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All posts for the month November, 2016

Courtesy of ABC

Courtesy of ABC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

Nassar lies motionless, mouth foaming from inside his cell. Not really planting any flags here, but treachery is afoot. Atwood, pulls out all the stops trying to identify the mole inside the facility. The bigger issue at hand is that Atwood and Hannah are the only people aware of the name Nassar revealed before his untimely and intentional death.

The Kirkmans and McLeishs finally sit down to have that dinner. So far so good, just basic pleasantries and old stories at this point. Meanwhile Aaron and Emily converse in Aaron’s office. I could do without the unrealistic yelling at the tv that Aaron’s doing. Its a valiant effort by the writing staff, but sports fans don’t yell at the tv that way. Aaron gets a call that dramatically changed the mood in the room. Aaron bursts into the President’s dinner party, removes him to inform him that Nassar, who was in there custody is now dead. The President needs to excuse himself but not until McLeish offers his assistance in whatever has prioritized the President’s time.

Atwood is summoned to the White House, presumably to speak on the Nassar incident. Kirkman asks Atwood if he has any answers. He responds in the affirmative, not noticing Peter McLeish in the distance of the room. Atwood is cryptic and refuses to give any answers to Kirkman in McLeish’s presence. Kirkman can sense something’s off but he’s having a hard time seeing the forest for the trees. Matters are not made better by the news that the US Track and Field team have been arrested in Russia on a suspicion of Performance Enhancing Drug use.

Seth enters the room and makes a formal request with Aaron for five minutes with the President. Aaron reiterates that the President has no time for personal matters. Seth has to clarify that he is not asking for Seth personal, he’s asking for POTUS personal. This is in regards to the reporter sniffing around about Leo not being the President’s son. The story is true and among his senior staff, the President doesn’t mince words. Its not an issue of infidelity, its an issue of poor timing. The problem comes in when Aaron reveals that Alex knew the father was stirring stuff up a week ago. While the surface, it looks innocent. Poor timing and all, but Tom Kirkman is way more uptight about this than he should be considering the surface.

Kirkman is escorted to the Situation Room where he is met by representatives of the CIA. Kirkman thinks this is about Al Secar, but they are there to speak about Westin, the “National Hero” former Olympian and current track coach. You guessed it, Coach Westin is a spy. Side note, my affection for this show is directly connected to its plausibility. Believing that a Michael Phelps type athlete turned Olympic coach turned CIA operative is a difficult sell. I hope its an outlier.

Hannah walks into a poorly lit bar to find a contact, later revealed to be CIA. He shrugs off her request as Atwood did what he does to get Nassar removed from CIA custody and placed in FBI custody where he would eventually die. An issue the CIA apparently gets their panties in a twist over. Outside Hannah tries again, then drops the name ‘Catalin’. This grabs the man’s attention immediately. He gives up very little except for one major detail.

CIA Agent: Here’s what I know. Stay out of it. And if you ask anyone else they’ll tell you the same just less politely. The man’s a mercinary…and a traitor.

Hannah: What do you mean? He’s American?

In a remote conference room within the White House, Kirkman and his CIA representatives meet with a Russian diplomat who brought his Defense Minister to a meeting about a coach and drugs. Both sides know exactly what’s going on. The Russians are using this as an opportunity to leverage US nuclear weapons out of Turkey. An idea that Kirkman will not consider.

The moment Hannah begins to spill what she knows now about Catalin, McLeish shows up. Atwood and Hannah put a pin in their discussion. McLeish has come to deliver paperwork that the FBI would likely dig up during his vetting process. What follows is a very uncomfortable ‘Justified-like’ stand off. Neither man saying what they really mean and both men holding their relative ground. As if to say, Atwood doesn’t trust McLeish and McLeish knows there is a great deal that Atwood doesn’t know.

Hannah: What the hell was that?
Atwood: What the hell do you think it was? A bunch of BS. The guy is going to walk in here and voluntarily give over ten years of papers that no one asked for? Now, why would he be so eager to do that?
Hannah: Because he’s got something to hide.

Westin appears on Russian television to make a formal apology. For the second time tonight, Emily tries to assert that men don’t know sports and provides a sports analogy to help with their Coach Westin problem. When two teams want to trade players but can’t agree on compensation, they illicit the aid of a third team. Kirkman purposes, Emily find out what the Russians want and seek out a third trade partner.

Alex visits the ex in prison. Another Justified like standoff. At first, it felt like a money play. Which isn’t really that far off. This person does have a motive but its not money. President Kirkman throws his weight around to get Leo’s ‘supposed’ biological father released, or he tells the world ‘his story’. Alex returns to report to Tom. He is naturally not inclined to grant his request. However, it does level with Alex that his decision to not get tested and find out for sure who Leo’s father is was a decision of emotional self preservation for Tom not Leo. And Leo has every right to know who his biological father is.

Hannah and Atwood try to make heads or tails of what McLeish’s latest actions mean when Atwood gets a frantic phone call from his wife. Their son never made it home from school. When Atwood arrives at the school, they have no new information and try to downplay the severity of the situation. Atwood directs his wife to go home in case he turns up there. Atwood, plans on finding his son the old fashioned way. And yes, you’re conspiracy theory concern meter should be going up.

The President’s new play to acquire a third trade partner includes Saudi Arabia. The United States return four Saudi agents being detained in the US for industrial espionage to Saudi Arabia as long as Saudi Arabia returns a Russian agents to Russia and Coach Westin is returned to the United States. An international three way spy trade. The situation room convenes to ensure the delivery of the respective spy trade. Westin doesn’t step off the plane. The Russians double crossed us. Brad Westin never made it on the plane. Hollywood never misses an opportunity to make Russia the cold war bad guys again. In short order, the CIA gets its hands on new intel. A photo of Brad Westin meeting with who the CIA believes is Westin’s contact and handler. Brad Westin is a double agent.

Hannah meets with her CIA contact again with a much more desperate plea for assistance. This time the contact is at least willing to eventually give up something on Catalin.

Seth meets with the reporter Lisa Jordan. Seth has something to deal, but before he reveals that, he tells her that she can run her Leo story but doesn’t think she should. He makes an appeal to her that Tom Kirkman is a good man with a good family who never asked for this job, but now he has it and everyone’s gunning for him. Seth offers an exclusive. First person accounts of Tom Kirkman brokering a deal to have a US citizen returned only to find out that the US citizen is not who he seemed. In a uniquely timed parallel, Aaron and Emily want to push through McLeish as VP with the Congressional elections coming up. Shortly after I yelled at my TV, Kirkman suggests that there’s not harm in waiting to see what the FBI has on him. Especially in light of the Westin situation. Now if they could only find Jason Atwood.

Hannah walks down a decline in a parking garage when she hears something. She pursues with her gun drawn. Her car appears may have been broken into. The driver’s door is open. When she gets there she finds a manila envelope with CIA documents inside. She views the Catalin file and remembers staring at one of the guards at the black site. The guard looks strikingly like the picture in the file. Hannah tries to call Atwood but he’s in find my son mode.

Atwood goes to his son’s baseball practice where the coach has no information. Before Atwood gets back into his car, a woman approaches assuring him that his son is fine. After I yelled the b-word at my television, the woman reveals herself as involved in the abduction in some way. Simple power play. They have Luke Atwood and can get Yvette Atwood whenever they want. No harm will come to them as long as Atwood does exactly as instructed. She hands Atwood a phone and tells him he will make an appointment with the President and do as instructed.

Speculation time: The obvious angle is to assume that Atwood will be instructed to convey to President Kirkman that the FBI found nothing of concern while vetting McLeish. However, I’m not opposed to considering that its something else entirely.

Courtesy of ABC

Courtesy of ABC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

Nassan is in custody but not speaking. Aaron believes Kirkman has bigger fish to fry at this moment. A dinner for a ballroom full of governors. This is the first glimpse of the first family and senior staff for that matter, in full dress up mode. President and First Lady Kirkman as well Kirkman’s senior staff make their way around the room. Most intriguing of which might be a very short conversation between Aaron and Senator McLeish. As part of a hypothetical scenario, Aaron follows up on how McLeish can serve. He turned down Speaker of the House as it was too much politics and not enough actual service.

Emily: We might have another way for you to serve.
Aaron: Hypothetically, how does Vice President sound to you?
McLeish: Hypothetically, I would be honored.

Let me get this straight. A politician turned down Speaker of the House, arguably the most powerful position short of President. In favor of Vice President, a position considered by most to be the highest ranking political figure-head? So why is my brain going straight for “Assassination Watch” if this happens? This quote from Daniel Webster when he turned down the Vice Presidency in 1839 really drives the point home.

“I do not presume to be buried until I am dead.”

Kirkman makes his way to the podium but not before a Governor from Arizona jumps to the foreground to ask for time to discuss Governor Royce. She was disheartened to see one of her colleagues arrested. Well the measure of a well executed character we are supposed to dislike is directly related to how frequently and loudly I cuss at my tv in their presence. Congratulations Governor Nichols, you have made my “I hate you” list.

Kirkman delivers the speech we’ve been waiting for him to give. A speech that is direct, positive and helps to shape the perception of who Kirkman is. A registered Independent that no one voted for but shares the goals of all Americans, not just the politically motivated ones. Kirkman believes pretty strongly that he, as an independent, can bridge the partisan gap and that American post-Capital bombing can be stronger than it ever was before. A resounding speech that delivers exactly its ended response.

All is well until rapid gunfire is heard but not seen. Secret Service does not hesitate to get Kirkman out of there regardless. With the First Family safe in the residence, Secret Service begin to search for the shooter. Mike eyes the suspect and takes him down with two shots, but not before Mike takes one in the upper torso. Kevlar prevented one, but the other will require surgery. Moments before shooting on the White House, the assailant posted on social media his allegiance to Mashid Nassar.

In the situation room there is an argument over using conventional questioning tactics with Nassar or moving him to a black site for more ‘extreme’ questioning. It doesn’t take an avid viewer of this show to know that Kirkman is not going for a black site option no matter who presents it. Director Atwood convinces the President to let him begin more conventional questioning. On his way out, Atwood is approached by Emily. She’d like to start the vetting process on a VP. Knowing what Hannah is pursuing, Atwood has a very specific facial expression when he hears Emily say McLeish’s name.

Kirkman speaks to another Governor, this one from Florida. We still have a situation where Governors are circumventing previous United States laws under the cover of protecting their citizens. Fear taking the place of due process. It gets worse. Kirkman puts most of the Governors in a room. Nichols is the ring leader. They all but demand Kirkman answer all of their questions so they will ‘know him better’. As if any of that mattered. Then and only then will they approve his appointees.

Kirkman: With all due respect Governor Nichols, I’m not on trial here.
Nichols: You are now.

Hannah and Atwood make their way to interrogate Mashid Nassan. Simultaneously, President Kirkman makes his way back to a room filled with Governors to be subjected to his own interrogation. Hannah takes over essentially playing bad cop to Atwood’s good cop. She lays out the options. On one side, he speaks and tells US officials what they want to know. On the other side, he doesn’t and they turn him over to Pakistan in connection to a bombing there. And in Pakistan, human rights are optional. Nassan tells a quick story about an American missile hitting an apartment building full of civilians including Nassan’s wife and two daughters.

Ironically, the interrogation of Nassan is actually going better. Kirkman is getting attacked for everything deserved or not. Governors painting a picture that Kirkman is impulsive and removes anyone who doesn’t agree with him. They are trying to find any reason to have him removed as President. Except they are all forgetting one very critical detail. Like it or not, this is how the system works. You have a Designated Survivor for a reason. This was designed long before Kirkman came along. And Governor Nichols still has me cussing at my screen. In a stunning move, Kirkman stands up, looks over the room of Governors and gives them exactly what they are looking for.

Kirkman: Maybe you’re right. Maybe I shouldn’t be the President.

Kirkman has a politically bad tendency to consider that the mob at the gates might actually be right. It takes an Aaron get in his face moment to bring back Commander-in-Chief Kirkman back. Aaron reminds Kirkman that even he didn’t remember Kirkman’s name in the beginning, but in time, has learned to believe that President Kirkman is the only change this country has. At being a country again. Kirkman looks to Seth to see if Seth feels the same.

Seth (looks towards Aaron): What he said.

Hesitant, Hannah is at least will to accept that Nassar did this despite believing he’s too small time to pull this off. There is even a moment when she directs his attention to Peter McLeish as his focus. Can’t leave any survivors. Nassan’s aim is not Peter McLeish but to total amount. He wants “them all dead”. Hannah maintains that Nassan is taking credit for something he didn’t do. They lay out what actually happened concerning Nassan taking the fall and then both parties decide to end the interrogation. Atwood stands and asks Hannah about another name. She quickly responds that she “will do it”. Whoever that is concerns Nassan. He stands up abruptly, his body language suggesting he has a major problem with this.

Atwood (to Nassan): So. Now you know that we know about your other family. The one that wasn’t killed.

Hannah gives just enough information about his son and mother living comfortably in Dubai. Hannah and Atwood don’t make it out of the room before Nassan starts spilling it. He resists at the behest of a name, but quickly gives up that name. Before the agents can leave the room, Nassan mentions that if it comes back to him that Nassan gave up the name, the suspect will kill everyone that even knows.

Kirkman is back in the room of Governors to give his answer. My answer would have been “Because this is exactly what the Constitution had in mind when the Designated Survivor provision was created. Sorry you don’t like it but this is how it works”. But that’s a very un-Kirkman answer. He believes that he can do this job. He can rebuild the nation, but he will need help. He also lays out that he nor the country can spend any more time fighting with the Governors. So this place, this time, its their time to choose. Either they move forward together, or this will be the time where President Kirkman will need to step down and Just be citizen Kirkman.

His words this time are received well, but we aren’t there yet. Enough Governors will stand in his way preventing his appointments if he doesn’t suspend immigration. All immigration. Until such a time as the Governors and their people can feel comfortable again. Kirkman isn’t crazy about denying those who apply through the proper channels like students and scientists, but this might be the sacrifice needed to get the support that will lead to rebuilding the government. Side note: I love how real or fiction, Americans what to defer to the Constitution as if it is divine mandate, holding to the word as written regardless of circumstance, until they don’t like the result. This story line should never happen. Kirkman is President because that what the Constitution decreed.

Atwood and Hannah return to their offices. Hannah not gloating in the least is curious to find out who Kettalin is. Atwood is confident the terrorist data base will turn up information on that…until it doesn’t. Then Hannah floats the idea that perhaps this Kettalin has higher clearance that the director of the FBI.

The First Lady approaches the Oval with great news. The plane full of refugees that has been held up by the Governor of Florida has permission to land in a US city and that Governor will accept all refugees. But it’s too late. Kirkman has already made the deal with the Governors and now has to tell his wife. We have our first Oval Office fight. Alex Kirkman playing us against the world, humanitarian who thinks we can’t resist what America used to be even for a moment, is very disappointed in the decision. Not disappointed in the President, she’s disappointed in her husband.

Aaron and Emily arrive at the Oval to give their optimistic view on the vetting of VP candidate Peter McLeish. The FBI will take a while (understandably and with good reason) to properly vet McLeish. In the meantime, Aaron believes its solid enough to move forward. Famous last words. Then, Kirkman asks if would be possible to get Mr. and Mrs. McLeish over to the White House for dinner. Aaron asks about Mrs. Kirkman and Tom hesitates.

All night, Seth has been resisting his own urges to begin a social relationship with a reporter. Those instincts to resist probably should have been listened to more directly. Before escaping to have a drink said reporter asks him directly to comment on the story that Leo Kirkman is actually not Tom Kirkman’s son.

Tom Kirkman returns to the residence to get ready for the McLeish’s. He finds Alex reading. He treads lightly and even offers up an out for Alex so that she won’t have to attend that dinner. She rejects it and confirms that she will happily attend. Domestic crisis averted.

Atwood and Hannah arrive back at Nassar’s holding facility when Atwood gets a call. Something’s wrong and its related to Nassar. By the time they arrive in Nassan’s cell it’s too late. . Medical is trying to revive him but the foaming mouth is a dead giveaway that it’s a lost cause. Further suggesting that there is at least one person on the inside. As Hassan appears to have died from cafeteria food.

Photo Courtesy Of NBC

Photo Courtesy Of NBC

Warning: Spoiler Alert:

 Isn’t this where we came in? After watching the creative team and writers for the NBC series “The Blacklist ,” build a pretty convincing argument over the last ten episodes that Elizabeth Keen’s the biological daughter of Constantin Rostov, we found out that once again we got lead down a dead-end road. That information divided into two-forks, the long-term question, just who’s Keen’s father? The other fork’s of a more pressing manner, how long will the casualty list run, after Rostov’s extraction team springs him from the hospital he’s a patient in?

With two episodes remaining until the conclusion of the Fall campaign, we realized that even though Alexander Kirk’s in Federal Custody, his story wasn’t near conclusion when he got taken into custody. Far too many questions remained unanswered in Lizzie’s mind and she thought Rostov could provide the answers, a situation she couldn’t leave untapped.

However before we explore that avenue, let’s return to the beginning of the episode. We join an elderly man with a mottled face, laboriously breathing, as he sits next to a woman in a lab-coat. The man’s coughing uncontrollably and asks the woman what’s wrong with him? She says he’s suffering a rare and serious side-effect of the medicine he’s taking. He says he thought they could help him and the woman apologizes, and says he knew the risks going in, however if there’s any solace, his results will help future patients. She then leaves the room and we watch the patient through a glass portal, beg for help and then collapse.

Alexander Kirk’s placed inside the glass vault inside the Post Office, as Cooper goes through the perfunctory reading of what Rostov’s charged with. He asks the Russian Oligarch, if he’s got any questions and Constantin remains silent. Liz’s going through an emotional roller-coaster, ecstatic over her family’s unification, yet full of regrets that her father sits in prison with an incurable disease, that grows worse each day.

Lizzie receives a call from Raymond, and in his usual round-a-bout manner, Reddington asks Keen if she’s even been spear fishing, before he introduces the subject he actually wants to discuss. He tells Liz that Rostov’s an imminent escape-risk and she asks how that could be, since the Bureau discovered and ended Constantin hacking their computer system and arrested their mole? He responds that Rostov will manipulate her feelings and enlist her help, which she quickly dismisses.

Reddington, sits down with Samar and Ressler, and tells them he’s got another member of the Blacklist, who goes by The Coroner. This man’s ability revolves around maintaining the identity of dead people, that he utilizes to give his clientele new lives. Raymond directs them to a woman who utilized The Coroner’s services and they use the woman to contact the Coroner.

Navabi makes contact with The Coroner in a rather upscale bar, while Ressler monitors the action a few tables away.  Just as Samar begins to start a conversation, we hear a very familiar voice speaking loudly and adopting an accent that would have fit perfectly in Dublin. Raymond and guest are sitting at the next table and Reddington suddenly gets up from his seat and joins Samar and The Coroner at their table.

Although the Blacklist member lacks interest in helping Reddington, The Coroner becomes far more cooperative after Raymond points out the man remaining at Red’s old table, hopes that he won’t help, as The Coroner killed the man’s brother. If he won’t aid Reddington, then the Concierge Of Crime will allow the brother to have his way with the Coroner. Raymond tells him he’s looking for a former client’s new identity, The Coroner divulges the woman he knows as Sonia Bloom’s now Dr. Adrian Shaw.

Lizzie has a heartfelt discussion with Cooper and decides to talk with Rostov while he sits in the vault. He asks her if she truly believes that he’s her father and she affirms that she does. Constantin then asks why she chose Reddington over him and Liz replies, the decision she made was for herself and her family. She didn’t want to be under either man’s control. Suddenly blood starts streaming from Rostov’s nostrils and he collapses on the floor, she has the vault opened and when she realizes that Rostov’s unconscious calls for 911.

When they get to the hospital, the doctor assesses them on Rostov’s condition and things look bleak. She informs them of his blood disorder and his history of blood transfusions and she fears that if she attempted another transfusion he could go into shock. She says that the patient’s chances of survival rest on the outside chance that a family member would donate stem-cells in the next 24-hours.

There hasn’t been a whole lot of levity during Season Four, perhaps because of its scarcity,  I treasure those moments. Raymond and Dembe are sitting in a pediatrician’s waiting room and Reddington decides to utilize his time solving the puzzle in current Hi-Lights magazine. The receptionist announces that the doctor’s ready to see them, but Red wants to find the last hidden item. In order to speed the process, Zuma points out the sailboat that’s eluded Reddington and the frustration in Raymond’s voice when Dembe points it out’s palpable.

The physician they meet is the partner of Dr. Adrian Shaw and he makes it clear to Shaw that Raymond knows everything about her past. She agrees to meet with Reddington in exchange for the release of her partner.

Lizzie’s going through an internal battle, whether she should try to save Rostov, or allow his condition to end his life. Tom’s adamantly against the idea of her helping him, Rostov endangered both his wife and his daughter and doesn’t believe that Rostov deserves Keen’s help or pity. We can see by the expression on Lizzie’s face that she’s less than satisfied at the end of their conversation.

Cooper realizes that Lizzie’s in distress and she tells him she’s torn between allowing Rostov to succumb to his illness, or if she should try to help save his life. She says that Tom would hate her for helping Constantin and Raymond predicted she’d help Rostov. Harold responds that from his perspective, she shouldn’t be as concerned with Reddington and Tom’s feelings, but to decide on what she feels is the right choice.

She walks over to Constantin’s room and he asks her if she had all the money in the world, what would she do with it. She says that she’d travel around the globe, twice. Rostov says choices like that will soon be open to her as he’s leaving all his money to her. Lizzie says he’s going to have a while to decide what to do with his assets, as she’s decided to help him. He puts his hand on top of hers in gratitude, but she quickly moves her hand from his.

Turns out that Dr. Adrian Shaw and her partner Dr. Taylor Rayburn, are conducting a trial on critically ill patients on a dilapidated ship, which Navabi and Ressler search when the ship pulls into port. The patients nearly go undetected by the agents, until Samar notices something amiss. We see the patients lying in hammocks, in varying degrees of health, some appear to be doing well while others lie there with blistered skin. The treatment’s based on the patient using their own healthy cells to cure their bad ones and while some have succeeded, others died painfully.

Due to a large-scale bus accident in the area, the hospital’s unable to get the information confirming that Liz and Rostov would be a compatible match for the procedure. There’s a set of 16 DNA signposts that must be an exact match and they must share the same blood-type. The procedure hits another snag, as it turns out that in order for them to get enough stem-cells from Keen, the hospital team would need to drill into her bones. Although the procedure’s low-risk, side-effects could develop later in life and Tom’s against the procedure, although he realizes Lizzie’s going through with it. Keen’s prepped for surgery, awaiting the confirmation call, the call’s received but we don’t hear the results.

Elizabeth goes to visit Rostov in his room and he says he thought she was in surgery and she confirms he was. He smiles and tells Masha she saved his life, she says she tried to but all did not go as planned. She reveals to Constantin that not only did they fail to produce a match, according to the DNA screening, Rostov’s not her father.

Red and Dembe meet with Shaw and Rayburn, and Rayburn’s quickly told he can go home once he meets Dr. Shaw. He brings the hematologist into a spanking new facility and she asks Reddington if he’s sick. Raymond gives her a rather sardonic smile and replies that she’s got no idea.

Lizzie walks back into Rostov’s room and sees that he’s back in his suit. She asks why and he responds since they can’t cure him he might as well leave. He then says he believes that Reddington faked the DNA results, Keen says she thought the same but she had the hospital rerun them and the results came out the same. The façade of civility that Rostov keeps so meticulously in place, crumbles at that point as he starts raving about Reddington and how he destroyed his family.

In the midst of a conversation with Dr. Ryan, Raymond steps away to take a call from Keen. She asks Reddington if he faked the tests and then tells him what’s going on. Raymond says now that Constantin realizes Lizzie’s not his daughter, she’s of no use to him. He tells Keen to inform Harold and get out of the hospital immediately. Unfortunately the extraction team already in place, Lizzie’s going to have a hard time escaping with her life.