In Friday night’s episode of The Blacklist, Elizabeth Keen says of Raymond Reddington (almost in awe, despite being the one who landed him behind bars in the first place): “That man is capable of anything—he’s going to get the immunity agreement upheld, and it’s only a matter of days before he’s out.”
Indeed, as odd as it may sound, we need to enjoy Red’s time in federal prison while it lasts. Over the course of this one episode, our very favorite Concierge of Crime goes from having his life threatened by a pretty credible prison gang, to receiving tiny bottles of champagne for himself and his new Robin-esque sidekick via a foolproof delivery system. Cheers, folks, to an exceedingly rare, but also a necessary type of Blacklist episode: simple and to the point. Sure, Liz was putting on her most Oscar-worthy act as a daughter-double-agent, and yes, Jen and Liz made a little headway on their Mary-Kate-and-Ashley-style grassroots investigation into Fraymond Freddington. But, mostly, this was just a good old-fashioned Blacklister hunt for justice, with Red doing his thing on the side.
We all knew the second Red entered that prison that he was going to be accomplishing impossible feat after impossible feat, but when he does it with such style, and to always amp-ing tune of Delta Rae’s “Bottom of the River,” it’s hard not to get on board…
Plus, what a pleasant surprise when those impossible feats ended up not resulting in a daring escape, but instead, in the much more subtle creation of an Oregon Trail within the prison pipes comprised of string, rats, and bribery. But, of course!
THE PAWNBROKERS NO. 146/147
Perhaps there was room for some extra panache in Red’s storyline because our Blacklisters this week are but a humble pair of married Methodist pawn store owners who remind Aram of the elderly couple that used to babysit him—y’know, if he swapped out oatmeal raisin cookies for massive amounts of cash that Rod and Delaine Uhlman front to criminals in exchange for “high value, ill-gotten gains” as collateral, which they sell to the highest bidder after 30 days if they’re not repaid in full with interest.
The Pawnbrokers are an assignment from a very much incarcerated Red, presumably to further prove to the judge in his upcoming trial that he is a valuable asset to the FBI, but as always, there’s a small possibility that the assignment might come with an ulterior motive—stay tuned for that. But, for now, Liz is shocked Red can give an assignment at all, given that he’s just been well and thoroughly beaten up when she goes to visit him. His arrival at prison commenced with immediately grabbing a seat beside the smallest, most unassuming inmate in the cafeteria, Vontae Jones (Coy Stewart): a scrawny kid in huge librarian glasses, clearly not looking for any trouble…
Unfortunately, Raymond Reddington sat down across from him.
Vontae attempts to give Red the lay of the land in between his unsolicited monologues, but while he’s talking about an inmate named Baldomero, who was locked up for robbing an armored truck and killing both guards, who should walk up, but Baldomero. Apparently, he’s a former acquaintance of Red’s, and when he takes Vontae’s lunchmeat, said acquaintanceship returns to being decidedly unfriendly. When Red demands an apology for the meat theft, Baldomero tell Red that he’ll be force-feeding him his lunchmeat later (???); Red tells Baldomero if he so much as looks at Vontae’s pimento loaf again, he’ll be sipping his dinner through a bendy straw; Baldomero beats the crap out of Red’s face…
And that’s how Lizzie finds him! Red’s new pal Vontae rightfully has some concern about Red meeting his intel that Baldomero plans on shanking Red in the yard the day after next with simply continuing to pull string after string from his bed sheets—but we know that look in Red’s eye. He’s got a plan. Red bids Vontae farewell with a request for pen and to see if he can identify who it is on the block that’s playing records, as he’d love to “buy, rent, or borrow” said player. Looks like there’s a new Dembe in town: a slightly different build, yes, but equally lovable.
James Spader returns as Raymond ‘Red’ Reddington, a mastermind criminal who teams up with the FBI.