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THE BLACKLIST Recap: Wujing

Sorry about the skipped week. We’re back with a full recap of this week’s The Blacklist episode, “Wujing,” and we’ve included a brief synopsis of last weeks episode, “The Freelancer,” just in case you’re feeling a little behind and/or if you’re new to the show.

Previously on The Blacklist: Raymond “Red” Reddington (James “Spades” Spader) is a criminal mastermind who has offered his services to the FBI in exchange for immunity for all his crimes, and a room at a fancy hotel (this really happened in the pilot) - his intricately laid plots contain information useful to the FBI, but he always seems to gain a little something on the sly. The Feds learn that the risk/reward of following Reddington’s clues can be high when they neglect to stop a trail derailment Red has warned them about. Meanwhile, Red’s connection to Elizabeth “Liz” Keen (the young FBI agent has a mysterious past) remains unclear, but it sure does seem like he’s her secret father. However, Liz’s current concern is her husband and the deep secrets he’s been keeping from her. He’s got a box of fake ID’s and a gun hidden in the floorboards of their living room, and now that he’s home (after being brutally attacked by a maniac looking for Liz in the pilot), she’s as ready as we are to find out what the hell is going on…

The show opens with ominous opening chords of Filter’s “Hey Man, Nice Shot,” as a man in a bulletproof SUV is surrounded by other SUV’s full of very angry Chinese men and then repeatedly shot at until the “bulletproof” glass cracks and shatters. Quick digression here: The song was written about the public suicide of Pennsylvania state treasurer R. Budd Dwyer, who shot himself in the head during a press conference on live TV. The man in the bulletproof car is shot in the head, too, and his hand is cut off, and a small attache case is stolen off the passenger seat of his car. Each week, the teaser has gotten increasingly frantic, as if the producers of this show realized they had to ease us into the controlled chaos and subtle insanity they call The Blacklist.

This kickass opening sequence is then revealed to have a been a huge waste of everyone’s time/resources/one-guy’s-hand, because even after using the severed hand’s fingerprint to unlock the case, our thieves are unable to decrypt the files within (when will thieves learn they should always have a Code Monkey on staff to crack the codes!? End rant). A slick looking, well-dressed Chinese businessman tells a subordinate to “Call Reddington.”

Cut to black:

THE BLACKLIST!

Liz pulls the gun and passports out of their hiding place, while her husband, Secret Double Agent Tom, recovers from vicious injuries sustained after one of Liz’s cases has gone haywire. Look, he might be lying about being a secret agent, but that’s kind of his job — at least his bad guys aren’t breaking into the house and beating Liz half to death. Desperate for answers, Liz fires the gun into a bucket of water and phone books (presumably to silence the sound… someone run this past the Mythbusters) and then retrieves the ejected shell casing and bullet. She takes those into work and drops them off at the 24-hour Ballistic Analysis kiosk in the middle of FBI HQ to have them matched against any cases in which the same weapon was used. She’s smart, you guys, almost as smart as that Reddington…

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To remind us how smart he is when he first see him, Red’s playing chess, something that smart people do. A non-smart person appears and tries to hire Red for an emergency job. Red is not pleased about the public contact; Such unprofessionalism is not how any of Spader’s characters roll.

Liz discusses the attack with Secret Double Agent Tom. It’s a game of cat and mouse if both the cat and mouse were dosed with Xanax, as Liz reveals nothing to SDAT and he reveals nothing to her. They’re both probably really great poker players and should try to get on a celebrity poker show once all this FBI stuff blows over. Anyway, Liz leaves for work and SDAT does a bad job living up to the first part of his moniker by creepily staring out the window, which Liz totally notices.

Later, Red brings this new contact to the attention of the FBI. Wujing, the second child of a one-child policy country who survived and grew up to be a “Spy-Killer” (SPIN-OFF, please), wants to hire Red to decrypt the information stolen in the teaser. He’ll only agree to take the job is Liz agrees to go undercover as his hacker, something she knows nothing about. Her only condition for going along with this dangerous and mildly stupid plan is that when it’s over, Reddington has to honestly answer one question. Why only one?

Meanwhile, SDAT is taken for a push around the neighborhood by a kindly friend who, I am calling now, will be revealed to also be a Super Secret Spy. Everyone is a spy on this show. Except James Spader. Spader is Spader. While SDAT is out of the house, a crew of agents disguised as handymen break into the Keen home and rig it with all kinds of surviellance equipment. All the while, an intentionally obscured APPLE EATING MAN watches from across the street…

Before Liz and Red head off on their undercover adventure, we’re reacquianted with Alpha Cop and Competent Female Fed – these are perhaps my favorite characters on the show, also begging for a spin-off of their own. Alpha Cop is a walking pile of muscle with arms. Competent Female Fed is cunning, sexy, brilliant, and seemingly over-qualified to be working with such a meathead. It’s buddy-cop 101, but it’s the greatest. CFF introduces a Techie Dude, who gives Liz a GPS tracker that looks like a nicotine patch and a device that will decrypt the message, but just in case it doesn’t work he also gives her a thumb drive that will use a local computer to remotely something-something-I-stopped-listening-but-thats-okay-because-now-James-Spader-Is-Being-Awesome-Again….

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Red and Liz arrive at a radio station for their meeting with Wujing. A security guard wants to run Liz’s fingerprint (lots of fingerprint tech in this episode, leading me to believe all the writers upgraded to iOS 7 at the same time) through a worldwide agency database. It looks like they’re way screwed, but Techie Dude saves them at the last minute by changing something on his computer and typing really fast on his keyboard. Her scan yields no returns and the security guard moves on to scan Red. Spader Moment of the Night: When the bug scanner alarm alerts the guard to the GPS implanted in his shoulder, Reddington launches into an inspired story about spending the last few months as the captive of a group of Somali pirates. I want to marry this show.

Security leads Liz and Red into a super secret elevator, so secret it isn’t even on the blueprints the FBI have. Some Fed researcher is gonna get fired over this, I can feel it. The elevator descends so low into the ground that all of the spy surveillance gear they have malfunctions. (Ha. Ha.) Wujing, my new favorite character, greets Red with a smile: “Hello, my friend.”

“Don’t be cheeky, you don’t have any friends,” quips Red, always quick to roast his best buds. Red introduces Liz as his hacker and she says some hacker-type stuff that totally sells her as legit. All of Wujing’s guys nod in silent agreement.

Alpha Cop is mad because they’ve lost the signal on their expensive gadgets. Irrationally, he accuses Red and Liz of playing the FBI, a notion so insane it causes Competent Female Fed to visibly die a little inside. So sad. She tries to ease him off the edge of total paranoia by gently asking, “Isn’t it more likely they’re in danger?” This seems to be enough to nudge his suggestible peanut mind, because he quickly pulls the walkie-talkie to his mouth and orders a full-freaking-building breach in the next five minutes. The ‘roid rage wins, as SWAT guys prep to enter the building. Once again CFF and Techie Dude exchange a concerned glance at the sanity of their commanding officer.

James Spader steals the next scene, reminding us he’s the star of the show and everything else is window dressing. He provides a distraction for Liz to slip the thumb drive (good thing she had it) into one of Wujing’s techie’s laptops. His distraction is to throw a hissy fit over the obviously disguised FBI van parked across the street from the radio station. He demands that Wujing have it removed, calling him a “two-bit spykiller,” effectively shaming Wujing for trying to out-badass him on his own show.

The distraction works, the message is decoded, and just in time, too, because it alerts Techie Dude that Liz has used his thumb drive thing. He warns Alpha Cop that they shouldn’t breach the radio station. The SWAT is called off. Techie Dude informs Alpha Cop that because the thumb drive was used remotely, he has access to the Chinese files. Alpha Cop, clearly an idiot, misses the bigger picture (that ALL THE FILES CAN BE DOWNLOADED) and orders Techie Dude to “get the file we need.”

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The next target is Henry Cho. Both the FBI and Wujing are looking into finding out who Henry Cho is, and it turns out that he left China three days ago and landed at a Dallas airport. Everyone rushes out after Henry Cho, an architect, who, with his young son, is currently visiting one of the buildings of which he’s overseeing the construction.

Red is paid for his service, but before he and Liz can leave, a RED ALERT sounds (all good evil lairs should have a red alert system), and their only exit is sealed off. Wujing is pissed. He’s got proof that someone has been sending information directly to an FBI server! From this very room! It seems as if the end is near for our heroes, but then… FAKE OUT! Wujing grabs one of his own techies, the hapless Jin-Sun, and beats the ever-loving shit out of him. Poor Jin-Sun was the unlucky SOB whose laptop Liz used to transmit the files. He’s even unluckier as he realizes the thumb drive sticking out of his laptop isn’t his, because Red realizes he’s realized this and shoots him dead. A lot of times. It’s pretty badass, actually. Then everyone remembers the RED ALERT happening around them and leave the underground bunker.

Alpha Cop makes it to Henry Cho a few moments too late. Wujing’s men are already there. They prove to be no match for Alpha Cop, who out Kung-Fus them until they’re both dead. It’s too little, too late, as a third bad guy grabs Cho’s son, threatening to shoot him. Alpha Cop is still uselessly wrestling the corpses of the Kung-Fu Henchmen, providing zero help. Thankfully, Competent Female Fed has been there the whole time, carefully planning her rescue instead of charging in blindly, and she shoots the bad guy in the face, saving the young boy but probably also covering him with brain matter… that’ll be one heck of a therapy bill. Liz puts the GPS nicotine patch on Wujing’s car, and he’s stopped before he can escape very far. He’s taken into custody, which thrilled me because it means he can escape eventually to star in the spin-off I’m currently writing…

Finally Liz is able to sit down with Red and ask her question. Her one question which Red has agreed to answer with the truth isn’t “Are you my father” and it isn’t “Who is my father” nor is it “What is it, exactly, that my husband is up to?” Instead, she asks, “Why did you pick me?”

Red gives her an infuriatingly vague answer which translates to: Keep watching this show because James Spader is hypnotic and it can only get crazier from here.

The episode then wraps up with Liz getting the ballistic results on the bullets from her husband’s gun. She doesn’t learn much, as ALL OF THE RESULTS ARE BLACKED OUT! (Nerd Rage!)

“We still don’t know what the deal with the husband is, really?!”, I yelled at my TV. It felt like a cheat. Then I realized there was still another scene and I made myself calm down. Then my cat looked at me with contempt, but I didn’t notice because the last scene was a shocker: Alpha Cop’s paranoia is vindicated when the red flag he put on Liz Keen turns up the ballistic test. Only he has a much high clearance level (wait… really?!?!), so he CAN see what’s written on the results. It turns out whatever Liz’s husband is involved with, and all things involving that investigation, are supposed to run through the Department of Homeland Security, implying Liz’s man may be a terrorist, while not entirely discounting my theory that he’s Starman.

Then we get a quick glimpse of Apple Eating Man watching Liz. As he takes a big bite of an apple, the show cuts to black.

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6 comments

  • “The next target is Henry Cho. Both the FBI and Wujing are looking into finding out who Henry Cho is, and it turns out that he left China three days ago and landed at a Dallas airport.”

    While the show is soon to visit Texas (watch out, Houston waterways!)…I’m betting Henry actually landed at *Dulles,* making it much easier for his FBI/CIA friends to connect quickly and in time for said kung fu exchanges (unlike the also later chase scene which takes them seemingly from DC to NYC).

  • the shooting into the bucket of water and phonebooks wasn’t to silence, that was to slow/stop the bullet so she could take it in to be examined and not have to dig it out of the dirt or search for a ricochet or shatter the bullet on rocks. Her pausing to wait for the garbage truck to load the trash was her covering the sound of the gun firing.

  • So…the chess sequence. As we zoom in, you hear a soundbite of “kids on the playground.” Something like “What do you want? What do you want? Well where is she?” — does anyone know the song that starts with that same bit?

  • My how times have changed. It used to be the mysterious, ominous men had bad character-identifying habits (Cigarette Smoking Man). Everyone is so health conscious now.

  • LOL Great Review, but I didn’t realize how stupid it all was until I read your review Now I feel a little stupid but GODDAMN entertained which is just what I’m looking for when I sit down to watch this sh love Spader!!ow. Gotta