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All posts for the month October, 2017

Photo Courtesy Of NBC

WARNING: SPOILER ALERT:

During its five season run, the NBC series “The Blacklist,” has featured some extremely disturbing and unnerving scenes and plotlines. The show’s never flinched while showing graphic images, or taking a beloved character and turning them into monsters. The characters are multi-dimensional and the show runners and story writers have shared “TEAM-RED’S,” flaws and shortcomings. Jon Bokenkamp and company, have shown us from the start that Raymond Reddington, doesn’t occupy a black and white universe, it utilizes a color palate composed of different shades of gray. An angel can easily be lead astray, while no demon’s ever beyond redemption.

We’ve witnessed mortal enemies develop a grudging respect for each other, as well as a decades old alliance get dashed upon the rocks. We’ve seen the old bromide that there’s “Honor Among Thieves,” disproven countless times, as loyalists of Raymond Reddington’s have turned against and paid the prices with their lives. We’ve met a rogue’s gallery of ghoulish Blacklist members, including “The Stewmaker,” a giant taxidermist who enjoyed setting up tableaus filled with his human trophies, and a man who drugged and raped his wife to produce a child.

The first three seasons of “The Blacklist,” prominently featured a notorious organization known as “The Cabal,” a virtual shadow government comprised by powerful people from across the globe. Loosely based on the Tri-Lateral Commission, and other fantasies courtesy of paranoia and fiction, this group of people secretly ran the planet behind the scenes. Lead by Peter Kotsiopoulos, known as the Director, The Cabal had infiltrated the upper echelons of our Government, including Tom Connelly, the Attorney General of the USA.

With the deaths of Connelly and Kotsiopoulos, and the release of the contents of the Fulcrum to an All-Star panel of prominent global journalists implicating most of its leadership, The Cabal seems to have gone into deep hibernation if it still exists. One of the last members ensconced in the government Laurel Hitchin, died in the season finale last May, cracking her skull open during a tussle with Agent Donald Ressler.

Although The Cabal may no longer be a factor, we’ve seen that political leaders in Raymond Reddington’s universe, are no more paragons of virtue, than those that occupy the real world. The current POTUS in Reddington’s universe Robert Diaz, had a deal in place to take campaign contributions from Alexander Kirk, until Red interceded and bankrolled the politician himself. That contribution forced Diaz to ask his predecessor to pardon Elizabeth Keen, allowing her to rejoin the FBI.

The series introduced a new storyline involving the government, in the episode entitled “Ilyas Surkov (No. 54),” one that this viewer believes will play out through the course of this season. It touches upon a subject that plagues this nation currently, the inherent distrust we have for our officials from both sides of the aisle. America suffers from “Institutional Distrust,” giving many of us a jaundiced view of the media, elected officials, and those in charge of the very agencies established to protect us.

That lack of faith whether earned or unfounded, puts us in a collective mindset that makes the fantastic seem credible. What we might have perceived as the creative musings of a fertile mind three or four generations ago, suddenly doesn’t seem that implausible in our current era. Just because you’re paranoid, doesn’t mean somebody’s not out to get you!

This episode does not lend itself to our usual linear format, instead we’re going to concentrate on plot point, some of which will overlap. It’s worth speculating if we are witnessing the birth of a trend, for the second straight week Raymond received no benefit from “TEAM-RED,” capturing those whose trail he sent the Task-Force after. His motivation in apprehending The Endling, was simply to rid the world of a heinous criminal. Whether Reddington knew where the information he gave to Lizzie lead to its eventual source, or just to satiate his curiosity, Red’s fortunes and fate weren’t altered.

The Blacklist Member Of The Week

Our evening starts out in a posh neighborhood of Leeds, England at a lemonade stand in front of one of the handsome homes. Inside the house the mother’s preparing more lemonade while talking to her husband, when her son Ethan, excitedly enters the home and tells her it’s snowing on a beautiful autumn day. She comes outside and indeed at first it appears to be snowing, however they soon realize the sky’s filled with ash. Not just any ash, but the cinders emanate from a nearby chemical explosion, and a dangerous looking brown cloud’s heading straight for them. The mother yells for everybody to enter her home, before the cloud reaches them.

Headlines around the globe blame notorious terrorist Ilyas Surkov for the destructive blast, however Raymond informs Lizzie that can’t be the case. Raymond knows the physician that treated Surkov when he died from pancreatic cancer 15 months before. However Surkov’s been blamed for two other attacks, aside from the episode in Leeds. Cooper sends Keen and Ressler to Leeds, to talk with local officials.

Liz and Donald confer with an MI-6 agent Liam Gladstone, and he’s convinced that Surkov’s very much alive. He tells the pair that he put chemical markers inside the C4 used by Surkov’s arms-dealer Raagan Ghaffari, and those markers showed up at the remains of the chemical plant. Ghaffari lives in Belgrade and speaks French and Arabic, Navabi’s dispatched there to make contact with the arms-dealer, and her concerned boyfriend Aram, tags along.

Samar heads into Ghaffari’s hangout the Bruttka Club, and convinces him that she’s Surkov’s agent, after she tells him that MI-6 tracked the C-4 used in Leeds to him. The pair leave the club, but they’re kidnapped and put into an SUV by a team of four. Ressler and keen reach the street just in time to watch the vehicle drive off and they engage in a high-speed chase that ends when the SUV slams into a barrier. Guns get drawn from both sides, but soon holstered once the other team identifies themselves as a CIA Black-Ops unit.

The team’s lead by a man known as Tobias Reuther, played by one of my favorite character actors, Boris McGiver. There are two other men and woman named Calhoun, who left the Agency to start a family, but got enticed back into the game by Reuther. The family thing didn’t turn out like she planned.

Reuther’s team try torturing and interrogating Ghaffari for hours and the arms-dealer remains silent. Lizzie says to them now it’s her turn and she and Samar head into the room to talk to Ghaffari. Less than a minute later, she tells the Black-Ops force that the arms-dealer’s ready to talk.

Ghaffari tells the agents that Surkov’s next target’s in Virginia, and he supplied the terrorist with an explosive far more powerful than C-4, so he could rip through Kevlar. Just then Lizzie receives a phone call from Cooper, who has the Director of the CIA Leon Cox in his office, and Cox says that the team doesn’t exist and the agents are impostors. Reuther shoots Ghaffari at point-blank range, he and the other two guys escape but the Task-Force captures Calhoun, and bring her back to the Post-Office.

Calhoun and the two men that escaped with Reuther, are listed in the Agency’s records as former agents, but no record exists for Tobias Reuther. Calhoun’s incredulous, she says she saw documentation and that Reuther maintained contact with the Director. Cox enters the room and tells Calhoun that Reuther’s actually Brian Osterman, a former top-echelon agent that the Agency dismissed in 2008. Cox tells Calhoun that Osterman suffers from incredibly dark delusions, and that he actually used their team to carry out incidents, and blame it on the deceased Surkov.  Calhoun tells him that they have a staging area in Ivy City, but when they arrive with a SWAT team, they find the facility’s been ransacked, save for an empty file marked cyclone.

With the help of Raymond, Keen realizes that the target’s code name’s Cyclone and that it’s a military target composed of Kevlar. Aram determines that it’s a naval vessel docked in Virginia, and Liz heads there to stop Osterman. She finds him with a rifle on a tripod, his scope aimed on a sailor carrying a black backpack that he says will blow up the naval vessel. As he prepares to take the shot after refusing to stand down, Lizzie shoots Osterman in the shoulder, keeping him from making the shot. seconds later we hear the explosion emanating from the backpack.

The target wasn’t the naval vessel, instead a communications line between the United States and China, that the Agency wanted to get rid of without causing an international incident. So Cox’s actually been using the identity of Ilyas Surkov to cover Agency missions. they set off the bomb at the chemical plant in Leeds, to take-out the foreman, who they realized was a double-agent.

Although Osterman’s arrested, Cooper tells Cox that he’s informing his superiors about his antics and he hopes that they hold the Director and his methods in as much disdain as he does. As I wrote earlier, I expect that we’ll be seeing far more of Leon Cox over the next few weeks and months.

Liz, Tom, Nik, Pete, Raymond, And It’s Complicated

Nik Korpal’s body showed up in an empty lot, miles away from his home or any hospital. Lizzie instinctually blamed Raymond for Korpal’s murder, thinking that because he wanted to cut off contact with them, Reddington perceived him as a threat and disposed of him. Tom discounted her suppositions, mainly because he realized that Nik’s death was likely a result of their joint investigation into the suitcase.

Does it strike anybody else as odd that Korpal, who escaped death after helping Liz fake hers, and having started over again with a new fiancée, risked everything to help the man Lizzie dumped him for? If you’re Tom Keen, don’t you feel the least bit hinky, that this surgeon still carries a strong enough torch for your Baby’s Mama, that he’s willing to risk it all just to help her? That was actually th first thought that came into my head when Korpal died of strangulation in the previous episode.

Elizabeth pays Raymond a visit and Korpal’s death comes as a surprise to him. He tells Keen that he supposes somebody with a connection to him could have killed Nik, but he’s unaware of any connection. He promises Lizzie that he’ll do his best to find out whose responsible for his death.

Tom heads to Pete McGee’s apartment and of course McGee’s long gone. after some exploration he finds that McGee’s employed by a medical facility that uses paid volunteers as human guinea-pigs, to test some pretty dangerous substances. After filling out the paper work, Tom’s informed that he’ll receive an extra fifty dollars as he’s going to get injected with some heavy-duty stuff.

After the attendant Carly, starts pumping the drugs into Tom’s veins and leaves the room, Tom disconnects himself from the intravenous tubes and starts exploring McGee’s work-space. The only clue he discovers is Carly’s heart-tattoo reflected in Pete’s eyeglasses in a photo in the work area, leading Tom to the conclusion that Pete and Carly are romantically entwined. He confronts Carly with that when she comes to check on him, but she refuses to talk to him.

Raymond pursues a far more direct route for information, as he and Dembe track down a little fire-plug of a man named Lou, as he’s out walking his bulldog Coco. Lou’s the evidence clerk at the facility that Korpal’s body’s in, and Raymond tells the bespectacled man he has 24 hours to get Reddington Nik’s last effects. He tells Lou that he’ll be holding Coco for collateral, and she’ll be spending the day at a doggie-spa.

Lou returns the next day with Korpal’s possessions and Raymond gives him back Coco along with some assorted ointments to cure a skin ailment. Within the envelope containing Nik’s stuff, Raymond discovers the keys to the suitcase, leading Dembe to believe that Kate entrusted the suitcase with the doctor. Raymond also finds a burner phone, containing several phone numbers.

Tom’s contacted by Carly and the two meet on a park bench. Keen tells the technician that he believes Pete killed his friend, but regardless he possesses something that’s putting his life at risk. Carly doesn’t believe McGee’s capable of murder, his divorce become final the following month, and they’ve got plans to get married. However he hasn’t been to work in weeks and she hasn’t heard from him, so she’ll help Tom try to locate him. We then see Pete his hand in a cast and he’s just shaved off his long hair.

Tom and Elizabeth attend Nik’s funeral, but Liz can’t bring herself to even make eye-contact with any of the other mourners, until she sees Raymond standing in the distance. Raymond says that Nik saved his life, and did other services for him, and he grieves his passing. Elizabeth asks him if he’s found out any info on Nik’s killers and Reddington nods.

Liz meets back up with Tom and they agree that it was a nice gesture that Raymond came to pay his respects. She says that Raymond seemed to infer that he had a lead, but when Tom tried to pursue the conversation, she said she believed Meera was buried nearby and wanted to visit her grave. When he asked if she wanted company she replied she wanted to do it alone.

Raymond and Dembe are still at the cemetery and Reddington starts exploring the burner phone. He calls one of the numbers from his own cellphone, and Tom picks up on the other end. Tom says hello, and then asks who it is and Raymond quickly disconnects.

Raymond And Hawkins Excellent Adventure

This week there was very little interchange between “TEAM-RED,” and Raymond, in fact except for his meetings with Lizzie, they didn’t enter each other’s airspace. As expected, Reddington wasted no time and had Anthony The Postman’s safe-houses turning a tidy profit, of 45 Grand in a week. Hawkins got so excited that she said if she felt the least bit of physical attraction to Raymond, she’d bare his child. Reddington told his financial chief that next week they’ll expand their base from two lists to eight, and Hawkins nearly chortled in glee.

Reddington however didn’t share her excitement, as they had no plan on how to launder the money. However in aiding Elizabeth, Red discovered the perfect vehicle for introducing the money into circulation. The dog grooming center that he treated Coco to, serves as groomers for all the area’s pounds to freshen up the pups and make them more presentable for adoption. Although they do some grooming on the side for cash, all the money goes back into the business, and they’ve got branches in cities throughout the country. Best of all the organization’s a non-profit, so it provides a perfect cover to launder their funds. Looks like Raymond’s on his way back.

The Story Continues Next Wednesday at 8:00pm, on NBC.

Photo Courtesy Of Virginia Sherwood/NBC


WARNING: SPOILER ALERT

For those viewers that feared that the NBC series “The Blacklist,” had lost its edge since moving to the 8:00pm hour, the episode entitled “The Endling,” put those concerns to rest.  The fourth installment from season five, was a tough, gritty, unnerving and uncomfortable hour, starting with the open. This week’s Blacklist member killed with abandon to achieve her goal, however the darkness didn’t end there. As the hour concluded we realized that the darkness that pervaded the hour, altered the lives of some long-term characters, with one chilling event yet to be discovered by Team-Red and its extended members.

The evening began in a pastoral setting, but that mood wouldn’t last for long. A graphic informs us that we’re in Cork, Ireland, and we watch a magnificent steed galloping inside his pen. We join two people, an elderly Irishman named Malloy, the horse’s trainer, and a young Middle-Eastern woman, identified as Nirah. The horse’s named Fitzpleasure, and his owner ended his racing days early in order to make far more money in stud fees. The animal will fetch $150,000 per mating and will perform his services 150 times a year. The woman agrees to the costly stud fee, and hands her flask to Malloy as the couple celebrate their transaction with a toast.

Seconds later Malloy starts to gasp, realizes he’s ingested poison and falls to the ground inside the barn. Nirah pets Fitzpleasure and tells him he’s a beautiful creature, too beautiful for this world. She then starts a blaze inside the barn, the horse starts whinnying in fear. She says it will be over soon, sets the barn door and leaves as the structure’s engulfed in flames.

Lizzie and Tom make plans to have lunch together that day, and they’re extremely pleased to engage in an activity that’s normal for most couples. Tom’s cellphone rings and Nik Korpal’s on the other end, he tells Keen that Pete McGee’s recovered DNA from the bones in the suitcase, and the three of them will met up at McGee’s apartment at 2:00pm. Tom tells Liz that it’s a telemarketer, and she says that they’re on the no-call list. She shouts into the phone that the caller’s breaking the law, Korpal says to Tom that she’s right and he doesn’t know how they roped them into this.

Elizabeth discovers that Raymond and Dembe’s living arrangements have taken a drastic turn for the better since vacating the motor court, as she finds them staying in a well furnished upper-class home. Reddington’s amazed at the concept of a “BNB,” nd tickled that Dembe was able to secure a three-day rental of the house without ever meeting the owners.

After losing his game of Scrabble to Dembe, Red shows Liz a newspaper article on the fire that killed Fitzpleasure and his trainer Malloy. Keen asks Raymond when he developed an interest in race horse, and he responds that the horse and Malloy were murdered. He says the proof’s the fact that the horse only sired one foal. He says the murderer is the latest member of The Blacklist, known as the Endling. Raymond explains that an “Endling” is the term for the last of its species or kind. Fitzpleasure was a perfect steed and the owner of the foal now possesses the only other horse from that gene-pool, vastly increasing the horse’s value.

Nik and Tom meet with Korpal’s old medical classmate Pete McGee, who tells them that he’s hit a brick wall in his attempt to identify the bones in the valise. He says that the only way he can access the national data base is with the assistance of the Bureau, and they’ll never obtain it. Tom asks if they’d be able to access the database with Lizzie’s ID badge, and McGee says that would work. Against the advice of Korpal, Tom tells McGee he’ll get the badge.

The Task-Force get the alias that Nirah used to set up her meeting with Malloy, and quickly find the owner of the foal. The man’s named Caleb Hess, owner of a large security firm that’s undergoing financial difficulties. Nirah approached him about the horse, only telling him that she would greatly increase his horse’s value in exchange for some information.

Hess had set-up security protocols a few years earlier for Princess Sonya of Montenegro. (Montenegro, actually hasn’t operated under a monarchy since 1921. The nation has a President Filip Vujanović, and a Prime Minister Milo Đukanović, whom you might remember got shoved out-of-the-way in a photo-op by President Trump, earlier this year.)

Nirah’s stalking the Princesses’ party at the hotel she’s staying at in Washington D.C. She gains access to the floor that the party’s taken over by knocking out a room service attendant who brings champagne to her suite, and taking her uniform. She then brings the cart up to the floor with a bomb on a timer hidden within it. Ressler and Navabi arrive on the floor just before the bomb goes off. They’re able to secure the Princess, and escort her to safety, however Sonya wasn’t Nirah’s target. Instead she went after and captured Sonya’s “assistant” Ana, who had a hidden role known only by a select few.

Princess Sonya’s pregnant and she has an extremely rare blood type, however Ana’s blood type is far rarer. She’s one of just seven people, out of over seven billion people on the planet, born with what’s known as “golden blood.” Her blood type is the only universal blood type on the planet, meaning her blood can be used for transfusions with any blood type. The Task-Force believe that Nirah kidnapped Ana to corner the market on “golden blood,” an almost priceless commodity. However they’ve got no idea what Nirah’s real motivation is.

One of the reasons that Raymond’s looking rather portly this season, maybe his nocturnal snacking, as he gets up in the middle of the night to raid the refrigerator. As he enjoys a tablespoon of peanut-butter, he hears some rustling at the outside doors. He quietly alerts Dembe, who quickly overtakes the two home invaders. Zuma and Reddington believe the two men were set to kill them, but they find out they’re on the wrong track.

It turns out that two that two other people with “golden blood,” have gone missing ion the last couple of months. The Task-Force locates the only other person in the States with that blood type, his name’s Ethan Isaacs, currently a patient in the ICU at Mercy Hospital. Cooper sends Navabi and Ressler to the hospital to talk with Isaacs.

Nirah’s already at the hospital and we find out that Ethan Isaacs’ a young boy dying from a heart condition, and Nirah’s been masquerading as his nurse at the hospital, who Ethan’s parents know as Alma. Since there’s no hope for saving the boy’s life, Ethan’s parents are taking their son home, to live out his final days in his own bed. Nirah tells the parents that she promised the nurses on the fourth floor that she’d bring him by for them to throw a going away party for Ethan. She tells his parents to gather his belongings and meet them on the fourth floor.

Raymond and Dembe torture the pair of home invaders and realize that they weren’t sent to take down the pair. They were hired by a man they refer to as The Mailman to rob the home. The Mailman’s an actual Post Office employee, who contracts thieves to rob homes of people who’ve had their mail service stopped when they go on vacation. Realizing the owners are away, makes the homes easy pickings for the thieves he contracts, he takes an upfront cut and the thieves keep everything they steal.

Ressler and Navabi arrive at the hospital too late, as Nirah’s kidnapped Ethan. The Task-Force obtain images from close circuit cameras and identify Nirah as a former Syrian rebel-fighter, and the birth mother of Ethan. She gave him up for adoption years before, so she should carry on her fighting in her country, but her priorities changed when she found out her son had contracted the deadly disease. The only way for Ethan to survive, would be for him to undergo a heart transplant, and he’d need plenty of “golden blood” for transfusions, and his heart donor would have to be one of the other six people on the planet with the rare blood type. That’s why Nirah’s kidnapped Ana and her two other captives.

Liz turns to Raymond for help tracking down Nirah, and she brings a photograph of the woman and her male associate. He recognizes the man, and he takes Lizzie to met one of his former paramours, Dr. Melissa Lomay, who operates an organization called Doctors Without Morals, an enterprise that caters to the underworld. The male associate’s one of Melissa’s staff members, and Raymond convinces the doctor to give up his location.

Keen, Reddington, and Zuma arrive at the facility as the surgeon’s preparing for the procedure. Raymond convinces Nirah to trust him, telling her that the Bureau would soon be raiding the facility, she’ll be put behind bars and Ethan will die. He says he has another way and tells her that a mother’s love’s capable of miracles. When Ressler and Navabi arrive Lizzie tells the pair that Nirah and Ethan were gone when she arrived. Meanwhile Raymond pays a visit to Nik Korpal, telling the doctor he required his services. Nik responds with a no, Reddington replies that he wasn’t making a request.

Liz arrives at the facility where Korpal will conduct the surgery, and she apologizes to her former fiancée that he got dragged into this. He says that she’s lying, that she’s become part of this world now, part of Raymond’s world. Melissa, who’ll also be involved in the procedure informs Raymond that the boy’s prepped for surgery as soon as the donor heart arrives, Reddington responds it’s already there, and he pulls out his pistol and hands it to Nirah. She says she always realized that someone with “golden-blood ” would have to die to save her son, but she never thought she’d have to take her own life. She take the pistol, holds it under her chin and pulls the trigger. Her heart saves her son’s life.

Raymond informs Lizzie that he had no ulterior motive in stopping the Endling, he just wanted to stop a vicious killer. Liz asks him what his thoughts are now that everything’s played out, he replies that a sinner can still be a saint. Keen asks Reddington if that description might describe himself, he replies that he’d like to think he could summon that courage in a similar situation.

Raymond thanks Korpal and tells him he’s in the surgeon’s debt. Nik asks if he can collect immediately, and Red asks him what he’d like. Korpal responds that neither he or Liz ever contact him again. Lizzie lets out a nervous giggle and says that Nik doesn’t mean that, Korpal responds that Reddington’s a wanted criminal. Keen replies that Raymond’s her father, and Nik replies that’s not justification.

Raymond summons Anthony the mailman back to the house he’s staying at, and the Postal worker breathes a sigh of relief when Reddington says he doesn’t want a cut of Anthony’s racket. However the relief’s short lasting as Red tells Anthony he’s taking over the operation and Anthony will now receive 10%. His mood brightens considerably when Raymond says they’ll soon be obscenely wealthy, as they’re not going to rob the homes, but instead rent them out as safe houses, on a nationwide business. It looks like the Concierge Of Crime’s on the comeback trail.

Tom contacts Nik, whose none too happy about Raymond and Lizzie involving him in their plot against his will. He says he’s on his way home and will stop by McGee’s on the way, to find out what kind of progress he’s made since accessing the national database. Tom tells Korpal he’s feeling hinky about Pete, but Nik tells him to relax.

Ethan’s put in an ambulance and he arrives back at Mercy Hospital for a joyful reunion with his parents. Cooper let’s Liz no that he’s irate with her for lying to her partners and colluding with Reddington. He tells her he loves her like a daughter, but he’s extremely concerned that she’s starting to fall under he father’s influence. He ends the conversation by saying “I’m watching you Elizabeth.”

Lizzie arrives back home and tells Tom that she fears she’s too much like Reddington. Tom attempts to console her, telling her that she’s good and kind and nothing like Raymond. She then shares her fear that Nik’s really upset with her and he’ll break off contact with the two of them. Tom hugs her and says that Korpal’s a big boy and can take care of himself and his anger won’t last for long.

Korpal goes to Pete’s apartment and he’s surprised that the front door’s ajar. He enters the apartment and calls for his old classmate, then starts looking at the computer. Somebody comes up from behind him and strangles Korpal to death with a wire. As Ni’s limp body falls to the floor, we see a hooded man grab the valise and leave the apartment. Was it McGee, an associate of Reddington, or possibly somebody that worked for Kate?

The Story Continues Next Wednesday Night at 8:00pm on NBC.

Photo Courtesy Of Will Hart/NBC

WARNING: SPOILER ALERT

This week’s episode of the NBC series “The Blacklist,” contained more twists and turns than a ride along the California coast, on US Highway 101. Although this installment featured some very funny moments, the tone in general was far darker than the first two episodes of season five, beginning with the opening sequence. The Task-Force spent the hour attempting top stop a very deadly member of the Blacklist, while Raymond, Dembe, and some friends both old and new, focused on acquiring Reddington some new assets.

Aside from the two main storylines, the bones inside the valise got closer to being identified, while Donald Ressler’s fixer started calling in favors, so he’d remain mum about the FBI Agent’s involvement in the death of Laurel Hitchin. Plus Raymond had to part ways with the Terra Vista Motor Lodge, after some criminals tracked his new location.

Rather than going with our usual play-by-play format in this recap, We’re going to change things up concentrate more on the bullet-points of the episode, and what they signify in the short-term, as well as how the season progresses. Although the Task-Force and Raymond and company, took two different paths throughout the evening, we saw the paths intersect as the hour came to its conclusion.

The Blacklist Members Of The Week

The Task-Force found themselves investigating what appeared to be a rash of “Killer-Cops,” uniforms paid to execute innocent victims, who had the misfortune to get scammed by a shady financial company. Waterday Financial made deals withy some plaintiffs in a class-action suit, that caused the plaintiffs brain-damage due to lead-paint exposure as children. Waterday took advantage of the plaintiffs limited mental capabilities and gave them a lump-sum payout, for far less money than they would have received through the original settlement.

The company took out six figure life-insurance policies on the plaintiffs, then coerced police officers in tight financial situations to kill the plaintiffs, while making it look like a good kill in the line of duty. We watched one of the executions play out during the opening sequence, as two young uniformed patrolman enter the apartment of a junkie on parole, with a  warrant for his arrest. The officers split up to search the premises, and one of the patrolman named McGinnis finds the suspect washing dishes.

The suspect asks for mercy because he’s been using and doesn’t want his parole officer to find out, but something’s hinky. McGinnis stands in front of the suspect Scottie Stansbury, shaking with his weapon drawn. He then whispers “Sorry Scottie,” and pumps a shot into his chest, killing Stansbury instantly. His partner Parker shouts for McGinnis, who quickly pulls another gun from his sock, fires two shots into the wall and puts the gun in the dead man’s hand. Parker assumes that McGinnis had no choice but to shoot the suspect, and McGinnis pretends that’s what occurred,

The patrolman’s questioned by his chief, who tells him he’s certain that McGinnis’ will get cleared by Internal Affairs, but he’s got to go home and get a lawyer. Instead we watch him meet a blonde attractive woman wearing dark glasses in his car. She informs him that the money’s gotten transferred into his account, and the patrolman says he didn’t think carrying out the execution would be that hard. The woman responds that the officer’s still alive, unlike Scottie Stansbury.

Raymond gives Lizzie Keen the heads-up that McGinnis executed Stansbury, and that the dirty cop would lead to the next member on the Blacklist. Keen informs the Task-Force, and Cooper send her and Ressler out to interview the two patrolman, with Keen getting assigned to interrogate McGinnis. She meets with Ressler after the interrogation, and tells her partner that the cop’s dirty.

Keen and Ressler go to speak with Scottie’s parents and their attorney, who identifies herself as Rebecca Thrall, but she’s the blonde that met with McGinnis earlier. We find out That Scottie suffered brain-damage due to the lead-paint exposure and that he made the deal to accept the lump-settlement without discussing it with them. The parents break down crying when they say that the officer murdered their boy, and that Scottie never had anything to do with guns.

Ressler’s cellphone keeps ringing while he and Keen are interviewing the parents, it’s Henry Prescott demanding that Ressler get a car out of the police impound immediately, or he’ll call his boss. Liz asks what’s going on and Donald says that a friend of his is in trouble and he’s attempting to help him. Keen tells Ressler that she’s got the situation handled and go help his friend. Ressler calls Prescott, and says he’s not his errand boy, Prescott replies that the agent’s his indentured servant. Donald says that if Prescott says anything he’ll implicate himself as well, the fixer says that Ressler doesn’t know if Prescott’s willing to do just that, then threatens the agent to call his bluff.

Aram does some digging and discovers that Waterday, not only paid out the lump settlement to Stansbury, they also recently gave a substantial loan to Officer McGinnis. Keen and Samar question Waterday Financial executive named Johnson, who tells the agents that the situation’s just circumstantial. He says that the company’s granted a large number of loans this year, and quite a lot of them were granted to police officers. He also tells the agents that they only got reimbursed for $62 thousand of the $100 thousand they paid to Stansbury, so they lost a substantial amount of money when he died.

Keen asks to look at the company’s records, and Johnson asks her if she’s got a warrant? She responds that she could get one, and he scoffs at her and says good luck trying. He tells her it’s far more difficult to secure such a warrant than she imagines. He tells her and Navabi to come back when they get one, and he’s correct as the court refuses the request.

Rebecca Thrall’s in the midst of recruiting a female State Police Officer to execute their next victim. The officer’s sister needs a life-saving operation, and her getting involved with Thrall’s her only means of having the funds to pay for the surgery. Still the officer hesitates about crossing the line, but Thrall makes it seem as if the officer will actually be carrying out an act of mercy. The intended victim’s named Robert Urwiller, he’s suffered brain damage due to the lead-paint exposure and has quite a lengthy rap-sheet. Thrall says that Urwiller suffers from constant physical pain as well, and the officer would be doing a good deed by taking him out of his misery.

Thrall heads back to her apartment, and we see that she’s got a kinky side, as there’s a man waiting for her tried up and encased in a black rubber suit, with what looks like an elephant’s trunk that allows him to breathe. Rebecca asks her plaything if he’s happy to see her, and the man nods his head enthusiastically. She smiles and starts to get undressed, telling the man she’s glad to see him too.

After the court refuses to grant the warrant, Aram does some more digging and comes up with some very damning information on Waterday. Turns out the company took out a $5 million life insurance policy on Scottie Stansbury, and three other plaintiffs in the class-action suit. The other three also died at the hands of police officers, and the three officers in the other cases all got substantial loans from Waterday just before the deaths. He’s also determined that the next victim will be Robert Urwiller.

The Task-Force gets the warrant and access to Waterday’s financial records. Turns out that Johnson’s, Thrall’s rubber-suited lover, as we find out when his assistant calls him while the couple are playing. Johnson tells his assistant that he’ll return to the office immediately, and then tells Rebecca to release him, that they’re in deep trouble. She tells her playmate that they’re not in trouble, the Feds are in his office going through his files. She then closes up the rubber suit and suffocates him inside it.

While Liz and Samar try to find Urwiller, before it’s too late, Ressler’s down at the impound yard getting Prescott’s car. The vehicle’s got a flat so Donald opens the trunk to pull out the spare. Just then Cooper calls and tells Ressler that they need him in helping to stop the cop from killing Urwiller. He says he’s got the situation handled, but then sees a corpse in the car’s trunk. He tells Cooper he’s on his way.

Urwiller goes into a convenience store and asks for two scratch tickets, as the officer sits in her cruiser looking at a picture of her sister. When Urwiller gets into his car and drives off, she follows him. Aram keeps trying to reach Urwiller on his cellphone, but the man doesn’t answer, however Liz and Samar are in pursuit. The officer sounds her siren and flashes her lights and Urwiller pulls over to the side of the road. She asks him for his license and registration, but he suddenly looks up in horror as the officer’s got her weapon pointed at his head. Navabi and Keen arrive just in time to stop her.

Donald arrives a short time later driving Prescott’s car and proceeds to tell Liz that the car’s his buddy’s and there’s a corpse in the trunk and he’s going to dump the body for him. Liz apparently believes he’s kidding as she responds sarcastically. Navabi says that the cop refuses to talk and Ressler asks if he can give it a try.

He tells the officer a parable about a poor Mongolian man’s brought into a wealthy man’s office, and he’s offered $1 million if he pushes the red button on the wealthy man’s desk. If he pushes the button, an old man in Mongolia will die, he’s not told who or why, only that it will be good for the people. The man pushes the button and receives the money and goes home, but he never spends the money and eventually kills himself. He then says a friend recently told him that everybody has a Mongolian peasant in their lives, something we’re ashamed of, and as soon as somebody finds that secret they can make you do or say anything, either to cover it up or atone.

The officer confesses and then she calls Thrall and tells her she didn’t kill Urwiller. Rebecca says they still have time and she asks to meet with the officer. Thrall arrives at the designated meeting spot, sees the cruiser and attempts to shoot the cop through the driver’s side window, but her bullets don’t penetrate the bullet proof glass. Ressler comes out of hiding and cuffs her, recognizing her as the Stansbury’s attorney.

Ressler meets up with Henry Prescott and asks whose the corpse? Prescott, responds that Ressler’s mission was to recover a car, nothing more. The fixer tells Donald that he’ll be in touch soon with details about his next favor. We’re left to wonder how long Donald will suffer his Mongolian peasant.

Raymond’s Latest Scheme.

While the Task-Force were in the midst of stopping Waterday’s execution plans, Raymond and Dembe attempted to pay off an outstanding debt, that put Reddington in considerable danger while trying to gain something for themselves in the bargain. Unfortunately Red had to leave his beloved Terra Vista Motor Lodge, after three goons ransacked his room. Raymond came back to the room to find a note left by the trio saying Rivera wants you.

Raymond and Dembe easily tracked down the goons and ambushed them. The leader of the trio told Reddington that he owed their boss Rivera a shipment of guns for a couple of months, and either Red delivered the weapons, or Rivera’s gang of assassins would take him out. Raymond told the leader that he’d have his weapons within 36-hours. Dembe asked Raymond how he could pull off a seemingly impossible task, Reddington replied that the task was merely improbable.

Tom and Nik meet up with a former classmate of Korpal’s who gave up medicine and got involved with criminal activities, but Nik says the dude’s brilliant and he can help identify the bones inside the suitcase. Nik’s friend Pete and Tom don’t hit it off, but Korpal convinces the two of them to work together.

Usually when Raymond pays Glen Carter a visit at the DMV, Reddington will get stuck there for hours as his foil loves to watch Red’s agitation reach extreme levels. However this time the diminutive finder of lost persons, felt nothing but pity for the former Concierge Of Crime, and brought him into his office promptly. Raymond asked Jellybean to borrow $1 million for 48-hours, Carter gave him a hard time at first, but then broke into a grin opened up his arms and said “Who loves you baby?” Reddington managed a weak smile in return.

Reddington met with Smokey Putnam and Heddy Hawkins at a diner, to come up with plans to either build or acquire an airstrip. The two former partners-in-crime, that Raymond rescued from prison to utilize their services, were too busy arguing to formulate a plan. Red told the pair that he was leaving the project in their hands and asked them not shed each others blood while working together. Tom arrived at the diner just as the conversation was concluding, and Raymond told him that he had a role for him in his latest business venture.

Reddington, Keen and Dembe paid a visit to Adika Buhari, a second-rate gun-runner, previously the object of Raymond’s disdain, a man Red once referred to as a walrus. Reddington introduced Keen as Heath Edwards his munitions expert, he said that he wouldn’t accept any guns without Edwards inspecting them first. Buhari asked about the money and Raymond replied that wouldn’t be a problem, However the gun-runner responded that word on the street’s money’s Raymond’s biggest problem.

Just then we hear Jellybean’s voice, as he apologizes for arriving late. Buhari asks who he is and Glen gives an alias and says he’s the money guy, then opens up his briefcase revealing the million in cash. Buhari demands that he hold the money for collateral, Reddington says he can hold Edwards for collateral. The gun-runner agrees and they take Tom as their prisoner.

Hawkins and Putnam find a great plot of land for the airstrip, however the lands covered in trees and shrubbery. That’s not a problem for Smokey as he brings a crew of men with chain saws, and two former circus elephants to help clear the land. The pachyderms drag trees behind them like toothpicks and the landing strip’s finished just moments before the gun-runner’s jet appears on the horizon.

Although Buhari complains of the rough landing, the plane lands safely and after Edwards’ checks out the weapons, money’s exchanged and Raymond starts talking about a fruitful long-term partnership. Suddenly sirens are heard in the distance and Reddington asks Buhari what he’s done. The area’s soon filled with vehicles as the ATF arrive to bust the entire crew.

Raymond and Tom get put together in a paddy-wagon and Keen goes nuts, incredulous that he came to help Red because Liz asked him to and now he’s heading to prison for life. He says his only consolation’s knowing that at least Red will no longer have any involvement with Liz or Agnes. He says that Raymond tells Liz he never lies to her, but he knows better.

A short time later, Keen and Reddington get released from the paddy-wagon. Raymond set-up Buhari, and the gun-runner and Blacklist member, now was in government custody. Raymond wound up with the jet which Harold knew about, and the shipment of guns to alleviate the debt to Rivera, which Harold didn’t have knowledge of. Tom gets a call from Nik, Pete was able to get DNA from a tooth. Tom thanks him and asks him to keep him updated.

The final scene featured an unusual pairing, as Raymond and Donald told each other they didn’t have much respect for each other before they teamed up on the Task-Force. However Raymond said that Ressler’s earned and won his respect over the years, and if Donald ever found himself in a bind, Reddington would gladly rectify the situation. Ressler smiled and said not a chance.

The Story Continues Next Wednesday Night at 8:00pm on NBC.

Photo Courtesy Of NBC

WARNING: SPOILER ALERT

Judging by the first two episodes of season five, it appears that the NBC series “The Blacklist,” will take on a lighter tone generally than the past couple of years, with some very dark moments thrown in for balance. Raymond Reddington’s displaying an impish quality while rebuilding his empire, which Liz Keen seems to find intoxicating. She’s thoroughly enjoying watching the man she believes is her father displaying his grifter and con-man skills, while the Task-Force assists Reddington in re-acquiring his status in the criminal world.

However, unbeknownst to her, Raymond and Dembe are working on a hidden agenda that could hit quite close to home. They are searching for the valise that Mr. Kaplan recovered from Tansi Farms just before her death, unaware that the suitcase’s in Tom Keen’s possession. Unwilling to let Lizzie know what he’s holding, Keen attempts to enlist an old friend to help carry out his plan.

The episode entitled “Greyson Blaise,” revolved around a UK billionaire, with a penchant for high-end thievery. Blaise is a thrill-seeker and uses his ill-gotten gains to finance a possible run for office in the coming years. The action begins with him lowering himself down from a ceiling dressed in a black cat-suit, and he cuts the glass display case grabbing a very ornate diamond necklace. Vacating the premises, he peels off the cat-suit, revealing that he’s wearing a white dinner jacket and bow-tie, and he shows up just in time to get introduced at a swanky society function.

The billionaire tells his guests the story of Napoleon marrying a second time to gain an heir. He informs the gathering that in exchange for producing an heir, Bonaparte gave his new wife a magnificent diamond necklace, which he got on loan from the Smithsonian in another room. When he takes the guests to see the necklace, security discovers it’s stolen. Actually the necklace’s in the room, in the clutch purse of Greyson’s girlfriend Anna Cartwright, who joking chastises Blaise for being a naughty boy.

We join Tom and Lizzie, moments after we left them last week, and they start getting amorous. Tom suddenly talks about how big Agnes’ grew in the time he was with his parents. He then tells Lizzie they need to get married, she asks him if it can wait until after they make love?

Lizzie arrives to the Post Office tardy the next morning and apologizes to Cooper, but he’s in no mood for excuses. Harold’s visibly freaked about the new FBI Director, and the fact that Red’s been reticent about giving them a name from the Blacklist. Recalling the slacker attitude of his son as a teenager, Cooper tells Keen that the pair are heading to the motor lodge and demand he cooperate with them.

Raymond and Dembe finish a conversation with man named Myron, who gives Reddington a slip of paper and Red tells him he’s forever in the man’s debt. Myron replies that the marker won’t do him any good if the boys find out he talked to Reddington. Raymond hands the slip of paper to Zuma, advising him that the name on the paper will lead to them to a man named Dennison, who in turn knows where the suitcase’s at.

We get the return of an old friend in the next scene, as Dr. Nik Korpal calls his fiancée to tell her his shift at the hospital’s ending, and he’ll be home soon. We watch his face pale, as he suddenly looks as if he’s encountered a ghost, he tells his fiancée he needs to go and we see that Tom Keen’s the source of his change of mood. Korpal says to Tom that what ever he needs the answer’s no, Keen pleads for two minutes of his time.

Harold and Elizabeth arrive at the motor lodge, and Raymond attempts top entice them with food, but Cooper demands a name. Reddington quickly supplies them with the name of Greyson Blaise, but tells the agents that the member of the Blacklist’s not theirs to arrest. He says that by partnering with Blaise, he’ll leap back to his former dominance at warp-speed, but he needs the Bureau’s help in gaining the billionaire’s attention. Red and Keen, Ressler, and Navabi, will attend an exclusive auction in Zagreb, that Blaise’s attending.

Keen wastes no time in telling Nik that Raymond’s Lizzie’s dad, he then shows Korpal the valise and says he needs the doctor’s help in identifying the bones within. Nik asks why Liz can’t get the bureau to investigate, and Tom responds he’s yet to tell Lizzie, fearing she’ll run to Reddington upon finding out. Keen says that if she does that they’ll never find out the truth, and that Lizzie gaining that knowledge was Kate’s dying wish. Nik says that he thinks it’s time for him to leave and wishes him good luck.

Aram accesses the auction guest list and puts Navabi on the list under an alias. Once she gets into the auction house, she overtakes a security guard and Raymond and the other two agents enter the affair. Trying to attract Blaise’s attention, Reddington bids $1.8 million for a bronze 1943D Lincoln penny, a coin that the billionaire acquires for a bid of $3 million. After winning the coin, Blaise waive to Reddington in acknowledgement.

Back in the States, Dembe finds the man that Myron snitched on in a restaurant kitchen. Zuma’s furiously sharpening a knife, while the man nervously says that if he knew Dennison’s location, he’d tell Dembe. Zuma goes to the refrigerator unit and asks the man if he likes carrots, the man nervously responds he does and Dembe says good and breaks out in a big smile. We watch as Dembe starts rapidly slicing vegetables and frying them, while putting pasta in a pot.

The man incredulously asks if Dembe’s trying to gain Dennison’s whereabouts, by making him a meal? Zuma responds that he believes that you get more flies with honey than vinegar, and the FBI hostage programs suggests that a captor attempt to find empathy and rapport with their prisoners. Dembe sets the food in front of the man and says they should give thanks. “Praised be Allah, who gives us our food and drink, and whose wisdom will lead to a resolution of our conflict without hospitalization.” (Perhaps the best segment in the show’s run for Hisham Tawfiq, whose dialogue’s thankfully increased in the last two seasons!)

Raymond and Blaise start up a conversation a bit later in the evening, and Reddington broaches the topic of the two men joining forces. The billionaire’s initial interest wanes, until Red invites him to a party at his home on Lake Como in Italy, and he’ll show Greyson, Rembrandt’s “Sea Of Galilee.” Blaise chuckles when Reddington mentions the work, as he’s aware that the painting got stolen in 1990, he’s taken aback a bit when Reddington tells him he’s the thief and owner of the work. Blaise has a property on the same lake and says he just might attend Raymond’s party.

Raymond and the Task-Force, then have to break the news to Cooper that Team-Red’s now tasked with making Raymond’s scenario a reality. Reddington says he can handle getting the house and the party, however he’ll need the Bureau to recover the painting for him. Navabi states that the work hasn’t been seen in 27-years, Raymond scoffs at her statement saying the painting’s in the Paris flat of Amalia Hammett. He knows it because he brokered the sale.

Navabi and Ressler attempt to steal the painting from the society dowager, but she sold the work to somebody else years before. With the original work no longer an option, Raymond enlists the services of a master forger to recreate the work. After being initially met with resistance by the forger, the artist tells Red that he’ll have the duplicate ready in just 20-hours.

It turns out that Dembe and Reddington, aren’t the only ones in search of Albert Dennison, as Tom’s also trying to locate the man, to find out the answer to who do the bones in the valise belong to. Keen gets Dennison’s address by impersonating him to Dennison’s cellphone representative, spinning a tale of being a cuckolded husband, whose wife left him for a guy with the nickname of Chesty.

Raymond coerces an Italian couple named Paolo and Analia Beneventi, to allow him to pretend the house is his, and help him throw the party. Analia serves as the faux caterer, while her husband plays piano during the affair. Blaise shows up at the mansion before the forgery’s arrived, leaving Raymond to keep the billionaire occupied withy a tour of the home. He finally realizes Reddington’s stalling and asks him outright if he really owns the work, Raymond responds that he doesn’t.

Ticked off that his time’s been wasted under false pretenses, Greyson starts to leave but gets intercepted by Lizzie, who asks him if he wants to see the Rembrandt? They walk into a room and see Ressler and the forger with the duplicate work, and Blaise nearly drools. He turns to Raymond and asks why Red said he didn’t own the painting? Reddington responds because the painting now belongs to the billionaire, a gift to seal their new partnership. Blaise’s nearly overcome with emotion as the two men put the painting in his car. As he drives off, Raymond alerts a local detective that the man with the stolen masterpiece is heading his way. Soon Blaise and his Major-Domo find themselves under arrest.

The whole mission had been an elaborate scam so that Reddington could rob the billionaire. Pretending to be the head of a security detail to keep Blaise in the clear, Reddington soon gains access to Greyson’s safe. He and Lizzie acquire a thumb drive detailing all of Blaise’s criminal undertakings, the Napoleon necklace, and a stolen work by Picasso, plus the three million dollar penny.

Raymond meets with a very angry Harold Cooper when they return to the States. Cooper’s upset that Raymond not only scammed Blaise, but he suckered the Bureau into helping him, while they got nothing in return. A sly smile breaks out on Raymond’s face as he gives Cooper the thumb-drive and the necklace. He tells Harold that the Italian authorities will release Blaise when they discover the Rembrandt’s a forgery. Harold will soon be able to present the new FBI Director with a major name on the Blacklist, plus Napoleon’s necklace, which should give Cooper some breathing room.

After a rather fun adventure, the darkness of the episode’s final few scenes proved to be a jarring contrast. Tom finds Albert Dennison, but unfortunately it’s too late to save him. He walks into the man’s apartment and finds him bound and bloody, with Dembe and Raymond on their way back to finish him off. Keen hides in the closet when he hears the elevator bell ringing.

Dembe’s not been gentle with Dennison, and Raymond gets right to the point as soon as the pair enter the apartment. Reddington praises Dennison for being a tough man, but then asks one final time where the valise’s located. Albert laughs at first, but then breaks down crying. Raymond empties two shots into the man’s chest and he and Dembe leave the premises. Tom tries to get information from the dying man, Dennison tells him to find Oleander with his last breath.

Keen’s spirits pick up a short time later, when he receives a call from Nik Kroll, telling him that he’ll help Tom identify the bones. The final scene of the evening takes place at the Keen’s apartment, as Tom tells Liz they’re expecting company for dinner. The doorbell rings and Raymond walks into the place carrying a bottle of wine. He apologizes to Tom and says he can’t stay for dinner, but they share a glass of wine. It’s their first meeting since Tom returned from working with his father, and Raymond reminds Keen that he advised him not to enter that situation. Tom then asks Raymond what’s new, and we leave the trio in the midst of a rather uncomfortable silence.

The Story Continues Next Wednesday Night at 8:00pm on NBC.