The Blacklist – Apothecary (No. 59)
By: MaryBeth McMahon
Reddington (James Spader) enjoys of glass of dark liquor as he and Dembe (Hisham Tawfiq) discuss the need to meet with all of Red’s confidants to identify the traitor. Dembe does not support Red’s decision to have everyone meet together. Dembe asks what will happen if something goes wrong and the screen cuts to a scene nine hours later. At an undisclosed location inside a basketball gym, Reddington is struggling to breath on a hospital bed with an oxygen mask over his mouth. The doctor (Robert Joy) tells him that Dembe left immediately after dropping him off to be treated. He also tells Red that he is dying, most likely from being poisoned. He gives him a day to live, maybe more. With the symptom-relieving meds the doctor gave him, Red leaves to meet with Elizabeth (Megan Boone) and the FBI.
Reddington informs Harold and the FBI team about he being poisoned. They are also notified of the betrayal from inside Reddington’s alliance and of the dinner he held with them to seek that person out. Reddington assumes that Dembe’s absence comes as a result of his need to find whoever is responsible for poisoning his friend. Elizabeth provides details on their next blacklister, The Apothecary. This man expertly poisons people with venoms, allergic reactions and many other things that demonstrate similar symptoms to common ailments like heart issues, illnesses and drug overdoses. Thus, making it tricky to figure out the appropriate treatment or antidote. Reddington doesn’t respond to being sick very well and leaves the building as soon as he entered in search of his comrade, Dembe. He admirably says, “While you try to save my life, I’ll spend the time I have saving his.”
The Apothecary (Jamie Harrold) puts on a positive rendition of “My Girl” and gets to work on what seems to be one of his many poisons. He goes into his bedroom and on the bed is a woman who appears to be paralyzed, only able to move her eyes. Tears stream down her cheeks when he hugs her.
Reddington meets with the doctor from earlier on and questions him about how he was brought in. He desperately seeks for answers about Dembe and ends up finding the car used to drop him off for treatment.
Ressler (Diego Klattenhoff) and Elizabeth visit the hospital to check in on a woman who was most likely a victim of The Apothecary’s. Her husband (Daniel Eric Gold) is very calm and says that he recently left to get away and mull over his wife’s condition. He asks them to figure out what happened so the doctors can find the appropriate solution and save his wife. At the same time, Samar (Mozhan Marnò) attempts to locate The Apothecary in questioning Ilario Panetti (Stephen Rowe), the man accused of harming the woman in the hospital.
The Apothecary tests the motor abilities of Ruby Hightower (Stacie Morgan Lewis), the woman paralyzed on the bed. She looks petrified when he tells her that he is going to sedate her so she doesn’t try to run away again. She inhales the sedative through an inhaler and is unable to fight back in her current state.
Reddington approaches a home and in a parallel motion, uses an inhaler to take the symptom-preventative medicine his doctor gave him. Inside the home he finds his hat and a woman (Gabrielle Reid) trapped inside the trunk of his car, which happens to be parked inside the home’s garage. The woman believably accuses him of being the one who tied her up and put her in the car; however, he has no memory of doing such a thing.
Elizabeth presents the FBI team with video evidence that the previously mentioned husband did not just take time away to think about his wife. Rather, he went away so he could spend time with the woman he is having an affair with. Although he was truthful in where he was, the fact that he lied about going there alone makes him an instant suspect in the case.
Profusely sweating, coughing and seemingly experiencing vertigo, Reddington has trouble focusing when speaking to the woman, Lulu, he found in the trunk. He continues to press for answers about Dembe. He and Lulu break into a pharmacy in an act to find some steroids to temporarily help his condition; however, his symptoms grow worse. Reddington passes out after he takes a pill.
Elizabeth finds out that Robert, the husband, signed a prenup and Ressler says, “There’s no payout for death or divorce before ten years.” They are just two weeks away from their ten-year anniversary. Ressler thinks the wife found out about the mistress, causing the husband to intentionally make his wife sick so he could get the fifteen million dollars.
Reddington wakes up and sees Lulu sitting nearby, surprised she stuck around. He expresses gratitude for saving his life and bringing him to a safe place. Lulu is surprisingly generous and caring in reaction to Reddington’s current situation, even though he locked her in the trunk. She reveals that he and Dembe were going into a neighboring apartment and the man who lives there is Marvin Gerard (Fisher Stevens), Reddington’s attorney. He is confused as to why he was seeking out Marvin.
Elizabeth and Ressler question Robert’s mistress with the angle that she planned to poison Helen (Eunice Viggers) with him. They lead her to believe that Robert threw her under the bus. She emphasizes that she didn’t want any part of it, but knows he gives Helen liquid drops. The two immediately search Robert’s home, seize the poison and accuse him of attempting to murder his wife.
Meanwhile, the Apothecary brings a positive pregnancy kit towards Ruby and says that their work has paid off: she’s pregnant. He wheels her down the hallway to a newly-decorated nursery. He nervously surveys the room with her eyes and appears scared.
Aram (Amir Arison) makes progress in the case and discovers that The Apothecary used Helen’s medical history to use a complex allergen to cause her allergic reaction. Due to the complexity of the allergen, the doctors “treated the symptoms, not the cause.” The team decides that they need to search Reddington’s medical history in search of any pre-existing conditions and figure out an antidote in a matter of hours. The drops seized from Robert contain a peptide only present in an incredibly rare snake, which can be traced to a reptile farm owned by a man called Asa Hightower. They rush to Asa’s apartment and discover Ruby, with the help of her only functional finger that is ringing a nearby bell. Asa’s wife informs Elizabeth of her husband’s location.
Reddington enters a restaurant and finds the members of his operation locked inside the kitchen. Yet again, he is surprised to hear that he was the one responsible for locking up his allies, including accountants, money launderers, investment advisors and bankers. Unable to remember, they all provide a summary of the dinner meeting he held to figure out who the traitor is. David (Brian Stokes Mitchell) is about to pour a glass of wine, but Reddington believes the wine is what poisoned him. This leads Red to believe that Marvin was responsible for poisoning him.
Elizabeth and Ressler track Asa down in a baby store. He tries to fight back and escape, but Elizabeth takes him down. She informs Reddington of the arrest and tells him that the FBI lab is working on the solution to his poisoning. The call abruptly ends when Reddington starts to uncontrollably cough.
Asa tries to cut a deal with Ressler and Samar, but he is delusional. He sees nothing wrong with providing poisons to his many customers, incapacitating his cheating wife and countlessly raping her so they could get pregnant.
Elizabeth is shaken by Reddington’s condition and is emotional about the unpredictable outcome of his health. Reddington receives what he needs to overcome the poison and wakes to see Baz (Bazzel Baz) and Glen Carter (Clark Middleton), who have come with word on Marvin’s whereabouts. They are unable to tell him where Dembe has disappeared to though. He uses their information to question Marvin. While Reddington is busy with Marvin, Elizabeth calls him to say that the wine was clean and free of poison, meaning the poison had to be administered with something containing a higher alcohol content. Much to everyone’s surprise, Reddington realizes that it wasn’t Marvin who was behind the betrayal, but rather it was Dembe. Dembe was responsible for poisoning Reddington and it all began when he poured and served the scotch to him at the very beginning of the episode. Reddington doesn’t want to believe the truth that Dembe was responsible for it. The realization is confirmed as the episode ends with Dembe walking through city streets and entering the subway.