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All posts for the month November, 2017

Photo Courtesy Of Will Hart/NBC

WARNING SPOILER ALERT

Long-time fans of the NBC series “The Blacklist,” realize that the show-runners are never afraid of “shaking the snow-globe,” to entertain the viewers. As expected, the show enters it’s Winter hiatus, with a radically altered dynamic, which is nothing new for long-time fans. We’ve witnessed an FBI profiler named Elizabeth Keen, discover her entire life was based on lies in the show’s first season. We then watched her on the lam, after killing the United States Attorney Tom Connelly, after he threatened her and her friends, during season three. Last year we witnessed a feud to the death between Raymond Reddington, and the woman he once called his better-half, Kate Kaplan.

Although season five started off on a lighter note, with Raymond reduced to living in a motor court and wearing borrowed clothes, we felt a sense of trepidation from the closing moments of the season premiere. The image that left fans of the show unsettled, revolved around Tom Keen lying on a floor bloodied, as Raymond and Dembe burst through a door with guns drawn. Unsure if the scene was a premonition, or a flash-forward, provided plenty of fodder for speculation and conversation.

The lighthearted feeling of the season’s first few episodes, dissipated a while back. Raymond’s fortunes have drastically improved from when he need Elizabeth to provide a ride for him to track down a guy wanted by a bounty hunter. His new ventures have replenished his coffers, and he’s back to wearing designer suits, flying on his private jet, and living once again in luxury.

However he’s been on a mission all year to recover a valise that’s vitally important to him. The suitcase contains a skeleton, a gift from beyond the grave courtesy of Mr. Kaplan, to further complicate his life. She left it in the care of Tom Keen, with instruction for him to reveal the contents to Elizabeth. That skeleton ended up massively complicating Tom’s life, costing him the life of Tom and Lizzie’s friend Nik Korpal, and two other people he got involved in trying to identify the bones. We left Tom last week with his life endangered, captured by the sinister Ian Garvey, who also possess the valise, and vowed to stop at nothing to contact Raymond.

Series creator Jon Bokenkamp, promised viewers an emotional episode as the show goes into its hiatus, and this hour lived up to that promise. It took fans into the final scene unsure of what they just witnessed, and then hit us collectively in the gut with a powerful one-two punch, that left this viewer reeling. If you’ve yet to watch the episode, this is your final warning to watch the episode before reading further.

I’ve watched every episode of “The Blacklist,” and recapped every episode since the start of season two, but I don’t remember any episode that contained a warning upfront cautioning viewer discretion. Perhaps because of the violence contained in this hour or because it aired in the 8:00 pm hour in the East, as this was one of the most violent chapters of the series.. It also featured lots of disturbing images throughout the hour.

Historically, the cold opens that kick off the episode feature ancillary characters, some of whom are never seen for the remainder of the episode. The episode entitled “Ian Garvey (No. 13)” broke from that formula, as we see Lizzie on her phone attempting to reach Tom. Although she’s attempting to keep things light, she’s clearly worried about his safety. Harold asks her what’s wrong and she tells him Tom’s missing.

The scene shifts to the place that Ian Garvey’s imprisoned Tom, we see the corpses of Pete McGee, and Lena Mercer. Keen crawls over to Mercer, whispers he’s sorry and closes her eyelids, as he fingers the dog-tags around her neck. Garvey enters the building and Tom says that she didn’t know anything, and either did McGee. Garvey responds that Pete had the bones and Lena was looking for him so they knew too much.

He then tells Tom that what ever he thinks are inside the valise, it’s better. He then bemoans the fact that McGee had accessed CODIS, and says that curiosity killed those two cats, but they provided him with a gift that keeps on giving. He says that Raymond’s power’s legendary, and with the valise he now controls that power.

He tells Tom that he’s going to arrange a meeting with Reddington, and in case he’s changed his mind he’s going to show what Keen’s in store for. He then has two of his goons put Lena’s body into a wood-chipper, her blood and guts spurt all over Tom’s face.

We return from the credits to see Crespin in the woods looking through binoculars. He’s on the phone with Raymond, as Reddington and Dembe head to his location in their car. He says that he sees five hostiles possibly more, and has yet to see Tom, but he says things don’t look good. Red says they’re 20 minutes out and will call for an update in ten minutes.

Seconds later Raymond’s phone rings again, and Tom’s on the other end. He says that he’s got the package and he’s fine, he givers Raymond an address of a motel and a room number. Raymond responds that he’s a half hour away. Garvey takes three of his goons with him to drive to the hotel, and tells the rest of them to keep an eye on Tom and the valise. He tells them if Keen gives them any trouble, to take him out. Tom says he held up his end of the bargain, now he should get set free. Garvey responds with a blow to Keen’s jaw, knocking he and the chair he’s tied to, to the floor. As Tom falls he sees the remains of Lena’s dog-tags and starts using it to cut his binds.

Samar informs Lizzie that she’s issued a BOLO alert (Be On The Look Out for.) She then asks Liz if Tom might be involved in something Lizzie’s unaware of? Keen responds that just might be the case, and she calls Raymond. Reddington says he just spoke with her twenty minutes before, and he’s checking on a lead about Nik’s death. She asks if Tom’s involved and he responds he’s not certain, but will call her back when he gets more information.

Tom asks his captors if he could sit-up, and one of the guys responds knock yourself out. Keen says he needs a hand as he’s tied to a chair. The guy helps get Tom and the chair upright, then sarcastically asks if he can do anything else? Tom says he could give Keen his gun, and the guy laughs and says that’s never going to happen. Tom then stands up and cracks the guy over the head with his chair and grabs his gun. Keen overcomes all his captors and grabs the valise and hightails it into the woods.

With Garvey’s men on his tail, it appears he’ll soon be captured once again, but suddenly Raymond’s car pulls up and Reddington opens the back door and shouts for Keen to get in, Tom hesitates for a bit, and he gets shot in the back, but it’s just a flesh wound. He gets into the car and Raymond says I told you to stay away from that damn suitcase.

Aram finds out that Tom’s car got towed from the parking lot of Pete’s motel. Lizzie and Donald head down to the place, and when the manager fails to cooperate they break down the door. They see the room’s trashed, and Lizzie’s certain that Tom’s hurt. She tries to call his cellphone from the room, and they hear it ring, she finds it under some debris in the room.

Dembe drives the car as far as it will take them, but it suffered major damage from the gunfire, and breaks down yards away from a farm-house. Dembe tells Raymond and Tom to sit tight as he’ll explore the house. While Zuma checks out the property, we see a flashback in black and white, as Keen’s former boss the Major gives him a new assignment.

The Major tells Tom that a very wealthy client wants to hire Tom for an open-ended project, keeping an eye on a young woman named Elizabeth Milhoan. Tom sees her dossier and says she’s cute, the Major tells her the client’s stressed that Tom not get romantically involved with her. He says that Tom’s role’s to be a friend of a friend, and nothing more.

Dembe returns to the car and informs the house is empty, Raymond says they’ll use it to clean up and to get first aid, and then they’ll leave. While Raymond stitches Tom up in the kitchen, Dembe heads into the garage and finds a car under a tarp. He tries starting the car but the engine fails to turn over, so he lifts the hood and starts tinkering.

Aram discovers the report on the incident caused by Lena and Tom at the convenience store, as it matches the area and the timeline of Tom’s disappearance. Ressler and Keen head to the store and speak with a State Trooper, who says they identified the woman as Lena Mercer, but don’t have an identity for her male companion. Told that the man had been in the back room checking out surveillance footage, they head back to view the footage. They somehow realize that Tom checked out the footage on McGee, and they realize they’re likely right as they see the key from Pete’s motel.

We view another of Tom’s flashback’s, this time a few months after the previous memory. The Major says that the client’s incensed that Keen’s gotten involved with the mark. Tom spits back at him that her name’s Elizabeth. The Major responds “I don’t care if she’s Queen Elizabeth and screwing her makes you King. You’ve got to break this off, or you’ll get killed.”

Aram gets a report about the crime scene containing the corpse of Pete McGee, who they’ve identified as the owner of the car at the convenience store. Liz and Donald head to the scene, but there’s no sign of Tom at the crime scene. Aram tells Liz that McGee was a suspect in the murder of Nik Kroll, as he called him two hours before Nik got murdered, and he’d been MIA ever since. Liz theorizes that Tom got involved to find Nik’s murderer.

While Raymond’s stitching up Tom, he says to Keen that Tom’s always perceived Red’s relationship with Elizabeth as a zero sum game. If something’s good for Raymond’s it’s automatically bad for Lizzie, and he believes the opposite as well. He asks Tom what if finding out the identity of the skeleton, won’t provide Lizzie with happiness and closure, but just the opposite. Tom responds it won’t because Raymond’s trying to keep Lizzie in the dark.

Garvey and his men find the farmhouse, Raymond tells Tom they stayed too long. The men enter the house and search the premises, but find nothing. Garvey tells them to search the property. Raymond and Tom are hiding above the ceiling in the kitchen, while Dembe’s hidden on the floorboards of the car. They might have gone undetected, but Tom’s blood drips through the ceiling’s air vent and hits one of the thugs in the face. He shoots up into the ceiling, but Reddington takes him out with a shotgun blast.

Hearing the gunfire, Dembe starts up the car and runs over the guy inspecting the garage. Raymond get hit in the forehead with the butt of a rifle, but he takes the man out with a shotgun blast. Injured, he drops the shotgun and pulls out his pistol, and he takes out another guy before running out of the house. Tom stays behind to make two improvised Molotov Cocktails, from some large bottles of whiskey and some cloth. He guns down another of Garvey’s men before he leaves the house.

The guy Zuma ran over grabs his shotgun and blows out the car’s back window. Zuma slams the vehicle into reverse and backs over the man, taking him out. Dembe and Reddington takeout another couple of men outside the house. Garvey’s gang’s now down to just Garvey and his red-bearded henchman. Tom lights the cloth on fire, and puts one in each of their two vehicles which soon start blazing. They drive off with Raymond in pain, and Tom grinning like a six year-old.

We rejoin the trio at a gas station. While Dembe fills the tank, Tom says that Raymond’s got to trust him by now. He says that the father-in-law hating the son-in-law’s a tired cliché and it’s time they put a stake in it. He .then says to Raymond, you go first, who do the bones belong to, and flashes a smile

Raymond sits silently for a moment, then he tells Keen that he was in the Andes mountains, when he heard that Tom and Lizzie were engaged. Raymond was acting as a negotiator between the Colombian government, and the FARC rebels. whom he’d previously done business with. When he resolved the situation peacefully, he headed back on his 2,300 mile trek to the States, intent on killing Tom.

He arrived on their wedding day and attended the service. He said once he saw the incandescent glow on Elizabeth’s face, he realized he couldn’t kill Tom. We see a flashback of their wedding day, once again in black and white. He said he’s a violent man, a terrible, violent man. However the way Elizabeth looked at Tom, the way she loves Tom, he’s powerless against that.

Tom smiles and says Raymond’s not going to reveal the identity of the bones, and then asks or are you. Raymond looks at Tom and says he’ll say this for him, he’s always had Elizabeth’s best interests at heart. When Tom betrayed him and joined forces with Berlin, and when he helped fake Lizzie’s death he’d been trying to keep Liz safe. Tom says he appreciates Red telling him that and then grabs his knapsack and says he’d better change.

While Tom heads to the station’s restroom to change, Raymond realizes Dembe’s unhappy with him. Raymond smiles and says what, I’m making peace, you always want me to make peace. Dembe looks at him disapprovingly, and says that Raymond’s lying to Tom and Elizabeth, and as long as he lies, there can’t be peace. For some reason Dembe’s words make Reddington check the suitcase, and they find it’s filled with guns. They check inside the station’s office and realize he took off.

Tom heads to Penn Station and he’s about to take train to Baltimore, when he opens up the envelope marked DNA results. He looks at it and does a double-take, then his face becomes ashen and grim. He walks over to a bank of payphones and calls Lizzie. He tells her he’s fine but he needs to talk to her alone., He tells her to head home and not tell anybody what she’s doing. Liz tells Tom he’s scaring her, he just repeats meet him at home and hangs up.

Unable to contact Lizzie, Raymond calls Aram to find out her location. Aram responds that he’s searching for her as well. She left Ressler at the crime scene without saying anything and she’s turned off her cellphone and her GPS. He says that he was able to track the last call she received, it came from a payphone at Penn Station.

Tom’s lifted another passenger’s suitcase and he dresses in the owner’s clothes. He finds a pair of glasses that look like the pair he wore in season one, but leaves them on the bathroom floor. As he walks out he hears he’s being paged to pick up a red courtesy phone. He picks up the phone to hear Raymond telling him he’s making a terrible mistake. Tom responds that he’s not backing down, that he now knows the truth and slams down the phone. This time Reddington’s face looks grim and ashen.

Lizzie arrives at their apartment and sees Tom sitting in a chair and she starts babbling about how worried she’s been. She comes around to his front, and sees he’s bleeding and knocked out. She pulls her weapon, but Garvey’s men overtake her from behind. Garvey smiles at her and says you must be the wife, what’s your name darling? She responds with a right to Garvey’s jaw, knocking him to the floor.

He orders his thugs to put her in a chair and calls her a spitfire. One of the goons emerges from Agnes’ room with the knapsack. Garvey then says to Tom, that he like to think he’s the kind of guy that could just tell Tom to walk away and Tom would adhere to his wishes. However he says that he know Tom’s never will stop so he’s got to stop him, he then tells Liz he’s sorry and stab’s Keen twice in the abdomen. Liz screams and somebody knocks her in the back of her head, opening a deep gash. She falls to the floor and tries to stay alert.

Garvey then attempts to revive Tom, and tells him he needs him to contact Reddington again. Tom says he won’t and Garvey says then how about another session with the blade and stabs him again, then he sticks the blade into a piece of their furniture. He says they got what they came for, and grabs the knapsack. He tells his goons to finish them off and clean up the bodies.

Speaking of clichés, the goons break the rule of Criminology 101, taking out their victims as quickly as possible. Instead one of the thugs says let’s have some fun, and they put one of Tom and Lizzie’s records on the turntable, Southern Cross from CSN. As the song plays the goon who put the record on starts dancing and decides to suffocate Lizzie with some plastic wrap. Tom comes to and grabs the knife and starts to valiantly fight off the thugs.

He buys them enough time for Dembe ands Raymond to make it to the apartment, they force open the door wielding their guns. They quickly take out the thugs, and then check on Tom and Lizzie. Dembe says Tom’s lost an awful lot of blood. Raymond tells Dembe to call Cooper and tell them they’re heading to the hospital. Zuma says they’ll never make it in time, Raymond says to make the call.

Samar gets on the radio and asks for policemen to close off all roads between the apartment and the hospital, as they’ve got an agent down and it’s a life or death situation. Dembe carries Tom to the car while Raymond assists Lizzie to the vehicle. Tom looks at Liz and tells her she’s beautiful. She’s floating in and out of consciousness and she asks Tom to promise he’ll tell Agnes all about her.

Tom replies he won’t have to and then begs Lizzie to stay with him. He says he’d die without her. Raymond asks Dembe how long until they reach the hospital and Dembe responds in less than two minutes. Tom hears that and says we’re almost there, please hang on. The two are rushed into the hospital but Raymond and Dembe stay in the car. Harold sees Raymond in the car when he enters the hospital.

Both are in critical condition, they insert a breathing tube down Lizzie’s throat, and prepare to drill into her skull. Tom flat-lines on the table, and the doctors attempt to bring him back with the paddles. The camera pans over to the members of the Task-Force, and we see the concern on their faces as the scene fades to black.

The next image we see, is Raymond sitting next to a comatose Lizzie, who still has the breathing tube down her throat. Raymond’s reading her some poetry, he reads aloud Invictus, composed by William Ernest Hensley.

Invictus,  William Ernest Hensley

Out of the night that covers me,
      Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
      For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
      I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
      My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
      Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
      Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
      How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
      I am the captain of my soul.”

When Raymond finishes the poem, we hear a beep from Elizabeth’s life support system and she opens her eyes, and taps Reddington on his head. His eyes become big as pancakes and he grabs her hand and kisses it, saying that Agnes will be so excited. Elizabeth motions for a pen and paper and she writes out her first question how long?

Raymond tells her she’s been unconscious for almost a year, actually ten months. She then writes out Tom? We see Harold looking at Tom’s corpse at the mortuary. Raymond says to her that Tom’s dead, and Lizzie starts sobbing uncontrollably.

The Series Returns from Winter Hiatus, on January 3, 2018, on NBC.

Photo Courtesy Of Will Hart/NBC

WARNING: SPOILER ALERT

Who is Ian Garvey, and what’s his connection to Raymond Reddington?

We’ll dive into that question a bit later, and we’ll most likely find out the answer to that query on November 15. However we’ve got many avenues to explore concerning the episode of the NBC series “The Blacklist,” entitled “The Kilgannon Corporation (48).” This chapter harkened back to the feel that the show had during its first three seasons, dividing our attention between just two subplots, unlike the byzantine structure we’ve seen unfold in the last few episodes. The hour concluded with the Task-Force successfully completing their mission, while leaving us salivating to witness how the cliffhanger plays out.

The hour revolved around this writer’s favorite character Dembe Zuma, masterfully portrayed by actor Hisham Tawfiq. Even when relegated to the silent brooding “Muscle-Shake” persona, of the first three seasons, Tawfiq found a way to make Zuma a three-dimensional character. He did more with a raised eyebrow, or his face registering amusement, than many actors could convey in a soliloquy.

Dembe’s the series’ most mysterious character, we know bits and pieces of his past, we’ve met his daughter and granddaughter. We’re aware that Raymond rescued him decades earlier, breaking him free from the grip of the Boko Haram. Since the show-runners expanded Tawfiq’s role last season, we’ve learned that along with his physical strength, and strong sense of compassion, Zuma’s quite an educated man.

Raymond called him a natural golfer, we witnessed his skills in the kitchen a few weeks back, and he blew away Aram when he revealed that he took the electrical engineering course at Khan Academy, and he’s fluent in eight different languages. Mojtabai gushed that except for the fact Dembe’s forced to kill people as part of his job, Zuma’s his role model.

The evening begins with a very abrupt cold open. We’re at a beach on the Carolina coast, watching Mom, Dad, brother and sister setting up for a picnic, while Dad’s on the phone with friends, giving them directions. The daughter who appears to be about nine, explores the rocks and shells at the edge of the water, when she suddenly sees a man floating just feet from her. She looks up and into the ocean and there’s about 20 bodies coming towards the shore. Dad tells his daughter to stay with Mom, and he goes into the water attempting to save people.

After the credits we find ourselves in Lizzie and Tom’s apartment, with Tom begging his new bride not to answer the call from Raymond, and take the day off. While sorely tempted to indulge her new husband, she says that Raymond insisted they meet that afternoon. Tom’s phone then rings and the display registers unidentified number, Liz jokingly says that’s mysterious, and Tom flings the phone to the other side of the room.

The “Concierge Of Crime’s” still rebuilding his empire, but his days of wearing hand me downs are behind him, as he nattily attired when Elizabeth arrives for their meeting. Lizzie tells Raymond that she and Tom got married the previous afternoon, and after a moment of silence he says that though he and Tom have had their differences, he knows that Tom’s got her best interests at heart. He kisses he on the cheek and congratulates her.

She tells Raymond that she can’t remember the last time she felt that happy, until she looks down at the newspaper on the table. The headline reads that 29 people died off the Carolina coast, and Keen shakes her head at the concept of human trafficking. Reddington corrects her, explaining that these people weren’t prisoners, they paid for transportation. He says they got packed like sardines in a freighter that couldn’t withstand the weight, and sank off the coast before making port.

Red says that before Kate destroyed his empire, he ran an international human smuggling ring. However some unscrupulous gang filled the void, and hundreds of people have died in similar incidents over the last few months. Raymond says that he needs the Bureau’s help in finding out who took over the operation.

We get our introduction to the new operators, as a hot-headed young guy with a thick Irish brogue, speaks to a man he calls Captain Zhang. Zhang owned and operated the ship that sank, and the young guy’s angry because the 29 people that died hadn’t paid the balance for their transport. Zhang replies that he’d simply followed the man’s orders, and the hotheaded guy responds by shooting him dead. He turns to his father and apologizes that he had to see the killing. The father says his son compounded the problem by killing a valued employee.

Cooper questions Reddington’s motives and Raymond explains there are far easier ways to make a buck. He says that his reasons for setting up his human smuggling network, had been simply because the void needed to be filled. He wanted to ensure that clients weren’t exploited or subjected to the conditions they’re facing. Harold commends Red for his noble reasons, but says all the Bureau can only aid in shutting down the new operators.

Raymond does insist however that rather than sending in an agent to infiltrate the network, that Dembe goes in undercover, posing as a Nigerian seeking passage to Germany. After getting fitted with a radio-transmitting cap on his rear molar, Zuma and the Task-Force head to Thessaloniki, Greece, where the new operators have a base. They smuggle people north through Macedonia.

Dembe heads into a bookshop that serves as a cover for the smuggling ring. He’s brought into a back room where he encounters Cornelius Goga, the head of the local operation. He identifies himself as Malik Charef, from Oran, but the smuggler thinks he’s a cop. After Dembe wins a game of chicken with the smuggler, he’s told to return the next day with three thousand euros, and he’ll be in Germany in a few days. He says the Irishmen now demand the entire fee up front. Lizzie relays the information to Red, who identifies the Irishman as Arthur Kilgannon.

Back in the States, Tom meets up with Lena Mercer in Manassas, Virginia. Mercer got a call from a credit card fraud-protection team, saying they spotted unusual activity on her card at a convenience store in Manassas. While distracting the teenage clerk behind, the counter by stripping down to her bra and trying on a tee-shirt,

Tom sneaks into the backroom and checks out the surveillance camera footage. he finds the footage with Pete McGee on it and he’s able to zoom in on the name of the motel McGee’s crashing in, from his room key. They take off in search of the motel, with the mysterious Crespin following right behind.

Raymond and Dembe travel to Sofia, Bulgaria and pay a surprise visit to the home of Arthur Kilgannon. Reddington says that Kilgannon’s reputation precedes him, and the Irishman responds the same can be said for Red’s and mentions Reddington’s setbacks. Raymond mentions that they took over his smuggling network, and the old man says that Red needs to speak to his son, because he runs the operation.

Red says that his son’s over his head and that hundreds of people have died due to the shoddy operation. Arthur responds that the 29 deaths on the Chinese vessel, was an isolated incident, but Raymond tells him to do some digging. Reddington proposes a partnership, allowing him to handle the network and giving Kilgannon half the profits. The old man scoffs at the proposal, saying Reddington’s just trying to muscle his way in. Red responds that Kilgannon’s reputation’s one of a man that does everything top-notch, but now he sees that isn’t true.

After failing to negotiate with Kilgannon, the decision’s made to destroy the network in a bust. Zuma says because he’s already cleared for travel, he’s the obvious choice to infiltrate the network, but Reddington objects. Dembe says that he knows what it’s like to be seen as less than human. Raymond rescued him from that life, and now it’s his turn to rescue others from the same fate. Red grudgingly agrees, and says that the Task-Force will maintain contact with him, and if that fails Raymond will track him down and get him back.

Lena and Tom head to McGee’s room and force their way in. Pete swears that he didn’t kill Nik, that somebody tracked him down, after he hacked the Federal database. They ended up cutting off some of his fingers to give up who else he’d been working with, but he remained silent. He said he passed out from the pain, and when he woke he heard struggling and saw a guy strangling Nik, He used that opportunity to run away. Just then two beefy looking guys burst through the motel door, and knock Tom out.

Dembe meets with Goga and pays him the three thousand euros, he’s then brought into a facility with a few other people, including an Arabic couple and their young daughter. After having black hoods put over their heads the groups transported to a huge facility, and deposited into cages. The facility’s filled with cages each containing others searching for a new life. Dembe sees the fear in the little girl’s eyes and tries to comfort her, but her parents pull her away.

Arthur Corrigan angrily confronts his son Colin, after verifying what Reddington told him. He tells his son that he hoped by putting him in charge, Colin would rise to the occasion and mature. However he says he should’ve known better, that Colin always had a mean-streak, even as a child. He tells his son he’s no longer in charge, and Colin responds by choking the life out of his father.

Cornelius Goga announces that the trucks have arrived and the transport’s underway. People get divided into groups and loaded onto trucks, but the little girl’s been separated from her parents. Dembe tries to reason with Goga, but the smuggler socks him in the jaw, breaking the audio-link to the Task-Force. With their link down, Cooper refuses to allow the Task-Force to invade the facility. The Macedonia police arrive a short while later and engage in a shootout. Although they quickly subdue the smugglers, seven trucks escaped during the battle, including the one containing Dembe and the little girl.

Goga reveals to the authorities that he sent out a message to all the drivers to dump their vehicles in isolated areas. The vehicles are refrigerator trucks, which means they’re airtight, and the only time air circulates in the truck’s when the engine’s running. All the people imprisoned within those trucks have about two and a half hours of air remaining, so the race against the clock’s on.

Raymond heads back to Arthur Kilgannon’s home, where Kilgannon’s widow informs him her husband’s dead. Reddington demands to speak to their son, and when he connects with Colin he says that unless he gets the info on all the truck driver’s he’ll unfortunately be forced to shoot Colin’s mother. The young man laughs and says Reddington would be doing him a favor, and saving him the trouble of killing her himself. Raymond apologizes that Mrs. Kilgannon had to hear that, and she replies that if Red allows her to access her computer she’ll provide Colin’s exact location through the GPS unit in her son’s car.

The truck that contains Dembe and the little girl, pulls to a stop and the motor shuts off. The people in the back start to panic, so Dembe tries to reassure them that help’s on the way. However two guys pry loose a bar from the roof of the truck and try smashing through the walls to no avail. After the effort proves to be fruitless, Dembe grabs the bar and flings it away, telling the guy he’s using too much oxygen.

Tom wakes up to find that he along with Lena and Pete, are tied to chairs and facing an ominous looking bald man with horned rimmed glasses, that IMDB identifies as Ian Garvey. In yet another great choice of casting, Garvey’s portrayed by the fine character actor Johnny Coyne. He tells the trio that only one of them will live through this experience, the one that can connect him to Raymond Reddington.

McGee’s over come with fear to the point that he’s almost in tears. He tells their captor that he’s completely clueless, that Tom got him and Nik involved and he’s got no idea how to contact Reddington. The man responds that McGee just revealed he’s completely useless, and shoots him dead. Lena then begs the man to let her go, she promises she’ll never say a thing and she doesn’t even know where they are.

Tom also pleads with their abductor to let her go, and the man smiles and says that she can leave. Her hand restraints get cut off, and she starts to scurry towards the door, when the man plants two slugs into her back. He turns towards Tom and smiles once more and says “And then there was one.”

Raymond arrives at Colin’s hideout just as he and two associates are leaving, with Red taking two of them out before they realize he’s in the room. He then points the gun at Kilgannon and asks where he’s hidden the info on the truck drivers. Colin points top one of the dead men’s briefcase, and after getting the list he kills the punk.

With the air fading quickly, the gut that attempted to smash through the truck, says that if there were fewer people, the air supply would last longer. Somebody asks how that would be decided, and the guy says that they should start with the oldest. An elderly man asks if he wants to kill his wife, and the guy says that he would so more of them could live.

Dembe asks the malcontent if he could watch the life go out of the woman’s eyes as he choked her to death? The man responds that perhaps Dembe should be the first to die and takes a swing at Zuma, who flattens the dude with a blow to the jaw. He says that they’ll get through this together, and then tells the little girl to lay her head on his lap and sleep. When she awakens she’ll see her parents.

Raymond gets the location of the truck from the driver, and they get to the vehicle and release the prisoners. Dembe says the little girl’s pulse is weak and she can’t wait for an ambulance. He drives her to a hospital, where the doctors says she’ll be fine. When she’s released she’s overjoyed to see her parents waiting for her. After a tearful reunion, she runs over to give Dembe a big hug.

Ian Garvey’s patience runs out and he’s about to kill Tom, saying he should’ve realized that a little puissant like Tom had no connection to Reddington. Tom counters by saying that he works for Raymond and that he can arrange a meeting between the two of them. He says he’s got a wife and a baby, and has no intention of dying for Reddington.

The Fall Finale Airs Next Wednesday Night at 8:00pm on NBC.

Photo Courtesy of Will Hart/NBC

WARNING: SPOILER ALERT

Any thoughts that the NBC show “The Blacklist,” morphed into a “kinder and gentler“” series in season five, can officially be put to rest. Raymond Reddington, may have an extra bounce in his step, after ending up victorious in his battle against his former confidante turned deadly foe Mr. Kaplan, and he’s thoroughly enjoying rising from the ashes and rebuilding his once vast empire. The series added two new comical characters to Reddington’s band of misfit toys, and they appear to be welcome additions to Red’s motley crew, joining the ranks of Jellybean and Brimley.

However in Raymond Reddington’s universe, there’s always a sense as Bruce Springsteen would put it, of “Darkness On The Edge Of Town.” During the last three episodes, we’ve watched that darkness advance from the perimeters and invade the lives of the members of “TEAM-RED.” Some ramifications of bad strategy have already been felt, however it’s likely that over the next few episodes, far more damage will occur as secrets unravel. We’ll watch as relationships crumble and lives become endangered. We ended the evening with a bitter-sweet moment, hoping that two characters learned enough from past mistakes to ensure a happy future, but fearful that their relationship maybe doomed.

The installment entitled “The Travel Agency (No.90),” contained far too many interwoven plots, to recap in linear fashion, so once again we’ll concentrate on plot points. Before we continue however; let’s take a look at what might be plot trends that slip under the radar. For the third straight week, Raymond Reddington received no financial benefit or any kind of kick-back, when the Task-Force stopped a member of The Blacklist. An associate did reach out to Red, requesting his assistance but Reddington told the man he couldn’t help him. He instead turned the information over to Elizabeth Keen, and allowed the Task-Force to do their work unimpeded.

Long-time fans of the show realize that there’s always a method to Raymond Reddington’s madness, so why the sudden change of heart? Are these “Freebies,” being supplied to keep the new FBI Director off of Harold Cooper’s back, which in turn keeps him off of Red’s? Is he giving up this information to strengthen the bond between he and Elizabeth Keen, who now believes Reddington’s her bio-father? Or is Raymond simply collecting chips, so that the Task-Force will help capture a yet unknown member of The Blacklist, leading to a huge payday for Red?

The season opener concluded with a scene featuring a bloody Tom Keen, lying on the floor as Reddington and Dembe Zuma burst into the room with guns drawn. That scene became the subject of much debate, as fans wondered if Tom envisioned a worst-case scenario of the future, or if we actually witnessed a flash-forward. Many took for granted that Reddington and Zuma had beaten and tortured Tom, and returned to finish the job. I couldn’t believe that Red would jeopardize his relationship with Lizzie, by torturing her baby’s daddy, so I perceived it was a premonition when I first saw it.

My opinion changed during the most recent episode, and I now believe that we did see a glimpse of the future in that scene. However I don’t believe that Raymond and Dembe left Tom beaten and bloodied, nor do I think that they entered the room to kill Keen. I now believe that the path Tom’s currently taking will lead him into the hands of those who now possess the suitcase, and we witnessed Raymond and Dembe arriving to regain the suitcase and hopefully save Tom in the bargain.

The Blacklist Member Of The Week

This was an extremely entertaining and complex story, making us question whether the series adopted a sci-fi tone, and dealing with a character that could travel through time, along with an homage to the Bill Murray film “Groundhog Day.” If the old-school General Electric digital clock radio, wasn’t enough of a giveaway, the morning DJ announcing that Roxette finally knocked Janet Jackson off the top of the charts, made it clear that we were back in the late 1980’s. A thin, pasty-faced man sits on the edge of his bed and prepares for his day. He goes down to his kitchen to find his wife watching Tom Brokaw reporting on the destruction of the Berlin Wall. He asks if his daughters are still asleep, and his wife tells him that a friend already took them to daycare. He then provides her the answer for a crossword puzzle she’s working on.

Suddenly his pager goes off, and he glances at it and sees the number 342. He tells his wife that he’s off to work, and she protests that it’s too early. He smiles and says “Early is on time, on time is late, and late is unacceptable.” He then kisses his wife who smiles back at him and he leaves the home and travels to the local post office, and opens up his PO box number 342 and pulls a folder out of it.

A graphic informs us that we’re now in York County, Pennsylvania, and the man goes through the contents in the folder. There’s a dossier and photograph of a white-haired gentleman, who appears to be enjoying good health in his early seventies. When we see the man in the photograph, he’s splitting firewood with an axe, until the man we’ve followed approaches him brandishing a pistol. He tries to run away, but he gets hit with the second bullet the man fires.

The man throws the axe at the gunman, but his aim’s off and the axe ends up embedded in a tree. The gunman looks rather shocked at first, but then shoots the man again and this time his victim falls to the ground. The gunman then pulls the axe from the tree and goes after his victim with it as the opening credits roll.

We start to realize that our gunman’s involved with this week’s Blacklist member, as Raymond informs Lizzie that an associate of his Mitchell David Dunning, contacted Red seeking protection. Although Reddington couldn’t provide the security Dunning needed, he found out that the furniture-importer believes he’s the target of The Travel Agency. Raymond explains that The Travel Agency operated as a murder for hire operation for 30-years, before going dark a dozen years back.

Liz informs Cooper and the Task-Force about the information Raymond shared with her, and Harold sends Keen and Samar Navabi to bring Dunning and his wife to the Post-Office for protective custody. When the pair arrive they find Dunning and his wife packing the car to leave town and head up their home in the country.

Keen says they’ve come to give the couple protective custody, but Dunning scoffs at the idea. Seconds later, two shots to the chest end his life, Keen and Navabi keep the wife safe. Samar finds a newspaper on the front seat of Dunning’s car, with the headline of an axe murder in York County, Pennsylvania. Dunning’s wife says she never heard of the victim from Pennsylvania. We see who killed Dunning, it’s the same man that killed the man with the axe.

The first victim’s named Knobbs, Lizzie and Samar, travel to the man’s property in Pennsylvania, and talk to his daughter. She says her father became somewhat of a hermit after closing his business the Seawall Travel Agency, and she’s never seen or heard of Mitchell Dunning. Keen asks if she and Navabi can look through her father’s company records, and find logs filled with details on all the murders committed by the agents of The Travel Agency.

It’s Deja-Vu all over again, as we watch the gunman shut off his radio alarm, go down to the kitchen to find his wife watching Tom Brokaw’s coverage of the destruction of the Berlin Wall. She asks for the same answer on the crossword puzzle she’s working on, and once again the gunman leaves right after his pager goes off while his wife protests that it’s too early. He responds once more “Early is on time, on time is late, and late is unacceptable.”

Aram does some digging and finds that Knobbs and Dunning were the principal owners of the Seawall Travel Agency, and there’s just one former operative still alive. Ressler and Navabi go searching for Argun Wright, who now works on a construction crew. They find Wright and tell him they’re bringing him for protective custody, when a gunshot rings out and wings Wright. Ressler sees the gunman’s driving a 1986 Oldsmobile, equipped with a high-powered rifle that’s hidden in a compartment in the car’s rear-end. The gunman leaves far too quickly for Donald to fire a shot.

Questioning Wright back at the Post Office, the former Seawall Travel Agency employee tells the agents that nobody knew the other operatives names, they all went by numbers. He does however remember an operative he knew as number five that had a car like the Oldsmobile that the gunman escaped in. He tells the agents that he used to leave dossiers for the operative at PO Box 342 in Seven Valleys.

Navabi and Keen talk to the postmaster and he tells them the PO Box belongs to Calvin Dawson, and he’s owned since before the postmaster started working at the branch. Dawson now lives in a local convalescent home, which the agents head to and talk to Dawson’s physician. He explains that Dawson suffered a traumatic brain-injury after a terrible accident. He can remember things perfectly until the late eighties, but he can’t retain any new memories. In his mind every day’s November 1, 1989. The physician then tells the agents that he’s currently at home with his wife, and he regularly spends a few days a week there.

Eleanor Dawson receives a phone call and she tells Calvin that their daughter Mia’s been injured and they have to pick her up at daycare. Navabi and Keen arrive at the house moments after the couple left, as they search the home they find a ladder leading to a floor above the kitchen, and they discover the elaborate system that Eleanor uses to recreate November, 1989 on a daily basis.

As Eleanor drives Calvin to their destination, she reveals the horrific details behind his brain injury. The couple and their two daughters were on a family vacation when Eleanor’s appendix burst and she underwent emergency surgery. Calvin left the hospital to carry out a hit, and foolishly brought his daughters’ with him, fearing they’d get traumatized waiting alone at the hospital. Dawson’s intended victim knew the hitman was coming and he got the upper hand, leaving Calvin near death in an alley.

Unfortunately the girls were locked in the car and something occurred that caused fatal damage to the girls’ hearts, and they died from heat failure before they got discovered. Eleanor then went on a mission to find out the truth about the man she was married to and discovered he was a monster. Once she put all the pieces together, she manipulated Calvin to kill the remaining members of the Seawall Travel Agency.

They’ve stopped at a cemetery and Eleanor leads her husband to the graves of their daughters. She tells him that she’d hoped to feel some sort of closure after Calvin killed his associates, but it never came. She then pulls out a pistol, just before Liz, Samar and a SWAT team arrive at the graveside. Lizzie pleads with Eleanor to put the gun down, and tells her that she too is a mother. Eleanor says then Keen will understand what she must do and pumps multiple shots into her husband’s abdomen. Seconds later she’s taken out by a member of the SWAT unit, and the four Dawson’s are finally together in death.

The Continuing Suitcase Saga

There was no game of cat and mouse, nor a little dance between Raymond and Tom, instead Red cut right to the chase after he and Dembe trailed Keen to the DC Court Of Records. Reddington told Tom that he knew Kate gave him the valise, and that he enlisted Nik Korpal to identify the bones, leading to Nik’s murder and the theft of the suitcase.

Raymond goes onto say that the murderer discovered the identity of the skeleton, and realizes their value, especially to Red. He says he’ll make himself known to the thieves, and then kill them and rebury the bones which will then be lost in the sands of time, and keeping the identity a secret. Tom then proceeds to get all high and mighty with Raymond, telling him secrets put people in harm’s way. A rather hypocritical statement coming from the man whose responsible for his friend’s death.

Reddington basically tells Keen to stand down, but we realize Tom’s not going to take the advice. Raymond then asks him the contents of the envelope that Keen was holding when he came out of the court of records, to which Tom responds, what envelope?

Pete McGee’s fiancé Lena Mercer’s surprised by an uninvited guest in her apartment, carrying a baton and saying he hopes nobody needs to get hurt. He then tells Mercer to say aloud that she doesn’t know Pete McGee, and she should forget he ever existed. She asks the man named Crespin, if McGee sent him there, but he ignores her question and repeats his demand that she say she doesn’t know Pete McGee. She does so and he leaves saying he hopes they’ve got an understanding.

Tom arrives at her apartment a short time after and tells Lena that he’s got all sorts of info on McGee, that he obtained from the Court Of Records. Scared because of her earlier visitor, she tells Tom to go, but she changes her mind after Keen informs her McGee’s never been married. So his excuse of waiting for his divorce to become final was just another scam.

She leaves her apartment with a suitcase, and Crespin calls his superior and tells him the message was delivered and the target stood down. He’s unaware however that she’s gone to the medical lab she works at to access and download all of McGee’s files.

She and Tom meet later on a park bench, and Tom tells her that the reason Pete’s not leaving a trail’s because he’s using Lena’s identity. The camera pans and we see Crespin talking on his cellphone while he spies on the pair, saying that apparently he’ll need to deliver the message again.

Harold’s Fight For Justice

Task-Force Director Harold Cooper’s life outside of the Post-Office, remains pretty much a mystery after five-years. We’re aware that his marriage to Charlene survived a rocky-stretch, after she admitted to infidelity, because of Cooper’s devotion to his work. We found out earlier this season that Harold’s got at least one grown son, as he told Lizzie he learned some tricks raising a teenage boy.

We’ve witnessed his wisdom, loyalty, and his anger, but we’ve never been provided with any insight into what shaped this man, until this episode. We find out that Cooper’s reasons for joining the Bureau, weren’t solely based on feelings of patriotism and service to country. Part of his motivation stems from what he witnessed as a child.

Harold asks Donald to oversee the Task-Force, shortly after Elizabeth shares the info about The Travel Agency. He tells Ressler that he needs to attend to a personal matter. He’s searching for the son of a friend, a cop that died unjustly, and his son reacted to his father’s death by attempting to numb himself with a combination of alcohol and drugs. The young man’s mother, Cooper’s wife Charlene, and Harold staged an intervention to put Isaiah Hill back on the path of sobriety, a year earlier. However Harold received a call from Hill’s mother, as she believes he slipped back into his old vices.

Cooper heads to Hill’s apartment, but finds another man living there. He says he needed a place to crash and Isaiah handed him the keys. After initially denying he knew anything about Hill’s whereabouts, he eventually provides Harold with some information. Cooper then brings the information to Raymond, who provides him the name of a drug-dealer, and an offer for he and Dembe to be his backup. Harold sincerely thanks Reddington for the offer, but says he can handle it on his own.

Cooper heads to a drug-den, and knocks out the guy guarding the door, who resembles a wall with a face. He then grabs a junkie to lead him to the dealer Castro, and becomes embroiled in a shootout. It appears that Castro’s about to escape, but as he runs out the door, he runs into Dembe’s fist. Harold complains that Raymond and Dembe didn’t adhere to his wishes.

Castro wakes up to find himself bound to a chair, and Raymond standing over him with a syringe filled with a fatal dose of Fentanyl. Reddington says that unless Castro tells them where Isaiah’s hiding, a toxic dose of the substance will soon be flowing through his veins. Castro’s incredulous that Cooper would allow Reddington to kill him, but he says that unless Castro talks he dies. the dealer tells them he sold Hill a gun and gives them the address of where Isaiah’s living in Ivy City.

The trio arrive at Hill’s apartment and Harold knocks on the door, and somehow escapes getting injured from the gun blast that blows a hole through the door. Isaiah’s shocked when he sees “Mr. C.” enter his apartment. After he finishes his tirade about dirty-cops, he admits to them his life’s in danger. After trying to score some Fentanyl from his usual supplier, he tried copping some from a dealer named Zeke Wilson. Unfortunately Hill’s timing was terrible, and he arrived just as Wilson killed a guy. He’s been running ever since. Cooper says he’ll take care of that matter.

Harold’s about to give in to the Dark-Side, planning on executing Wilson with an unregistered handgun. In a scene reminiscent of Tom talking Donald out of killing Karakurt, in season three, Raymond reasons with Harold. He tells him that his position will allow him to walk away from the execution unscathed, his conscience will haunt him for the rest of his days. He then says just in case Cooper’s emotions get the best of him, Dembe will accompany him.

Harold finds Wilson at a table in a club, accompanied by two attractive women, who quickly scatter when he identifies himself as a Special Agent of the FBI. Wilson smirks at him and asks what makes him so special? Cooper says he’s special because he’s arresting him for threatening a witness, and as soon ass Isaiah Hill completes his statement he’ll be charged with murder.

Wilson sneers once again and says that snitches tend to find themselves victims of accidents, and he can’t arrest somebody in an accident. He says to Cooper that he’s not that special an agent, and Harold says he maybe right, but he’s still going to put him away for life, and connects with an uppercut to Wilson’s jaw.

We find out that Isaiah’s father had been a cop and was pulled over one night while off-duty. A white cop said he pulled him over for expired tags and for Hill to remain in his vehicle. However Hill knew he recently put on the new tags and climbed out of his car. As he reached for his badge to identify himself, a white cop shot him to death even though Hill was unarmed. The officer was acquitted on all charges.

Harold tells Isaiah that one of the main reasons he joined the Bureau, was due to the treatment his father received after attending marches organized by Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. Cooper’s father got branded as a revolutionary, and the Bureau opened a file on him and hounded him for years. Harold tells Isaiah that was his main motivation for working for the organization that mistreated his father. To protect other African-Americans to be branded unjustly.

As stated earlier, this episode concludes with a bitter-sweet ending. After watching Calvin and Eleanor Dawson get shot to death, Lizzie realized just how fragile life is. She brought Tom down to City Hall, and asked if they could get married right then. Tom of course agreed, and we watched a magistrate pronounce them husband and wife. Will this attempt at happiness survive, or will events separate Lizzy and Tom once again?

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