The Blacklist

Photo by: Barbara Nitke/NBC

Photo by: Barbara Nitke/NBC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

We’ve now concluded five episodes of the fourth season for the NBC series “The Blacklist,” and this viewer’s found myself, feeling rather lost and dissatisfied. The show, coming off what could arguably be labeled as the series strongest season in the 2015-2016 campaign, as former FBI Agent Elizabeth Keen kept one step ahead of the law and the Cabal. Keen killed the United States Attorney General Tom Connelly, when the Cabal member threatened her and all those she cared for. When she finally cleared her name with the help of Raymond Reddington, she found herself going from the frying-pan and into the fire.

Lizzie found out that she carried Tom’s child and the annulled couple planned to get married and raise their baby together. Reddington, made it clear that he disapproved of the reconciliation, going as far as to putting the kibosh on Tom getting a job in Boston. However, other problems lurked in the background, as somebody kept trying to kidnap Elizabeth. Keen with the help of Mr. Kaplan and Dr. Nick, faked her death so she, Tom and their baby could have a life without Reddington in it.

While Tom knew that the mother of his daughter Agnes, actually lived, he played the part of the grief-struck widower and helped track down the man who attempted to kidnap Lizzie, Alexander Kirk. Kirk and Reddington, knew each other well and likely consider each other mortal enemies. When Kirk believes Liz passed, he sets his sights on kidnapping Agnes, which happens in the final episode of Season Three.

However Agnes, wasn’t the only one that Kirk’s operatives captured. Tom and Agnes had fled to Havana, to join Lizzie in their new life. Kirk introduced himself to Liz, (or Masha, as he called her) as her father Constantin Rostov in the final scene of the season. Lizzie’s capture revealed that Kate Kaplan thought up the plan that gave Liz, Tom and Agnes their freedom, Raymond felt betrayed.

While the third season rocketed out of the gates, picking up minutes after Liz killed Connelly. Dembe drove them to the first of many stops that Raymond and Keen to help clear her name. This season opened with a restaging of the previous episode, likely to get Megan Boone, who missed the last third of last year on maternity leave, integrated back into the action. Some fans’ describe this still young season, as dragging along on Social Media sites, if that’s true that might figure into the dynamic.

We’re going to dispense with our usual play-by-play format, this go-round, instead we’re going to discuss the episode entitled “The Lindquist Concern,” as one piece of what we’ve witnessed so far in season four. The relationships have radically evolved since Raymond Reddington turned himself in to Bureau Headquarters, to forge a professional and personal relationship with Elizabeth Keen. Despite pushing the envelope throughout this series’ the writers have retained the elasticity, to bring the regulars back into the fold, even after committing some rather heinous acts.

Those relationships have been in a constant state of flux, throughout it’s run and we’ve witnessed once bitter enemies become allies. We’ve also watched a long time partnership, undergo irreparable damage and the ripples of that action are just beginning to occur. As word filters through TEAM-RED, what will be the fallout and reaction of the Task-Force?

RED AND MR. KAPLAN: We might as well tackle the 800-pound gorilla in the room first, as it shocked and disappointed many of the long time viewers. Although Kate certainly didn’t go softly into the night, the question among the fans remains, was Raymond justified in shooting her for her betrayal. Although many viewers believe Reddington had ample justification to turn on Mr. Kaplan, I reside in the opposite camp.

Red’s a self-admitted psychopath and we’ve watched his face turn to stone and his eyes become steely, often over these three-plus seasons. However we’ve also seen the depths of Raymond’s kindness, a perfect example’s his interaction with Skyler Ayers, a special-needs child with a rare blood disease. Reddington’s likely the first person to talk to the youngster, like he’d talk to any other boy. It’s difficult to believe that someone with that big a heart, could callously turn on the woman he described as his better half.

Dembe started feeling the ramifications of his actions in this installment, as he sat in the pews of the church that Reddington and Dembe are residing in. (Raymond told Liz, that he normally has a devil of a time falling asleep, but he sleeps like a babe in the manger in the church.) He tells Red that forgiveness won’t come, for Kate and what he did. Reddington replies that Dembe did nothing and the man Raymond rescued as a teen, confirmed that was his sin. He denied Mr. Kaplan when she came to him for help and he allowed Raymond to kill her without voicing his regrets.

Teddy Brimley, the geriatric Marquis De Sade, mentioned her in this episode as he informed Raymond and Dembe he’s getting hitched on the 16, and to extend the invite to Mr. Kaplan. Lizzie’s already asked Reddington where Kate’s at and Red avoided answering her, but how will she handle it when she finds out?

Despite Raymond’s proficiency with a pistol, Reddington failed to kill his “Cleaner” in the middle of the wilderness, instead just damaging her cheek. Although Kate’s situation’s far from comforting, as she finds herself shackled to her bed by some old guy who lives off the grid and has only been identified as The Hunter, what’s in store for her future? She knows all of Reddington’s weaknesses, will she eventually turn into Raymond’s greatest foe?

WHO, EXACTLY’S CONSTANTIN ROSTOV?:  Reddington, specifically stated that although Kirk believes he’s Lizzie’s father, he believes otherwise. Keen stormed into the church clutching a DNA report, stating that Rostov’s indeed her father, why does Red continue to believe other wise? Although Rostov’s repeatedly said that he just wants his family together again, his considering using Agnes as a bone-marrow donor, shows his true desire. Rostov wants to live longer and he’s considering risking his granddaughter’s life to fulfill that wish. Unless Elizabeth Keen’s not the person who provided the DNA for this report, Rostov appears to be her biological father.

IS THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT, COMPLETELY CORRUPT IN THE BLACKLIST UNIVERSE?:  Although Raymond got the Task-Force involved in the capture of Silas Gouldsberry and The Lindquist Concern, allegedly because he’d lead them to Agnes, that didn’t come close to fruition. Instead Ressler and Navabi saved the information from going public, only to see it wind up in the hands of Laurel Hitchin. She in turn gave the information to Reddington, to see what inventions he desired, before selling them to among others the Cabal. Reddington will get 45% of any money that Hitchin receives. Is the planet truly better off with the way things went down?

Although it appears that Constantin Rostov will remain with us for at least a few more episodes, it’s time for the writer’s to progress this season’s plot. Can Raymond be forgiven for his actions, or will he like Dembe keep seeking salvation that’s never arriving?

Photo Courtesy Of NBC

Photo Courtesy Of NBC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

“Woke up this morning my house was cold
Checked out the furnace she wasn’t burnin’
Went out and hoped in my old Ford
Hit the engine but she ain’t turnin’
We’ve given each other some hard lessons lately
But we ain’t learnin’
We’re the same sad story that’s a fact
One step up and two steps back.”

Bruce Springsteen One Step Up

Tempers flaring, patience running thin and we’re witnessing long-term relationships hitting the danger zone. That could be an accurate summary, for Season Four of the NBC hit-drama “The Blacklist,” but that level spiked in Episode Four, entitled “Gaia.” When Aram Mojtabai let’s the fur fly, we know we’re traveling in unchartered waters.

Our episode begins out in the woods as we see the speaker horn of an old Victrola and sound of Classical Music fills the great outdoors. We then see a man who appears to be in his mid-thirties and as the camera pans to a long shot we see that he lives in an old school bus and he’s raising his own potted crops. He starts looking at his tomatoes, when blood starts dripping from his nose and he goes inside the bus. He grabs a pair of surgical scissors and extracts a large wad of blood-soaked cotton gauze out of his nostril.

He then picks up a radio phone and we hear him talking to a woman named Maya, he tells her he’s got two new targets and that she has to get her and someone else out of the state. The call doesn’t last long, as she either hung up on him or he reached her voice mail.

We follow the man to a retirement party, for a man who owns a helicopter charter service. The man retiring pokes fun at his head mechanic for being a Cubs’ fan and the man from the woods, puts a beer down in front of the mechanic and says he’s from Wrigley Ville. The mechanic nods in appreciation for the free beer.

The next scene, the mechanic and the guy from the woods run into each other again and start making small-talk, but the mechanic’s unaware that the guy from the woods laced his beer with poison and he dies of what the coroner believes was a heart-attack.

Liz Keen’s sitting on the floor, scouring through documents that she hopes will lead her to the location of her infant daughter Agnes, when her laptop emits a tone informing her somebody’s attempting to contact her. She opens her computer and she’s getting a video-feed from Constantin Rostov, he says he wanted to speak to her when she was alone and Lizzie only wants to know how Agnes’ doing. Rostov adjusts the camera to show Keen her cooing daughter and though she’s relieved her child’s safe, she tells Rostov she’s on to him and his plans.

The former FBI Agent tells Rostov that she’s aware of the blood disease he suffers from and that’s the real reason he’s been searching for her and Agnes. Rostov admits that his health’s at stake, but tells Lizzie that he just wants his family reunited and he says the only way that can happen is for her to cut ties with Reddington. He then tells Masha that the link will remain open, so she can check in with Agnes at any time. There’s an unspoken agreement that she won’t try to trace the link, or he’ll cut off contact.

Rostov’s getting another transfusion and Constantin asks if he has six-months, the doctor replies possibly less. He says Rostov always realized that the transfusions were only a temporary fix and a young dark-haired woman says that Rostov’s got to use the child. The doctor vehemently disagrees, saying even if Agnes’ and Rostov are a genetic match, the procedure would put the infant in mortal danger. The young woman scoffs at the doctor’s words and says that he’s not the one who’s dying.

Tom heads back to where he’s staying with Liz and she tells him about her conversation with Kirk and the link he’s set-up so she can see Agnes. Keen immediately wants to trace the link, but Lizzie begs him not to. She says that she can play on Rostov’s ego and gain his trust and then they can rescue Agnes and ensure her safety. Tom remains silent on the issue, so naturally Liz assumed he’d follow her wishes, you’d think that after all this time she’d realize that Keen always believes he knows best.

Raymond and Liz meet and he says he’s got a kind of, sort of clue that could lead them to Agnes. Reddington says that he’s searching for an eco-terrorist known only as Gaia, which is Mother Earth in Greek. Raymond explains that the eco-terrorist disguises his attacks as accidents, so that the people force Government Agencies to fix the problem.

When Keen informs the rest of the task force, they review some of the accidents that Gaia engineered in the past and that some of the incidents took innocent lives in order to save other innocent lives. Harold sends Navabi and Ressler into the field to see what they can find on Gaia, however Aram stops Samar and apologizes that he basically blew her off the previous evening on the phone.

Mojtabai, asks Samar if she’d like for them to talk about her possible transfer later, but she informs him that she already decided to request a transfer and that its being processed. Although shaken, Aram congratulates her on her upcoming move and she says she’d better not keep Donald waiting.

As Donald and Navabi search through records trying to find some info on Gaia, Ressler tells Samar that he Googled Aram’s new girl-friend. She asks why he did that and he responds that he wanted to see if Elise was hot and Donald says she’s quite hot indeed.

The Gaia poisons a second victim an inspector for Borron Energy Service. He lambasted the inspector for allowing environmental dangers to exist, the guy replied that just about everything in this world can kill you. He takes his laced coffee back to his vehicle and shortly thereafter as the inspectors taking his last breaths, the eco-terrorist goes out to the guy’s vehicle and says that he was right about so many dangers out in the world. He then grabs the guy’s clipboard and hard hat.

We find ourselves in a shack and see Mr. Kaplan lying on a cot with a piece of cloth covering the wound on her cheek. Suddenly the door opens and we see the dog and it’s owner enter the cabin, however without Kate having her glasses the shapes are too blurry for her to identify and she falls back to sleep.

Aram tells the rest of the Task Force that he might have identified their suspect, as he’s been pretending to be an inspector doing spot inspections in energy plants. Aram’s tracked him to an energy facility he’s doing a spot inspection on at that moment and Navabi and Ressler head to the plant to apprehend the suspect. Security informs them where the suspect’s at, but he eludes them and steals a security vehicle with Donald and Samar in pursuit.

The Gaia thinks he’s made his escape but then he’s cut off by police vehicles in front of him and when he attempts to back up, he realizes he’s boxed in by law enforcement. The Gaia then goes forward and slams against the two police vehicles and escapes.

They recover his forged ID card and Keen tells Harold that Raymond’s in contact with one of his guys to track down the Gaia. Dembe and Raymond arrive at a bowling alley and Red shouts to our old friend Glen Carter, finder of lost people, that he needs his services immediately. Jelly Bean says he’s off the clock now and Dembe starts giving Glen pointers on how to improve his game. Raymond shows Glen the badge and he immediately recognizes it as the work of Ji Ming a Chinese associate of his.

Dembe, Raymond, Glen and the Asian fellow meet in the next scene and apparently the Chinese man only speaks Mandarin, which Jelly Bean happens to speak. Reddington tries to hurry the conversation along and tells Glen he just needs an address. The Asian gentleman looks at Red and then speaks in Mandarin and walks away. Glen says the guy doesn’t like Raymond, as Reddington looks like his third wife. At this point Raymond realizes that Glen’s just yanking his chain and he already acquired the address.

Liz, Raymond and Dembe head to where Gaia’s made his base of operations. They find a picture of Maya who’s pregnant in the photo and Keen starts talking about missing babies and now she’s consumed with Agnes. Raymond realizes what’s going on and tells Lizzie that they’ll soon have Agnes back safe and sound.

Tom gets in contact with a former associate named Krantz and the mercenary agrees to gather his crew and to locate Rostov’s link and help Keen recover Agnes.

They’ve identified the eco-terrorist as Owen Ayers, a highly decorated military veteran who retired for medical reasons a few years before. Ayers final mission was Fukushima, Japan, which suffered a catastrophic accident inside a nuclear plant. Ayers inhaled toxic-gas while on the mission, making him a dead man walking and he and his toddler son Skyler share a blood disease, that caused the child to be born with a disfigured face.

We’re back at the shack with Mr. Kaplan, when we finally see who carried Kate away on a make-shift stretcher. So far he’s only been identified as The Hunter, but he’s portrayed by veteran actor Leon Rippy,  who played the school janitor in 11/22/63. The Hunter resembles a retired roadie from the Allman Bros. Band, circa early Seventies, with silver hair hanging down to his shoulders.

He tells Kate that she’s been on her back for too long and he’s going to put her into a sitting position. He then puts his arm behind her neck and although she screams in pain, she’s able to sit. He asks her if she can understand him and then asks if she can nod, which Mr. Kaplan does. He then asks if the men who did this to her will be coming back and she shakes her head no. He starts feeding her some soup, but he realizes she wants to say something to him, she croaks out thank you and The Hunter smiles.

Aram and Liz realize that Ayers is planning a gas explosion in the Hudson River, dangerously close to the biggest nuclear facility on the Eastern Seaboard. Ayers intends to create a Fukushima on the Hudson and when contacted by Ressler on the radio he says there’s no way they’ll be able to stop him as he’s piloting a chopper over the Hudson.

Mojtabai attempts to hack into the helicopter’s controls but he’s unable to do anything. Cooper then asks if Aram can shut off the rotor and the Tech Guru realizes he can, but he says he’s already taken one life and couldn’t take another. Cooper then pushes the button that stops the rotor and Ayers crashes and dies in a field not far from where some kids are playing football.

Keen’s back at her home and she’s singing Rock-A-Bye-Baby to Agnes, just as Krantz, Tom and the other mercenaries are about to break into Kirk’s hideout. Unfortunately Rostov sees them before they can rescue Agnes and Constantin tells Masha that he’s disappointed in her for tracking the signal. She breaks down crying and says she doesn’t know what he’s talking about, then Rostov shows Tom on one of the camera feeds. Constantin says that he’s cutting off contact and cuts off the feed.

Maya and Skyler are sitting in an ice-cream shop when Raymond and Dembe join them in their booth. Red tells Skyler that he’s been looking forward to meeting him and right then the waitress puts down three ice-cream sundaes on the table, chocolate, strawberry and caramel.  Reddington says that he’s always found caramel’s a great lubricant in awkward introductions. Turns out that Raymond just wants the name of Tyler’s hematologist, which Maya gives up willingly. She asks if Raymond also has a special-needs child and Reddington says that an infant’s life’s in danger.

When Tom returns to the place he and Liz are staying at, Lizzie gets in his face about not respecting her wishes and she says she knows Reddington’s involved. Tom says that Raymond had no knowledge of what Keen did, that he got in touch with a former associate. Liz asks him if the associate’s from his skinhead days or when he was Berlin’s goon. Tom responds that nobody’s sorrier than he is that he failed, but Liz replies their daughter feels worst of all where ever she is.

Raymond and Lizzie meet again and Reddington explains that the reason he went after Owen Ayers, was that he Skyler and Rostov have the same doctor. That they’re very close to finding him and then they’ll be able to get Rostov and rescue Agnes. Lizzie tells Raymond she lied to him earlier and that Kirk did reach out to her with the link, but in Tom’s effort to rescue their daughter, Rostov escaped with their child.

We end this episode with two quick scenes. Raymond visits Dr. Sebastian Reifler and he recognizes Reddington. He informs Red that Skyler Ayers, has done well and Red says he’s aware of that. However he needs to accompany the doctor the next time he has a house call for Kirk.

Kate wakes up in the cabin and after calling out hello, she realizes she’s alone. She gets up from the bed and realizes that one of her ankles has a shackle around it. Apparently The Hunter is not just a nice guy.

Photo By: David Giesbrecht/NBC

Photo By: David Giesbrecht/NBC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

 “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”

 Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

If you’ve never had the pleasure of reading the Tolstoy classic, I’d recommend it highly, for fans of the NBC series “The Blacklist.” A key component of the novel’s plot revolves around an aristocratic woman leaving her husband and children for a dashing soldier from the Russian Army, Count Vronsky. Don’t settle for a cinematic rendition, as none of them do the book justice. However as Tolstoy notes, each dysfunctional family has its own unique collection of baggage and the nuclear and extended family of Elizabeth Keen, certainly stands out from the rest.

We begin the episode however with a group of strangers, as we watch four paramilitary frogmen emerge from the water in the dead of night. The four operatives take out a power station that controls the electricity for Savannah, Georgia, they kill the three security guards on the premises and then set explosive charges. The blast destroys the facility and plunges the city into darkness.

Liz and Tom arrive at the Post Office with Ressler, and Liz asks why she can’t help in the investigation of her own daughter getting kidnapped. Donald, tells her that she’s lost her security clearance when she lost her shield, then out of frustration tells the Keens’ to check things out as he’s already broken laws by showing them what he’s already shared.

As Tom and Lizzie look through the documents, Aram and Samar walk into the Post Office and Mojtabai says you’re back and then walks over and gives Liz a hug and tells her he’s glad she’s okay. Keen says she’s sorry and she didn’t mean to hurt anybody, but Navabi responds she believes Liz failed to think whom she was hurting. Aram tries to make peace, but Keen owns up to it and says she was trying to save her daughter and hopes they can understand that. Liz receives a call from Reddington to set up a meeting.

Keen meets Dembe and Reddington in a cemetery, which strikes Liz as odd. Raymond muses who Mr. Kaplan has buried in a certain grave, when Liz asks where’s Mr. Kaplan. Red avoids the question and says that he’s doing his best to find Agnes and he hopes to return the infant to her mother. She asks Reddington if he has any leads, he confirms that he does, however he’s working this case alone. Keen says she understands that Reddington feels betrayed, but this involves her daughter and if Raymond has any information he has to share it with her, to which Red replies no he doesn’t.

However Reddington relents and tells Keen that he expected Kirk would go underground after the FBI raided his estate, but his sources tell him differently. Apparently Constantin Rostov contacted a young venture capitalist named Miles McGrath. McGrath’s what the tech world refers to as an “Incubator,” criminals pitch their schemes to him and if he believes there’s a profit to be made, he bankrolls the enterprise. He’ll be spending the night in London and Reddington intends on contacting him there.

Keen informs the Task Force what Reddington shared with her, and that he doesn’t want to work with the Bureau on this mission. Harold Cooper, decides he doesn’t like that strategy and he tells Aram to contact the London attaché office and to get eyes on McGrath. The decision doesn’t work out as Cooper expected.

We see glimpses of a London disco, then we join McGrath, his bodyguard and one of the frogmen, a guy named Dean Bradley. Bradley tells the tech genius that all went better than planned in their mission in Savannah, and Miles grins and says it appears they’re ready for stage two.

As Bradley leaves the hotel and gets into his car, two London detectives take photos of Bradley and start sending the images to the Bureau. However suddenly there’s a knock on the driver’s side window and the body-guard kills the two men plus another law enforcement official and destroys the laptop in the middle of the transmission.

We’re transported to the country and we start to hear the moans and groans of Mr. Kaplan. There’s blood on the ground and we see some on her face, but we really can’t see how much damage she suffered. Suddenly she stretches her arm out and grabs for her glasses, which has one of the lenses cracked.

Liz and Tom head to Bureau headquarters and try to get some information on Agnes and Rostov, the agent they deal with says that an Agent Sarvino’s working the case and that he’s tied up presently. Liz and Tom pull off a sting, palming the agent’s key card as Liz says she needs to get some air. She then calls Sarvino and pretends she’s the other agent’s assistant and asks for Sarvino to meet the Keens’ in a conference room. It’s a dodge to get Lizzie into Sarvino’s office, and she takes photographs of lots of files and absconded Katarina’s journal. She then gets Tom and thanks the agent for his time and they exit the building.

We watch Kate crawling on her hands and knees until she gets to a creek. She looks at her reflection in the water and gasps. I tried my best to get a visible screen capture of her image, but alas failed to do so, although there did appear to be damage on the right-side of her skull or face.

Aram’s able to get a partial photograph of Dean Bradley from the e-mail sent from London, unfortunately they’re unable to question the former Navy SEAL, as McGrath had one of his operatives take Bradley out while he was jogging. Miles tells Johan Halbeck, the paramilitary leader he couldn’t guarantee that Bradley would remain quiet about their mission. Halbeck asks where he’s going to pick up another guy on such short notice and McGrath says that’s Johan’s problem.

Ressler and Raymond start to put the pieces together during a phone call, once Bradley’s record as a SEAL becomes known. Donald tells Reddington about four frogmen attacking the power station in Savannah, and Red suddenly realizes the frogmen are likely operatives of his old associate Johan Halbeck. Reddington used Halbeck to recover a watch he lost during a romantic tryst.

Raymond and Dembe show up at Johan’s garage and Reddington attempts to convince Halbeck to dump his client for twice as much as he would collect from the client. Halbeck says that he really wishes he could, be he’s partners with this other guy on the deal and it’s turned into a nightmare. Raymond says it sounds like Martin and Lewis, and Johan has no idea Reddington’s referencing Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis.

Halbeck then says that the partner killed one of his men and Raymond says that Johan should walk away from the deal. He says most times he’d try to find him a replacement, but he’s freaked out by this situation and tells Halbeck to contact him when he gets things straightened out. Johan then asks Raymond if he could possibly get a guy and Reddington replies it depends on what his cut would be. The new man joining Johan’s team’s Tom Keen, which Keen gets accepted to after winning a fight with one of the other crew members.

We rejoin Mr. Kaplan as she’s discovered by a dog and the animal’s owner, we never see the person we’re just aware of their presence.

Lizzie reads from Katarina’s journal and she finds out that Katarina’s mission was to seduce and betray Reddington, instead she fell in love with him. Suddenly sees a vision of Katarina writing in her journal at her dressing table and she walks towards the vision. When she gets off the bed, Tom wakes up and asks if she’s okay, she tells him of the irony of the situation, that Katarina had been assigned to Reddington and Tom was assigned to her. She then begs him to be careful, she says lost Agnes and couldn’t stand losing him as well. Tom says soon she’ll have Tom and Agnes back with her.

Halbeck tells his team there will be four security guards, guarding the payload they want to acquire, two in front and two in the back. Ressler and Navabi are tailing the paramilitary unit but then they lose them, the unit’s not going after a truck, it’s target’s a train. There are no trains scheduled to run in that time period, but this is an unscheduled event. The train’s filled with six vats containing samples of every Type A virus known to humanity, Ebola, HIV, Polio and at least 50 more strains of disease. That was why the frogmen took out the power in Savannah, knowing the government would ship it out of the city because they were only using generators for more than 72 hours.

Suddenly all communication they’re receiving from the train drops off and the train’s no longer visible, as if it just vanished into thin air. However Navabi and Ressler at the scene discover a split in the track and a warehouse set where the train’s unloading the deadly toxins. Halbeck give’s McGrath’s goon the sample he requested, the goon’s going to meet Miles at a drinking establishment called the Lodge. Johan then gives Reddington McGrath’s name and his location and tells him he should shoot the tech genius.

Raymond and Dembe surprise Miles and his enforcer at the bar and Raymond demands that McGrath hand over the sample. The arrogant nerd tells Reddington to screw himself and Raymond kills the enforcer with a bullet to the heart, then asks Miles, you were saying?

McGrath wisely chooses to give up Rostov and the sample to Raymond, telling the Concierge Of Crime, he deduced his best way of leaving the bar alive depended on giving Reddington what he wanted. Raymond tells Miles’ that his luck wasn’t as good as he hoped and handcuffs McGrath to the corpse and tells him the Bureau’s on its way.

Dembe and Reddington head to the location but nobody from Rostov’s group is waiting, they’re about to leave when a payphone in the parking lot rings. Raymond picks it up congratulating Kirk and he in turn congratulates Reddington. Raymond offers to trade Rostov the virus for Agnes, but Constantin says he’ll die before he allows his granddaughter to be back in Raymond’s arms.

While Liz awaits word from Reddington, she reads further into Katarina’s journal and discovers her mother’s entry confirming that her husband has the blood disorder that’s plagued the Rostov clan for generations. Katarina says the only saving grace is Masha won’t inherit the disease as it’s only passed from father’s to sons. She once again envisions Katarina in front of her and grabs for her mother’s hand, when a knock at the door brings her back to reality.

Raymond enters and tells Liz and Tom that Rostov was after a sample of the Ribowski virus which causes Leukemia. Apparently the one male member of the Rostov family that lived the longest had contracted the virus and the Leukemia basically counteracted his blood disorder and lived far longer than other family members.

Raymond then says to Liz that she kept asking why her father wanted physical contact with her and the only reason was for her to give him the bone marrow transplant to cure his disease and save his life. He says Kirk didn’t want Lizzie to keep him from Reddington, he just wanted her for his own purposes. He only thinks of her as a collection of cells. She says well Rostov doesn’t have her, but Tom reminds her he’s got Agnes.

Our last vision is seeing Kate being dragged on a makeshift stretcher as the dog and the dog’s owner appear to be trying to help Mr. Kaplan.

The Story Continues Next Thursday Night At 10:00 pm EDT, on NBC.

Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC

Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

While watching the final few minutes of “The Blacklist,” I realized that I really DON’T know Raymond Reddington, as well as I thought I had after spending the past three-seasons-plus with him. Although killing became as normal to Raymond, as breathing over the past 20-odd years, I allowed myself to believe what Raymond told Katarina’s ghost in the Cape May episode from last season. “I’ve never killed anyone who didn’t deserve to die.” If Reddington still believes in that code, then his definition of deserving and mine, aren’t in the same area-code.

The second episode of season four, entitled ”Matos,” will likely become one of the most controversial and polarizing chapters of the series, even if the show lasts another decade. The entire episode messed with our sensibilities and with the knowledge we’ve acquired since Raymond turned himself in to FBI Headquarters in 2013. Lizzie Keen, spent most of the episode unsure of what’s real and what’s fictional, her surroundings evoke memories, long since buried and forgotten. Could both sets of memories she has of her childhood, be true? Or was one of these ”realities” implanted in her brain as a child?

The action begins just moments after the conclusion of the previous episode, Constantin Rostov, Liz and a pilot, are escaping Cuba in a sea-plane. The pilot’s purposely flying low, trying to remain undetected by radar. After some back and forth sniping between Rostov and Keen, Liz attacks the pilot and attempts to crash the aircraft into the ocean. A gun appears and Keen gets possession, shooting the pilot and firing a shot into Constantin’s thigh. We never see the actual crash as the credits roll.

Back in Cuba, Tom locates the wreckage of Raymond’s car and they realize that the hitman took Agnes, when he T-Boned their car. We find out that the hitman’s named Matos, he’s incredibly proficient and has worked for Kirk/Rostov for years. He’s full-blooded Native-American, and legend has it that he’s a Shaman. Matos and Mr. Kaplan, also have a mutual friend, a bail-bondsman named Little Nikos, who operates out of Amarillo, Texas. Reddington, Dembe, Kate and Tom, hop on Red’s jet and head to the Lone-Star State.

The other plane in this scenario’s now floating on the ocean, the pilot’s dead, Rostov’s unconscious as Lizzie wakes-up to find the ship’s radio’s on the fritz and the aircraft’s taking on water. Constantin comes to and realizes that Keen’s got him tied up and tells Liz that he’s her father and she can’t let him die. Liz responds with an evil gleam in her eye, just watch.

Now in Texas, Mr. Kaplan begs Reddington to be allowed to talk to Little Nikos first. Turns out that decades before Kate had her skull bashed in and Nikos basically saved her life. Raymond agrees to allow Kate to try to convince her friend to give them Matos’ location.

Team-Red, could not have picked a worse time to land in Amarillo from Little Nikos’ vantage point, though Reddington perceived the timing as a strategic advantage. The bail-bondsman, had a surgical team in his facility in the midst of performing lap-band surgery. Reddington insists that he be revived immediately, the surgeon responds that could put Nikos’ life in jeopardy. Red flashes his pistol and tells the surgeon that his patient’s life’s already in danger, the question’s whether the doctor wishes to put his own life in jeopardy?

The plane that Lizzie and Kirk are floating on’s taking water on at an enormous rate, but suddenly Keen finds a flare gun and fires off a flare into the sky. Unfortunately, she forgets to keep her weapon on her and Rostov grabs the pistol and points it at Lizzie, he tells her the only way they can survive is to trust each other, then hands her back the gun.

The surgeon tells Reddington that the patient’s conscious, but in incredible pain, so the conversation needs to be brief. The bail-bondsman’s strapped to the operating table and there are four excavation sites on his torso. Kate tries talking to him first, telling her that Reddington’s with her, and he’ll kill Nikos unless he gives up Matos’ location. Reddington walks into the room and assures Nikos that he won’t kill him, he actually admires his loyalty.

Unfortunately Reddington says his associates don’t share his convictions and he invites Tom into the room and tells Keen that Nikos knows how to contact, the psychopath that kidnapped Agnes. As Reddington leaves, Keen picks up a drill like instrument and asks aloud what this instrument’s used for?

Kirk and Keen are now both in the water hanging onto the fuselage of the plane, Liz says help’s on the way. Rostov replies they’ll save her and that’s what’s important and then he lets go of the fuselage and sinks under the water. Surprisingly, Keen dives under the water and rescues him. Shortly thereafter a boat sees them and rescues them.

Back in Amarillo, we join Reddington and Mr. Kaplan in a room, as we listen to Nikos’ screams of pain and cries of agony. Kate tells Red, that she betrayed Nikos for the same reason she betrayed Raymond, to keep Lizzie safe. She recalls the first time she met Lizzie, when Raymond put the infant in her arms. Just then Tom enters the room and he’s got the way to contact Matos. Nikos text messages the mercenary with a password and Matos heads to Nikos’ storefront within two-hours. They text the message to the kidnapper, who when he receives the message heads North.

The captain who rescues them speaks Spanish and apparently can understand English but doesn’t speak it. Keen attempts to get the seaman to alert the local authorities about Rostov, but Constantine figures out what’s going on and shoots the Captain.

Waiting for Matos to arrive, Kate and Tom are in a car in front of Nikos’ building. Tom apologizes for what he did to Nikos’ blaming his concern for Agnes for showing no mercy. Mr. Kaplan asks Keen why he’s telling her that and Tom replies that Nikos’ is Kate’s friend. Kate then says that Tom wants her to grant him absolution for his actions, then says people count on her to make their lives happier. To make others lives “cleaner” hence her job title. She says Keen and Reddington want her to make things easier for them, but she won’t grant their requests.

Mr. Kaplan steps out of the car, telling Tom she needs some air, but her timing was terrible, stepping out of the car at the exact moment Matos pulls up. He steps out of his car and looks around, then he sees Kate and starts to run in the opposite direction. Dembe and Tom chase after the mercenary, but Kate ends the chase knocking him the ground with the car.

Raymond decides he doesn’t want to play his usual game of cat and mouse with Matos’ so he cuts right to the chase. He tells Matos that he realizes his prisoner has no fear of pain or death, but he’s fully aware that members of his tribe possess a fear of being stuck on earth surrounded by rotting flesh with his soul trapped for eternity inside his coffin.  The threat works and Matos says they’re heading to the Summer Palace, a location Reddington remembers quite well. He calls Harold Cooper and requests that Cooper send a team to raid Rostov’s complex in Nova Scotia.

Keen and Rostov, arrive at the Summer Palace and Constantin tells Keen he needs to meet with his doctors, but tells Liz to explore. Lizzie starts checking out the house and soon discovers a room that bring a flood of memories into her head. Rostov walks into the room and Keen says this was her bedroom, but it’s impossible as she remembers a fire and shooting her father. Rostov says those memories were just lies concocted by Reddington, he was in love with her mother and he’s obsessed with her.

Keen looks out a window and sees a child’s swing hanging from a tree. She runs downstairs and onto the grass, but we see Masha Rostova as a toddler when she appears. Suddenly she runs over to Katarina and sees her mother working in the garden. Mother and daughter speak to each other in Russian, Katarina’s burying a coffee-can into the ground and tells her daughter, that the can’s a time machine and one day when Masha’s older, she can return and dig up the treasure. Katarina take the yarn bracelet to her daughter and the toddler puts it the can and buries it. Back in the present, Keen finds the can containing Katarina’s bracelet and puts it on her own wrist.

The idyllic moment’s shattered as an FBI SWAT-Team invades the “Summer Palace,” killing most of Kirk’s guards in the process, while Rostov makes his escape. Ressler who accompanied the SWAT-Team hugs Lizzie when he sees her while Keen breaks down and cries, as Agnes’ whereabouts are still unknown.

Keen’s transported back to the States. Raymond stays just long enough to verify that Lizzie’s safe then he and Dembe drive away. She’s reunited with Tom who assures her that they will get Agnes back safe and sound.

Dembe drives Reddington and Mr. Kaplan out into the country when he finally pulls over, Reddington asks Dembe to stay with the car. Kate’s fully aware these are her final moments and she’s determined not to go out meekly into the night. She calmly and coolly explains to Reddington that she devoted her existence to him, but she realizes that Reddington now perceives Kate as a liability, as she knows too much about him. Red responds that even if he could put aside his anger and betrayal, he’d never be able to trust her. He says when he looks at her it’s like seeing a stranger. He then fires a shot at her from about 20-feet away and she collapses to the ground. Showing no signs of remorse or guilt, Reddington walks back to his car, unaware that Mr. Kaplan’s alive.

Photo by: Virginia Sherwood/NBC

Photo by: Virginia Sherwood/NBC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

After months of speculation concerning the revelations that would surface during the premiere episode of the fourth season for the NBC hit series “The Blacklist,” most viewers likely ended the hour feeling no more informed than they were last May. Although the episode contained plenty of action and fraught with tension, including two volatile personal relationships, the hour ended after a lot of travel to windup in the same point it started at. Constantin Rostov left Cuba via a seaplane with his daughter Liz, his reluctant travel companion and Rostov’s hitman ended the evening with Agnes in his possession.

Why the show-runners and writers decided to reset a table instead of advancing the story perplexed this viewer, and left me wondering whether this episode’s purpose was to acclimate star Megan Boone back into the action, after missing the latter part of Season Three on maternity leave? While we got to see that Lizzie seems well-toned after her pregnancy, we didn’t acquire any major information that had yet to be revealed or speculated about. After spending much of the episode in a car trunk, Tom regained his freedom near the conclusion of the episode.

The episode did concentrate heavily on exposition in this episode, as Raymond attempted to come to grips with his mercurial feelings concerning Mr. Kaplan. Kate, not content to sit idly by and allow his sense of betrayal from dooming their relationship and perhaps her life, keeps trying to show Reddington she just tried to save Raymond from himself. However with even Dembe, telling Mr. Kaplan he can’t defend her, can she hope to make amends?

Emotions also ran high when the TASK-Force realized that Lizzie faked her death, as Keen’s colleagues realized they’d been lied to and manipulated and they all handled the news differently. Donald Ressler, seemingly had no problem with his former partner’s actions, realizing she was attempting to convince Reddington she died. TASK-Force Director Harold Cooper, exclaimed he didn’t think it was possible to feel so angry and happy simultaneously. Tech-Genius Aram, seemed to have problems processing the information, while Samar Navabi expressed her disdain and anger for Keen’s stunt.

We rejoin Dembe, Raymond and Kate, moments after they arrived at the Keen family escape-haven, not in time from stopping Alexander Kirk/Constantin Rostov’s henchmen kidnapping mom, dad and daughter. Mr. Kaplan looks at the blood on the floor and says it came from one of Rostov’s men and that he’s likely in the area. Seconds later Dembe says he’s got a location.

They arrive where the badly bleeding man’s being treated, to find out he just expired on the table. Raymond spits out that since his “Cleaner” over stepped her bounds, he would do her job and proceeds to hack the man’s head from his neck.

Liz demands that Rostov produce Agnes and Tom, Constantin replies that her daughter will soon join them. She then demands, that Rostov reveal his true identity and he responds that he’s indeed her father. He says Reddington and her mother had an affair, he says at one time he questioned if Raymond was her father, but Rostov confirmed Masha was his daughter. He says Reddington kidnapped her when she turned three and he never knew what happened to her until she and Reddington made headlines while they were on the lam.

Rostov’s got a hitman that might give Matthias Solomon a run for his money, he’s called Bobo, by his female companion, whose got Agnes in her arms and Tom’s tied up in the trunk. Neither father or daughter seem pleased with the situation, however Keen’s able to reach his hand through the tail light socket and the car behind them calls the police.

Reddington finds the house where Rostov’s holding Liz prisoner. He tells Constantin he’ll give him what ever he desires to release Lizzie and Rostov replies he wants the 26-years he missed with his daughter. Raymond responds that Liz was never meant to be raised by Constantin

Raymond contacts Cooper and tells him to send a team to Cuba, however Samar refuses to join Ressler for the mission due to her anger at Keen. Cooper let’s it be known he’s displeased with Navabi’s decision, but he’s basically helpless. He contacts old friend Cynthia Panabaker, to arrange for Ressler to meet with Manuel Esteban, a double-agent who works for Castro and the CIA. Raymond believes the despot can ascertain Lizzie’s location before Rostov can get her off the island.

Raymond tells Esteban, that with political relations improving between Havana and Washington improving, his days running his own prison and playing the two nations off each other are rapidly coming to an end. Any time the Double-Agent could be assassinated, however if he can get Liz’s location before Rostov gets her off the island, Raymond will keep the despot safe.

Tom’s taken out to the desert to dig his own grave, but of course he overpowers his captor and escapes. Mr. Kaplan recovers Agnes, from the hitman’s female accomplice, however they’re not able to stop Rostov from leaving the island via the seaplane. Reddington consoles himself with the fact they were able to get back Agnes, but that dynamic soon changes as the hitman T-Bones Raymond’s vehicle and grabs the infant out of the vehicle and puts his finger on Kate’s lips.

Ressler, who hadn’t made a deal with Esteban, turns the despot over to the Cubans and that causes the Cuban soldiers to release all of Esteban’s prisoners. However the two prisoners that Raymond’s most concerned with, Liz and Agnes, have been spirited away by Rostov and the search begins anew.

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

Photo Courtesy Of NBC

Photo Courtesy Of NBC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

If I possessed the ability to predict the outcome of the stock-market, instead of the plot of a TV series, my wife and I could be comfortably retired on our own private island near Hawaii. Although Las Vegas offers wagers in a variety of areas, I highly doubt they have a book that’s devoted to TV show season finale outcomes. However as I wrote at the time, I put myself out on a limb a couple of weeks ago and I’m pleased I didn’t end up falling on my behind.

For the third straight year, fans of the NBC series “The Blacklist,” got treated to an exciting and action packed season finale, that provided some answers but left us waiting until October for answers to new questions. Once again we’re going to break format in order to summarize what we’ve learned in this campaign and hopefully provide some insight along with my opinions.

Elizabeth Keen’s Alive And Living In Cuba

Other than the fact that Kate Kaplan got Lizzie out of the country, no  real surprise here. If Megan Boone truly was leaving the show she would have gotten a far grander sendoff. As predicted Mr. Kaplan drew up a play in the dirt and left Raymond out of the loop. After picking up Tom and Liz outside of Mercy Hospital to transport them to a nightclub where Lizzie would give birth, Kate realized she needed to extricate the Keen family from Raymond’s life. So she convinced Nick to fake Lizzie’s death and Tom and Liz agreed to the plan.

Mr. Kaplan hired a small plane to transport Tom and Agnes to their new life in Cuba, but unfortunately Alexander Kirk’s operatives trailed Tom and Agnes and found out Lizzie’s waiting for her husband and daughter to their new home. The episode concluded with the Keen’s being held captive by Kirk and Raymond holding a pistol against Mr. Kaplan’s temple and asks “What are we going to do about you Kate?”

If anyone else had done what Kate did, their corpse would already be in a landfill dump in New Jersey. The fact that Raymond didn’t pull the trigger in that scene, lends me to believe that Red understands why she took the actions she did. The longer Raymond contemplates his next move the greater the odds he’ll forgive Mr. Kaplan.

Alexander Kirk Is Lizzie’s Father

Although there’s many fans that refuse to believe it, “Daddy-Gate” got resolved in the third season finale and Raymond Reddington’s not the Poppa. Alexander Kirk’s an alias for Konstantin Rostov, husband of Katerina and father of Masha Rostova. (The suffix “ova” is added to the “root-name” in many Eastern-European tongues, signifying wife of or daughter of.)

The purpose of Rostov wanting contact with his daughter and granddaughter’s unclear as the episode and season concluded. Is he simply trying to develop a relationship with a daughter he believed died in a fire as a child, or is he hoping Lizzie and Agnes can help him with his medical condition. Konstantin seems to receive frequent blood transfusions, which could be a result of a serious illness.

Raymond, Katerina’s father Dom and perhaps others went to great lengths to ensure that Rostov believed his daughter died as a child. They put her in Sam’s care and cutoff all contact with her, however Raymond was so confident he could keep her safe he broke the pact he had with Dominic. During episode 21, Red blamed Laurel Hitchin and the Cabal for exposing the name Masha Rostova to the planet. However if Raymond’s honest with himself, he’ll soon realize that it’s his fault the name surfaced.

Just before Liz shot United States Attorney General Tom Connelly in season two, Reddington revealed to Liz that her mother was a Soviet Spy named Katerina Rostova and her birth name was Masha Rostova. At the beginning of season three, Keen sought asylum at the Russian Embassy claiming she was a Russian spy. That act revealed her birth name which in turn revealed to Kirk his daughter hadn’t died.

Raymond Was Leaving The Task-Force

Raymond and Harold Cooper had a goodbye meeting just before Reddington left to try to assassinate Kirk and told Harold without Elizabeth being there his work was done, then told Cooper he appreciated him and his team and expressed his unabashed respect for Harold. He looked Cooper in the eye and said Charlene, inferring just with the mention of Harold’s estranged wife’s name they should get back together. He also begged Cooper to fix Aram up with somebody, comparing the Tech Wizard to a boy on a school bus with his first erection. However once they get Lizzie away from Kirk, look for them to both be back in the fold.

Ressler Chooses Justice Over The Law

Raymond’s plan was to have his sniper takeout Kirk, but Ressler found them before Kirk’s limo arrived and threatened to kill Raymond’s soldier. Reddington sent his man away and he grabbed the rifle and getting the scope ready as Ressler points his pistol at the back Red’s head while Dembe has his weapon on Donald. Raymond tells Ressler that if he plans to stop Red from taking the shot, he best shoot Reddington right now. But Donald pockets his weapon, Unfortunately Kirk doesn’t emerge from the limousine, it’s one of his lieutenants. Kirk’s flying to Cuba to meet his daughter and Granddaughter.

Senator Robert Diaz’s Campaign Song, I’m Your Puppet

Although Raymond told Senator Robert Diaz last week for politicians,  Reddington actually wants a favor from Diaz if he’s the next occupant of the Oval Office. He told the Senator he wants a full pardon for Elizabeth to clear her record even though he thought Liz was dead at this point.

What’s Up For Season Four?

Konstantin Rostov will become the designated  “Big Bad” at the beginning of next season. How long his storyline lasts remains to be seen. Lizzie and Raymond will return to the Post Office and the Task-Force will once again go after the names on Raymond’s list. Have a great Summer!!

Photo Courtesy of NBC

Photo Courtesy of NBC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

{“The Blacklist,” which normally occupies this space will be preempted this week for the following special program.}

Welcome to the world of Halcyon Aegis, a corporation that exists as a result of the United States Government outsourcing more and more of their military budget to subcontractors. Picture if you will a cooler version of Halliburton, with a sultry and savvy woman running the operation. Halcyon Aegis undertakes tasks that the Government can’t publicly acknowledge, such as negotiating with foreign thugs to get American hostages released.

That just happens to be exactly what the corporation’s leader Susan “Scottie” Hargrave’s in the midst of when we join her in Indonesia. She’s there to negotiate a deal with a kidnapper named Karokaro whose demanding a million dollar deposit into his bit-coin account or he’ll kill his hostages. Scottie then gives Karokaro the routing number to make a deposit in her bit-coin account and she’s demanding three million.

We then see perhaps one of the reasons that Raymond Reddington’s never liked Hargrave, because she shares his talent for sharing anecdotes and verbal manipulation. She informs Karokaro that she’s already rescued the hostages and advises him to call his men to verify her story. While he’s making the call she tells the thug that she suffered a traumatic event years ago that she hasn’t recovered from. She normally leaves these type of meetings to staff members, but she’s doing this for therapeutic reasons.

We hear somebody on the other end of the kidnapper’s cell-phone talking rapidly and sounding distressed even though it’s in a foreign tongue. Scottie says her Indonesian’s rusty but the man on the other end likely just informed Karokaro that not only did she rescue the hostages, she kidnapped the thug’s brother in the operation. He asks her if she’ll accept cash.

This is our introduction to the Spinoff series that NBC has added to this fall’s schedule and called “The Blacklist: Redemption,” starring Famke Janssen in the role of Hargrave. Scottie was telling the truth about the traumatic event she went through (more on that later) and we immediately notice some of her eccentricities. She carries around some sort of seashell necklace, clutching it in her hand like rosary-beads. She’s also got a penchant for saying “Rubber Baby Buggy Bumpers,” almost like a mantra.

The phrase “Rubber Baby Buggy Bumpers,” is a tongue-twister and a vocal exercise to help improve one’s diction. It might also be a phrase that a mother and her three-year-old son might share as a private joke. We’re never told the meaning of the phrase, but we’re aware that Scottie seems to get comfort from saying it in tense situations.

Joining Ms. Janssen in the new series are three familiar faces for Blacklist fans as Ryan Eggold  reprises his character of Tom Keen. Tom enters this episode wanting Hargrave dead in revenge for Lizzie’s “death,” he ends up becoming part of Scottie’s team so they can trap the man who hired Hargrave to abduct Liz, Alexander Kirk. Keen ends up working with Matias Solomon (Edi Gathegi) and Nez Rowan (Tawny Cypress) who both were involved in the attempted abduction of Liz.

Keen’s brought into the dynamic via Raymond, who informs Tom that Hargrave’s merely a sub-contractor hired by Alexander Kirk. Reddington has a meeting with Keen and the members of the Task-Force and gives them the lowdown on Kirk. Kirk’s actually an alias for an oligarch who struck it rich after the Soviet Union collapsed, by purchasing mining operations for just pennies on the dollar. Raymond explained that Kirk went off the grid in 2002, when he rubbed somebody wrong at the Kremlin.

Reddington tells them that Kirk’s survives due to politicians and leaders protection around the globe, in return for the one kind of gift everybody likes, money. We also see that Kirk’s suffering from some medical condition when he receives a blood-transfusion in his office. He then tells Cooper and the rest of the Task-Force that he proposes they work with Hargrave and Halcyon Aegis to capture Kirk and Harold expresses reservations. Raymond then tells them that the three American hostages that were held in Jakarta, are back home because Halcyon Aegis did what the US Government considers illegal.

Tom’s first meeting face-to-face with Hargrave isn’t exactly smooth as he walks into Agnes’ room at the hospital and finds her in the arms of Scottie, whose rocking back and forth whispering “Rubber Baby Buggy Bumpers.” Tom demands his daughter telling Hargrave she’s the only thing he cares about. After a snippy back and forth, Keen says that he’ll work with her to bring Kirk to justice. She sighs looking at Agnes and says that losing a child is absolutely the worst tragedy one can go through. She tells Tom she hopes he never has to experience that pain, then tells him Solomon will pick him up in ten-minutes.

Tom and Solomon take a private plane to the Halcyon Aegis facility and Matias informs Keen that the corporation deals in two types of cases. There are the escapades the American public’s aware of such as helping with security to fortify US troops in military conflicts, that they refer to as the black and white situations. Then there are the “gray-areas,” cases that are legally questionable but morally justifiable.

The Task-Force’s in the conference room when Tom and Solomon arrive and as soon as Ressler sees Matias he says he thought he could do this but he can’t and starts to get out of his chair. Navabi then sees Nez Rowan and starts to go after her, but Tom intercedes telling Samar if he can do this she can as well. Scottie enters the conference room acting like a teacher dealing with a rowdy junior-high class and tells them they’ve got work to do.

We switch to another meeting as Kirk meets with some European cohorts and a man makes some statement about Kirk’s protection in French. He responds in English that he doesn’t require any protection once the American Presidential election takes place he’ll be untouchable. His assistant walks into the office and whispers in Kirk’s ear that the child’s been located. The oligarch responds he wants the matter taken care of that day, of course that child’s Agnes.

Scottie tells those in attendance that the only way to get Kirk is through his bank account. Normally their target doesn’t deposit any money in the US, however he’s put together a Super-Pac for Senator Robert Diaz’s Presidential campaign and she believes there could be over $300 million in that fund. Hargrave then tells them that Solomon, Keen and Brown will rob the bank, but they won’t be able to access what’s in the account. Instead Ressler and Navabi will investigate the robbery and actually take the contents of the account at that point.

Harold responds that the FBI stops bank robberies, they don’t commit them. Scottie calls Cooper out on his sanctimonious attitude saying that they have a long-term working relationship with one of the most wanted criminals on the planet. She reminds them that during the three years they’ve worked together Raymond’s empire’s gotten larger, the Task-Force agrees to work with them.

Just before Nez pulls up in front of the bank in an SUV, one of the bank officer’s having a meeting with one of the bank’s customers. Zack Loescher needs to go to his car to get the paperwork the bank officer needs to see and tells his little girl Sadie to wait for him and he’d be back soon. Of course Solomon and Keen enter the bank just after Loescher leaves.

Matias and Tom have bandanas covering the lower half of their faces and are each packing shotguns. Matias gets everyone’s full attention when he fires a couple of rounds into the ceiling. He then goes up to a female employee and tells her to open the vault and though she’s terrified she refuses. So Solomon grabs the guy that met with Loescher and another woman from the bank took his chair to comfort Sadie.

Keen hears Sadie’s crying and he bends down to make eye-contact with her and tells her everything’s fine and she’ll be okay. No good intentions go unpunished, when Tom bends down to comfort the girl an off-duty cop pulls his weapon and tells Tom to drop his gun. His heroism was mighty impressive, but not really well thought out, Matias tells the cop to put his gun down and the two start screaming at each other, then Solomon shoots him. Tom takes a look at the cop and tells him that it’s only a flesh wound and he’ll be fine.

Unfortunately our worst fears for Sadie come to fruition as she got struck in the abdomen from a stray-bullet. Keen insists that they take her to a hospital or get her to an ambulance, as they leave the bank Zack tells them that Sadie’s his little girl. Tom grabs him by the arm and the four of them enter the SUV.

We get introduced to Operator 6-3, who seems to serve as dispatcher and coordinator for Halcyon Aegis. She informs them that an ambulance is heading towards the bank and then lets them know that it’s on the other side of the street. Tom channels Gene Hackman in the “French Connection” and somehow gets the SUV to the side of the road and they cut off the ambulance and get Sadie and Zack into the medical vehicle. After they’re safely inside the ambulance, they press the button on a remote and the SUV they used for the robbery explodes.

Keen heads for the hospital to see Agnes and he walks into a crime scene and his daughter’s gone. He then flies to Hargrave’s house as Susan’s holding a campaign financing dinner for Senator Diaz. After she’s done introducing the candidate to his audience she sees Tom’s standing at the door of the room the dinner’s taking place in. She gets one of her aides to tell Tom that she believes he’ll be more comfortable in her office.

Scottie storms into her office and starts ripping Keen a new one for coming to her home uninvited and for arriving at such an inopportune time. Tom takes the wind out of Hargrave’s sails when he wraps his hand around Scottie’s throat and asks where his daughter’s at. Suddenly there’s a knock on the office door and one of Scottie’s house-staff’s standing on the other side with Agnes safe and sound in her arms.

Susan tells Tom that she got wind that Kirk ordered a team to kidnap Agnes, so in a preemptive move she took her first. She informs him that Agnes’ receiving the best in medical care. Hargrave also lets Keen know that Sadie Loescher is in good condition after she arranged for a top surgeon to remove the bullet fragments from her abdomen. She’s resting comfortably in Mount Sinai Hospital.

Although Navabi was able to get the team to the halfway point of accessing the PAC fund account after the robbery, however the bank’s security system requires a retina scan of one Peter Pruitt treasurer of the PAC fund in order to enter the account. Pruitt’s attending a Big Eight Summit meeting in Berlin at the Turkish Embassy, one of Tom’s aliases is a criminal wanted by the Turkish Government. So by using that identity when he arrives in Germany he’s immediately apprehended and taken to the Turkish Embassy for extradition proceedings.

Keen of course overcomes his captors and escapes from the holding room and then disguises himself as a waiter serving champagne at the Summit soiree. Tom plays the old switcheroo on Pruitt’s cigarettes, substituting a pack with poison for Pruitt’s regular smokes. Pruitt lights up a square and seconds later he’s choking and lying on the floor. Nez and Solomon disguised as paramedics carry Pruitt to their ambulance on a stretcher, Tom jumps into the ambulance and the three make their get away.

I got the impression that if there will be a character from the original series who becomes a conduit between the two shows, Aram Mojtabai will fill that role. Sharing FBI information with Halcyon Aegis could be the connection between the two series and Aram seems to have found instant chemistry with his counterpart at Hargrave’s operation.

Dumond might become the breakout character in the new series, if you’re familiar with the CBS series Scorpion, picture a combination of Sylvester and Toby. He loves using nicknames; calling Aram “Cheesecake” and referring to Tom as “Sweet Cheeks.” Mojtabai’s become a favorite character on the original show because he’s the odd-duck, but he’s made a place for himself in the macho, testosterone world he lives in. Dumont could fill that same niche at Halcyon Aegis and I took an instant liking to the character portrayed by Adrian Martinez.

Turns out that Keen added a bit too much poison to Pruitt’s smokes and they can’t get a retina scan because his pupils were too small. Aram told Tom they needed a drug that optometrists use to dilate pupils and Solomon and Keen broke into a pharmacy where they found the liquid. However that’s when Matias pushed his luck too far.

Solomon says to Keen that he blames Tom for putting them in their current situation and Keen says if Matias hadn’t attacked his wedding they’d be somewhere else at that moment. Solomon concedes the point but then says to Tom that they both know Liz is in a better place right now. Keen grabs his pistol and shoots Matias in the abdomen telling him this is for Liz as Solomon falls to the floor.

Tom jumps into the ambulance and tells Brown to drive, when she asks where Matias’ at Keen responds just drive. Now Keen finds himself in a race against the clock as the president of Key Atlantic Bank realizes they’ve got Pruitt and he’s about to lockdown the account. The retina scan’s accepted and they get granted access to the account a heartbeat before the executive could lock them out. We watch as Halcyon Aegis and the Task Force break into cheers when they get into the account. Hargrave walks into the hallway and makes a call on her cell and says “Reddington, it’s time.”

Senator Robert Diaz walks into his home a very agitated man talking on the cell and saying he realizes Kirk got attacked by the same people who stole his money. He’s surprised to see Scottie sitting in his living-room and she asks if he had a bad day. Diaz asks her if she knows where his money’s at and Hargrave says of course she does as she took it. Diaz’s incredulous saying that Susan contributed 50 grand to his campaign, she smiles and tells Diaz you have to give to get. That’s when we’re aware Raymond’s also in the home.

Reddington tells Diaz that their move wasn’t personal and he’s ignorant about Diaz’s position on any issue. Diaz says he’s calling the cops and Raymond advises against it, telling him he’d be far better off calling Kirk. We then switch to Kirk’s office as his assistant tells him that Diaz is on the phone. Kirk picks up the phone and tells the Senator it’s an honor, but he hears Raymond’s voice instead. Reddington tells him that he’s got his money and his Senator.

Kirk responds by saying that he should have pulled the trigger that time he had a pistol in Raymond’s mouth in that house by the shore. He then says that Red’s got his money and his Senator but he doesn’t have Kirk and hangs up. Raymond tells Diaz if he wants his money back he’s going to temporarily suspend his campaign and subpoena Kirk to testify in front of the subcommittee that Diaz chairs. Diaz says he won’t be a party to murder and Raymond replies he will if he wants to become President. Diaz does as instructed.

The Task-Force arrives to the church for Agnes’ Christening and Keen tells them that they are the closest thing he and Liz had to family. Granted a dysfunctional family that’s tried to kill each other, but a family nonetheless and he says he knows Liz would have wanted them all to be God-Parents. While the ceremony takes place Tom looks up and sees Raymond standing in the doorway. However when he looks again Reddington’s gone.

After the Christening Tom decides that Scottie should die and he’s going to kill her. He walks into Hargrave’s home and when told she’s not there he says he’ll wait and walks into her office and then calls Raymond. Red tells him that he can’t kill Hargrave and Keen replies they no longer need her as they’ve got Kirk on the way to Washington.

Reddington then says that if Tom kills Susan he’ll never find out the unanswered questions about his childhood. Tom’s birth name’s Christopher Hargrave and he’s the son of Howard and Scottie Hargrave and got kidnapped at the age of three. He tells Tom that if he keeps his true identity from Hargrave he’ll be able to get the information from her to fill in the missing pieces of his life.

Tom’s holding a framed photo of Howard, Susan and Christopher when Scottie walks into her office and she smiles sadly as she starts to talk about her perfect boy. The picture got taken the last day they were all together, the shell necklace that she carries was around her son’s neck in the picture. Once again the beach plays into our saga, they had a wonderful day on the beach building sand-castles.

That night she and Howard drank too much and got into a huge argument. When they awoke the next morning her son was missing. She says that not a day has gone by in the last 28-years that she walks into a room without hoping her son’s in there. She then asks she hopes he didn’t show up to try to kill her again and Tom says that’s exactly why he came, but for his daughter’s sake he’s changed his mind. Once again Matias survives as the authorities investigating the break-in find a pool of Solomon’s blood but he had taken off.

As he starts to leave the office Scottie says you’re hired and Tom’s dumbfounded. She then tries to entice him rubbing Tom’s arm and saying they could do beautiful things together. Thankfully Tom doesn’t have a Oedipal fixation and he left after saying he’s sorry about her son.

The new series looks quite promising and hopefully we shall have some crossover between the two shows on an occasional basis, although Amir Arison could conceivably become a semi-regular on the new show. Matias Solomon will of course be back in top-form and in a few years the incident will just be a memory of how close the two of them have become.

Keep in mind the phrase that Matias used to describe the gray-area “Cases that are legally questionable but morally justifiable.” That’s likely to be the “sweet-spot” for this team and the kind of missions that they concentrate on. Frankly, I could have done without the family ties, but it’s not a deal-breaker for this viewer. Does this mean that eventually we’ll meet Howard and find out why he and Scottie haven’t shared the same bed in four years?

I’ve already expressed my theory about Alexander Kirk, so there’s no need to rehash it here. However one question that did arise from this episode, does Tom actually know that Lizzie’s alive? I’d originally thought that Keen was in the loop when Kate Kaplan suggest they fake Liz’s death, however what would be his motivation to kill Scottie if that’s the case? We’ll find out this Thursday in what should be yet another exciting season-finale for this incredible series.