The Blacklist: "Frederick Barnes"
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The Blacklist: "Frederick Barnes"

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The Blacklist

"Frederick Barnes"

Season 1, Episode 6

First things first: It appears that I have been using these reviews to spread misinformation about The Blacklist. Ever since Raymond “Red” Reddington turned himself in to the FBI and made a deal with the head of the FBI Counterterrorism Division to help the FBI reel in criminals, so long as FBI Special Agent Elizabeth Keen serves as his contact person and FBI Special Agent Douchebag McUseless stands off to the side rolling his eyes, I have repeatedly insisted that Reddington has been working with the FBI. Tonight, when Elizabeth Keen brings her husband Tom in for questioning, he looks around and says that this place doesn’t look like the FBI to him, and Elizabeth snaps, “I don’t work for the FBI!” She doesn’t say who she does work for, so I’ll be damned if I know. The double-super-secret FBI?

Why is Elizabeth bringing her husband to work? Is it just so that she can show him off a little? Let everyone see that every night that Tom Noonan isn’t trying to dip her in an acid bath, she goes home to a guy who looks like Jon Hamm, if Jon Hamm were younger and someone just hit him in the back of the head with a log? No, Tom just found the stash of cash and fake passports with his picture on them and the gun that was used to kill a Russian defector in Boston, on the very day that hubby happened to be in Beantown to talk to a man named Walter Burris about a job. Elizabeth found them herself in the pilot episode, and has been meaning to ask him about them. You want to pick the right moment to ask about something like that. It's like asking about those charges on the credit card that seem to be payments to professional dancers named Brandy and Cherry.

Now that her hand has been forced, Tom, who claims not to know anything about them, demands to be taken in for questioning. He doesn’t want there to be any doubt that he’s telling the truth, so he throws himself on the mercy of Meera Malik, who has been saying all this time that she’s a CIA agent, so she’s probably really with the Justice League. She throws Tom in the cooler and asks him, “What do you know about the bomb?” “Well,” says Tom, “I love Toni Collette as much as the next guy, but seriously, how’s that for a premise, right? ‘Tune in again next week to see Toni Collette not kill the president again, much to Dylan McDermott’s dismay!’ There but for the grace of God, you know what I mean? Although you look at our ratings, you have to wonder how they’d be doing if they had The Voice for a lead-in. Wait, I’m sorry, are you referring to We Are Men?” I’m kidding, of course!

The bomb in question is a dirty bomb that a “corporate terrorist” named Gina Zanetakos had built for her by a German bomb genius named, if I’m reading my notes right, Maxwell Ferklempt. Red knows Maxwell, well, well. “I’ve climbed Masada with his wife,” says Red, which I sure hope is a euphemism. Precious seconds are ticking away while that bomb is out there somewhere, but Red still has his insane “I do everything face-to-face” rule, so he pops over to Germany to confront Maxwell. He tells him that he’d better talk, because some other guy named Yuri sold him out, and in fact, Yuri “talked faster than a cheerleader after a nooner under the grandstand. Probably not a metaphor you understand.” I hope to God this is the start of a new weekly gimmick, so that in every episode from now on, Red will say something incomprehensible and then pretend that the person he’s speaking to is only bewildered because of cultural differences. “Pierre, if you’ll excuse the old expression, your guilt is as evident as a left-handed Cajun accordionist’s fondness for Pindar’s Victory Odes. Sorry, I guess that was lost in translation somehow.”

Red also confides to Elizabeth that Tom and Gina Zackarookie have been making the beast with two backs. Using the information Red got from Maxwell, the not-FBI tracks Gina down and, taking Elizabeth’s confused and bruised feelings into account, decides that the most sensible way to handle this is to arrange for the two of them to have a catfight in a public bathroom. After Agent McUseless, recognizing the delicacy of the situation, runs into the bathroom and puts two slugs in Gina, Elizabeth puts two totally random things together and deduces that the dirty bomb is in a car that's parked and set to explode on a dock in Houston, Texas. The villains, whoever they are, have stock in the New Orleans ports, and once the radioactive fallout from the dirty bomb renders the Houston ports uninhabitable, New Orleans will be in a position to clean up, being “the only game in the Gulf.” As it happens, New Orleans’ inability to move beyond an economic reliance on the ports has been at the heart of the city’s financial woes these past several decades—because someone had to go and invent airplanes—but I’m sure that getting any business that would have gone to Houston is just the bump that the city has needed all this time.

This may be my favorite evil scheme since Christopher Walken in A View To A Kill conspired to achieve a monopoly on the microchip business by flooding Silicon Valley: Nobody had the guts to explain to him that Silicon Valley may have once gotten its name because it was the center of microchip manufacture, but by the time Walken was building bombs and renting blimps, it was the hot zone of the high-tech business as well, so the upshot of his plan was that he was going to wipe out a good chunk of his customer base. The solution to the evil plan here is even better. By the time Elizabeth and McUseless find the car that’s set to detonate, it’s too late to deactivate the bomb, so McUseless jumps behind the wheel and drives it off a pier into the river. When they visit Gina Zabriskiepoint in the hospital they taunt her with the failure of her plot: Houston and its port are just fine, thank you very much, because the bomb was maybe a good 10 feet under water when it went off, so all the radiation was “contained.” Thanks, Mr. Science! Meanwhile, 50-foot-tall crawfish are lumbering through the streets of Sugar Land, and Godzilla is demanding that a tour guide show him the basement at the Alamo.

When Elizabeth is done teasing Gina, she shows her a picture of Tom, and Gina says she’s never seen him before, and that proves that Red was lying about Gina and Tom having an affair. Because if a multiple murderer is given the chance at a fresh start in federal prison, no way is she going to screw that up by lying about having had sex with the husband of an FBI agent she’d recently been trying to fillet on a restroom floor. For Tom’s part, Meera Malik, Agent Of S.H.I.E.L.D., has shown him what looks like a photograph of Annoying Orange, and asked if he recognizes him. Instead of saying, “That’s Annoying Orange, I love that guy,” Tom says he’s never seen him before, but it’s actually a picture of the man with whom he thought he had a job interview in Boston, which proves that it’s all been a set-up by Red. Or is it!? Tune in again next week to hear Red say, “Dmitri, this job couldn’t be easier if Herb Tarlek himself creased our slacks while whistling ‘Old Black Joe.’ Sorry, I guess you never got that show over here.”