Previously, Lizzie's feelings were super hurt by the fact that her marriage is a lie, but that was nothing compared to finding out that one of her dads killed the other one. Now she's ready to quit the FBI, voiding Red Reddington's amnesty deal and handing shadowy Alan Alda the Post Office in the process. Luckily, bioterrorism is about to intervene...
After we meet the first of this week's "Five Horsemen of the Apocalypse"–five victims of a blackmail scheme involving the most deadly virus ever created–and see him off our mortal coil, we check back in with Liz. She's still all butthurt, and fellow agent Don Ressler is still all about it, paraphrasing Frost long enough to keep her stable until they can track down Tom Keen and ruin his beautiful face.
While the tragedy of the first victim plays out–bleeding out of every orifice, leaving sad messages for his wife with the 911 dispatcher; a quarantine riot at the bank where he barfed up his life–Liz goes through another round of interviews regarding Tom Keen's abrupt disappearance and allegedly evil activities. Her new theory is that he allowed her to catch him that time with all those passports and different kinds of currency, so he could get eyes on the Post Office blacksite and its inner workings.
The FBI goes through all of her conspiracy theory stuff, and Red goes through his own batch of stuff related to her dad and whatever mysterious Red things, while Tom manages to easily take out his latest Red shadow: An otherwise pleasant-looking man with a neck tattoo of a spider. After some vague portents about how "Berlin" is a man and not a city, and that the Apocalypse is about to start, Tom sends a good five inches of flayed neck tattoo to Red as a little hello.
In better news, Gina Zanatakos–my beloved corporate terrorist, formerly of "Lisa P" fame, less formerly the grossest thing about Revenge–has escaped custody and might return next year to be amazing some more. When the FBI dorks ask whether possibly Liz is in cahoots with her fake husband, she calls them all dinguses and heads upstairs to quit the taskforce.
In Cooper's office, she ices Red out so completely that they have a hilarious two-way conversation, addressing each other through Cooper like he's the unlucky child of their divorce. Red says, about eight times before she hears him, that this case he's brought to the Post Office today is directly related to everything she's bitching about, but of course Lizzie can't just look him in the eye and ask him to speak plainly. Not that he would anyway. Eventually Red points out that she's putting her butthurt feelings over the actual lives of innocent people, so she lumbers away with some grunts and assures everybody she's nowhere near done throwing her fit.
The Cullen Virus–and points for ambition, show–is apparently the most dangerous virus in the entire world, so dangerous science is afraid to study it. So of course it's the first and weakest weapon in Berlin's finale assault on Red Reddington, to which the entire season wants you to feel like it's been building. Everybody on the show nods to the idea that this shit is ridiculously elaborate, like they always do, and then just keep it moving, like they always do.
Over at the bank where the first guy died, an Irish CDC lady explains how intense the virus is, but then points out that it was mutated out of being airborne, the better to blackmail people with. Red is immediately like, "I know how to find out who is doing this! We have to fly to Maine to meet John Glover, who is operatically crazy like always." On the plane, he hands over a bunch of Tom's data, and Lizzie passive-aggressively–and hilariously–switches seats with Manservant Dembe, so she can devour it without showing any sign of gratitude. Red is kind of sad, but mostly he has met Liz before and he knows this is how she rolls.
As the Post Office figures out that the victim(s) are being blackmailed with antidote treatments every 24 hours, we see the next person–a replacement for the first victim, whom we now understand was choosing to die rather than go on getting blackmailed–get his marching orders from the mad scientist in charge of this scheme. Part of his orientation to his new blackmailed way of life is a hilarious iMovie slideshow of people dying of diseases and superimposed mathematical formulae, as though the jets of blood already shooting out of every part of his body just isn't quite persuasive enough without some differential equations floating through the air as Sarah MacLachlan sings an acoustic version of "Angel."
Up in Maine, John Glover is acting like the mad hatter he always is, and the second Red spots him he gets that deeply loving look he sometimes gets about his crazier associates. It seems like one of his best days, actually, as they get to know John Glover's madness and Liz slooooowly realizes he's a mental patient, and not in fact a credentialed virologist. (First clue: He is played by John Glover in an Amadeus wig.) All of his raving is, of course, totally meaningful and on-point, but Liz hasn't seen this show and doesn't know, as we do, that this will turn out to be the case.
Five Horsemen of the Apocalypse, he says. Moderated by Space Agent UD-4126, clearance level Astronaut Alpha, field-tested by Director Chesterfield.... Eventually Liz literally wanders away, rolling her eyes, and then yells at Red Reddington about how really this whole detour/field trip was about trying to buy back her affection by giving her priceless information about herself, her history, her dead father and her connection to Red. He's like, "Uh, actually it is both." This pisses her off so much she refuses to fly back to DC on Red's private plane! Take that!
(Then, the commercial where Gary Busey is nuts toward Amazon's Fire TV machine that I don't even really understand what it does. I have owned a Roku and a Chromecast and I don't really understand what they do either, but I guess it's similar? I just wish there was a gadget that would let me watch Borgen without having to hardcode the subs myself. It seems like we should be there by now. Mostly, I mention this because as much as I hate rewarding Charlie Sheen for his behavior, I feel even worse about Gary Busey being famous for being a straight-up crazy person. It does not seem right. I do not think we are being good people when we do this.)
That FBI man, Finch's creature Walter that is always yelling at Cooper, yells at Cooper. Seems they have figured out upstairs what the team downstairs is just figuring out: If Liz quits the Post Office, not only are they all out of a job but Reddington will be in the wind. Ressler supports Liz's decision–most likely because he wants to get back to chasing Red around the globe and never catching him, like a millennial The Fugitive–but everybody else thinks she's being a dick.
Luckily, the team is able to determine that John Glover's mad scientist is actually working with somebody from the outside, just like he tried to explain in his language of madness that Liz didn't have time for. She tries to get back in to see him, but understandably enough he is not interested in her mess–time to get back with Red, and hatefully ask him for more favors.
Red shows Lizzie the cut-off tattoo skin, just to make the point once again that he has been right about Tom's intensity all season, and then bitchily asks her if she plans on flying back to Maine in coach. Once there, Liz immediately starts being horrible to John Glover–imagine!–and once she's got him in a full-force hurricane of acting, she has some random intuitive leap about how people wear badges and some badges have numbers and letters on them and therefore, the "space agent" John Glover keeps babbling about is...
CDC Agent Nikolaus Vogel, whose lab gets tossed and who is immediately taken into custody so he can be smarmy and try to fuck with Liz. But guess what today is? Not the day for that. No, today is the day for her to go back up to Cooper's office again and complain again about how her life is simply too complex. To his credit, Cooper does not point out that she is running out of old guys to pull her daddy-issues bullshit on, and simply acts like he respects her decisions. In return, she promises to betray Red and get him in custody before she leaves to have the biggest cumulative panic attack of all time and then become a close-up magician on a pier somewhere like was always her dream.
Vogel tells Liz that his five horsemen are unconnected in any way she'll ever be able to understand, and that he doesn't feel like not blackmailing them so he's going to keep on doing it. Then she's like, "TWIST! I poisoned you with the Cullen Virus and now I am blackmailing the blackmailer!" Even Vogel is a little bit amazed by that shit, blood pouring out of his nose, but all you can really think is, "I wonder if Liz knows how proud Red would be, of this vile act of bioterrorism she just committed with a smile on her face." Because I know I am! It was one of the top Liz Keen moments of the show, where she's just like "PS, motherfucker."
One long musical montage later, Liz has stared at enough documents and spread them around on the carpet in complicated enough patterns that she has realized... A thing we already knew, which is that all the Blacklist cases have been arranged and ordered such that they would lead Red to Berlin, who is a person and not a city, and thus Red is a selfish individual who needs the FBI's help in saving his own life. Literally that is the logline of the pilot episode of this show–and a verbatim transcript of every conversation Red and Liz have ever had–except for the one part about how Berlin's not a city. Either way, well done, Agent Keen.
And that's when the actual complicated shit goes down that the show is so good at: While the Post Officers figure out the plan, we see it elaborately and beautifully enacted, and the Five Horsemen do their five jobs at five locations meant to get a prison transport plane (bearing Berlin, along with many other supercriminals I'm guessing) into the airspace of a New Jersey regional airport: A lady opens a door, a fella crashes a firewall, a dude takes over the tower, a pilot shoots his copilot, and so on. The kicker is that, after all that lovely intricate action, the plane doesn't actually land, and the entire FBI is standing there holding their nuts while it takes off back into the sky.
Liz has called a meeting with Red in the middle of the meeting she already set up with Red, to let him know that the meeting they are about to have is a trap and that she has voided his deal and quit her job and basically fucked the entire show premise. In his usual Red way, he acts like this is not a huge deal, and has himself a seat so they can talk about how much he loves her and so on, and also how neither of them can solve the mysteries of their universes without each other. Her, because he is a walking plot device that knows everything, and him, because of reasons maybe we will learn one day.
With the cops and FBI surrounding them, Liz yells at Red for being an overdramatic timewaster, and he responds by wasting some time in an overly dramatic way. He tells a very long story about a mermaid or a watergoing gypsy or something that makes even less sense than his usual mermaid-type long stories, but the bottom line is that he feels very loved by Liz for trying to betray her own betrayal of him. I think. I kind of get lost in his gravitas when he tells these strange stories, sometimes. Liz explains that he does not understand the moral of the story at all, which is in fact that she hates him and he has destroyed her life and that she is waiting to exhale, but he knows better.
Red showily threatens her with a gun so they won't think she is being nice to him, then gets down on the ground and removes his fedora, revealing a mass of writhing snakes instead of hair, acts like she is about to execution-style him, and then they all watch the Con Air plane–which is now on fire thanks to a fighter jet I forgot to mention–crash somewhere nearby where they are being so dramatic. Liz just stares at him, feeling moved by his constant weird behavior but still not understanding what the fuck he is talking about.
And at this moment of the dawning apocalypse, as Berlin and all his monsters flood the streets, desperate for blood, we are all one with her: For just one sunkissed mermaid gypsy of a second, we are all Liz Keen, wondering what the fuck Red Reddington is talking about and if he is our dad. Just a girl, looking at a man, wishing he would put his hat back on.