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The Blacklist “Monarch Douglas Bank” 

Photo Credit: Eric Liebowitz/NBC
Photo Credit: Eric Liebowitz/NBC

Previously, on The Blacklist: Red’s new blood-enemy (heavy on the “blood”) Berlin (Peter Stormare) had Red’s wife, Naomi (Mary-Louise Parker) kidnapped out from under the watchful eye of US Marshals, since she was in witness protection, which is probably the only place you’d want to be if you’d been married to Red Reddington. Dear next wife: Your pre-nup better be gooooood.

Monarch Douglas Bank #112

For a guy who keeps insisting he has no friends, Red sure does have a lot of people who are deeply invested in him and seem to care, even just a little bit, about his well-being. Kate, his adorable little cleaner lady, who looks like she should be the headmistress at a posh girls school instead of mopping up assorted bodies and viscera, expresses concern that he’s over-extending himself in his search for information on Berlin and Naomi. Considering he’s standing in a pile of corpses with blood splatter on his usually perfectly groomed face, I’d say Kate has a point. Let’s take a little break from the search and destroy mission, get a manicure from a beautiful ex-surgeon and strike a name off that Blacklist to relax a little. Get our minds off things.

This week’s Blacklister isn’t a person, it’s an institution. The Monarch Douglas Bank, Warsaw branch, to be exact, which is of interest because it’s the institute of choice for world-class criminals. And hedge-fund managers. That was a nice touch. As it turns out, it’s also the bank of choice for Berlin, which comes in handy for Red later on in the episode, when it comes to negotiations to free his wife. How convenient.

I’m sure Warsaw, as a place, is just lovely, but this show isn’t a travelogue and so all we get to see is a crooked bank, a seemingly darling little bakery that’s a front for black market weapons dealing (and is run by another one of Red’s Not Friends. The little lady sure has an eye for Denbe, though. Back yourself down, Baba Doughnut; we all do), Elizabeth getting the crap beaten out of her (Megan Boone pissed off the writers somehow? She is getting whooped like a stray dog) and one cute little car making a not-so adorable explosion after Red makes a phone-call. Damn. Red knows everybody. And we are crossing Poland off our ‘Places to Visit’ Bucket List. Sorry, Poland. I make all my life-choices based on fictional serial television. You should have seen what I did to my will after five seasons of Six Feet Under.

The bank’s employee/hostage, Kaja Tomczak (Annika Boras: The Following; Unforgettable) is an asset to Monarch Douglas because she has a condition known as hyperthymesia, which is like having an amped-up version of an eidetic memory. Kaja’s brain just records everything and stores it away to be retrieved later. At least I hope that’s the way it works because if she constantly has these facts running through her head, like what color socks her dad was wearing when he dropped her off at pre-kindergarten that rainy Tuesday in March when Billy Mitchell pushed her off the slide and she got three stitches in her forehead, then she must be in a constant state of going bat-shit crazy. Just typing out that scenario has exhausted me.

Kaja’s ‘gift’ makes her a walking computer for the bank; instead of keeping hard copies of their criminal clients’ account numbers, they just keep Kaja. Until they don’t. Red doesn’t do anything unless it benefits him personally (that is such a cynical view of the guy. I’m sure he tipped a busboy or held a door open for an elderly woman at least once in his life), so his role in spiriting Kaja out of Poland is simply so he can obtain Berlin’s banking information. Yeah, we’re back to that guy. I was wondering how this was all going to tie together.

Photo Credit: Virginia Sherwood/NBC
Photo Credit: Virginia Sherwood/NBC

It turns out the only thing Berlin likes more than tormenting Red and exacting vengeance is his money. All of his money, which Red has taken and won’t give back until Berlin releases Naomi. I guess revenge isn’t as sweet as cold, hard cash.

The meeting between Berlin and Reddington at Coney Island was just about perfect. The background of crazy lights and noise, people just having fun and enjoying their day while these two are negotiating for a woman’s life and the return of millions of ill-gotten dollars while the carnival rides keep whirling and turning behind them. It gave the scene a certain touch of whimsy, while making an excellent counterpoint to the dead seriousness of what these two men were doing. It also provided a subtle reminder that both Red and Berlin, each in their own way, are absolutely, completely and without doubt, crazy.

There’s a brief moment when it looks like Lizzie will leave Red swinging in the breeze, having confiscated all Berlin’s money and going all law-enforcement on the situation. Yes, the money is dirty, Berlin is a bad man and will use that cash to fund criminal enterprises. Boo-hoo.

Get off your high-horse, Elizabeth. Red needs to be alive to help you cross names off that list. Better people than you do worse things than this for the greater good. If you don’t get that, then you totally aren’t Red’s daughter.

I really hope she isn’t. Frankly, the constant theorizing is kind of tiring me out. She is or she isn’t; I don’t care anymore. Maybe it’s because I’m adopted, but questioning someone’s parentage is not something I’m really into. Your parents are the people who raised and loved you and unless there’s a major medical issue, nothing else matters. Elizabeth loved her dad, he loved her and that should be enough for anyone.

The Blacklist airs Mondays at 10/9c on NBC.

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