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All posts for the month October, 2016

Courtesy of NBC

Courtesy of NBC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

Today is an early morning in the Kirkman White House. Kirkman, Aaron and Admiral Chernow meet in the Oval to discuss the impending attack we knew was coming. Chernow attempts to put Kirkman’s concerns of collateral damage as Seth enters the office. Aaron introduces Seth to the new Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Admiral Chernow.

Seth (extends his hand): How are you sir? Seth Wright, Press Secretary.

Chernow: It’s going to be a busy day for you today. (Look toward Kirkman) I’ll be at Command Ops.

Kirkman (to Seth): I had to clear my entire schedule today, wanna know why?

Seth: If I know why, am I going to have to lie to the press all day?

Aaron: Yeah.

Seth: Ok, then let’s just assume that maybe somewhere there will be a military strike against the terrorist bombed the Capital. (Slowly turns to walk away) And I’ll just know more when I know more.

Kirkman spins the variables and potential casualties when Chernow reminds him of the time sensitive nature of F-18s flying toward the target. They don’t exactly have the time or fuel to wait. Kirkman takes one last look at the board, “It’s a go. Strike the enemy.” The order isn’t a go for 15 seconds before a station chief reports that the target is no longer in the compound. “We lost Majid Nassar”. The news gets worse, as intelligence suggests that someone inside tipped off Nassar who fled in a motorcade.

Hanna invites herself to Kirkman’s ceremony celebrating MacLeish. There is absolutely something very off about MacLeish. I’m not planting a flag anywhere with that comment, just reiterating. Atwood looks over at Hanna glaring at MacLeish as if she’s working on something in her head. “Just hope you never look at me like that.” As the event breaks up Hookstratten corners Seth. She wants to know when Kirkman plans on retaliating…AGAIN. Seth sees right through it, plays dumb and removes himself from the room.

The military brain trust meets with Kirkman in the Oval. Nassar’s location has been identified as a hospital. That makes the mission a little more complicated. At present, an airstrike is not an option. To get Nassar, they will need to be assets on the ground. This creates a new dynamic. Chernow wants to take Nassar alive. Kirkman is not willing to take Chernow’s word at face value regarding the confidence of the mission and request to speak to the commander on the ground and even asks for his location. Chernow give a great and at this point typical response.

Chernow: Sir. There is a chain of command. He comes to you.

Kirkman: I’m going to ask these men to lay down their lives, I’ll go to him.

With what should be the last ‘appointment’ before the President travels to the Navy Seals Training Facility at Little Creek, Hookstratten is all but demand stuff again. She lays out his ‘erratic’ behavior. Firing the Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs. He was a man with his own agenda and circumvented the President’s authority. He should have been fired. Not erratic. Arrested the Governor of Michigan. Are you paying attention Hookstratten? He basically rejected the President’s authority, ceded from the Union, and arrested American citizens for being born the wrong ethnicity. Also, not erratic. She even pieced together the details of parking lot H at the Pentagon. Which would place high-ranking generals/admirals at the pentagon at 3am. She says all of this to suggest that the President is not consulting enough with Congress (i.e. her). Kirkman responds exactly how I wished he would.

Kirkman: Article one section eight. And I will notify you when it becomes appropriate.

Kirkman meets with the Seal’s Commander getting to know his men. Eventually Kirkman gets to the issue at hand. Kirkman is interested in the odds. The ‘odds’ are regrettably only 50/50, but the commanding officer gives the only response I would need.

Commander: We don’t know if they’ve wired the place. We don’t know if they have local militia. We don’t know a lot of things. The odds are 50/50, but we do know that Nassar is there. So we have to do it now. And may God have mercy on them, because the U.S. Navy will have none.

Kirkman meets with MacLeish and Hookstratten together in the Oval. This is where President Kirkman informs the current sitting members of Congress that he has deployed a seal team into Algeria to remove, dead or alive, Majid Nassar. MacLeish immediately conveys his support of this tactical decision. Hookstratten’s support is shrouded in her ulterior motives. She is a tiger laying in the tall grass waiting for the right opportunity to pounce. Aaron wants to look into putting Kirkman’s support to MacLeish for Speaker and not Hookstratten. There are bigger problems now. One of the Seal choppers has gone down.

The chopper had to perform a combat landing and Petty Officer Denton was injured, but no need to change the plan or abort. The Seal Team will proceed as scheduled. Meanwhile, Seth’s powers of disarm and deflect will be tested as the White House Press Corps has sources too.

Reporter: All of this adds up to a potential military strike. What’s the real story? You can’t keep pivoting to talking points.

Seth (stone faced): Watch me.

Kirkman accompanied by MacLeish watches from Comm Ops. Simultaneously, Hanna all but begs Atwood to listen to what she has to say about MacLeish. The seal team is efficient through the first floor. Once they make it to the basement floor the video feed is intermittent at best. Once the team gets to Nassir, the lighting changes and the picture clears. Nassir has a gun pointed on a child demanding the Seal Team lower their weapons. His words get louder and shots ring out. Communication with the seal team is lost.

All Capitol renovations are classified. However, Hanna convinced Hookstratten to assist in this. What Hanna has feels like its straight out of the Cold War Playbook. THe men in charge of making the renovation, specifically to room 105 (where MacLeish was found) are dead. First one ot a heart attack. Second to a car accident. All eight men who worked on room 105 are dead. All accidents or natural causes. Putting that on hold for a moment, the bigger elephant in the room is what were they renovating? Room 105 was transformed into basically a bomb shelter. And why would there be a need to build a bomb shelter in the Capitol two months before the State of the Union. MacLeish survived because he was supposed to survive.

A new concern arises. When Aaron dangled the potential of making Peter MacLeish the next speaker of the house, he declined. Opting for a position within Congress that isn’t simply bureaucracy and politics for politics sake. Now we feel fairly clear and certain that MacLeish was in on this from the jump. And now he is in a room with the President and military council overseeing a Seal operation aimed to take out the terrorist responsible. Right about the moment, Kirkman has the worst idea yet. Maybe Cochran was right. Just then Chernow announces that they have Majid Nassar. Amidst the celebrating, Chernow has to report that Clarkson, the seal team leader was lost in the assault.

There were seven children in the room. Clarkson shielded 2 with his body after the shots began. The seal team returned fire and captured Nassir. Clarkson took 8 rounds in the back and 1 in the neck. He was killed instantly but the children he shielded survived. Clarkson died but he died a hero. Due to his actions, there were no civilian casualties.

The President quietly makes his way into (what looks like the mural room?) unnoticed as his ‘senior staff’ discuss MacLeish turning down Speaker. This of course is news to Kirkman. Kirkman then offers up, maybe we offered him the wrong job. How about Vice President. So let me get this straight. MacLeish turns down Speaker because it’s purely political and doesn’t think he can actually get anything done from that perch? And you want to give him VP as if that’s better? Let’s disregard that MacLeish is probably as dirty as they come, Speaker to VP is downgrade move.

Aaron has been doing opposition research on Kirkman in an attempt to see the pitch before it’s thrown. In that digging we’ve discovered that there was infidelity on Mrs. Kirkman’s behalf. All of this is not new information. What is new information is that the other party in this is in prison and telling anyone who will listen that Leo is his son not Tom Kirkman’s. From her reaction, this is both startling and potentially true.

Jason Atwood is finally coming around to believing Hanna’s theories. However, he is not ready just yet to impune a sitting Congressman not to mention all the other names likely to be brought light. Not yet at least.

Photo by: Will Hart/NBC

Photo by: Will Hart/NBC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

With two episodes remaining in the Fall Season for the NBC series “The Blacklist,” the show’s close to wrapping up the Alexander Kirk/Constantin Rostov, story-arc. However, plenty of questions remain unanswered, concerning Elizabeth Keen and Raymond Reddington’s past and Lizzie’s relationship to Rostov, and the future of our characters and the Task-Force. Although the episode concluded with Agnes back with her parents and Constantin imprisoned in the glass cell in the Post Office, we’re really not more informed about our characters’ history, then we were before the former FBI Agent faked her death last spring.

This episode did remove some layers and showed us the dynamic will change once again, as new loyalties get formed and some established ones look tenuous presently. Whether next week’s episode provides more information for the characters and the fans remain to be seen. We’ll also find out if the show gives us a preview of the next upcoming adventure, or simply decides to let our cast catch its collective breath and enjoy the moment?

For the second straight week, the characters in the opening scene are all strangers to us. We’ve landed in a rather posh conference room in Minsk, Belarus, as the host tries to entice his four guests into a business proposition. The man’s named Rene LeBron and the four men are criminal bosses that had their assets seized by the United States government.

LeBron tells the four criminals that the President of the United States, isn’t God and his decisions aren’t final. He says that although the government perceives these men as drug-traffickers, violators of human rights and impediments to democracy, he’s got a different point of view. LeBron says he sees the men as businessmen, who got their money seized and he’s willing to help them out. The four men collectively are out $760 million, LeBron offers to give them $600 million in cash immediately, in return for the $160 million balance and market rate interest on the loan. Although the senior member of the guests voices objections to the deal, his companions are hot to make the deal.

LeBron gets into the elevator after completing the agreement, with two other men and a woman alongside him. Two floors later, three Asian women and one Asian man enter the car, looking like nondescript tourists. We find out they’re assassins shortly after the doors close, as they eliminate LeBron’s companions and hold him at gunpoint. The loan-shark tells the man that he’s got close to three-quarters of a billion dollars nearby and the man responds that he’s already taken possession of the cash.

The man makes a call from his cellphone and it turns out that Oscar and his crew are contractors for Raymond. He’s told to take his fee from the cash he recovered and to donate some cash to a Belarus charity. He also tells Oscar that he wants the plane.

Raymond meets with the Task-Force at the Post Office and tells the team of his capturing Rene LeBron and Baz and some of Reddington’s men will hand off LeBron to Ressler and Navabi. Liz’s far from happy, especially with Red and she lets it be known without a hint of subtlety. She’s angry with the fact that this case won’t help them recover Agnes and Raymond informs her that Rostov’s a client of LeBron’s. He’s willing to give up Constantin, in exchange for a promise that he won’t get prosecuted. Cooper says he’ll need to get clearance from Cynthia Panabaker. Harold dismisses his team but asks Keen to stay with him.

Cooper says to Keen he can only imagine the pain and the pressure she’s feeling, but he says he believes Reddington’s doing his best to recover Agnes. Lizzie starts breaking down and tell Harold that she got a hold of a DNA report and Rostov’s her father and Red wants to kill him. However she states that she’s enough of a professional to work with Reddington.

After a week of being M.I.A., we rejoin Mr. Kaplan and her captor the Hunter. He comes inside with his dog and he says to Kate we’ve got a problem. He says the guy who shot her will kill somebody else and dump the body where he shot Kate. When he realizes she’s not there, he’ll come sniffing around. Or somebody will report her missing and the cops will search for her and they’ll come looking for her. He says he could let her go, but she’d tell somebody about him. He says he doesn’t like company, so he’s not sure what to do with her.

Kate tells the Hunter she tried to commit suicide and he asks her where’s her gun? She says she dropped it but she’s not sure where. The Hunter says she left a trail and he’s a tracker, so he’ll go out looking for the gun.

Harold calls Panabaker and tells her about the situation. Although she’s not happy about granting LeBron immunity, she tells Cooper to pick up the loan-shark and bring him in.

What Harold fails to realize is his phone’s tapped by some of Kirk’s contractors and the man monitoring the call contacts Rostov’s number one, Olga and passes on the information. She calls Rostov and tells him that Reddington’s the one that captured LeBron and asks Constantin if she should take him out? Rostov tells her to go ahead and Olga says to him that the seeds of doubt he planted with Masha have taken root. Constantin says he should reach out to her but they should take adequate precautions. Olga calls him a fool and says she doesn’t trust Masha. Rostov smiles and says Olga doesn’t trust anybody, but he’s asking her to trust him on this.

Baz releases LeBron from his bonds and then puts a white-hood over his head as he prepares to pass the loan-shark over to Donald and Samar. As we watch the exchange take place, we see a sniper putting together his rifle and he takes out LeBron. Raymond looks at Dembe and says the loan-shark died right on schedule and now it’s time to send out the invitations.

Welcome To The Past: The next morning, Aram, Samar, Ressler and Cooper receive pizza deliveries from Nick’s Pizza. Inside the box is a formal invitation stating their cars will arrive at 7:30 am and their discretion’s appreciated. The four get greeted by Reddington’s newest employees, Sweater-Vest-Man, whose name’s Chester. He maybe Mr. Kaplan’s replacement as he has the four agents deposit their cellular devices and then puts them through an airport type body-scanner.

Once they’ve passed the inspection, they’re sent deeper into the building and Raymond greets them saying welcome to the past. The building they’re standing in can’t be penetrated by any digital signal and all the equipment in the facility’s analog. Cooper asks why they’re in a museum and Lizzie enters and says because they’ve been breached. Aram can’t believe it, saying their system’s unhackable. Raymond smiles and says exactly and that’s why Rostov hired the Thrushes.

The Thrushes were formed in 1982 by a man named Plemen Radkov. Radkov got arrested in 1986 and died in a Soviet gulag a few years later. That’s when the Thrushes went underground and they’ve taken on jobs based on degree of difficulty and the money offered. They’ve been involved in some high scale operations over the years and many lives were lost due to their activities. Cooper tells Navabi and Ressler to find out what they can about the other incidents and tells Aram to contact the NSA.

Who’s The Mole?: Navabi finds out first as she meets with another intelligence operative about the incident they were involved in, in Jaipur. The operative brings a book with pictures of all the Thrushes operative and says all 38 were engineers and perished in the incident. Samar going through the pictures realizes that the agent’s incorrect, one of the people’s not an engineer and is still alive. Although she’s identified as Kate Bond, she’s in reality Aram’s new girlfriend Elise.

Navabi tells Cooper and Donald and both men tell her they’ve got to keep this from Mojtabai, that he’ll be heartbroken and will blow their cover. Just then Aram walks into the Post Office looking desolate, he’s been working on the problem for the last 18-hours and he realized that Elise’s the mole. He’s hurt and angry, but he wants to get involved in her capture. They’ve got a date that evening at his apartment and he’s going to download a virus on her laptop.

Samar sets up Aram for the sting in a van that’s right below his apartment, she gives him a pen that’s also a wire and then hands Mojtabai a pistol. He asks if she wants her to shoot his girlfriend and she adamantly says she’s not his girlfriend. She also tells Aram that if he gets into trouble, to say the word banana and the cavalry will burst in.

Elise realizes something’s up with Aram but he keeps saying he’s fine and then he goes to the refrigerator and pulls out a bottle of wine he bought for her. As he pulls the cork out, he spills wine all over the front of his shirt and says he’s got to change. He goes into his bedroom and takes her laptop out of her bag and inserts the thumb drive into it, but she enters the room before he can put it back in the bag. She enters the room and she tries to seduce him as he’s shirtless, but he rebuffs her advances, saying they’ll have a fire on the stove.

Now Elise knows something’s wrong with Aram and demands to know what it is. Ressler’s ready to charge into the apartment, but Mojtabai says that he’s actually in love with somebody else. Elise says that it’s Samar but Aram denies it, just then her cellphone rings and Olga’s on the other end. She tells Aram she’s got to take this work call and walks into his bedroom.

Olga asks her operative if her laptop’s secure and Elise responds it is. Olga replies she best make sure of it as her life could depend on it. She gets off the phone and goes into her bag for her laptop, but sees it’s missing. She lifts up Aram’s shirt and sees it and the thumb-drive Mojtabai installed, he walks in with the pistol drawn, but she knocks it out of hand.

The two start fighting and Aram says banana, about six times before the SWAT-Team and Donald and Samar burst in. Elise is about to hit Aram with a piece of wood, when Ressler tells her to drop it. At gunpoint, Elise calls back Olga and tells her all’s well.

Mr. Kaplan And The Hunter: The Hunter goes to the area where he first found Kate and checks out some old camera’s he’s got set up monitoring the area. He opens the third camera and shakes his head. He heads back to the camera and tells Mr. Kaplan she lied to him. She denies it, but then he shows her the camera and says three went in but only two came out.

Perhaps seeing the pictures gave the Hunter sympathy for Kate, as the last time we see them, they’re sitting at a table and the Hunter’s feeding Mr. Kaplan with a spoon.

The Capture Of Constantin Rostov: Liz receives a phone-call from a shoe-repair shop that she’s never visited and the owner says she left her cell phone there. She realizes that Rostov’s attempting to contact her and she picks up the phone. When she brings it back, she sees just one number on the burner-phone and calls it. She immediately asks about Agnes and Constantin replies she’s in good health but wants her mother.

Lizzie tells Rostov that she got ahold of his records and she saw a DNA report confirming that Constantin’s her father. He asks if she, Agnes and he can meet, she says she’d agree to that and Rostov says he’ll call her back with arrangements. When she gets off the phone Raymond asks her why she believes the lies Constantin’s told her, she says when she went to the Summer Palace, she recognized things and had memories of her childhood. Reddington replies just because he was married to Lizzie’s mother, it doesn’t make Rostov her father.

Keen gets a call from Constantin and sets up the meeting at an abandoned station on the Bowery Line. Reddington tells Cooper that his men will handle capturing Rostov. However Liz calls back Constantin and tells him it’s a trap, Rostov asks if she’d still be willing to meet him and gives her a new location.

Reddington sets up his plan of attack, but it appears he and his crew are heading into a trap. When Liz arrives at the new location, Rostov and some of his soldiers meet her but Agnes’ isn’t there. Constantin says that she’ll join them soon, but first he needs to kill Reddington. Lizzie reacts horrified, that Rostov’s set a trap for Raymond, but in reality Reddington and his team are right downstairs. As Raymond’s soldiers arrive, Rostov summons the woman who traveled with Matos and she’s cradling Agnes in her arms.

Rostov grabs the infant and stands on the ledge of the roof, he says if he can’t have his granddaughter, he’ll take her with him. Raymond tells him that’s insane and Masha says please father give her back to me. Constantin puts down his pistol and gives Agnes to Liz. Rostov’s taken into custody.

For the first time this season we get a pleasant montage ending the episode as Harry Nilsson’s version of One plays in the background. Raymond goes to visit Tom and Liz and he asks to see Agnes and Lizzie invites him in. She says to Raymond now that Rostov’s been captured the three of them will find a new place, Reddington nods and says he realized that.

The final image of the evening’s Constantin Rostov locked away in the glass cage inside the Post Office, a broken and defeated man.

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…