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The Blacklist - The Cryptobanker – Review

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6.10 - "The Cryptobanker "
Written by Kelli Johnson
Directed by Terrence O’Hara
Reviewed by KathM

It looks like Red’s luck may have run out, at least for now.

Our main characters seem to be a bit off kilter this week as Red makes a few errors in judgement and Liz seems to be at a bit of an emotional crossroads. Was anyone else confused about how Liz was feeling throughout the episode? It’s a thin line between the anger and betrayal she feels as she tries to find out Red’s true identity and the reality of how much she appears to care for him.

Red isn't much better. He’s putting on his pithy “Red” face for Liz, asking her to make reservations for one of his favorite eateries in Chicago for a week after he’s set free. He also tempts Liz and the team with a new case and reminds her that someone should get on reinstating his immunity agreement with the FBI so he can get back to work once he’s acquitted. You hear Red, but you don’t see him. He seems tired and a little out of sorts. Which I can certainly understand.

He seems to be holding up well as the trial begins until Mr. Cema uses his opening statement to inform the jury about Red’s immunity agreement. Red strenuously objects before the jury hears too much, and despite his pleas to the Judge (love her!), she tells Red that as much as she dislikes it, Cena can tell the jury about Red’s agreement. Rather than risking the members of the task force and the work they’ve been doing for the last six years coming out, Red decides to plead guilty to everything he was charged with, moving right to the sentencing phase. Both Cena and the judge are surprised, but she accepts his plea.

Change in plans! Rather than escaping in eight weeks (when Red assumes that the trial will be over and he’ll either be set free or escape), he’s going to have to get out of prison now. The game is not going his way, and so he has to take back control. He gives Vontae and some guy whose name I can’t remember a “honey list” which he assures them will get him out of prison. It’s an interesting lot (bits of raw hamburger and nail polish remover with a side order of hair from the prison barber shop are some of the items), but it all seems to come together when Red enters the warden’s office to talk about the laundry strike. While serriptiously drugging the warden's dog Red distracts the warden by discussing his special breed of antler horns, then chloroforms him and begins to strip the warden bare. He seems anxious as the Warden imitation happens, assisted by Vontae and his friend (Red summoned them to "his" office to help him change). The warden has an appointment and must leave no later than 4:15, so that’s Red’s deadline before the warden’s deligtfully dim secretary comes in to remind the warden so he won't be late. This is not your usual Red; normally he waits for things to happen around him with a kind of barely concealed joy and a long, convoluted story. He makes it out in time, handcuffing Vontae and his cohort on the way out and reminding them to tell anyone who asks that Red made them cooperate.

Red's doing great, clearing the checkpoints sporting a faux beard and the warden’s hat, his pet Rottweiler ambling peacefully by this side. We then see Dembe flying a helicopter toward the prison and Liz entering it through the front gate. Red’s talking to Dembe on his phone and the timing looks close but they’ll make it, Dembe should be able to land and scoop up Red, flying away to points unknown. Unfortunately, by arriving to speak to Red and having no idea what he's planning, Liz dooms Red not to journey in the sky but to a ride to death row in Terra Haute in a van. The secretary, having fetched Faux!Warden’s requested Yoo-hoo, walks Liz to his office where they find him bound and gagged. This leads to the lockdown of the prison and Red’s now-aborted escape attempt. The guards see Dembe only seconds away in the helicopter, Red in his view. But Red won’t risk Dembe, and as he warns him off the guard’s approach Red and take him into custody. Again. Dembe flys away, uncertain about Red’s future.

And so Red is now on his way to death row in Indiana with no rats to carry his messages through the pipes no minions to help him with his schemes, what will he do? All throughout the series he’s told Liz that he could be killed at any minute; now it could actually happen and not in the way he thought it would. No guts and glory, no being poisoned by a lovely woman while sipping a fine glass of brandy. Just a guy in a jumpsuit facing a needle.

But he may still have an ace up his sleeve. Before he goes into the van to take him to Terra Haute, he tells Liz that she needs to find the “man in Cairo”. Apparently the Cryptobanker had done some business with him in the past, and the man in Cairo would be able to sort out “the conspiracy”.

And now for the Cryptobanker, Blacklister 160

Earlier in the episode Red warns Liz that a blacklister called the Cryptobanker is in town. This is after Red asks Liz to make reservations at his favorite eatery in Chicago but before he reminds her to make sure his immunity deal is in place. He knows what the Cryptobanker does (launders money using cryptocurrency like BitCoin), but doesn’t know why he’s in town. Well, I’ll tell you.

The Cryptobanker works with a programmer (in this case a man who calls himself The Rat. He is referred throughout the episode as The Rat rather than by his actual name, and for some reason I find this amusing. It's also a computer term.) who sends malware to a specific company and locks them out of their servers. The company in question is unable to operate and is then asked to pay a ransom in cryptocurrency in order to get control back. One thing I’m not sure about whether the specific company targeted in this episode (Pearson Diagnostics, they make pacemakers) was for a reason or just selected randomly, did anyone pick up on that? The Rat calls Pearson, who is watching his daughter’s soccer game, and lets him know that he wants $3 million dollars, or his daughter will suffer. As an example of the level of control he has over Pearson’s company and personal life, The Rat cuts his daughter’s pacemaker and nearly lets her die right there on the soccer field.

It goes without saying that he’ll pay the money, but instead of just paying and leaving law enforcement out of it, which Rat tells him to do, he runs to the FBI and spills all he knows. Never fear, Ressler assures him, they’ll keep his daughter safe and manage to find The Rat without any harm to her. How? Matt brings Aram into his house to build a Faraday cage in his daughter’s bedroom. A Faraday cage blocks electromagnetic radiation, so if Pearson’s daughter stays inside it, she’ll be safe if anyone tries to mess with her pacemaker. The scene with Aram and the daughter is lovely, I wish we could see more of the characters outside in their day-to-day lives again. Not like the episodes where Ressler hires someone to be his girlfriend at a family wedding and then proceeds to date her, but something ideally less creepy.

Because Matt is an idiot, as soon as his daughter is safe, he cuts the wires to her pacemaker so the Rat can’t mess with it. Which is why she’s in the Faraday cage in the first place. Then Matt rushes her to a local hospital, where Rat gives him a call and lets him know that the ransom is now $6 million, and that if he doesn’t receive the crypto cash within 24 hours then 1,000 Pearson clients will die when their pacemakers will shock them to death. Since there are tends of thousands of Pearson clients it may be difficult to determine who the Rat may be, but Aram is able to discern that it is most likely the one person who bought a pacemaker but never installed it is The Rat! Samar and Ressler rush to the café where Ratty is getting ready to restore Pearson’s access to his company’s servers (the $6 million has been received) and tossing back a latte. He looks down from the loft where he’s sitting and sees them flashing their ID and runs, calling the Cryptobanker when he’s safe in his car and away from the FBI who are searching for him. He tells the Cryptobanker that the money Pearson gave them should be transferred as soon as possible. The Cryptobanker waits until The Rat enters his password again to move the money, at which point the Cryptobanker shoots him in the head. Now the he has access to the money, and no interest in giving Pearson access to his servers.

Luckily Aram and the gang find the Rat’s nest, as it were, and he and Matt are able to figure out how to find the laptop that wasn’t found with his body. As soon as someone logs in, Aram will be able to find them. Suffice to say The Cryptobanker does turn on the laptop and Ressler, Aram, Samar do find him in time for Aram to hack into Rat’s system and give Pearson access to his servers just in time. Prior to that the Cryptobanker tries to shoot Samar, so Aram shoots him in the arm instead. Look at Aram, doing all kinds of things outside of the office!

So now Liz, back from giving an emotionally powerful impact statement on behalf of Red in court, is ready to take on The Cryptobanker. And she needs to find that maqn in Cairo. She shouts and slams files down on the table and I think Liz’s tears were real but I’m not sure if it was because she really doesn’t want Red to die or she doesn’t want Red to die without telling her who he is.

The Cryptobanker has nothing to say in this episode, but there's always next week.

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