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WARNING: SPOILER ALERT:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Blacklist Member Of The Week

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Raymond And Hawkins Excellent Adventure

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

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

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

Photo Courtesy Of Will Hart/NBC

WARNING: SPOILER ALERT

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

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

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

The Blacklist Members Of The Week

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Raymond’s Latest Scheme.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo Courtesy Of NBC

WARNING: SPOILER ALERT

This should be a gas! After an extremely dark fourth campaign the NBC series “The Blacklist,” returned to the airwaves on a new night and time (Wednesdays at 8:00pm) and a very enjoyable kickoff to its fifth season. Life has changed drastically for Raymond Reddington, the former concierge of crime finds himself broke, and his empire destroyed. However it appears that Raymond’s become reenergized by the prospect of starting over, and there’s a bounce in his step that’s been missing for the last couple of years.

That doesn’t mean that all of Reddington’s and “TEAM-RED’S” problems are in the past however, beginning with the suitcase that Mr. Kaplan recovered from Tansi Farms in the final episode of last season. That valise’s now in the possession of Tom Keen, although Raymond and Dembe are clueless about its whereabouts. There’s also the death of NSA Director Laurel Hitchin, who slipped and hit her head during a scuffle with Agent Donald Ressler in that same episode. Ressler utilized the services of fixer Henry Prescott to hide his involvement in her death.

Our evening begins with Raymond having a coffee near a valet station at an upscale New York restaurant. We see a red Corvette convertible pulling up to the station, when Reddington approaches the valet with a claim ticket, saying he’s been waiting 20 minutes for his Range-Rover. When the attendant says the car on that ticket had already left, Raymond demands to see the manager.

As the attendant runs off, Red masquerades as the supervisor of the valet service and apologizes to the driver of the Corvette, who cuts him off and tells him to do his job. As the couple enter the restaurant, Reddington drives off with their car, and we hear “Back In The New York Groove” on the soundtrack. Two cruisers start chasing Reddington, who takes a call from Liz on his cellphone while he attempts to elude them. Raymond tells Lizzie to meet him at his new place and tells her he’ll speak to her later. With cruisers approaching from both directions, Raymond at the last-minute maneuvers the sports car out-of-the-way and the two cruisers collide, with one flipping on its roof.

Reddington brings the car to a chop shop, and with the proceeds he gets for the vehicle he pays off a man named Dariush, who manages the Terra Vista Motor Lodge, for his outstanding balance and to pay off his room until the end of the month. He also tells the manager that he wants to foot the bill for that evening’s happy hour, for all the motor lodge’s guests. With James Brown’s “Paid The Cost To Be The Boss,” as the soundtrack, we realize that Raymond’s become a regular at the poolside of this rather seedy establishment. He plays with a young girl, throwing quarters into the pool for the child to dive and scoop-up.

After many seasons of will they or won’t they; Samar Navabi and Aram Mojtabai, have become a very passionate couple, as we watch them making out in the elevator in the Post Office. Aram, reminds Samar that they promised to keep things professional at the workplace, and she grumbles that they didn’t break any laws.

Ressler greets them at the elevator, informing the couple they’re late and Cooper’s looking for them. The Task Force Director informs them that a new Bureau Director got sworn in that morning, and his first task is an in-depth review of all of the Bureau’s special operations. Aram says that the new Director will discover that Reddington’s empire’s in ruins. but Navabi counters that the Task-Force’s been incredibly successful in capturing major criminals.

Harold responds that he’s not concerned with the Task-Force proving their worth, but he’s going to have to reveal the results of the DNA test he performed on Lizzie and Raymond, proving that Reddington’s Lizzie’s biological father. He realizes this will cause problems for Keen, but he feels obligated to disclose the information.

Keen’s flabbergasted when she sees the sub par living arrangements that Raymond finds himself in, but Red makes it sound like paradise. He’s become very chummy with Dariush and the eclectic clientele that the motor lodge services. He tries to temp Liz into dipping her toes into the pool, but she responds with a look of revulsion. She tells Raymond that Cooper sent her to find him for a new Blacklist member, and Red responds he’ll have to change into pants.

Reddington takes Liz to the office of a bail bondsman named Maurice, who immediately recognizes Red and says he wants no trouble. Raymond quickly informs him that he’s in search of employment because he desperately needs the cash, and asks for the bondsman for his toughest case. Maurice tells him he needs to find a former carny named Smokey Putnum, whose being tried for embezzling $2 million from a carnival operator. If Putnum’s not in court in 48 hours, Maurice will forfeit 80 grand in bond money. Reddington makes a deal to have Putnum back in time for 40 grand, and tells Lizzie they’re going on a road-trip as he doesn’t have a car.

Before the pair head down to Russell Springs, Kentucky, Raymond gets a call from Dembe, who is in search of the suitcase. He tells Reddington that he tracked the valise down to a bus station in Columbia Heights, but it had vanished by the time he got there. Raymond stresses to Dembe how crucial it is for them to recover the valise. As they hang up, we see Tom Keen examining the skeleton in the suitcase.

Lizzie and Reddington reach a carnival grounds in Kentucky, and we view a phone call between Keen and Cooper. Harold demands to speak to Red and starts to read him the riot act, but Raymond stops him in his tracks. He tells Cooper that the FBI will help him rebuild his criminal empire, so that Reddington can return to the status of getting the information to capture more members of the Blacklist. He then tells Harold that he’s the equivalent of deep-fried butter, unhealthy and irresistible.

Back at the Post-Office, the Task-Force’s informed that Laurel Hitchin’s body was found at her home, and she might have been the victim of foul play. Cooper tells Navabi and Ressler to head to the crime scene, he thinks Reddington’s behind her death, and he wants to make certain nothing points back to the Task-Force.

When the agents arrive at Hitchin’s home, it looks exactly the same as it did when Ressler left in a panic after she slipped and fell during their scuffle. One of the examiners at the scene tell Donald, that although there’s no sign of forced entry, Hitchin had a surveillance system in her home, That should let them determine if her death was an accident, or indeed caused by foul play. Ressler tells the examiner that he wants the results from the surveillance system yesterday.

Liz and Red burst in on two scraggly looking guys who work for the carnival, asking about the whereabouts of Putnum. One of the guys starts telling the other something in what almost sounds like Pig-Latin, Raymond explains to Lizzie that it’s a carny lingo known as Cant, to keep outsiders in the dark about their conversations. Reddington puts his pistol to the head of one of the pair, and soon Keen and Red are given the address of Putnum’s girlfriend, Tammy Lynn Thompson.

Raymond tries to convince Thompson that he’s an attorney trying to find Putnum, because a sister that Smokey didn’t realize he had left him a fortune. Lizzie walks over to an ashtray and sees a cigar sitting in it, and it’s still warm, which means Smokey’s in the house. The carny’s hiding above the suspended ceiling, and comes crashing though to the floor, after Red fires a couple of rounds into the ceiling.

Ressler panics and when he gives Henry Prescott the fee for covering up Hitchin’s death, he asks him what’s going on. He says her body was found at her home and it opened up a huge interagency investigation. Prescott tells “Mr. Sturgeon,” the name he knows Ressler by, that he removed all the evidence and the death will be ruled as accidental. As long as Mr. Sturgeon keeps his mouth shut, his involvement will never get discovered.

Putnum pleads with Liz and Reddington to let him go, he gives them an address in West Virginia, and tells them that’s where he hid the money. Raymond thanks him for the info, and says he’s turning him and then he’ll take the money. It turns out that Red knows quite a bit about Smokey Putnum, as the carny headed up all the logistic and travel plans for the Ringling Brothers Circus. Military officers studied his plans as they were far more effective   than any plans that the pentagon had come up with.

Suddenly Keen sees two black SUVs behind them and she thinks they’re Federal Marshalls. Raymond says they have to lose them or he’ll get taken into custody, but Liz stops the car and says she’ll handle things. As Lizzie approaches the vehicle, Raymond realizes they’re not Marshalls, they’re actually assassins trying to take out Putnum. Keen and Red engage in a shootout with the gunmen, taking most of them out but two keep firing at their vehicle as the trio speeds away.

They get the car to a deserted road in the woods before it breaks down. Putnum tells the pair that the assassins were members of a skinhead group, that utilizes the carnival company to launder their money that they use to run a vast drug network through the prison system. He got set up by his partner, a female accountant that goes by the name of Hawkins. She struck a deal with prosecutors to testify against him in return for a lighter sentence. He tells the pair that if he goes to jail, he won’t survive long before they kill him. The car won’t budge, so the trio end up taking the bus to Cincinnati. As they reach the outskirts of the city, Putnum says he’s having a diabetic attack and Liz gets the bus-driver to drop them off at a café.

After eating a good size piece of pie and a glass of orange juice, Putnum informs them he’s feeling much better. Red’s cellphone rings, and speaks to Maurice the bail bondsman. He tells Maurice that they have Smokey in custody and they’re taking the train from Cincinnati to DC, and should arrive with time to spare. What both men are unaware of is that the skinheads have tapped Maurice’s phone and now they know exactly where the trio are.

Cooper calls Donald into his office, and starts asking him about being at Hitchin’s home the day she died. Ressler says he included that in his report, but Harold asks why he didn’t mention the bad blood between them, Donald says he didn’t think it was relevant, and Harold asked him if the woman he despised died shortly after he left her home, was just coincidence? Ressler responds either that or Karma, and Cooper says he’s satisfied with Donald’s response, but he had to ask.

Sitting at the Amtrak station in Cincinnati, Raymond starts to freak as their bus keeps getting delayed. Fearful of not making the deadline, Red tells Lizzie he’s going to steal a car. When Keen starts to object, Reddington asks her for an alternative solution. She pouts and tells him not to treat her like a child, he smiles and heads out to the parking lot to look for a vehicle he can heist.

As Red heads outside, Smokey tells Liz she’s helping Reddington because he’s her dad. He realized she was a cop when she got the bus-driver to drop them at the café, but he couldn’t figure out why she was helping Red. She says she’s helping capture a fugitive, but Putnum realizes he stuck a nerve. He then tells her he needs to use the men’s room, at first she refuses, but then she accompanies him inside. A trucker comes out of a stall, and Putnum walks over to a urinal. Liz’s modesty gets the best of her and she waits outside the restroom.

A couple of minutes later the trucker emerges from the bathroom, and Liz goes back inside to see what’s taking Putnum so long. She discovers that the carny knocked out the trucker and took his clothes. Liz gets out to the street just in time to see the skinheads abduct Putnum and drive away. She tells Raymond, who just got their getaway vehicle. He tells Keen he believes he knows where they are.

Lizzie contacts Aram and he sends her pictures of men who match the kidnapper’s description. She identifies a picture of a man named Odin Nieland. Aram tells her that he’s connected to Roman LeMarc who heads up the Friedrich Brigade, a criminal organization that runs a drug trade through the Federal Prison system.

Reddington’s hunch proved to be spot-on, as the pair surprised LeMarc and his men, as Liz pressed her pistol to the back of LeMarc’s skull, not far from where Putnum hid the money in West Virginia. Raymond told Putnum to go find his money, and told LeMarc to sit down at gunpoint. When Smokey returned with the cash, Red told LeMarc he could have his money back in exchange for Putnum. Roman said he wanted his money and Smokey, but Raymond told the criminal that he was dictating the terms because LeMarc and his men were without weapons. Liz didn’t want LeMarc to escape, and said she’d shoot the drug kingpin if he took the money, but she couldn’t shoot an unarmed man.

The trio arrived in DC 45 minutes before the trial commenced, and Putnum pleaded to call his girlfriend one last time. He wanted to have privacy to make the call, so Raymond pointed him to a bench right outside their vehicle. Smokey attempted to escape once again as he called in a bomb-threat and tried to vanish in the crowd that soon surrounded them. However Keen chased him down, and tackled him to the ground, handing him off to two policemen who took him to the courthouse.

Liz met with Cooper and told him of their adventure. He then apologized to Keen, and told her of his decision to inform the new FBI Director about the results of the DNA test. She nodded her head and said he was doing the right thing, he responded that he knew the information would make her life tougher and put he under all sorts of scrutiny. However he believed she would come through the experience in good shape as long as she didn’t lose herself.

After Raymond received his 40 grand from Maurice, Lizzie met him back at his car in a parking structure. Suddenly a paddy-wagon pulled up in front of them, containing Hawkins the accountant. However it wasn’t a real police vehicle or real cops, Raymond gave the men the bag with Maurice’s money in exchange for Hawkins. The accountant asked Reddington who he was, he explained he was her guardian angel. The Prosecutors were going to reduce her prison sentence to four-years, he reduced it to no time served. He asked her if she wanted to hear more details and she anxiously awaited the information.

With Hawkins not showing up to testify, Putnum got released and granted his freedom. Liz picked him up at the courthouse and drove him straight to the Terra Vista Motor Lodge, where Hawkins and Raymond were waiting. The two former partners balked at the idea of working together, but Reddington offered them each two percent of his corporation, to utilize their skills. Hawkins for money laundering and Smokey for logistics, Raymond suddenly had the first two members of his new team.

Cooper informs the Task-Force that the Medical-Examiner determined that Hitchin’s death was accidental, and Ressler sighs with relief, thinking he’s now in the clear. However he soon realizes that the waters haven’t calmed for him, as Henry Prescott surprises him when Donald gets into his car a short while later. Prescott realized that Reddington’s security guy, Frank Sturgeon wouldn’t be privy to police reports. So he ran Donald’s fingerprints and found out his true identity. The fixer tells the FBI Agent, that he’ll be doing some favors for Prescott over the next few months.

Dembe arrived later in the evening and Liz offered to get him a drink. He informed Raymond that he came up empty in his search for the suitcase. Raymond once again stressed that neither could rest before they had the valise in their possession.

Our final scene reunited Liz and Tom, after coming back from helping his father get back his company. They embraced and then each said they had news for the other. Lizzie went first and told Tom that Raymond’s her father, hearing that Tom pushed the valise behind the couch so Liz wouldn’t see it. She asked him what his news was, and he told her he loved her and would never leave her again. However in his mind he envisioned Raymond and Dembe shooting him down to get back the valise.

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