The Blacklist recap: We're gonna talk about Bruno
If you can overlook the constant threat of arrest, torture, and/or murder, Raymond Reddington (James Spader) seems like a great boss — he's both generous and loyal. These qualities are demonstrated again this week as the Task Force takes on the case of a murdered judge, brought to them by our favorite stay-at-home-dad forensic scientist Herbie Hambright (Alex Brightman).
Three weeks ago, an extremely freaked out Judge Alice Dockery (Tricia Alexandro) found something presumably very wrong in a file and called Detective Fleming (Miles Mussenden) to come to her office immediately. By the time he arrived, Dockery was dead, slumped on her blood-stained laptop. The name on the screen was "Bruno."
It seemed like an open and shut case against Paul Bruno Jr., the mafioso who had been intimidating the judge after she threw the book at his mob boss father. Junior's defense team, on the other hand, would like very much to make it a closed and open case, and hire Herbie to consult. In turn, Herbie asks Red to consult… and he, of course, consults with the FBI.
David Giesbrecht/NBC Diego Klattenhoff as Donald Ressler, Anya Banerjee as Siya Malik
Cooper (Harry Lennix) is happy to take the case, despite Ressler's (Diego Klattenhoff) grumbling about doing Red's bidding. At some point, let's say after 10 years or so, you'd think Ressler would finally figure out Red's bidding is his literal job?
Malik (Anya Banerjee) is sent to Herbie's apartment with a dolly full of the judge's casefiles, leading to this hilariously awkward interaction:
— Malik: "I'm supposed to be dropping off some things for… an associate of… an associate of mine?"
— Herbie: "Yeah, I believe that I'm the…. associate of your…. associate."
— Malik: "Cute baby!"
It is a cute baby! Made all the cuter by the way Red snuggles her and kisses her little baby head. The baby can't stop staring at him, fascinated. I get it, baby.
The Task Force now needs to interview a list of people who could have a big enough grudge against the judge to murder. Cue the parade of potential suspects!
There's the ex-con with a Vegas wedding alibi; the acquitted man who holds no grudges against the judge, who gave him a fair trial to demonstrate his innocence in public; the wife of a disgraced insider trader who spent the night of the murder sobbing at a gala; and a former dentist who is grateful the judge stopped his addictive spree of unnecessary dental procedures.
It all adds up to a big old pile of no leads until Herbie figures out that Dockery was definitely murdered; the injury from the stabbing would have immediately severed her spinal cord, making her incapable of typing anything, let alone "Bruno."
This kicks the investigation into a higher gear. Bruno claims the judge had a lover, but a search of her home doesn't reveal evidence of a love affair. It does, however, lead to finding a death threat from the parent of a slain young woman, Emma Moody. Anton Johnston (Charlie Semine), the acquitted man they interviewed earlier, had been accused of her murder.
The Moody parents easily admit they wrote the threat because they blame Dockery for exonerating Johnston. They're understandably distraught. Her father rails against the "injustice" system and her mother still wears a necklace with her daughter's name, an inside joke from the time they couldn't find both their names at a street fair so they purchased two "Emma" necklaces instead.
David Giesbrecht/NBC Diego Klattenhoff as Donald Ressler
Ressler notices an orchid in a frame and realizes it's identical to a bouquet of orchids that was in the judge's office. Back at TFHQ, the team calls Herbie, who is warming up for a foosball tournament in full athletic gear, headband included. Herbie is curious that both Emma and the judge's orchids have an unusual shimmer.
Ressler and Malik head off to interview Johnston again at his home. They get there shortly after he's drugged an unsuspecting date with a 75-year-old Scotch. He's hidden her upstairs, but Malik gets suspicious when he refers to the judge as "Allie" instead of Alice or Judge Dockery.
As Ressler roams the grounds of the house, Malik gets Johnston to admit he was the judge's paramour. Then a moan from the woman upstairs confirms Johnston is definitely the bad guy.
Ressler takes a call from Herbie, who has finished analyzing the orchids. The shimmer is from high concentrations of nitrogen. Ressler is not interested in expanding his horticultural knowledge until Herbie insists the only way the flowers could grow with that much nitrogen is if they were planted directly on top of decomposing bodies.
This makes the slow reveal of Johnston's giant garden of orchids all the more horrifying.
Back in interrogation, he admits to murdering the three women they found under the orchids, one of which is his mother. Yiiikkkkkessss. He went full Norman Bates after feeling abandoned by Mom, then kept up his killing with other young women, including Emma Moody.
Johnston claims he was in love with Dockery and only killed her when she found his trophy: the Emma necklace that matched the one her mother still wears. The file we saw her searching for the night of her murder was the one with a picture of Emma's jewelry.
In Cooper's office, Ressler says Herbie was the MVP of the case. He was! He managed childcare, a sporting hobby, and a murder case. A true Renaissance man. More Herbie, please.
After Red admits his connection to the Task Force, Vesco (Stacy Keach) signs up for Team Wujing. But is he actually on board, or is he playing double agent?
Herbie's wife is a punk singer in the band Vitameatavegamin. I hope they have a song called It's Just Like Candy!
No Blacklister this time, but a fun episode nonetheless. A little humor, a little murder, a little progress on the Wujing front, a little baby.
Herbie on foosball: "It's not just fraternity parties and sports bars. You know what? I'm getting a little tired of the constant dismissal of the sport, quite frankly."
Sign up for Entertainment Weekly's free daily newsletter to get breaking TV news, exclusive first looks, recaps, reviews, interviews with your favorite stars, and more.