After giving the Fulcrum to Aram for analysis, Liz learns that a CIA spy in Uzbekistan has been kidnapped. She warily resists helping until Red says that Uzbek separatist leader Ruslan Denisov is holding Agent Burke and several corporate executives for ransom. While the CIA tries to deny Burke’s existence, Liz and Ressler arrive in Tashkent where the Uzbek military’s Counterinsurgency Commander Kushan warns them not to pursue their own investigation. After being followed to their hotel where they find Red with a group of foreign businessmen, Liz and Ressler are abducted from the elevator and taken through a secret passageway to Denisov’s lair. Telling them about a faulty Anecca Oil pipeline that’s killed hundreds, Denisov then frees a disfigured executive from a tank of polluted water and says that Burke’s release will be negotiated. Meanwhile, an investigation into the disappearance of Harbormaster Eugene Ames leads the police to inquire about Liz.
Though Anecca VP Dean Walker says he’s just arrived to help, Ressler gets him to admit he’s been there for weeks trying to negotiate with Denisov, whom he accuses of sabotage. When Kushan orders them confined to their hotel, Liz and Ressler are again taken from the elevator and delivered to Denisov and his negotiator - Red. Pretending not to know them, Red waits until Denisov leaves before offering to take Liz and Ressler to a village to see the toxic leak and broker Burke’s release. Though they’ve promised Cooper they would wait, the CIA is preparing a strike on the separatists when Kushan’s men swoop in and kill Denisov’s team without finding any hostages. Meanwhile, when reached in Uzbekistan, Liz refuses to discuss her connection to Ames.
With Cooper certain the CIA ordered the attack and the negotiations at a standstill, Red talks Denisov out of killing Burke, who says the agency is covering up former Soviet Cabinet Minister Leonid Zhabin’s deal with Anecca for a secret pipeline that’s the source of the toxic leaks. Armed with Zhabin’s confession, Red forces Anecca to leave Uzbekistan. As Ressler arranges for Burke’s release, Cooper stops the CIA from arresting Red and killing Denisov. Refusing to help him escape, Red encourages Denisov to accept a short prison sentence that will make him a national hero - and delivers Kushan to help pave the way. But when a French company announces it’s building a new pipeline, Liz realizes that Red did their bidding. Finally, while Aram tells Liz that he can’t crack the Fulcrum, the Samoan who guarded Tom gets immunity for taking the police to Ames’ corpse.