"The Blacklist" Episode 14, "Madeline Pratt," provides a gruesome detail about Red's past. Tom and Liz's relationship took another wrong turn, making Liz realise that her marriage is staring at the end board. In the episode, Cooper wants to find out the truth about Diane's disappearance [Female Mr Kaplan must have cleaned-up Diane's body], while someone from DC arrives to stop him from doing that. Here is a full recap of the episode:
Madeline Pratt steals contents from Red's deposit box, which was kept in a bank in Istanbul, Turkey, pretending to be the wife of dead Red. She leaves a note for Red, asking him to meet her at Windsor Lounge. Pratt stole documents worth millions of dollars from Red's deposit box. It was her way of getting Red's attention. Red and Pratt meet as old acquaintances, with a past history. Pratt complains to Red that he did not show up at Florence.
To Liz, Red reveals the new name from his blacklist, Madeline Pratt, and that she had asked him to help her in a heist at Syrian Embassy. Since Red has a habit of using FBI to settle his personal scores or to get something, Liz wants to know what he wants from Pratt. Red talks about Liz making the right decision to not adopt the baby. This stops Liz from probing further about Red's personal motive.
Red returns to the post-office, as the mole is no longer associated with the Cooper headed task-force [In the previous episode, Red had killed Diane Fowler]. Cooper is suspicious about Red's sudden return to the post-office. He demands to know what happened to Diane Fowler. Red feigns ignorance, but Cooper is not buying that. Cooper suspects that Red has something to do with Diane's disappearance. Later, Cooper asks Agent Malik to investigate the disappearance of Fowler, as he believes she might be dead and sees Red as the prime suspect.
Red stone-walls further questions from Cooper by talking about Pratt. He says that to the world, she is politically active, influential and a good citizen. However, the real Pratt steals and exploits her relationships with powerful people that have an impact on national security. The person, who would help pull-off the heist, to steal an effigy, turns out to be Liz. She seems to have some past thieving history. Liz talks about her past exploit to convince Pratt that she can steal. Liz is able to impress Pratt and is employed for the heist job.
Meanwhile, the gap between Liz and Tom is widening. Tom asks Liz to come with him to a teacher's conference in Orlando, and she says yes. However, the heist does not go as planned and Liz is unable to get away.
Liz does not go alone to the Syrian Embassy. Red accompanies her. Liz opens the vault kept in the Embassy, but the effigy is not inside it. The opening of the vault sets-off the security alarm, and Liz is arrested by the Syrian guards. Red manages to get her out of the situation, while Pratt uses Red's notoriety to put the blame of the attempted heist on him. Pratt, also, gets away with the golden effigy. Pratt had turned-up at the Syrian Embassy with a man belonging to a Russian mafia family.
At the post-office, only Liz turns-up as Red has disappeared again, because he is being blamed for the attempted heist. FBI figures out that someone associated to a Syrian warlord has something to do with the effigy business. The questioning of this someone reveals that the Effigy contains the information about the hidden Russian nukes inside the U.S. territory.
Red finds Pratt on a street, and the two get talking, but both refuse to give-up any information. Pratt wants to know why he did not show-up at Florence, while Red wants to get the coordinates for the Russian nukes. However, they soon are captured and are kept in a different cell at a shady place.
Pratt tells Red that she gave the effigy to the Russians, while Red tells Pratt that he ran out of gas. He talks about how he ran out of gas beside a highway on a Christmas Eve. He was eager to reach home and tell the story to his daughter, who would have found it funny. But, when he had reached home, there was blood everywhere. He talks about missing his daughter. Red tells Pratt that this is the reason why he did not show-up at Florence, and that is why he does not show-up at a lot of other places.
Red's explanation moves Pratt and she is in tears. When the men, who had captured them, take Red away for further torture, Pratt tells them to leave Red and she will write down the location of the effigy. As soon as she does that, Red stands-up, revealing that the men work for him and it was his strategy to get the information out of Pratt. However, he neither confirms nor refutes the veracity of the story from the pages of his past life, indicating that he did not lie about his daughter, running out of gas and reaching home only to find blood everywhere.
FBI team reaches the location where the effigy has been kept. A fight ensues between the FBI and the Russian mafia men. FBI team over-powers the Russians and gets hold of the effigy, but find sand in it. Also, FBI is unable to find Pratt and her location.
The co-ordinates are with Red, and he strikes a deal with Cooper. He is ready to give them in exchange for the golden effigy. Tom leaves for Orlando alone and Jolene is there to give him company at the conference. Liz says to Agent Ressler that it seems her marriage is over. Agent Ressler stays back to give her company, cancelling dinner plans with his girlfriend.
At the post-office, Special Agent, Walter Gary Martin, from DC Bureau is waiting for Cooper. When Cooper arrives, Martin does not waste much time to come to the real business of the visit. He tells Cooper to stop investigating about Diane's disappearance, and it is an order from the top. Martin adds, in a grim, cold tone, that they are taking over the case and Cooper should stop looking into it.
"The Blacklist" is not consistent when it comes to delivering awesome episode every week. The previous episode had all the elements to keep the audience curious and invested. In comparison, "Madeline Pratt" was a jumbled-up episode, with an effigy business that did not make much sense. May be, the golden effigy holds a key to find something, or it has some sentimental value for Red. But, the effigy as the holder of coordinates for 1960s Russian nukes did not excite, nor did the Russian mafia. Also, Tom and Liz's scenes are coming across as repetitive.
Red talking about his past, telling Madeline Pratt about reaching his home and finding blood everywhere was one of the highlights of the episode. It gave a clue to what might have happened to his family, and also why he became the most wanted criminal. The other highlight was the arrival of the Special Agent Martin, and he asking Cooper to stop looking into Diane's disappearance. For the most past, Episode 14 of "The Blacklist" was a mundane viewing experience.