Christopher Saunders / NBC


If you've been wondering when The Blacklist would find a way to dramatize the GMO debate, this is the episode for you!

We open in a cornfield -- a deadly cornfield, as it turns out. A trio of hazmat-suited workers spraying the corn gets ambushed by one of their own and shot up in the cornfield. Then that guy lets a bunch of other rustic ne'er-do-wells into the Verdiant Industries compound, apparently to perpetrate more killin'. Welcome to Episode 3 of The Blacklist.

After the opening titles, we pick up exactly where we left off with Tom and Ressler. "Forget it," Ressler says, replying to something said last week. I think it was along the lines of, "We need to talk." They argue enough to make me wonder, "Are they gonna end up kissing at the end of this?" It really would be a cute story to tell their families. But that doesn't happen. Missed opportunity, guys!

Next, it's back to the container/apartment carrying Liz and Red, only now it's not on a container ship as it was at the end of last episode, but on a flatbed truck heading west. Liz is every bit as surprised as I am. "We were OUT," she says. "You said the ship we were on was headed to Spain." "Change of plans," Red says. "The network couldn't afford to send us to Spain and couldn't find a believable enough facsimile of Spain. So we're going to Iowa instead." It's not a bad trade-off actually, since Iowa is generally known as the Spain of the Midwest. Red explains that the attack on Verdiant Industries we saw at the top of the episode was carried out by farmer/terrorists known as Los Segadores, who wanted to steal Verdiant's proprietary GMO data. Other than our general panic about GMO's, why should we care about that? Well, Verdiant launders money for The Cabal, so stealing the data the farm-orrists acquired will give them leverage over The Cabal.

In the Iowa parking lot, Red notices Dembe is missing (finally!), leaving Liz to solve the puzzle of transportation. Surprisingly, Liz not only knows how to break into a locked car using a broken-off radio antenna, but she also knows how to hotwire. For all of the basic skills Liz seems to lack, this additional skill comes as a bit of a surprise. While she's hotwiring the car, Red calls Glen -- last seen mid-last season -- for help. Red enlists Glen's help in finding Dembe, which Dembe kind of needs because Mr. Solomon is still beating him with a sock filled with billiard balls.

We know from the titles that this week's Blacklist-er is Eli Matchett. He's the mastermind behind the Verdiant job and that's who Red and Liz are searching for. Unfortunately for the members of Los Segadores who helped Eli, Red and Liz don't find him before he kills all of them. Seems like Eli's got a plan for that stolen data all his own, something that involves a virus, a virus carried by aphids. If there's anything more terrifying on television than that, I'd like to hear about it.

Liz and Red find a box filled with documents stolen from Verdiant hidden in an air vent in Gabriel Costa's apartment. (Costa was the turncoat at the top of the episode, a Verdiant employee who was Los Segadores's inside man.) Liz and Red dash out an exit door mere steps ahead of Ressler and Samar. They show up at the place where Eli killed all of the Los Segadores and try to download the Verdiant information from there. Alas, they are only one step ahead of Ressler and Samar and they do not succeed. With impossible speed, Aram back in DC figures out that Eli has made a virus to destroy the corn crops. He's also managed to create a computer model which shows the spread of the virus worldwide and how the virus could cause a global food crisis. He must be pretty great at programming to whip something like that up!

While all that's going on, Ressler and Samar stumble upon Eli Matchett fleeing a roadblock. And somehow they stop him from releasing the virus-tainted aphids into the world, even though he literally could have thrown the container from the truck or opened the container at any point to do so. Apparently, it was very important to him to release them in the geographical center of the cornfield.

Red, of course, puts everything together, that Eli was hired by Verdiant/The Cabal to release this virus so that Verdiant could save the day with a new virus-resistant seed. In the final three minutes of the episode, Glen figures out that Dembe was taken by Mr. Solomon; Liz worries that she's not a good person; Ressler complains to Cooper that the job is difficult; and Cooper secretly puts Tom on the Karakurt case.

So, how Blacklist-y was it? Let's crunch the numbers.

Blacklist-y Element Present?
Liz really should be smarter than this "What is this place?" Liz asks, when she and Red enter a laboratory. Like, it's super-obvious to anyone that this is a laboratory. She's so wide-eyed and filled with wonder. It's times like these I think this show should be called Newborn-Baby FBI Agent.
Red tells a charming personal story before killing some profusely sweaty dirtbag Red tells a story about an art thief named Muggs who promised his mom he'd never steal a Picasso. But he tells it to Liz and does not kill her at the end.
Stupid government agents! Always ruining everything They didn't ruin anything this week. Nothing at all. Very surprising, especially with Ressler still in charge.
Red is one step ahead of everyone at all times Not only is he one step ahead, he literally says to Liz that they are one step ahead. Now THAT'S confidence.
This Blacklist-er should totally be on Red's list! A disgruntled farmer turned terrorist? No. Not Blacklist-worthy.
Plot is immaterial! So, Eli Matchett just left all of the computers in his lab powered up and unlocked and available to anyone who wanted to download whatever information they wanted from them? Seems a tad convenient.
Red's love of food symbolizes his cool mastery of his surroundings Ironic in an episode that's all about food, Red doesn't say one thing about any foods at all.
Dialog by ClicheBot 3000 It's not dialog, but the device of showing someone trying to download something from a computer before they get caught, complete with shots of the progress bar not filling up fast enough, really should be retired.
Something deadly/dangerous is given a name equally suited to an improv theater or troupe No, but if you love Surf-Punk with a Tejano flavor, definitely check out the new Los Segadores release. I believe it's available on iTunes and Amazon.
4 / 9
Final Score
Cage-free Blacklist.
Synthetic Blacklist with some natural flavorings.
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