WashingTelevision: The Blacklist, Season One, Episode Six, “Gina Zanetakos”
Corporate terrorism, a nautical painting, and the introduction of Zany Tacos.
Guten tag, liebhaber of das Blacklist. We begin this week in Germany’s Liepnitzsee forest, where a man and a woman rendezvous to watch a car explode. Back in Washington, we find Tom and Elizabeth in medias argument—did Tom know about the box? Did he not? The only way to tell is to get the FBI involved, so Keen gives work a call, and pretty soon the couple is headed to the black site.
In what will prove to be a Ressler refrain this episode, the agent warns Keen that she should forget about her husband and worry about her own fate—sure enough, a few scenes later Agent Cooper informs her that she’ll be on ice until the Angel Station investigation is complete.
Meanwhile, in what may be the same Baltimore apartment from last week’s episode, Red is negotiating a deal on a painting of a ship with some guy in Dubai who owns a Red Lobster in need of artwork. Just kidding, it’s a wedding present. Lurking in the shadows, Red’s mysterious associate informs him that Tom is in custody.
As Meera Malik questions her husband, Keen heads to the White House to meet with Red. It’s a pretty poor location for top-secret whatnot, but it does offer Red the opportunity to mention that presidents may come and go, but it’s corporations that run this mother—a convenient segue to our criminal of the week, one Gina Zanetakos (Margarita Levieva). Zanetakos takes corporate espionage to the extreme, poisoning people to push drug companies out of business and so forth. Oh, and by the by, Liz, says Red, she’s also your husband’s lover. No. He. Didn’t. Red then has a chat with Agent Cooper and tells him that he either puts Keen back on the case or he won’t deliver the terrorist. Cooper demurs, but Red threatens to bring up “an unfortunate incident in Kuwait,” and suddenly Keen’s back on the case.
Tom begs Malik to call his alibi, the guy who interviewed him for the job at Angel Station. With new intel from Red, the agents start looking into Zanetakos, alias Shubi Hartwell. Next we see Zanetakos and a bearded companion headed down a hotel hallway. Inside the room, Zanetakos—dressed in an S&M-y leather outfit—cajoles her gentleman friend to hand over a piece of paper with the promise of some sexytime. But once he hands her the info she opts instead to stab him in the neck with poison—all the characters on this show love stabbing people in the neck with needles—then tries to make it look like a suicide. Keen and Ressler arrive, find the body, and Ressler ends up in an elevator with Zany Tacos—it’s a more fun name for her, right?— who proceeds to beat the hell out of him but drops her phone before making her escape. Messages on the corporate terrorist’s phone help the agents understand she is planning a dirty bomb attack somewhere.
Malik meets the guy who supposedly interviewed Tom. She returns to the black site and shows Tom the photo of him, but Tom has never seen him before. Keen and company break into Zany T’s apartment and find a box that’s identical to the treasure trove in the Keens’ floorboards. Inside are photos of the Russian defector who got shot at Angel Station. Also, by the bed is a photo of Tom. “I think we both know it’s time you protect yourself,” Ressler tells our conflicted heroine once more. It’s a little hard to take from a guy who just got pulped by a slim blonde lady in an elevator.
Keen and Red meet in yet another park. She confides in him about her misgivings, and her fear that she can’t handle the stress of the whole sitch without Tom. We learn Zany wired money to a bomb expert operating out of Europe. Keen goes to see Red again and hears him discussing the painting deal with his buyer in Dubai—he says something got mixed up with the payment in Houston and that it has been rerouted to New Orleans. Red goes to see the Russian bomber (the timeline gets a little funny here), who confesses he has actually made a bomb out of a car—that’s what we saw explode at the start of this adventure.
The agents go to a park to capture Zany. As always, their target escapes, running into an underground ladies’ room. Keen corners her there, but Tacos pulls a knife. Then Ressler shows up and shoots her in the shoulder to save Keen’s life. They head back to HQ where Keen is characteristically ungrateful, telling Ressler he F’ed up the case by injuring ZT. Other things happen, and Keen figures out that Zany plans to bomb the port in Houston so that her corporate client, which owns the port in New Orleans, no longer has competition. This is a thing that makes no sense, but we just go with it because we really want to know if Tom and Tacos are doing it. The agents eventually find the bomb car, but there’s only a few minutes left before it explodes and the bomb guy is totally useless. So here’s the ludicrousness that ensues: Ressler gets into the car and STARTS DRIVING IT THROUGH THE PORT with seconds to go before it explodes. Just before the sedan launches itself into the water, he opens the door and rolls out—saving the day for all.
Zany makes a deal: She confesses to the murder at Angel Station and claiming Red hired her to do it. When Keen shows her the bedside snapshot of Tom, she denies knowing him. Tom is freed, and on his way out of the black site he recognizes Red’s minion as the guy who interviewed him. Now totally convinced of her husband’s innocence, Keen tells Red that they are done for good. No more super-secret meetings outside the White House; no more moonshine drinking in Baltimore. Dunzo. The episode ends with the peeping toms watching the Keen household on surveillance cams. Is Tom innocent? they wonder. Maybe not. But he’s not working for Red.
Lingering questions: So many. First of all, I admit that I like the idea that Tom and Zany Tacos are lovers. Please make them lovers. Since she’s still alive, we have to imagine we’ll see her again at some point. I don’t think Red hired her, do you? There’s just no way Tom is totally innocent. Also, should we be looking closer at Ressler? His restroom intervention seemed almost too timely. What did Cooper do in Kuwait? And of course, who are the creepos watching the Keen household like it was The Truman Show?