Warning: Spoiler Alert
Fans of the NBC series “The Blacklist,” have found themselves sailing unchartered and rather choppy waters on a ship without a rudder over the last few weeks. The crew’s having difficulty maintaining coordinates for their destination as all their navigation equipment’s failing to operate including the compasses. Complicating matters even more, the ship finds itself enveloped in a thick deep fog every night so the crew can’t even look to guidance from the stars.
The cause of all this turbulence is “Hurricane Lizzie,” which touched down three weeks ago and we’ve still yet to determine how extensive the damage is. The answer to that question, is what’s kept viewers on the edge of their collective seats over the last few weeks; is Elizabeth Keen dead or alive? Did we actually watch the funeral of Elizabeth Keen in the episode entitled “The Artax Network” or was the service part of a brilliant scheme to save Lizzie’s life engineered by Mr. Kaplan?
Regular readers of these pages are well aware that this writer’s part of the camp that believes the former FBI Agent still lives and we’ll get at least a glimpse of her sometime during the final two episodes. So while my heart went out to the characters mourning her loss, I have to admit to having a feeling of detachment while watching the memorial service and ceremony at the graveside. There’s a Dan Hicks tune entitled “How Can I Miss You, When You Won’t Go Away?” I found myself in a similar situation while watching this episode, how can I grieve for Lizzie when I don’t think she’s died?
If my theory’s indeed correct and that Megan Boone’s absence’s temporary, then I tip my hat to the series creator Jon Bokenkamp and his writing staff. Season three of this show had been an endless roller-coaster ride beginning with Elizabeth Keen on the run from the law and the Cabal with Red by her side. Even when the Cabal’s link to the United States Government got exposed Raymond told Keen they weren’t out of the woods yet and his words proved true.
I’ve looked at these last few episodes as a time-out, a chance to catch our collective breath and to find out some answers that have been just out of reach for almost three years. The last two episodes have opened up windows into Raymond Reddington’s past, giving us an entry way with a limited view. However those openings have been large enough that ghosts and memories that he buried decades before have returned to pay him a visit.
Although the series has been short on arrests over the last few episodes, we’re finding out answers to questions we’ve had since the premiere. The previous episode verified that Raymond had been truthful with Liz that her mother had died by walking into the ocean and subsequently drowning. However we also found out that she didn’t take her life due to overwhelming grief, Katerina Rostova killed herself to protect her daughter Masha. We get another connection to Lizzie’s past in this go-round, however we’ll explore that later.
The episode opens with Agnes displaying her unhappiness as her frustrated father Tom Keen tries to figure out what he can do to have her at peace with the world. We hear in a voiceover Harold Cooper addressing the mourners at the church holding Elizabeth’s memorial service. We then watch a montage of the mourners getting ready to go to the service, including Cooper picking up his estranged wife Charlene who attends the service with him.
As we watch the service unfold we see Liz’s teammates from the Task-Force sitting in the pews along with Kate Kaplan and Dembe, but Raymond Reddington is not among them. (Pardon me for this quick aside, did Samar Navabi get her dates mixed up and thought she was attending the Hell’s Angel’s convention that morning? Sorry I realize I’m a dinosaur, but show some respect for the dead and wear something more appropriate for the occasion. Yes I realize Tom Keen went tieless, but he’s the one who just lost his soulmate.)
Great musical selections once again as Ray LaMontagne with his song “Homecoming,” serenaded us through the service at the church while The Faces with a song from my youth “Ooh-La-La,” accompanied us to the graveyard. That drive provided one of the few humorous moments of the episode, as Ressler and Navabi become aware that Aram’s sparked up a joint in the backseat. He pleads with them not to judge, then Samar signals for Mojtabai to pass the Doobie so she can take a hit. Aram expresses his shock and Navabi shrugs and says it’s legal in Washington D.C.
The group at the graveside’s about to go their separate ways when Aram asks them to please wait and he pulls a sheet of paper from his jacket pocket. He reads a passage from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, then he says that Lizzie loved the Bard and Dr. Seuss as well. He starts mentioning other things she was fond of and then he breaks down and says he misses her.
We find out where Raymond’s been as we see him drive to a house in the middle of nowhere. He knocks on the door and an elderly man answers, when he realizes it’s Red his expression turns into a sneer as he asks what Reddington’s doing there? Raymond responds it’s your granddaughter and there’s no need for him to finish the sentence. This series has had an array of unusual casting choices with well-known actors, such as Peter Fonda, Christine Lahti, Jane Alexander and Lance Henriksen in guest-roles. In yet another piece of casting-magic, the legendary actor Brian Dennehy takes on the part of Katerina Rostova’s father.
Another layer of the onion gets revealed as the two longtime Frenemies start talking about the past. Apparently Raymond and the elderly man known as Dom entered into a pact, that might have included others, to keep their distance from Masha in order to insure her safety. Dom tells Reddington that he loved his granddaughter enough not to break the pact and contact her. He looks at Raymond and says you can’t say that, conveying that it was Red’s contact with her that cost Lizzie her life.
Raymond’s looking for solace and longs to bond with Dom, but the old man quickly clarifies that Red won’t find what he needs in Dom’s home. He then tells Reddington he wasn’t expecting him and he was on the way out for groceries when he arrived, Raymond smiles and says let me give you some money and you can pick us up a bottle of single-malt.
Cooper gets a visit from Government Bureaucrat Cynthia Panabaker who at first requests and then tells Harold that the Task-Force will allow another group to take over the investigation trying to track down Matias Solomon and the person who hired him. After finishing his meeting, he tells his agents what went down. Ressler asks if they’re just going to walk away from the case and Cooper assures him they’re doing no such thing, they’ll just be doing things in stealth-mode.
There’s a knock on Dom’s door and Raymond answers it, he’s more than a little surprised when he sees Aram standing on the doorstep. Reddington quickly realizes Mojtabai got his location from Dembe, Aram begs Red not to get upset with Dembe as he realized how important the matter is.
Raymond asks what the urgent matter is and Aram tells him they need his help in order to bring the people who led to Lizzie’s death to justice. Reddington tells Mojtabai that he’s sorry he traveled all this way to go home empty-handed but he’s not coming back and starts to shut the door. A year ago that’s when the conversation would have ended, but we’re now dealing with Aram Mojtabai 2.0. Aram wedged himself between the door and he told Raymond that wasn’t an acceptable answer.
The usually mild-mannered tech-genius then proceeded to remind Raymond of the night the two of them stood over an empty grave after he saved Liz’s life. Reddington told Aram that he’d be forever in his debt, so now it’s time for him to repay him. He tells Raymond to grab his stuff and head back with him to the post-office facility. Reddington apologized to Aram and told him he no longer has enough to repay his debt and says goodnight.
Although Mojtabai failed to get Raymond to return with him, the next day he realizes that the group that hired Solomon to capture Keen are using a defunct satellite network above our planet to monitor and keep track of their intended victims. They also determine that the group’s next target is a renowned economist Benjamin Stadler whose in the city to give an address that evening, Ressler and Navabi head to his hotel to question him.
They get to the hotel and realize he’s just been abducted. Navabi catches up with Stadler and the would-be kidnapper and discovers it’s Nez Rowan the woman she and Ressler arrested when she was working with Matias Solomon on the day of Lizzie’s wedding. Navabi’s able to stop Rowan from taking Stadler, but she escapes in a van that knocks Ressler to the pavement.
Cooper goes nuclear when Navabi informs him that Rowan’s been released from prison and barges into Panabaker’s office demanding an explanation. The bureaucrat says the decision got made by those higher up on the food chain but refuses to give Harold any more info. When Cooper leaves her office he calls Tom Keen and tells him he’s got a surveillance gig for him if Keen wants it. Tom’s assignment’s to become Cynthia Panabaker’s shadow and to photograph any clandestine meetings she might have.
After questioning Stadler at the post-office complex Navabi and Ressler let him go as his plane’s waiting to take him to Dubai. Unfortunately they find out after they let him go that he wasn’t completely truthful with them. Stadler said he’d never left the suite before getting on the elevator in which he was almost abducted from. Aram shows them security footage from the hotel and they see Stadler’s outside of the suite in the midst of a conversation with an attractive woman.
Raymond asks Dom how he’s been able to live for the past 30-years with the intense feeling of loss that Red’s feeling after losing Lizzie. The old man scoffs at him and asks him if Reddington calls Dom’s existence living? He says that after losing Katerina he came to this place in the middle of nowhere like a terribly wounded animal. He gave up having any contact with his granddaughter to keep her safe, yet she still died.
He then refers to Aram as “that Arab boy” and says to Raymond that it seems like he’s got a bunch of good and decent people counting on Red to help them. He then chuckles and says God Help Them. However then he says to Reddington that Raymond has a reason to go on and walk out that front door. Red smiles sadly and says to the old man that Dom’s had plenty of reasons to do the same, but he never took advantage of them.
Dom comes back from another trip to the store with another bottle of single-malt and he calls for Raymond, but Reddington’s gone. However Red fixed Dom’s piano replacing the missing key and has the metronome ticking on the piano so the old man notices. Dom chuckles to himself and starts to play a beautiful but melancholy tune, that leads into the closing montage.
Harold drops Charlene off at their home after taking her out to dinner. She asks him to come in but he begs off and asks if they can dine again the following evening and she agrees. We see Tom taking pictures of Cynthia Panabaker and an unknown woman. We see the sorrow in the faces of Samar and Donald as they think about how much they miss their fallen comrade. Tom comes back to Harold with the pictures and the woman with Panabaker’s the same woman talking to Stadler at the hotel. Keen says he believes it’s Katerina Rostova but we know that’s not the case.
Aram’s sitting in his apartment when there’s a knock on the door. He opens it to see Raymond standing there and Red tells him he’s arrived to repay his debt. Aram practically beams as he says your back, Raymond smiles for likely the first time in days and tells Mojtabai to strap on his bike-helmet as they’re going to work.