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All posts for the month May, 2017

Photo Courtesy Of William Hart/NBC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

Fans of the NBC series “The Blacklist,” are probably still reeling from the two-hour bombshell, that concluded season four. The show runners have bombarded viewers with information, since they returned from hiatus on April 20, and the two-hour season finale followed in kind. With all the action that took place, including murders, betrayals, relationships dissolving , while new ones formed, there’s likely one revelation that shook long time viewers to their core. Apparently, Raymond Reddington’s the biological father of Masha Rostova, however the man that we’ve known as Raymond for the past four seasons, maybe an impostor.

The concept of the character that Spader portrays, actually being a man that adopted the identity of Raymond Reddington, had gotten bandied about by some of the show’s fans since the second season. This viewer never bought into that concept, however the show runners certainly left viewers with that conclusion heading into the summer. By taking the story down this path, it opens up a myriad of questions. Exactly who is this man, that the world knows as Raymond Reddington? Does this mean that four-year-old Masha Rostova, actually shot and killed the real Raymond Reddington? Did Mr. Kaplan realize that the man she worked for and loved, had adopted the identity of another man?

There’s a deep connection between the man we’ve known as Raymond, and Katarina’s father Dom, who returned to the series in the evening’s first hour. Raymond apologizes to him as he leaves his home, for not becoming the man that Dom hoped he would. The conversation sounded like a son apologizing to his father, could this man really be Dom’s son and Katarina’s brother? Is this man responsible for the suitcase filled with bones, that Mr. Kaplan unearthed? Perhaps even more importantly whose bones are in that valise, Katarina’s, or the real Raymond Reddington’s?

Should the show’s long-term fans feel cheated if the character we’ve invested four seasons into following, turns out to be an impostor? It’s a question that I’ve wrestled with since the final few minutes of episode 22, and I’ve come up with a rationale that I can live with. Whom ever this man that we’ve been intrigued by turns out to be, he’s the guy that’s kept us glued to our respective screens for 89 episodes. He’s the man who could end Diane Fowler’s life, with a bullet to the gut while telling her she talked too much. Yet he showed empathy and gentleness, when treating a young boy to three ice-cream sundaes, in order to obtain the name of his hematologist from his mother. This is the man filled with information on almost any subject, who can entertain you all evening with his anecdotes, and seems to get perverse pleasure out of emasculating husbands, in front of their wives.

If this man’s not Raymond Reddington, it doesn’t truly matter to me. If Red proves to be a phony, it just proves that the rabbit hole’s deeper than many of us previously thought. Was this man ever married to Naomi, or was the story he revealed about coming home to a Christmas Eve massacre, his true fate? If he’s not Raymond Reddington, then why would he have buried that suitcase full of bones at Tansi Farms? These are just some of the issues, that fans will be chewing over this Summer.

Can We Survive?

Team-Red’s on the ropes as the first hour opens, getting attacked on multiple fronts. Raymond finds out after surviving a shoot-out, that his suppliers have cut him off and his bank accounts drained. Trusted allies such as Brimley the geriatric torturer, and another crime-boss named Don Julio, are keeping their distance from Red, proving the old adage that nobody loves you, when you’re down and out. After asking Don Julio for help in locating his former driver now employed by Mr. Kaplan, he tells Red that the man just bought a Ferrari. Reddington tries tracking the driver through the dealership he bought the car from, but a shell-corporation’s listed as the legal owners.

Things aren’t going much smoother for the Task-Force, as Julian Gale’s gathered enough evidence for prosecutors to convene a grand jury. Aram Mojtabai’s been granted immunity to testify against his friends and colleagues. Because of the immunity deal, Mojtabai’s compelled to testify or risk being jailed for contempt of court. Aram’s warned that he’s not to share this information with any of his teammates.

Gale informs Donald Ressler, that he’s the guy that took the shot at Reddington, during their meeting with Kaplan. Ressler tries to explain the rationale of the Task-Force to Julian, but Gale’s disgusted at the concept of making a deal with such a heinous criminal, and refuses to listen. He then tells Ressler that he’s going to put him and each member of the Task-Force behind bars.

Kate’s morphed into the monster that Dembe said she’d become, in the previous episode. Her obsession with destroying Raymond, seems to have stripped her of her humanity. She’s so fixated with her mission, that she looks at anybody that gets into her way as collateral damage. Kate hires a master-thief named Mario Dixon, to break into the Stone Canyon facility, a government warehouse that contains all sorts of classified documents. In order to obtain the document that Raymond signed from the Justice Department, finalizing their agreement, she removes a man’s eyeball without anesthesia, to get past the facility’s security device.

Raymond realizes that his accountant Abe’s assisted Kate with cleaning out his bank accounts, and after getting Dixon’s name from a ledger, he repays Abe for his betrayal. Reddington gives the name to Keen and Navabi, who track down his younger brother in a correctional facility. Offering to take five years off his sentence for cooperating, the younger Dixon tells them he’d have given up his brother for free, and directs them to a store in Baltimore.

After threatening Dixon’s business partner, Reddington’s told that Dixon’s in Philadelphia. Navabi and Keen engage in a chase with Dixon, but they get help from a collection of government agencies, who got alerted when somebody from Stone Canyon informed them about the break-in. Dixon says he’s got no intention of talking, since he’s aware of the deal Reddington signed with the Justice Department. He tells the agents that he’ll start singing the moment he’s arrested. The agents inform him he’s not getting arrested, and instead leaves him in Raymond’s care.

Raymond and Dembe drive to Dom’s home, then Raymond and the old man head into his barn. He digs up a red strong-box that he buried there decades earlier, with strict instructions to Dom, never to dig it up. He then tells Dom about Kate, and how she’s destroyed his empire. However the reason he says he’s willing to give up the contents of the box, is to save Masha’s life. He says he thought he lost her once, and he’s not going to chance it again.

Dom’s enraged when he finds out his granddaughter’s alive, and he demands to know why Reddington didn’t contact him, instead of allowing him to grieve for the last year? Raymond replies that Mr. Kaplan knew every detail in Reddington’s life, except about Dom’s existence. He says he purposely stayed away from him, so that Kate wouldn’t find out about him. He then tells the old man, that if he fails to return Dom must find Masha and tell her whom he is.

Red offers the contents of the box to Dixon, in exchange for Kate’s location. He tells the thief that the box contains travel vouchers, and the deed and key to a 96-acre mansion, on an island near Dubai. When Dixon asks how can he be certain Reddington won’t kick him out once he takes residence, Raymond explains that the staff and the guards will pledge their undying loyalty, to whom ever holds the key. After obtaining the location, Raymond ends Dixon’s life with a shot at point-blank range.

Theaters seem to play a prominent part in this series, and Raymond and Dembe ambush Kate and her two henchmen in the theater she’d planned to meet Dixon in. After taking out the two henchmen, Raymond says he wants to end things peacefully and offers Mr. Kaplan all he’s got left, the contents of the box. Kate says the island would be her prison, Reddington agrees but says she’d be imprisoned in paradise. She refuses the offer, and suddenly we hear Julian Gale shouting out hands up this is the FBI.

Gale and his partner George start firing and go after Dembe and Raymond, but they lose them. They return to the theater to find Kate’s waiting for them. He says without the document that Reddington signed, the case he’s presenting to the grand jury will fall apart. Kate corrects him, saying she’ll gladly testify in open court, in exchange for immunity. She then asks Gale what he’s waiting for, and tells her to go ahead and arrest her.

Rising From The Ashes.

Lou Reed’s “Vicious,” brings us back for hour number two, as Raymond and Dembe sit in a seedy motel room, while Reddington destroys a fistful of phony id’s that Kate made invalid. At the same time Kate’s meeting with Federal Prosecutors, to see if her testimony qualifies giving her immunity. After a few minutes of conversation, the prosecutors agree to a deal, she informs them that she needs 24-hours to tie-up odds and ends, before she goes into custody. After the prosecutors initially refuse, she informs them that if she doesn’t get released she’ll remain silent, Kate wins yet another battle.

We see her next out in the country, and she walks up to a tree with the initial K carved into it. She then takes five steps from the tree, and removes a collapsible shovel from its carrying bag. She then says “Forgive Me Katrina,” and starts digging into the earth.

Raymond’s got one more card to play, and this move ends up tipping the balance of the game. He and Dembe pay a visit to the location of a nightclub, that former NFL player J.J. Brickman’s on the verge of opening. Raymond requests that Brickman contact his “Fixer,” Henry Prescott. When the former NFL player refuses, Reddington puts a slug into Brickman’s drug dealer, and tells him that he either contacts Prescott, or the dealer will bleed out there, which would end the club’s future that night.

Henry Prescott’s a man that rectifies situations, getting his clients out of scrapes with the law, and other assorted annoyances. Besides having Brickman among his clients, Prescott did a job for a highly placed member of the government, back on November 19, 2015. Henry’s got a warehouse where he stores all his “insurance policies,” and Raymond wants access to it. Prescott asks if Reddington’s going to kill him if he refuses, but Raymond informs him that’s not his intention. Instead he’ll make Prescott famous when the authorities find him along with Brickman and “Gun-Shot Wound.” Raymond says that will assure that Prescott’s client base will immediately dry up.

Aram goes to testify in front of the grand jury and he refuses to cooperate. After the prosecutor attempts to intimidate Mojtabai, he says that he’s proud of the work he’s done with Reddington. He then says that if she wants a trial, to give them a trial, let them show the American public all the good they’ve done. The prosecutor, tells the bailiff to remove him from the room and he’s to be held in contempt of court.

Raymond arrives at Prescott’s facility with Ressler, identifying him as his associate Frank Sturgeon. He tells Henry that Sturgeon needs to see the evidence, Prescott nods his head and tells them the facility’s arranged in chronological order.

The pair enter the warehouse and we see countless industrial size barrels, Raymond gives Donald a pair of rubber gloves, and when they arrive at the barrel marked 11-19-15, Reddington uses a crowbar to remove the lid. He then tells Ressler to reach inside, and Donald discovers Reven Wright’s body perfectly preserved. They remove the slug from her corpse, which Raymond predicts will match the bullets in the Glock that Hitchin keeps in her nightstand.

Ressler’s conflicted that after all this time trying to prove Laurel Hitchin murdered Reven Wright, he’s got to let her go now that he’s got definitive proof. Cooper and the Task-Force commiserate, however they tell Donald that he’s got no choice in the matter. He has to make the deal with Hitchin, guaranteeing her freedom, by her guaranteeing theirs.

Turns out that Aram’s on again/off again girlfriend Janet Sutherland, gave him up when she testified before the grand jury. We find this out when Navabi confronts her inside the courthouse, Sutherland says they promised to expunge her criminal record if she testified. Samar tells her that she’s going to let Aram know, but decides not to tell him when he says he’d never make it through the experience without Janet’s support. She tells Aram that Reddington’s attempting to squash the grand jury and not to give up hope.

Laurel Hitchin looks like the cat that swallowed the canary, when Reddington and Ressler enter her home, and inform her about the grand jury. Raymond tells Hitchin that she’s going to shut the grand jury down and she chortles, until Reddington informs her that they’ve met with Henry Prescott, and they now possess the bullet she killed Reven Wright with. If she wants to maintain her freedom, she’s going to make that grand jury go away.

The next morning, Hitchin struts into the room that the grand jury’s convening in, and informs the prosecutor and Julian Gale that she’s shutting them down for reasons of national security. Gale gets in her face and asks if Reddington’s gotten to her as well. She replies to Gale, that his career’s not completely destroyed, but if he makes another remark like that it will be.

Julian calls Mr. Kaplan and informs her that the Grand Jury’s been shut-down. She asks what that means concerning her immunity deal. Gale responds that its off the table, without the testimony, the government won’t give her immunity. She quickly hangs up.

Keen calls Kate and asks to meet with her, one on one. Kaplan responds that she can no longer trust her, and Lizzie responds that she trusts Kate. We soon see Liz walking in the street, when some of Kate’s men inform her that Mr. Kaplan wants to see her, and escort her into a black SUV. She’s dropped off at a beach, where she finds Kate sitting on a bench in a gazebo, she goes over and joins her. asking Kaplan if she’s okay.

Kate replies that she’s tired and she feels lost. She pledged to protect Lizzie with her life to Katarina, and she feels she’s let both mother and daughter down. She asks Liz if she wants to know the truth, the real reason Raymond came into her life. She tells Keen she can show her, but it must be Liz’s decision.

Now assured of their safety, Raymond and Dembe pay a visit to Julian Gale, surprising him in his car. After telling Gale that he looks fit, he says that they’re in search of Kate’s location. Julian asks how he expects to get that info, by threatening to kill him? Raymond once again says killing isn’t on his mind, he’s simply going to steal Julian’s phone to obtain the number from Kate’s burner phone. As they depart, Raymond says he’s sure they’ll bump into each other soon.

Harold’s able to track the burner phone from the number and tells Raymond where Kaplan and Lizzie are heading to, he says that agents are on the way. Reddington responds that his men are closer and they’ll track them down before Kate can harm Lizzie.

Kate’s SUV gets forced off the road by Reddington’s soldiers, she tells Liz that if she leaves the car she’s choosing Raymond, if she remains she’s choosing the truth. Although Liz told Mr. Kaplan on the phone that she trusted her, apparently this experience caused that trust to evaporate, as she leaves the vehicle. Baz walks over to the driver’s side window, and with his pistol drawn he asks Kate to shut off the vehicle and come out. Mr. Kaplan says oh Baz and then shoots him and drives off. Lizzie calls for an ambulance as the rest of the men start chasing her.

The final standoff takes place on a steel bridge, as Raymond and Dembe face Kate. She tells him that she won’t go to prison, and as soon as Raymond kills her, one of her men will present Lizzie with the secret they had buried at Tansi Farms. Reddington tells her that he’s not going to shoot her, and he regrets shooting her the first time. Saying once again she won’t go to prison, she climbs atop the bridge railing and plunges to her death in the water far below. There’s no doubt she’s gone as her lifeless body just floats on top of the water.

With the Task-Force’s problems rectified, Harold calls Keen into his office. He says that she deserves answers as to why Reddington came into her life in 2013, so he took matters into his own hands. He reveals to Lizzie that at one time he’d been considered a Golden Child, and he worked with Raymond in Naval Intelligence. He then says that Reddington got captured and beaten by his Soviet captors, and Harold recovered Reddington’s bloody clothes from an ancient evidence facility. He got a sample of Reddington’s DNA from the clothes and he sent in for testing, to find out if Raymond’s her father. He leaves her with the unopened envelope containing the results, and says he hopes she finds what she’s looking for.

Lizzie arrives at the seedy motel room that Raymond’s living in, and tells him that he lied to her. She then shows him the test results, stating that Raymond Reddington’s her biological father. Red tells Lizzie that she can walk away if she wants to, and she looks at him as if he’s crazy. She tells him they’re family and they belong together. She embraces Raymond, but there’s not the unconditional joy on his face, that you’d expect in that situation.

Laurel Hitchin summons Ressler to her home, as she wants to be the one to give him back his shield. She tells Donald that from this point forward, she’ll be calling the shots. Ressler says that’s not going to happen, and Laurel turns around angrily to yell at him. There’s a struggle and Laurel falls to the floor splitting her head open, her blood pouring from the back of her skull. We soon see Henry Prescott arrive, and tells Mr. Sturgeon that he should vacate Hitchin’s home.

We join Raymond and Dembe in conversation at Tansi Farms, Dembe questions why Raymond didn’t deny it? Reddington says because Liz believes that’s the secret that Kate wanted to share with her. He then says to Dembe they’ve got to find that suitcase. Zuma responds that he doesn’t think Lizzie’s ready to accept what Raymond did to her mother.

We get our first glimpse of Tom Keen on The Blacklist, since January, in the final scene. He’s on the phone with somebody and he says he’s following Mr. Kaplan’s final instructions. In his hand’s the valise, carrying the bones, and setting up season five.

Photo Courtesy Of Will Hart/NBC

WARNING: SPOILER ALERT

After exhausting all other options, the stage’s set for a two-hour “Battle Royale,” to conclude the fourth season for the NBC series “The Blacklist.” The mission’s clear, Team-RED, needs to keep their asset Raymond Reddington safe, and their Task-Force a secret. They now realize that they’re battling two obsessed opponents determined to derail their plans, discovering that a new actor’s entered the dynamic and adding a new unknown element to their fight. That unknown actor, FBI Special Agent Julian Gale, may prove to be the most dangerous opponent the Task-Force’s faced since its formation in 2013.

We’re not going to spend much time recapping “The Debt Collector,” a rather byzantine tale concocted by Reddington, so that he could meet face-to-face, with the woman he betrayed, Kate Kaplan. Raymond’s consumed with self-doubt, and he’s hoping that the waters have remained clear enough, that he can negotiate a truce with his former better-half.

The evening begins with Raymond and Dembe, stuck in Europe and desperately seeking a way to get back to the States. Reddington and Zuma, pay a visit to Baldur Magnusson, the underworld shipping magnate that Raymond threatened to kill earlier this season. Red convinces Magnusson, that at heart they’re both wheeler-dealers, always looking to buy low and sell high. Raymond pitches himself as a penny-stock, that will one day reward Baldur with huge dividends. Magnusson, responds that he can get the pair back in the steerage compartment of one of his ships.

Reddington calls Elizabeth Keen, and tells her that he’s gotten information that a Blacklist member known as the Debt Collector’s been hired to abduct her. He says that he’s stuck en-transit, so she’s got to take the information to Harold Cooper and the Task-Force.

The Debt Collector’s actually Edgar Grant, a high school janitor and admitted psychopath, who seeks recompense for his clients. He became a vigilante, after his wife lost her ability to walk as a result of getting hit by a man under the influence. Grant decided that the courts didn’t punish the driver harshly enough, so he mangled the man’s legs with a sledgehammer.

Grant enjoyed the experience and realized he’d found his calling, so he began hiring himself out to other’s seeking vengeance. He keeps mementos from all of his victims, in a bizarre trophy room down in his basement, ranging from a pair of hands taken from an abusive husband, to piles of cash and expensive works of art. Grant believes he’s working for Tyson Pryor, a disgraced sociology professor that Liz helped send to prison in 2012. Although given a life sentence, Pryor got released to a hospice in Baltimore, after receiving a diagnosis of terminal cancer. Grant’s instructed to abduct Lizzie, however to do her no harm until Pryor arrives.

In reality, the whole situation’s an elaborate ruse set up by Raymond to exploit Mr. Kaplan’s love for Elizabeth. Reddington gets her involved initially by identifying the Debt Collector, after examining the remains of one of his victims. He then implores her to set aside their differences in order to save Keen. Although we’ve believed that Raymond’s been setting things up while traveling in the cargo hold of a ship, he and Dembe have been lying in wait inside the cabin that Grant takes his victims to. Raymond and Dembe got back to the States, via a jet owned by a Prince, who owed Reddington a favor.

Tyson Pryor had no involvement in contracting Grant’s services, Red hired the vigilante to lure Mr. Kaplan. However Raymond doesn’t want to kill Kate, Lizzie’s pleas to spare Mr. Kaplan’s life caused Reddington to reexamine the situation. He sincerely hopes that he can arrange a permanent peace accord with Kate, allowing both of them to walk away and live out the rest of their lives without looking over their shoulders.

Let’s take a look at some key characters, and where they stand heading into the two-hour season finale:

Marvin Gerard: A rather surprising move by Raymond’s lawyer, when visited by Julian Gale and Donald Ressler. Gerard told the pair that he would only speak to Ressler, having watched him as the public face of the Bureau, when Lizzie and Raymond were on the lam. He states that Donald came off as smug, arrogant, and professional, while Gale strikes him as just smug and arrogant. Gale leaves the interrogation room, suspicious of a possible relationship between the pair.

Gerard then threatens to blow the whistle on the Task-Force to Gale, unless Donald arranges for his release. Ressler believes Marvin’s bluffing and would never give Reddington up. Gerard replies that there’s just one person he cares about more than Raymond, himself and his self-preservation instinct’s kicked in. However, does this move now put him directly in Reddington’s crosshairs?

Ressler emerges from the interrogation room, telling Gale he couldn’t get info from Gerard. Julian blows up and accuses Donald of being in cahoots with Gerard and Reddington. The two nearly come to blows, as Ressler tells Gale never to question his veracity.

Donald Ressler/Julian Gale: The “Boy Scout,” starts out the evening under suspension, the result of his shooting a secret service agent while under the influence of Bogdan Krilov’s memory manipulation. Cooper assures him that the matter will get rectified soon, and says that it might be a blessing in disguise, as he can now devote all his time with Julian Gale and stay one step ahead of his investigation. Raymond and Kate keep referencing the Mary Howitt fable, “The Spider And The Fly.” However Gale seems to have entrapped Ressler in his web, culminating in him tailing Donald when Ressler’s summoned to the cabin where Raymond, Lizzie, Dembe, and Kate, plus their assorted teams are gathered.

Perhaps it’s because of all the Russian characters in this series, but Julian Gale reminds me somewhat of Porfiry Petrovitch, the criminal investigator in the Dostoyevsky masterpiece, “Crime And Punishment.” Petrovitch pursues Rodion Raskolnikov, an impoverished student who believes that he’s part of a race of Super Men, and thus above laws made for mere mortals. Testing the bounds of his self-instilled freedom, he murders two elderly women and immediately regrets it.

Petrovitch sincerely believes in the system that he’s dedicated his life to. Gale no longer trusts the system that he works for, put off by the concept of forming alliances with criminals, in order to snare other outlaws. While both men realize that the men they pursue are brilliant, Petrovitch believes that Raskolnikov can be reformed and turned into a productive member of society. Gale carries no such illusions about Reddington, and he’s determined to put him in prison or in the ground.

Although Julian originally recruited Ressler to help him capture Reddington, he’s realized that Donald’s actually part of the team that’s working with Reddington under the auspices of the Justice Department. Gale tails Ressler to the cabin where all are gathered, and attempts to take Reddington out with a rifle from long-range. His shot goes awry, allowing Kate and her goons to escape, and causing Raymond and Lizzie to realize that a new actor has entered the scenario. Gale doesn’t let Ressler know that he’s aware of anything, and Donald doesn’t suspect Gale of being the sniper. It doesn’t seem likely that Gale will survive season four.

Mr. Kaplan: If any hopes remained that Kate would survive her battle against Raymond, they got dashed on the rocks during this episode. After getting assurance from Raymond that he could co-exist with Mr. Kaplan, Liz asked her to make the same vow. Kate’s hatred, proved to be too big an obstacle for her to overcome, and she refused to agree to the treaty. Mr. Kaplan’s now officially a dead woman walking, the only question remaining’s the person who will take her out. More on that later.

Dembe Zuma: The once silent and brooding character’s gotten a voice this season, and he’s proven that he’s far more than Raymond’s muscle. His conversation with Raymond, reflected my perception of the situation at this point. He told Red that he was heartbroken when he heard the shot that Reddington fired at Kate, and when they went home without her. He said he loved Kate, but in her efforts to prove that Raymond’s a monster, she became one herself. She no longer can see things clearly.

When Reddington counters that perhaps he’s the one not seeing things clearly, Zuma tells him he’s wrong. He stresses that they can’t allow Kate to derail their mission, the reason that Raymond surrendered himself to the FBI. He then says that they’ve got to stop Mr. Kaplan, no matter what it takes.

Prediction: I made a prediction on social media, before the Debt Collector aired, and now it’s time to share it with you. I believe that in the final moments of Episode 22, Katarina Rostova will appear and kill Mr. Kaplan to save Raymond. While this is purely conjecture, there are factors behind my theory.

As you likely remember, Alexander Kirk was ready to end Raymond’s life when Reddington whispered something into his ear, that caused him to spare Red’s life. Kirk doesn’t have a sympathetic bone in his body, so Reddington told him something that would benefit him. I believe that Raymond told Kirk, that Katarina Rostov’s still alive and that he’s close to discovering her whereabouts.

When Kathryn Nemec met Annie Kaplan, she told her she just found out her friend had died. She then said she thinks she was her best friend. In a life filled with betrayal, wouldn’t it be poetic justice for Kate to die at the hands of the woman whose final words to Kate were that she loved her? Mr. Kaplan’s destined to die a tragic death, and I can’t think of one more tragic than that.

The Two-Hour Season Finale airs at 9:00pm next Thursday on NBC.

Photo Courtesy Of Will Hart/NBC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

Facing the threat of her team getting destroyed,  and her friends and allies going to prison, FBI Agent Elizabeth Keen, took matters into her own hands, at the conclusion of the second season of the NBC series “The Blacklist.” Acting purely on instinct and emotion, Keen eliminated the threat, killing United States Attorney General Tom Connelly, and plunging her life into chaos. As we reach the final episodes of Season Four, with “Team-Red” under attack, will she once again be forced into killing the person bent on destroying her team?

Actually the FBI Task-Force, set up to utilize the services of Raymond Reddington’s, facing threats on multiple fronts, including an obsessed FBI Agent, the corrupt and compromised National Security Advisor to the President, and a nutty scientist, who can manipulate memories. However the person orchestrating those attacks and more, was one of the original members of “Team-Red,” now bent on destruction.

What’s the simplest way for writers to transform a beloved character into an evil being? By taking away their humanity, a feat achieved in the episode entitled “Dr. Bogdan Krilov (29).” Kate Kaplan’s broadened her scope, she’s decided to take down everyone in her way in her mission to see Raymond destroyed. She’s now attacking the members of the Task-Force, after Lizzie rejected her overtures for the Bureau to cut ties with Reddington. With this move, she may have lost any remaining sympathy fans of the series felt for her. She had justification for going after Raymond, but not for going into scorched earth mode, and destroying those around him.

With so many battles going on simultaneously, we’re going to dispense with our regular format, and instead concentrate on the attackers. Two of the opponents, want nothing more than to see Raymond Reddington pay for all the crimes he’s committed, while the other two basically just want to cover their own behinds.

Mr. Kaplan: Kate Kaplan’s convinced that Raymond’s become a monster, beyond salvation. Unfortunately in her mission to take him down, she seems to have morphed into that creature herself. Realizing that the Task-Force’s existence impedes her plans to see Red brought to justice, she’s now targeting the members. In this episode she went after Donald Ressler, exploiting his desires to put Laurel Hitchin behind bars for the murder of Reven Wright.

After setting her plans in motion on the domestic front, Kate started a European skirmish, one she assumed would lead to the deaths of Reddington and Dembe Zuma. Mr. Kaplan paid a visit to one of Raymond’s most powerful allies, Werner Von Hauser, at his estate in Lucerne. Von Hauser’s delight at finally meeting the legendary Mr. Kaplan’s short-lived, as Kate explains his relationship with Reddington’s built on a lie.

Twenty-five years earlier, Raymond was in the midst of establishing his reputation in the hierarchy of the criminal world. Werner was an established Kingpin, greatly admired by Reddington, but the admiration wasn’t mutual, as Von Hauser perceived Red as a lesser being. Determined to form an alliance with Werner, Raymond coordinated a fake kidnapping of Von Hauser’s son Hans.

The kidnappers sent a note demanding four million dollars, for the young man’s return. Raymond would intercede in the situation, convincing the phony kidnappers that he wasn’t a man to be trifled with, and securing Hans release. The plan unfortunately went awry, as the Taddicken brothers, who Reddington hired to abduct the young man, got careless and Hans suffocated during the transport. Raymond never told Werner the truth, but Von Hauser was so pleased that Red obliterated the Taddicken brothers, that he established a strong alliance with Reddington.

After Kate informed Raymond that she was traveling to Lucerne, Reddington called Von Hauser and begged for a chance to explain himself. Dembe and Red, realized they’d stepped into a bad situation when Von Hauser’s Majordomo, Niklaus, relieved them of their weapons.

Von Hauser told Reddington that he underestimated Werner’s love for his son, and that mistake would cause he and Dembe to pay for it with their lives. Two of Von Hauser’s goons cocked their pistols against the pair’s heads, but Niklaus suddenly turned on his co-workers and shot them dead, eliminating the threat. Niklaus actually had been on Reddington’s payroll for the last twenty-five years, in preparation for the day Von Hauser discovered the truth. Raymond apologized for his role in Han’s death, and then apologized before he pumped two bullets into Von Hauser’s abdomen.

Niklaus tells Raymond and Dembe to hightail it out the backdoor and sneak through the woods. With Von Hauser’s men conducting an extensive search for the pair, their options for escaping are quite limited. Reddington tells Zuma that they’ll have to be comfortable with chaos. We see the duo escape the area in a truck transporting livestock.

Dr. Bogdan Krilov: Krilov has perfected the science of memory manipulation, he’s in fact the scientist that wiped Lizzie’s memory twenty-five years earlier. Krilov can erase memories and implant new ones, depending upon the situation. Kate shows up at his facility in Vienna, introducing herself as a friend of a friend, and invites Krilov out for lunch. Next thing you know, Krilov shows up at JFK, and books a room at the Winthrop Grand Hotel. Lizzie and Samar head to the hotel, and Liz’s able to confiscate a shipping invoice giving the agents the location of Krilov’s equipment, which they subsequently impound.

Krilov calls Kaplan and tells her he can’t do anything without his equipment. Kate gives him the address of our old friend Selma Orchard, who practices the same science. Keen realizes that Orchard’s now Krilov’s target and she calls her, but it’s too late as she’s overcome by Krilov’s henchmen. Orchard tells Krilov, she’s a great admirer of his work and had he asked she would have gladly given him her equipment. Krilov replies he wished he could have taken that chance, then knocks her cold with the butt end of her pistol, just before the FBI SWAT-Team arrive at her office.

Although Orchard’s clueless as to where Krilov fled to, she informs the team that her EEG machine’s tied into a communication network, and they’ll be able to track it once he turns it on. Elizabeth and Raymond, believe that Lizzie’s Krilov’s target, however the scientist’s after Donald Ressler, and he’s set up a scheme to trap him.

Donald receives a call from a Philadelphia Police Detective named Bell, who tells him he may have unwittingly discovered a witness in the Reven Wright murder case. The woman’s named Linda McFadden, a former neighbor of Laurel Hitchin’s, who fled to Philadelphia for her own protection.

Ressler heads to McFadden’s home in Philadelphia, and she says she saw three men exit Hitchin’s home carrying a rolled up rug. She then saw a foot sticking out of the rug, and packed up her stuff to seek safety with her sister in Philadelphia. Donald tells her that she’ll have to go back to D.C. with him, when an incendiary device crashes through the window. The explosion stuns Ressler and then the device emits a gas that knocks him out, as three goons kidnap McFadden.

After Ressler regains consciousness, he pulls his pistol and heads to the street hoping to catch the perpetrators. Instead a black SUV pulls up to him, and when the back window goes down, we see that Laurel Hitchin’s the passenger. She tells Ressler it’s time for them to have a heart-to-heart, and beckons him inside. Laurel tells Ressler that he’s to give up his investigation of Reven Wright’s murder immediately. When he flat-out refuses, she says that she’s got no choice but to eliminate McFadden. She throws him out of her SUV and tells him to shoo, that’s when we realize that Donald’s actually under the effects of Propofol and Krilov’s implanted this scenario into his brain.

McFadden and Bell actually work for Krilov, and they concocted the whole scheme so that Ressler will go after Hitchin. They transport him to right outside her house, and when he comes to he’s sitting in his SUV believing McFadden’s imprisoned in Laurel’s home. He bursts into the home as Hitchin’s meeting with a foreign minister. After drawing his weapon, he forces the minister to leave and Hitchin to take him on a room by room tour of her home. Obviously Donald’s search’s fruitless, which makes him even more determined to find where she’s got McFadden hidden.

His mind clouded by the drugs, Ressler appears ready to take Hitchin out, when Liz arrives and after encountering resistance, she finally convinces Donald, he’d been drugged and the false memories got implanted in his brain. She tells Ressler that he’s the victim, causing Hitchin to scoff. Lizzie responds by calling Laurel a murderer and telling her one day soon she’ll pay for her crime. Unfortunately it’s Ressler, whose taken out of the home in handcuffs and placed under arrest.

Krilov tells Keen that he last saw her two-years earlier, as Reddington hired him to remove some information she discovered about Raymond. He says that he’ll gladly clear Ressler’s name and tell Keen the information he removed from her memories as a child and an adult, in exchange for full immunity. Keen of course refuses, then places a call to Reddington, demanding an explanation. Raymond denies Krilov’s accusation and says he hasn’t seen the scientist for twenty-five years.

Laurel Hitchin: The “Ice Princess,” returned to the series in dramatic fashion, with Krilov’s version of Laurel, even more cold and capricious than the genuine article. Hitchin in reality, didn’t do anything wrong in this episode, but she gloated when the one man that may take her down got arrested. Laurel’s the only member of the Cabal, that we can identify, however Raymond’s assured us that the shadow organization’s still thriving. With that knowledge, it’s likely that other major players in the government, also belong to the Cabal.

It’s rather strange that Hitchin’s still in her position as National Security Advisor, under a new President. We don’t know if President Diaz and his predecessor hail from the same party, but none the less, it’s rather out of the ordinary that Diaz decided not to put a new person in the position. Could President Diaz, be a member of the Cabal, and if so will that story figure prominently in Season Five? Whether the writers explore that story line or not, I’ve got the feeling we’ll see lots more of Laurel, in upcoming episodes.

Julian Gale: There’s a faction of the series’ fans that believe Special Agent Gale’s crooked, or he’s got an ulterior motive. I don’t subscribe to that theory, I strongly believe with Julian, that what you see is what you get. That may make Gale the most dangerous of all the Task-Force’s foes. I previously stated, that I think Gale straddles the line between genius and madness. Last week we saw some of the madness emerge, when he watched Raymond shooting Dianne Fowler in his mind, and he aimed his pistol at Ressler.

This week we saw his brilliance at work, in the episode’s final encounter. After a non-stop barrage of calls to Keen throughout the episode, Liz finally arrived at the ice rink to meet with Julian. Gale tells Lizzie that he finds dates incredibly useful in his investigation, and dates have led him to all the answers he’s searched for. Julian then recounts the day Liz got transferred from her role as an obscure profiler and put on a classified mission. He then states that the Reddington Task-Force, that he’d been apart of, started to fall apart a week later. Shortly after that a series of arrests commenced, which seemed to come out of nowhere.

Julian informs Liz that he’s figured out that she’s part of a Task-Force that’s working with Reddington, providing him protection in exchange for information leading to this slew of arrests. He then says Keen’s the agent that Reddington deals with. She asks him if he’s got any questions, and he tells her he didn’t call her down to the ice-rink for information. He told her he’d already apologized to all the victims on the ice, and now it’s her turn to apologize.

The Story Continues Next Thursday Night at 10:00 pm on NBC.