This week's episode of The Blacklist, titled "Madeline Pratt," has us believing, at least momentarily, that we are finally going to learn something about our leads and their backstories. Both Lizzie and Red open up about their pasts only to immediately take it back. It sure looks like they're telling the truth, and with this episode's characters constantly lying and setting people up, Red and Lizzie could be lying about lying. That does seem like a thing that would happen on The Blacklist.
At the start of the episode, a widow accesses her safety deposit box in Istanbul and goes by the name "Mrs. Reddington." She walks into the crowded street as the bank's alarm sounds. Red finds out that his box has been emptied and all that's been left behind is a note telling him to meet up with "M." Have we met Red's wife?
"An Ace of Spades Among Us"
Red brings up Madeline Pratt and immediately gets Lizzie's attention. He tells her that Madeline Pratt wants him to help organize a heist. They're supposed to get an effigy with a list of the Kunger Six inside it (supposedly a list of Russian spies).
Red talks to the team at the FBI. Pratt wants to get the effigy from the Syrian embassy. He suggests Lizzie steal the effigy and implies that she has a certain set of skills that could come in handy. She denies any criminal background, but wants to take the job.
Lizzie and Red go to meet Pratt. Red tells her to talk about Frank and Omaha in order to prove herself. She talks about her past crimes with Frank when she was younger. It's unclear if Lizzie's making this up or not. Pratt ends up hiring Lizzie.
Lizzie and Red go to the embassy in their fancywear. She tells Red that she made the story about Omaha up and then she's off to pull off the heist.
A Woman Scorned
Red and Lizzie find out that Pratt's planning to steal the effigy despite the fact that she hired them.
Red dances with Pratt. She's upset because he apparently left her in Florence. Lizzie sets off the alarm and Red goes to her rescue. Pratt calls out that Reddington's the one causing trouble in the embassy and steals the effigy herself while everyone's distracted. She set Lizzie and Red up and it looks like she does it because she's upset with Red about Florence.
After tracing Pratt's calls and questioning someone whose father used to own the effigy, the FBI find out that the list in the effigy isn't a list of six people, but is a list of directions to nuclear bombs that were hidden in the US during the Cold War.
Red catches up with Pratt and they talk. He asks about the coordinates on the list, but she is determined to find out what happened in Florence. They are suddenly attacked in the middle of the street and are taken and each thrown into a cell.
Pratt tells Red that she sold the effigy to the Russains and Red finally explains Florence. He talks about his past and paints a beautiful and horrifying picture of his past life. He was excited to get home on Christmas Eve, but he ran out of gas. He walked home and imagined what a story it would make and how his family would love to remember the time he ran out of gas. He walked in and there was blood everywhere.
Since then, he explains to Pratt, he hasn't been very reliable, and Pratt is obviously affected by his story. People come in and drag Red away, but Pratt begs them to leave him alone and promises to give them the information they want. Red steps out completely unharmed and takes her note containing the information about the effigy. He set her up just as she had set him up. She asks if his story was true, but he won't answer.
The FBI attacks the group with the effigy, but when Ressler opens it, only sand come out. Cooper talks to Red and finds out that Red has the coordinates. Pratt never gave them to the Russians, but kept them for herself and Red got them from her during a "moment of weakness," though it seemed they both had a moment of weakness in there. He is willing to trade them for the effigy.
A Beginning and End to an Investigation
Though Cooper and Red come to an agreement about the effigy, their relationship is tense. Cooper uses his FBI skills to become suspicious about the mole situation. Red had found and dealt with the mole, but now he may have to deal with the aftermath of his actions. Cooper questions Red about Fowler. He says that Red had said he wouldn't come back until the mole was found, and now he's back and Fowler's missing.
Meanwhile, Malik and Cooper are trying to figure out what happened to Fowler. They know he's dead. Cooper tells Malik to find out who he talked to, which will be hard for her since she's the one he talked to.
Before they can do anything, though, a special agent talks to Cooper and tells him to stop investigating Fowler. There's something in Cooper's determined stare that says he's not giving up that easily.
A Marriage in Turmoil
Meanwhile, things are looking even worse for Tom and Lizzie. Tom won't tell people that they aren't going through with the adoption. Their friends are having a baby, which only makes things worse for Tom and he walks out.
They're still willing to fight, though, and attempt to rebuild their relationship with plenty of quips about going undercover, and what they can do under the covers and fake IDs from mysterious under the floor boxes. They decide to plan a trip to Orlando. No amount of wit and promises of time away can save them, though.
Of course, they end up having the same conversation they have nearly every episode about how she can't be with him because her job's taking over their lives. Hasn't she learned she can't have it all yet? Tom decides they need time apart and Lizzie is upset, though she should have seen this coming.
Lizzie goes home alone and plays a slight of hand trick with the sonogram picture of the baby, showing she may have been a little honest about her past life, while Tom hangs out in Florida with his new lady friend.
It finally feels like The Blacklist is telling us important information about our characters just to yank it away from us. We're probably going to have to wait a while to learn if there's any truth to those stories.
The Blacklist airs Monday nights at 10pm on NBC.