Will Hart / NBC

The Blacklist Doesn't Believe In Happy Endings

But it does believe in true love, provided that love includes murder and incurable disease.

We begin in Moldova, fourteen years ago, with a little girl waking up in a hospital filled with people who died of some horrible pathogen. Flash forward to the present -- eight days ago, specifically -- as an older version of that same girl begins to give a guy a massage in a massage parlor. You know...a "massage." She kisses him on the lips, leaving a lipstick smear, and also the same deadly pathogen. He dies horribly right before the opening credits. Turns out, the dead guy is Red's missing accountant, Nick Smoll, from the last episode. Unfortunately for Red, Smoll died while in the process of laundering a vast amount of Red's cash, which effectively made Red's money disappear. Red believes a rival named Baldur Magnusson had Smoll killed and convinces Liz that the Task Force should help him track down Magnusson and solve the killing. Does it really matter why he thinks that? I mean, won't they end up helping him no matter what? Probably.

The mystery woman has a boyfriend/accomplice named Malik who gives her a spinal tap, which seems to be some integral part of the "next stage." Turns out they live together in a "Boy In The Plastic Bubble"-type situation. Sadly, the spinal tap didn't yield the results her boyfriend hoped and now they have to kill/rob again. Isn't that always the way? Ah, young love!

Aram quickly figures out that the woman who killed Smoll in the massage parlor has done this before, to a pawnbroker. And the Task Force susses out that the Typhoid Mary is actually named Natalie Luca. They'd call her Luschen's Disease Natalie, but you know, it just doesn't have the catchiness of "Typhoid Mary."

(Do you want to know about the subplot regarding Samar being upset she doesn't get paid as much as Aram? Yup. Me neither.)

While the Task Force chases after Natalie Luca, Red creates a ruse to draw Magnusson out, involving a fake super-assassin named Edgar Legate. Red's plan works, thanks to Tom playing the part of Legate. Red's plan sends Tom to Belgium, for some reason. Whatever the reason, I approve. Tom leads Red to Magnusson, where Red takes a moment to possibly make a commentary on the actual political situation in the real world. Red says, "You said something before. The truth doesn't matter. That the only thing in this world that matters is the appearance of truth. I fear you might be right about that. Lately I find the truth has become so elusive. Often imaginary." Magnusson tells Red he didn't kill Smoll.

The Task Force figures out that Luschen's Disease Natalie (see?) and Malik have chosen their next target: a high-stakes poker game where the buy-in is half a million dollars. They infiltrate it posing as an oyster delivery guy and a cater waiter, but it's unclear what their plan is. Is Natalie going to kiss everyone at the event and take all the money? We never get to find out because Ressler and Samar arrive and tase Natalie into submission. Of course, Malik escapes, and a fake Hazmat team -- actually agents from the nefarious bio corp from earlier -- take Natalie. Malik runs the fake Hazmat guys off the road, then gets shot by one of them. As he's dying, Natalie finally kisses him. Of course, he might have just been going into shock and could have survived the wound, but not after that kiss. That pretty much sealed the deal. Later, Samar calls the moment one of the most romantic things she's ever seen. Even more romantic than Pretty Woman? Girl, you got to get out more!

So how Blacklist-y is this episode of The Blacklist, anyway?

Blacklist-y Element Present?
Stupid government agents! Always ruining everything! Samar and Ressler hand Natalie over to a fake Hazmat team, because they're trusting people. Or maybe they're idiots who will never learn. It's definitely one of the two.
Red is one step ahead of everyone at all times! The fact that Red doesn't know what's going on with Baldur Magnusson makes it impossible to answer yes.
This Blacklist-er should totally be on Red's list! Natalie Luca and her boyfriend are dangerous, but they're not really "the worst of the worst." They're more like Romeo and Juliet...with a deadly disease.
Does Liz, essentially, do nothing to help herself or her situation? Liz literally does nothing in this episode. She's not essential to the intel part of the puzzle, and she doesn't go out in the field to do anything. She could have not shown up at all and it wouldn't have changed the episode in any way.
Plot is immaterial! So the bio company set up Natalie and her boyfriend in a house and then didn't check up on them, because "they wanted to respect their privacy"? Privacy doesn't sound like something a pharma company would give a shit about.
Red's hat symbolizes his cool mastery of his surroundings Red takes his hat off before having his big confrontation with Magnusson. He places it on the table. Like a threat. "Listen to me and be honest with me," he seems to say. "Or I put the hat back on."
Dialog by ClichéBot 3000 "He was willing to give himself an incurable disease so they could touch and kiss and be together," says Samar. "Typhoid Mary meet Typhoid Larry," says Ressler.
Something deadly/dangerous is given a name equally suited to an improv theater or troupe It's not deadly or dangerous, but I felt the Gentle Bliss Massage Parlor was a name so perfectly on the nose that it needed recognition. The only thing more on the nose would have been Gentle Tug.
Do we get any new information about Mr. Kaplan? Nope. I'm sure she'll show up eventually, but as far as we know, she's still wandering around disheveled and sad.
6 / 9
Final Score
67%
The Blacklist
33%
Outbreak for young lovers
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