After decoding The Fulcrum, the FBI hunts an imminent national threat; Red makes good on a gruesome promise; Liz seeks clues about her past.
A burn-scarred Chinese man we'll call Quon Zhang and his partner cut through a cemetery's perimeter fence, then make their way to plot 332 and start digging. When they're interrupted by a guard, Quon Zhang uses his shovel to end the man's life. Hours later, Zhang displays the exhumed corpse of unmarried PhD student Marjorie Lin for client Mr. Liao, who doesn't blink at her price tag: $37,000, "enhancements" included.
At his safe house, Tom searches for boats online while Liz talks about the photo of herself and the woman she believes to be her mother that she found in Red's apartment. She's cross-checked the photo against 51 million names in the NGI database and come up empty. Tom advises Liz to ask Red, but she thinks he wants to keep her from knowing and will thus bully anyone who knows into silence. According to Tom, that silence is Red's tell. When Tom worked for Berlin, he learned the silence Red instills in people results in a certain look of fear that can't be hidden. Tom blows up the photo for a better look at a ring worn by the woman, recognizing a distinctive Russian inspection stamp. Since Tom used to work for Berlin, Liz asks him to reach out to known associates.
Red meets with Leonard Caul, who has created a program to create hard copies of The Fulcrum's data. Since most of it is over 25 years old, Red fears it may be obsolete, but Caul assures him the key players are still among the most powerful people on the planet. Although the cabal's unknown plan is set to commence in 2017, Red knows The Director has moved up the timeline in an effort to reduce the number of players. Since The Director killed Red's inside man, Hobbs, the clear next step is to find Jasper, one of The Director's closest allies. Having threatened to cut Jasper's tongue out, Red knows he'll be hard to find...
Liz finds Red sitting on the porch of Caul's lakefront home with a file of fake birth and death certificates on Lien Mah, a Chinese national who died on U.S. soil. Red believes a clever smuggler, who has business with the cabal, is actually shipping Marjorie Lin's corpse back to the mainland as Lien Mah. When Liz points out that she restored the détente with the cabal by showing The Fulcrum to The Director, Red corrects her. The détente is over, and all Liz did by going to The Director was prove herself to be an enemy worthy of destruction. Now they need to find the smuggler, who's most likely transporting explosives for the cabal. In fairly short order, Amar and Saram identify seven similar dead Chinese women, prompting Chinese authorities to launch their own investigation. Now the FBI will wait for the smuggler to file paperwork authorizing transport of Lien Mah/Melanie Lin back to China, then seize the casket. Connolly waits in Cooper's office, unhappy that recent events have made him look weak in the press. Now he wants Cooper to fabricate, then leak a classified document to the Post in order to convey that Connolly's office is all over the Reddington case. Moments later, a call comes in. Lien Mah/Melanie Lin's casket has been found. Receiving a summons from Tom, Liz begs off, leaving Ressler and Samar to proceed to the airport, where the bomb squad comes up empty. Wondering whether the contraband may be secreted in the corpse, Samar calls in ME Maynard who is stunned to report nothing beyond the most meticulously embalmed body he's ever seen.
After learning Jasper has gone off the grid, Red hatches a plan to flush him out. Dembe travels to Key West to blow up Jasper's yacht, an act that dominoes into a stock hemorrhage so catastrophic, Jasper is forced to hold a press conference to stem the bleeding. Meanwhile, Tom accosts beefy Russian Konstantin in a Russian bathhouse to show him the photo of Liz's mother. When the situation gets dicey, Liz charges into the men-only sanctuary with gun drawn to demand a name. When Konstantin claims he swore he wouldn't tell, the look of fear in his eyes can only mean one thing: Red. Liz storms out with Tom in her wake to check the sign-in book. When she sees the name Bill Kershaw, she rushes to Red's secret apartment and begins tossing the place in a fury, speaking to him as if he's there because she knows he's listening. When she promises to find out every last one of his secrets, Red calls. It's time to discuss the photograph.
At Caul's house, Red confirms that Liz's mother, a KGB agent he knew as Katarina Rostova, is the woman in the photograph. Liz's real name is Masha, and she was born in Moscow; both her parents were in foreign intelligence. And yes, it was Red who blocked Liz's memory of the night of the fire - but he refuses to tell her why. Liz leaves, again promising to find the answers herself. Meanwhile, Cooper meets his wife, Charlene, to explain that Connolly wants him to leak classified intel to the press, and it would seem his place in the lifesaving clinical trial depends on it. Charlene doesn't bat an eye; Cooper should leak the intel, people do it all the time. His life depends on it!
Back at the FBI, Aram tells the team that in the five days since her death, Marjorie Lin was given veneers that he's traced to a Dr. Henry McGlasson. Liz and Ressler proceed to his address, which we recognize as Zhang's workspace, where they're met by a macabre site: papier-mâché mannequins of Chinese women dressed in elaborate silk gowns. Aram explains that these mannequins are ghost brides, part of an outlawed folk tradition of tending to deceased, unmarried grooms in the afterlife. Among the mail-order corpse bride mannequins is a woman no one has seen before, which means another grave is about to be filled and robbed. Ressler finds a briefcase full of cash and brings it back to Aram for analysis. It's complicated, but the bills, worth five times more than face value, can be traced back to Mr. Chaoxiang Han. His only son, Jin Han, heir to the family's billion-dollar tech empire, committed suicide after being left at the altar by fiancée An Bai, now a Georgetown student and presumably the smuggler's next victim.
Meanwhile, Jasper has resurfaced at a Boston hotel, per Red's prediction. After abducting Jasper and bringing him to Caul's house, Red calls Samar to help invoke a scene straight out of "Marathon Man." Samar plays dentist while Red demands to know the cabal's plan for 2017. When Jasper claims ignorance, Red leaves him to Samar, who cuts his binds, claiming The Director sent her to help him escape. Samar shoots Dembe then rushes Jasper to her car, demanding to know what he told Red. Claiming he revealed nothing, Jasper admits the cabal plans to hit a U.S. defense installation, but he doesn't know which one; The Director's choice will be finalized next week. Just then, Samar turns back into Caul's driveway where Red waits - it's all been a plot to flush out what Jasper knows.
Aram calls An Bai, warning she may be in danger. She is to lock herself in and stay on the phone with him. Aram can hear her screaming when Zhang knocks her out. Luckily, Liz and Ressler show up just in time to ram Zhang as he drives An Bai's car through her garage door. During Zhang's interrogation, Liz mentions his extensive burns, so he tells his story. His older brother died unmarried and, according to superstition, haunted his family from the grave, plaguing them with bad luck. Likewise, Jin Han now haunts those who denied him happiness in the next life - including those on the Task Force. Samar presses on, asking who paid Zhang to smuggle explosives on behalf of the cabal. Zhang smirks; Liz and Samar have it all wrong. He was paid to smuggle an agent names Karakurt into the U.S. - and he's already in the country.
At the DOJ, Cooper tells Connolly that he will comply with the request to leak the fake classified document. He thought Connolly hooked him up with the clinical trial as a friend - not to use it as leverage for his own personal gain. Connolly confesses the leverage he won isn't personal; it's for the cabal - and they now own Cooper, especially since Charlene leaked the classified document to the Post this morning. All will soon be revealed... moments later, a tormented Cooper stands by, witnessing Connolly's swearing-in ceremony as Attorney General.
The Director's phone rings, just as a package is delivered. "I had a little chat with Jasper today," Red says. "Turns out he wasn't very good at holding his tongue, so I thought I'd give you a shot at it. The Director opens his package to find... Jasper's severed tongue. Next, Red calls Liz, but her eyes are glued to the photo of her mother and she's not answering. Instead, she stands outside Tom's safe house in the pouring rain. When he opens the door, she surrenders, falling into his arms. Meanwhile, a hearse pulls up to a loading dock, where a Russian man says, "Welcome to America, sir," and opens a coffin, revealing a man within, wearing an oxygen mask.