult sons, Tyler and Francis, to see which one would blow his head off.  A festive family game of Russian roulette is played after each illegal family auction so that the family fortune passes on to only one heir - the son who brings in the least money is on death row. This is the sick, sick King family. Earl, the patriarch, is delighted.

Tom the enigma reappears. Visibly stressed, he pleads with his handler to send him back undercover - anything, he begs!  The handler knowingly observes that Tom “let that girl get to you.” He might have a job for him in Germany.

While Liz is examining the Fulcrum, Red and his mute bodyguard arrive unexpectedly at her very humble abode, The Marri-not Motel.  Unfortunately, Motel Man is not accompanying them. Liz quickly stuffs the Fulcrum back into the stuffed bunny.  Madeline Pratt has been abducted, Red relates, but Liz shrugs indifferently. “Her abductors meet every requisite that defines inclusion on the blacklist,” he continues. A minor understatement … the Kings are royal slimeballs.  They have made their fortune on indentured servitude - men, women, and young children alike - barbarically locked into cramped cages to await auction. It is believed they abducted Madeline Pratt to be sold, too. (It’s time to move on from the victim imprisoned in a cage theme; this is at least the third time it’s been exploited.) The Kingdom grows from the profits of 150 years of their auctions, hawking everything from uranium to violins to children.  Find Madeline and you’ll find the Kings, Red instructs.

Old Buddy, Old pal, Old Friend of Mine

It’s child’s play for Aram to find MP’s Brazilian kidnapper by using a random photo of her seizure. The Taskforce Techie zooms in on the abductor’s tattoos and runs the images against The World Book Encyclopedia of Body Art, available at your hometown library. Access to the Brazilian is restricted by the Department of Justice, so Cooper heads over to see his new best friend, future Attorney General Tom Connolly, for a favor. There’s going to be a steep price to pay for information.  Sure, I can help you, old pal, but first let me tell you about my friend who is being indicted for fraud, says Connolly. Maybe you could tip him off, he suggests slyly. “He’s a close friend. And I take care of my friends. How’s that clinical trial? The one I got you into?” he asks Cooper. (There are currently only seven regular and recurring male cast members – do two of them have to be named Tom??)

Dembe’s big moment arrives – his soliloquy:  “Agent Keen” he announces as he hands the phone to Red. That’s it. For the whole episode. Liz tells Red that they found the safe house and they’re headed there now. Red says no. Liz says too bad.  Naturally, Red and Dembe arrive first, do their case-the-room routine, espy a dead guy, and suddenly have a gaggle of goons with guns drawn on them.  Lo and behold, MP is being held against her will. Or so we thought… as personal payback to Red for his betrayal last year, she has set him up to be Lot 11 in the auction! She tases Dembe then delivers her five words of dialogue for the entire episode - 17 seconds of screen time. So much for all those tasers teasers of her playing a major roll.  Madeline may be a woman of few words, but she does firmly establish herself in the Blacklist Smirk Hall of Fame.

Liz suggests that the team focuses on the possible guests at the auction; if they can determine the potential bidders, they will find the location. The FBI identifies a potential Van Gogh buyer, Koskov, who will be sending his “acquisitions emissary” (i.e. stolen goods fencer) in his place. Once they bring her in, Samar conducts an interrogation and threatens to charge the woman as an accessory after the fact for kidnapping, false imprisonment, and many of the other Kings’ crimes. If that’s not a solid incentive to squeal, what is? She gives up the name of a hotel she was to report to, and The Palace as the location of the auction. Liz prepares to go undercover as the emissary.

The Fake Sneeze Distraction Action

Liz gets a call on her cell phone from her lying, Mustang driving, probably cheating, not teaching, dog abandoning, psychopathic, serial killer, fake husband Tom.  He calls because he misses her, and I hate to say that I was convinced he really does care about her. But why doesn’t Liz’s voice drip with hatred and contempt? Or even shock upon hearing his voice? She speaks quietly and without much inflection or emotion, and as if she expected his call.  Oddly, Tom casually offers Liz some tips for going undercover, and a tutorial for the diversionary sneeze technique.

Later, pseudo art buyer Liz is dressed in a chic taupe suit when she checks into the hotel and provides the password to be granted access to the auction.  Meanwhile, Ressler and Samar lounge in the lobby, listening for Liz’s room number, 1861. In the elevator, a hotel employee unencumbers Liz of her purse and phone, and then delivers her to the parking garage, section 1861, instead of the eighteenth floor. She is shuffled into the back of a car and “offered” a drink which knocks her out. She awakens later in her underwear in The Palace. Predictably, Ressler and Samar are foiled.

My Lederhosen Are Too Tight

We’re treated to Major Tom  sung in German, which rivals Slow Ass Jolene  as one of the most amusing song choices of the series.  Tom is an undercover operative once again. He flips through a dossier on his new target, along with stacks of cash and a passport. Next, he gets into his Neo-Nazi persona by shaving his head, getting SS bolts tattooed on his neck, and a long German phrase inked across his back.  I’m almost positive it says “My lederhosen are too tight.”

The King’s Speech

While being shaved in preparation for the big night, Red banters with the physically and morally disabled Earl. They have had prior business, of course. “Dispassion is the businessman’s best friend,” Earl tells Red, but judging by Red’s kill count, he already appears to live by this motto. I give you Grey as evidence. Earl then refers to the auction:

“What kind of a commodity are you? A wealth of secrets and information? Or are you an impulse purchase for a buyer to settle a score? You scare people, Red. How much would you pay to be rid of your deepest fear?"

Liz strolls into the auction regally dressed in a gorgeous gown. She notices a young boy, Vincent, of about 12 years.  He is on display for bidding.  Vincent is the son of a criminal who turned state’s evidence and he is being used as leverage. No Seal of Good Housekeeping for these parents.  A suspicious King brother starts to quiz Liz about her background and almost trips her up when … wait for it … she sneezes.

The Gentleman from Cameroon is Ready to Disco

Red sits on display and is shaken when he spots Yaabari, a man he knows from Cameroon. I’m not sure if Red is more unnerved by the man or his oversized gold lamé bow tie. Yaabari has a score to settle from when Red burned down his compound and committed other ugly deeds.

Back at the Post Office, we overhear the tail end of Cooper’s phone call:  “The indictment, it’s coming down tonight. You and I never had this conversation.”  Aram bursts into the office, frantic that Liz’s cover will be blown. The real “acquisitions emissary” was allowed to call her lawyer and surely the Kings will be notified soon. Ressler and Samar are interrogating the hotel elevator operator to find out where Liz was taken. Cooper takes over when they make no progress and gives the employee a successful shakedown with an “I Have Nothing to Lose” speech:  I have an inoperable brain tumor that will kill me in a number of weeks, he says. No one on my team will die on my watch and I will do anything in my power to keep them safe. Cooper puts his hand on his gun and demands, "Where is Elizabeth Keen?"

Red is presented to the auction attendees as the man who presides over a prosperous extralegal empire. Surprising everyone, Liz gets in on the bidding, but at that moment, the Van Gogh collector Koskov calls to tell the Kings she is an imposter. She bolts and Red is left to bid on himself. His bids are rejected and Yaabari throws back his head with a maniacal laugh when he wins the prize for $18 million.

Liz is running through the basement of The Palace searching for Red when she happens upon young Vincent in a cage. She rescues him and then tries to rescue Red from where he is encased in a glass box.  Haven’t we seen this before?  He urges Liz to leave him and save Vincent, which she does reluctantly.  After she is gone, a  King sibling comes to deliver Mr. Reddington to Mr. Cameroon and then runs off to find the missing Vincent, who escapes outside and is picked up by the police.

Yaabari takes Red into a side room and announces there is a $40 million bounty on his head. Literally. As in a Mako Tanida redux. (I wonder what Ressler did with that thing?) 

As he speaks, Yaabari examines Red’s ears for some reason. Contemplating the removal of one ear, a la Van Gogh, maybe? Disco Dude puts a gun to Red’s head (as I ponder…if one needs to return a head for a bounty, would one want to blow it to smithereens?) Red closes his eyes and his last spoken word is “Lizzy”. (My heart melts.) We hear the gunshot but the wrong guy hits the floor. Red is stunned and turns around to face Liz, as he utters her name again.  Finally, she shoots first and asks questions later. This is where she usually gets kidnapped. They escape.

Back in the richly paneled office, we three Kings of orient are … arguing again. The bickering brothers sound like the Miser Brothers – Heat and Snow.  This time Francis has lost the tally and is forced to put the gun to his head. The gun cocks, Red and Liz enter, and after taking the gun from Francis, Red shoots and kills Earl. “Oh my God!  What are the odds?” Red chuckles.

As I frequently say, this show knows how to deliver the goods at the closing. This week, the action begins with a SWAT team infiltrating the auction.

Cooper briefs Ms. Deputy Attorney General on the King case, and she enlightens him on the low-point of her day:  she is overseeing a fraud case against a CEO who somehow knew an indictment was coming and then fled.  As she exits, Cooper furrows his brow in consternation.

Red and Liz are sitting in a car. Never do that again. Promise me,” Red insists, referring to her rescue of him.  After a pause, Liz replies, “You are so damaged. You can’t accept help from anyone. Has anyone ever helped you? Is that why you are the way you are, because you don’t feel deserving of it? Is that why you can’t be vulnerable for a second? I risked my life for you because I care about you.  Deal with that. (Liz’s eyes tear up.) And when someone says something nice, you’re supposed to say thank you.”

“Thank you.”

“You’re welcome,” Lizzy says, with the corners of her mouth turning upward.

“But never do it again,” Red answers, as a tear rolls down her cheek.

The final scene occurs in a crowded bar in Dresden, Germany. A freshly shorn Tom weaves his way through the throng. He knocks into a brute who challenges him, and when Tom calls him a clumsy pig, in German, fists start flying. Tom brutally beats the boor/boar into a bloody pulp, and fights off a guy who breaks a bottle over his head.  He apparently impresses his new target, an old, white-haired German who buys Tom a beer. (With his frosty white hair and beard, and a hooked nose, he looks a bit like Snow Miser himself.)

Earl King VI was a strong, enjoyable episode in which 
  • Liz finally opened up to Red and confessed that she cares about him.
  • Cooper revealed he has an inoperable brain tumor and death isn’t far off.
  • Cooper compromised his ethics when threatened by Connolly.
  • Tom was more than tolerable and so far his new story line is appealing. Ryan Eggold's acting was perfectly nuanced this week.
  • Liz pulled the trigger without hesitation to save Red.
  • Both Megan Boone and Harry Lennix showed their best acting chops of the series. Megan infused Liz with deep emotion for the first time when she allowed Liz to be vulnerable and express her emotions to Red.

Please join the conversation about this episode on the Earl King VI Discussion page.


Tabasko said...

Another great recap! The Snow Miser/Heat Miser pics made my night.

Chompstick said...

Thanks, Tabasko. I love the Misers.

Lisa Dale Jones said...

Excellent - you do a great job on these!

Chompstick said...

Thank you, Lisa.

Charmed said...

You keep doing a great job with the recaps, Chompstick.
Recently you have the recap on BSG before I even get the episode watched. I'm so proud of you.

Harry said...

Chompstick: Having tackled the formidable task on one occasion [Ruslan Denisov], I'm astounded you're able to produce a high-quality recap in such a short period of time after the episode aired. Bravo !