You’re So Vain
Do you want to have your portrait painted and have it hanging in the Pompidou Centre? Then you had better be prepared for a long wait- so long in fact that you will definitely need a scratch break. The fact is that, apparently, it is more appealing to an Italian painter who is a fan of spaghetti westerns to paint the antihero, the outlaw, than to paint a banker (who would have thought).
Dembe excels himself during this episode with his command of the Italian language:
Red: Come si dice… Uh, kidnapping?
Red: (Looking slightly surprised and baffled) You speak Italian?
Dembe: There was a girl…
What sort of girl gives you the (oh so useful) word for ‘kidnapping’ for your vocabulary but apparently very little else? Hilarious!
The Name Game
Hilariously, the painter’s name Polpetto (played by Jon Fredo) means ‘meatball’, which I guess will go well with the spaghetti westerns.
Gavin Pruitt~ (who is never seen but who is referred to by his former wife and Reddington) Gavin is a medieval variant of the name Gawain, the name of an Arthurian Knight. Probably of Celtic origin meaning ‘white hawk’ from ‘gwalch’ and ‘gwyn.’ Pruitt is also originally a Welsh surname, which means a brave person. How apt for this man who disappeared to protect his wife and her children. And Reddington, who according to Harold Cooper is the embodiment of selfishness, (more of that later) refuses to ever let the now remarried Gavin know what his wife has become (the act of a selfish man? Really?)
Red: Showing him what you’ve become would be devastating. I’m not going to tell him.
Judith Pruitt (played by Melora Hardin)~ Judith is a Hebrew name showing a woman was from Judea. Sadly she seems to live up more to her pseudonym ‘Stone’ than her name by marriage.
Lonnie Perkins (played by the awesome Michael Markiewicz)~ Lonnie means ‘ready for battle’ and Perkins is originally a French name which means ‘stone’ or ‘rock.’ The interesting thing about Lonnie is not just the whole white supremacist thing but that he was a cop killer and also president of the Aryan Revolutionary Council. So the big questions are: who paid for The Architect to get him released (mightily expensive), where is Lonnie now and what is he going to be doing? Is he connected to other white supremacist groups (such as those Tom infiltrated ages ago); he does have the German Imperial Eagle tattooed on his arm.
Another big question is: do we really think that The Architect is unconnected with Reddington, that he just so happened to have the dirt on him ready to dish out at the drop of a fedora?
Black Mass and Whitey Bulger
Since, like Raymond, we don’t believe in coincidences the inclusion of the Black Mass hackers convention come competition is no coincidence. The film Black Mass (starring Johnny Depp) was about one Whitey Bulger and it is this same Whitey Bulger who Jon Bokenkamp says was the inspiration for Raymond Reddington. Bulger was an FBI informer for years, which gave him immunity from prosecution. Not forever though, as eventually he was imprisoned on multiple counts of murder, drug supply, arms dealing etc. Whilst in prison he also took part in the CIA mind control programme MKUltra, which included repeated doses of LSD.
Isabella Stone (aka Judith Pruitt) is being held in the Newcastle cold storage facility in Anapolis. No coincidence surely that the location of the US Naval Academy features yet again.
This card game, apart from being popular in the American mid-West, Cornwall and the Channel Islands has another important feature. It was this card game that introduced the Joker into the pack. So who is our Joker? Is it Raymond Reddington or is there another lurking in this particular pack?
The Covent (Hatton) Garden Heist
This episode mentions an explosion and water mains fail at Covent Garden, which allowed for a massive diamond heist to take place. This seems very reminiscent of the Hatton Garden Heist in which safety deposit boxes containing an enormous amount of valuable goods were raided during the Easter/Passover of April, 2015.
It was an electrical fire under the pavement in Kingsway on April 1st, that led to enormous disruption in central London; this fire burned for two days with flames bursting out of a manhole cover from a burst gas main. Later press reports emerged suggesting that the fire may have been started deliberately as part of the burglary.
The burglary took place between April 2nd and April 5th. The oddest thing is that Scotland Yard was informed that the burglar alarm had been triggered at 00:21 on the 3rd of April, so the burglars scarpered, only to return on the 4th to finish off the burglary!
Who’s the selfish one Harold?
Harold rounds on Raymond twice in this episode: first with a rant about his is not handing over enough big bads to keep Main Justice off Harold’s back and for keeping Isabella Stone, with a threat of closure of the task force. This struck me as rather odd and unnecessarily aggressive- yes, I too would have put the phone down just like Reddington did. The fact is: without Reddington the Task Force will be shut down. Without him there simply is no task force. Why the pressure now? Does someone in Main Justice know that Red is under immense pressure now and is exerting even more? Or is it, perhaps, more to do with Cooper and the task force itself?
So Cooper ‘throws a wobbler’, as we say here, and Red produces a case like a conjurer produces a rabbit from a hat. (Did you happen to notice the ‘down the rabbit hole’ Alice in a Wonderland reference by Aram?) This is no minor, ‘let’s keep Cooper off my back’, case: this is truly a big fish (referring back to Red’s comment that he is Ahab way back in the pilot episode).
Much later we have Cooper again laying into a Reddington in a very personal way. The thrust of his attack is that Raymond is selfish:
Harold: Doing good for selfish reasons doesn’t make you good. It just makes you good at being selfish.
Harold: You wanna know why those closest to you betray you? Why you’re alone and hunted? It’s because even when you try to do good, you cannot seem to understand where your selfishness ends and other people’s lives begin.
Now, it is true that Raymond often appears to be selfish, especially in the cases he chooses to present to the Task Force, however this rings strangely to the ears. Why now Harold? Is Cooper referring to Liz and her betrayal? Does he know of Kaplan’s betrayal? Does he know of another betrayal?
Reddington clearly thinks that Cooper’s reaction is, at least in part, due to his daughter’s illness (Cooper’s daughter this week, Donald’s brother last week- these relatives are certainly coming out of the woodwork at the worst possible time) but something else seems to be in play here. As mentioned earlier Reddington can show consideration for others… he shows concern that Cooper sending Aram undercover was ‘reckless’. The irony actually seems to be that Cooper is being selfish in his demands too. He is under pressure from Main Justice and therefore demands a case, due to which he places Aram into extreme danger. Why is he so concerned with the Task Force continuing if it really is only being run for Red’s selfish ends?
We have the Reven Wright case being dropped (conveniently), although luckily Donald Ressler is surreptitiously carrying on behind Cooper’s back. Cooper seems quite happy to have it dropped, rather than to stand up and be counted.
Is Cooper projecting his disgust at himself onto Reddington?
Red: I’m a great admirer of his works. Not so much his nudes, they are a trifle splayed for my taste.
Only James Spader could manage to say those lines with a straight face, I’m sure!