I have too many feelings right now! Too many feelings!
Red is a complete psychopath who is also loving and adorable and I am so emotionally conflicted. It’s not healthy.
Tom is a liar. I think. Unless he’s not and the ominous music is tricking me.
Oh, also, I think there was a case. No one cared, not even the FBI.
“General Ludd” starts ordinarily enough with a father and son playing catch. However, their game is interrupted by the gruesomely charred body of a pilot crash landing next to them, followed by an entire broken plane.
We then see an ominous terrorist video from the titular General Ludd. We don’t know the connection between these two events yet, but it doesn’t look good.
Back at the Keens, we get, IMO the creepiest scene of the episode, where an apple-eating surveillance man watch Elizabeth and Tom showering together. Like, ick. Security cameras secretly watching you in your bathroom 24/7 is a bothersome idea.
During breakfast, Elizabeth’s dad (played by William Sadler) calls her. It’s revealed he’s in the hospital, but brushes off her offer to come visit. She doesn’t believe his lie that everything is fine, but heads to work regardless to find the director, per usual, denying Red access to something he’ll inevitably give him. It’s like a game these two play. “Then you’ll just have to find another criminal to talk to Elizabeth Keen and make fun of Agent Ressler,” Red declares, winning. He also shoots down their attempt to involve him in additional cases of their choosing, telling them he’s not their consultant. “I have no interest in cases I have no interest in,” he explains. Apparently someone put sassy in his cheerios.
Once they cave and give him access to some FBI database, he identifies the bomber as General Ludd, who is not actually a person, but a movement. They’re philosophically Robin Hood-types who turn violent to destroy the 1%. The man in charge is named Nathaniel Wolf.
Ressler discovers that an employee named Arthur Denning recently robbed a fertilizer plant. Denning does not match Nathaniel Wolf’s only known picture.
Meanwhile, in their creepy hide out, a man and a woman assemble a bomb into a computer and give it to a now blonde Arthur Denning. He tells his people it’s been an honor before heading out to board a plane. Luckily, the FBI track down his home address, because apparently the criminal mastermind was stupid enough to put it on his fertilizer plant employee record. There they find Wolf’s fingerprints, leading them to the conclusion that Arthur Denning is, in fact, Wolf, but with a different face.
Elizabeth finds Red casually chatting with a suburban mother in her garage as she prints fake bills. She’s appalled, but Red assures her that “Mary is an artist; she has a tremendous gift.” Elizabeth wants to talk about the case, but instead Red drops this bombshell: “I understand your father is not well. The cancer—it has come back.” He tells her to got to her father and she’s understandably confused and upset. At some point during this conversation Red starts swinging on a swing set. I don’t know why, but it’s brilliant.
The two track down the plastic surgeon most likely responsible for the face transformation. The man, Abraham, complements Red’s gentle aging, to which Red responds by explaining that it’s “beets mostly. Some celery, carrots, a lot of ginger. The kale makes me dyspeptic.” This show has the best dialogue. Elizabeth completely ignores Red and also common sense and reveals herself to Abraham, threatening him and telling him she’s an FBI agent. He gives them Wolf’s new name, Bradley Holland. Then, in a surprisingly clever twist that makes me feel bad for judging Elizabeth, both of them flip out on the doctor, pretending that it was all a test and that they’re concerned by how easily he betrays his clients. “Who knows about the work I’ve had done?” Red cries indignantly. It’s a very funny bit.
Wolf, whose new identity is a pilot, swipes into Reagan National with the laptop from earlier and gets a seat on a flight to Denver. He talks with a man in the airport who mentions the earlier plane crash and how a father and son were killed on the ground. Woah. I did not pick that up in the first scene with them playing baseball. Dark. Wolf is absurdly creepy without anyone noticing or growing concerned in that way only television villains can be. He leaves his bag and the bomb to be stored by the flight attendant and exits the area.
Tom calls Elizabeth with the news that the cancer has spread to her father’s liver. Elizabeth is in deep-set denial, but Tom gets through to her and convinces her to take a flight to see him the next morning.
Ressler and a flustered Keen make it to the runway just in time to save no one and do nothing but get knocked over when the plane explodes on the ground. Guys, the FBI is so bad at their jobs it’s sometimes unbelievable.
Elizabeth tries to leave but finds that all flights are grounded after General Ludd releases a message threatening mass violence and falling planes. It’s apparently all part of their plan to cripple the current economy.
In the hospital, Elizabeth’s dad, recovering from surgery, turns to find Red sitting in the chair next to him. ”Hello Sam,” Red says. “It’s been far too long.” Within minutes, Sam and Red are laughing and trading stories as old friends. It’s a cute moment. “I’ve missed that laugh,” Red says, taking his hand. Here’s where this episode gets interesting. Like, most-interesting-scene-since-the-pilot interesting. “I finally had a chance to see her, Sam,” Red tells him, presumably meaning Elizabeth. He goes on to fondly describe the wonderful characteristics of the other man’s daughter.
Or maybe she’s not the other man’s daughter after all. “You gave her an incredible gift, Sam. Taking her in and loving her as your own.” Oh wow. In what I thought would be a mid or end-of-season reveal, Red just told us that the man who raised Elizabeth is not her biological father. Sam tells Red that he has six weeks to live, admitting that he’d prefer six hours to the long, painful months ahead. He says that he needs to tell Lizzy the truth, despite the two men’s previous “agreement” and Red’s vehement protests against the idea.
Ressler and Elizabeth find a room full of Wolf’s identities, picking out a so far unused one, John Horlbeck, a truck driver that works for a company hired to move currency. They typically move it by plane, but with the planes grounded, the money will be transported by truck. The FBI realizes this is all an elaborate heist to steal $500 million.
As she and Ressler head towards the truck’s location, Elizabeth finally receives a call from her dad, who tells her about the cancer. He apologizes for not telling her the truth, but it’s clear to the viewer that it’s no longer his health he’s referring to. We then get one of the most enigmatic but game changing lines out of Red yet:
“You will always be her father, Sam. I can only hope to love her and protect her as you have.” Then, in a gesture that is both horrifying and somehow touching, Red smothers him with a pillow, preventing both his suffering and his plan to come clean to Elizabeth. Red kisses the dead man on the forehead tenderly and leaves. Tom arrives and gets the news from a nurse.
Red calls Elizabeth, asking if there’s anything he can do to help with her father, who she does not know is dead, and you can see the hurt and guilt in James Spader’s performance without it ever being blatantly stated. After the phone call, Elizabeth and Ressler (because they are Elizabeth and Ressler and are doomed to fail at everything) lose Wolf’s trail and can’t recover the money before it is distributed to the public. They realize that the heist’s goal was not the money, but a hard drive onboard that contained software updates for the new $100 bill. They luckily stopped the theft of the hard drive, but the man himself appears to be long gone.
Near the hospital, Red walks up to a cafe table and asks the occupant if he can sit there. “Go right ahead,” replies Tom, who doesn’t bat an eye at the presence of the man. Either he doesn’t know him or he’s a fantastic actor, and by the end of this conversation I’m banking on the latter. Tom tells the “stranger” that his wife’s father who adopted her when she was four (apparently it’s common knowledge) is dead and that his wife is going to be crushed. Red assures him that her father will always be there watching out for her and that she will be okay. About halfway through this talk, Red’s initially reassuring speech becomes something significantly less reassuring and significantly more threatening. It’s not just the creepy music that plays in the background. You can tell by just the subtle change in James Spader’s voice that when he tells Tom that Elizabeth will be fine, he’s daring him to do anything to jeopardize that. We get the distinct impression it would not end well. Tom, for his part, is unreadable, responding in such a way that he could be either an oblivious husband or a dangerous assassin. One thing we do learn from this is that Red does seem to really view Tom as a danger and hasn’t just been trying to manipulate Elizabeth.
Speaking of Elizabeth, she realizes that Wolf intends to fly out of the country since planes are grounded and no one is watching the skies. Red then meets Wolf in a parking lot, where the bomber is expecting a ride on Red’s plane. Red tells him he admires his commitment and reveals that he knows that the hard drive the FBI recovered is a fake. Wolf has the means to bankrupt the country by producing billions in fake money. Unfortunately for him, Red likes capitalism and robs him, even turning him into the FBI after. Ressler cuffs Wolf and tells Elizabeth to go see her father in a heartwarming moment that is also totally depressing because none of them know he’s dead.
We then see Sam’s funeral, which would be far more impacting without the pop/bluegrass crossover playing in the background. I talked about this problem last week. They seriously need to pull the music thing together.
Red uses the database he was given access to in the opening scene to look up a woman’s criminal record, of which we don’t get a close up. My nifty pausing skills tell me that her name is Lucy Brookes and that she has blue eyes, but not much else. Red seems rather emotional when he sees her face, though.
Elizabeth confronts Red at Mary’s about taking the hard drive, but her heart’s not in it. Red easily sways the topic to her father. “The best way to keep the memory of your father alive is to talk about him. Tell me some stories,” he says with a smile. The episode ends with the two of them on the swing set talking.
This episode was so crazy it’s hard to even write about. I hope this is coherent; I found myself getting worked up at points. The dynamic between everybody grew just a little: Elizabeth and Red, Tom and Red, even Ressler and Elizabeth. The reveals and twists in this episode made it a perfect example of why I love this show.