Photo by: Barbara Nitke/NBC

Photo by: Barbara Nitke/NBC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

We’ve now concluded five episodes of the fourth season for the NBC series “The Blacklist,” and this viewer’s found myself, feeling rather lost and dissatisfied. The show, coming off what could arguably be labeled as the series strongest season in the 2015-2016 campaign, as former FBI Agent Elizabeth Keen kept one step ahead of the law and the Cabal. Keen killed the United States Attorney General Tom Connelly, when the Cabal member threatened her and all those she cared for. When she finally cleared her name with the help of Raymond Reddington, she found herself going from the frying-pan and into the fire.

Lizzie found out that she carried Tom’s child and the annulled couple planned to get married and raise their baby together. Reddington, made it clear that he disapproved of the reconciliation, going as far as to putting the kibosh on Tom getting a job in Boston. However, other problems lurked in the background, as somebody kept trying to kidnap Elizabeth. Keen with the help of Mr. Kaplan and Dr. Nick, faked her death so she, Tom and their baby could have a life without Reddington in it.

While Tom knew that the mother of his daughter Agnes, actually lived, he played the part of the grief-struck widower and helped track down the man who attempted to kidnap Lizzie, Alexander Kirk. Kirk and Reddington, knew each other well and likely consider each other mortal enemies. When Kirk believes Liz passed, he sets his sights on kidnapping Agnes, which happens in the final episode of Season Three.

However Agnes, wasn’t the only one that Kirk’s operatives captured. Tom and Agnes had fled to Havana, to join Lizzie in their new life. Kirk introduced himself to Liz, (or Masha, as he called her) as her father Constantin Rostov in the final scene of the season. Lizzie’s capture revealed that Kate Kaplan thought up the plan that gave Liz, Tom and Agnes their freedom, Raymond felt betrayed.

While the third season rocketed out of the gates, picking up minutes after Liz killed Connelly. Dembe drove them to the first of many stops that Raymond and Keen to help clear her name. This season opened with a restaging of the previous episode, likely to get Megan Boone, who missed the last third of last year on maternity leave, integrated back into the action. Some fans’ describe this still young season, as dragging along on Social Media sites, if that’s true that might figure into the dynamic.

We’re going to dispense with our usual play-by-play format, this go-round, instead we’re going to discuss the episode entitled “The Lindquist Concern,” as one piece of what we’ve witnessed so far in season four. The relationships have radically evolved since Raymond Reddington turned himself in to Bureau Headquarters, to forge a professional and personal relationship with Elizabeth Keen. Despite pushing the envelope throughout this series’ the writers have retained the elasticity, to bring the regulars back into the fold, even after committing some rather heinous acts.

Those relationships have been in a constant state of flux, throughout it’s run and we’ve witnessed once bitter enemies become allies. We’ve also watched a long time partnership, undergo irreparable damage and the ripples of that action are just beginning to occur. As word filters through TEAM-RED, what will be the fallout and reaction of the Task-Force?

RED AND MR. KAPLAN: We might as well tackle the 800-pound gorilla in the room first, as it shocked and disappointed many of the long time viewers. Although Kate certainly didn’t go softly into the night, the question among the fans remains, was Raymond justified in shooting her for her betrayal. Although many viewers believe Reddington had ample justification to turn on Mr. Kaplan, I reside in the opposite camp.

Red’s a self-admitted psychopath and we’ve watched his face turn to stone and his eyes become steely, often over these three-plus seasons. However we’ve also seen the depths of Raymond’s kindness, a perfect example’s his interaction with Skyler Ayers, a special-needs child with a rare blood disease. Reddington’s likely the first person to talk to the youngster, like he’d talk to any other boy. It’s difficult to believe that someone with that big a heart, could callously turn on the woman he described as his better half.

Dembe started feeling the ramifications of his actions in this installment, as he sat in the pews of the church that Reddington and Dembe are residing in. (Raymond told Liz, that he normally has a devil of a time falling asleep, but he sleeps like a babe in the manger in the church.) He tells Red that forgiveness won’t come, for Kate and what he did. Reddington replies that Dembe did nothing and the man Raymond rescued as a teen, confirmed that was his sin. He denied Mr. Kaplan when she came to him for help and he allowed Raymond to kill her without voicing his regrets.

Teddy Brimley, the geriatric Marquis De Sade, mentioned her in this episode as he informed Raymond and Dembe he’s getting hitched on the 16, and to extend the invite to Mr. Kaplan. Lizzie’s already asked Reddington where Kate’s at and Red avoided answering her, but how will she handle it when she finds out?

Despite Raymond’s proficiency with a pistol, Reddington failed to kill his “Cleaner” in the middle of the wilderness, instead just damaging her cheek. Although Kate’s situation’s far from comforting, as she finds herself shackled to her bed by some old guy who lives off the grid and has only been identified as The Hunter, what’s in store for her future? She knows all of Reddington’s weaknesses, will she eventually turn into Raymond’s greatest foe?

WHO, EXACTLY’S CONSTANTIN ROSTOV?:  Reddington, specifically stated that although Kirk believes he’s Lizzie’s father, he believes otherwise. Keen stormed into the church clutching a DNA report, stating that Rostov’s indeed her father, why does Red continue to believe other wise? Although Rostov’s repeatedly said that he just wants his family together again, his considering using Agnes as a bone-marrow donor, shows his true desire. Rostov wants to live longer and he’s considering risking his granddaughter’s life to fulfill that wish. Unless Elizabeth Keen’s not the person who provided the DNA for this report, Rostov appears to be her biological father.

IS THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT, COMPLETELY CORRUPT IN THE BLACKLIST UNIVERSE?:  Although Raymond got the Task-Force involved in the capture of Silas Gouldsberry and The Lindquist Concern, allegedly because he’d lead them to Agnes, that didn’t come close to fruition. Instead Ressler and Navabi saved the information from going public, only to see it wind up in the hands of Laurel Hitchin. She in turn gave the information to Reddington, to see what inventions he desired, before selling them to among others the Cabal. Reddington will get 45% of any money that Hitchin receives. Is the planet truly better off with the way things went down?

Although it appears that Constantin Rostov will remain with us for at least a few more episodes, it’s time for the writer’s to progress this season’s plot. Can Raymond be forgiven for his actions, or will he like Dembe keep seeking salvation that’s never arriving?

Photo Courtesy Of NBC

Photo Courtesy Of NBC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

“Woke up this morning my house was cold
Checked out the furnace she wasn’t burnin’
Went out and hoped in my old Ford
Hit the engine but she ain’t turnin’
We’ve given each other some hard lessons lately
But we ain’t learnin’
We’re the same sad story that’s a fact
One step up and two steps back.”

Bruce Springsteen One Step Up

Tempers flaring, patience running thin and we’re witnessing long-term relationships hitting the danger zone. That could be an accurate summary, for Season Four of the NBC hit-drama “The Blacklist,” but that level spiked in Episode Four, entitled “Gaia.” When Aram Mojtabai let’s the fur fly, we know we’re traveling in unchartered waters.

Our episode begins out in the woods as we see the speaker horn of an old Victrola and sound of Classical Music fills the great outdoors. We then see a man who appears to be in his mid-thirties and as the camera pans to a long shot we see that he lives in an old school bus and he’s raising his own potted crops. He starts looking at his tomatoes, when blood starts dripping from his nose and he goes inside the bus. He grabs a pair of surgical scissors and extracts a large wad of blood-soaked cotton gauze out of his nostril.

He then picks up a radio phone and we hear him talking to a woman named Maya, he tells her he’s got two new targets and that she has to get her and someone else out of the state. The call doesn’t last long, as she either hung up on him or he reached her voice mail.

We follow the man to a retirement party, for a man who owns a helicopter charter service. The man retiring pokes fun at his head mechanic for being a Cubs’ fan and the man from the woods, puts a beer down in front of the mechanic and says he’s from Wrigley Ville. The mechanic nods in appreciation for the free beer.

The next scene, the mechanic and the guy from the woods run into each other again and start making small-talk, but the mechanic’s unaware that the guy from the woods laced his beer with poison and he dies of what the coroner believes was a heart-attack.

Liz Keen’s sitting on the floor, scouring through documents that she hopes will lead her to the location of her infant daughter Agnes, when her laptop emits a tone informing her somebody’s attempting to contact her. She opens her computer and she’s getting a video-feed from Constantin Rostov, he says he wanted to speak to her when she was alone and Lizzie only wants to know how Agnes’ doing. Rostov adjusts the camera to show Keen her cooing daughter and though she’s relieved her child’s safe, she tells Rostov she’s on to him and his plans.

The former FBI Agent tells Rostov that she’s aware of the blood disease he suffers from and that’s the real reason he’s been searching for her and Agnes. Rostov admits that his health’s at stake, but tells Lizzie that he just wants his family reunited and he says the only way that can happen is for her to cut ties with Reddington. He then tells Masha that the link will remain open, so she can check in with Agnes at any time. There’s an unspoken agreement that she won’t try to trace the link, or he’ll cut off contact.

Rostov’s getting another transfusion and Constantin asks if he has six-months, the doctor replies possibly less. He says Rostov always realized that the transfusions were only a temporary fix and a young dark-haired woman says that Rostov’s got to use the child. The doctor vehemently disagrees, saying even if Agnes’ and Rostov are a genetic match, the procedure would put the infant in mortal danger. The young woman scoffs at the doctor’s words and says that he’s not the one who’s dying.

Tom heads back to where he’s staying with Liz and she tells him about her conversation with Kirk and the link he’s set-up so she can see Agnes. Keen immediately wants to trace the link, but Lizzie begs him not to. She says that she can play on Rostov’s ego and gain his trust and then they can rescue Agnes and ensure her safety. Tom remains silent on the issue, so naturally Liz assumed he’d follow her wishes, you’d think that after all this time she’d realize that Keen always believes he knows best.

Raymond and Liz meet and he says he’s got a kind of, sort of clue that could lead them to Agnes. Reddington says that he’s searching for an eco-terrorist known only as Gaia, which is Mother Earth in Greek. Raymond explains that the eco-terrorist disguises his attacks as accidents, so that the people force Government Agencies to fix the problem.

When Keen informs the rest of the task force, they review some of the accidents that Gaia engineered in the past and that some of the incidents took innocent lives in order to save other innocent lives. Harold sends Navabi and Ressler into the field to see what they can find on Gaia, however Aram stops Samar and apologizes that he basically blew her off the previous evening on the phone.

Mojtabai, asks Samar if she’d like for them to talk about her possible transfer later, but she informs him that she already decided to request a transfer and that its being processed. Although shaken, Aram congratulates her on her upcoming move and she says she’d better not keep Donald waiting.

As Donald and Navabi search through records trying to find some info on Gaia, Ressler tells Samar that he Googled Aram’s new girl-friend. She asks why he did that and he responds that he wanted to see if Elise was hot and Donald says she’s quite hot indeed.

The Gaia poisons a second victim an inspector for Borron Energy Service. He lambasted the inspector for allowing environmental dangers to exist, the guy replied that just about everything in this world can kill you. He takes his laced coffee back to his vehicle and shortly thereafter as the inspectors taking his last breaths, the eco-terrorist goes out to the guy’s vehicle and says that he was right about so many dangers out in the world. He then grabs the guy’s clipboard and hard hat.

We find ourselves in a shack and see Mr. Kaplan lying on a cot with a piece of cloth covering the wound on her cheek. Suddenly the door opens and we see the dog and it’s owner enter the cabin, however without Kate having her glasses the shapes are too blurry for her to identify and she falls back to sleep.

Aram tells the rest of the Task Force that he might have identified their suspect, as he’s been pretending to be an inspector doing spot inspections in energy plants. Aram’s tracked him to an energy facility he’s doing a spot inspection on at that moment and Navabi and Ressler head to the plant to apprehend the suspect. Security informs them where the suspect’s at, but he eludes them and steals a security vehicle with Donald and Samar in pursuit.

The Gaia thinks he’s made his escape but then he’s cut off by police vehicles in front of him and when he attempts to back up, he realizes he’s boxed in by law enforcement. The Gaia then goes forward and slams against the two police vehicles and escapes.

They recover his forged ID card and Keen tells Harold that Raymond’s in contact with one of his guys to track down the Gaia. Dembe and Raymond arrive at a bowling alley and Red shouts to our old friend Glen Carter, finder of lost people, that he needs his services immediately. Jelly Bean says he’s off the clock now and Dembe starts giving Glen pointers on how to improve his game. Raymond shows Glen the badge and he immediately recognizes it as the work of Ji Ming a Chinese associate of his.

Dembe, Raymond, Glen and the Asian fellow meet in the next scene and apparently the Chinese man only speaks Mandarin, which Jelly Bean happens to speak. Reddington tries to hurry the conversation along and tells Glen he just needs an address. The Asian gentleman looks at Red and then speaks in Mandarin and walks away. Glen says the guy doesn’t like Raymond, as Reddington looks like his third wife. At this point Raymond realizes that Glen’s just yanking his chain and he already acquired the address.

Liz, Raymond and Dembe head to where Gaia’s made his base of operations. They find a picture of Maya who’s pregnant in the photo and Keen starts talking about missing babies and now she’s consumed with Agnes. Raymond realizes what’s going on and tells Lizzie that they’ll soon have Agnes back safe and sound.

Tom gets in contact with a former associate named Krantz and the mercenary agrees to gather his crew and to locate Rostov’s link and help Keen recover Agnes.

They’ve identified the eco-terrorist as Owen Ayers, a highly decorated military veteran who retired for medical reasons a few years before. Ayers final mission was Fukushima, Japan, which suffered a catastrophic accident inside a nuclear plant. Ayers inhaled toxic-gas while on the mission, making him a dead man walking and he and his toddler son Skyler share a blood disease, that caused the child to be born with a disfigured face.

We’re back at the shack with Mr. Kaplan, when we finally see who carried Kate away on a make-shift stretcher. So far he’s only been identified as The Hunter, but he’s portrayed by veteran actor Leon Rippy,  who played the school janitor in 11/22/63. The Hunter resembles a retired roadie from the Allman Bros. Band, circa early Seventies, with silver hair hanging down to his shoulders.

He tells Kate that she’s been on her back for too long and he’s going to put her into a sitting position. He then puts his arm behind her neck and although she screams in pain, she’s able to sit. He asks her if she can understand him and then asks if she can nod, which Mr. Kaplan does. He then asks if the men who did this to her will be coming back and she shakes her head no. He starts feeding her some soup, but he realizes she wants to say something to him, she croaks out thank you and The Hunter smiles.

Aram and Liz realize that Ayers is planning a gas explosion in the Hudson River, dangerously close to the biggest nuclear facility on the Eastern Seaboard. Ayers intends to create a Fukushima on the Hudson and when contacted by Ressler on the radio he says there’s no way they’ll be able to stop him as he’s piloting a chopper over the Hudson.

Mojtabai attempts to hack into the helicopter’s controls but he’s unable to do anything. Cooper then asks if Aram can shut off the rotor and the Tech Guru realizes he can, but he says he’s already taken one life and couldn’t take another. Cooper then pushes the button that stops the rotor and Ayers crashes and dies in a field not far from where some kids are playing football.

Keen’s back at her home and she’s singing Rock-A-Bye-Baby to Agnes, just as Krantz, Tom and the other mercenaries are about to break into Kirk’s hideout. Unfortunately Rostov sees them before they can rescue Agnes and Constantin tells Masha that he’s disappointed in her for tracking the signal. She breaks down crying and says she doesn’t know what he’s talking about, then Rostov shows Tom on one of the camera feeds. Constantin says that he’s cutting off contact and cuts off the feed.

Maya and Skyler are sitting in an ice-cream shop when Raymond and Dembe join them in their booth. Red tells Skyler that he’s been looking forward to meeting him and right then the waitress puts down three ice-cream sundaes on the table, chocolate, strawberry and caramel.  Reddington says that he’s always found caramel’s a great lubricant in awkward introductions. Turns out that Raymond just wants the name of Tyler’s hematologist, which Maya gives up willingly. She asks if Raymond also has a special-needs child and Reddington says that an infant’s life’s in danger.

When Tom returns to the place he and Liz are staying at, Lizzie gets in his face about not respecting her wishes and she says she knows Reddington’s involved. Tom says that Raymond had no knowledge of what Keen did, that he got in touch with a former associate. Liz asks him if the associate’s from his skinhead days or when he was Berlin’s goon. Tom responds that nobody’s sorrier than he is that he failed, but Liz replies their daughter feels worst of all where ever she is.

Raymond and Lizzie meet again and Reddington explains that the reason he went after Owen Ayers, was that he Skyler and Rostov have the same doctor. That they’re very close to finding him and then they’ll be able to get Rostov and rescue Agnes. Lizzie tells Raymond she lied to him earlier and that Kirk did reach out to her with the link, but in Tom’s effort to rescue their daughter, Rostov escaped with their child.

We end this episode with two quick scenes. Raymond visits Dr. Sebastian Reifler and he recognizes Reddington. He informs Red that Skyler Ayers, has done well and Red says he’s aware of that. However he needs to accompany the doctor the next time he has a house call for Kirk.

Kate wakes up in the cabin and after calling out hello, she realizes she’s alone. She gets up from the bed and realizes that one of her ankles has a shackle around it. Apparently The Hunter is not just a nice guy.

Courtesy of ABC

Courtesy of ABC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

We begin tonight with the pursuit of our “enemy”. It appears a plan has been foiled and a laptop stolen. Back stateside, the President makes his way to the Oval intercepted by Aaron. Aaron gives Kirkman his itinerary for the day, which begins with Hookstratten. She is still pushing to get Kirkman to make a move and publicly announce they have identified the perpetrator of the Capital Bombing. Kirkman is very political in his responses to her. In the beginning, Kirkman would have given her a second set of keys to the West Wing, now, she gets the rehearsed soundbites.

Governor Royce of Michigan is leaning on the President’s interview (where he kind of hinted to being asked to resign prior to the bombing) as precedent to ignore any order the ‘fake’ President gives. In a bold move Emily offers to travel to Michigan to act as legal observer to make sure Royce doesn’t wrongfully imprison Arab Americans or do anything else short of legal.

General Cochran has the next morning appointment, none of these the President has or probably will enjoy today. Before Cochran can stand before Kirkman, the President makes it very clear that he’s had a rough morning and already is not in the mood for Cochran’s antics.

Kirkman: General it’s barely 7am and I’ve already been ambushed by the presumptive Speaker and we may have domestic crisis on our hands. So please, choose your words wisely.
Cochran: I don’t need to sir. We found Majid Nassar.

In the situation room, there is more evidence that points to Al-Sakar. An American agent on location has identified the same bomb signature as the one found at ground zero. Kirkman is much more at ease about the certainty of Al-Sakar. But with an American agent on the inside, Kirkman isn’t excited about trading one American life for retaliation for killing a thousand.

Upon touching down in Michigan, Emily returns a call to Aaron who is worried about her up there and trying really hard not to show it. Emily gets off the phone to depart the plane only to find the plane is surrounded by local police. The police presence is not a welcoming committee. Royce is now behaving like Michigan is their own sovereign state independent of the rest of the country. In no uncertain terms, Royce strongly suggests she and the staff get back on the plane and head back to Washington.

Seth and Aaron observe the acting Press Secretary from the back of the room and he is, in a word, horrible. Aaron delegates this one to Seth. As Seth is essentially the Communications Department, this would technically fall under his purview. He pulls this “Carter” aside 1 on 1 and gives him a perspective he might not have considered. A Press Secretary must tame the beasts. Learn to deflect. Control the situation.

Kirkman is now getting a full glimpse into the madness that is Governor Royce. Royce will not allow Emily to leave the airport. Emily seems to think retreating and regrouping is the best strategy. Kirkman has an idea. Royce has forced Kirkman’s hand and this will not end well for Royce. President Kirkman is about to declare Michigan in a state of emergency and is going to federalize the National Guard. Only, when they arrive, the commanding officer (General Munoz) refuses to follow Kirkman’s order and puts their support behind their local Commander-in-Chief, Governor Royce.

In the Cabinet room a call has been set up to include the Algerian President to bring in Nassar. The Algerian President maintains that Nassar is not in his country. This changes things slightly. The American operative has 12 hours to check in. If he hasn’t by then, the attack on the terrorist compound will commence with or without the safety of their operative.

With Carter’s first attempt at establishing control and taming the beast he fails. It started out well, then the gaggle turned on him. In what must be a significant low point, Carter, without warning, jets out of there. One of the reporters makes a crack at the “Kirkman Presidency” and there is a short moment before Seth jumps in to take questions. He has that CJ Cregg (West Wing) command and gravitas needed to be a successful Press Secretary. And Aaron sees it too.

Emily has a great plan to turn the attention away from Royce’s protect Michigan bs to forcing him to pull back when a large group of Muslim-American protestors descend upon the airport. The last thing Governor Royce wants is for the American people to see him give the order to use force in order to remove non violent protestors. Just when it seems like things might start to fall in line for Kirkman, Aaron gets a phone call. “We might have a second mutiny on our hands.”

Kirkman and Aaron hastily make their way to the situation room. Cochran has begun to lay the ground work for an eventual attack that the President did not authorize. Cochran charges in with what fictional Generals in this situation charge in with. Using terms like “eradicate them from the face of the earth” and “is a sacrifice worth making”.

Cochran: When a snake’s in your kitchen, you don’t invite it to dinner. You cut off its head.
Kirkman: You make a very good point, General. And seeing that this is my kitchen, I am relieving you of your command, effective immediately.
Cochran: What…?
Kirkman: General, you are fired.

Aaron walks in on an unsuspecting Seth. “You hear the rumor? There’s a rising star in the White House Communications department.” Seth shrugs it off as if Aaron is referring to Carter. He quickly figures out that Aaron is talking about Seth. Aaron lays it out but hesitates on the elephant in the room. This is a political move. Aaron wants Seth because he’d be great at the job…and he is the son of Muslim-American immigrants. Seth rejects it immediately asking Aaron to leave.

Hannah has spent most of the episode trying to find holes in the McLeish story and she can’t. It appears he really was just a lucky guy. Hannah requests to be reassigned. The Director agrees, kind of. Hannah is requesting a new assignment. The Director asks her to let him sleep on it. The Director is banking on the idea that Hannah will hate herself if she quit just because it got difficult.

During the plane ride from Deerborn to Washington DC, Emily turns around Royce’s steadfast stance on being anti-Kirkman. He begins to extend the proverbial olive branch and is met by Kirkman’s arrows (see what I did there).

Kirkman: I believe all Americans regardless of race or religion should be afforded and protected by the same inalienable rights.
Royce: If I may—
Kirkman: You may not. Governor, you violated the rights of the citizens of Michigan and today you conspired with the National Guard to defy a direct order from the President. James Royce, I am placing you under arrest for treason against the United States of America.

Kirkman and Aaron leave with a very confused if not offended Emily wondering. why that just happened. Kirkman and Aaron make their way to Seth’s office. Seth was right to turn down the job if the reason was to parade a muslim, but when the President asks, its clear that was not his intention. Kirkman just wanted the right man for the job. Despite Kirkman’s almost willingness to beg, Seth won’t make him. Seth accepts the job under the right circumstances.

Hannah lies on her bed thumbing through pictures of her lover and recently deceased when her phone rings from an unknown number. The voice on the phone is foreign to her but comes with a significant new lead.

Woman on the phone: Find room 105 and you’ll find out more about Peter McLeish.

Kirkman enters the situation room almost undetected. He’s there because the 12 hours are up and the identity of a dead body has been confirmed as their agent on the inside.

Kirkman: Admiral Chernow, you are in command. I would like to proceed with the attack in Algeria as planned.
Chernow: Sir?
Kirkman: Admiral, prepare us for war.

Photo By: David Giesbrecht/NBC

Photo By: David Giesbrecht/NBC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

 “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”

 Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

If you’ve never had the pleasure of reading the Tolstoy classic, I’d recommend it highly, for fans of the NBC series “The Blacklist.” A key component of the novel’s plot revolves around an aristocratic woman leaving her husband and children for a dashing soldier from the Russian Army, Count Vronsky. Don’t settle for a cinematic rendition, as none of them do the book justice. However as Tolstoy notes, each dysfunctional family has its own unique collection of baggage and the nuclear and extended family of Elizabeth Keen, certainly stands out from the rest.

We begin the episode however with a group of strangers, as we watch four paramilitary frogmen emerge from the water in the dead of night. The four operatives take out a power station that controls the electricity for Savannah, Georgia, they kill the three security guards on the premises and then set explosive charges. The blast destroys the facility and plunges the city into darkness.

Liz and Tom arrive at the Post Office with Ressler, and Liz asks why she can’t help in the investigation of her own daughter getting kidnapped. Donald, tells her that she’s lost her security clearance when she lost her shield, then out of frustration tells the Keens’ to check things out as he’s already broken laws by showing them what he’s already shared.

As Tom and Lizzie look through the documents, Aram and Samar walk into the Post Office and Mojtabai says you’re back and then walks over and gives Liz a hug and tells her he’s glad she’s okay. Keen says she’s sorry and she didn’t mean to hurt anybody, but Navabi responds she believes Liz failed to think whom she was hurting. Aram tries to make peace, but Keen owns up to it and says she was trying to save her daughter and hopes they can understand that. Liz receives a call from Reddington to set up a meeting.

Keen meets Dembe and Reddington in a cemetery, which strikes Liz as odd. Raymond muses who Mr. Kaplan has buried in a certain grave, when Liz asks where’s Mr. Kaplan. Red avoids the question and says that he’s doing his best to find Agnes and he hopes to return the infant to her mother. She asks Reddington if he has any leads, he confirms that he does, however he’s working this case alone. Keen says she understands that Reddington feels betrayed, but this involves her daughter and if Raymond has any information he has to share it with her, to which Red replies no he doesn’t.

However Reddington relents and tells Keen that he expected Kirk would go underground after the FBI raided his estate, but his sources tell him differently. Apparently Constantin Rostov contacted a young venture capitalist named Miles McGrath. McGrath’s what the tech world refers to as an “Incubator,” criminals pitch their schemes to him and if he believes there’s a profit to be made, he bankrolls the enterprise. He’ll be spending the night in London and Reddington intends on contacting him there.

Keen informs the Task Force what Reddington shared with her, and that he doesn’t want to work with the Bureau on this mission. Harold Cooper, decides he doesn’t like that strategy and he tells Aram to contact the London attaché office and to get eyes on McGrath. The decision doesn’t work out as Cooper expected.

We see glimpses of a London disco, then we join McGrath, his bodyguard and one of the frogmen, a guy named Dean Bradley. Bradley tells the tech genius that all went better than planned in their mission in Savannah, and Miles grins and says it appears they’re ready for stage two.

As Bradley leaves the hotel and gets into his car, two London detectives take photos of Bradley and start sending the images to the Bureau. However suddenly there’s a knock on the driver’s side window and the body-guard kills the two men plus another law enforcement official and destroys the laptop in the middle of the transmission.

We’re transported to the country and we start to hear the moans and groans of Mr. Kaplan. There’s blood on the ground and we see some on her face, but we really can’t see how much damage she suffered. Suddenly she stretches her arm out and grabs for her glasses, which has one of the lenses cracked.

Liz and Tom head to Bureau headquarters and try to get some information on Agnes and Rostov, the agent they deal with says that an Agent Sarvino’s working the case and that he’s tied up presently. Liz and Tom pull off a sting, palming the agent’s key card as Liz says she needs to get some air. She then calls Sarvino and pretends she’s the other agent’s assistant and asks for Sarvino to meet the Keens’ in a conference room. It’s a dodge to get Lizzie into Sarvino’s office, and she takes photographs of lots of files and absconded Katarina’s journal. She then gets Tom and thanks the agent for his time and they exit the building.

We watch Kate crawling on her hands and knees until she gets to a creek. She looks at her reflection in the water and gasps. I tried my best to get a visible screen capture of her image, but alas failed to do so, although there did appear to be damage on the right-side of her skull or face.

Aram’s able to get a partial photograph of Dean Bradley from the e-mail sent from London, unfortunately they’re unable to question the former Navy SEAL, as McGrath had one of his operatives take Bradley out while he was jogging. Miles tells Johan Halbeck, the paramilitary leader he couldn’t guarantee that Bradley would remain quiet about their mission. Halbeck asks where he’s going to pick up another guy on such short notice and McGrath says that’s Johan’s problem.

Ressler and Raymond start to put the pieces together during a phone call, once Bradley’s record as a SEAL becomes known. Donald tells Reddington about four frogmen attacking the power station in Savannah, and Red suddenly realizes the frogmen are likely operatives of his old associate Johan Halbeck. Reddington used Halbeck to recover a watch he lost during a romantic tryst.

Raymond and Dembe show up at Johan’s garage and Reddington attempts to convince Halbeck to dump his client for twice as much as he would collect from the client. Halbeck says that he really wishes he could, be he’s partners with this other guy on the deal and it’s turned into a nightmare. Raymond says it sounds like Martin and Lewis, and Johan has no idea Reddington’s referencing Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis.

Halbeck then says that the partner killed one of his men and Raymond says that Johan should walk away from the deal. He says most times he’d try to find him a replacement, but he’s freaked out by this situation and tells Halbeck to contact him when he gets things straightened out. Johan then asks Raymond if he could possibly get a guy and Reddington replies it depends on what his cut would be. The new man joining Johan’s team’s Tom Keen, which Keen gets accepted to after winning a fight with one of the other crew members.

We rejoin Mr. Kaplan as she’s discovered by a dog and the animal’s owner, we never see the person we’re just aware of their presence.

Lizzie reads from Katarina’s journal and she finds out that Katarina’s mission was to seduce and betray Reddington, instead she fell in love with him. Suddenly sees a vision of Katarina writing in her journal at her dressing table and she walks towards the vision. When she gets off the bed, Tom wakes up and asks if she’s okay, she tells him of the irony of the situation, that Katarina had been assigned to Reddington and Tom was assigned to her. She then begs him to be careful, she says lost Agnes and couldn’t stand losing him as well. Tom says soon she’ll have Tom and Agnes back with her.

Halbeck tells his team there will be four security guards, guarding the payload they want to acquire, two in front and two in the back. Ressler and Navabi are tailing the paramilitary unit but then they lose them, the unit’s not going after a truck, it’s target’s a train. There are no trains scheduled to run in that time period, but this is an unscheduled event. The train’s filled with six vats containing samples of every Type A virus known to humanity, Ebola, HIV, Polio and at least 50 more strains of disease. That was why the frogmen took out the power in Savannah, knowing the government would ship it out of the city because they were only using generators for more than 72 hours.

Suddenly all communication they’re receiving from the train drops off and the train’s no longer visible, as if it just vanished into thin air. However Navabi and Ressler at the scene discover a split in the track and a warehouse set where the train’s unloading the deadly toxins. Halbeck give’s McGrath’s goon the sample he requested, the goon’s going to meet Miles at a drinking establishment called the Lodge. Johan then gives Reddington McGrath’s name and his location and tells him he should shoot the tech genius.

Raymond and Dembe surprise Miles and his enforcer at the bar and Raymond demands that McGrath hand over the sample. The arrogant nerd tells Reddington to screw himself and Raymond kills the enforcer with a bullet to the heart, then asks Miles, you were saying?

McGrath wisely chooses to give up Rostov and the sample to Raymond, telling the Concierge Of Crime, he deduced his best way of leaving the bar alive depended on giving Reddington what he wanted. Raymond tells Miles’ that his luck wasn’t as good as he hoped and handcuffs McGrath to the corpse and tells him the Bureau’s on its way.

Dembe and Reddington head to the location but nobody from Rostov’s group is waiting, they’re about to leave when a payphone in the parking lot rings. Raymond picks it up congratulating Kirk and he in turn congratulates Reddington. Raymond offers to trade Rostov the virus for Agnes, but Constantin says he’ll die before he allows his granddaughter to be back in Raymond’s arms.

While Liz awaits word from Reddington, she reads further into Katarina’s journal and discovers her mother’s entry confirming that her husband has the blood disorder that’s plagued the Rostov clan for generations. Katarina says the only saving grace is Masha won’t inherit the disease as it’s only passed from father’s to sons. She once again envisions Katarina in front of her and grabs for her mother’s hand, when a knock at the door brings her back to reality.

Raymond enters and tells Liz and Tom that Rostov was after a sample of the Ribowski virus which causes Leukemia. Apparently the one male member of the Rostov family that lived the longest had contracted the virus and the Leukemia basically counteracted his blood disorder and lived far longer than other family members.

Raymond then says to Liz that she kept asking why her father wanted physical contact with her and the only reason was for her to give him the bone marrow transplant to cure his disease and save his life. He says Kirk didn’t want Lizzie to keep him from Reddington, he just wanted her for his own purposes. He only thinks of her as a collection of cells. She says well Rostov doesn’t have her, but Tom reminds her he’s got Agnes.

Our last vision is seeing Kate being dragged on a makeshift stretcher as the dog and the dog’s owner appear to be trying to help Mr. Kaplan.

The Story Continues Next Thursday Night At 10:00 pm EDT, on NBC.

Courtesy of ABC

Courtesy of ABC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

At ground zero screams of a survivor make their way to Hannah’s ears. We still have not nailed down whether or not her ‘friend’ is alive or not. Naturally, she rushes to the area in the hopes that the survivor is her friend. While she’s happy to see someone pulled from the rubble. The someone in question is not the one she needs confirmation on.

In the Oval Office, Aaron, Emily and Seth await Kirkman’s arrival. The sun has yet to come up, they are in for a long day. They run through the immediate to do list and things seem to normal. That is until, the electricity in the White House begins to fluctuate, like a town affected by a brown-out. Which is never supposed to happen. White House ops center can’t make heads or tails of it. Mike drops everything to get to Kirkman. About the time Mike head’s toward the oval, Kirkman and Seth have the same idea. This is not supposed to ever happen…unless this is another attack.

Mike (to Kirkman): The White has just been hacked.

The hack seems to only have attacked President Kirkman’s laptop. A file is found but its type and origin are out-of-place. Seems like a big risk, but I’m sure we’ll come back to it. Meanwhile Hookstratten, there the act as the whole of Congress to confirm Kirkman’s cabinet choices, is noticing the influx of IT people removing hardware. Aaron and Emily won’t give her anything. Then that’s the moment Aaron and Emily are abruptly asked to leave Hookstratten and follow the gentleman at the door.

The hack was not to take something it was to leave something. Kirkman escorts Aaron and Emily into the situation room. On a massive screen we see what was left behind. A video of a man claiming responsibility for the Capital. The worst part is that he identifies himself as part of the larger group that Cochran already believed was the culprit. The entire room seems to be ready to bomb this group off the face of the planet, except Kirkman. He asks the room for any other theories. No one steps up, except Hannah’s boss, Deputy Director Atwood.

Atwood begins to lay out Hannah’s theory. The undetonated bomb they found was intentional and built-in such a way that would suggest this terrorist group so that they would be forced to consider no one else. Kirkman is not willing to bomb anyone. But he is all too ready to get the leader of this brought in. No matter where he’s hiding.

Kirkman decrees that no one outside the Situation room sees this video. Then he turns around and immediately shows it to Hookstratten. As the totality of Congress (minus our lone survivor from earlier in the episode) she is to be brought in on anything and everything that concerns National security. There is something off about Hookstratten and I’m sure you’ve felt it since her introduction. As she and Kirkman are from opposing parties, eventually there might be something to cause tension. The first hint of that comes when Hookstratten reiterates Cochran’s issue. America needs a villain. Kirkman refuses to believe that Americans need war and violence in order to come together.

Mrs. Kirkman and Penny decide to unpack Leo’s stuff so it feels less temporary. A fine gesture until Penny finds a ziplock bag with pills. President Kirkman has an interview, his first media exposure that the media gets credit for, so the news or assumption on Leo will have to wait. The interview goes well for the most part, until the interviewer suggests that Kirkman had been fired before the Capital incident. Aaron interjects to get Kirkman out of the room. Lie about it and start the Presidency off bad, tell the truth and potential end the Presidency before he has a chance to actually do anything. Kirkman answers the question truthfully and even admits that the ambassadorship signaled the notion that President Richmond no longer wanted Kirkman in his cabinet.

Hannah works with an analyst going over the State of the Union footage. Hannah is looking for anything that looks off. As they scan the footage, Hannah notices a strange woman in the crowd taking pictures with a camera. Hannah orders the analyst to hack her cloud without documentation. He resists but Hannah sells him on it considering that if they don’t play a little dirty they are going to lose.

Earlier in the episode Kirkman and Seth spoke with the son of the late President Richmond. Apparently the kid saw the interview and has completely soured on Kirkman. The President decides to honor the wishes of a son who lost his father. But this feels more political. The son speaks and builds his momentum citing how his father loved those he worked with, especially appreciated support from the other side of the aisle. The President’s eulogy will be replaced by a different speaker. Can you say Hookstratten? This what I’m sure a hostile takeover looks like.

Seth enters the Oval. After the funeral, Seth met up with some former White House staffers who were closer to President Richmond. Apparently, Tyler Richmond (punk son) and his father had a falling out two years ago and had not spoken a word since. Which is intriguing, but will need to take a back seat to the next bit of news. Someone with security clearance (or someone who was graciously brought into the loop) leaked the terrorist video. While the obvious move is to suggest Cochran, Kirkman believes this is the work of Hookstratten. She denies it and shifts focus. She sees this as a good thing. Now the national narrative will switch from fired or not, to rallying support for the sitting Commander-in-Chief. It appears that Hookstratten is not after Kirkman’s job. She’s just laying the groundwork to run in the first post Capital incident General Election.

Atwood requests Hannah’s presence. The meeting begins with him letting her know that skirting the law is not going to pass by unnoticed. Next he hands her a folder of the confirmed dead. Her friend is among them. And now we can narrow the scope of ‘friend’. This particular Senator was married and having an extramarital affair with Hannah.

Aaron meets with staffers of some sort tracking the social media and actual media to gauge what’s being talked about. As Hookstratten predicted, no one is talking about the Secretary of HUD being fired. Kirkman bursts through and asks to speak with Aaron. They are barely out of that office when Kirkman has is “Fredo, I knew it was you” moment. He doesn’t kick Aaron out of the building like I at least was expecting. Kirkman is nothing if not meticulous and willing to hear all angles. Aaron does not deny the action. Furthermore, Aaron believes he was acting in Kirkman’s best interest, unlike most of those he’s surrounded by at the moment. In an even bolder move, Aaron hands over an envelope holding his letter of resignation. Then opens the door for Kirkman to accept it an any time moving forward.

Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

Courtesy of Paramount Pictures

Kirkman places the letter in a drawer in his desk before Tyler Richmond is lead into the room. Kirkman apologizes to Tyler for having him brought in to tell stories about his father to make Kirkman’s speech better. Then Kirkman offers a story of his own. The time the President spent an hour of a cabinet meeting fawning over his son Tyler and how talented he was. Tyler believed his dad missed the recital in question. But in fact, the former President observed from the back to not take focus away from his son. Kirkman was even able to produce a program from that show to prove he was not blowing smoke. No motive. No agenda. President Kirkman just wanted a son in pain to think differently about his father with one sliver of truth.

Emily meets with the President in the Oval. With the recent events of the day, Kirkman has made a decision on his Chief of Staff. He has chosen Aaron. Kirkman needs a political mind. One who sees through the fluff and can steer Kirkman correctly, politically. Emily is not thrilled. Kirkman explains that he needs Emily to be Emily. Appoints her to Special Advisor. Kirkman looks at the clock. Its 9:30 and he’s missed his 6:30 family dinner date.

Tom Kirkman arrives at the residence to a set table, no food, no family. Penny comes out first, the Alex. Alex informs Tom that she gave Leo permission to stay at a friend’s house. Then Leo emerges from the shadows as he has ‘changed his mind’. He makes eye contact with his mother can’t possibly go unnoticed. Shades of Ralphie’s reaction when his mother chose not to tell his father about the fight, in A Christmas Story.

Hannah is called back to her analyst that betrayed her. He did indeed hack that woman’s cloud and found two pictures. Both of the surviving congressman. First photo, sitting in his seat. Second photo almost 30 seconds later, he is no longer in his seat. That congressman survived the attack because he wasn’t inside for the attack.

Aaron is seen taking a stroll beyond the Jefferson Memorial. Kirkman calls and charges him unceremoniously with the overseeing the securing of the Terrorist leader in question. When he hangs up a woman approaches and hands him an envelope labeled, “Thomas Kirkman”.

Aaron: Anything good in there?
Woman: Depends on what side you’re on…

Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC

Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

While watching the final few minutes of “The Blacklist,” I realized that I really DON’T know Raymond Reddington, as well as I thought I had after spending the past three-seasons-plus with him. Although killing became as normal to Raymond, as breathing over the past 20-odd years, I allowed myself to believe what Raymond told Katarina’s ghost in the Cape May episode from last season. “I’ve never killed anyone who didn’t deserve to die.” If Reddington still believes in that code, then his definition of deserving and mine, aren’t in the same area-code.

The second episode of season four, entitled ”Matos,” will likely become one of the most controversial and polarizing chapters of the series, even if the show lasts another decade. The entire episode messed with our sensibilities and with the knowledge we’ve acquired since Raymond turned himself in to FBI Headquarters in 2013. Lizzie Keen, spent most of the episode unsure of what’s real and what’s fictional, her surroundings evoke memories, long since buried and forgotten. Could both sets of memories she has of her childhood, be true? Or was one of these ”realities” implanted in her brain as a child?

The action begins just moments after the conclusion of the previous episode, Constantin Rostov, Liz and a pilot, are escaping Cuba in a sea-plane. The pilot’s purposely flying low, trying to remain undetected by radar. After some back and forth sniping between Rostov and Keen, Liz attacks the pilot and attempts to crash the aircraft into the ocean. A gun appears and Keen gets possession, shooting the pilot and firing a shot into Constantin’s thigh. We never see the actual crash as the credits roll.

Back in Cuba, Tom locates the wreckage of Raymond’s car and they realize that the hitman took Agnes, when he T-Boned their car. We find out that the hitman’s named Matos, he’s incredibly proficient and has worked for Kirk/Rostov for years. He’s full-blooded Native-American, and legend has it that he’s a Shaman. Matos and Mr. Kaplan, also have a mutual friend, a bail-bondsman named Little Nikos, who operates out of Amarillo, Texas. Reddington, Dembe, Kate and Tom, hop on Red’s jet and head to the Lone-Star State.

The other plane in this scenario’s now floating on the ocean, the pilot’s dead, Rostov’s unconscious as Lizzie wakes-up to find the ship’s radio’s on the fritz and the aircraft’s taking on water. Constantin comes to and realizes that Keen’s got him tied up and tells Liz that he’s her father and she can’t let him die. Liz responds with an evil gleam in her eye, just watch.

Now in Texas, Mr. Kaplan begs Reddington to be allowed to talk to Little Nikos first. Turns out that decades before Kate had her skull bashed in and Nikos basically saved her life. Raymond agrees to allow Kate to try to convince her friend to give them Matos’ location.

Team-Red, could not have picked a worse time to land in Amarillo from Little Nikos’ vantage point, though Reddington perceived the timing as a strategic advantage. The bail-bondsman, had a surgical team in his facility in the midst of performing lap-band surgery. Reddington insists that he be revived immediately, the surgeon responds that could put Nikos’ life in jeopardy. Red flashes his pistol and tells the surgeon that his patient’s life’s already in danger, the question’s whether the doctor wishes to put his own life in jeopardy?

The plane that Lizzie and Kirk are floating on’s taking water on at an enormous rate, but suddenly Keen finds a flare gun and fires off a flare into the sky. Unfortunately, she forgets to keep her weapon on her and Rostov grabs the pistol and points it at Lizzie, he tells her the only way they can survive is to trust each other, then hands her back the gun.

The surgeon tells Reddington that the patient’s conscious, but in incredible pain, so the conversation needs to be brief. The bail-bondsman’s strapped to the operating table and there are four excavation sites on his torso. Kate tries talking to him first, telling her that Reddington’s with her, and he’ll kill Nikos unless he gives up Matos’ location. Reddington walks into the room and assures Nikos that he won’t kill him, he actually admires his loyalty.

Unfortunately Reddington says his associates don’t share his convictions and he invites Tom into the room and tells Keen that Nikos knows how to contact, the psychopath that kidnapped Agnes. As Reddington leaves, Keen picks up a drill like instrument and asks aloud what this instrument’s used for?

Kirk and Keen are now both in the water hanging onto the fuselage of the plane, Liz says help’s on the way. Rostov replies they’ll save her and that’s what’s important and then he lets go of the fuselage and sinks under the water. Surprisingly, Keen dives under the water and rescues him. Shortly thereafter a boat sees them and rescues them.

Back in Amarillo, we join Reddington and Mr. Kaplan in a room, as we listen to Nikos’ screams of pain and cries of agony. Kate tells Red, that she betrayed Nikos for the same reason she betrayed Raymond, to keep Lizzie safe. She recalls the first time she met Lizzie, when Raymond put the infant in her arms. Just then Tom enters the room and he’s got the way to contact Matos. Nikos text messages the mercenary with a password and Matos heads to Nikos’ storefront within two-hours. They text the message to the kidnapper, who when he receives the message heads North.

The captain who rescues them speaks Spanish and apparently can understand English but doesn’t speak it. Keen attempts to get the seaman to alert the local authorities about Rostov, but Constantine figures out what’s going on and shoots the Captain.

Waiting for Matos to arrive, Kate and Tom are in a car in front of Nikos’ building. Tom apologizes for what he did to Nikos’ blaming his concern for Agnes for showing no mercy. Mr. Kaplan asks Keen why he’s telling her that and Tom replies that Nikos’ is Kate’s friend. Kate then says that Tom wants her to grant him absolution for his actions, then says people count on her to make their lives happier. To make others lives “cleaner” hence her job title. She says Keen and Reddington want her to make things easier for them, but she won’t grant their requests.

Mr. Kaplan steps out of the car, telling Tom she needs some air, but her timing was terrible, stepping out of the car at the exact moment Matos pulls up. He steps out of his car and looks around, then he sees Kate and starts to run in the opposite direction. Dembe and Tom chase after the mercenary, but Kate ends the chase knocking him the ground with the car.

Raymond decides he doesn’t want to play his usual game of cat and mouse with Matos’ so he cuts right to the chase. He tells Matos that he realizes his prisoner has no fear of pain or death, but he’s fully aware that members of his tribe possess a fear of being stuck on earth surrounded by rotting flesh with his soul trapped for eternity inside his coffin.  The threat works and Matos says they’re heading to the Summer Palace, a location Reddington remembers quite well. He calls Harold Cooper and requests that Cooper send a team to raid Rostov’s complex in Nova Scotia.

Keen and Rostov, arrive at the Summer Palace and Constantin tells Keen he needs to meet with his doctors, but tells Liz to explore. Lizzie starts checking out the house and soon discovers a room that bring a flood of memories into her head. Rostov walks into the room and Keen says this was her bedroom, but it’s impossible as she remembers a fire and shooting her father. Rostov says those memories were just lies concocted by Reddington, he was in love with her mother and he’s obsessed with her.

Keen looks out a window and sees a child’s swing hanging from a tree. She runs downstairs and onto the grass, but we see Masha Rostova as a toddler when she appears. Suddenly she runs over to Katarina and sees her mother working in the garden. Mother and daughter speak to each other in Russian, Katarina’s burying a coffee-can into the ground and tells her daughter, that the can’s a time machine and one day when Masha’s older, she can return and dig up the treasure. Katarina take the yarn bracelet to her daughter and the toddler puts it the can and buries it. Back in the present, Keen finds the can containing Katarina’s bracelet and puts it on her own wrist.

The idyllic moment’s shattered as an FBI SWAT-Team invades the “Summer Palace,” killing most of Kirk’s guards in the process, while Rostov makes his escape. Ressler who accompanied the SWAT-Team hugs Lizzie when he sees her while Keen breaks down and cries, as Agnes’ whereabouts are still unknown.

Keen’s transported back to the States. Raymond stays just long enough to verify that Lizzie’s safe then he and Dembe drive away. She’s reunited with Tom who assures her that they will get Agnes back safe and sound.

Dembe drives Reddington and Mr. Kaplan out into the country when he finally pulls over, Reddington asks Dembe to stay with the car. Kate’s fully aware these are her final moments and she’s determined not to go out meekly into the night. She calmly and coolly explains to Reddington that she devoted her existence to him, but she realizes that Reddington now perceives Kate as a liability, as she knows too much about him. Red responds that even if he could put aside his anger and betrayal, he’d never be able to trust her. He says when he looks at her it’s like seeing a stranger. He then fires a shot at her from about 20-feet away and she collapses to the ground. Showing no signs of remorse or guilt, Reddington walks back to his car, unaware that Mr. Kaplan’s alive.

Courtesy of ABC

Courtesy of ABC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

Mere hours after being sworn in, President Kirkman finds himself speaking to the American people. Trying to put their concerns at ease. The snipit from the speech sounds like every other we’ve heard (short of maybe Bill Pullman’s Independence Day speech). The media reaction is not what he would have hoped for. Meanwhile the FBI continue to comb through the rubble that once was the US Capital building.

President Kirkman’s Secret Service Code name: PHOENIX. Not bad actually. I’ve heard many that are much worse.

Kirkman takes the slow march down to the West Wing and it is not the majestic trek one might think. Everyone is reacting to the event’s of the night before. He is warned of the chaos he is about to experience but Kirkman foolishly underestimated said chaos. He attempts to gain intel on a number of topics from economic to defensive. The free wielding fear motivated actions discussed are extreme. Before 2 minutes has past, the Oval Office more closely resembles an elementary school cafeteria. Amidst the chaos, Kirkman excuses himself from his own office to think clearly.

In the cabinet room, Kirkman takes a moment to see how far he’s come in one short day standing behind and eventually sitting in his old Secretary of HUD chair. The acting Chief of Staff and Kirkman’s former Chief of Staff almost go at it when the notion of choosing his Chief of Staff comes into the equation. Kirkman quickly squashes that discussion, but an organized approach to rebuilding the government is necessary. He gives very direct orders to his two potential Chief’s of Staff. Close the banks, monitor reported violent activity in Michigan, and start putting together a Cabinet. Then later, President Kirkman will visit what’s left of the Captial Building.

Seth departs (what looks like) his Georgetown residence on foot. A neighbor that he seems to be familiar with gives him the judgemental treatment. As if Seth’s (played by Kal Penn) appearance somehow indicts him as a suspect. If that wasn’t enough, DC police pull up and give him grief about what’s in his backpack. He cooperates with their misguided inquiry, if only to minimize drama.

Kirkman stumbles into Seth’s office. It will take some getting used to. The idea that everyone stands the moment Kirkman enters a room. If I may steal a line from the great President Josiah Bartlet (The West Wing), “In this building…when the President stands, nobody sits”. Kirkman apologizes for not giving the performance Seth’s speech deserved when the ‘Chiefs’ enter the room. Something’s happened in Michigan.

In Dearborn Michigan, local authorities begin rounding up Muslim citizens or people who ‘look a certain way’. Shades of what happened to the Japanese Americans following Pearl Harbor. One might have hoped these were the actions of rogue, misguided officers. However, upon a call to the Michigan Governor, we learn the officers are only doing as they were ordered. The Governor makes no bones about his disregard for President Kirkman and the title he’s inherited.

A powerful player within Congress makes her way through the West Wing corridor. As it turns out, the Republicans also set aside a Designated Survivor. And one with much better political chops than the sitting President. Any previous notions about her motives (at least for now) are squashed. She seems sincere in her advice about making the White House his own. She gives a lovely speech about shedding the partisan approach and uniting under the umbrella of just being Americans. Kirkman invites her to join him at the Capital Bombing site later.

The General barges into the Oval Office interrupting what was supposed to be a candid moment between Mr. and Mrs. Kirkman (devoid of the responsibilities of the room they stand in). They believe they know who blew up the Capital. The FBI is only 75% sure and the General is content to go out and kill someone who isn’t us, presumably to make us feel better. President Kirkman is having none of it though.

General Cochran: America is demanding action and I am giving you an enemy we can kill.
President Kirkman (rips off his glasses): You think I don’t want to strike back against those that did this? I lost colleagues, friends, I lost people I love. I want to find every single person involved in this attack from planning to execution and rip them limb from limb. Which is why I need to know EXACTLY who did this. Come back to me with more than 75% and I’ll launch the damn missiles myself.
General Cochran: How much more?
President Kirkman: Twenty-Five dammit!

The trip to the bomb site is proving to be more difficult that our characters originally lead us to believe. Donning a kevlar vest the President makes his way through. FBI acting director briefs the President on what they have. At no point does the director even hint to Hannah’s theory that the undetonated bomb found on site was probably a red herring.

Kirkman decides to lose the vest despite Mike’s insistence as it does not project confidence. Outside, Kirkman grabs a bull horn and stand atop a pile of rock. Kirkman delivers an impromptu address to the first responders and it seems to go better than his speech the night before. That is until the brutality in Michigan goes viral. Cops beating citizens based on nothing more than how those citizens appear. The crowd becomes restless and demands Kirkman respond to the transgression in Michigan. Aaron and the secret service jump in to remove Kirkman from the situation and one in the crowd is taken down as he approached the group with his hand in his jacket.

Alone in the Oval Office, the First Lady has an idea to force the Governor of Michigan to fall in line. As was done during the racial integration of public schools, federalize he National Guard and made the state of Michigan obey the law. Before Kirkman can make any headway in that area, the call some of us knew was coming, came. The 17-year-old Muslim citizen of Michigan that was savagely beaten by police, was pronounced dead.

Emily connected a couple of dots and found common ground with the Governor of Michigan and Kirkman’s new friend the other Designated Survivor, Congresswoman Hookstraten. They are able to get him via video conference. This is where Kirkman lays down the law so to speak. Demands the Michigan police stand down. Orders the Governor to release anyone detained on this day as three of those are Homeland Security operatives working on a long lead investigation. Refusal to do so would be tampering with a Federal investigation and I guarantee the Governor wants no part of that. After the Governor agrees and ends the call, Kirkman admits that Homeland piece was a well executed bluff. The President asks Seth to take a walk with him after dismissing everyone else.

Kirkman: DC Police called the White House switchboard, they wanted to confirm that you worked here. What happened this morning?
Seth: What happened in Michigan. What always happens. When people don’t know who the enemy is, they start with people who look like me.

Kirkman further explains the situation with the FBI, Cochran and blaming Iran without sufficient evidence. For to do that would render Kirkman no better than Governor Royce. The need to get this one right is paramount. A notion that Seth visually can appreciate. Then after Seth leaves the room, Kirkman asks Wyatt (who I believe is his body man-boy) to get him the number to Danny Fied’s parents, the kid who died moments ago. Seth leaves the White House to find many citizens leaving flowers and praying for those lost in this attack. Including but not limited to the cop that had harassed Seth earlier in the episode.

Kirkman asks Mike if he has a ‘baseball cap lying around anywhere’, code for the President would like to sneak out of the White House minus the cameras and exposure. All he wanted to do was to thank those working the bomb site without political motivation.

Hannah finally gets up the strength to look through the pictures of those confirmed dead. Hoping against hope not to find her loved one presumed missing. It doesn’t take long to find his picture. Right about the time it begins to set in that he’s lost, someone in the distance yells out, “WE FOUND ONE, WE FOUND A SURVIVOR”.