Series Theories

 Photo by: Virginia Sherwood/NBC

Photo by: Virginia Sherwood/NBC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

I’ve decided to call my shot and swing for the fences in this column as the NBC series “The Blacklist,” airs the first episode of their two part season finale this Thursday. The show will have its hands full during the two episodes, as they deal with two issues that could change the series radically.

Their first challenge’s been well publicized over the last few weeks, the producers will incorporate a pilot for a new series, a spinoff starring some new and some familiar faces. The spinoff would star Famke Janssen whom we got introduced to in episode 21 as an old associate of Raymond’s named Susan “Scottie” Hargrave. Published reports have stated that Ryan Eggold (Tom Keen) and Edi Gathegi (Matias Solomon) will make the move with her if the series gets picked up.

This past episode served the dual purpose of introducing Scottie Hargrave to the viewers as well as setting up the action for the seasons two final episodes. Hargrave and her husband Howard are longtime associates of Raymond’s and the founders of Halcyon Aegis, a company that’s a subcontractor for the United States Government.

Reddington’s interest in Scottie however concerns a far different matter, turns out that Halcyon Aegis got hired by a client to deliver him Elizabeth Keen, alive and unharmed. They were of course unsuccessful in that mission and now Scottie faces the clients wrath for botching the job so badly. One of the first things that Raymond said to Hargrave when they finally met face to face was Elizabeth Keen’s dead, so that means you’re dead. Scottie took the statement as Red pronouncing he was going to kill her, but he was actually referring to her now unhappy client.

That client’s Alexander Kirk, whom NBC announced would debut near the end of Season Three to become the series new “BIG BAD.” The network and the show have done a great job so far on keeping most of the details about the character, who’ll be portrayed by Ulrich Thomsen a mystery. However, I’ve had a theory about the character over the last few weeks and seeing the expression on Raymond’s face after Hargrave revealed the identity of her client reinforced my belief that my theory’s correct: Alexander Kirk was the husband of Katerina Rostova and Lizzie Keen’s father.

Although Raymond told Laurel Hitchin that she and the Cabal were responsible for identifying Lizzie as Masha Rostova, I wonder how much he actually believes that statement? If Raymond kept his end of his pact with Dom and keeps his distance from Keen, would she be living an uneventful life as an FBI profiler possibly happily married to Dr. Nick Korpal? Or was Raymond aware that Kirk’s getting closer to finding his daughter and Red’s reason for coming into her life was truly to protect her?

After lots of pondering I’ve come up with what I believe is a viable scenario for what really went down in the late eighties. Katerina and her husband were both KGB Agents when the Soviet Union collapsed, leaving them both in a state of limbo. We’ve heard from Raymond that Katerina adjusted quite well to her new reality, while her husband descended into a downward spiral.

If Red and Katerina ever had an affair, this would seem to be the most likely time for it to have begun. Her life in turmoil with a husband growing more depressed by the day may have been the impetus that drove her to Raymond’s arms. A time for her to escape from reality, a relationship that she didn’t need to be the strong one in. Although if Raymond’s suppositions are correct and the only man Katerina truly loved was her husband, then her affair with Reddington was just temporary.

At the conclusion of Season Two after shooting United States Attorney General Tom Connelly to death, Keen had a flashback to a long-buried memory. She was four-years-old and her parents were arguing and Masha picked up a pistol and shot her father trying to protect her mother. Most viewers likely believed that the shot killed Masha’s father, but there’s yet to be any evidence or even a character’s statement that backs that theory up.

During the conversation Raymond had with the vision of Katerina after ingesting copious amounts of Opium, Rostova told Red that her life was in danger due to what she said to a man. It sounded as if she was referring to her husband, however she was unclear. She then told Reddington that she had a choice, to sacrifice her own life to save her daughter’s. She couldn’t live if she chose the opposite path. If Katerina’s husband did survive the shooting than we know he was the source of the information that Rostova regretted revealing.

If Alexander Kirk was indeed Masha’s father and Katerina’s husband, he would of course expect and demand full custody of his daughter. Which might be the explanation about the fire during Masha’s childhood that only comes back to Keen in glimpses. Was it indeed concocted so that Alexander Kirk believed his daughter perished in the blaze. Did Raymond, Dom, Sam and who ever else was involved that frightened of Kirk being part of Masha’s life that they faked the child’s death?

Has Kirk lived all these years believing his daughter died as a toddler, only to find out the truth when the name Masha Rostova appeared in homes across the planet? Raymond wasn’t surprised when Hargrave mentioned Kirk’s name, so if he’s indeed Katerina’s husband, Red’s known he was still alive. Kirk wanting Halcyon Aegis to kill Raymond as part of their contract, makes sense if Raymond’s what stood between Kirk and his daughter for nearly 30-years.

The answer to Kirk’s identity and his reasons for wanting Masha Rostova alive and unharmed will be revealed in less than two weeks. What ever the outcome however, for the third straight season the series will leave it’s fans with a huge cliffhanger that will cause at least some of them to hope that Summer goes by quickly.

Photo Courtesy Of NBC

Photo Courtesy Of NBC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

Fans of the NBC series “The Blacklist,” have found themselves sailing unchartered and rather choppy waters on a ship without a rudder over the last few weeks. The crew’s having difficulty maintaining coordinates for their destination as all their navigation equipment’s failing to operate including the compasses. Complicating matters even more, the ship finds itself enveloped in a thick deep fog every night so the crew can’t even look to guidance from the stars.

The cause of all this turbulence is “Hurricane Lizzie,” which touched down three weeks ago and we’ve still yet to determine how extensive the damage is. The answer to that question, is what’s kept viewers on the edge of their collective seats over the last few weeks; is Elizabeth Keen dead or alive? Did we actually watch the funeral of Elizabeth Keen in the episode entitled “The Artax Network” or was the service part of a brilliant scheme to save Lizzie’s life engineered by Mr. Kaplan?

Regular readers of these pages are well aware that this writer’s part of the camp that believes the former FBI Agent still lives and we’ll get at least a glimpse of her sometime during the final two episodes. So while my heart went out to the characters mourning her loss, I have to admit to having a feeling of detachment while watching the memorial service and ceremony at the graveside. There’s a Dan Hicks tune entitled “How Can I Miss You, When You Won’t Go Away?” I found myself in a similar situation while watching this episode, how can I grieve for Lizzie when I don’t think she’s died?

If my theory’s indeed correct and that Megan Boone’s absence’s temporary, then I tip my hat to the series creator  Jon Bokenkamp and his writing staff. Season three of this show had been an endless roller-coaster ride beginning with Elizabeth Keen on the run from the law and the Cabal with Red by her side. Even when the Cabal’s link to the United States Government got exposed Raymond told Keen they weren’t out of the woods yet and his words proved true.

I’ve looked at these last few episodes as a time-out, a chance to catch our collective breath and to find out some answers that have been just out of reach for almost three years. The last two episodes have opened up windows into Raymond Reddington’s past, giving us an entry way with a limited view. However those openings have been large enough that ghosts and memories that he buried decades before have returned to pay him a visit.

Although the series has been short on arrests over the last few episodes, we’re finding out answers to questions we’ve had since the premiere. The previous episode verified that Raymond had been truthful with Liz that her mother had died by walking into the ocean and subsequently drowning. However we also found out that she didn’t take her life due to overwhelming grief, Katerina Rostova killed herself to protect her daughter Masha. We get another connection to Lizzie’s past in this go-round, however we’ll explore that later.

The episode opens with Agnes displaying her unhappiness as her frustrated father Tom Keen tries to figure out what he can do to have her at peace with the world. We hear in a voiceover Harold Cooper addressing the mourners at the church holding Elizabeth’s memorial service. We then watch a montage of the mourners getting ready to go to the service, including Cooper picking up his estranged wife Charlene who attends the service with him.

As we watch the service unfold we see Liz’s teammates from the Task-Force sitting in the pews along with Kate Kaplan and Dembe, but Raymond Reddington is not among them. (Pardon me for this quick aside, did Samar Navabi get her dates mixed up and thought she was attending the Hell’s Angel’s convention that morning? Sorry I realize I’m a dinosaur, but show some respect for the dead and wear something more appropriate for the occasion. Yes I realize Tom Keen went tieless, but he’s the one who just lost his soulmate.)

Great musical selections once again as Ray LaMontagne with his song “Homecoming,” serenaded us through the service at the church while The Faces with a song from my youth “Ooh-La-La,” accompanied us to the graveyard. That drive provided one of the few humorous moments of the episode, as Ressler and Navabi become aware that Aram’s sparked up a joint in the backseat. He pleads with them not to judge, then Samar signals for Mojtabai to pass the Doobie so she can take a hit. Aram expresses his shock and Navabi shrugs and says it’s legal in Washington D.C.

The group at the graveside’s about to go their separate ways when Aram asks them to please wait and he pulls a sheet of paper from his jacket pocket. He reads a passage from Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, then he says that Lizzie loved the Bard and Dr. Seuss as well. He starts mentioning other things she was fond of and then he breaks down and says he misses her.

We find out where Raymond’s been as we see him drive to a house in the middle of nowhere. He knocks on the door and an elderly man answers, when he realizes it’s Red his expression turns into a sneer as he asks what Reddington’s doing there? Raymond responds it’s your granddaughter and there’s no need for him to finish the sentence. This series has had an array of unusual casting choices with well-known actors, such as Peter Fonda, Christine Lahti, Jane Alexander and Lance Henriksen in guest-roles. In yet another piece of casting-magic, the legendary actor Brian Dennehy takes on the part of Katerina Rostova’s father.

Another layer of the onion gets revealed as the two longtime Frenemies start talking about the past. Apparently Raymond and the elderly man known as Dom entered into a pact, that might have included others, to keep their distance from Masha in order to insure her safety. Dom tells Reddington that he loved his granddaughter enough not to break the pact and contact her. He looks at Raymond and says you can’t say that, conveying that it was Red’s contact with her that cost Lizzie her life.

Raymond’s looking for solace and longs to bond with Dom, but the old man quickly clarifies that Red won’t find what he needs in Dom’s home. He then tells Reddington he wasn’t expecting him and he was on the way out for groceries when he arrived, Raymond smiles and says let me give you some money and you can pick us up a bottle of single-malt.

Cooper gets a visit from Government Bureaucrat Cynthia Panabaker who at first requests and then tells Harold that the Task-Force will allow another group to take over the investigation trying to track down Matias Solomon and the person who hired him. After finishing his meeting, he tells his agents what went down. Ressler asks if they’re just going to walk away from the case and Cooper assures him they’re doing no such thing, they’ll just be doing things in stealth-mode.

There’s a knock on Dom’s door and Raymond answers it, he’s more than a little surprised when he sees Aram standing on the doorstep. Reddington quickly realizes Mojtabai got his location from Dembe, Aram begs Red not to get upset with Dembe as he realized how important the matter is.

Raymond asks what the urgent matter is and Aram tells him they need his help in order to bring the people who led to Lizzie’s death to justice. Reddington tells Mojtabai that he’s sorry he traveled all this way to go home empty-handed but he’s not coming back and starts to shut the door. A year ago that’s when the conversation would have ended, but we’re now dealing with Aram Mojtabai 2.0. Aram wedged himself between the door and he told Raymond that wasn’t an acceptable answer.

The usually mild-mannered tech-genius then proceeded to remind Raymond of the night the two of them stood over an empty grave after he saved Liz’s life. Reddington told Aram that he’d be forever in his debt, so now it’s time for him to repay him. He tells Raymond to grab his stuff and head back with him to the post-office facility. Reddington apologized to Aram and told him he no longer has enough to repay his debt and says goodnight.

Although Mojtabai failed to get Raymond to return with him, the next day he realizes that the group that hired Solomon to capture Keen are using a defunct satellite network above our planet to monitor and keep track of their intended victims. They also determine that the group’s next target is a renowned economist Benjamin Stadler whose in the city to give an address that evening, Ressler and Navabi head to his hotel to question him.

They get to the hotel and realize he’s just been abducted. Navabi catches up with Stadler and the would-be kidnapper and discovers it’s Nez Rowan the woman she and Ressler arrested when she was working with Matias Solomon on the day of Lizzie’s wedding. Navabi’s able to stop Rowan from taking Stadler, but she escapes in a van that knocks Ressler to the pavement.

Cooper goes nuclear when Navabi informs him that Rowan’s been released from prison and barges into Panabaker’s office demanding an explanation. The bureaucrat says the decision got made by those higher up on the food chain but refuses to give Harold any more info. When Cooper leaves her office he calls Tom Keen and tells him he’s got a surveillance gig for him if Keen wants it. Tom’s assignment’s to become Cynthia Panabaker’s shadow and to photograph any clandestine meetings she might have.

After questioning Stadler at the post-office complex Navabi and Ressler let him go as his plane’s waiting to take him to Dubai. Unfortunately they find out after they let him go that he wasn’t completely truthful with them. Stadler said he’d never left the suite before getting on the elevator in which he was almost abducted from. Aram shows them security footage from the hotel and they see Stadler’s outside of the suite in the midst of a conversation with an attractive woman.

Raymond asks Dom how he’s been able to live for the past 30-years with the intense feeling of loss that Red’s feeling after losing Lizzie.  The old man scoffs at him and asks him if Reddington calls Dom’s existence living? He says that after losing Katerina he came to this place in the middle of nowhere like a terribly wounded animal. He gave up having any contact with his granddaughter to keep her safe, yet she still died.

He then refers to Aram as “that Arab boy” and says to Raymond that it seems like he’s got a bunch of good and decent people counting on Red to help them. He then chuckles and says God Help Them. However then he says to Reddington that Raymond has a reason to go on and walk out that front door. Red smiles sadly and says to the old man that Dom’s had plenty of reasons to do the same, but he never took advantage of them.

Dom comes back from another trip to the store with another bottle of single-malt and he calls for Raymond, but Reddington’s gone. However Red fixed Dom’s piano replacing the missing key and has the metronome ticking on the piano so the old man notices. Dom chuckles to himself and starts to play a beautiful but melancholy tune, that leads into the closing montage.

Harold drops Charlene off at their home after taking her out to dinner. She asks him to come in but he begs off and asks if they can dine again the following evening and she agrees. We see Tom taking pictures of Cynthia Panabaker and an unknown woman. We see the sorrow in the faces of Samar and Donald as they think about how much they miss their fallen comrade. Tom comes back to Harold with the pictures and the woman with Panabaker’s the same woman talking to Stadler at the hotel. Keen says he believes it’s Katerina Rostova but we know that’s not the case.

Aram’s sitting in his apartment when there’s a knock on the door. He opens it to see Raymond standing there and Red tells him he’s arrived to repay his debt. Aram practically beams as he says your back, Raymond smiles for likely the first time in days and tells Mojtabai to strap on his bike-helmet as they’re going to work.

Photo by: Virginia Sherwood/NBC

Photo by: Virginia Sherwood/NBC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

We’ve dispensed with our normal recap for the last couple of weeks for the NBC series “The Blacklist,” mainly because these last two episodes have been far from the norm for the show. Last week the series told us that one of the show’s co-star’s Megan Boone, who portrayed former FBI agent Elizabeth Keen died. This week we watched the protagonist Raymond Reddington take an indefinite hiatus and took a cab to Cape May, New Jersey as he attempted to go off and lick his wounds.

The episode opens with a conversation between Reddington and Dr. Nick Korpal the physician who allegedly failed to save Elizabeth Keen’s life in the previous episode. Nick gives Red a play-by-play of how he delivered Lizzie’s daughter Agnes and then explained how some of the amniotic fluid had gotten into her bloodstream and he didn’t have the proper equipment to save her life.

Raymond’s face is a mixture of disgust and disdain as he tells Korpal to stop talking, however Nick says one more thing in his own defense. He says he kept Lizzie alive long enough to save the baby, Reddington basically says that Nick’s grabbing for straws. Korpal looks terrified as he tells Raymond he doesn’t want to die, Reddington responds that we all die eventually.

We never find out how their conversation ended, instead we now see an elderly Asian woman waking Reddington up from a deep sleep. Raymond says he needs more rest, but the woman refuses telling “Mr. Red” that it’s Friday and he needs to leave. She then hands him his fedora and a pistol, Raymond takes the hat but leaves the gun behind.

Raymond then makes a call to one of his associates, telling them he’s taking an indefinite hiatus and to put any projects they’re working on hold. He says that if they require any funds during his absence, Dembe’s got power of attorney and can write a check from Raymond’s accounts.

Lost in thought, Raymond crosses the street without checking and a cabdriver slams on his brakes to avoid hitting him. The driver opens the window and asks Reddington if he’s looking to get himself killed? Red opens the back door of the cab sits down and tells the driver he wants to go to Cape May, New Jersey. The cabbie says it’s 200 miles away and Raymond reaches into his pocket and peels off six Benjamin’s and hands the wad to the driver who naturally agrees to take the fare.

Red keeps reliving the last few moments he had with Lizzie throughout the trip. Cape May’s a Summer Resort Village on the ocean’s edge and it’s pretty much a ghost-town off-season, giving Raymond the solitude he desires. He then purchases the drivers taxi, so he’ll have transportation if needed. Raymond’s about to embark on a journey through time and to explore what would have happened if he chose to try to save Katerina Rostova instead of her infant daughter.

It’s at this point of the episode that the line between reality and fantasy started to blur. Raymond goes into a diner and sees a young attractive redheaded woman sitting in a booth and looking rather pensive. Suddenly a vehicle pulls into the parking lot and she gets out of her booth and leaves the diner through the back door. The man who pulled into the parking lot, enters the diner looks for her and then leaves. Raymond realizes immediately what’s going on but when he tries to find the woman she’s vanished.

Raymond grabs a lounge-chair from the resort and sets it up on the beach, when he suddenly sees the redhead sitting about 50-yards away on a blanket. As he settles into his chair he notices an elderly beach scavenger looking for hidden treasure under the sand with a metal detector. He then looks over and sees the woman’s now standing up and takes off her coat and folds it neatly on the blanket. Then when she removed her jewelry it started to become quite clear what we were witnessing.

Reddington described this exact scenario to Liz a few weeks ago when he told her how her mother died. Raymond however didn’t realize the real motivation that caused Lizzie’s mother Katerina Rostova to take her own life. This was Raymond’s chance to alter the scenario and save Katerina from drowning. As he sees her enter the ocean he sprints after her and pulls her limp form back onto the sand saving her life. She lies on the sand her body heaving as she cries.

Red helps the woman make it to the boarded-up resort and then sets up a makeshift bed for the woman on the floor. After he gets her setup and covered, he crawls under the covers next to hear and asks her what pushed her into trying to take her own life. She starts babbling that she’s being hunted because of the things she said to a man just before he died. Is she referring to Lizzie’s father and did this conversation take place just before the four-year-old shot him? Also what possesses Raymond to climb under the covers with a woman he believes at this point’s a stranger?

Red sets a fire and turns on the hot-water heater, he tells the woman they should have hot water within hours. The woman asks Raymond what brought him to Cape May in the middle of the winter and he opens up to her. Reddington tells her the story of two women, both were doomed and both would die. He could either let them both go or choose to save one of them and he chose the child.

However as hard as he tried to protect that child, she too would go through a life filled with misery that eventually led to her death. She gave birth just before her passing, but the child’s father (Tom) made it quite clear that Raymond would have no contact with the infant. He’d been cut-off from his remaining connection to Katerina and Lizzie. The woman suggests she make them both dinner, saying there’s plenty of wine and she can make risotto.

Raymond raves about the meal, although the woman apologizes for the canned mushrooms. Suddenly there’s a knock on the door and then the front buzzer starts ringing. Red opens the front-door to find the local sheriff standing there, he says he got some calls from some of the local neighbors after they saw lights on in the resort. Raymond tells the lawman that he was close friends with the owners and has a standing invitation to use the place anytime during the offseason. After presenting a phony ID to the sheriff, the lawman leaves and apologizes to Mr. Donnelly for disturbing him.

She tells Raymond that he’s got to leave, there’s a band of assassins heading to the resort to take her out. He says he won’t leave without her, but she tells him she can’t leave. She then tells Reddington that she’s got a daughter whose being raised by others and that every breath she takes means her daughter’s one step closer to death. Apparently that was the true motivation behind Katerina taking her own life, as long as she lived her daughter would be in constant danger.

However the scenario that was taking place was what would have occurred had Raymond prevented Rostova from drowning. The pair then go about setting up the resort with traps, that will negate the advantage their adversaries have in soldiers. Just before the enemy’s about to raid the resort, Red says to the woman that she never told him her name. She looks at him as if he were daft and says don’t be ridiculous Raymond. If you’ve yet to realize that this woman’s Katerina Rostova, this eliminates all doubts.

The mercenaries arrive and although the pair’s vastly outnumbered, they take out the entire team. Raymond says they have to clean up and get out, the woman tells Red to get the car and she’ll meet him out front. Raymond goes out to the garage and the only vehicle in there looks like it hasn’t been used in a decade. He runs back into the house only to see the woman through the window running back towards the ocean. Raymond suddenly realizes that the resort’s not damaged, as the battle he just fought took place only in his mind.

Red runs back down to the ocean’s edge and he sees the elderly beach scavenger’s still looking for treasure. He asks the man if he just saw a woman run past him and into the water and the man says no. He asks him if he’s certain and the guy looks Raymond in the eye and tells him that Red’s the only person he’s seen on the beach in the last two weeks. Suddenly he finds a locket buried in the sand and Raymond knows exactly what it is, he asks the man if he can have it and pulls out a wad of bills. The scavenger says it’s not worth that much but Raymond insists it is to him.

Red goes to the edge of the water and washes the sand off the locket and he sees Katerina’s name inscribed on the back. Suddenly she’s standing next to him and she tells Raymond he ended up saving her after all when he saved Masha. She then disappears. Red decides to head back to civilization.

So where do we stand after the information revealed in Cape May? Apparently Raymond had been truthful with Liz that her mother was dead, although the reasons behind it seem to differ from what he told her. We also learned that Red’s visit with Tom and Agnes ended with Tom telling Raymond he wants Reddington to stay out of his daughter’s life.

The episode also ended without our knowing the fate of Dr. Nick Korpal, although Raymond may have revealed Nick’s fate in his conversation with Katerina. She asked him if he ever killed anybody and he responded that he’s killed many, but every one of them deserved to die. Although Raymond’s mind’s clearly affected by overwhelming grief, he realizes that Korpal doesn’t deserve to die.

I certainly didn’t expect Lizzie’s fate to be revealed in this episode. We have three episodes remaining in this season and I don’t expect to see Elizabeth Keen among the living until this season’s final episode, or possibly the final moments of Episode 21. We don’t have any idea whose behind Matias Solomon attempting to kidnap Masha Rostova. It could be the new BIG-BAD that the series is promoting, a man named Mr. Kirk who may take the place of the CABAL as Raymond new nemesis. Or it could be another character that we’ve met earlier in the series, right about now I’m enjoying the ride too much to worry about our final destination.

Photo Courtesy Of NBC

Photo Courtesy Of NBC

Warning: Spoiler Alerts

Allow me to escort you back to my childhood in the Mid-Sixties, an era in which TV series were far less complicated.  One of my favorite shows in my tween-years was an ABC series called “The Mod Squad.” The premise of the show revolved around three teenagers who ran afoul of the law and were given the choice of serving prison sentences, or becoming undercover cops. Needless to say the two young men and one young woman chose to serve the police and their commanding officer a no-nonsense cop named Captain Greer.

I clearly remember an episode in which one of the characters Lincoln Hayes gets shot in the opening scene and most of the hour consisted of flashbacks and the young man fighting for his life. Perhaps that hour remains embedded in my memory as it caused me to have a minor revelation. Hayes would naturally pull through as he co-starred in the series and the show had gained a loyal following. Of course in the final act of the episode Hayes opens his eyes and the team’s back at full strength by the next week.

The medium’s evolved over the past fifty-years and characters have gone from being these one-dimensional beings, many with little to no back-story. Each episode was self-contained, it was like playing a videogame that reset at the beginning each time you played it. Claire and Cliff Huxtable went from being the parents of four children in the first season of the “Cosby Show,” only to discover they actually had a full-grown daughter they somehow forgot about. Perhaps even stranger, Marion and Howard Cunningham completely forgot about their oldest son named Chuck on “Happy Days.” (I’ve always theorized that Chuck Cunningham left the States for Havana and became a right-hand man to Fidel Castro.)

We’ve also seen that the medium’s no longer as predictable as back in the era I grew up in as main characters now leave series to go onto other projects while others have passed on during a series run. Viewers and fans of the NBC series “The Blacklist,” have been on the edge of their collective seats after watching FBI informant Elizabeth Keen apparently die after giving birth to a daughter. The Internet’s filled with promotional photos displaying Liz’s funeral and headstone that will take place in the next episode. However in a series that’s utilized the fake-out and sleight of hand moves through its history, I firmly believe that the reports of Elizabeth Keen’s death have been greatly exaggerated.

Matias Solomon’s a “Super-Soldier,” however the operative word here’s soldier he’s a man that’s been trained to follow orders. He’s a mercenary in the truest sense of the word, his services belong to the highest bidder and he’s not saddled with baggage such as a conscience or values, that could cause him to turn down an assignment. His debut in the series showed us that he lacked mercy even for infants, infecting Dembe’s granddaughter with a deadly virus, which he eventually gave her the antidote for.

He’s not a bureaucrat he’s an extraordinarily intelligent killing-machine, a guy who if he possesses any emotions likely feels a high when he snuffs out a life. While he maybe at the top of the game in his profession, he’s not setting the agenda. The person who hires him does that and while watching Solomon die an excruciating death maybe cathartic for the fans, it still doesn’t stop the mission from advancing. Somebody wants Masha Rostova alive and unharmed and even if TEAM-Red could have stopped Solomon, somebody would soon take his place.

Let’s go back to the scene when everything went South, Lizzie had just given birth to her daughter Agnes via an emergency Caesarean procedure. Raymond asked permission to enter the makeshift operating room to see Tom and Lizzie’s little bundle of joy, but she refused saying she wanted Reddington to stay away from her daughter. The normally unflappable Red was in pure meltdown mode, having failed Lizzie and breaking the promise he made to keep her and her child safe.

As we approach the conclusion of third season of this series, we’re still pretty much clueless about the relationship between Kate Kaplan and Raymond. There’s been speculation that she could be his sister or another relative, others believe they formed a professional and personal bond while he still worked for the Government. What ever their bond is, we’re now aware that she’s among the few human beings that could give Reddington a tongue-lashing without repercussion. She also struck a nerve within him as he realized that it was indeed he who had let Liz and Agnes down.

Quickly seeing how Elizabeth reacted when Raymond entered the operating room, Mr. Kaplan ordered him to leave and then she talked with Liz, Tom and the surgeon Nick. Reddington likely feeling powerless for the first time in decades told Dembe he was going to get some air and apologized for yelling at his surrogate son earlier.

Just then an alarm sounded and Nick said that Liz was going into shock as some of the amniotic fluid had gotten into her bloodstream. Could it really be just a coincidence that this woman perfectly healthy before the conversation suddenly found herself fighting for her life? Or did Kate Kaplan suddenly concoct a scheme to make the world believe that Elizabeth Keen died? Did Mr. Kaplan react like a quarterback shaking off the play from the sidelines and draw a new plan in the dirt?

Solomon’s orders were to bring Keen to his new employer unharmed and alive, so if Liz died she’d obviously be of no use to the person who hired Matias. Even if TEAM-Red killed Solomon and every member of his squad, it would just be delaying the inevitable. Soon a second wave would arrive and they’d keep coming, condemning Lizzie and Agnes to a life always looking over their shoulders and always on the run. However if the employer believes Keen died the chase ends at least in the short-term.

If my theory’s correct, then only Mr. Kaplan, Liz, Tom and Nick know the truth, leaving Red, Dembe and the Task-Force in the dark. The less that know that vital information, the easier it will be to keep it contained. It also might explain why Tom didn’t attempt to rip Raymond’s head from his neck when he returned to the night-club.

This isn’t even the first time this season that the show attempted to fake Lizzie’s death. While Raymond and Lizzie were on the lam an episode opened with a flash-forward as Raymond had Mr. Kaplan take pictures to send to the media showing Keen’s seemingly lifeless body at the scene of a shootout. Last season contained a two-part episode in which Raymond got gunned down at the conclusion of the first episode and a sizable segment of the fans thought he might die.

Elizabeth Keen does have her detractors among the show’s fans, I’ve seen comments on Social-Media sites stating they hope the character actually died. She’s criticized for being whiney, ungrateful and always complaining and those attributes are certainly part of the character’s DNA. However for a character to have undergone the psychological damage that she’s endured since childhood and still become a profiler for the FBI is pretty impressive in this man’s opinion. She’s far from a perfect character, but each of these people we spend our Thursday nights with, have truckloads of baggage.

Although the series doesn’t get the ratings it did when it occupied the Monday night at 10:00 pm slot, it’s done what NBC hoped it could accomplish in their new time slot. The show derailed the former ABC juggernaut “Scandal,” as it came in ranked at 35, while the first installment of Mr. Solomon wound up in the 27th slot. The network announced weeks ago that the show’s been renewed for a fourth season and they will even attempt to launch a spinoff series revolving around Tom Keen.

Although Season Three has shaken up the dynamic, the series is still based around the premise that one of the most wanted criminals on the planet turns himself into the FBI in order to share information with a rookie profiler that he has some bond with stemming from her childhood. Without Liz Keen that equation vanishes, Raymond never turns himself in without Liz being involved. What ever their actual relationship turns out to be, Raymond thinks of Lizzie like his own daughter which is why his pain’s so intense. He looks at this as his greatest defeat, but he’ll realize why Mr. Kaplan did what she had to do when the truth gets revealed.

We would greatly miss many of the characters that we’ve grown to enjoy over the last three seasons, but there are just two characters that are integral to the plot. Without Raymond Reddington and/or Elizabeth Keen “The Blacklist,” simply doesn’t exist.

Photo Courtesy Of NBC

Photo Courtesy Of NBC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

Not all soldiers contain the qualities to become Generals. In fact the skill sets of an exemplary soldier and an effective General likely couldn’t be more at odds with each other. A good soldier never questions orders and does what ever it takes to fulfill the mission even if it means sacrificing their life in the process. An effective General or leader of any kind needs to be able to react to changing conditions and adapt their plans accordingly. There’s too much knowledge and experience within a leader to sacrifice easily. Soldiers are easily replaceable, however wise veteran leaders aren’t.

If you’re a fan of the NBC series “The Blacklist,” you’ve seen this dynamic in place throughout the show’s third season. FBI Agent Donald Ressler got pressed into running the FBI Task Force, formerly lead by Harold Cooper and Ressler’s first mission’s been attempting to capture his former partner, former agent Elizabeth Keen. Before the series took it’s winter hiatus in November, Ressler took Lizzie into custody and likely put her life in great jeopardy.

Ressler believes that his former partner’s innocent and has gotten set-up by the Cabal, a shadow government that secretly pulls all the strings that have caused the greatest catastrophes of our lifetimes. The group’s made up of leaders of governments and industries across the planet and lead by the CIA Director Peter Kotsiopolus whose usually referred to as The Director. The Cabal’s infested the halls of power in the United States Government, with the President’s NSA Director Laurel Hitchin’s among their ranks. She executed Deputy Attorney General Reven Wright, after Wright revealed she knew some potentially incriminating information.

Meanwhile Ressler naïvely sits back thinking he’s winning Hitchin’s confidence and she’ll soon start taking his side over that of The Director’s. Donald Ressler’s a good man who truly wants to the right thing, however he’s way over his head right now in shark-infested waters. Because he’s been trained his entire career to think within certain parameters, he lacks the skills he needs to think outside-the-box and being able to adjust strategy as the situation changes. Those skills are absolutely essential to being a good leader, we shall see if Ressler takes advice either from Raymond Reddington or Harold Cooper once the series returns on January 7.

That failure to adapt to the situation and to realize that sometimes you have to deal with the lesser of two evils to salvage a situation, has led Donald to feel betrayed by his former boss Harold Cooper. Both share a severe dislike of the man they know as Tom Keen, however only Cooper was smart enough not to turn an asset away in time of need. After Tom approached Ressler in his apartment building about helping clearing Lizzie’s name and Ressler told him to leave immediately, Cooper sought Keen out. Tom’s completed his mission capturing the Russian spy Karakurt and forcing him to admit that he’s responsible for all the crimes Lizzie’s being charged with.

Meanwhile Cooper’s got to be feeling pretty betrayed himself right about now, as his wife Charlene decided that in the midst of trying to get Karakurt to the proper authorities that it was the perfect time to reveal to her husband that she had an affair a couple of years before. Was this her way of getting back at her husband for involving her in the dangerous situation they’re attempting to complete? Or did Charlene simply have a nervous breakdown due to the stress of the situation and that just tumbled out of her mouth?

When the series does return to TV on January 7, reports have surfaced that the first two episode will revolve around The Director Peter Kotsiopolus. David Strathairn who portrays The Director’s a first-rate actor that came to my attention in the late seventies and he’s added several amazing performances to his resume since then. Having Strathairn just appearing along the sidelines for about the last year’s like having a Porsche up on blocks in the garage. I can’t wait to see what he does with all the time allotted to him.

The Director decided to take a gamble in season two that backfired badly. He decided to chance that Raymond Reddington was bluffing when he claimed to have access to The Fulcrum, a blackmail file that if released would put many members of the Cabal in certain danger. Red obtained the file last season and flew in the planet’s most renowned Investigative-Journalists and gave them each a copy.

Kotsiopolus and other Cabal members have attempted to discredit the information revealed in those documents ever since and the Cabal’s not happy that The Director’s gamble failed so badly. Enter one Matias Solomon, the hitman/enforcer/messenger for the Cabal, Solomon just enjoys killing it doesn’t really matter to him who the victim is. He’d just as soon slit The Director’s throat as he would Raymond Reddington, just depends on which way the wind’s blowing.

Elizabeth Keen will get imprisoned in that same glass cell that Ressler and Red got locked in during the first season, until Raymond agreed to surrender to save Lizzie’s life. Ressler’s promised his former partner he’d protect her while in his custody. How much help will he need from this bizarre lineup that now comprises Team-Reddington?

We’re well aware that Raymond would without hesitation trade his life for Lizzie’s, we’re also well aware that The Blacklist recently inked a contract for a fourth season. Without Lizzie and or Raymond there’s no longer a series, so we know going in that they’ll both survive. However this show’s already displayed they’ll sacrifice a regular cast member if they consider it necessary. They ended the first season with the death of series regular Meera Malik, killed by Reddington’s foe Berlin.

Could Ressler, Samar Navabi, Aram or Harold Cooper be sacrificed this season? Or what about Ryan Eggold who portrays good-looking bad-buy Tom Keen? The happy ending that Liz told Red about earlier this season, about her accompanied by her husband and child walking serenely through some small town square will never happen if she stays with Tom/Jacob. Which means more to her, those dreams or her former husband? We’ll start getting answers to those and other questions in just over two-weeks.

The Story Continues January 7, at 9:00 pm on NBC.

Photo: Courtesy Of FOX

Photo: Courtesy Of FOX

Warning: Spoiler Alert

“Paranoia strikes deep
Into your life it will creep
It starts when you’re always afraid
You step out of line, the man come and take you away.”

For What It’s Worth-Stephen Stills

Utopia: The perfect society; a place devoid of all the troubles that plague humanity; a land of contentment, free from  want and hardship and filled with friendship and love for each other. People have strived to reach or create such a society since the dawn of creation, but they never last for long. Are imperfect creatures capable of building a perfect society?

With just two episodes remaining in the FOX miniseries “Wayward Pines,” we’ve become aware that a sizable segment of the town, don’t truly feel they reside in “The Friendliest Place On Earth.” During episode eight, viewers found out that characters such as Ruby from the coffee-shop and Tim Bell the manager of the Wayward Pines Hotel, aren’t the compliant and passive people we assumed they were. Both were actively involved in the plan designed by Kate Hewson, to disable the electric fence surrounding the town and escape.

Dr. David Pilcher, the architect of  the ark that contains the only remaining humans in the year 4028, now finds himself fighting twin battles. The first being a growing segment of the residents of Wayward Pines that want answers. However the more pressing problem’s the one he’s not aware of yet, the fence has been breached and it’s just a matter of time until the Abbies cross that divide.

Pilcher realized that humanity would cease to exist within the next few hundred-years, back in the nineties and he set a plan in motion to repopulate the planet in Wayward Pines, Idaho. He then spent the next 15-years kidnapping people  and then putting them into a state of suspended animation, so they woke up over 2000 years later without physically aging a day. The new residents thought they’d been unconscious for hours, or perhaps as much as a day and most of them believe they still live in the 21st century.

When the residents awoke they found themselves with new lives and a fresh start, a needed second chance for many of them. They got new homes, new careers and even in some cases new significant others. In many ways it was a paradise, as long as the resident followed the rules, prominently displayed throughout the town:

Do Not Try To Leave.

Do Not Talk About The Past.

Do Not Discuss Your Life Before.

Always Answer The Phone If It Rings.

Work Hard And Be Happy

And Enjoy Your Life In Wayward Pines.

Those rules were not part of David Pilcher’s original vision for Wayward Pines. The current residents of the community, are referred to as “Group B,” because the people from the first group that got revived, couldn’t accept their new realities. The knowledge that they were the last survivors of humanity and the world they knew, ceased to exist two-thousand years earlier, created mass-panic. Residents either fled in panic and quickly became meals for the Abbies, or took their own lives. Determined that the second control-group not suffer the same fate, Pilcher established his wall of secrecy and eliminated anyone who threatened to peek behind the curtain.

There’s a different set of rules in effect for the children of the community, known as the First Generation Of Wayward Pines. They’re informed about their new realities by the Director of the Wayward Pines Academy, Dr. Megan Fisher. A hypnotherapist in our era, Fisher’s masterful in her ability to connect with disaffected teens such as Ben Burke. A young man that spent his lifetime on the outside looking in, he now feels loved and popular. There were no smiles for Theresa or Ethan Burke from their son, when they visited him in the hospital, however he met Megan’s arrival with an ear-to-ear grin.

Ben’s not only accepted his new life, he’s embraced it joyously. He’s got an adorable girlfriend named Amy and Fisher told him in the last episode, that he’s a hero having survived a terrorist attack and people are going to want to hear his opinions.

It’s further reinforcement of the bond she’s creating between the children and the state, further alienation of the child from the people who raise them. Your parents can’t handle the truth, we have your best interests at heart, the state in effect becomes the parent. It’s the same principles used in totalitarian societies throughout history, the Nazis, Stalin’s Soviet Union and the Cultural Revolution in China utilized the same tactics. If the people raising you are enemy’s of the state, then turn them in.

Megan quickly turned Ben against his father partially by picking at an old wound, surmising that Ethan may have been less lenient, had the suspect not been married to Kate Hewson. Fisher realized that Ben felt his father chose Hewson over his family when he had his affair with her. Fisher inferred that Ethan’s feelings for Hewson, nearly cost Ben his life.

We’re aware that Pilcher and his associates care deeply about the town’s children, but how much do they care about the adults. Pilcher wants compliance and things to run smoothly, his concerns with adults seem to be less about happiness and more about acceptance. To keep the placidity he’s trying to maintain in his town, he’s shown us that no measures are too extreme.

David’s sister Pamela interviews the staff of 24 volunteers that regulate the surveillance feeds. Although 23 members of the crew have no problems with the concept of eavesdropping, one man named Reggie Hudson admits to erasing comments that he attributed to fear. Then he looked Pamela in the eyes and said.

“These people are scared. I see them sobbing in their rooms, holding each other. They just don’t understand what became of their lives. It’s just human nature to ask questions.”

Surprisingly, the ever loyal Nurse Pam didn’t share that conversation with her brother. While she’s the first to call for a reckoning, she thinks it will send a bad message to the other volunteers if Reggie gets punished. David ignores her advice and buries the man, filling the tube he’s encased in with soil.

Whether Pilcher wants it or not, that wall of secrecy has collapsed now that the fence got disabled by the 30-foot dump-truck. It appears that the residents of Wayward Pines are going to find out the truth about their situation, sooner than later. Can they band together and defeat the Abbies, or is humanity doomed once again?

The Story Continues Thursday Night at 9:00 pm on FOX.

Images Courtesy of TNT and The History Channel

Images Courtesy of TNT and The History Channel

On this great American holiday that signifies the end of the old America and the beginning of the United States of America, I’d like to float a theory. The story of The Last Ship, is clearly one founded in fiction. However, there are some historical truths where we can easily draw comparisons. This is done in good fun and has not in any way been confirmed by anyone associated with the production of The Last Ship. There are some mild spoilers conceptually. If you have not seen all of the episodes to date, you have been warned.

Warning: Spoiler Alert

The first form of this analogy is obviously accomplished military service that parlay into being asked to be the first President and Commander-In-Chief of the new version of the country. As The Last Ship is first and foremost a story about a military ship and its crew trying desperately to save the world, the parallel begins there. In both cases, these respective men were charged in leading their men in a mission that would ultimately save their world. In George Washington’s case, the mission was to lead his army and defeat the British allowing the colonies to break from the oppressive rule of the British. In Chandler’s case, his mission was command the Nathan James in a mission to find a cure for the virus and prevent global extinction.

In some loose connection, both Chandler and Washington were men of Virginia. We know that Washington was a lifelong man of Virginia. The son of a wealthy family, Washington would eventually inherit his family estate in Mt. Vernon, Virginia. Eventually in the late 1750s, he would return home to Mt. Vernon under the assumption that he would live out the remainder of his life as a family man running said estate. What we know of Chandler, he was a resident of Virginia before commanding the Nathan James on the mission he still finds himself on. To my knowledge that could be as much about the Naval base in Norfolk and less about him being a man of Virginia. Either way, I’ll take the parallel.

Another parallel we can draw from is in the enemy itself. In Washington’s case, the enemy was the British. Conceptual or tangible. Everything stems from that. Protecting the people of the colonies from the tyrannical rule of the British. For Chandler, the enemy is any person or group that seeks to steal or destroy the cure. And by some extension preventing the cure from making its way to the people. And by that I mean all of the people. Whether it be the Russians in season 1, Amy Granderson’s plan to advance a chosen few, or this newest threat of the “chosen ones” Chandler fights to preserve the cure and the promise to deliver it to all. Which is not unlike Washington fighting against everything the British hoped to employ to maintain control over the colonies. All of the British legislation that pertained to the collection of taxes being the tip of the sword.

Where the analogy becomes speculative would naturally come either when Tom Chandler is asked to lead the army (loose term) or when the dust settles and the Nathan James has restored order amongst the chaos, asked to preside over this new version of our country as the Commander-In-Chief. In the most recent episode, we were given a tease to the former. The Nathan James arrives in Norfolk to find not only supplies, but military personnel. Pilots, Seals, and police. Before the episode is over, we get a small glimpse of Chandler commanding more than just the Nathan James. Orchestrating missions that sent out planes and personnel in various directions to secure these secret laboratories. In that moment, the seed was planted.

The more attractive theory is one, that at least I hope we are four or five seasons away from seeing materialize. That of course being, President Tom Chandler. It is clear that for the immediate future, Tom Chandler’s mission is ongoing. The finish line of protecting the cure and ensuring that they can save every last person possible is far from over. However, if we are to assume that Chandler and the Nathan James are able to complete that mission at some point and restore order and health to the world at large, the assumption is not that unrealistic. Not unlike George Washington leading armies against the British, essentially founding Guerrilla Warfare, and ensuring the safety of these ‘Americans’.

Insert the second Continental Congress. George Washington may not have been the driving force of the second Continental Congress of the likes of Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, John Hancock or the Adams cousins (John And Samuel.) Which is probably the only way a similar notion could be floated for Tom Chandler. Shortly after the second Congress met, George Washington was appointed to General of the Continental Army. Similarly, I would assume that if the story lines move that far past the initial threat, that Chandler would also prefer to stay in the background until such a time as this new nation needs him to step up beyond his current responsibilities.

Citing the defeat at the Battle of Long Island, we can draw another slight comparison. George Washington was not undefeated. There were bumps in the road. The Battle of Long Island being maybe the most gruesome. While Chandler has not experienced (within the Last Ship series to this point) a defeat of that magnitude, his record is not without blemishes. Men and women under his command have been lost. Most laying down their lives for the mission. Some civilians lost in the crossfire. But clearly the Last Ship mission is not without casualties.

Washington’s failure in Philadelphia in 1777 did two things that may present themselves on the show. First, the defeat prompted Congress to consider removing Washington from Command. While there is no reason to believe currently that this is a story line in the works, I would not be surprised if it presented itself somewhere along the way. Twice now, we’ve seen an episode that at least flirted with the idea of the Nathan James sans Chandler. Losing him is not the prize. Having Chandler triumphant in a return might be.

Secondly, the notion of another nation joining the effort does seem like a real possibility. Following the defeat in Philadelphia, France joined in as allies to the American effort. Now we’ve seen that Russia has some semblance of a functioning army/navy. Yet in the most recent episode we discover that some of these laboratories are located in Europe. Potentially setting up some sort alliance between an established nation or nations (i.e. England, France, Germany, etc). Almost as if it were the inverse or absolute zero effect of the United States’ involvement in World War II. But that’s a reference for another time.

I wish I had a stronger case on this next point. Any discussion about George Washington cannot possibly leave out Valley Forge. In the timeline, Valley Forge is an epic ordeal. In the winter of 1777, it is believed that Washington lost as much as a third of his men to disease. The connection here is not the magnitude but the subject matter. Chandler, almost ironically, has not lost many of his crew to the disease in a literal sense. However, in means of effect, we can go back to the first season when Miller leans over to the female shipmate that died and says, “You were wrong, I’ll remember you” (or something to that effect). The numeric loss was small, but the impact of this crew staring at the lethality of the virus in real context was significant.

In the future there must be a final battle that signifies the end of one major act and the transition into another. The Battle at Yorktown may very well have been that moment for American and George Washington. The insurmountable blow that sends a clear message to the enemy, we have won and you have lost. Thus, marking the move to the next stage. For Washington, that meant eventually heading back to Mt. Vernon, but not permanently.

Going back home is also a nice tie-in although it completely ignores any sense of a timeline. Chandler too goes back home. This we’ve already seen and therefore more or less doesn’t fit. But for about 10 minutes of screen time, Chandler flirts with and makes a decision to stay in Norfolk, resign his commission and be there for his children. Which is also short-lived. Chandler’s father makes it very clear that his duty to the mission and his men takes priority. A notion I’m sure was passed along to Washington and in no small part contributed to Washington’s decision to return.

Now for the elephant in the room. A number of sources cite that the concept of the President as depicted by the Constitutional Convention, was done so with George Washington specifically in mind. Does anyone who follows The Last Ship believe for a second that Tom Chandler is not the image of Commander-In-Chief? Especially as it pertains to what he’s done, what he may plan to do, and what we as Americans would want from the leader of this new United States?

Does anyone think that Tom Chandler could not transition smoothly into that role. Sensitive to issues of national security? Foreign policy whether militarily or otherwise? The economy of a new or rebuilt nation might take some doing, but hopefully along the way, survivors educated and well versed in that department would be found an brought into the fold. Everything that embodies the character of Tom Chandler also embodies the character and virtue most Americans would hope to find in the President of the New United States of America.

While none of this is supported or confirmed by anyone of note, it’s not as far-fetched as it may sound. Whether we are talking about the struggle and conflict to preserve the goal at hand, or the actual events that define the great American remember George Washington to be. Both of these men, one fictional and one very real, seem to be cut from the same cloth. So as we celebrate this Day of Independence and look forward to tomorrows episode, “Solace” sit back and ask yourself:

“Is CDR Tom Chancellor the New America’s George Washington?”

Courtesy of TNT

Courtesy of TNT