The Blacklist 1×07 “Frederick Barnes” Recap

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Photo: NBC

Photo: NBC

The FBI searches for the man responsible for a chemical attack on a subway; Liz wants to avoid Red after he implicated Tom.

Tonight’s episode begins with a man (Robert Sean Leonard) getting on a subway carrying a briefcase. He sits down next to a girl with red hair and she smiles at him, asking about his hat. She bought the same one for her father. The man asks when the last time she saw him was and she tells him Sunday. “That’s good.” He almost seems to feel guilty for a moment, looking around at the various passengers and closing his eyes before telling the girl it was nice to meet her. He gets off and she notices he left his briefcase on the floor of the train. She picks it up and runs to give it back but the doors close just as she reaches him. He gives her a rueful look as the train pulls away. He remotely activates the briefcase. It starts leaking gas and pretty soon everyone is coughing and veins are exploding all over their face and it’s really gross, seriously not a good look.

We cut to Liz and Tom Keene. Liz wants to remodel because that will surely solve all their problems. She figures a change might help them forget what happened. Liz is angry that Red planted the box so that she would think Tom was a monster. “I doubted you. I doubted us.” she says, and it’s all very saccharine. I’m still not buying it.

Ressler calls Liz and tells her to turn on the TV. It’s about the subway tunnel attack. She arrives at the crime scene. Ressler tells her there was a biochemical attack and 37 people are dead. FBI tech guy comes running up, saying he has something they should see. If he has a name, I don’t think it’s been mentioned yet. The Transit Authority gave them access to their closed circuit cameras and he figured out who their suspect is.

Back at at FBI HQ, Agent Meera Malik tells them she’s asked her contacts at the CIA and National Security and she thinks the attack was homegrown. FBI Director Harold Cooper asks what’s happening with the briefcase. CDC is refusing to release it as evidence because of trace amounts of radioactive material.

Suddenly, they get a call on the FBI tip line. Lucky! Someone is calling to say they can ID the suspect. Liz rushes over to answer but it’s just Red. I laughed. He complains about the hold music and is annoyed she hasn’t been taking his calls. He tells her he knows who the man she’s looking for is. She wants him to tell her, but he insists it be in person. “Phones are so impersonal.” he says. Liz rolls her eyes but agrees to meet him.

The man they are looking for is named Frederick Barnes, a former defense research scientist. He’s the creator of various biochemical agents. Apparently he was somewhat of a savant, extremely gifted at what he did, but he left his job five years ago. Now he sells his creations to the highest bidder. Liz says that reminds her of someone. Red laughs and tells her she can compare them if she wishes. “I’m perfectly comfortable with what I am.” he tells her, while warning that Barnes is a completely different animal. He has the ability to kill thousands of people. The only thing that’s ever stopped him is lack of desire. Barnes never did any dirty work himself before and the fact he now seems willing to use them against people indiscriminately makes him extremely dangerous.

Ressler and Liz visit the hospital. They’ve been able to ID 31 of the victims, 6 of them are unrecognizable because the arteries in their face exploded. Gross. That’s just a symptom of the larger issue, though. They have Kurz disease. What’s that, you say? It’s an extremely rare vascular disorder that causes the veins and arteries to harden, starving the body of oxygen and slowly killing you. Liz wants to know if it’s possible their suspect weaponized the disease, and the doctor tells her it’s technically possible, but it’s fringe science. She tells them the suspect has access to Strontium 90, a radioactive isotope. They found trace amounts of it on the delivery device.

Red tells them that Strontium 90 is something that is not easily obtained. It’s highly regulated, toxic and there are only a handful of people in the world who can procure it in large quantities. ” I suppose you know one of them?” Ressler snarks. Actually, he knows three! In your face, Donald! One of them is likely Barnes’ supplier.
They want a name but Red tells them it wouldn’t do any good, as this man lives somewhere outside their jurisdiction. He’s already made plans to meet with him this afternoon. Liz is skeptical he’ll find out anything useful, but he seems confident he’ll be able to get the information they need.

He tells Lizzie she should come with him, suggests it might be a good idea for them to have a therapy session on the plane. He asks if she’s ever been to Cuba and she deadpans that all her tropical wear is in the wash. Sorry, Red. You’re on your own this time. They get in the freight elevator together and he apologizes.

“I’m sorry you’re upset with me.”
“That would imply I care enough to be angry.”

Ouch. That’s pretty harsh. He brushes it off, like all her other insults and says he understands. She’s so desperate to not see the truth about her husband. Tom teaches 4th grade! He’s totally normal! End of story! Red insists that she’s wrong, but he’s confident she’ll come to see the truth eventually. In the meantime he wants them to move past this, because it’s just no fun unless Lizzie’s around. Without her, there’s just no point.

They part ways and Red gets into a car driven by Dembe. Luli is in the backseat and he asks her to say something nice, because he’s had a bad day. She tells him she has good news instead. Apparently there’s a certain house Red has been interested in for some reason, and he’s been waiting for it to go on the market. Well, it’s finally gone up for sale. Red seems pleased, so I guess that means he’s going to buy it.

Liz and Kessler are visiting Barnes’ research partner. She tells them Barnes was brilliant, a rising star at work. She has no idea why he left. Apparently he had no social life, and was obsessed with his work. She hasn’t heard from him in 5 years. Her young son Ethan comes in the room and his veins are clearly visible through his skin

Liz asks if her son has Kurz disease. He does, how did she know that? Liz tells her about the attack and how Barnes created a weaponized version of the disease and killed 37 people with it, including a 9 year old child. She doesn’t believe this is a coincidence. Frederick is Ethan’s real father. Her husband doesn’t know. Ethan was diagnosed when he was 5 years old and Frederick reached out to contacts in the pharmaceutical industry, looking for funding for research into a cure but everyone turned him down. Kurz is too rare.

Liz thinks that’s why he’s infecting all these people. The more people die after getting infected, the more attention the disease gets and the more profitable it becomes to invest funds into research.

Red is in Havana meeting his contact, Manny Soto. He’s the distributor of Strontium 90. Red basically tricks him into calling Barnes and puts some sort of device under the table to intersect the signal. They trace the number and he calls Lizzie to tell her where Barnes is. He’s at the courthouse, saying he needs to reschedule jury duty. He leaves his briefcase in the courtroom pretending he forgot his summons in his car. He locks them in.

Ressler and Liz arrive, running though the metal detector badges out, guns drawn. He pulls the fire alarm, trying to get people to evacuate the building. It’s all very exciting. Donald “Action Man” Ressler hears the people in the courtroom yelling for help and banging on the doors. He springs into action, as usual, asking a fireman for his tank and mask and then telling them to evacuate everybody including themselves.

Liz sees Barnes and yells “STOP, FBI!!!” because that always works so well. Shockingly, he doesn’t listen. Instead he runs in the opposite direction and she gives chase. Ressler finally gets in the room but it looks like he’s too late. Everyone is already infected and most likely dead. Next time, Donald. Wait, one girl is alive! She’s crying and begging for help. At least he got to save one person!

Barnes has taken a hostage, he’s holding a gun to some old security guards head. Liz tells him to drop his weapon or she will shoot, but he throws the same demand back at her. He tells her if she doesn’t put her gun down he will shoot the man. She relents and puts her gun down. Probably not the best move, but Lizzie seems to have a problem thinking with her heart instead of her head.

He let’s the man go, shooting out the windows above the crowd. It rains shards of glass, creating enough of a distraction to escape. I can’t imagine this will go over well with Liz’s superiors at the FBI.

Luli is at the house Red is interested in. She offers the agent double the asking price in cash.

Back at FBI HQ, Ressler tells Liz 26 people are confirmed dead. The girl they rescued is still alive, but it’s too soon to tell. The doctor isn’t optimistic considering the amount of exposure. Meera realizes the people he targets are all very different types of people, as if he needs a diverse sample pool. She thinks rather than just being random attacks, he may be conducting some type of experiment. FBI Director Cooper wants to talk to Liz. He’s pissed about her putting down her weapon in a hostage situation.

She says it was a judgement call. Yeah, a shitty one. She seems to be making a lot of those. He tells her he realizes she’s new at this, but some rules don’t have exceptions. He says her actions will be subject to formal review to decide whether or not she’ll be sanctioned. She storms over to Ressler, and he admits he reported her. He says he likes her, but after what happened, it’s clear to him that she doesn’t belong in the field. Honestly, I can’t say I disagree with him. She argues the hostage might be dead if she shot him, but he tells her that’s just what happens. By letting Barnes get away, she’s endangered the lives of thousands. Are all those lives equal to the one she saved?

The doctor is drawing blood from the lone survivor of the attack. She asks if what happened to those people will happen to her, but the doctor tells her it won’t if she can help it. She leaves, presumably to have the blood samples tested. Frederick Barnes is there, and he casually slips past the security detail on her room by donning a pair of scrubs. Step up your game, FBI! She asks if he’s there for more blood, because she’s pretty tapped out. He smiles and tells her he’s just there to change her IV bag.

He looks at her, gently touching the side of her face and it’s all very sweet until you realize he’s actually putting her to sleep so he can do some sort of experimental surgery on her. Not cool.

Liz calls Red. They lost Barnes and the trail has gone cold. He laughs and asks if Ressler slipped on a banana peel. He tells her she can’t just call when she needs something. He hangs up on her and she calls him back. “We can’t keep doing this little waltz.” he tells her. She says she needs his help and it’s music to his ears. After making her repeat herself, he agrees to help her out. He tells her Barnes might be a scientist but he’s also a killer, and any living victim is unfinished business.

They take his advice and go check on the girl at the hospital, but she’s already been operated on without authorization. Her bone marrow has been harvested. Liz realizes Meera was right, it was an experiment. Barnes was looking for someone with a natural immunity to Kurz so he could use their genetic immunity to synthesize a cure. They realize now that he has what he thinks he needs, he’ll likely try the experimental cure on his son Ethan. They phone Ethan’s mother to warn her to get out of the house but Barnes is already there. She asks if he really killed all those people and he admits he did, but says he was just doing what he had to do for their son. She doesn’t want to hear it and tells him to get out of her house. There’s a struggle and he knocks her down. Ethan sees and tries to run but Barnes pulls the old chloroform on a cloth trick and he passes out. Liz bursts through the door just as he’s about to administer the “cure”, yelling for him to drop the syringe. He insists this is Ethan’s only chance of surviving. She argues that it’s experimental at best and there’s no universe in which she’ll let him stick that thing in his neck. Barnes says this is the only chance Ethan has. He doesn’t think she’s going to stop him. She shoots him dead. Well, so much for that!

Red is outside waiting, and Lizzie asks what he’s doing there. He brought her a souvenir in Cuba. He says it’s a pity Barnes is dead. He can understand someone who’s willing to burn the world down in order to protect the one person they care about. She tells him she doesn’t need his protection. But she does need him to do this job. She’s accepted that, and she appreciates all the help he gives her. At work, they are partners, but that’s where this relationship ends. Red tells her if she doesn’t want him there, he’ll leave. “I’m not going to beg you to allow me the privilege of helping you.” He tells her to tell him to go if she really wants him out of her life. She says nothing.

Lizzie comes home to find Tom renovating. They cuddle on the floor and make out. It’s gross. Sorry, but I still don’t trust him so I find it hard to see this as cute, even though that’s obviously the intention. In the meantime, Red arrives at the house he bought for double the asking price. Turns out he used to own it, raised his family here. He has a flashback of a young girl with curly blonde hair playing in the yard, and I’m guessing it’s his daughter. The girl looks really similar to the girl in the photo he took out of the Stewmaker’s album. “I spend every day trying to forget what happened here. This should help.” he says and the house explodes after they leave. Well, that’s one way of dealing with bad memories.

Good episode, but I really wish Lizzie would get her head out of her ass. I want to love her but she’s making it really difficult for me. I’m glad Red told her off a bit. The story was interesting this week though and I think RSL is handsome so thumbs up all around from me.

Rating: A

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