Disclaimer: I am in some sort of brain fog today. This took forever. I might edit for clarity later. Maybe.
An assistant US attorney who has been missing for twelve years is found roaming the snowy back roads of Pennsylvania. He is taken to a hospital and identified as the missing prosecutor, Mark Hastings. His wife, Donna who presumed he was dead comes to talk to him. He has not yet spoken a word to anyone. Am I the only one that was expecting a severed head to be the his brown paper bag? Yes? Fine, let’s move on then.
Red meets with an older black dude wearing a cowboy hat. I’m going to call him Cowboy until further notice. Red asks him to research Tom’s little substitute teacher friend, Jolene. Jolene’s real name seems to be Lucy Brooks. Red needs to know everything about her past. Wait, she already faked her death once to elude Red? Were we aware of that? Of all the things Red is asking Cowboy to find out, he seems to be leaving out the big question. Who hired her and what is her plan for Tom?
Speaking of Tom and Jolene, they are both away at a teacher conference which makes absolutely no sense at all, for so many reasons, but let’s just pretend that is all perfectly normal. Jolene is baiting some book banning advocates with sexual banter and making eyes at Tom.
Meanwhile back at the “post office” Red is downloading Liz on the myth of The Judge. As the story goes, The Judge is someone who exacts retribution from those in the justice system that wrongfully convict defendants by nefarious means. Red calls it a “prisoner’s court of last resort” where inmates plead their innocence one final time to The Judge. It seems that Hastings may have done something dastardly to convict someone of a 12 year sentence so The Judge took 12 years from Hastings life in repayment. An eye for an eye. Whatever, this is boring. Get me back to Tom and Jolene.
Liz and Ressler go to a prison book depository up the street from the post office in Monroe Virgina. Apparently, there is some guy named Frank who is a convicted killer whose conviction was reversed who works there. The cracker jack team of agents believe he is The Judge. So Liz and Ressler arrive with flashlights to a book depository in broad daylight because that is what happens on this show. Dark places and flashlights. Apparently, electricity has not yet been invented in Monroe, Virginia. So tweddledee and tweedledum go roaming in the bowels of some building full of well, who knows what, because it is pitch black down there, armed with flashlights looking for a known killer. Oh wait. I just watched that part again. Ressler conveniently found the flashlight in the dark. You know, typical FBI murderer apprehension 101. Frank just punches Ressler upside the head and takes off. As soon as the guy gets away, there is plenty of light in the room to read all of the research The Judge was doing. One of the people on The Judges list is Director Cooper. Ut-oh.
Back at the post office, they too seem to be experiencing some sort of weird brown out. It allows for no more than 40 watts of light per hundred square feet leaving plenty of just left over to operate all the technology in the building.
Liz goes to see a death row inmate named Rifkind. Cooper was involved with Rifkind’s conviction and Liz fears that The Judge will seek retribution against Cooper. Rifkind is with his spiritual advisor, a woman named Ruth who is played by award winning actress Dianne Wiest. Clearly, she is going to have a lot of screen time in this episode. Rifkind says Cooper beat a confession out of him. Oh my, The Judge will not be pleased with that information.
FINALLY, back in Orlando, Tom and Jolene are enjoying happy hour. Lots of flirtatious conversations lead to them getting down to business in a public bathroom until a kid walks in and interrupts. Buy the way, the lighting in sunshiney Orlando is not any better. Must this entire show be filmed in the dark?
Apparently it must because after one brightly lit scene outside in the snow at some farm, Frank and Ruth go out to a barn for feeding time. It seems the barn contains all the bad politicians and prosecutors and FBI agents responsible for judicial corruption restrained in stall like cells. They are trying to figure out who is talking that put the FBI on to them. It seems that Ruth is not a spiritual advisor at all, but The Judge herself.
Back at headquarters, Liz and the gang figure out that Cooper probably did beat a false confession out of the guy on death row. Liz goes to talk to some other guy who was involved and he confirmed it and said he even went forward to “that advocacy group” and told them what he knew.
Ohh, finally we see Cowboy, he gets plenty of lighting as he goes through a bunch of Jolene’s stuff. He finds lots of fake IDs and a flash drive. She’s been to Miami, Prague and Port of Prince lately. Know who else has been to those places lately, Red. Cowboy says she either has lots of little targets or one big one. Is Red her target? Or is she Red’s target? Red did say she faked her death to elude him once already. I get the feeling he was in all those cities tracking her. But if that is the case, what did he need Cowboy for? I’m confused. Or to put it another way, I’m in the dark.
Liz, the newbie agent with little to no experience or common sense, goes to confront her FBI director, Cooper about the beating allegations. The guy who gave Cooper the order to beat the confession out of the death row dude was in his office too, but it was dark and she could not see him. He steps out of the blackness into a less shadowy area and Cooper introduces him. Dude says “Cooper has been telling me what a great agent you are, dog with a bone.” No really, he says that. Liz asks to speak to Cooper privately. Cooper says she can say whatever she wants in front of the US Attorney. So dumbass Liz accuses him of beating the confession out of the guy and just vomits up all of her evidence. Cooper says he beat the guy but the guy is guilty. The tell Liz to stop wasting her time. Of course all of this is happening right when the dude is being strapped down. He says he is innocent. They kill him anyway.
The DA and Cooper seem to feel as though they did the right thing. The DA asks Cooper what the task force does, exactly. Cooper says nothing. The DA says that when he is attorney general, he will get the president to appoint him to be the director of the FBI. Then Cooper will tell him all about the task force, and his secret weapon. As they leave, Cooper and the DA get pushed into a van and taken away for their retribution.
The Judge tells the two men an innocent man is dead. Cooper says the dead guy was a terrorist who was guilty of a crime. Ruth slaps him hard across the face. Ruth finds them guilty and they prepare to execute them.
Liz calls her Daddy, I mean Red and tells him that Cooper has been taken. She sounds like a frantic 15 year old rather than an FBI agent. Red metaphorically holds her little hand and tells her what to do. Basically, she needs to go to that Hastings guy and get him to talk to her. Wait, no one thought to question Hastings at all? The guy who was responsible for the whole JUDGE story? It takes Red to mention that perhaps the dude they had locked up for 12 years might have some helpful information?
Red changes his flight plans to go see Richard. Richard is some guy he knew from his naval academy days. Wait, Red was in the naval academy? Richard is not happy to see Red. Red wants to know about the Rifkind case. Really? Rifkind is dead. Who cares? Can we just move on with this tired, weary plot? Red makes Richard some kind of offer he can’t refuse.
Liz tries to get Hastings to talk. All he will say is “good night mother.” And suddenly our girl Liz is able to put together facts faster than Albert Einstein. She has solved the whole case, y’all and she is going to take a flashlight out to that barn and save Cooper!
She might want to hurry though because The Judge has already got her some makeshift electric chairs firing up. Has anyone seen Ressler? Is he recovering from a concussion from his head wound again? Perhaps she could find SOMEONE to go with her?
Oh I know, how about her Daddy. Sure as shootin’ Red shows up to save Cooper. He brings Ruth new information on the Refkind case. As it turns out, Refkind was working with the Taliban. Red tells Ruth that she can’t taint all the work she has done by killing Cooper. Ruth surrenders. Everyone lives to fight another day.
Red and Cooper have a conversation. Red tells Cooper a war is coming. Red is trying to gather allies. He also gets Cooper to make Richard’s life easier. The two seem to have formed a tentative truce.
Cowboy meets with Red to discuss the flash drive. The drive proves that Jolene has been following Red for quite some time. Cowboy asks if Red wants her brought in. He says no. Red thinks she is finishing an operation and he’d like to see how it plays out. WTF? This right here is some bullshit. Nobody cares about The Blacklisters anymore. We just want to know about Liz and Red and Tom and Jolene! Stop the damn dim-bulbed torture!
Meanwhile back in Orlando, ask the song, Jolene, plays in the background, Tom takes off his wedding ring and heads to Jolene’s room. I must point out that it sounds like the song is being sung by a man, which is weird. Or maybe it’s Cher. I dunno. It ain’t Dolly Parton, that’s what I know. Tom tells Jolene he can’t screw her because he lives his wife. Jolene says, “Wrong answer, she’s not your wife, she’s your target!” FINALLY. Tom says, “Did they send you here to test me? I told you I love her because that is what I am supposed to be. That is my job.”
Oh for the love of Pete! We are skipping a week AGAIN? Next we SUPPOSEDLY get the episode where Red and Tom battle it out. My money in on Red. Can we please just move things along?