The Blacklist opens on Lawrence Whitaker (Seth Gilliam), who is showing all the signs of Whistleblower Justified Paranoia Syndrome: rushing down the street in a suit, anxiously double-checking a file is in his attaché, and accepting a call from an unknown number.
On the line is Blair Foster (Francie Swift), the whistleblowee. She casually threatens Whitaker's peanut-allergic daughter, but he hangs up and determinedly gets in his car.
Foster has someone tailing the car, but by the time he catches up with the speeding Whitaker, the whistleblower has been in bad accident and police are on the scene, so there's no chance of grabbing the files.
Meanwhile, Cooper (Harry Lennix) and Sen. Cynthia Panabaker (Dierdre Lovejoy) are trying to play it cool with Sen. Clayton Dorf (Wayne Duvall) and Rep. Arthur Hudson (Toby Leonard Moore). In a meeting at Hudson's offices, they gamely try to justify their $282.7 million budget using unspecific terms like "gathered intelligence" and "disbanded global conspiracies."
Dorf and Hudson are not convinced. They want specifics, including case files. Knowing the Task Force won't give them up, they've scheduled a hearing with a judge.
In the hallway, Cooper admits to Panabaker that Red (James Spader) wiped the files during the "Wujing incident." The senator is hilariously apoplectic, especially because the Task Force hasn't been on their A-game recently with just only few convictions and "a bunch of prison breaks and dead bodies spread out all over the floor."
Cooper does his best to get a blasé Red to care, and when that fails, he insists on getting a good, juicy Blacklister. Red hands over two things: a request for information about a cargo ship coming into the Port of Baltimore and a file on Blair Foster.
Foster is a D.C. lawyer who moonlights as an unethical fixer. One of her clients, Modor and Sons, has long been rumored to have carcinogens in their household products, but Foster always prevents any information from getting out.
Back at TFHQ, Cooper updates the team. Whitaker is still alive at the hospital but deeply sedated and on a ventilator. Herbie (Alex Brightman) is able to find a blurry picture of whoever was following Whitaker on traffic cams, though, so Dembe (Hisham Tawfiq) takes the photo to Red. The two old friends are a delightful working pair once again.
Dembe snorts at Red for needing a magnifying glass, but Red is able to spot a tattoo that suggests Cuban special forces. They both say the same name for their favorite Cuban contact simultaneously and Red smiles at the sympatico. "Ah, Dembe," he says, "We should hang out more. I miss us. Remember that night in St. Tropez? With Thomas and Yvette?" Then they both dissolve into giggles.
It will not shock you to know that I am desperate to find out what happened with Thomas and Yvette.
Dembe is surprised to find that Red intends to go to Cuba in person instead of calling, and that's clearly about him trying to see an ex.
Will Hart/NBC James Spader on 'The Blacklist' season 10
Back on the case, Malik (Anya Banerjee) and Ressler (Diego Klattenhoff) interview a now-awake Whitaker. He accidentally found an internal report showing the number one household cleaner in the country contained dangerous chemicals. Modor and Sons buried the data.
He tells the agents his copy of the report is still in his car, which is in an impound. That'ss also where Foster's bad guy is, grabbing the file just moments before Ressler and Malik show up.
In Cuba, Red bribes Manny (David Zayas) with Cuban boxing legend Teòfile Stevenson's gloves from the 1976 Summer Olympics. But Manny takes one look at the picture and deems it too dangerous to identify the man, especially because he remembers the events of the season four premier.
Then Manny goes even further to say that Red always has an agenda, which is probably why Weecha (Diany Rodriguez) left him to work for Adolpho. Red is aghast and invokes the protestations of the dumped, insisting "Left me? She didn't leave me. It's considerably more complicated than that." Oh, Red.
Then he names his hotel and tells Manny that if he happens to run into Weecha to let her know where he's staying. I'm basically hiding under a pillow right now, it's so transparent. Like the kids say, it's giving cringe.
The Task Force has begun searching Modor and Sons, so Richard Moder (Jonathan Strait) visits his fixer to, uh, fix things. Foster explains they have the file, so Whitaker can't hurt them. Moder is now more worried about the scientist who wrote the study, Dr. Fienberg. Foster assures him she's on it.
Step one of her plan is ambushing Ressler at his NA meeting. For some reason, he still speaks to her. She tries to wave off Whitaker as a disgruntled employee and then bribes Ressler with an open congressional seat from his hometown. Foster doesn't know him as well as we do — Agent Grouchyface would never take a bribe.
But you know who is bribable? Manny. He's called Red back and gives him the name he's been searching for: Julian Flores (J.W. Cortes). Red hands over the boxing gloves and a note for the next time Weecha comes around.
At TFHQ, the team has homed in on Fienberg as their next logical step. Malik and Ressler visit the scientist and find that Blair Foster is already there and acting as his attorney. He denies that the report was accurate and insists the data was incomplete.
It's at this point, I realize — she's good, y'all.
Back in the car, Malik is livid the doctor lied to their faces. Luckily, Red calls to let them know he's got a willing-to-talk Julian Flores. It only took arranging the asylum of seven people from Cuba — or rather, six people and one dog. "Which was its own headache," Red admits.
The Judge has called Cooper, Panabaker, Dorf, and Hudson back into her chambers. She's sided with the Task Force, and they will not be compelled to turn over the (non-existent) files. Panabaker heaves a sigh of relief, but Dorf ruins it by explaining he's not going to let anything go. He's going to launch a formal Congressional investigation into the Task Force.
I just have to say, Cynthia Panabaker does not deserve this. She's a senator for a whole-ass state, and I bet that job is less stressful than being friends with Harold Cooper.
Ressler and Malik have detained Foster on the basis of Julian's confession — he's implicated her in a bunch felonies. Foster is unimpressed and wants a deal that keeps her out of prison. Ressler says the only thing that she can deal with are her detailed client files, and she immediately shuts that down.
Foster is smarter than your average Blacklister, though, and she realizes that someone powerful must have been involved in her downfall. She'll answer their specific questions in exchange for leniency.
So Cooper calls Red. He explains Dorf is planning to make their work public, so this may be their last case. "I wouldn't be so sure about that," Red replies cheerfully. "Ask (Foster) about December 31, 2013."
When Cooper drops that date to the fixer, she agrees to a deal immediately, including giving everything she has on Modor and Sons.
In the morning, Dorf is practicing his speech when Cooper drops by. Whatever happened on December 31, 2013, must have been serious — like, serious serious — because the next thing we see is Dorf resigning from the Senate at his own press conference.
In the audience, Hudson crosses his arms and glowers like Ressler on a bad day.
Panabaker comes by Cooper's office to figure out what happened, and the agent happily admits to blackmail. Dorf's son drove drunk and high, paralyzing a woman, and Foster covered it up. First, she made sure his blood wasn't tested, and then she got the son to stay quiet by getting him put in psychiatric care.
In exchange for this information, Foster has gotten away with everything. Sipping victory wine in her office, she makes a call to, of all people, Arthur Hudson. She offers him some information and wants to set a meeting. Hudson knows she's a bad guy, but you can see he's extremely tempted.
Getting away with a lot of crimes, besting the Task Force, and corrupting the incorruptible Rep. Hudson? Blair Foster is a true Blacklister.
I like her. She and Red seem to be on an inevitable crash course, right? Can't wait!
"First the knees, then the eyes." Red accurately describing the aging process.
Red is sassy this week, calling Ressler "second string" and then saying, "Donald, I can't think of a better point than to insult you."
Eagle-eyed viewers will recognize J.W. Cortes, who plays Julian Flores in this episode, as Agent Suarez from the season 2 episode "Tom Connolly."
Back in Cuba, Weecha drops by Manny's bar. Manny relays Red's message. We don't get to see the message, but whatever it is, it makes her smile.
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