Amir Arison

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Photo Courtesy Of Virginia Sherwood, NBC

WARNING: SPOILER ALERT

The Blacklist,” returned to television with a sprawling two-hour episode, jam-packed with revelations. The evening was split into two separate episodes, the first one entitled “Dembe Zuma, Number 10,” while the second episode’s titled “Requiem.” While the first hour took place in the present, the second episode centered around the past, revealing the history of an integral character in the series. The second hour, provided some answers to long-standing questions, however many questions that fans of the series have remain mysteries. Once again the identity of Elizabeth Keen’s biological father came up, and once again fans walked away from the two-hour extravaganza without a definitive answer.

We’ll be splitting the two episodes into two separate recaps, as there’s far too much information to absorb in just one sitting. The recap of “Requiem.” will soon follow.

Our evening begins with a glimpse of the Metro-DC skyline, before taking us into the shower of Aram Mojtabai. As we see Aram through the glass doors, we watch an unidentified character come into his apartment, and open the bathroom door. Despite the ominous music, we soon realize his guest’s his on-again/off-again girlfriend, Janet Sutherland, who soon joins him in the shower. He asks how she got into the apartment, and she replied he left his front door unlocked. This doesn’t sit well with Mojtabai, as he’s certain that he locked the door, so he puts on his robe to investigate.

Aram’s instincts served him well, discovering he’s got an uninvited visitor. Dembe Zuma tackles him to the ground and soon has him hogtied on the floor. Janet hears a commotion emanating from the living room, so she slips on a towel to investigate. She discovers Aram’s bound and gagged on the floor, then she turns around to see Zuma, who orders her to remain quiet.

Next scene begins with Samar Navabi entering Aram’s apartment, as Donald Ressler and the police are doing a sweep of the premises. She asks Donald if they know where Aram’s at, and Ressler replies they’re still trying to piece things together. He escorts Navabi, into the bedroom and she sees Sutherland sitting on the bed. Jumping to the conclusion that Janet’s involved in Aram’s abduction, she starts to attack her, only to be stopped by Ressler as he explains Sutherland’s a victim and not a suspect.

We find ourselves in Harold Cooper’s office, joined by Raymond and Lizzie. Cooper asks Raymond the status of his investigation into Zuma’s location, after his month-long search. Harold tells Reddington that he and the Bureau are getting involved, as Dembe abducted Aram the night before. Red tries to assure Cooper, that Mojtabai’s not in danger, and that Dembe took a calculated risk, because he needs Aram’s help. Raymond wants to search for Zuma by himself, but Harold insists that Keen accompany him and report back to Cooper.

To avoid detection Dembe switches cars, taking Aram from the trunk of one vehicle, and then ordering him to get into another vehicle’s trunk. Zuma then takes the plates off of the car he abandoned and drives off to parts unknown.

Navabi and Ressler question Sutherland at the Post Office, about the abduction but she’s unable to provide much information, as she got stuffed into a closet. She says that she can track Aram, as he’s got a key-finder on his key ring, which she can access from his work station. Despite her innate distrust of Janet, she convinces Cooper and Ressler to allow Sutherland to use Mojtabai’s computer, as she truly believes the woman’s on their side.

Baz’s replaced Dembe as Raymond’s driver, and Reddington explains to Lizzie that they’re in search of the Sanctum Corporation. He explains to Keen, that it’s “an underground railroad for miscreants.”  Criminals that need to elude the law, or former allies turned enemies, utilize Sanctum Corporation’s services to escape the country and obtain a new identity. Liz asks if Dembe used the services, and Raymond replies that he used them last year, to hide his daughter and granddaughter, after Mr. Solomon poisoned Zuma’s grandchild.

As Raymond and Elizabeth attempt to track down a former client of Sanctum Corporation, Dembe takes Aram to a warehouse district, opens a garage type door revealing one of Reddington’s multitude of lockers stashed across the country. Mojtabai assumes that Zuma wants him to crack the code, so he can steal from Reddington and refuses to do it. Dembe punches in the code and opens the empty locker, and tells Aram he needs his help to find out who stole the contents, as that’s the identity of Raymond’s true enemy.

Aram asks him if he’s trying to help Red, and Dembe acknowledges the fact. He says he gave Raymond the poison drink, but he didn’t poison it. He can’t go back to Raymond until he finds out the identity of that person, who tried to kill Reddington, and sabotaging his operation.

The first man that Liz and Raymond attempt to question Richard Fickman’s been abducted in a bloody skirmish by the time they arrive. Which leads to our first encounter with Glen “Jellybean” Carter of the evening, who promptly tells Reddington that he’s not surprised Dembe went rogue. He said he never bought the strong, silent, brooding act and his fake African accent. He also tells Red that he found their relationship to be “a little Edgar Rice Burroughs”  (creator of Tarzan.) Reddington quickly cuts Jellybean off, and he gets the information he came for, the identity of Fickman’s abductor, an ex-con named Chuck Shaw.

Shaw admits killing Fickman, as repayment for Dr. Sophia Gallup, his prison therapist gaining him parole. Keen checks with the Prison hierarchy and confirms that Gallup’s in charge of the system’s prisons in the Northeast, however the only contact information’s a post office box. They’re able to access the last guy she paroled, Dennis Cauley, who now lives in Richmond, Virginia.

Aram’s only able to access a proprietary address, and tells Dembe that it would take him days to find out the person behind it. Zuma puts the safety on the pistol and tells Aram he can leave and asks forgiveness for his actions. He then slumps to the ground and sits in the alleyway, a defeated man. Mojtabai asks if he’s truly trying to help Reddington, and Dembe responds that he’s got three people in his life, his daughter, his granddaughter, and Raymond. Aram breaks into a grin and says he’s got an idea.

Baz, Liz, and Raymond drive to Cauley’s place, but he’s not there. A quick search of the apartment reveals a dossier on Gallup’s next victim, Alex Soto. Raymond looks at the file and says the man’s real name’s Daniel Nakamoto, a master forger of antiquities that ran afoul against a very powerful gang leader 13-years earlier. Cauley’s notes reveal that he’s usually at a museum at that time of the day.

Raymond sits next to Nakamoto on a bench in the museum, and after a quick round of you’ve got the wrong guy, Reddington reveals that his life’s in danger from the Sanctum Corporation. Nakamoto replies that if they’re truly after him, not even Raymond can help him. He starts to walk away and nearly gets stabbed by Cauley, however Baz takes the ex-con out. In Reddington’s car Nakamoto reveals that the couple behind Sanctum Corporation, Tony and Maria Lopez, ran a honey company in Ohio. They had set up safe houses in various bee colonies they owned. However they died nearly a year before. Raymond thanks him and tells him to pack up his belongings and Red would soon be in touch.

Aram comes up with the name of the person who robbed Reddington, just as Navabi and Ressler arrive on the scene after using the key-finder to track them down. Mojtabai says the woman’s named Kathryn Nemec, and we can see the shock register on Dembe’s face. It’s pretty easy to determine that Kathryn Nemec’s, actually Mr. Kaplan. He says he needs more proof, and Aram helps him elude Ressler and Navabi.

Our second meeting with Glen takes place in a car, as he’s performing his day job as a driving instructor. He tells them to climb into the backseat, and Raymond expresses his disgust at the situation. Jellybean tells them they can speak freely, as his student Ms. Vasquez doesn’t understand a word of English. We soon find out her driving skills are also non-existent. We find out that the Lopez’s died in a fire nine months before, they sold most of their bee farms, but their daughter Vanessa still owned one. Glen says that she’s a therapist, and Liz and Reddington realize that Vanessa Lopez and Sophia Gallup, are the same person.

Lizzie and Raymond head to the bee farm and walk in on Gallup, shirtless and bra-less with bees covering her entire upper torso, looking as if she’s wearing a bee-sweater. Raymond does his best Mr. Spock, as the only thing he can say is fascinating. He soon collects himself and apologizes for barging in, but says time’s of the essence. She assumes Reddington’s one of her parent’s clients, but he corrects her and says he’s looking for a friend.

She tells them that her parents were living a good life running their honey company, when a friend came to them asking for help. Soon another man arrived, and then another, and suddenly their income from Sanctum Corporation, dwarfed the money they made from their legitimate company. They stored all their money in a Vulcan safe in their basement, only the criminals they assisted knew it existed. Nine months earlier, somebody tried cracking the safe with an acetylene torch, burning down the house and leaving her as the only survivor. The bees seem to be the best way of healing her scars from the fire, as their stingers help her skin heal. After Liz calls the Bureau to inform them to arrest the therapist, she and Raymond head to Dembe’s daughter’s new home.

Dembe drives to the spot where Reddington shot Kate, and finds her gone. The burner-phone that he gave to his daughter Isabella, to contact him in case of emergency, rings. He picks it up and Raymond’s on the other end. Red tells him that his activities are making him look very guilty, Zuma counters with we’re both guilty, Raymond. He says she’s not here, and then screams in pain and drops the phone. Our old pal The Tracker’s carrying a crossbow and shot an arrow into Dembe’s calf. He steps on the phone, crushing it and continues after Zuma.

The Tracker finds Dembe on the ground writhing in pain, and he tells him he knows his identity. That he and the fellow in the hat left Kate for dead, but she survived and now he’s going to kill the two of them. He asks where’s his slick-suited pal, and Dembe pulls the arrow out of his calf and jams it into The Tracker’s thigh. As he stops to patch himself up, he calls Kate and leaves a message on her voicemail.

As Liz and Raymond drive off from the bee farm, Keen receives the information that Aram’s safe and that Dembe’s trying to help him. She then tells Reddington that Aram came up with a name, Kathryn Nemec, but she’s listed as disappearing 25-years earlier. Her words cause Raymond’s face to turn stone gray, and he tells Lizzie that’s Mr. Kaplan’s real name.

They soon arrive at the place where they left Kate, and Dembe comes out of the bushes, bleeding badly. Raymond tells Liz to get Dembe to a hospital, while he and Baz hunt for The Tracker. He shoots Baz in the leg with an arrow, but the duo outsmart the hunter, and take him prisoner. They take him to his shack for questioning.

Reddington orders The Tracker to call Kate, but he says it looks like he’s dead either way. Raymond says he truly abhors violence, and only uses it out of necessity. He then jams his pistol up against The Tracker’s forehead and says that this is one of those times. The Tracker hits speed dial and hands the phone to Red, saying that Kate knew he’d underestimate her.

Suddenly Raymond hears a cellphone ringing below them, and through the floorboards he sees it’s connected to explosives. He and Baz get out of the shack just before it erupts in a blaze of glory, The Tracker going out with a huge grin.

Our final scene takes us to Kate walking on a street at night and listening to The Tracker’s message. He tells her he didn’t give her up and refused to go down without a fight. However her war has arrived, so lock and load.

Photo by: Will Hart/NBC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

Raymond Reddington’s watched his universe collapse before his eyes over the last few episodes of the NBC series “The Blacklist.” Red’s seen his organization hemorrhaging millions in capital and long-time friends and associates methodically killed, including his money launderer, and the man that ran his Mediterranean shipping operation  The man that courted death on a daily basis for decades, suddenly became concerned about his own mortality, and he’s vowed not to go gently into the night. Last week Raymond discovered that his enemy’s one of his own, when his banker David Levine, informed him that the money used to pay one of his adversaries came from Red’s own bank account.

The final episode before going on a nearly two-month hiatus, ended with a huge question for Raymond and the show’s fans. By breaking his own moral code, did Reddington alienate one of his oldest friends, to the point that his confidant felt they had no other choice but to take Red out? As we reached the final credits, all the evidence seemed to point in one direction, leading to a conclusion that would completely rock Raymond’s world. Have the creative staff of the show, once again pointed the fans in the wrong direction, or should we believe what we think we witnessed in the episode entitled “The Apothecary?”

Our evening opens with Raymond sitting in a hardback chair in his library, while Dembe pours him a Scotch. Zuma asks Reddington, if he believes it’s wise to gather eleven of Red’s associates in the same location? Raymond responds that one of the group’s a Judas and must be confronted, Dembe counters that Red’s putting himself in a dangerous situation. Reddington drinks his Scotch.

The scene suddenly changes, as a graphic informs us that it’s now nine hours later. Raymond’s lying in a makeshift triage unit, with a mask over his nose and mouth and a doctor telling him to breathe. Reddington asks what’s going on, and the doctor says his name’s Dr. Haverkamp and he’s part of Raymond’s emergency team (Should we take this as a sign that Reddington killed Dr. Nik Korpal, when he thought Lizzie died?) Red asks where’s Dembe, and the physician responds that he doesn’t know who that is. He then says that the man that brought Reddington into the facility, took off when his condition stabilized.

Haverkamp tells Reddington he got poisoned and unless they can identify the toxin, Raymond will die within 48-hours. Haverkamp gives him a bunch of steroids and an inhaler and says the combination will control the symptoms and Raymond unhooks himself from the IV and the monitors and asks for a cellphone. He calls Elizabeth Keen and asks her to gather the Task-Force together to solve a murder.

An ashen-faced and wobbly legged Reddington arrives at the Post Office and Ressler asks what’s wrong? Raymond responds that Donald’s prayers got answered, and he’s apparently dying. He tells the Task-Force members that he believes a member of the Blacklist, known as the Apothecary’s responsible for the toxin that’s killing him. The Apothecary’s a man that creates designer poisons specifically targeted to each victim. His toxins can mimic brain-embolisms, strokes and heart-attacks. Sometimes the poisons immediately kill the victims, while other strains, put the victim into a prolonged coma. He then informs them that a building contractor named Panetti, may have recently used the drug maker’s services, to put one of his employees into a coma.

We get our first view of The Apothecary, as he’s handling snakes and extracting their venom for his designer toxins. We then see him leave his lab, and enter his bedroom, where he takes off his lab-suit and strips down to a tank-top. We see a nearly comatose woman lying on their bed and the drug maker lies down next to her, and tells her all will be fine and he hasn’t given up on her. We see tears falling from the woman at the sounds of his words.

Reddington goes off in search of Zuma, while Ressler and Keen talk to the District Attorney about Panetti. The D.A. says that he’s been attempting to bring charges against the construction magnet for years, but he lacked the evidence. However Panetti got greedy and fire-bombed a competitor’s facilities and Panetti’s accountant Helen Dahle, agreed to testify against him, saying she wrote a check to the people that were responsible for the bombing. However with Dahle in a coma, he’s got no case. Liz tells the District Attorney that she and Ressler need to contact the victim’s doctors.

Raymond takes out a burner phone and tries contacting all those who were with him at the restaurant the night before, but he only gets their voice-mails. He then pays Dr. Haverkamp a visit, in the physician’s hospital and Haverkamp freaks out that somebody might see them together. He pulls them into a patient’s room and Red asks him about Dembe, Haverkamp responds that the only thing he remembers was that he drove a green station wagon that he parked outside the facility. Reddington finds the car, breaks into it and finds the registration. He then drives the vehicle to the address on the form.

The Apothecary’s keeping the woman, who we learn is his wife, sedated so she can’t run away again. However he gives her a way to call him, by tying a string on her finger that’s attached to a bell. When she moves her finger, the bell rings. He then puts an inhaler in her mouth, that puts her back to sleep.

Elizabeth and Donald, meet with Helen’s doctor, who tells the pair she thought that Dahle reacted from a nut allergy, but the medicine she used to treat her patient made her worse. Liz notices Helen’s husband and parents sitting outside her room and the two agents go and talk with them.

Helen’s husband Robert says that his wife had dinner with a friend from college, and then lapsed into a coma. He says that the police already cleared the friend, so they believe Panetti’s behind her poisoning. He then says that Helen’s parents had kept a constant vigil outside his wife’s room, but that he had gone to a hotel in Sarasota Springs last weekend on his own to get away and sort things out. He then begs the agents to find the person responsible.

Samar meets with Panetti and his attorney. The builder denies trying to murder Dahle and says her testimony wouldn’t have hurt him in court. Helen did indeed write a check to the people responsible for the fire-bombing, but the attorney says the check got cut so that Panetti’s business didn’t suffer the same fate. Panetti then says that he likes Helen, and if Navabi and the Bureau don’t find the ones responsible for her being in a coma, he will.

Raymond arrives at the address on the registration and finds the home’s front door’s ajar. He pulls out his pistol and calls out hello, he then sees signs of a scuffle, and his fedora on the floor. He puts on his hat and walks into the garage, where a car’s parked and we hear someone whimpering in the trunk. Reddington opens it, and finds a young woman inside, bound with duct tape over her mouth. He asks her who put her in the truck, and she responds by asking him if he’s playing a sick joke? She then informs Red, that he put her in there.

Aram tracks Panetti’s check and finds out it went to a non-existent charity, and then got sent through an elaborate money-laundering setup, making it untraceable. Liz did some digging and finds out that Robert Dahle, wasn’t alone in Sarasota Springs, as surveillance footage of him at the front desk of the hotel show him getting cozy with what appears to be his mistress. Cooper tells Ressler and Keen, to track down the girlfriend and try to get her to talk.

Raymond tries to get information from the young woman he took prisoner, after apologizing for his actions. She tells him that he’d been very polite given the circumstances. She then says that Red and his friend had broken into the apartment across the hall from her, and she called the cops. She then told the duo what she did and Reddington told her she was coming along with them in his car’s trunk. Red then nearly passes out and the young woman, named Lulu tries to escape, but Raymond gets to the door and asks for her help.

Ressler and Keen bring in Robert’s mistress, a woman named Brooklyn in for questioning. Ressler says that Dahle told them she poisoned Helen, but she denies it and says she wanted nothing to do with it. She says that the only thing she knows, is that he gives her the toxin twice a week. We see Robert in the hospital, opening Helen’s eye and putting drops from the Toxin into it. The mistress says she can tell the agents where the toxin’s hidden.

Liz and Donald, head to Robert’s home with a search warrant and find their suspect’s taking a bath. He stands up and Keen says that he best get dressed, unless he wants to go to jail naked. They find the poison, and inform Dahle they’re aware of the prenuptial agreement he signed, that keeps him from getting any money until their tenth anniversary, coming up in two weeks.

Raymond and Lulu, break into a pharmacy in search of steroids and another inhaler. Lulu finds both and Raymond takes some of the pills, but before he can use the inhaler he collapses on the drug store’s floor. Lulu doesn’t abandon Reddington, instead she brings him back to her apartment. After she gets some pills in him he returns to lucidity and thanks her for saving his life. She tells him that while he’d been comatose, she discovered the owner of the apartment across the hall, is Red’s attorney Marvin Gerard.

The apartment actually belongs to Gerard’s fiancée Becky, when Lulu and Red enter the apartment, it appears the couple left the place in a rush. Raymond notices there’s a message on the answering machine, he plays it to hear his own voice, telling Marvin that everybody’s gathered at a restaurant called John’s and are waiting for him. Lulu says she knows where the restaurant’s located and can take Raymond there, but he says he’s caused her enough trouble and tells her to take off. She wishes him the best.

The Bureau’s lab analyzes the toxin and it contains the venom of a very rare breed of snake. Aram’s located the only known member of the breed in the States, it’s the property of a defunct reptile farm in Pennsylvania. Aram tells Keen and Ressler, that records show the former operator, Asa Hightower still lives in an apartment on the property. The two agents head to check the facility out.

Raymond heads to John’s, and finds the kitchen door’s been barricaded with a coat rack. He removes the wooden rack and opens the kitchen doors, to find ten of the associates he summoned inside. While they are angrier than a bunch of wet-hens, Red’s banker David Levine and his money launderer Abe, try to fill in the blanks in Reddington’s memory. Raymond was in the midst of telling the group a parable about betrayal, when he realized that Marvin Gerard, wasn’t among them. He then sent the restaurant staff home and demanded his associates go into the kitchen.

Levine starts to pour himself a glass of wine, but Red slaps the glass from his hand. He informs his associates that he got poisoned, and asks the group if the wine he drank came from one of the bottles on the table? A young attractive woman tells  Reddington, that the waiter poured his glass from another bottle and gives it to Red. There’s a note on the bottle, apologizing for not being there, signed by Marvin Gerard.

Ressler and Keen arrive at the Hightower’s apartment, but Asa’s not there. They do however hear a bell ringing and they follow it to the bedroom and discover Mrs. Hightower. They call paramedics to treat her, as the two agents look around the facility.

Raymond calls Keen and tells her he’s sending the wine containing the poison to her. Elizabeth tells Reddington that he’s going to be fine, but suddenly Raymond goes into a coughing jag and collapses on the floor while he’s on the phone with Lizzie.

Mrs. Hightower’s become more lucid since the paramedics treated her and she starts talking to the two agents. She informs them that her husband raped her, while she was comatose and got her pregnant. She tells them that she believes her husband’s at a baby-supply store, to find a mobile for the nursery he put together. Lizzie phones Aram and she and Ressler travel to the nearest baby-supply shop. After Hightower tries to take the sales clerk hostage, Keen knocks him to the floor with a table made for toddlers.

Navabi and Ressler question Hightower and he tells them he’s willing to cut a deal. Take the death-penalty off the table and he’ll tell them how to cure Reddington. Navabi asks The Apothecary if he’s afraid of death, and Asa responds that he’s not, however now he’s got something to live for. Even in a prison cell, he’ll still be a father.

Raymond’s being treated with the antidote back at the triage unit. Haverkamp comes out and tells Liz, Cooper and Aram, that he doesn’t want to raise false hopes, but Reddington’s stabilized and the antidote seems to be working just fine. Keen asks if they can go and see him, but Haverkamp says they should give him a few minutes to recover.

We see Raymond coming to, and in through the back door slip Baz and Glen. Reddington asks if they found Gerard, and Glen says they found “the little weasel,” at the airport with Becky, heading to the South Seas. Raymond asks about Dembe, but Baz gives him a look that Red recognizes as he’s still M.I.A. He gives Baz an address and tells him to bring Marvin there and he’ll meet them later.

Lizzie gets a call from the Bureau’s lab, telling her that the wine Raymond sent to her didn’t contain any of the toxin. She goes into the triage unit to inform him, only to find that Reddington left the facility without informing anybody that he took off.

Raymond’s back in his library , this time joined by one of his goons and a bound Marvin Gerard. Red’s lawyer asks what’s going on, and Reddington replies he’s not falling for Marvin’s innocent act, and asks where Dembe’s at? Gerard says he hasn’t seen Dembe, and he’s got no idea what’s bothering Reddington. Raymond tells him that he knows all about The Apothecary, and that Marvin’s the one who hired him and Isabella Stone. Red then talks about being held in a South Seas prison for 47-days, thinking he’d die there. On the 48th day, the gates swung open and Raymond was given two tins of Beluga caviar, that Marvin had somehow gotten to him, even though Gerard was also in prison.

Reddington says he’d been so touched by the gesture, that he arranged for Marvin to get released from prison. Gerard says he realizes all of that, hence he’d have no reason to betray Red. Reddington says they’ll get to Gerard’s motivation later, but right now he wants to know Dembe’s location and pulls out his pistol.

Just then Raymond’s goon comes back into the room and gives Red the cellphone, telling him Elizabeth’s on the other end. Keen tells Reddington that the wine didn’t contain the poison, and the toxin would need a higher alcohol content than wine to get released within Raymond’s system. She asks if he might have had some whiskey that day, and Reddington’s mind flashes back to the Scotch he had at the beginning of the episode. Raymond says that’s impossible, that only two people had access to that bottle, and he was one of them.

The scene shifts one last time, to a busy city street as Bob Dylan’s “All Along The Watchtower,” plays on the soundtrack. “There must be some way to get out of here, said the joker to the thief,” plays in the background as we watch Dembe Zuma enter the subway, pulling the hood of his coat over his head.

The Story Resumes Thursday, April 20, at 10:00 pm on NBC.

Photo by: Will Hart/NBC

WARNING: SPOILER ALERT

We’ve witnessed the once unflappable Raymond Reddington, starting to question everything during the last few months, on the NBC series”The Blacklist.” The self-assured “Concierge Of Crime,” whose instincts seemed flawless, (Apples, everybody likes apples.) morphed into a man watching his empire crumble in front of him. Raymond now evokes comparisons with King Lear, and Tony Montana, like the protagonist in Scarface, he’s making rash and impulsive decisions, that come back to haunt him. Reddington feels his power slipping away, as the aging British monarch did, which eventually drove the King to madness.

Red’s concerns are many, the underworld’s abuzz with talk of his series of defeats. Death’s claimed many valuable members of his operation, including his money-launderer Zach Smoll. Smoll died in the middle of a monetary transaction, costing Reddington 20 million dollars, along with an old friend and trusted associate. Dissension’s reared its head within the Task-Force, as the “Boy-Scout” Agent Donald Ressler’s started to question Team-Red’s mission. Task-Force leader Harold Cooper shows his displeasure with Reddington, in an escalating power war.

The Immediate Threat:

When we last saw Reddington, his world had gotten rocked when Natalie Luca told him that Isabella Stone forced her to kill Zach Smoll. This week’s episode opens with the sound of a car crash and a graphic informing us that we’re in Paris, then we hear the AC/DC recording of “Shake A Leg,” on the soundtrack as we see the victim’s now dead body’s crashed through the windshield and his head’s now on his car’s hood. A man and woman emerge from the vehicle that slammed into the man’s car, the woman smiles and says they got him good.

We soon discover the victim wore a prosthetic leg, as the man reaches into the car and removes it from the corpse. The woman removes a cover on the top of the appendage allows several rolls of bills to hit the pavement, she’s after the bonds also stored within. She then tells her colleague she gets a kick out of their job and they flee the scene.

Turns out the victim was one of Reddington’s couriers and the bonds belonged to Red. We find this out as Raymond meets with an old and trusted associate Stratos Sarantos, during a meeting at a café. Reddington tries spinning it as a momentary setback, but his associate reminds him the loss is one of many recent defeats for Raymond’s operation and people have begun talking.

Reddington displays a forced smile and tells Sarantos that he’s got his eye on three cargo ships in France and wants his associate to evaluate them. He gives Sarantos tickets for Stratos and his wife Corina to Monte Carlo, and tells his old friend to romance his wife and enjoy the gambling. He smiles again and says they’ve been through worse, and then sees Elizabeth Keen arriving for her meeting. Sarantos leaves and thanks Raymond for the free vacation.

Lizzie asks Reddington the identity of the man, and he replies that he head’s Red’s Mediterranean shipping fleet. Keen’s surprised at the revelation that Raymond has shipping operations, but he quickly changes the conversation to inform her he’s got the latest member of the Blacklist for her. The Task-Force’s next target’s the person who engineered the murders of Smoll and the courier, Raymond says he only knows the woman by her alias, Isabella Stone.

Back at the Post Office, Keen explains that Stone’s a character assassin whose latest mission’s to destroy Reddington’s empire. Just at that moment, Ressler gets a call on his cellphone and he’s clearly shaken when he hangs up and rejoins the team. Cooper starts assigning his agents their roles in the case, but Ressler objects to doing more heavy lifting for Reddington. Cooper says he understands his agent’s mindset, but they’re pursuing the case.

Donald and Samar, reach out to a DGSE official, in an effort to get information on the car accident that killed the courier, but the official’s reluctant to cooperate. That’s until Ressler reveals that the victim in the accident was a courier for Reddington, suddenly the man agrees to give them everything they need in order to capture Reddington.

The French send a copy of a surveillance tape from inside a tavern that the courier visited just before the accident. Once again Aram Mojtabai puts the team on the right path, noticing a man keeping tabs on the courier, who then leaves the pub shortly after the courier departs. Using facial recognition software, Mojtabai identifies the man as Chip Murphy, a former NCIS Agent who fell off the grid after leaving his position. He’s got a storage facility in Fredericksburg, Virginia, where Keen and Ressler head to.

The manager of the facility refuses to let Donald and Liz search the storage unit without a warrant, but Keen decides to bend the law and picks the lock of the unit. The unit’s filled with computers and filing cabinets containing information. Lizzie quickly finds a folder with pictures of Smoll, the courier, and Stratos and Corina Sarantos. She immediately calls Raymond and informs him about the file, when she mentions Sarantos’ name, Reddington abruptly says he needs to go and disconnects.

We find ourselves in the Sarantos’ hotel suite in Monte Carlo, Stratos wants to head to the gambling tables, while Corina wants to bask in a hot shower before joining him. Stratos puts on his white dinner jacket and kisses his wife goodbye, pleading with her to hurry as he needs his good luck charm.

Corina starts to get ready for her shower, when she’s startled by two women standing in the suite, one holding a pistol. We recognize one of the women, as Chip Murphy’s partner in the murder of the courier, the other woman’s holding the pistol. Corina begs them not to shoot her, the woman clutching the firearm assures her she’s not getting shot, the gun’s to keep her quiet as her associate strangles her. She then grabs the gown that Corina had planned to wear, telling the corpse she needs to borrow it.

Sarantos finds himself having quite a run at one of the tables, when we see Murphy standing nearby disguised as a waiter. He pours a sedative into Stratos’ drink and then informs his associates. A crowd’s gathered around Sarantos’ table, so it’s too loud for him to understand Raymond when he calls to warn him. Murphy once again communicates to his associates, and the woman carrying the pistol storms into the casino in Corina’s dress and wearing her sunglasses. She then slaps Stratos face and screams she’s had enough of him and Raymond Reddington. Sarantos believing it’s Corina tries to find out what’s wrong, but she starts to walk off with Stratos in pursuit.

They get to the Sarantos suite and Stratos sees his wife’s dead body on the floor, and soon after falls to the floor himself as the sedative takes effect. The woman’s joined by Murphy and her female associate and they call the front desk from the room next door, saying that the couple in the next suite are having a terrible row. The other woman screams in mock-terror as they hang up. They position Stratos’ body right next to Corina’s now wearing the gown, and place his hands around his wife’s neck.

Raymond meets with Cooper and they discuss whether Stratos will give up information on Reddington, Red assures Harold that Sarantos’ loyalty’s not in question. He just doesn’t want his friend to disappear down some black hole, because he refuses to cooperate with French officials. Cooper sends Navabi and Ressler to Monte Carlo to try to bring Sarantos back to the States.

Samar’s excited about the assignment as she’s never been to Monte Carlo, but Donald’s almost comatose. He finally reveals to her that the phone call came from his mother, and his brother’s about to have bypass surgery. He wishes he could be by his brother’s side and he’s angry he’s on a mission for Reddington, instead of with his family. He says to Navabi that it’s like they work for Reddington, and he should sign their checks.

When the agents arrive in Monte Carlo, they find that their efforts to bring back Sarantos to the States, blocked by a French detective named Gautier. Sarantos keeps stating that he got set up but Gautier scoffs at his story, saying that there’s only one means of exit and that witnesses from the next room called security during his fight with his wife. Navabi realizes that the room next door has an adjoining door to the suite and asks for access to the room and the information of the former occupant.

Upon receiving the information, Aram identifies the woman who occupied the hotel room as Charlotte Hart, and finds a connection between her and Chip Murphy. They both worked for a well-known Washington socialite, Judith Pruitt, widow of a former high-powered CEO who got tried and convicted in a pyramid scheme in the nineties. Pruitt believed her husband Gavin was innocent and she was devastated when he was murdered by a fellow convict.

Keen believes that Pruitt’s motivation to destroy reputations centers on revenge for her believing her husband got unjustly convicted. So she goes after guilty individuals, exposing their sins to the planet, despite any collateral damage she causes. Pruitt’s scheduled to attend a function that evening honoring philanthropist Dr.Justin Sperry, head of the Justin Sperry Medical Foundation.

We find Raymond in Monte Carlo, going by the alias of Mr. Bloom and telling two officers that his gray Mercedes got stolen right in front of him. He describes the two car-jackers, saying the white one had a pony-tail and the black one was all bulked up and must drink a lot of muscle-shakes. He annoys the officers with his extended way of giving them the vehicle’s license plate number.

A woman named Joy welcomes the guests to the event honoring Sperry, and informs the audience that they’re donations have assured that they’ll be able to continue helping children around the globe. She then introduces Sperry who comes onto the stage in a motorized wheel-chair. His enthusiasm’s apparent as he asks the audience doesn’t it feel great to help others. The applause gets interrupted as news alerts on guest’s cellphones report that one of Sperry’s medical volunteers just got arrested in Nigeria, charged with trying to smuggle $22 millions in bonds, held by one of Raymond’s shell corporations. Sperry’s informed by Joy, excuses himself and gets wheeled off the stage.

The Task-Force realize that Stone’s behind the effort to discredit Sperry in order to hurt Reddington. Cooper tells Liz to assemble a SWAT Team and get over to the event. Stone’s sitting in the audience and informs her team that Sperry’s been wheeled off the stage and for them to get ready.

The Monte Carlo police arrested Dembe and Baz for stealing Mr. Bloom’s car and Raymond identifies the pair as “Pony-Tail and Muscle-Shake.” The officers ask Red for his passport again to finish up the paperwork, when Raymond socks one of the cops in the jaw, grabbing his pistol and pointing it at the two officers. He then grabs the other gun and instructs the officers to release Dembe and Baz. He’s about to lock them in the same room, when Gautier shows up, and gets locked up with the uniforms.

The trio then go and spring Sarantos from his cell, Stratos tells Red that he knew he’d come. The foursome start to run, but are soon confronted by prison guns with rifles and Sarantos gets shot badly in the back. Dembe tells Raymond they can escape, but Stratos wouldn’t survive. Sarantos tells Reddington to give him a pistol and leave him there. Raymond knows he’s got no choice and kisses his friend and tells him what ever happens he’s got Reddington’s support. The trio run off and we soon hear the sound of a gun and realize Stratos took his own life.

Liz arrives at the event and she’s informed that Sperry went home via the service that transports him and that Judith Pruitt insisted on following them, so Justin wouldn’t be alone. Joy says that Pruitt was the only sympathetic person in the hall, that most people had left the event screaming and cursing.

Pruitt and her team wheel Sperry into his home and he calls for his housekeeper Charlotte, but Judith informs him that Murphy slipped a sedative into Charlotte’s brandy. They’ve wheeled into the room containing an indoor pool and basically give him a choice, he can read a false statement implicating himself and Reddington, or be dropped into the pool strapped into his wheelchair. After initially refusing, Sperry agrees to do it after Pruitt rolls his chair to the edge of the pool.

Raymond contacts Harold and Cooper’s madder than a wet hen, chewing Red a new one for trying to break Sarantos out of jail. Reddington replies he did what he thought was necessary and Harold gets irate, telling Raymond that he lost a friend that he said would do anything for him, due to a rash decision. Reddington tries to change the subject to Isabella Stone and Cooper tells him that Navabi, Ressler and Keen are heading to try to stop her as they speak. Reddington says he needs to speak to her as soon as they take her into custody and then says that wasn’t a request.

Cooper nearly strokes out as he tells Raymond that he’s stood by him as his agents and his superiors have complained. He then basically tells Reddington that he’s gone way past crossing the line, and soon finds himself talking to air as Red hangs up. After Reddington hangs up, Dembe quietly says that perhaps they shouldn’t have gone there. He says that Raymond’s putting himself in more danger every year, every day and that people are dying around him. After a moment of silence Raymond says he doesn’t know how to respond to that.

Sperry starts to read the statement that Pruitt handed him, when the SWAT Team arrive. Pruitt pushes Sperry’s wheelchair into the pool and he sinks to the bottom. Keen gives her weapon to a SWAT Team member and dives into the pool to rescue Sperry. Murphy pulls his gun and gets shot to death, the officers arrest Pruitt and Charlotte Hart, Liz’s able to save Sperry.

Pruitt’s questioned by Ressler and Navabi about who hired her to go after Reddington, but she refuses to cooperate. She says to the agents she’s surprised that they don’t commend her for going after a member of their most wanted list, but the agents stay quiet. Ressler says that she’s facing a life sentence, but she could strike a deal if she’d be willing to tell them something. She smiles and says she could tell them a lot, but she won’t.

Pruitt’s being transported from the Post Office to a prison facility, but the vehicle she’s in gets ambushed and ends up crashing. Reddington’s team extract her from the vehicle bruised and bloody. Raymond says to her that it’s time for the two of them to talk.

The Build Up To Redemption:

I’ve purposely divided this recap into two sections, as the Tom Keen subplot will serve as the introduction to the Blacklist spinoff, that debuts on February 23, while the main series goes on Winter hiatus. Once again the writers have put a Red Herring into the mix, as we find out right after the credits, when Lizzie wakes Tom up, after he fell asleep on the couch.

She tells him that while she was feeding Agnes, she watched the news and saw a report that his father died. They turn on the TV and there’s an anchor giving a report stating that Howard Hargrave died after his private plane crashed. She starts talking about his career and his starting Halcyon Aegis, when Tom shuts off the TV. He gives off a rather blasé attitude, saying he’s not going to pretend to grieve for a man he never knew.

Lizzie’s surprised by his reaction and Tom says that when he met his mother, she offered him a job and he turned her down. He tells Liz that they’re his past and he wants to concentrate on his future, which revolves around her and Agnes. Lizzie counters that he can still have them while searching for answers, he replies the only answer he’s seeking is when he became the old guy that falls asleep on the couch?

Before we proceed, time to reveal the Red Herring to those who are still unaware. Howard Hargrave CAN’T be dead, as he’s scheduled to be a semi-regular character on Redemption. The man pictured is actor Terry O’Quinn and he’s scheduled to appear as Hargrave in some of the upcoming episodes. So unless we’re going to explore science fiction in the spinoff and Hargrave’s a ghost, we’ll find out in the upcoming weeks why Howard faked his death.

Tom starts watching the news reports about Hargrave’s death and his curiosity gets the best of him. He calls up Dembe and tells him that he needs to set up a time for him and Raymond to sit down and talk. Keen comes to visit Reddington as Red’s assembling some sort of mechanical device, which we find out later is a cuckoo clock for Liz and Agnes.

Tom starts asking Raymond for answers about his father, but Reddington says that he knew Howard Hargrave many years ago in a strictly business capacity. (Possibly, yet another Red Herring. How could Raymond possibly know that Tom’s Christopher Hargrave, if he had just a cursory relationship with Hargrave?)  He says he knows that Hargrave struggled against his own inner demons and that he didn’t even trust his own wife, Tom’s birth-mother Scottie Hargrave. Red goes onto say that he knows Scottie and finds her to be an unlikable creep and warns Tom to stay away from her.

Tom goes back to the apartment and starts digging through piles of newspaper clippings, he must have gathered after finding out his true identity last year. We see article after article, about both Howard and Scottie Hargrave and their son Christopher’s disappearance.

After doing some digging, Tom rings the bell of a former police detective Harold Kotchwar. The former cop almost slams his door in Tom’s face, but Keen catches his interest when he brings up the Christopher Hargrave disappearance. Kotchwar says that kid didn’t disappear he got killed, but Tom says that’s impossible as he’s Christopher Hargrave.

In the final scene of the evening. Liz comes home and tells Tom that she thought about what he said and he should leave his past alone. Then she sees the police tapes that he got from Kotchwar. There’s a tape on pause that Tom was watching when Liz came home, it’s the videotaped confession of the man that says he killed Christopher Hargrave.

Photo by: Will Hart/NBC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

The NBC series “The Blacklist,” returned with a new episode that revolved around a love story, between two people who couldn’t have physical contact and that couple’s desire to rectify the situation. That relationship caused some of the members of “TEAM RED,” to question their own romantic entanglements. Raymond also had interest in the case for his own reasons, revealed during the hour.

Our evening begins with a graphic, telling us we’re in Moldova 14-years ago, and we quickly realize we’re in the hospital room of a little blonde haired girl. She wakes up and calls out to someone, but receives no response. She grabs her rag doll from the night stand and ventures out into the hallway. We see that all of the staff and patients in the hallway died. Suddenly there’s the sound of a telephone and the little girl follows the sound, only to find the operator and all around her are dead as well.

The child starts exploring the hospital via the staircase, when we hear the sounds and see the lights from an elevator. The girl stops and waits to see who comes out, and it’s a team of men wearing hazmat suits. One of the men sees the little girl standing in the stairwell, and his eyes become as large as melons.

The scene changes and another graphic informs us that we’ve flash forwarded to just eight-days ago. The little girl’s now a beautiful young woman and she’s in a massage parlor, with a guy on the table. The guy’s lying face down and has a sheet covering him, he greets the woman with surprise, saying she must be new at the parlor. She asks him his name, and climbs on his back and starts massaging him. She then tells him to turn over, kisses him on the lips and leaves the room.

The regular masseuse enters the room and asks the man if he’s ready for his massage and he asks where the new girl went. The woman asks what new girl, when the man’s back and arms are suddenly covered in a purple rash. He then starts spitting out bile and quickly dies.

Raymond’s visiting his money launderer Abe and he tells him that Zach Smoll was dealing with $200 million of Reddington’s funds when he died. He asks Abe how much of that sum was lost and Abe replies all of it. Lizzie then arrives and Red tells her he’s going to need the Bureau’s help in finding out who was responsible for Smoll’s death. He believes that his rival Baldur Magnusson’s responsible, but he lacks any proof. He says if he can’t solve this, his reputation will be forever tarnished and his relationship with the Bureau would come to a screeching halt.

Keen brings Raymond’s request to the Task-Force, and it’s unanimously rejected. However a fly in the Vaseline quickly changes their mind. Turns out Zach Smoll’s the guy who died in the massage parlor and his body’s been claimed by the CDC. Smoll died from Luschen’s disease, he got infected from the woman’s lipstick. The virus is transmitted by physical contact or sweat. Now the Bureau’s got to track down that woman.

Back at the Post Office, Samar’s in another one of her moods which Aram quickly catches onto. She got Mojtabai’s check by accident and it turns out that Aram’s paid 32% more than she earns. She’s rightfully upset about not getting equal pay, but she’s taking it out on her hapless friend. Mojtabai soon shows Navabi and Cooper street cam footage of their suspect, she not only killed Smoll, she also killed and robbed a pawnshop owner a few weeks earlier.

We see the young woman lying on a table while a young man wearing a protective clear mask tells her that he’s sorry but this is the only choice they’ve got. The young woman with tears streaming down her face, nods yes and the young man injects a long needle into the base of her spine. She writhes on the table in pain.

We see a graphic that says Boston, and we get our first look at Baldur Magnusson, as Raymond calls him. Reddington asks his rival if he killed Smoll, and Magnuson responds it doesn’t matter what the truth is. What counts is the appearance of the truth, and right now all their peers believe Magnusson ordered the hit. That makes Reddington look weak that he’s yet to respond, which will lead to a standoff between the two men.

We’ve found out the young woman’s named Natalie Luca and the young man’s Malik Rounain, and they’re romantically involved. Rounain tells Natalie that the spinal tap didn’t yield the results he needed and she’s going to need to kill and rob again in order to buy the equipment they need. She reluctantly agrees.

Tom and Agnes, who’s got her grandmother’s red hair, are returning from a walk when Keen realizes the door’s been jimmied and he grabs his pistol. Raymond and Dembe are waiting in the living room and much to Tom’s surprise, Red came to see him.

Reddington asks Keen what he knows about Edward Lagate and Tom says that he’s a hitman with an impeccable resume. Raymond starts to laugh and he tells Tom that Lagate doesn’t exist, he’s actually a fictional character that Reddington invented. Raymond says he and some of his associates committed the crimes attributed to Lagate and now he wants Keen to portray the assassin. He wants Magnusson to try to hire Lagate, but in fact Tom will lead Raymond right to his rival.

Malik and Natalie’s target’s an armored truck, she pretends she’s a college girl trying to join a sorority. She tells the truck’s guards that she’s got to kiss two guys carrying guns and of course they allow her to. Minutes later they’re dead in the street and the couple’s got the money and flee the scene.

The Task Force identifies Luca, and discovers she was a patient for years at Hawthorne Biologics. Rounain had been a researcher for the facility and the couple fell in love. The facility found them a place to live, but the administrator tells Ressler that she just found out they moved months before. She says that the facility had no legal right to keep her locked up and had to adhere to her wishes. She expresses her concern for Natalie, but Donald says she best be worried about her next victim.

Raymond sets Tom up as Legate, by arranging a fake murder of one of Magnusson’s associates, at Magnusson’s flagship hotel. Soon Tom heads out of the hotel and gets greeted by one of Magnusson’s enforcers, who puts a gun to Tom’s back and he’s told that the man’s employer wants to meet with him.

Malik’s elated as he gets the equipment they needed with the money from the robbery, but his joy quickly evaporates as he realizes the cops have raided their apartment. They’ve lost everything they had, meaning Natalie’s got to pull one last job to pay for their lost equipment. She makes Rounain promise this will be their last job.

Turns out the folks from Hawthorne aren’t on the up and up, as they want Luca for their own nefarious purposes. The female administrator we saw earlier, meets with two men who say they must get Natalie back. The man who appears to be the leader says they’ve got to be there when the FBI find her.

Aram searches through Rounain’s computer files and finds that the researcher had large caches on three very wealthy people. Lizzie calls Raymond and finds out that all three are guests of Xavier Holcomb’s poker party, which takes half a million dollars just to sit at the table. Malik and Natalie plan to attend the party disguised as caterers.

Liz asks Raymond why he hired Tom to portray Legate, and says they were just starting to have some semblance of normalcy. Reddington says that Keen’s been aching to get back in the game and that better he work for Red, than for somebody else who’d betray him.

The Bureau come to realize that Malik wasn’t looking for a cure for Luca, he was trying to become like her so they could finally have physical contact. They’ve got Holcomb’s party staked out and when Natalie and Rounain enter, they’re not far behind. Luca had tried to serve dinner to one of the guests, but Ressler started chasing her.

Navabi traps the young woman who says she’s not going back to a cage and that Samar will have to kill her. Suddenly we hear a crackling sound and Ressler’s knocked out Natalie with his Taser.

Edward Legate’s brought up to Magnusson’s hotel suite and the crime boss offers Legate a claw from the lobster he’s eating. Legate declines and the two men get down to talking business. He asks Legate about one of his celebrated crimes and Legate says he never reveals his methods. Magnusson compliments his discretion and says he’s looking to hire him.

Raymond and Dembe burst into the room and Magnusson says that Reddington’s going to kill him. However Red tells Dembe and Tom to take away his rival’s henchmen, as he wants to talk to Magnusson privately. He then says he’s been thinking about what his rival talked about, truth versus the appearance of the truth.

He says that he long ago stopped worrying about death, as it could be lurking around any corner at anytime. However recently he’s smelled death everywhere. He says his death’s slouching towards him from the corner of the room and inching closer.

Magnusson tells Reddington that he didn’t kill Smoll. He says that Raymond’s deal with the cruise ship line was falling apart, so he came in and grabbed it. Red thanks his rival for the truth, then says that he almost wishes that Magnusson had been behind it, as it would have made things easier.

Malik’s gotten away, but the Bureau apprehended Natalie and put her in an ambulance that will take her to a hospital isolation ward. Except Aram informs Navabi and Ressler that the ambulance hadn’t arrived yet, they actually gave Luca back to her captors at Hawthorne. The pair drive after the ambulance, but they’re not alone in the chase as Rounain tries to force the ambulance off the road.

Malik rams the other vehicle off the road and Natalie jumps out of the back of the ambulance. She starts to run towards her boyfriend, when a man emerges from the vehicle and shoots Rounain. The FBI SWAT team soon arrive and subdue the Hawthorne people.

The wound Malik suffered is fatal and he knows time’s short. For the first and last time the couple make contact and then kiss just before Rounain takes his last breath. Natalie tells the agents that Malik was the only person who ever cared for her and Hawthorne was trying to engineer her disease into a bio-weapon. The Hawthorne team are taken into custody.

Earlier Samar told Aram that Cooper offered her a 16% raise but she turned it down as an insult. She comes back up to Aram at the Post Office, and tells him she realizes he gave up some of his salary to get them at the same pay grade. He tells Navabi that he’d do anything to keep her happy and she responds that she’s figuring that out.

Tom comes back home and Lizzie asks him how it felt to get back in the game. He tells her he loved it, but that their relationship’s still the most important thing in his life. Liz says she realizes Tom’s got to do what fulfills him but she’s afraid of what he’ll turn into. He says she’s looking at it.

Cooper brings Reddington To Luca’s hospital room so he can question her about Smoll’s death. He tries to console her over her loss and she responds to his words. She asks who he is and he reveals that Zach Smoll was his associate and he wanted to know why she killed him. Natalie replies that the woman said she’d turn her and Malik over to Hawthorne unless she killed him. She tells Raymond her client’s Isabella Stone and Raymond’s dumbfounded. He thanks her, then says he needs to sit there for a moment as he can’t move.

Photo by: Will Hart/NBC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

Megan Boone got most of the spotlight in the latest episode of the NBC series “The Blacklist,” as we watched FBI Agent Liz Keen, go undercover with an elite all-female team of criminals, known as “The Harem.” Perhaps the show-runners decided to air a small screen version of the upcoming film “Ocean’s Eight,” a female reboot of the Ocean’s Eleven series.  (Sorry, I’m a purist and have only seen the original movie starring the Rat Pack.)  However, there’s a subplot that’s not given much attention in the episode, but it’s ramifications are much larger in the long-term.

Our opening scene takes place in Atlanta, Georgia, as two black SUVs pull up in front of what appears to be a large mansion. The vehicles’ doors open and a bunch of Goons come out, all being directed by some guy with slicked-back hair. The boss nearly bumps into a young pregnant woman, who suddenly appears as if she’s in distress. She moans a few times, but she then tells the guy that she’s fine. She also pocketed the key to one of the SUVs and she and another woman head for the vehicle. She ditches her “baby,” actually a basketball, and though a guard starts to reach for his weapon, he’s gunned down by yet another woman on a roof with a high-powered rifle.

As the women steal one of the SUV’s, the boss and one of his guys give chase in the other. After a high-speed chase that dings up the vehicle, they lose the guys by ducking into a parking lot. We then see them meet with two other women in a warehouse, and we see that the vehicle’s passenger’s side headrest’s loaded with 73 diamonds.

After the credits, we join Raymond and Dembe at Red’s money-launderer Zach Smoll. Reddington tells Smoll, that he wants to invest in a luxury cruise-liner, and instructs him to get the funds ready for the transaction. Keen arrives and she’s not in the best of moods. She tells Smoll and his crew that she’s an FBI Agent, and while she has to look the other way when Reddington breaks the law, the rules don’t apply to them. They get the message and quickly scatter.

Raymond informs Liz that the government’s witness protection list’s been stolen, and though he doesn’t know who has the list currently, he knows who will get it next. Reddington then informs the agent about the Harem’s heist of ten million dollars, worth of diamonds in Atlanta. He tells Lizzie that the Harem only steals from other criminals, and they’ve got their eyes set on this list.

Back at the Post Office, Harold and his team discuss the case and they agree to try to get Keen to get accepted by the Harem. Ressler suggests they use one of their criminal informant’s Craig Gaynier, to say that he pulled a heist with “Liz Crawford,” down in Florida.

Liz disguises herself as a hotel clerk and knocks on the door of the Harem’s leader Margot Roche, and says she needs to check the minibar. Roche lets her in and Keen scurries to the part of the suite where the minibar’s at, she however goes into Roche’s suitcase and steals the pouch with the diamonds, leaving a note to meet her in the bar in its place.

Roche asks why she shouldn’t beat the stuffing out of her, Liz gives her back the pouch and says she wants to join the Harem. She tells Margot that she reads people, then she tells them what they want to hear, so they do her bidding. Liz then goes down her list of scams and says she worked with Craig Gaynier. Roche tells her associate to keep an eye on Liz as she’s going to do some checking. We see that Ressler and Navabi are also in the bar.

Keen and the two women go for a ride with Ressler and Navabi trailing them. Another one of the crew, meets them at their warehouse with Craig Gaynier tied to a wheelchair. He says he’s worked with Liz Crawford, that they stole 2.1 million down in Florida, and his banter with Liz convinces Roche they worked together.

She tells Liz that there’s just one boss, Liz does as Margot says and no questions asked. Liz says okay and then Margot tells her to shoot Gaynier. Liz refuses, saying that Roche doesn’t want blind followers, she values loyalty. Liz worked with Craig, so she’s loyal to him, if Roche brings her on board she’ll be loyal to the Harem. Margot smiles and says that Lizzie’s good. loyalty’s everything. However she then shoots Craig herself, because of some episode in Majorca.

Raymond’s traveled to Sydney, Australia, to talk to Carter Wilson, CEO of Whistler Cruise Line, using the alias Mr. Lockhart. He tells Wilson he’s well aware of all the financial problems the corporation’s suffering and he’s willing to bail them out, in return for the cruise line’s shipping his goods. He tells Wilson when it comes to his shipments, the less the executive knows, the better for all involved.

After Roche kills Gaynier, the women engage in some heavy drinking and Liz wakes up in the middle of the night dazed and confused. She’s soon joined by Emma, who offers a glass and says that Lizzie’s a chatty-drunk. Liz says she hopes she wasn’t too embarrassing and Emma, says instead she was quite revealing. She then tells Liz to get some rest as they’ve got a big day ahead. Of course, Liz’s paranoid about what she revealed and wonders what Emma knows?

Raymond, somehow gets back to Washington from Australia by warp-speed and informs that the first person murdered whose name’s on the WTTSEC (the witness protection list,) got killed by a Jersey gangster named Tony Gianussa. Gianussa also owns the SUV, that the Harem stole containing the 73 diamonds, the Harem’s planning on offering to give him the diamonds back in return for the location of the WTTSEC. Margot starts talking about some complicated plan to get to Gianussa, but Liz says she’s got it covered.

Liz goes to Gianussa’s strip-club and sits down in front of one of the dancers. The woman slithers over to Keen and asks if she’s looking for anything special? Liz drops one of Gianussa’s diamonds into her hand and suddenly, all of the dancers are abuzz. Tony comes out to investigate and goes ballistic when the dancer shows him the diamond.

The gangster throws Keen to the floor and asks if she knows who he is? She says she knows he’s got another 72 stones that he wants to get back. Gianussa puts his pistol in her face and Lizzie tells him unless she walks out in 30-seconds, he’ll never see his diamonds again.

Gianussa sends his crew to the Harem’s warehouse, but he and a goon stay behind with Liz. When the crew arrive at the warehouse, Jessica tells them they best call their boss. Tony gets a call from his guy, telling him the diamonds aren’t at the warehouse. He asks Liz what’s going on, that she said the diamonds were at the warehouse? Liz corrects him and reminds him she said if he went to the warehouse he’d get the diamonds. Since he didn’t go, they’ll have a private conversation.

The goon gets shot and Margot and Sasha step out from the shadows. She says that she’ll give Gianussa a key and the locker number where the diamonds are stored, in exchange for who has the WTTSEC. Tony informs them that the list’s got stolen by the hacker Helldritch, who just got granted asylum in Hong Kong.

Keen’s still suspicious of Emma and starts tailing her, she follows her to a restaurant where Emma meets with Reddington. Liz immediately realizes that Emma works for Red, and though she stays hidden, she’s soon in Raymond’s car asking what’s going on.

Reddington tells Liz that Emma’s former MI-6 and he’s had her undercover with the Harem for some time, as she keeps him informed on what they’re going to steal next. However she had stopped contacting him, so he needed to get Liz on the team as well. Raymond tells Liz that she can trust Emma, however Keen’s not too certain Raymond’s instincts are correct.

Roche sends Emma and Liz on an errand together and Emma tells Liz that she’d been a low-level MI-6 agent, when Reddington recruited her, eight years before. She says she got star-struck, that he made her the center of his universe and it was exciting. However she crossed too many lines along the way, her work, her family and now it was too late. Keen says it’s never too late, but Emma scoffed.

Reddington’s deal with Whistler Cruise Lines, falls through as Red’s been unable to contact Zach Smoll and the money didn’t get sent to Wilson. Instead the CEO says he got the money from Baldur Magnusson, and Raymond wishes Wilson the best of luck. Dembe says quietly to Red that seems like a strange coincidence.

The Harem’s heading to Hong Kong, where Helldritch lives in a fortress like suite in a hotel. The women plan on how they will gain access to the suite and then to extract the chip with the WTTSEC list, embedded in the hacker’s palm. In order to retain the list, they need to simulate the environment of Helldritch’s palm, Emma’s got a plan.

Sasha’s disguised as a hotel maid, hacks the Helldritch’s suite and Emma, Jessica and Liz enter the suite. Liz approaches Helldritch and tells the hacker she wants to talk about the WTTSEC and asks if there’s someplace they can talk. The three women overcome Helldritch and they get the chip and put it in device to keep it safe. Then suddenly Emma takes the list and runs off.  Liz attempts to stop her, but when she realizes she can’t she kills Jessica and then calls Margot saying that Helldritch killed the Harem member.

When Liz returns to the Post Office, she tells the Task-Force that Emma had nowhere to go. She betrayed the Harem and Reddington and she’d have nowhere to turn. However she suddenly realizes just where the former MI-6 agent went to.

Raymond figured it out as well and joins Emma as she watches her teenage son Will play soccer at his boarding school. Emma tells Reddington she wants out and she realizes what that means. Raymond tells her he’s going top set her up with a cabin on a lake in Vermont and send her a monthly stipend that will keep her comfortable and pay for her son Will’s education. He then asks her, that if she wanted out, why didn’t she just come to him? She said she didn’t realize that was an option and Raymond said he’s sorry.

Reddington meets with Elizabeth and she guesses that he got to Emma before the FBI could. Red says that he did and he gives Keen the list. She asks him if he killed her like he killed Mr. Kaplan and Raymond looks Dembe in the eye. Zuma maintains eye contact with Raymond and then looks away.

Reddington tells Lizzie that many years ago, a woman from Wisconsin named Maureen Rowan, was out in the middle of a freezing cold night, as her dog Dodger needed to relieve his bladder. While she was out there she witnessed a Russian gangster’s crew move a corpse from a basement to a car trunk.

She testified against the gangster and that turned her life upside down, Maureen Rowan’s on the WTTSEC. She’s also Mr. Kaplan’s sister. Raymond didn’t need to find her, but he needed to make certain nobody else could. Lizzie says that doesn’t make up for all the other terrible things he’s done and he agrees. When she leaves, Dembe says to Reddington that he just felt Lizzie had the right to know about Kate. Raymond says he understands.

Raymond and Dembe head back to his money-launderer, and he’s told that Zach Smoll dropped dead of a heart attack. He never sent the funds and right now the money’s sitting in an unknown account. Raymond thanks the assistant Abe and he and Dembe leave. However Reddington doesn’t believe Smoll died of a heart-attack, this was the opening salvo of a war, waged by an unknown attacker. Could Kate be involved?

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

Photo by: Will Hart/NBC

Photo by: Will Hart/NBC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

It’s Extremely tempting to skip recapping this episode of the NBC series “The Blacklist,” and jump right to the final scene. After all, that’s what the fans will be buzzing about at the conclusion of “The Forecaster.” However, the writers concocted an interesting tale, involving two separate story-lines, one of which lead to the rather surprising conclusion. So, I’ll restrain my impulses and go with a rather abridged synopsis.

Our evening opens with the sound of buzzing and static, as we see a bunch of rapidly changing images. We keep seeing one blue eye, and somebody working with clay. The sculptor forms and then paints a woman, we also see a table and chairs, already formed.

The scene changes and gives us our first look at Liz and Tom’s new apartment, filled with boxes containing all their belongings. Lizzie apologizes to Tom, for leaving him to unpack so she can get to work, he says it’s fine and he and Agnes will rock-out to the Romantics. Tom then opens an envelope that contains all his fake passports, Liz asks if he’s really ready to give up his old life? He smiles and assures her, that he is as he throws them in the wastebasket.

Agent Keen opens her front door and sees a miniature recreation of a scene, known as a diorama. The scene depicts an indoor pool, with a woman lying face down in the water. We also see the table now contains a glass filled with some green liquid.

Turns out it’s a green smoothie, as we find out in the next scene. We’re suddenly at that indoor pool, as a middle-aged woman takes a sip from her drink, drops her robe and dives into the pool. She starts doing laps when suddenly she’s gasping for air. She’s able to reach the safety rope, but too late and she drowns, her body floating on the water recreates the diorama.

Liz enters the Post Office with the diorama in tow, they’ve identified the victim as Federal Judge Tricia Culpepper. Keen received the recreation, ninety-minutes before Culpepper drowned, leading the team to believe that the killer’s taunting Keen. Cooper orders Lizzie to contact Reddington, to find out if he has any insight in the case.

Raymond, Dembe and a real-estate agent named Pamela, are checking out a pristine white apartment. Reddington says to the agent that if he took the place, he could only drink white wines, and he’s not certain he could do that. Pamela whispers to Dembe that he should drink it in the kitchen, seconds later Raymond announces he’s had a revelation and he can drink it in the kitchen.

Red will take the apartment on a month-to-month basis, Elizabeth arrives and Pamela leaves. Lizzie thanks Raymond for getting her the pardon. Reddington says in the words of his grandmother, it’s good to have friends in low places. Then they get down to the reason they’re meeting, Culpepper’s drowning. Raymond says that Keen’s dealing with a member of The Blacklist, somebody taunting her who knows where she lives. Turns out Reddington’s correct, in an indirect way.

Back at the apartment, Tom’s opening boxes and singing to Agnes, when he sees a shadow in front of his front door. He picks up a box-cutter and runs to the door, he sees another diorama in front of him, then hears a door bang shut. He runs out to the street and sees a figure in a hoodie, who starts to sprint away. The person in the hoodie appears to be a woman, as she seems small to be a man.

Tom loses them in the crowd, and suddenly realizes he left Agnes alone with the door wide open. He sprints back to the new place and more to console himself, than his daughter, he picks her up and reassures her that he’s got her. Keen realizes that he can’t just chase trouble any longer, he’s got new responsibilities.

The new diorama, depicts a man lying dead on the sidewalk of a park, the victim of a gunshot wound with blood splattering the sidewalk. There’s also a bike and a building that Aram recognizes as the old post office. Donald says they’ll catch the killer this time, and keep him from coming near Liz again.

Raymond’s putting together a jigsaw puzzle, when he and Dembe are joined by a man with an African accent named Geoffrey Keino. Keino says that he’s surprised that Reddington wanted to see him, Red asks the well-dressed man what he knows about cobalt. The African says that every cellphone battery contains at least three grams of cobalt, computers use even more.

Reddington responds that he’s heard that Keino’s boss Iniko’s investing in cobalt mines and he wants in. Geoffrey asks if Red wants him to set up a meeting with his boss, but Raymond says he wants to make a deal with Keino. He says he won’t deal with Iniko, as he recently murdered a close friend of his. Keino says if he goes against his boss, he’ll get killed. Reddington replies that Iniko will only keep him around as long as he’s useful, so Geoffrey should strike first.

The Task-Force members are down at the park in front of the old post office, not knowing who they’re looking for. They see a guy on a bicycle, but Aram quickly realizes the shooter’s on a motorcycle. Keen tackles the intended victim, saving his life, the guy on the bike gets away. Liz however gets told that the print they recovered from her doorway, during the drop of the second diorama, belongs to Fiona Driscoll.

Red and Dembe drop by a restaurant, where Iniko’s dining and Raymond proceeds to tell him that he’s got an employee that’s out to betray him. He says since he got betrayed by a former employee, he couldn’t allow Iniko to fall in the same trap. He then says that Keino offered him a share of the cobalt mines, if Reddington killed his boss. Iniko asks Raymond to join him for the rest of his meal, but Red begs off.

As they walk away from the table, Dembe takes Reddington to task for using Mr. Kaplan in his story. Red tries to dismiss him, but Zuma says that Kate deserves more respect than that. Raymond doesn’t respond to Dembe, who clearly can’t get over not stopping Reddington from killing his friend.

Ressler and Keen bring Fiona Driscoll into custody, she’s a little slip of a woman in her thirties. However they’re questioning her as if she’s the killer. Driscoll tells them that she’s not involved in the crimes, she just gets prior knowledge through premonitions. She tells the agents that the premonitions have been occurring for the last two-years and she takes them to her apartment to show Donald and Liz, more dioramas.

There are 42, in total and they depict tragedies, from around the globe. Then Fiona reveals that she’s not the one receiving the premonitions or creating the recreations. She introduces Ressler and Keen to her nine-year-old special needs daughter Maggie.

Raymond’s still working on his puzzle when Keino returns to the apartment. He’s terrified as Iniko closed the deal on the cobalt mines, without his assistance and he won’t return Geoffrey’s phone calls. Reddington tells Keino that the time to strike’s now and that Geoffrey should take out his boss with a car bomb.

Aram realizes that Maggie’s picking up cellphone conversations on her hearing aid, as they broadcast at the same frequency. Maggie’s been hearing the calls between Chris Farnsworth, CEO of Jasek Financial and his hitman Ben Charnquist. The Task-Force heads to the Driscoll’s apartment as Mojtabai attempts to track the signal. He loses it, but tells the others he’ll catch them on their next phone call.

Keino shows back up at Red’s apartment carrying a gun, which Dembe takes possession of before Geoffrey’s allowed in. He tells Reddington that Iniko discovered the car bomb and he thinks Raymond betrayed him. Red says that Keino got sloppy and either the bomb maker or the mechanic tipped off Iniko. Raymond tells Geoffrey that he’ll call Iniko and Keino can be prepared with the magic bullet.

Mojtabai’s able to pick up the conversation perfectly this time and they hear that Farnsworth and Charnquist found out about Maggie’s involvement and that’s how the Feds broke up the attempted shooting. The hitman tells Farnsworth to get a name and address and he’ll rectify the problem, just then Charnquist and Liz look out the window at the same time and realize what’s going on.

Liz and Donald run to the hitman’s apartment but just miss him, as he’s at the Driscoll’s. He’s knocked out Aram and taken Maggie. He encounters two uniforms and shoots them both, then takes one of the officer’s uniform and badge. He gets Maggie outside and puts her on a school-bus, as he attempts to hide from the agents, but quickly realizes they’ve got to get out of the area.

Mojtabai tells the pair that the walkie-talkies are broadcasting on the same frequency as Maggie’s hearing aid and if they crank the gain, they can cause Maggie to hear feedback. Charnquist and the girl exit the bus, when she drops to her knees in pain and starts screaming. The hitman starts to shake her and ask her what’s wrong, when he realizes all the mothers are staring at him and he takes off. Keen and Ressler, lower the gain and rescue the girl.

Keino’s pacing back and forth in a hallway, when Dembe arrives. Geoffrey says he can hear Iniko’s voice and Zuma hands him a gun with a silencer that he says is untraceable. Geoffrey asks Dembe if he could betray his boss, and after a second Zuma responds that he doesn’t know.

Keino bursts into the apartment and pulls the gun on his boss, but the chamber’s empty. He screams to Iniko that Reddington set him up, the boss replies they both did and kills his employee with three shots. Blood’s splattered all over the white apartment, Iniko calls his cleaners and Raymond and Dembe pull their weapons.

Farnsworth and Charnquist are back on the phone and Farnsworth says that the hitman’s got one more victim before they can escape. One of Farnsworth’s employee’s who apparently has been in on their crimes. Maggie hears the call and starts creating a diorama taking place at Jasek, showing a man dying in an elevator. Farnsworth meanwhile escapes just before a swat team enters his office to arrest him.

Iniko begs Raymond to spare his life, trying to tempt him with the riches Reddington could acquire through the cobalt mines. Raymond then reveals to Iniko that he’s looking for vengeance in the death of Cyrus Choi, who Iniko had murdered two-months before. Red says that he doesn’t believe that Choi would approve of the venture, as the money will come from using children as slave labor.

There’s a knock upon the door and Iniko says those are his cleaners. Raymond says that he’s going to hire them and the Crime-Lord says they work for him. Reddington says not anymore and shoots the African dead. He opens the door and the cleaners tell him they’ve arrived to meet Iniko and Raymond informs them that he’s dead. The female member of the duo’s pleased as she says he was a tool.

Aram informs them that the elevator was built prior to having emergency pneumatic back-up, so unless they stop Charnquist, the guy’s a dead man. A man in a tuxedo enters the building and the elevator and presses his floor, Charnquist’s busy cutting through the elevator cable. Ressler takes Charnquist out as he shoots him through a window, but the cord’s cut through. Keen saves the man with the emergency stop.

The Cleaners get the apartment back to pristine shape and Reddington’s amazed. He tells the pair that he wants to hire them and he’ll pay them twice what they got from Iniko. The woman tells Red that they only moonlight, as their regular job’s working for the Metro Police Department.

The male part of the pair asks Dembe what happened to their former cleaner and Zuma replies she was murdered. The guy asks if they were close and Dembe says very, he asks if the killer’s been caught and Zuma responds no. The guy asks if they know who did it and Dembe says they do, the guy says then it’s just a matter of time, right? Zuma remains silent.

When they leave Dembe glares at Reddington and asks if that’s what this was all about, replacing Kate? Raymond responds that there is no replacing Kate. Dembe’s glare remains as he says not as far as he’s concerned. Elizabeth comes to the apartment and it turns out that a member of The Blacklist was involved. Farnsworth’s known as the forecaster, Raymond never bank-rolled him as Red wasn’t controlling the venture.

The Keens are enjoying dinner when there’s a knock at the door and Tom asks Liz if she wants to get it? She’s surprised to see a pensive looking Dembe, who tells her he’s worried about Raymond. He says he’s not himself and he can’t reach him, the only thing Raymond cares about is Lizzie and Agnes. He then brings up the couple that were leaving the apartment as she arrived and Keen says Red wouldn’t tell her who they were.

Dembe reveals that the pair were cleaners and Liz asks what’s happened with Mr. Kaplan? She then asks if this has anything to do with faking her death? Is Kate being punished and being replaced by the couple. Dembe responds that they’re not replacing her, Raymond killed Kate. Fade to black.

How will this affect the dynamic of the series, for the short-term and the long-term? How’s Raymond going to react to the fact that he’s now been betrayed by yet another he’s trusted his life to? Will it cause an unrepairable rift between the pair, or will this cause Reddington to see the light? Just when Liz and Reddington have established some mutual-trust, she finds out he killed Kate. Can she ever forgive him?

Will this lead to them discovering that Mr. Kaplan’s indeed alive? Will they find the Tracker and will he once again enter the story. Will we find out who was driving that silver pickup truck that picked Kate up on the road? Will we find out the fate of Dr. Nick? Raymond’s past has caught up with him, how will this play out with those closest to him?

The Story Resumes Next Thursday Night at 10:00 pm on NBC.

Photo by: Virginia Sherwood/NBC

Photo by: Virginia Sherwood/NBC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

That melancholy air, that hovered over Season Four of the NBC series “The Blacklist,” lifted like the morning fog, as the show returned from its Autumn vacation. The distrust that kept the characters at arm’s length, and constantly angry with each other, casting a rather oppressive shadow through the first eight-episodes, appears to have departed along with Constantin Rostov. Of course we needed some conflict in at least one relationship, but not concerning either Lizzie or Raymond. We’ll get to that down the road, however let’s start at the beginning.

Our night begins at Lipet’s Seafood Company’s warehouse, as a truck backs into delivering the catch of the day. As the fish are getting unloaded, special attention’s given to one fish, with blood near its mouth. The fish is put in its own tray of ice, and carted over to three men dealing with technical equipment. One of the men, cut open the fish and pulls out a clear plastic pouch with a piece of tech inside it. He pulls it out of the sleeve and puts it into the machine in front of him.

Suddenly, we hear shouting and gunfire and one of the men, tells the other two, to take the tech and run. We soon see the attackers, covered from head to toe in black, and all sporting machine-guns. They get the tech and then throw a couple of grenades as they yell fire in the hole.

When we return from the opening credits we see Agnes and Lizzie, as Keen’s taking a video-selfie, while talking to a future version of Agnes. “When you were a baby, we lived inside a warehouse and we had body-guards. (Say hello Baz.) Inside the warehouse, was a fake apartment. Here’s your daddy, inside your fake living room.” She shuts off the camera, saying it should provide their daughter an interesting college essay. Tom and Liz, briefly discuss Kirk’s status and Lizzie’s ready to let it go. She says their priority right now’s finding a new place to live.

Harold Cooper, provides a bit of comic relief in this go-round, doing a whole lot of huffing and puffing, but going no further than that on two separate occasions. The first one takes place in his office, as he chews out Raymond. Cooper’s livid that Reddington, had the bureau chase down Alexander Kirk for months, costing agents their lives and he let him go. Red tells Harold that he’s got to stop living in the past and tells him about the attack at the seafood warehouse.

He tells Cooper that law-enforcement believe that they were running a dope-ring out of the facility, but they got it wrong. It’s actually been used by the “New Martyrs Brigade,” a terrorist based in Libya. He then shows Harold a photo of the corpse of Algerian Terrorist Hassam Arkani. Raymond says when he gets any more info, he’ll contact Agent Keen, which sends Cooper off on another tirade.

Harold says that Keen losing her badge’s a stain on her reputation, one that Reddington’s responsible for. Cooper growls that since Red entered Liz’s life, he’s caused her nothing but pain, grief and regret. A fact that Reddington seems obviously oblivious to, and helpless in how to rectify it. Raymond gets up from his chair, squeezes Cooper’s arm and says Good Talk Harold, then walks away.

Cooper informs the Task-Force about the NMB and the attack on the warehouse, and assigns his team roles. Navabi finds out that Aram’s getting formally questioned by the Justice Department, as to how his phony girlfriend Elise got access to his laptop. Samar says he’s got nothing to worry about, as he was clueless about the situation. Aram says he’ll come out of the situation looking like a traitor or a moron, Navabi says he’s a moron and he’ll be fine.

Ressler and Navabi head to the warehouse and interview the manager, he says two of the deceased had worked for him for a couple of months, but he didn’t recognize the rest. He says that the crew disabled the cameras at about 9:00pm, so there’s no surveillance footage. One of the agents sifting through the debris, finds a timing chip which Ressler brings to Mojtabai.

A graphic informs us that we’re now in Tripoli, Libya and we see two men having a conversation in Arabic. One man informs the other that Arkani’s dead and the project he was overseeing maybe over. He says that those responsible must be found and the technology recovered immediately. The bald-headed man he’s talking to smiles widely and responds consider it done.

The Task-Force’s summoned to the Post Office, for some urgent meeting. Aram’s been obsessed with the timing chip since he received it. He tells the other’s the quality’s far too good for the NMB, or some other group to have produced. He says the only ones who could make something of that quality, is the United States Government, then identifies the piece as being created by government contractor Blackthorn/Kincaid. Cooper sends Navabi and Ressler to the contractor and tells Aram to start getting ready for his interview.

Harold pulls Lizzie aside, and tells her that he’s going to ask Cynthia Panabaker to restore Keen back to agent status. Liz gets very excited and asks Cooper if he believes it’s possible? He replies that he’s surprised they hadn’t already done it on their own. She’ll be the one conducting Aram’s hearing, and he’ll ask her then.

Ressler’s a little stingy on diplomacy when he and Navabi question the contractor. After a brief spitting match, they identify the piece as being created four months earlier and likely handled by about eighty employees. When Ressler tells them he’ll need a list of all the employees involved, one of the executives hands him a dossier on a former employee, James Maddox. He was one of their top programmers, but developed a drinking problem and they terminated him. Ressler takes the file, but says he still wants the list of the other employees.

Raymond’s in his car when he receives a call from a woman named Wendy, who says she’s got some information on the NMB, and that they’re heading into the country. She says that her intelligence says they’ll be sending about six agents, lead by the bald-headed guy we saw earlier in Tripoli, Farouk. As they’re talking we watch as Farouk al-Thani’s passport’s accepted and he enters the States.

Farouk has the seafood warehouse manager, brought to him with a black bag over his head. The manager apologizes and doesn’t know what went wrong, but he informs al-Thani, that he’s got the surveillance footage that he convinced law-enforcement officials, didn’t exist. Farouk then shoots the manager and makes a call, saying we have to meet immediately. The man on the other end of the phone’s the executive from Blackthorn/Kincaid, that gave Ressler the dossier on Maddox.

Raymond’s dining out, when Dembe suddenly walks over and tells Red that someone’s arrived. A man joins him at the table and says that he’s not there and this meeting never took place. The other man’s Marlin Heiden, Legal adviser to President-Elect Robert Diaz, and Raymond laughs heartily at Heiden’s statements. He then states that Diaz made Reddington a campaign promise and he just wants it granted, he finishes his meal and says that Heiden should tell Diaz, he’ll be in touch.

Farouk meets with the executive and demands that he replace the technology that got stolen. The man from the contractor informs al-Thani that’s not going to happen, but he believes he can identify some of the attackers on the security tape, as Blackthorn/Kincaid has a program that can see through cloth masks.

Keen questions the former programmer Maddox, who says he ran from Ressler and Navabi, because he thought they were process-servers. He’s going through a nasty divorce, and doesn’t want to spend more time in court. He says he knows nothing about the timer chip, but Ressler then walks in with a burner phone and a bank passbook that were found in a search of Maddox’s home. He says he’s being framed, and we can see Lizzie believes him.

The executive gets the tape rendered and they’re able to identify one of the attackers, it’s Navabi. She was part of a Black-Ops attack conducted by Mossad, to keep the technology that could pierce Israel’s defense. Just as they’re discovering her identity, Navabi meets with the other Mossad operatives and tells them that Aram had suspicions about one of their members and they have to get back to Israel.

Aram survives a humiliating interview with Panabaker, and gets cleared of any wrong-doing. Navabi and he make a date to celebrate his name getting cleared after work that evening. Samar gives Mojtabai, a congratulatory hug, before she and Ressler head out to interview a Blackthorn/Kincaid programmer, who claims he saw Maddox with the timing chip.

Cooper tells Keen that despite his best efforts, Panabaker said that Liz won’t be reinstated as an agent. He tells Lizzie that the only way she could gain clearance to get her shield back, would be if the new Attorney-General gave his okay to the arrangement. Harold tells her that’s not about to happen.

Marlin Heiden’s been pulled over by a cruiser and soon he’s joined by Reddington and Heiden realizes the cops who busted him are working for Red. Raymond informs him, that the really bad news is his toxicology report shows him way over the legal limit. This time Heiden laughs as he informs Reddington that he’s been sober for 12-years. Red says and that’s exactly why the President-Elect will have to terminate Marlin, as that’s not a good image for the new administration. Reddington says he can make the charges disappear, if Heiden gets Raymond that meeting with Diaz.

Turns out that the programmer was really a trap set-up by the NMB, Farouk and his crew kidnap Samar, leaving Ressler in the dust. Ressler calls the Post Office and tells them about Navabi, Lizzie calls Reddington and sends him everything they have on the NMB. Raymond recognizes the man that Aram had flagged as a Mossad agent named Ezra, and says he was part of the Black-Ops team that attacked the seafood warehouse.

Farouk puts Samar up on a hook and smiles at her, then says she should save herself a lot of needless pain and suffering and just reveal where the tech’s hidden. Navabi smiles back at him and says she’s good. He soon realizes she’s not going to break and suggests to the Blackthorn/Kincaid executive, that they use Samar’s cellphone to try to track down her Mossad teammates. He says that they can trade her life for the tech. The executive says she saw his face and she can’t leave the room. Farouk says that the executive won’t leave the room then shoots him dead. His instinct serves him well, as the number he hits connects him to Mossad agent Levi. However Ressler and the FBI discover the Mossad agents.

Levi absconded with the tech, and heads to Cornerstone Park, with Ressler in pursuit. Farouk directs Levi to a push-cart vendor, but the agent demands to hear Navabi’s voice before he gives the vendor the tech. She tells Levi to destroy the tech, but the agent gives the package over to the vendor saying that the tech’s not leaving the park until Samar’s returned. Just at that moment Navabi’s released from a white van and Aram tells Ressler and the other agents where the push-cart’s located.

The vendor attaches the tech to a drone and it flies off into the air. Donald tells him to make it come down, but the guy just smiles and says he’s not controlling it. Ressler tracks it down and sees Farouk about to check out of a hostel. A chase ensues and then the two men fight, but Farouk’s hit and killed by a car that hits him. Ressler takes the bag and leaves the corpse in the street.

Samar’s recovering in an ambulance, when Levi comes over to her. She says that he risked Israel’s security to get her back, she doesn’t know whether to hit him or hug him. Levi informs her that he broke off his engagement, Navabi says she’s sorry to hear the news. However Levi smiles and says Samar should be happy about that.

President-Elect Diaz and his wife arrive to have a dance lesson, but he finds that Raymond’s waiting for him. Diaz says that he and Reddington are through, he opened up an investigation into Alexander Kirk, and suspended his Presidential campaign. Red reminds him that Diaz got compensated for that, however he promised Raymond something else. He then says that the current President will want his image burnished by his successor, and that granting Diaz this favor will ensure that.

Cooper finds himself chewing out Navabi, as the episode draws to a close. He says that her actions were unacceptable, and she replies that she was out to save her country. Cooper explodes as he says as long as she works on the Task-Force, her job’s to protect the USA. Samar, replies she was able to save both with her actions. Harold tells her that she can never lie to him, or take on a mission without his authority. He then tells her to go home and get some rest.

As Harold leaves, Aram says that she should go home and they’ll do dinner another night. She thanks him for the rain-check, but he says that he’s not really giving her one. He recounts his interview with Panabaker and says he got embarrassed. He says that he needs to know that the woman he’d raise a family with and grow old together, isn’t a spy. He walks away and we can see the pain in Samar’s face.

In the fake apartment, Tom asks Liz if he understood that Panabaker said she couldn’t be reinstated, then turns on the TV newscast. The anchor’s talking about the surprising move that the out-going President had made earlier that afternoon, granting a full pardon to Elizabeth Keen.

Navabi meets with Levi, to talk about what he said to her earlier. She says as much as that’s what she always wanted, that she’s now in love with another man. How this will affect her relationship with Aram, now remains to be seen.

The final scene of the evening, has Liz saying to Harold that Raymond Reddington got her a pardon from the President of the United States! How does he do these things? Cooper smiles and says he doesn’t know or care, right at that moment. His only concern is doing something he’s long wanted to do. He gives Lizzie back her gun and her shield and says, Welcome Back Agent Keen.

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