Series Theories

Photo Courtesy Of TV Guide

WARNING SPOILER ALERT:

Denial Ain’t Just A River In Egypt.”

Mark Twain

The fifth season finale for the longtime NBC series “The Blacklist,” left the show’s faithful fans in one of three subsets. Elation, Anger/Sorrow/Denial, or just outright Confused. Despite series creator Jon Bokenkamp’s statements that James Spader’s portrayed an imposter since entering our lives, there’s many diehard fans still refuses to believe it. There’s yet another group that’s stated that they’re disgusted by the news revealed in the season ending episode, and vow they won’t ever watch the series again. They feel tricked, and deluded, some even fell they’ve wasted five years, falling for the “ULTIMATE CON MAN.” Isn’t that exactly what this show’s always been about? “Criminals Are Notorious Liars.

Some incredibly intuitive viewers, realized early on that “OUR RAYMOND,” wasn’t the Naval Intelligence Officer that fathered Masha Rostova. I failed to catch on until it became apparent when Mr. Kaplan left her going away present, a valise she dug up from Tansi Farms, in the season four finale. That gift that kept on giving, along with Dembe Zuma’s reaction to the news that Raymond didn’t deny being Elizabeth Keen’s father, felt like waking up from “The Matrix,” for this viewer. It felt like shields being lifted from my eyes, this season’s purpose was always about how they’d reveal that news.

Let’s get the formalities out-of-the-way early on, lest we forget. congratulation to Samar Navabi and Aram Mojtabai, on their engagement! May they have a long and happy life together, and remain the example that functional relationships do exist; even in The Blacklist Universe.

We’re not going to delve too deeply into this episode or the latest Blacklist member, Sutton Ross. It seems that Ian Garvey’s legacy was a softness for young girls in the Witness Protection Program, and sympathetic thieves. Garvey granted Ross his freedom years before, rather than arrest him, so Ian knew exactly where to turn to ensure the bones would be revealed to Lillian Roth. The supposed kidnapping of Lizzie from the witness interrogation room, was handled ham-handedly. How on earth did Sutton get his kidnap victim to voluntarily crawl through an air-duct system?

However this episode’s intention wasn’t meant to be put under a microscope, and combed for clues to solve the mystery, this was the payoff we’ve waited for, or at least part of it. The whole kidnapping ploy didn’t need to exist, save for the chance for Liz and Jennifer to hear the imposter almost say “I am not Raymond Reddington.”

Next season should get broken down into three sections; revealing the identity, acceptance by Keen and willing to continue working with “OUR RAYMOND,” and finally gratitude. Although John Waters expressed admiration of the name, the man we’ve watched for five seasons remains Lizzie’s “SIN EATER.”

We’ve made some rather bold predictions on these pages, especially since late December, and admittedly the sense of validation’s welcome. However it’s only being mentioned in the hopes that our theories have proved credible, and that there’s a method to our madness. With that in mind let’s delve into speculation as to the true identity of “OUR RAYMOND.”

Why did he assume the identity of “THE AMERICAN,” in Katarina Rostova’s journal, a once well-respected Naval Intelligence Officer, who at the very least betrayed his marital vows and had an affair with Rostova, producing a child we know as Elizabeth Keen? We see the love and protective quality that in the end guides his every move. If not for the SWAT-Team breaking into Ross’ compound, he’d have said the words he vowed would never leave his lips. We soon would have heard his entire back-story, in order to keep Lizzie safe.

Who Is The Man In The Hat?

He is not Elizabeth Keen/Masha Rostova’s father. Raymond Reddington’s Lizzie’s father, he died when she shot him as a four-year-old the night of the fire. The scenario she remembers actually took place, we saw the aftermath in “Requiem,” as Katarina consoles her daughter, telling Masha he was a very bad man. Raymond Reddington took Masha from her home and away from her family. The night of the fire, a confrontation took place between Rostova and Reddington, possibly and likely physical. Masha somehow got a hold of a gun and shot the bad man to protect her mommy. Unfortunately that shot doomed them both, KGB, CIA, The Cabal, and possibly all three would soon be looking for Raymond Reddington. What could Rostova do?

The Third Family.

Sorry to burst the bubble of the Katarina’s Actually Raymond contingency, but “Our Raymond’s,” a man. The Imposter’s daughter’s the little blonde-haired girl we’ve seen with the bubbles in the flashbacks. She’s the ballerina, and it’s her house that Raymond purchased in season one and subsequently blew up. The story he told Madeline Pratt of coming home to find his family executed took place. That’s the family Diane Fowler refers to just before Raymond says she talks too much and shoots her.

Dominic Wilkinson AKA Oleander.

Dominic Wilkinson appears for the fourth time in the series, since being introduced in the show’s third season. This time “Our Raymond,” and Dembe bring the Real Reddington’s bones to his place to finally burn them. (I’ve seen some fans question why the bones weren’t burned originally instead of buried? My guess would be that Rostova buried the bones at Tansi Farm, in a panic and didn’t consider that option.) We’ve been able to perceive a bond between the two men, since the first time we met Dom. One that never added up if it existed between the old man and the Real Reddington.

Raymond takes a sip of milk and his face shows his displeasure. Dom tells him it’s buttermilk, and Reddington’s about to spit it out, when the old man stops him with the words don’t you. Dom’s stopped playing his piano, because he’s got a broken key. While Wilkinson’s away doing chores, Raymond heads to the old man’s work bench and painstakingly crafts a replacement, before he departs. Reddington saying to him at one point that he realizes he’s not what Dom wanted him to be.

Combine that with the obvious love he’s got for Lizzie, and in this viewer’s eyes’ the answer’s obvious. Certainly there’s a chance that he’s just another former KGB operative that worked with Dom and Katarina, but it makes a lot more sense if our imposter’s Dom’s son and Katarina’s brother. Desolate after the loss of his own family, “Our Raymond,” agrees to become Raymond Reddington. With that move he effectively killed the man he once was, that’s why Kate and Dembe always referred to him as Raymond.

How He Fooled The World?

Obviously he didn’t fool everybody, we know that Mr. Kaplan and Dembe have always known, however it’s unclear because of “Requiem,” when Kate actually found out. Was she referring to the imposter, when she initially refused Sam Milhoan to talk with that awful man, or did she believe the Real Reddington was still living? I’d also venture a guess that Alan Fitch and Peter Kotsiopoulos, knew that he wasn’t the Real Reddington. I’m also in the camp that believes Naomi knew as well, and not on board with the idea that she’s dead.

As for everybody else, it seems pretty obvious that he became Raymond Reddington’s Doppelgänger, courtesy of the skills of renowned plastic surgeon Dr. Abraham Maltz. Longtime viewers remember his introduction in the first season, portrayed by Andrew “Dice” Clay. We may have sneaked a peek at one part of the rest of the process, when we watched Raleigh Sinclair III, coach Anthony to ape the characteristics of Ian Garvey a few weeks ago.

However the entire process would be far more entailed. Over the last few months we’ve learned that our intelligence officers, are well-trained in the art of taking meticulous notes. That certainly would have been a valuable resource that the imposter used to garner as much information as possible about the Real Reddington. Likely there was also a large trove of video and audio tape of Reddington, given his position, and the imposter probably spent weeks perfecting Reddington’s sound and cadence. Who was his trainer, was it his father and sister?

Obviously this new “Reddington,” couldn’t return to the original’s old life and family, for fear of being found out. Perhaps with the aid of The Cabal, the imposter used the name and reputation of the former Naval Intelligence Officer, to create a criminal empire worth millions. How much of that empire was actually used to keep Elizabeth safe, would be up for debate.

Known Unknowns.

Exactly why did “Our Raymond,” enter back into Keen’s life five years ago? Was it a combination of his disapproval of her marriage to Tom, his need to recover the Fulcrum, or to protect her from Alexander Kirk? Or is there another purpose that we’re unaware of? Is Naomi Hyland, truly dead and if so why wasn’t Raymond informed of her death? He’s the one who arranged for her and her husband Frank, to assume new identities in a new location. It would seem logical that he’d be made aware of her death by his people. Does Jennifer have her own agenda? When will Lizzie reunite with Agnes, and where is the dog?

We’ve got until next January to kick around these subjects. Thanks to you for joining us for this ride, and we look forward to getting more answers in season six.

Photo Courtesy of Eric Liebowicz/NBC

WARNING SPOILER ALERT:

So, have we actually seen the last of Ian Garvey? Although it appeared that the dirty cop’s life was drawing to a close during the final seconds of the most recent episode of the NBC series “The Blacklist,” long time fans of the show realize that appearances can be deceiving. Staring with the first season’s finale, when Lizzie appeared to take the life of her estranged husband Tom Keen, we’ve witnessed many characters cheat death. I’m certainly not ready to accept that the United States Marshall has breathed his last breath.

The episode entitled “Ian Garvey Conclusion (13),” contained more twists and turns than the Appian Way, including the welcome return of two familiar faces in Raleigh Sinclair III, and Postman Anthony Pagliaro. We once again saw that any attempt to double-cross Raymond, turns out to be a deadly mistake for the perpetrator, as Zarak Mosadek realized in his final seconds. If Raymond could withstand the attack on his empire and life, by the woman who knew where all the bodies were buried, it will be an incredibly tough task for any enemy to defeat him.

Once again we will dispense with our normal recap format, and jump right to the final moments of this chapter. Although Garvey never got to share his secret with Elizabeth Keen, and Jennifer Reddington, enough information got revealed to make this viewer feel secure that the man we know as Raymond Reddington’s actually an imposter. In this viewer’s opinion, the only question remaining’s the true identity of “OUR RAYMOND.” While Garvey’s words failed to convey the truth to Keen and Reddington, what he said to Jennifer, solidified my opinion that the man we know isn’t the former United States Naval Intelligence Officer.

Before dissecting the final moments of most recent episode, I would be remiss in not addressing an issue that’s troubling many long time fans of the show. There’s a significant segment that despises the idea that the character we’ve followed for five years, isn’t the man we believed him to be. Many will feel cheated and even betrayed if “OUR RAYMOND’S” an imposter, and I can easily understand that mindset, though I don’t subscribe to it.

From the moment “OUR RAYMOND,” dropped to his knees and doffed his fedora in the series debut, I’ve been transfixed with the “Concierge Of Crime,” portrayed by the amazing James Spader. As I’ve written many times, the character embodied by Spader’s, his King Lear. It’s a disgrace that he’s never even been nominated for an Emmy Award, portraying one of the most compelling characters in the history of Television. It’s an indictment of an organization that seems to believe that the medium begins and ends with HBO and Netflix, and what critics find appealing.

Spader’s part of a select few performers that can cause me to giggle like a schoolboy, and get misty-eyed minutes later. He’s invented a multi-layered character, a man who cattily exclaimed to Diane Fowler that she talked too much, before ending her life with a well-aimed bullet. A stone-faced assassin that takes perverse pleasure in emasculating men in front of their wives. He’s also capable of amazing compassion, treating a young boy with birth defects like any other child, and providing him with an array of ice cream sundaes.

He’s a man without a country, a collector of fine items, but he also enjoys simple pleasures. Throwing quarters into the pool at the Terra Vista Motor Lodge, for a young girl to fetch. Roaring with laughter watching The Three Stooges with Dembe, while giving his full attention to playing Oregon Trail. The elation he experienced acquiring Winston Churchill’s homburg, radiated through the screen.

This character’s the reason I’ve been devoted to this series, it really doesn’t matter to me if his name’s Raymond Reddington, or Latka Gravas. I have no allegiance to the man whose affair with Katarina, resulted in the birth of Masha, Unless he’s the man we’ve spent the last five seasons with. In my eyes “OUR RAYMOND,” being an imposter would only add another layer to the onion.

Let’s return to the bar in Baltimore, as a badly injured Garvey comes inside after Jennifer unlocks the door. Ian just escaped the clutches of Reddington and Zuma, by forcing Dembe to crash the car he was driving into a tree. He’s now a fugitive of the law, after Sinclair turned Anthony into Garvey’s doppelgänger, who then shot Mosadek to death in front of a bunch of witnesses including TEAM-RED. Jennifer’s unaware she’s wearing a bug that’s transmitting her location to the Task-Force, and that Lizzie’s hiding in the back room.

Jennifer’s seen the news reports that Garvey’s wanted for Mosadek’s murder, and she asks him about Tom Keen’s and Singleton’s murders. Garvey quickly realizes his surrogate daughter’s been talking with Liz, and then he discovers the bug when he grabs her coat to get her car keys. He tells Jennifer he didn’t kill Mosadek and he needs to clear his name, he’s got lots to tell her, but he’ll reach out to her when he’s safe. She begs him to tell her then and now.

He then takes her face in his hands and tells her that she’s been living a lie for the last thirty years. He goes on to say that she’s spent a lifetime hiding for no reason. Those words could only mean one of two scenarios took place. The bones could belong to the REAL Jennifer Reddington, and Lily Roth had memories implanted in her that caused her to believe that she’s Jennifer Reddington, and Naomi’s been complicit in causing her to believe that. We can’t rule that scenario out, but I’d say the odds of that being correct are miniscule.

The more likely scenario’s that “OUR RAYMOND’S,” an imposter, he’s not the man that abandoned Carla and Jennifer on that Christmas eve of long ago. Nor is he the man that had the affair with Rostova culminating in Masha’s birth. That scenario seems even more likely as the action continues, starting with Lizzie coming out of the back room with her pistol aimed at Garvey. He says she doesn’t want to arrest him, or she’ll never learn Reddington’s secret. She tells him he’s got two choices, reveal everything and go to prison, or remain quiet and she’ll kill him.

She tells him to put his hands on the bar and start talking, and Garvey asks why Tom didn’t tell Lizzie what was in the bag, and Reddington and Dembe enter the room with their pistols aimed at the dirty cop. Raymond replies that he killed Tom before he had a chance to tell Liz, and that if the Marshall makes a sound he’s a dead man. Keen then tells Garvey to talk and aims her pistol at Red, saying she’ll take him out if he shoots Ian.

Suddenly, Jennifer starts to speak, she asks Raymond if he’s got any idea who she is? She then starts to recount her memories of sitting in her pink pajamas in her pink room waiting for her daddy to come home for Christmas Eve, but he never arrived. Raymond then says her name, but doesn’t lower his pistol and his eyes remain cold as the arctic. He remains that way as she tells him that she and her mother wondered what happened to her good and decent daddy. However they soon found out that her daddy wasn’t decent, and he betrayed his nation. Garvey became her surrogate father, and he’s the reason she survived all the turmoil in her life. She begs him not to shoot the Marshall for her sake.

Raymond’s face never softens even for an instant, how could this possibly be the daughter he abandoned nearly thirty-years before? How could Jennifer not reach “her daddy,” when we’ve seen this man filled with compassion for those without a child/parent bond? Instead of adhering to her wishes, he asks Dembe to take her out of harm’s way, allowing Garvey the opportunity to shoot Red. Keen responds reflexively shooting the dirty cop who drops to the floor. It appears that Reddington suffered a shoulder wound, and he walks out of the bar as Jennifer calls 911, with Dembe, under his own power.

Garvey’s grievously wounded and Keen shouts to him that he’s not going to die without telling her what he knows. Paramedics soon arrive and Lizzie and Jennifer ride in the ambulance with Garvey. Upon his arrival at the hospital, doctors are not encouraged by his vital signs. Keen screams to Garvey that it’s his last chance to tell them, he pulls off his oxygen mask but he’s unable to speak. A medical team member shouts they’re losing him and wheels the gurney away, leaving Jennifer and Liz in the hallway.

So if “OUR RAYMOND’S” secret throughout this series, has been that he’s indeed an imposter, who is he and why did assume this role? Regular readers of this page will recognize some of what’s contained in the next few paragraphs, but my theory’s been fleshed out since I revealed it back in late December. Once again let me preface the following by stating this is pure conjecture, I’m not privy to inside information, nor blessed with remarkable perception.

We’re going to be doing some time jumping throughout the seasons over the next few paragraphs. Hopefully I’ll prove to be an insightful guide during our journey, instead of wasting your time.

Raymond Reddington’s Elizabeth Keen’s Father.

As we all remember Harold Cooper recovered Raymond Reddington’s bloody uniform, and the DNA from the uniform’s a match for Lizzie’s, in the season four finale. What many seem to forget, is Dembe’s reaction when Raymond told him Keen believes he’s her father. Red explained that Lizzie believes that’s what Kate had prepared to tell her, and Keen’s unaware of the suitcase from Tansi Farms. Her believing that falsehood would buy them time to recover the valise, but things didn’t go according to Hoyle.

Tom realized the truth when he grabbed his duffel bag filled with the bones and the CODIS report, identifying the bones. In one of Ryan Eggold’s strongest moments in the series, his face registers disbelief, acceptance, and then anger in a matter of seconds. He quickly comprehends that the man’s an imposter and he’s taken on this role in part to get close to his wife. When Raymond pages him, he tells the imposter he knows everything and he slams down the phone in disgust. He then fires off a call to Lizzie, telling her to go to their apartment and wait for him. He never gets a chance to share the information with him.

Voices Carry.

During the series’ first two seasons, we joined Liz on some flashbacks to her childhood. We hear a male voice shouting her name’s Elizabeth, and we’ve come to realize that’s from the confrontation between Reddington and Rostova. Although we’ve never witnessed the scene playing out, we saw the aftermath in “Requiem,” as Katarina returns home with four-year-old Masha, consoling her daughter by saying he’s a very bad man. When Keen shoots Tom Connelly taking his life, she suddenly remembers shooting her father. The male voice we heard in the flashbacks, wasn’t James Spader’s. The REAL Raymond Reddington died that night, and Masha’s memories got manipulated by Dr. Krilov.

Madeline Pratt.

Way back in season one, we’re introduced to the beautiful and deadly Madeline Pratt, and Raymond gains her sympathy by telling her an enthralling tale. It’s Christmas Eve, and he’s heading home with a carload of presents. He runs into a storm, has to abandon the car, and hoof it home. He thinks to himself that this will be an evergreen story that will get revisited every Yule Time. Silly Daddy had to walk home and arrived with no presents. He sees the smoke from the chimney, walks in the house and sees his family’s slaughtered. He picks up his daughter’s limp body and smells the blood on her neck.

When Pratt asks Reddington if the tale’s true, he refuses to confirm it. So was this story just a fanciful yarn concocted to gain Pratt’s empathy, or did it actually take place? Even though Raymond’s the master of deception, I’ve always accepted that story as gospel. He bared his soul, and spoke of an event that he likely only discussed when it took place long before. So did Raymond Reddington have a third family? Or was this story about the Imposter’s family? With everything he loved destroyed, would that make him more receptive to becoming Raymond Reddington?

Dominic’s Unknown Son?

Who would take on the role of Raymond Reddington, and why on earth would he do it? If we take the “Cape May,” episode as anything more than an opium induced fantasy, then “OUR RAYMOND,” had a deep connection and affection for Katarina Rostova. Many of us assumed that his feelings were romantic, but could those feelings have been fraternal? Is our imposter in reality Katarina’s brother and Dom’s son?

We know Katerina was a KGB agent and we recently discovered that Dom’s a former KGB operative known as Oleander. What if Dom had a son who settled in the USA? Possibly another KGB operative, or perhaps a civilian whose family was executed because of his ties to his father and sister? After losing his family, he faced the probability of losing Masha and his sister, if he did not become the former Naval Officer. Perhaps his becoming Reddington actually saved Masha’s life?

We were introduced to Dom for a reason, and he wouldn’t be portrayed by the great Brian Dennehy, if he was an unimportant character. I believe that Dom will reappear in either episode 21, or 22, and he’ll reveal to Lizzie and the world what secrets “OUR RAYMOND’S” hiding.

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

Photo Courtesy Of Virginia Sherwood/NBC

WARNING SPOILER ALERT:

Please consider this your FINAL WARNING: If you have yet to watch Season Five Episode Eighteen, of the NBC series The Blacklist,Do Not Read Any Further!

Now that we’ve gotten those formalities out-of-the-way, the episode entitled “Zarak Mosadek (23),” proved to be a taut, exciting, action-packed installment, that kept viewers on the edge of their chairs. Extremely well written and produced, choreographing the characters expertly, concluding the episode with a left-hook that this viewer certainly didn’t see coming. An episode that could hold its own against some of the highlights during the show’s run. However it won’t be recapped on these pages, except to say I want that language deciphering device featured in the episode.

We have been recapping “The Blacklist,” since the opening episode of Season Two. Throughout our run synopsizing episodes, one recap published back on April 24, 2015, entitled “Has The Fulcrum Arrived In Time To Save Red?” held a commanding lead over every other article we’ve featured about the show. That lead however might have evaporated by the time you read this piece.

Back on December 27, we published an article entitled “Suitcase Suppositions,” a table-setting piece as the show returned to the air in early January. As the title suggests, this writer provided theories concerning the identity of the bones dug up from Tansi Farms, as well as the identity of Ian Garvey. Without going to deeply into that article, I explained why I believed that the identity of the bones in the duffel bag, is none other than the real Raymond Reddington, and the man we’ve followed for four plus season’s an imposter.

I also theorized that Ian Garvey got the CODIS information on the bones identity through his professional connections, concluding that Tom’s murderer was a member of the government or some branch of law enforcement. My supposition at that point, centered around Garvey holding that information over the Imposter’s head, leading to Garvey walking away handsomely compensated. It turned out that the Federal Marshall wouldn’t settle just for money, he wanted an explanation why the imposter’s gone through this elaborate charade for decades.

Up until this point in time, I believed the bespectacled lawman’s obsession with finding out the answer to the mystery was just professional curiosity.  However information revealed in the latest chapter of the show, has provided a clearer indication why Garvey won’t just take the money and run, without finding out the reason the man we’ve known as Raymond Reddington, is adamant about keeping his secret.  It seems that there’s a connection between Reddington and Garvey that “Our Raymond’s” unaware of.

While Reddington, Dembe, Samar Navabi, and Donald Ressler, pulled off a caper in Paris, that would have been worthy of the Impossible Mission Force, Aram and Liz stayed in the States and tailed the Federal Marshall. Keen discovered a woman about her age that had a deep connection with the dirty cop, and attempted to convince the woman to help her put Garvey away. However Keen didn’t realize that the woman, Lillian May Roth, also had ties to Reddington.

Viewers jaws dropped collectively, during the evening’s final scene when it’s revealed that Lily Roth spent most of he life in the witness protection program. The bond between her and Garvey formed when the lawman got her into the program to prevent her father from finding her when she was still a kid. Her birth father’s a wanted fugitive, and has been a fixture on the Bureau’s most wanted list for 20-years. Lily Roth’s actually Jennifer Reddington, the daughter of Raymond and Carla Reddington abandoned by her father decades earlier.

Long time fans of the show have been aware of Jennifer’s existence since season two, when we met Reddington’s ex-wife Naomi Hyland. When the Real Raymond Reddington disappeared, Carla Reddington’s life got turned upside down. After countless hours fielding questions from government agents, Carla Reddington took her daughter to Philadelphia, where she started life over again. Changing her name to Naomi, she built new identities for her and Jennifer. Years later she got remarried, and apparently her second marriage caused her and Jennifer to drift apart.

Jennifer’s name never got mentioned again, causing some fans to wonder whether Elizabeth Keen was in reality Jennifer and that the bones in the duffel bag were actually Lizzie’s who died as a child. That theory can now finally be put to rest, as we’ve now seen both women at the same time. However if the man we know as Raymond’s an imposter, Jennifer’s father likely died decades before, falling victim to a gunshot by four-year-old Masha Rostova and an intense fire.

This revelation seems to be a major puzzle piece, in Garvey’s thinking process and that “Our Raymond’s,” an imposter. If the man that we know as Reddington’s actually the real-deal, why wouldn’t Garvey have already killed Red? We’ve witnessed many situations showing Garvey won’t hesitate to kill, and his connection to Jennifer, would seemingly be more than ample reason for the Marshall, to have already finished Reddington off long ago. What question could he have for the real Raymond Reddington, that would have stopped Ian from just having his revenge and killing the guy?

If the man we know as Raymond’s actually an imposter, there’s no way he’ll want to encounter Jennifer. Perhaps believing that she’ll realize that he’s indeed a fake, a man who took her father’s name and used it to build a vast criminal empire. We can safely assume that Jennifer’s got zero desire to see the man she believes abandoned her and Naomi. Will Keen still attempt to orchestrate them meeting, or will Garvey end up as the conduit that brings them face-to-face? One thing I’m pretty certain we can count on, is a meeting will occur during the last four-episodes of the current campaign. It’s likely that episode nineteen will be the last episode until May, when the network airs the final three episodes of this season.

Jon Bokenkamp, and the rest of the creative team behind this series, once again radically changed the dynamic of this season and the show, introducing Jennifer, and having Ian Garvey as her surrogate father. However at this juncture, I’m taking her showing up at this time, only solidifies my theory that “Our Raymond’s” an imposter. Although I would have preferred this story-arc to have concluded by now, the show’s hit its stride the last two episodes.

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

Photo Courtesy Of Virginia Sherwood/NBC

WARNING SPOILER ALERT:

It was back in nineteen forty-two,
I was a member of a good platoon.
We were on maneuvers in-a Louisiana,
One night by the light of the moon.
The captain told us to ford a river,
That’s how it all begun.
We were — knee deep in the Big Muddy,
But the big fool said to push on.

Pete Seeger

With “MARCH MADNESS” in the air, it might be a good time to break out this analogy. I covered the NBA for nearly twenty-years, in a previous lifetime, and consider myself a basketball purist. Growing up in the sixties, I got to witness  two of the greatest coaches of all time: John Wooden, the bench-boss for the UCLA Bruins, and Red Auerbach, head coach of the Boston Celtics.  Both men stressed the fundamentals of the game, and chastised their teams for taking last-minute, desperation shots. A major part of the success of their teams, was the ability to get the ball close to the basket, before attempting to score.

A strategy employed by both coaches to get into position for high-percentage shots, was a crisp passing-game. It served three purposes, advancing the ball closer to the basket, keeping the defensive team off-balance, and eating valuable minutes off the clock, to keep their opponents possessions down. A great passing game’s a beautiful sight to behold, and as graceful as ballet. However there might not be a more deflating moment during a game, when the offense makes “one pass too many,” leading to a turnover.

The NBC series “The Blacklist,” decided to shake-up the snow-globe throughout the show’s fifth season. We rejoined Raymond Reddington, back in September, when the former “Concierge Of Crime,” found himself living in a cheap motor-lodge, and wearing hand-me-downs. Many viewers assumed that this campaign would be devoted to the restoration of Raymond Reddington, to his former status. However a fortunate encounter with a postman named Anthony, quickly restored his depleted coffers after he setup a network of high-end safe-houses, used by criminals on the lam.

The series went into its fall-hiatus after altering the show’s dynamic irrevocably, in a move that angered many of the show’s long-time fans, and cheered by others. Jon Bokenkamp and company, decided to put an end to the tempestuous relationship between Lizzie and Tom Keen, as Tom became a casualty of this season’s “BIG BAD” Ian Garvey, dying in November. The show also fast-forwarded rejoining Liz and Raymond after she awoke from a ten-month coma. When the series returned in January, viewers reentered their universe after another time leap.

Liz completed her physical-therapy, and living in Alaska under an alias, trying to deal with her grief. She pronounced herself healed and returned home, after she channeled her inner Charles Bronson, and executed four contract killers. She felt no remorse for her actions, considering it just a warm-up for the carnage she would wreak on those who took her husband from her.

Thus began a long and drawn out dance as Keen started embracing her demons, as she first explored and eventually started to inhabit her dark-side, while searching for those responsible for Tom’s death. She even took inspiration from Blacklist members, utilizing the Stewmaker’s skill set to dispose of Bobby Navarro’s corpse. She became so laser-focused on her mission, that she sent her daughter Agnes to live with Tom’s mother, and gave up her badge.

This new dynamic altered the series cadence, with episodes branching off into three different story-arcs, sometimes but not necessarily intersecting. While the Task-Force primarily deals with the Blacklist members after Samar meets with Raymond, we follow Reddington and Keen on their journeys. Red and Elizabeth share a common goal, making Garvey pay for killing Tom and Nik Korpal, however he’s intent on keeping the occupant of the duffel bag’s identity from Keen, while she’s determined to learn Reddington’s secret.

Here’s where we get back to the basketball analogy. While the game carried on in a slow-downed pace, the execution remained top-notch. Bringing in key players off the bench such as Dominic Wilkinson, Earl Fagen, Raleigh Sinclair, and Abraham Stern, kept the action entertaining. Until the squad made “one pass too many,” and threw the ball out-of-bounds.

One of the many reasons that the “Cabal,” story-line successfully played out over nearly three seasons, was the pacing. Bokenkamp and the rest of his team doled out information in small doses, keeping viewers intrigued. Fans watched as the mysterious relationship between Reddington, and Alan Fitch, got revealed leading to our discovery of the shadow organization as well as the “Fulcrum.” Eventually viewers realized that the organization played a large part of Keen’s life since childhood.

The story-arc finally culminated, when Laurel Hitchin asked Reddington to get rid of “The Director,” Peter Kotsiopoulos. That happened in dramatic fashion, getting thrown out of a private jet and crashing to his death in a European family’s living-room., in a move nobody could have predicted. That’s also been a critical factor in the appeal of the series, the writers ability to zig instead of zag. Leading viewers down a pathway that seems familiar, then suddenly veers off into an unexpected direction took this series to a rarefied level.

In this viewer’s eyes, the show-runners’ seemed to have lost some of that magic over the last few episodes. Part of that reason stems from telegraphing its short-term plots. Norman Singleton became “Dead Man Walking,” the moment Liz took him into her confidence, and brought him to the Post-Office. When he told her that after they captured the dirty cop, she needed to pickup Agnes, and he’d get a new lawyer, I suddenly recalled Keen asking Tom, why everybody they love dies?

Why would a police detective in his own station-house fear the threats of a dirty cop, and instead of arresting him, goes on a ride that he realizes will lead to his death? Especially when that detective has an established with a Bureau Task-Force, and Raymond Reddington? Just by picking up his phone, his daughters would either be in protective custody, or safely relocated before Garvey could make his one phone-call.  We saw that demonstrated in the most recent episode, as Reddington safely relocated witness Tony Mejia and his grandmother, keeping them out of Garvey’s hands.

When we met Bureau psychiatrist Sharon Fulton, she reminded me of a combination of Laurel Hitchin and Julian Gale. While being unsure if Fulton would be a friend or foe, she made this viewer feel hinky, thinking that was far more to the character than she revealed. When Keen asks Fulton whether Anthony Hollis could be the man she’s searching for, she failed to realize that it would take someone with the doctor’s intelligence to discover the serial killers’ identities. Her obsession with darkness dulling her skills, she embraced Fulton as a mentor, not realizing the psychiatrist skillfully played her.

While enjoying Aram Mojtabai suddenly taking a more active role on the Task-Force, was there any doubt that Reddington engineered Tony Mejia’s extraction from FBI custody? (It’s just a matter of time until Aram encounters the man with David Bowie eyes again.) Or that Raymond would hand the young man over to Garvey? Tony and his grandmother have likely been relocated to a far more upscale existence, than either of them dreamed of experiencing.

Elizabeth Milhoan Keen/Masha Rostova, was by no means an innocent babe in the woods when the man we know as Raymond Reddington, entered back into her life. Her methods could be questioned, but not her morals. The woman we’ve come to know over the past five years, could be mercurial and impulsive. However unlike Reddington, we’ve never questioned that she had a true moral compass that always pointed north. That’s why Raymond told Lizzie, that when he looks at her he sees his way home. That’s why he described her to Fulton, as everything that he’s not.

When she brutally executed the four men in Alaska, and in Bobby Navarro’s accidental death, we could justify them all as self-defense. However in “The Capricorn Killer,” Keen crossed a huge moral line, she allowed Sharon Fulton to escape, and to continue tracking down and executing serial killers. We’ll never know if Keen would have smothered the “Sandman,” to death, something that seemed impossible to contemplate at the onset of this season.

While the acting’s been incredible throughout this campaign, the story seems stuck “In The Big Muddy,” over the last few episodes. The much-anticipated first encounter between Raymond Reddington and Ian Garvey, proved to be anti-climactic to say the least. There are now six episodes remaining in the show’s fifth campaign, seemingly heading into a sixth season. I made my predictions on this season back in December, if you desire you can read my theories and feel free to leave your commentary. My concerns aren’t with next season at this point, it’s more a matter of getting season five back on course. Hopefully the man we know as Raymond Reddington, will sail this season safely into port.

Photo Courtesy Of Will Hart/NBC

WARNING: POSSIBLE SPOILERS AND RAMPANT SPECULATION

With the return of the NBC series “The Blacklist,” almost upon us a myriad of questions, both long and short-term, have fans of the show buzzing with anticipation. The immediate concern for many long-time viewers, centers on the health and well-being of FBI Agent Elizabeth Keen.  We last saw her emerging from an eight month coma, after a beating that took the life of her husband Tom. Published reports inform us that we’ll rejoin the characters, months after we left them in the Winter Finale.

The Lizzie that we’ll encounter on January 3, is a broken woman, physically, mentally, and spiritually. Suddenly her life got put into a blender, then spit her out, and when she came to she found herself in a new life that didn’t make sense. The love of her life taken from her, a daughter that blossomed from a baby into a young girl, that she doesn’t know. Her body and mind atrophied from her injuries and the coma.

Keen’s focused on just one thing, seeking vengeance on the men that took her husband. She says it’s her only motivation for getting out of bed each morning. According to an article published last week, that story-arc will dominate the return episode, described as a “free-standing Cape May, type story.”

We’re going to concentrate on the show’s big question of this season in this article, the same question that’s had fans speculating since last May. Whose bones are in the valise that Mr. Kaplan, wanted Tom to deliver to Elizabeth, and why are they so important to the man we know as Raymond Reddington? That question produced a new query in the last couple of episodes of the Fall campaign, the identity of Ian Garvey, and what he intends to do with the information he possesses?

The following is pure speculation, however I can give you what I consider a logical explanation for my theories. As with any theory, there are flaws and I try to address each one to my satisfaction. We shall see if they meet yours,  or if you find holes in this theory that I’ve yet to discover. As always your thoughts, comments, and other theories are always welcome. So, with that let’s delve down the rabbit hole!

DNA TESTS DON’T LIE.

Raymond Reddington IS the biological father of Masha Rostova.

Harold Cooper, obtained the DNA sample came from the clothes of Naval Intelligence Officer Raymond Reddington, from an evidence locker where the clothe got deposited 30-years before. All that proves is the man that Katarina had the affair with and fathered Masha, was indeed the REAL Raymond Reddington.

However, it’s yet to be revealed whether the man we know as Raymond matches that DNA sample. Also let’s remember in the finale of season four, when our Raymond tells Dembe what Lizzie believes, the first thing he asks is “And You Didn’t Deny It??” Lizzie KNEW that Kaplan’s final mission was to reveal some truth to Keen. When Harold told her about the DNA results, she automatically jumped to the conclusion that our Raymond is her BIO-Dad, Which our Raymond welcomes, because it’s kept Lizzie from seeking out Kate’s real secret, whose in the suitcase from Tansi Farms?

SO WHO IS IN THE SUITCASE?

Many fans theorize that Katarina Rostova’s last remains are in the suitcase now held by Ian Garvey. I’ve never subscribed to that theory, mainly because Kate apologized to Katarina before she retrieved the valise from Tansi Farms. She wouldn’t apologize to Rostova for informing Lizzie that the valise contained her mother’s bones.

There’s another contingent of fans that believe the bones belong to either Masha, or Raymond’s daughter Jennifer. Some believe that the real Masha died the night of the fire, and Raymond’s behind Jennifer believing that she’s Elizabeth Keen. Others believe the bones belong to Jennifer, that Raymond was simply too grief-stricken to bury his daughter, after the events that he described to Madeline Pratt. However once again Mr. Kaplan doesn’t figure into the latter scenario.

Now that we’ve eliminated some names off our list, it’s time to reveal whom I believe occupies the purloined knapsack The REAL Raymond Reddington. Think back to “Requiem,” the flashback story from season four that told us the history of the affair between a KGB Agent and a U.S. Naval Intelligence Officer, through the eyes of Kathryn Nemec. The only time we saw Raymond Reddington, before Katarina disappeared,  was through the back window of a car, as he was passionately kissing Rostova.  The view obscured,  and we only really saw the back and the side of his head.

The man that we know as Raymond Reddington’s not introduced until after Lizzie’s lived with Sam Milhoan for a while. Kate’s working for Little Nikos as a bail bondsman, after she recovered from the shot to the head in the attack that killed her partner Annie. He entices Mr. Kaplan to come work for his criminal empire that he stresses exists primarily to keep Elizabeth safe. If Kaplan’s aware that the man she’s meeting’s a faux Raymond Reddington, we’re given no indication, but remember we’re watching this scenario play out from her point of view.

Alexander Kirk/Constantin Rostov, said to the man that we know as Raymond Reddington, that there was nothing Reddington could say, that would keep Kirk from killing him. Yet after Raymond whispered something in his ear, Red walked away without a scratch. Why did Constantin not follow through on his vow?

After the conversation between Dembe and Raymond in last season’s finale, I believed that the suitcase contained the final remains of Raymond Reddington. My suspicions solidified after seeing Tom Keen’s face after reading the DNA results as he sat in Penn Station, during the episode “Ian Garvey.” Tom opens up the large yellow envelope, looks at the name, and immediately does a double-take. This can’t be right. Then he looks at it again, and it starts to dawn on him, this is real. Then anger sets in as he realizes why the man we know as Raymond, keeps that information from Lizzie. When Raymond has him paged at Penn Station, he tells Red that he know everything, and we watch Reddington’s complexion turn slate gray.

There’s only one name that could cause Tom to have that reaction and subsequent reaction, and cause Ian Garvey to go on a murderous rampage to exploit that information. The REAL Raymond Reddington. Which brings us to our ultimate question: who IS the man that we know as Raymond Reddington?

Dom Is The Wild Card.

There are just three people out there that know the true story of the man we know as Raymond Reddington. Raymond, Dembe, and Dom, Katarina’s father and Lizzie’s grandfather. There’s an incredibly strong bond that we’ve seen play out between Dom and Raymond, far more of a bond that one would expect from a man that impregnated a married woman and her father.

Why would Dom welcome into his home, the disgraced American Naval Officer, who helped lead to his daughter’s apparent demise? What could have compelled him to enter an agreement with that man, thirty years earlier to safeguard his granddaughter?

Why would that American Naval Officer, have taken the time to rebuild and replace a new piano key, for a man whose only connection’s Elizabeth? Why would that same man care that he didn’t turn out the way that Dom expected, that he didn’t measure up?

Truly doesn’t make sense that bond existed between Dom and Raymond Reddington, however it would be perfectly logical, if the man we know as Raymond’s actually Dom’s son and Katarina’s brother. He’s masqueraded as Reddington, since Masha shot her father to death the night of the fire. Why would he takeover Reddington’s identity? Likely for the safety of Katarina and Masha. Reddington’s name trashed in Intelligence circles and likely wanted for treason, gave this man the perfect gateway into the criminal world.

We learned in season one that Raymond had utilized the services of renowned plastic surgeon Dr. Abraham Maltz, whose claim to fame’s his ability to give underworld figures new identities. This young man likely had plenty of audio and videotape recordings of Reddington’s voice and he studied it until he mastered it. When the question of the veracity of his identity surfaced during Mr. Gregory Devry, Ressler informed Cooper that they lacked a DNA sample to compare our Raymond’s DNA to.

Keeping a thirty year distance between himself and Cooper, likely hid any tells that our Raymond might display. We know that Fitch and Peter Kotsiopoulos, knew the younger Reddington, however they might have been on the whole thing due to their connection through the Cabal.

This would explain the bond between the man we know as Raymond Reddington and Lizzie, as well as his fears for her finding out the truth. Dembe’s asked him to be forthright with Elizabeth since the early episodes of the series. If this man had only been upfront about his identity from the onset, at the very least Tom would still be alive.

When Raymond last spoke to Dom, he told him to seek Elizabeth out if Reddington hadn’t contacted him. I’m willing to make an educated guess that call never got made and Dom will seek Elizabeth out. I believe that’s when everything will finally get revealed, as Dom explains the true story of her parents and their fates. Will Elizabeth still perceive Raymond as her Sin-Eater, and continue to work with him and accept him as an uncle and surrogate father? Guess that will determine how long the series airs.

Bring Us The Head Of Ian Garvey!

The Blacklist has given us an array of sick, twisted, depraved, sinister, villains, over the years, from zealots to career criminals. Criminals involved in every facet of the underworld, some operating deeply underground, while others did their dirty work, in full view of the whole planet. However their may be one breed of “BIG BAD,” that stands out from the rest, they’re colder, and seemingly without a soul. People like Peter Kotsiopoulos, and Laurel Hitchin, Government.

I believe Garvey is either a former agent from the Agency or the Bureau, which is why he was able to access CODIS. Ideally, I would love for him to be the new FBI Director, but that’s likely asking for too much. Plus he dresses like an out of work bureaucrat, sporting a tie so wide that it could double as a table-cloth. I had some of the same back in the mid-seventies and they’re likely still sitting in some compost heap.

Garvey looks like a retired or possibly disgraced “Spook,” (old-term parlance for a CIA Agent,) and realizes that if the information that our Raymond’s a fake emerged, Reddington’s reputation would be in tatters and his life would be endangered. So the former government employee’s going to try to put the squeeze on Red, and demanding a percentage of the profits. Personally, I don’t like Garvey’s odds.

I always believe if you’re going to make a prediction, swing for the fences! We shall see what develops starting January 3.

The Story Continues Wednesday Night January 3, at 8:00 pm on NBC.

 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 do 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.