Warning: Spoiler Alert
We’ve been introduced to some pretty creepy characters during the three seasons of the NBC series “The Blacklist,” including “The Stewmaker” in the show’s first year and Matthew the giant bald-headed taxidermist featured in the “Mombasa Cartel,” last year. We can now add a religious order to the list of folks you’d want to avoid in dark alleys after meeting the disciples of “The Vehm,” a religious vigilante group that originated in the German territories in the 15th Century. Their first time around they tortured people for blasphemy and witchcraft, this generation of zealots have a new target, punishing others that committed the same crimes they served prison-sentences for.
I try to stay away from engaging in generalities, however I have to admit that I perceive any zealot with a mixture of fear and disdain. The only thing that troubles me more than a zealot would be a former sinner that’s now repented and become a zealot. If you’ve found happiness and fulfilment in conquering a bad habit, or you believe you’ve found the answer to secret of life in religion then I’m happy for you. However don’t try to push your agenda down my throat, or I’ll keep my distance from you.
Of course the previous episode ended with the bombshell of Lizzie Keen’s pregnancy coming to light and just like every aspect of the former FBI agent’s life, things are complicated. Will Elizabeth keep her child and if she does, whose she going to choose to help her raise her newborn, her former husband and the baby’s father Tom Keen, or Liz’s self-designated protector/controller Raymond Reddington? If she remains as an adviser for the FBI Task-Force can she be a good/nurturing/loving mother? If she decides to runaway with Tom and raise the child in a new life, can that family be safe?
The action opens in unfamiliar territory with a circus clown leaving a suburban children’s party. The mother throwing the fun-fest runs after the clown to give him a tip and thank him for the entertainment. He drives off in his car listening to Gary Lewis and the Playboys “Everybody Loves A Clown,” as he drives away and removes his greasepaint. Suddenly he realizes he’s gotten barricaded by about four other vehicles and he pulls to a screeching halt. A group of young powerful looking men break his car windows and pull him from his car screaming into their van.
We then watch the men go through what looks like a purification ceremony, they’ve all got shaved head and eyebrows. We see the clown tied up on the floor with some sort of iron torture-mask on his face and we watch as the zealots pour molten metal into an aperture on the front of the mask and the clown screams in agony.
Lizzie’s compiling a pros/cons list as she attempts to decide whether to take off with Tom and raise their child in a new life, or give the child up for adoption and maintain the life she’s living when Tom comes into her new apartment with breakfast for the two of them. Tom informs her he got an offer for a teaching job in Boston and wants Liz to join him, she starts to say she can’t and he asks her to think about it. She’s heading to work so he tells her he’ll tidy up before he takes off. Amongst the get-well cards sent to her from her co-workers for the three broken ribs she suffered when a stranger beat her up in a grocery-store parking lot and left her unconscious, Tom finds Liz’s pro/con list.
At the Post Office Raymond and Aram address the Task-Force about their new target. Red explains that an associate of his Edward Weston was murdered by an unknown assailant and by an unknown method until earlier that morning. That’s when authorities recovered the body of the clown William Dowd under the 14th St. Bridge. Aram says both victims got killed by the same instrument, known as a lead-sprinkler which can either burn a victim to death with external or internal injuries. Dowd was forced to swallow a bunch of molten-lead which lead to a painful end.
Reddington notices Ressler’s not paying attention and asks if he’s dozing off and Donald asks where Liz’s at, Raymond says she’s likely home recuperating. However he’s proven wrong seconds later when to everyone’s surprise she arrives apologizing she’s late and thanking them for their cards. She then asks what’s the agenda and Red says the Holy Vehm, disciples of a 15th Century group of religious vigilantes who punished those they thought guilty of high-crimes against the church. Keen suggests they contact lead distributors to see if they can track down the cult that way.
Liz tells Raymond she’s pregnant and he says he’s realized that for weeks, due to her appearance, eating habits and mood-swings. She says she knew in the back of her mind for a while but couldn’t face it with the Cabal out to get her. She brought home a HPT but threw it away without using it, Raymond says this could be an inconvenient time to have a child. She tells him she hasn’t told Tom yet as he’s trying to get his new life in order.
Time to praise one of my favorite young actors who played a guest role in this episode, as Anthony Carrigan portrayed one of the cult members Harris Holt. Anthony’s a regular on the FOX series Gotham, as he chews the scenery portraying my favorite psychopath assassin Victor Zsasz. Carrigan plays Zsasz completely over the top, as a man who truly enjoys the art of killing. He’s also displayed a ghoulish sense of humor, like when he used a freshly severed head as a ventriloquist’s dummy. (Bottle Of Beer Boss?)
Carrigan showed his range as an actor in this role, playing the cult member as far more restrained than the character he plays regularly but just as menacing. Holt puts on prosthetic eyebrows and a wig to blend into society and then goes to a church for confession. He enters the confessional booth and begs for forgiveness for murdering two men in the week since his last confession. The Priest praises the cult-member saying that the man’s the tip of God’s spear and through his hands God’s judgement’s witnessed. He then slides him a dossier and a photo of Holt’s next target Dr. Campbell Meyer.
Ressler and Navabi go to William Dowd’s home to interview his widow. His grief-stricken wife says that her husband was loved by all who knew him and was a good husband and father. Ressler asks how any children they had and Mrs. Dowd says they had a daughter. When they leave the house, Ressler says something’s hinky as with all the pictures on their refrigerator, there wasn’t one of the daughter. They decide to check things out.
Liz informs the Task-Force that it appears there about a dozen dead by the hand of the Vehm over the last few weeks. All murdered by some form of medieval torture, one man whipped so hard an artery burst, another man had his body crush by an instrument known as the Spanish boot. Navabi and Ressler track down the Dowd’s daughter Amy, she’s working in a restaurant and adopted a new name and Social Security number.
Liz meets her new neighbor a young mother with an infant named Stanley, whom she calls the Devil-Child, as he’s up all night/every night. Lizzie tells her she’s going to be having her own little Devil soon and the woman named Zoe tells Keen if she’s got any questions to just stop by as she’s home all the time.
Tom’s still in Lizzie’s apartment when she returns from work, having rescheduled his interview in Boston until the next day. He then lets her know he found her list and says we’re pregnant. She smiles and says they are but before he gets his hopes too high she may give the child up for adoption. He does his best soft-pressure sale to get her to think things through and puts the pro part of the list on her refrigerator before he leaves the apartment.
Two meetings then take place simultaneously, that start to give us an idea of the Vehm’s agenda. Samar and Donald meet with Lisa Neil, the identity that Amy Dowd’s adopted, at the same time Holt’s meeting with child-psychologist Campbell Meyer about Holt’s “son.” The daughter says she found her father raping a young boy at her family’s home when she came home swimming from a friend’s house when she was 12. Her parents tried to make her think she was crazy and finally the girl ran away from home, broke off contact and changed her name. She says whomever killed her father did the world a favor as he was a monster.
Holt’s asked Meyer how he treats his patients and the doctor responds that the first few meetings are just between him and the child to establish absolute trust. Holt then asks Meyer if he’d touch his “son’ during these sessions and Meyer says of course not, then Holt asks the doctor if he’d be thinking about touching the boy? Meyer’s clearly freaked out and asks him to leave and opens his door to the hallway. However other cult-members enter the office and they soon inform him they’ve arrived to carry out justice for him molesting little boys.
Raymond’s also decided to carry out justice himself and he and Dembe are in the home of the man who beat up Lizzie in the parking lot and he’s bleeding and secured to a chair. Dembe interrupts Red to take a phone call from Lizzie, she says that the Vehm seem to be targeting child-molesters. All the dead men had been tied to rumors that they molested children over the years. Reddington says that he knew Edward Weston well and of all the terrible things he did child-molesting wasn’t in his repertoire. Liz says then perhaps it had to do with something he’s aware Weston did do and Red has the lightbulb click on in his brain. He thanks Lizzie, hangs up the phone then shoots the assailant dead with three slugs to the heart. He tells Dembe to contact Mr. Kaplan when they get to the car about Gerald Sullivan.
They track down the lead distributor and find out the lead’s sold in large quantity to the religious order at the St. James shelter, the order makes religious jewelry. Navabi and Ressler get down there just after they’ve finished torturing Meyer whom Ressler finds with his entire abdomen burnt open. They shoot one of the cult-members and Samar bests one of them in a fight just before Ressler finds her.
The medical-examiner informs Navabi that the dead cult-member’s a eunuch and had castrated himself. They then find out all the cult-members are convicted child-molesters who castrated themselves to shorten their prison terms and now hunt others who commit the same crimes they did. At least that’s what they believe.
Red and Dembe track down Gerald Sullivan and Sullivan’s wife living in the woods out of their Bentley. Reddington accuses Sullivan of turning Weston and the others over to the Vehm, Sullivan says that he and his wife are trying to outrun them himself. Raymond asks whose directing the cult-members and Sullivan says if he gives Red the name he’s a dead man. Reddington soon makes it clear that both Sullivan and his wife will die immediately unless Raymond gets that name.
Cardinal Richards, a man recently working in the Vatican in conjunction with Pope Francis on the Vatican bank accounts, leads the Vehm and though he’s told them all their targets are molesters they were in reality money-launderers. The Church Official was trying to get rid of the competition, unfortunately for him Raymond’s decided to take over his territory. He then sends the Vehm to carry out justice and to give the Cardinal that misled them his just desserts, his body’s found later and he died from lead-exposure as well.
Raymond tells Navabi and Keen how he rectified the situation and Liz asks Reddington if the Cardinal’s death will benefit him. Red says it will as he needs to build up enough of a bankroll to finance a war. Navabi asks him what kind of a war and Raymond responds by saying our war.
Things are on the outs between Liz and Raymond again, as he made certain that Tom didn’t get the teaching gig in Boston. He’s bought Liz a new sofa for her new apartment which she doesn’t seem to want, he then says that if she misunderstood him earlier he apologizes. He didn’t mean she should give up her child when he said this was an inconvenient time for a child. He then tells Lizzie when her mother carried her she thought Liz was a curse throughout her pregnancy, but realized Lizzie was a blessing one she was born. Keen asks Raymond to leave and he tells her he arranged for her to receive a pregnancy massage later that evening.
Liz knocks on Zoe’s door, but finds Red’s man Baz inside the apartment. Raymond got Zoe a nicer apartment and set Baz up in there to keep Liz under constant surveillance. She walks back into her apartment and leaves a voicemail for an adoption agency to talk about placing her child up for adoption.
The Story Continues Next Thursday night at 9:oo pm on NBC.