Photo Courtesy Of Will Hart/NBC
WARNING SPOILER ALERT
The NBC series “The Blacklist,” went into its two-week Olympic Games hiatus, (Personally, I think Raymond’s a luge enthusiast) with an episode that confirmed some theories, and set in motion the inevitable confrontation with Ian Garvey. One week after featuring Tommy Wattles, a Blacklist member that will remain embedded in viewers minds for years, the group that the Task-Force brought to justice paled in comparison. We’ve seen vigilante groups such as “The Invisible Hand,” countless times in fiction over the last couple of decades. (Think low-tech version of F-Society, from Mr. Robot.) Frankly the writers and show-runners did nothing to advance the concept, resulting in a rather flat and predictable story-arc, which may have been by design.
This episode’s true strength was to put the pieces together to set the course for the balance of season five, including a bitter-sweet reunion between Lizzie and her grandfather Dominic Wilkinson. Although Dom didn’t identify himself as Keen’s grandfather, the exchange provided a glimpse into the past of the man we’ve only known as Katarina’s father. Raymond continued building a force to be reckoned with, for his upcoming war with his unknown foe. We also obtained some game-changing information concerning Ian Garvey, hinted at in this corner before the series returned from its Autumn vacation.
The Blacklist Members Of The Week.
We’re going to cut right to the chase on the story-line of The Invisible Five. The plot revolves around six kids who lived in a seemingly paradise-like cul-de-sac in the town of Brenford, New York, in the nineties. Suddenly their world got rocked, as their parents died after being ravaged by cancer they contracted as a result of Atria Chemical Corporation, dumping hazardous waste into the ground. The EPA eventually declared a ten-mile radius around the town as a toxic dump, warning people to stat away due to the massive dose of radiation emanating from the land.
The six kids scattered to different parts of the country, but got reunited at the funeral of one of the group, as a result of the radiation poisoning. The remaining five formed a vigilante group they dubbed The Invisible Hand, dedicated to punish an Atria executive, a judge and a lawyer, who settled a lawsuit with one of their neighbors and then sealed the records. The rest of the neighborhood remained ignorant of the danger, and slowly succumbed to the radiation poisoning.
They quickly got their revenge on the judge and the attorney, burying both men alive in the toxic wasteland. However the remaining member of the troika, the Atria executive Anna Hopkins, moved to England. They then decided to expand their scope, taking out people who do things within the law, but that they considered morally reprehensible. Seven more people would suffer their wrath, until some teenagers jumped the fence on a dare, and discovered their latest victim.
When the five members see the news reports they meet at a restaurant owned by Zeke, a member of the hand. Another member Stephen Altman, who seems to be their leader, says they’ve always done things together, and if any of the group wants to stop, they’ll immediately disband. However he says they might want to carry out one more mission, as Anna Hopkins’ in town to make a speech. They can finally punish the third member of the troika.
Navabi and Ressler arrive at the toxic dump, and one of the investigators tells them they’ve recovered seven bodies at that point. He also informs them of a camera the EPA installed at the site, similar to the one “The Tracker,” used last season, except this camera takes just one picture a day. Ressler asks for the contents of the camera, and when they return to the Post Office, Aram sees Stephen Altman standing in the woods without a hazmat suit on. They soon identify him as a former resident of Brenford, who unsuccessfully sued Atria, as a teenager.
Samar and Donald drive to the cul-de-sac the in Brenford, it looks as if it went through the apocalypse. Although the entire neighborhood’s deserted, Ressler notices smoke coming from Altman’s chimney, and calls in for a SWAT-Team. Altman escapes into the woods, however the agents discover the monitoring equipment set up in the house and bring it back to the Post Office.
The Invisible Hand undertakes their plan to capture and kill Anna Hopkins, staying at the Braxton Hotel. One of the group, a reporter named Bobby, interviews Hopkins about her new project, and slips a tracking unit into her purse. After he leaves, Altman poses as a courier saying he needs Hopkins to sign for two packages. She senses something wrong and calls the hotel’s front desk, and asks if they authorized a courier to come to her room? The attendant says no, and says he’ll send security up to the room.
Aram discovers the tracking unit that Bobby put into Hopkins’ purse and he’s able to triangulate the signal. He discovers it’s originating from the seventeenth floor of the Braxton Hotel. Navabi and Ressler head to the hotel, and the hotel front desk clerk’s informed that Hopkins might be in danger. He responds that he just sent security up to her room.
Two security guards head up to Hopkins’ room and tell Altman that he’s got to register at the front desk before delivering any packages, as Hopkins watches through the peephole in her door. When Altman leaves, one of the men knock on her door and she opens it to thank them, however it’s Zeke and Bobby posing as security. They quickly overtake her and bring her to a maroon van in the parking lot.
The agents arrive just as the group puts Hopkins into their van, and a shootout ensues. The agents take out Zeke and wound Bobby, and Emma. Bobby and Altman escape with Hopkins in the van, and Navabi and Ressler take the remaining member, Sophia into custody. After arriving at the Post Office, they convince her to help them find the van by threatening her with never seeing her two young children again. She leads them to where Altman was burying Hopkins, while Navabi and Sophia rescue Hopkins, Ressler tackles Altman as he tries to escape.
During Ressler’s interrogation of Altman, we learn that he’s dying of radiation poisoning, and found out two years before. He says he’s proud of what the Invisible Hand accomplished, he says they’re a corrective unit, and they carried out corrections against injustice. Although none of their victims broke the law, they all took advantage of the law and in the process ruined other people’s lives.
Raymond And Lizzie’s Discoveries
There’s a knock at Elizabeth’s apartment door, and she finds Detective Singleton on the other side, ostensibly there to deliver Tom’s last effects. However he quickly reveals his true reason for his visit, to attempt to intimidate Keen into admitting she killed Bobby Navarro, and she stole the bloody rag from Singleton’s station’s evidence lock-up. She spits back at him that she’s still a federal agent, and for him to stay away from her. He says he’ll be back soon to arrest her.
Among Tom’s effects, she finds a set of keys and immediately fixates on one. We next see her in one of Tom’s storage units, and she uses the key to open an electronic box she seems to know resides there. Opening the unit, she finds a pistol and a leather-bound journal. She sees an entry about Oleander, and then finds a travel brochure for the Oleander Hotel in Slovenia. She immediately calls Cooper asking for help.
Dembe informs Raymond they’ve got an unexpected visitor, our old fiend Anthony Pagliaro the postman, enters the room apologizing profusely. He says he’d never show up unannounced but for a dire emergency. Raymond asks the postal-worker his definition of emergency, and Anthony responds somebody’s going to kill him. Reddington deems the situation an emergency as well, and tells Pagliaro to explain his situation.
Anthony recounts how he discovered a shipment meant for Big Willie Wilkins, and deduced that it contained massive quantities of drugs, so he stole it. He figured he could convince the drug kingpin that the shipment got lost in the mail, but Wilkins didn’t fall for the story. He then told Big Willie, that the shipment got stolen by a rival drug-dealer Momo Marinello. However when Momo got word that Pagliaro fingered him, he decided to take Anthony out. Raymond asks why he needed the extra money, and Pagliaro says he’d rather not discuss it. When pressed he admits he’s dating a woman out of his league and he wants to get liposuction surgery.
Raymond says that they’ll pay Wilkins a visit and Anthony will admit the truth. Pagliaro balks at the idea, but Reddington says that he’s found over the years that telling the truth is the best course of action. At least most of the time.
Elizabeth and Harold are meeting in Cooper’s office and he’s giving her the information he’s been able to track down on Oleander, and the first point of info’s that Oleander’s a man. He was a legendary Soviet operative, rumored to have come to the States after the Cold War ended. He give’s Keen the name of the man believed to be Oleander, but warns her that if he’s actually the operative, he might not take kindly to questions about his past.
Keen arrives at a house we’ve seen before, and when she knocks on the front door a familiar figure appears. He recognizes her identity immediately and his eyes gleam, but he soon realizes she’s unaware of their relation. She asks if he’s Dominic Wilkinson, and identifies herself. When he asks how he can be of service to her, she asks if he’s the former Soviet operative Oleander?
He lets out a cynical laugh, and says that old ghost story got disproven years before. The CIA cleared him of being Oleander, however she cuts him off and says the Agency didn’t have sufficient proof to charge him. He asks why she’s interested in a former Soviet operative, and her face softens as she explains that her husband was killed over a year ago, and she found information about Oleander among his belongings.
(Her statement doesn’t coincide with the time-line that the show runners have established. Tom died in November of 2017, and she didn’t come out of her coma until September of 2018. Professional athletes would take at least two years to recover from the injuries she received, pushing the time of her departure for Alaska to around September of 2020. When we had a glimpse of Agnes in “The Cook,” she appeared to be about four, she was born in April of 2016.)
Dom apologizes for her loss, but he says he was just a systems analyst for the Soviet Union, not an agent. When the Cold War ended he got granted asylum and a new identity by the American government, and went to work as a systems analyst for them. He’s sorry he can be of no help to her, but she asks him if he interacted with any Soviet operatives. He says he did and she asks if he knew Katarina Rostova?
Dominic breaks into a broad smile and says he knew Rostova quite well, then feigns surprise when he “realizes” he’s speaking to Masha. He says that Katarina used to come into the office he worked out of all the time. When Keen asks if they’d been friends, he quickly changed the subject to a time that Katarina brought Masha to the office when she was about three-years-old. She asked him if he knew Raymond Reddington, and he said that he didn’t want to discuss him.
She then asked if he thought Katarina could still be alive, and mentioned the former Soviet operative she met in season one, who said he saw her at a hotel. Dom’s face softened as he said he never heard from Rostova after she moved to the States. He once again apologized for not being more informative.
Reddington, Dembe, and Anthony, go to met Big Willie, Raymond’s tickled to find the drug establishment operates out of a candy factory. He says his mind’s filled with visions of Sammy Davis Jr. Seeing the drug kingpin, he thanks him for making the time for them. Wilkins’ surprised that Raymond actually showed up for the meeting, he thought somebody was putting him on. He’s also surprised that Pagliaro works for Red.
Reddington prods Anthony to begin his confession, but the postal-worker says he’s suddenly feeling light-headed. Clearly frustrated, Raymond tells the chief of the drug syndicate that Anthony stole the cocaine, then panicked and blamed Momo for the theft. He says Pagliaro’s sincerely sorry, and he will pay Wilkins back in full, with interest. He then says since it’s no harm no foul, he thinks that Big Willie should forgive Anthony and call off the hit on him.
Wilkens sneers and says “No harm no foul, eh? Follow me.” He takes them into another room where we see some of his men disposing of the remains of Momo Marinello. Big Willie says you have to respond quickly, or his foes perceive it as a sign of weakness. Suddenly the lights cut out, Marinello’s gang’s arrived for their revenge. A shootout ensues, and the air suddenly becomes dense with smoke courtesy of a device one of Marinello’s men set off.
Raymond takes cover but joins in on the action, although at a disadvantage armed just with a pistol, while the others carried long guns. We suddenly see a pair of feet heading towards Red, and Dembe shouts to Reddington to watch out. Raymond turns and fires, realizing too late that the man approaching him was Anthony. Dembe and Reddington carry Pagliaro out of the facility, and the post-worker says he doesn’t want to die. Raymond says he won’t die as they’re getting him help.
Pagliaro wakes up in a recovery facility, Reddington tells him he’s going to be fine, but he needs to watch out for his lap-band. Anthony pulls up the blanket covering him, and realizes that Raymond had the doctors perform the liposuction procedure. Reddington tells him that as long as he was under, he figured they might as well perform the procedure. He wishes Anthony good luck with his new girlfriend and leaves.
Red then meets with Wilkins, telling the drug kingpin he wants him to take on a mission for Reddington. He wants Big Willie to start a war with the Nash Syndicate. Wilkins replies Reddington’s already a big fish, why would he want to take on another? Raymond responds he’s not a big fish, he’s Moby Dick, and for Wilkins to get things in order to proceed with his plan.
Raymond heads to the Post Office, and a look of concern crosses his face when his cell phone rings, and he realizes the caller. He asks what’s wrong, and Dom on the other hand asks him why he thinks something’s amiss. Reddington replies because Wilkinson never calls unless it’s an emergency. Dom informs him that Masha had been at his place that afternoon, seeking information on Oleander. He says he didn’t reveal that he’s actually Oleander, or say anything about Reddington. The old man then grumbles that’s all Raymond cares about anyway.
Dom tells Reddington he should tell Masha the truth, but Raymond sees Elizabeth at that point talking to Samar, and says he can’t talk about that now. Turns out that Bobby the reporter might have some information, that could lead Reddington and keen closer to Tom’s killer.
Raymond heads into the reporter’s hospital room, and he tells Bobby that most bullet wounds to the abdomen aren’t fatal. He then recounts a story of a confederate of his, getting shot 24-times in the abdomen, and surviving. He then asks Bobby about a man The Invisible hand employed, known as the Toy-Maker, and where he’s located. The reporter glares at Reddington, says he’s definitely not a cop, and asks why he should share that information with him? Raymond replies that if he doesn’t he’ll make certain that Bobby won’t survive his gunshot wound.
Lizzie and Raymond head to an electronics repair shop, and find an elderly round little man behind the welding bench. Raymond calls the man by his surname, but the man responds that Mr. Reddington should call him by his first name, Cleveland. Red smiles and says he’s pleased Cleveland knows his identity, as he’s aware that Cleveland’s the Toy-Maker, and hands him Navarro’s glass eye, asking him whom he made it for. Cleveland stammers and stutters, while Raymond puts his pistol on the welding bench, and picks up his welding gun.
Cleveland then says that the eyeball was just the first thing a mysterious man wanted from him. He says the man never introduced himself, and the Toy-Maker identified him as a man that one should never ask his name. He says the guy’s an electronics expert, that the first time they met they had a 20-minute discussion on RF-gain. When Raymond asks Cleveland if he believes the man’s a cop, the Toy-Maker remained silent. Reddington thanked him for his time and the pair left the shop.
Before recapping the hour’s final two scenes; let’s take a look back at a guess we made back in our column of December 27, entitled “Suitcase Suppositions.”
“I believe Garvey is either a former agent from the Agency or the Bureau, which is why he was able to access CODIS. Ideally, I would love for him to be the new FBI Director, but that’s likely asking for too much. Plus he dresses like an out of work bureaucrat, sporting a tie so wide that it could double as a table-cloth. I had some of the same back in the mid-seventies and they’re likely still sitting in some compost heap.
Garvey looks like a retired or possibly disgraced “Spook,” (old-term parlance for a CIA Agent,) and realizes that if the information that our Raymond’s a fake emerged, Reddington’s reputation would be in tatters and his life would be endangered. So the former government employee’s going to try to put the squeeze on Red, and demanding a percentage of the profits. Personally, I don’t like Garvey’s odds.”
After Elizabeth leaves the repair shop, she heads back to the Post Office, and once again meets with Cooper. She asks to be reinstated back onto the Task-Force. Harold replies that she told him she looked at being a Federal Agent as a handicap in her search for Tom’s killers. She responds that’s until she realized the man she’s searching for, might wear a badge himself. Cooper shakes her hand, and welcomes her back to the Task-Force.
We see Detective Singleton making a call on his cellphone, telling the part on the other end that he’s concerned about Elizabeth Keen. We then see the caller on the other end’s Ian Garvey, and he tells Singleton to clam down, that he’ll take care of things on his end. Just as we realize that Singleton’s working for Garvey, the camera flashes on a star attached to his belt.
The Story Returns on Wednesday February 28, at 8:00 pm on NBC.