*This episode has a really great opening in which the titular character leaves some kind of chemical weapon or something on a subway train. Barnes is played by Robert Sean Leonard, an actor I haven’t thought of in ages, but remember from, most notably, Dead Poets Society. He’s really wonderful in this episode.
*He has a brief conversation with a young woman on the subway train and then she actually notices that he’s left his bag and he sees her through the window with it and then triggers the weapon.
*The episode signals that Barnes isn’t going to be a typical villain because he doesn’t do this coldly, as most TV villains would; he seems to be quite saddened by it.
*So, Liz, fresh from seeing Tom “exonerated,” has decided to remodel their apartment. Tom comes in and she’s trying out different paint colors. “What is this?” “Café au lait . . . unless you like the dark nut better.”
*Okay, I’m prepared to admit that Tom has a lot of secrets, but I seriously doubt he likes the dark nut better.
*There’s a paint sample called Grandma’s Pumpkins. That is both hilarious and also so stupid it probably is an actual paint color.
*So, everyone is investigating the biological attack. An agent says that there’s a call on the tip line for Liz.
*And it’s Red, winning the episode by being on screen for less than five seconds: “Agent Keen, I have a tip. You’re a winter, not an autumn. Stop wearing olive.”
*I could honestly just stop this episode right now and feel satisfied.
*So Barnes was a research scientist with the Defense Department. He worked on creating a lot of chemical weapons for the government; five years ago, he left his life behind and went “on the free market,” selling his research to the highest bidder.
*I actually like this set-up a lot. “Frederick Barnes . . . is a very special animal – one with the tools & know how to kill thousands and thousands of people all at once. What he’s lacked until now has been the desire.” “So, what’s changed?” “Well, that’s the question.” I like that; it’s definitely an intriguing hook.
*So, it appears that Barnes has weaponized something called “Kurz Disease.” It’s been spreading rapidly, ballooning from only 5 cases in the world to over 600 in just a few months. It’s what killed the people on the train as well.
*So, Liz and Red have a little spat over that whole thing with Tom and then they split up. Red’s off to Cuba to try to talk to the guy who supplied Barnes with some radioactive stuff he used in making the train bomb.
*Wasn’t really a bomb exactly, was it? Device. The train device.
*Regardless, Liz is off to talk to Barnes’ old research partner.
*So, Red is in the process of buying something mysterious. This could potentially take multiple episodes to play out. If you know what I mean.
*Okay, so Barnes’ old research partner Anne is married to a dude named Eric. But Frederick is actually her son’s father. She had an affair with Frederick, but she’s kept the secret. Frederick knows that he’s the father of the boy, but Eric doesn’t.
*What’s the kid’s name? Ethan. Probably be important.
*Since Ethan has KURZ DISEASE BADUNDUNDADUNDUNDUNDUNBADADUN!
*I may have gotten carried away with the musical sting there.
*Aha! I actually like this. Kurz is such a rare disease that no research goes toward finding a cure. So, Frederick Barnes has been spreading the disease in order to get it on the radar as a dangerous and deadly disease so that people will be willing to spend money researching a cure which will then be used to cure Ethan. That’s brilliant.
*So, Red pulls one of his typical switcheroos on the guy with the radioactive stuff, offering to buy some, and when the guy says he’s just sold it, asking him to contact the buyer. Red then taps the guy’s phone and when he tries to call Barnes, Red gets the location of Barnes’ phone.
*So, Liz & Ressler arrive at a courthouse in Arlington, where Barnes has just blown another device in a room full of potential jurors.
*Just when you thought being called for jury duty couldn’t get any worse.
*So, Barnes manages to escape by using a hostage to make Liz to drop her gun.
*Why do I think Ressler is going to be furious about this?
*Well, maybe because it does seem pretty stupid. I mean, so Barnes kills the hostage. He’s been killing people dozens at a time (three dozen on the train, more than two dozen at the courthouse). And he’ll obviously keep it up.
*Plus, the hostage is just a guy. It’s not a little kid or an old woman or a sexy woman. I mean, take the shot.
*Plus he’s a security guard. HE KNEW THE RISKS DAMMIT TAKE THE SHOT
*Okay, so it’s a house that Red is buying. Luli meets the realtor at the house and pays cash, double the asking price.
*This does not raise a single red flag, by the way.
*Okay, so it’s probably his old house, right?
*Yeah, that thing with the gun that I said Ressler was going to be furious about? He’s furious about it.
*Though he’s right. He makes the same point I did. He tells Liz that she traded one life for hundreds, if not thousands.
*Okay, so it turns out that Barnes is conducting experiments trying to find someone with a natural immunity to Kurz Disease. And there is a survivor from the courthouse attack. So he visits her in the hospital and takes a bone marrow sample.
*And so he synthesizes an antidote and goes to give it to Ethan. Liz and Meera show up, having figured all this out. Barnes is about to give the kid the shot, but Liz just blows him the **** away before he can do it.
*So, let’s see, if a guy’s going to go on to murder hundreds of people, you just gotta let him go. But if he’s going to cure a young child of a horrible disease, he gets a bullet in the teeth. Got it. I’m following the morality here.
*That is just ******* ridiculous. The smartest guy in the world when it comes to Kurz Disease just found a cure. Remember, he knows about this disease; he was able to successfully weaponize it when everyone thought that was impossible. And so he has the cure and if he gives it to the kid, well, it might cure him or it might kill him. But if he doesn’t give it to him, the kid will absolutely die a horrible and painful death. And, oh, yes, let’s not just wound the guy so we can, you know, get the cure from him and test it to see if it might work, let’s just put a bullet right in the only brain that has a possible cure to this horrible disease.
*The show even gets this, because it lets Barnes and Liz have a brief conversation while she’s got him at gunpoint trying to get him to drop the syringe. They go the “this is his only chance” vs. “it could kill him” argument. And then Barnes points out, well, he’s going to die anyway and Liz is just like “don’t stick him with it.” Because SHE HAS NO ******* ANSWER. And the show realizes this, so it just doesn’t even try to answer that last argument. Which is somehow worse than if they just hadn’t brought it up at all.
*So, Red’s like, “I take it Barnes is no longer with us. Pity.” And Liz is like, “Tell that to the families of the people he murdered.” You know what? I will. Because that’s a case I can make. Why don’t YOU tell it to the little kid that’s going to die a horrible painful death now because of you? ******* self-righteous tool. Leave that **** to Ressler in the future, please, Liz. It suits him better.
*There are some good moments in this scene anyway: “Say what you will about Frederick, but someone who’s willing to burn the world down to protect the one person they care about – that’s a man I understand.” “Is that directed at me?” “Aren’t you presumptuous?”
*I think what’s great about that, is that Red’s “Aren’t you presumptuous?” line works on two levels. It’s a joke about her being presumptuous enough to think he’s talking about her; it’s a joke because he obviously is. But it’s also a slam at what she just did. Wasn’t she presumptuous to summarily execute Barnes like that and take away a child’s one chance at life? Yes, she was. That’s good writing, I admit.
*Red tries his hand at writing Dylan lyrics: “You know the problem with lines in the sand? With a breath of air, they disappear.”
*I didn’t say he succeeded.
*So, for some damn reason, Ressler thinks Liz made the right call in shooting Barnes.
*I mean, okay, let’s see if I can get this through the thick heads of these characters. Barnes was UNARMED. He had MEDICINE. He had a CURE FOR A DISEASE. It’s not like he had a gun to Ethan’s head or a knife to his throat. He was “threatening” Ethan with a healthy, normal life.
*It’s like shooting a guy who’s trying to give a sandwich to someone. “Here, you’ll feel better after you eat.” “DROP THAT GODDAMN SANDWICH!” *BANG*
*Liz even admits here that she believes the cure is real.
*Ressler asks the question we’ve all been waiting for: “What made you do it?”
*Liz’ brilliant answer: “Because you were right. Barnes had to be stopped.”
*Um, well, finish that sentence. You needed to stop Barnes . . . FROM KILLING PEOPLE. Not from SAVING PEOPLES LIVES.
*It’s like Barnes was the only guy in the room who knew CPR and a guy was dying on the floor. And because Barnes had killed people before, when he tried to give the guy CPR, Liz shot him.
*She then says that they still have the cure, which I don’t know how that happened. Maybe Barnes had some back at his lair or whatever. I guess so. Fine. So she says it’ll be vetted through the proper channels if it’s genuine.
*Liz, you work for the FBI, not the FDA.
*You stuck a pen in a guy’s neck earlier. Don’t act like you’re a slave to regulations.
*Okay, this guy won’t help me. *pen to the throat* My husband probably murdered a guy. *does nothing* This guy’s planning to kill hundreds of people *lets him go* This guy is about to cure a little child of a horrible illness. WHOA WHOA WHOA WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO POLICY & PROCEDURE ARE WE LIVING IN A MADHOUSE OR WHAT I’M SURE THE FDA WILL HAVE A LITTLE SOMETHING TO SAY HERE
*I am so annoyed with Liz right now. Sorry, Wocky. I just am. That was just idiotic.
*And so Ressler quite rightly points out that Ethan will have died horribly by the time the cure gets vetted and Liz is like “Then that’s what happens.”
*Just so you know, I’m going to bring up this little “policy & procedure are all that stands between us and anarchy” moment every time Liz breaks the rules after this. Because I guarantee it’s going to happen a whole lot.
*What a moron. I swear.
*I wish that they would check back in with Ethan in every episode. Like over the course of the season, we just see him getting sicker and sicker and suffering more and more and then in the finale he just dies coughing up his own intestines and choking on them as blood jets out of his ears or whatever. And then Liz just looks in the door and is like, “It happened.”
*I mean, kudos to the show for being bold. I can’t think of another movie or anything that based its case for its main character being a good person on how closely they hewed to FDA policy.
*Okay, I have to stop here. Because I moved through this one fairly quickly and I thought this would be a short review, but I had forgotten how annoyed I was about this whole “try to save a child’s life will you BLAM BLAM BLAM and so anyway I’m a good person” plot twist.
*So, Liz goes home and Tom has like moved all the furniture out of the living room in order to recreate the way it was when they first moved in or something. I don’t know. It’s stupid.
*She comes in and she’s like, “Did you . . . get rid of all our stuff?” and I really wanted Tom to be like, “Yeah, I’m leaving you because I heard you basically murdered a child today.”
*So, yeah, it’s Red’s old house, where he lived when his wife and kid were alive.
*Spader really sells this scene. There’s this moment where he looks up the staircase and just the way he leans to look and the expression on his face are just so perfect. I mean, it’s just this great acting. Really minimal & ambiguous. Brilliant.
*So, anyway, he blows the house up.
*I really liked the moment of Red & Luli in the back seat of the car just before the house explodes. “This place must hold a lot of memories for you.” “I spend every day trying to forget what happened here. This should help.”
*Though, my God, the CGI explosion/flames are just the worst. The. Worst.
*IF YOU GOT GIRL PROBLEMS I FEEL B
*No, just kidding.
*This episode was okay. Robert Sean Leonard was quite good as Barnes. He had a very weary air about him and I liked the concept of his character. His best scene was the first one, I have to say, so that’s too bad. The whole thing with Red & the old house was good and ended the episode on a strong note. I really kind of hated Liz though, which was annoying.
*Did I mention that the arteries in a person’s face all rupture and hemorrhage when they die of Kurz Disease? So, yeah, that little kid’s death is going to be horrendously painful for him and extremely traumatizing for his parents who are going to have to watch their son die, but also be horribly disfigured in the process.
*Damn it. Liz! WHAT IS EVEN WRONG WITH YOU
*Okay, let it go. On the whole, this one was okay.