Christine Lahti.

All posts tagged Christine Lahti.

Photo Courtesy Of NBC

WARNING: SPOILER ALERT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo Courtesy Of William Hart/NBC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

Fans of the NBC series “The Blacklist,” are probably still reeling from the two-hour bombshell, that concluded season four. The show runners have bombarded viewers with information, since they returned from hiatus on April 20, and the two-hour season finale followed in kind. With all the action that took place, including murders, betrayals, relationships dissolving , while new ones formed, there’s likely one revelation that shook long time viewers to their core. Apparently, Raymond Reddington’s the biological father of Masha Rostova, however the man that we’ve known as Raymond for the past four seasons, maybe an impostor.

The concept of the character that Spader portrays, actually being a man that adopted the identity of Raymond Reddington, had gotten bandied about by some of the show’s fans since the second season. This viewer never bought into that concept, however the show runners certainly left viewers with that conclusion heading into the summer. By taking the story down this path, it opens up a myriad of questions. Exactly who is this man, that the world knows as Raymond Reddington? Does this mean that four-year-old Masha Rostova, actually shot and killed the real Raymond Reddington? Did Mr. Kaplan realize that the man she worked for and loved, had adopted the identity of another man?

There’s a deep connection between the man we’ve known as Raymond, and Katarina’s father Dom, who returned to the series in the evening’s first hour. Raymond apologizes to him as he leaves his home, for not becoming the man that Dom hoped he would. The conversation sounded like a son apologizing to his father, could this man really be Dom’s son and Katarina’s brother? Is this man responsible for the suitcase filled with bones, that Mr. Kaplan unearthed? Perhaps even more importantly whose bones are in that valise, Katarina’s, or the real Raymond Reddington’s?

Should the show’s long-term fans feel cheated if the character we’ve invested four seasons into following, turns out to be an imposter? It’s a question that I’ve wrestled with since the final few minutes of episode 23, and I’ve come up with a rationale that I can live with. Whom ever this man that we’ve been intrigued by turns out to be, he’s the guy that’s kept us glued to our respective screens for 89 episodes. He’s the man who could end Diane Fowler’s life, with a bullet to the gut while telling her she talked too much. Yet he showed empathy and gentleness, when treating a young boy to three ice-cream sundaes, in order to obtain the name of his hematologist from his mother. This is the man filled with information on almost any subject, who can entertain you all evening with his anecdotes, and seems to get perverse pleasure out of emasculating husbands, in front of their wives.

If this man’s not Raymond Reddington, it doesn’t truly matter to me. If Red proves to be a phony, it just proves that the rabbit hole’s deeper than many of us previously thought. Was this man ever married to Naomi, or was the story he revealed about coming home to a Christmas Eve massacre, his true fate? If he’s not Raymond Reddington, then why would he have buried that suitcase full of bones at Tansi Farms? These are just some of the issues, that fans will be chewing over this Summer.

Can We Survive?

Team-Red’s on the ropes as the first hour opens, getting attacked on multiple fronts. Raymond finds out after surviving a shoot-out, that his suppliers have cut him off and his bank accounts drained. Trusted allies such as Brimley the geriatric torturer, and another crime-boss named Don Julio, are keeping their distance from Red, proving the old adage that nobody loves you, when you’re down and out. After asking Don Julio for help in locating his former driver now employed by Mr. Kaplan, he tells Red that the man just bought a Ferrari. Reddington tries tracking the driver through the dealership he bought the car from, but a shell-corporation’s listed as the legal owners.

Things aren’t going much smoother for the Task-Force, as Julian Gale’s gathered enough evidence for prosecutors to convene a grand jury. Aram Mojtabai’s been granted immunity to testify against his friends and colleagues. Because of the immunity deal, Mojtabai’s compelled to testify or risk being jailed for contempt of court. Aram’s warned that he’s not to share this information with any of his teammates.

Gale informs Donald Ressler, that he’s the guy that took the shot at Reddington, during their meeting with Kaplan. Ressler tries to explain the rationale of the Task-Force to Julian, but Gale’s disgusted at the concept of making a deal with such a heinous criminal, and refuses to listen. He then tells Ressler that he’s going to put him and each member of the Task-Force behind bars.

Kate’s morphed into the monster that Dembe said she’d become, in the previous episode. Her obsession with destroying Raymond, seems to have stripped her of her humanity. She’s so fixated with her mission, that she looks at anybody that gets into her way as collateral damage. Kate hires a master-thief named Mario Dixon, to break into the Stone Canyon facility, a government warehouse that contains all sorts of classified documents. In order to obtain the document that Raymond signed from the Justice Department, finalizing their agreement, she removes a man’s eyeball without anesthesia, to get past the facility’s security device.

Raymond realizes that his accountant Abe’s assisted Kate with cleaning out his bank accounts, and after getting Dixon’s name from a ledger, he repays Abe for his betrayal. Reddington gives the name to Keen and Navabi, who track down his younger brother in a correctional facility. Offering to take five years off his sentence for cooperating, the younger Dixon tells them he’d have given up his brother for free, and directs them to a store in Baltimore.

After threatening Dixon’s business partner, Reddington’s told that Dixon’s in Philadelphia. Navabi and Keen engage in a chase with Dixon, but they get help from a collection of government agencies, who got alerted when somebody from Stone Canyon informed them about the break-in. Dixon says he’s got no intention of talking, since he’s aware of the deal Reddington signed with the Justice Department. He tells the agents that he’ll start singing the moment he’s arrested. The agents inform him he’s not getting arrested, and instead leaves him in Raymond’s care.

Raymond and Dembe drive to Dom’s home, then Raymond and the old man head into his barn. He digs up a red strong-box that he buried there decades earlier, with strict instructions to Dom, never to dig it up. He then tells Dom about Kate, and how she’s destroyed his empire. However the reason he says he’s willing to give up the contents of the box, is to save Masha’s life. He says he thought he lost her once, and he’s not going to chance it again.

Dom’s enraged when he finds out his granddaughter’s alive, and he demands to know why Reddington didn’t contact him, instead of allowing him to grieve for the last year? Raymond replies that Mr. Kaplan knew every detail in Reddington’s life, except about Dom’s existence. He says he purposely stayed away from him, so that Kate wouldn’t find out about him. He then tells the old man, that if he fails to return Dom must find Masha and tell her whom he is.

Red offers the contents of the box to Dixon, in exchange for Kate’s location. He tells the thief that the box contains travel vouchers, and the deed and key to a 96-acre mansion, on an island near Dubai. When Dixon asks how can he be certain Reddington won’t kick him out once he takes residence, Raymond explains that the staff and the guards will pledge their undying loyalty, to whom ever holds the key. After obtaining the location, Raymond ends Dixon’s life with a shot at point-blank range.

Theaters seem to play a prominent part in this series, and Raymond and Dembe ambush Kate and her two henchmen in the theater she’d planned to meet Dixon in. After taking out the two henchmen, Raymond says he wants to end things peacefully and offers Mr. Kaplan all he’s got left, the contents of the box. Kate says the island would be her prison, Reddington agrees but says she’d be imprisoned in paradise. She refuses the offer, and suddenly we hear Julian Gale shouting out hands up this is the FBI.

Gale and his partner George start firing and go after Dembe and Raymond, but they lose them. They return to the theater to find Kate’s waiting for them. He says without the document that Reddington signed, the case he’s presenting to the grand jury will fall apart. Kate corrects him, saying she’ll gladly testify in open court, in exchange for immunity. She then asks Gale what he’s waiting for, and tells her to go ahead and arrest her.

Rising From The Ashes.

Lou Reed’s “Vicious,” brings us back for hour number two, as Raymond and Dembe sit in a seedy motel room, while Reddington destroys a fistful of phony id’s that Kate made invalid. At the same time Kate’s meeting with Federal Prosecutors, to see if her testimony qualifies giving her immunity. After a few minutes of conversation, the prosecutors agree to a deal, she informs them that she needs 24-hours to tie-up odds and ends, before she goes into custody. After the prosecutors initially refuse, she informs them that if she doesn’t get released she’ll remain silent, Kate wins yet another battle.

We see her next out in the country, and she walks up to a tree with the initial K carved into it. She then takes five steps from the tree, and removes a collapsible shovel from its carrying bag. She then says “Forgive Me Katrina,” and starts digging into the earth.

Raymond’s got one more card to play, and this move ends up tipping the balance of the game. He and Dembe pay a visit to the location of a nightclub, that former NFL player J.J. Brickman’s on the verge of opening. Raymond requests that Brickman contact his “Fixer,” Henry Prescott. When the former NFL player refuses, Reddington puts a slug into Brickman’s drug dealer, and tells him that he either contacts Prescott, or the dealer will bleed out there, which would end the club’s future that night.

Henry Prescott’s a man that rectifies situations, getting his clients out of scrapes with the law, and other assorted annoyances. Besides having Brickman among his clients, Prescott did a job for a highly placed member of the government, back on November 19, 2015. Henry’s got a warehouse where he stores all his “insurance policies,” and Raymond wants access to it. Prescott asks if Reddington’s going to kill him if he refuses, but Raymond informs him that’s not his intention. Instead he’ll make Prescott famous when the authorities find him along with Brickman and “Gun-Shot Wound.” Raymond says that will assure that Prescott’s client base will immediately dry up.

Aram goes to testify in front of the grand jury and he refuses to cooperate. After the prosecutor attempts to intimidate Mojtabai, he says that he’s proud of the work he’s done with Reddington. He then says that if she wants a trial, to give them a trial, let them show the American public all the good they’ve done. The prosecutor, tells the bailiff to remove him from the room and he’s to be held in contempt of court.

Raymond arrives at Prescott’s facility with Ressler, identifying him as his associate Frank Sturgeon. He tells Henry that Sturgeon needs to see the evidence, Prescott nods his head and tells them the facility’s arranged in chronological order.

The pair enter the warehouse and we see countless industrial size barrels, Raymond gives Donald a pair of rubber gloves, and when they arrive at the barrel marked 11-19-15, Reddington uses a crowbar to remove the lid. He then tells Ressler to reach inside, and Donald discovers Reven Wright’s body perfectly preserved. They remove the slug from her corpse, which Raymond predicts will match the bullets in the Glock that Hitchin keeps in her nightstand.

Ressler’s conflicted that after all this time trying to prove Laurel Hitchin murdered Reven Wright, he’s got to let her go now that he’s got definitive proof. Cooper and the Task-Force commiserate, however they tell Donald that he’s got no choice in the matter. He has to make the deal with Hitchin, guaranteeing her freedom, by her guaranteeing theirs.

Turns out that Aram’s on again/off again girlfriend Janet Sutherland, gave him up when she testified before the grand jury. We find this out when Navabi confronts her inside the courthouse, Sutherland says they promised to expunge her criminal record if she testified. Samar tells her that she’s going to let Aram know, but decides not to tell him when he says he’d never make it through the experience without Janet’s support. She tells Aram that Reddington’s attempting to squash the grand jury and not to give up hope.

Laurel Hitchin looks like the cat that swallowed the canary, when Reddington and Ressler enter her home, and inform her about the grand jury. Raymond tells Hitchin that she’s going to shut the grand jury down and she chortles, until Reddington informs her that they’ve met with Henry Prescott, and they now possess the bullet she killed Reven Wright with. If she wants to maintain her freedom, she’s going to make that grand jury go away.

The next morning, Hitchin struts into the room that the grand jury’s convening in, and informs the prosecutor and Julian Gale that she’s shutting them down for reasons of national security. Gale gets in her face and asks if Reddington’s gotten to her as well. She replies to Gale, that his career’s not completely destroyed, but if he makes another remark like that it will be.

Julian calls Mr. Kaplan and informs her that the Grand Jury’s been shut-down. She asks what that means concerning her immunity deal. Gale responds that its off the table, without the testimony, the government won’t give her immunity. She quickly hangs up.

Keen calls Kate and asks to meet with her, one on one. Kaplan responds that she can no longer trust her, and Lizzie responds that she trusts Kate. We soon see Liz walking in the street, when some of Kate’s men inform her that Mr. Kaplan wants to see her, and escort her into a black SUV. She’s dropped off at a beach, where she finds Kate sitting on a bench in a gazebo, she goes over and joins her. asking Kaplan if she’s okay.

Kate replies that she’s tired and she feels lost. She pledged to protect Lizzie with her life to Katarina, and she feels she’s let both mother and daughter down. She asks Liz if she wants to know the truth, the real reason Raymond came into her life. She tells Keen she can show her, but it must be Liz’s decision.

Now assured of their safety, Raymond and Dembe pay a visit to Julian Gale, surprising him in his car. After telling Gale that he looks fit, he says that they’re in search of Kate’s location. Julian asks how he expects to get that info, by threatening to kill him? Raymond once again says killing isn’t on his mind, he’s simply going to steal Julian’s phone to obtain the number from Kate’s burner phone. As they depart, Raymond says he’s sure they’ll bump into each other soon.

Harold’s able to track the burner phone from the number and tells Raymond where Kaplan and Lizzie are heading to, he says that agents are on the way. Reddington responds that his men are closer and they’ll track them down before Kate can harm Lizzie.

Kate’s SUV gets forced off the road by Reddington’s soldiers, she tells Liz that if she leaves the car she’s choosing Raymond, if she remains she’s choosing the truth. Although Liz told Mr. Kaplan on the phone that she trusted her, apparently this experience caused that trust to evaporate, as she leaves the vehicle. Baz walks over to the driver’s side window, and with his pistol drawn he asks Kate to shut off the vehicle and come out. Mr. Kaplan says oh Baz and then shoots him and drives off. Lizzie calls for an ambulance as the rest of the men start chasing her.

The final standoff takes place on a steel bridge, as Raymond and Dembe face Kate. She tells him that she won’t go to prison, and as soon as Raymond kills her, one of her men will present Lizzie with the secret they had buried at Tansi Farms. Reddington tells her that he’s not going to shoot her, and he regrets shooting her the first time. Saying once again she won’t go to prison, she climbs atop the bridge railing and plunges to her death in the water far below. There’s no doubt she’s gone as her lifeless body just floats on top of the water.

With the Task-Force’s problems rectified, Harold calls Keen into his office. He says that she deserves answers as to why Reddington came into her life in 2013, so he took matters into his own hands. He reveals to Lizzie that at one time he’d been considered a Golden Child, and he worked with Raymond in Naval Intelligence. He then says that Reddington got captured and beaten by his Soviet captors, and Harold recovered Reddington’s bloody clothes from an ancient evidence facility. He got a sample of Reddington’s DNA from the clothes and he sent in for testing, to find out if Raymond’s her father. He leaves her with the unopened envelope containing the results, and says he hopes she finds what she’s looking for.

Lizzie arrives at the seedy motel room that Raymond’s living in, and tells him that he lied to her. She then shows him the test results, stating that Raymond Reddington’s her biological father. Red tells Lizzie that she can walk away if she wants to, and she looks at him as if he’s crazy. She tells him they’re family and they belong together. She embraces Raymond, but there’s not the unconditional joy on his face, that you’d expect in that situation.

Laurel Hitchin summons Ressler to her home, as she wants to be the one to give him back his shield. She tells Donald that from this point forward, she’ll be calling the shots. Ressler says that’s not going to happen, and Laurel turns around angrily to yell at him. There’s a struggle and Laurel falls to the floor splitting her head open, her blood pouring from the back of her skull. We soon see Henry Prescott arrive, and tells Mr. Sturgeon that he should vacate Hitchin’s home.

We join Raymond and Dembe in conversation at Tansi Farms, Dembe questions why Raymond didn’t deny it? Reddington says because Liz believes that’s the secret that Kate wanted to share with her. He then says to Dembe they’ve got to find that suitcase. Zuma responds that he doesn’t think Lizzie’s ready to accept what Raymond did to her mother.

We get our first glimpse of Tom Keen on The Blacklist, since January, in the final scene. He’s on the phone with somebody and he says he’s following Mr. Kaplan’s final instructions. In his hand’s the valise, carrying the bones, and setting up season five.

Photo Courtesy Of Will Hart/NBC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

Facing the threat of her team getting destroyed,  and her friends and allies going to prison, FBI Agent Elizabeth Keen, took matters into her own hands, at the conclusion of the second season of the NBC series “The Blacklist.” Acting purely on instinct and emotion, Keen eliminated the threat, killing United States Attorney General Tom Connelly, and plunging her life into chaos. As we reach the final episodes of Season Four, with “Team-Red” under attack, will she once again be forced into killing the person bent on destroying her team?

Actually the FBI Task-Force, set up to utilize the services of Raymond Reddington’s, facing threats on multiple fronts, including an obsessed FBI Agent, the corrupt and compromised National Security Advisor to the President, and a nutty scientist, who can manipulate memories. However the person orchestrating those attacks and more, was one of the original members of “Team-Red,” now bent on destruction.

What’s the simplest way for writers to transform a beloved character into an evil being? By taking away their humanity, a feat achieved in the episode entitled “Dr. Bogdan Krilov (29).” Kate Kaplan’s broadened her scope, she’s decided to take down everyone in her way in her mission to see Raymond destroyed. She’s now attacking the members of the Task-Force, after Lizzie rejected her overtures for the Bureau to cut ties with Reddington. With this move, she may have lost any remaining sympathy fans of the series felt for her. She had justification for going after Raymond, but not for going into scorched earth mode, and destroying those around him.

With so many battles going on simultaneously, we’re going to dispense with our regular format, and instead concentrate on the attackers. Two of the opponents, want nothing more than to see Raymond Reddington pay for all the crimes he’s committed, while the other two basically just want to cover their own behinds.

Mr. Kaplan: Kate Kaplan’s convinced that Raymond’s become a monster, beyond salvation. Unfortunately in her mission to take him down, she seems to have morphed into that creature herself. Realizing that the Task-Force’s existence impedes her plans to see Red brought to justice, she’s now targeting the members. In this episode she went after Donald Ressler, exploiting his desires to put Laurel Hitchin behind bars for the murder of Reven Wright.

After setting her plans in motion on the domestic front, Kate started a European skirmish, one she assumed would lead to the deaths of Reddington and Dembe Zuma. Mr. Kaplan paid a visit to one of Raymond’s most powerful allies, Werner Von Hauser, at his estate in Lucerne. Von Hauser’s delight at finally meeting the legendary Mr. Kaplan’s short-lived, as Kate explains his relationship with Reddington’s built on a lie.

Twenty-five years earlier, Raymond was in the midst of establishing his reputation in the hierarchy of the criminal world. Werner was an established Kingpin, greatly admired by Reddington, but the admiration wasn’t mutual, as Von Hauser perceived Red as a lesser being. Determined to form an alliance with Werner, Raymond coordinated a fake kidnapping of Von Hauser’s son Hans.

The kidnappers sent a note demanding four million dollars, for the young man’s return. Raymond would intercede in the situation, convincing the phony kidnappers that he wasn’t a man to be trifled with, and securing Hans release. The plan unfortunately went awry, as the Taddicken brothers, who Reddington hired to abduct the young man, got careless and Hans suffocated during the transport. Raymond never told Werner the truth, but Von Hauser was so pleased that Red obliterated the Taddicken brothers, that he established a strong alliance with Reddington.

After Kate informed Raymond that she was traveling to Lucerne, Reddington called Von Hauser and begged for a chance to explain himself. Dembe and Red, realized they’d stepped into a bad situation when Von Hauser’s Majordomo, Niklaus, relieved them of their weapons.

Von Hauser told Reddington that he underestimated Werner’s love for his son, and that mistake would cause he and Dembe to pay for it with their lives. Two of Von Hauser’s goons cocked their pistols against the pair’s heads, but Niklaus suddenly turned on his co-workers and shot them dead, eliminating the threat. Niklaus actually had been on Reddington’s payroll for the last twenty-five years, in preparation for the day Von Hauser discovered the truth. Raymond apologized for his role in Han’s death, and then apologized before he pumped two bullets into Von Hauser’s abdomen.

Niklaus tells Raymond and Dembe to hightail it out the backdoor and sneak through the woods. With Von Hauser’s men conducting an extensive search for the pair, their options for escaping are quite limited. Reddington tells Zuma that they’ll have to be comfortable with chaos. We see the duo escape the area in a truck transporting livestock.

Dr. Bogdan Krilov: Krilov has perfected the science of memory manipulation, he’s in fact the scientist that wiped Lizzie’s memory twenty-five years earlier. Krilov can erase memories and implant new ones, depending upon the situation. Kate shows up at his facility in Vienna, introducing herself as a friend of a friend, and invites Krilov out for lunch. Next thing you know, Krilov shows up at JFK, and books a room at the Winthrop Grand Hotel. Lizzie and Samar head to the hotel, and Liz’s able to confiscate a shipping invoice giving the agents the location of Krilov’s equipment, which they subsequently impound.

Krilov calls Kaplan and tells her he can’t do anything without his equipment. Kate gives him the address of our old friend Selma Orchard, who practices the same science. Keen realizes that Orchard’s now Krilov’s target and she calls her, but it’s too late as she’s overcome by Krilov’s henchmen. Orchard tells Krilov, she’s a great admirer of his work and had he asked she would have gladly given him her equipment. Krilov replies he wished he could have taken that chance, then knocks her cold with the butt end of her pistol, just before the FBI SWAT-Team arrive at her office.

Although Orchard’s clueless as to where Krilov fled to, she informs the team that her EEG machine’s tied into a communication network, and they’ll be able to track it once he turns it on. Elizabeth and Raymond, believe that Lizzie’s Krilov’s target, however the scientist’s after Donald Ressler, and he’s set up a scheme to trap him.

Donald receives a call from a Philadelphia Police Detective named Bell, who tells him he may have unwittingly discovered a witness in the Reven Wright murder case. The woman’s named Linda McFadden, a former neighbor of Laurel Hitchin’s, who fled to Philadelphia for her own protection.

Ressler heads to McFadden’s home in Philadelphia, and she says she saw three men exit Hitchin’s home carrying a rolled up rug. She then saw a foot sticking out of the rug, and packed up her stuff to seek safety with her sister in Philadelphia. Donald tells her that she’ll have to go back to D.C. with him, when an incendiary device crashes through the window. The explosion stuns Ressler and then the device emits a gas that knocks him out, as three goons kidnap McFadden.

After Ressler regains consciousness, he pulls his pistol and heads to the street hoping to catch the perpetrators. Instead a black SUV pulls up to him, and when the back window goes down, we see that Laurel Hitchin’s the passenger. She tells Ressler it’s time for them to have a heart-to-heart, and beckons him inside. Laurel tells Ressler that he’s to give up his investigation of Reven Wright’s murder immediately. When he flat-out refuses, she says that she’s got no choice but to eliminate McFadden. She throws him out of her SUV and tells him to shoo, that’s when we realize that Donald’s actually under the effects of Propofol and Krilov’s implanted this scenario into his brain.

McFadden and Bell actually work for Krilov, and they concocted the whole scheme so that Ressler will go after Hitchin. They transport him to right outside her house, and when he comes to he’s sitting in his SUV believing McFadden’s imprisoned in Laurel’s home. He bursts into the home as Hitchin’s meeting with a foreign minister. After drawing his weapon, he forces the minister to leave and Hitchin to take him on a room by room tour of her home. Obviously Donald’s search’s fruitless, which makes him even more determined to find where she’s got McFadden hidden.

His mind clouded by the drugs, Ressler appears ready to take Hitchin out, when Liz arrives and after encountering resistance, she finally convinces Donald, he’d been drugged and the false memories got implanted in his brain. She tells Ressler that he’s the victim, causing Hitchin to scoff. Lizzie responds by calling Laurel a murderer and telling her one day soon she’ll pay for her crime. Unfortunately it’s Ressler, whose taken out of the home in handcuffs and placed under arrest.

Krilov tells Keen that he last saw her two-years earlier, as Reddington hired him to remove some information she discovered about Raymond. He says that he’ll gladly clear Ressler’s name and tell Keen the information he removed from her memories as a child and an adult, in exchange for full immunity. Keen of course refuses, then places a call to Reddington, demanding an explanation. Raymond denies Krilov’s accusation and says he hasn’t seen the scientist for twenty-five years.

Laurel Hitchin: The “Ice Princess,” returned to the series in dramatic fashion, with Krilov’s version of Laurel, even more cold and capricious than the genuine article. Hitchin in reality, didn’t do anything wrong in this episode, but she gloated when the one man that may take her down got arrested. Laurel’s the only member of the Cabal, that we can identify, however Raymond’s assured us that the shadow organization’s still thriving. With that knowledge, it’s likely that other major players in the government, also belong to the Cabal.

It’s rather strange that Hitchin’s still in her position as National Security Advisor, under a new President. We don’t know if President Diaz and his predecessor hail from the same party, but none the less, it’s rather out of the ordinary that Diaz decided not to put a new person in the position. Could President Diaz, be a member of the Cabal, and if so will that story figure prominently in Season Five? Whether the writers explore that story line or not, I’ve got the feeling we’ll see lots more of Laurel, in upcoming episodes.

Julian Gale: There’s a faction of the series’ fans that believe Special Agent Gale’s crooked, or he’s got an ulterior motive. I don’t subscribe to that theory, I strongly believe with Julian, that what you see is what you get. That may make Gale the most dangerous of all the Task-Force’s foes. I previously stated, that I think Gale straddles the line between genius and madness. Last week we saw some of the madness emerge, when he watched Raymond shooting Dianne Fowler in his mind, and he aimed his pistol at Ressler.

This week we saw his brilliance at work, in the episode’s final encounter. After a non-stop barrage of calls to Keen throughout the episode, Liz finally arrived at the ice rink to meet with Julian. Gale tells Lizzie that he finds dates incredibly useful in his investigation, and dates have led him to all the answers he’s searched for. Julian then recounts the day Liz got transferred from her role as an obscure profiler and put on a classified mission. He then states that the Reddington Task-Force, that he’d been apart of, started to fall apart a week later. Shortly after that a series of arrests commenced, which seemed to come out of nowhere.

Julian informs Liz that he’s figured out that she’s part of a Task-Force that’s working with Reddington, providing him protection in exchange for information leading to this slew of arrests. He then says Keen’s the agent that Reddington deals with. She asks him if he’s got any questions, and he tells her he didn’t call her down to the ice-rink for information. He told her he’d already apologized to all the victims on the ice, and now it’s her turn to apologize.

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

Photo by: Barbara Nitke/NBC

Photo by: Barbara Nitke/NBC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Photo by: Virginia Sherwood/NBC

Photo by: Virginia Sherwood/NBC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

I’ve decided to call my shot and swing for the fences in this column as the NBC series “The Blacklist,” airs the first episode of their two part season finale this Thursday. The show will have its hands full during the two episodes, as they deal with two issues that could change the series radically.

Their first challenge’s been well publicized over the last few weeks, the producers will incorporate a pilot for a new series, a spinoff starring some new and some familiar faces. The spinoff would star Famke Janssen whom we got introduced to in episode 21 as an old associate of Raymond’s named Susan “Scottie” Hargrave. Published reports have stated that Ryan Eggold (Tom Keen) and Edi Gathegi (Matias Solomon) will make the move with her if the series gets picked up.

This past episode served the dual purpose of introducing Scottie Hargrave to the viewers as well as setting up the action for the seasons two final episodes. Hargrave and her husband Howard are longtime associates of Raymond’s and the founders of Halcyon Aegis, a company that’s a subcontractor for the United States Government.

Reddington’s interest in Scottie however concerns a far different matter, turns out that Halcyon Aegis got hired by a client to deliver him Elizabeth Keen, alive and unharmed. They were of course unsuccessful in that mission and now Scottie faces the clients wrath for botching the job so badly. One of the first things that Raymond said to Hargrave when they finally met face to face was Elizabeth Keen’s dead, so that means you’re dead. Scottie took the statement as Red pronouncing he was going to kill her, but he was actually referring to her now unhappy client.

That client’s Alexander Kirk, whom NBC announced would debut near the end of Season Three to become the series new “BIG BAD.” The network and the show have done a great job so far on keeping most of the details about the character, who’ll be portrayed by Ulrich Thomsen a mystery. However, I’ve had a theory about the character over the last few weeks and seeing the expression on Raymond’s face after Hargrave revealed the identity of her client reinforced my belief that my theory’s correct: Alexander Kirk was the husband of Katerina Rostova and Lizzie Keen’s father.

Although Raymond told Laurel Hitchin that she and the Cabal were responsible for identifying Lizzie as Masha Rostova, I wonder how much he actually believes that statement? If Raymond kept his end of his pact with Dom and keeps his distance from Keen, would she be living an uneventful life as an FBI profiler possibly happily married to Dr. Nick Korpal? Or was Raymond aware that Kirk’s getting closer to finding his daughter and Red’s reason for coming into her life was truly to protect her?

After lots of pondering I’ve come up with what I believe is a viable scenario for what really went down in the late eighties. Katerina and her husband were both KGB Agents when the Soviet Union collapsed, leaving them both in a state of limbo. We’ve heard from Raymond that Katerina adjusted quite well to her new reality, while her husband descended into a downward spiral.

If Red and Katerina ever had an affair, this would seem to be the most likely time for it to have begun. Her life in turmoil with a husband growing more depressed by the day may have been the impetus that drove her to Raymond’s arms. A time for her to escape from reality, a relationship that she didn’t need to be the strong one in. Although if Raymond’s suppositions are correct and the only man Katerina truly loved was her husband, then her affair with Reddington was just temporary.

At the conclusion of Season Two after shooting United States Attorney General Tom Connelly to death, Keen had a flashback to a long-buried memory. She was four-years-old and her parents were arguing and Masha picked up a pistol and shot her father trying to protect her mother. Most viewers likely believed that the shot killed Masha’s father, but there’s yet to be any evidence or even a character’s statement that backs that theory up.

During the conversation Raymond had with the vision of Katerina after ingesting copious amounts of Opium, Rostova told Red that her life was in danger due to what she said to a man. It sounded as if she was referring to her husband, however she was unclear. She then told Reddington that she had a choice, to sacrifice her own life to save her daughter’s. She couldn’t live if she chose the opposite path. If Katerina’s husband did survive the shooting than we know he was the source of the information that Rostova regretted revealing.

If Alexander Kirk was indeed Masha’s father and Katerina’s husband, he would of course expect and demand full custody of his daughter. Which might be the explanation about the fire during Masha’s childhood that only comes back to Keen in glimpses. Was it indeed concocted so that Alexander Kirk believed his daughter perished in the blaze. Did Raymond, Dom, Sam and who ever else was involved that frightened of Kirk being part of Masha’s life that they faked the child’s death?

Has Kirk lived all these years believing his daughter died as a toddler, only to find out the truth when the name Masha Rostova appeared in homes across the planet? Raymond wasn’t surprised when Hargrave mentioned Kirk’s name, so if he’s indeed Katerina’s husband, Red’s known he was still alive. Kirk wanting Halcyon Aegis to kill Raymond as part of their contract, makes sense if Raymond’s what stood between Kirk and his daughter for nearly 30-years.

The answer to Kirk’s identity and his reasons for wanting Masha Rostova alive and unharmed will be revealed in less than two weeks. What ever the outcome however, for the third straight season the series will leave it’s fans with a huge cliffhanger that will cause at least some of them to hope that Summer goes by quickly.

Photo Courtesy Of NBC

Photo Courtesy Of NBC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

It Works! No actually it works brilliantly, a realistic (Although perhaps a wee bit far-fetched) ending to the scenario of Elizabeth Keen’s run as a fugitive on the NBC series “The Blacklist.” In the words of Keen the deal that Raymond Reddington negotiated with Presidential adviser Laurel Hitchin’s “fair.” In the words of Red’s attorney Marvin Gerard it’s a good deal and a far better one than he expected to get. However before we discuss the terms of the deal, we need to break down exactly how the settlement got resolved and that’s quite a story.

The two-part episode that the series entitled “The Director,” evoked a retro feel that harkened back to the great “caper-vehicles” of the Sixties, such as the movies “Ocean’s Eleven,” “The Great Escape” and the old series “Mission Impossible.” Carefully choreographed plans that allowed zero-margin for error, if one aspect missed the mark Elizabeth Keen’s life hung in the balance.

The first image we see is Mr. Kaplan opening a sliding-panel on a door like the one’s that you’d see on old-time gangster films and she harshly spits out you’re late to Aram Mojtabai who then enters the room. He’s patted down by Reddington’s enforcer Baz and asks that his cellphone receive gentle treatment, Baz looks him in the eyes and smiles then callously chucks it into a plastic bowl. Soon to follow Harold Cooper, Marvin Gerard and Sameen Navabi, who exchanges uneasy eye-contact with Aram before looking away.

Once again the producers made great use of their soundtrack, with Johnny Cash singing “God Gonna Strike You Down,” as everybody got searched and Reddington and Dembe walked through a meat-packing plant to join his guests. Red then confessed to being a terrible bridge-player as he hates to share his hand with anybody. However he says unless they all band together that Lizzie won’t survive the next 24-hours, so he needs to play nice with others.

We join Liz, Ressler and another agent that are taking Keen to the Federal courthouse to meet with Judge Potter about her case. Keen seems more numb than scared, telling Ressler that if he hadn’t arrived when he did she’d be on her way to her execution. Donald tells her he’s got everything under control, after she meets with the Judge she’ll be held in custody at Fort Meade and the Cabal won’t be able to touch her. He will keep guard that night while she sleeps in her court-room cell sitting in a chair.

We return to find Team-Red somewhat incredulous and under-impressed Raymond’s plan, which he’s revealed involves kidnapping The Director. Harold lists the crimes they’ll all get charged with and then says to Reddington that he can’t possibly believe that the Cabal will clear Lizzie’s name in exchange for getting The Director back. Red smiles a Cheshire-Cat grin and tells Harold that’s not his plan at all. He then explains that beginning with the hostage situation at the diner earlier this season, Raymond and Marvin Gerard have executed a plan to take down the Cabal and force them into admitting Liz got set-up. The pieces are now in place and they just have to put things into motion.

He reveals that The Director and his wife Linda have a marriage counselling session every Wednesday at the Middleton Building and he’s got a minimum detail of just two agents with him. Linda and Peter meet in the lobby then one agent remains in the lobby while the other takes the elevator up to their marriage counselor’s office. Sameen says the fly in the Vaseline’s the fact that the following morning isn’t Wednesday. Red smiles again and says they think they found away around that.

At the same time Peter Kotsiopolus and Laurel Hitchin are meeting and she assures The Director that Keen won’t make it to Fort Meade alive. She says they’ve got a new agent installed in the courthouse who’s assured her he can eliminate Liz.

Lizzie wakes up the next morning to find Ressler wide awake but red-eyed in the chair next to the cell. She says he looks tired he says they’ll both have time to sleep after this ends. She asks him when the lawyer’s arriving and Donald tells her that the courthouse opens in half an hour.

Team-Red goes into action as we hear James Brown’s “The Payback,” as they enter the Middleton Building and get into an elevator.  They get off on a floor that’s under construction and Aram asks if this is a mistake. Raymond told them the marriage counselor’s office is on the sixth floor and this is the eighth. Red tells Mojtabai that the layout for every floor’s the same, they’re recreating the sixth floor on the eighth floor. Aram’s mission’s to override the elevator so when the agent accompanying The Director pushes floor six it actually goes to floor eight.

After Raymond told Mojtabai at the conclusion of the previous episode that he’d be forever in the Techie’s debt, Aram’s trying to get chummier with Reddington. However those attempts are failing so far. Aram punches the air and says how cool sleight of hand and then smiles at Dembe and says he loves magic. Dembe just stares back at him as if he’s just a curious creature. Mojtabai then says the difficult part will be getting The Director to the building and Red says Agents Cooper and Navabi are working on that now.

Samar’s got Linda Kotsiopolus sighted and stands up at an outdoor café just as the women walks by and knocking her coffee out of her hand. Navabi apologizes and pleads to buy her another one to make up for it. Samar goes up to a stand and orders a new latte and at the same time Harold walks up holding another cup the same size. They switch cups and Harold walks away throwing the coffee in the trash. Navabi gives Linda the obviously spiked latte and apologizes once again.

Mr. Kaplan tells Red that there’s a figurine in front of the mirror across from the elevator on the sixth floor and she can come close but can’t match it. Marvin suggests she steal it and Kate gives him a withering look and asks if she should smile for the security cameras. Red then says apples, and tells her to get a large crystal bowl and fill it with apples. Mr. Kaplan asks what happens if he notices and Raymond says he won’t, Marvin then says she asked you what if he does. Red fixes Gerard with a stare we haven’t seen since he took out Mr. Vargas and says he heard what she said and asks him why he’s still there. Marvin wisely turns around and leaves silently while Red says aloud that everybody loves apples.

The spiked coffee works quite effectively and we see Linda walking down the street dizzy and dazed and almost gets hit by a car. Harold playing Good Samaritan helps her to a bench and asks if he should call 911? She says she’s having trouble breathing and she’s dizzy and Cooper says he’s going to call an ambulance. She tries to take her phone from her purse but drops it on the street. Cooper picks it up and she tells him she gets panic attacks and her doctor’s number’s in her contact list.

Harold calls Dr. Huffnagel and says he’s calling for Linda Kotsiopolus whose having a panic attack. She speaks with her doctor who asks if she’s been taking her meds and she replies she has. He tells her to come down immediately and assures he’ll contact The Director. She thanks Harold and asks if he’d help get her a cab which he agrees to do with a smile.

We then see The Director enter the Middleton Building as one agent stays in the lobby as the other follows Peter up to the office. Aram’s switch of floor’s works flawlessly and they start to enter the office when Kotsiopolus walks over the bowl and picks up an apple. Dembe says he realizes it’s a trap but Raymond says let it play out. After verifying their edible and not plastic he grabs one and tosses another to the agent and they walk into the office. Red smiles and repeats that everybody likes apples.

Mr. Kaplan’s playing the receptionist and she tells The Director his wife’s in with the doctor. Peter asks where’s the regular receptionist and she replies that her daughter’s sick and her name’s Kate then opens the office door. When The Director walks in he’s grabbed from behind and Baz stabs him in the neck with a hypodermic needle. As he starts to black-out we hear Red’s voice sounding distorted saying his wife’s fine. He’s put into a body bag then on an ambulance stretcher and taken down the freight elevator to a waiting ambulance and peel off just before the two agents hit the street.

Lizzie meets with her attorney Allison Gaines who quickly tells Keen she doesn’t look like much. Liz gives her a what give’s look and Gaines says she represents monsters with fewer crimes than she’s charged with including 16-counts of Federal murder plus treason. All these acts are punishable by death and Liz says she’s been framed, Gaines asks if that includes the murder of Tom Connolly in front of two witnesses? Lizzie leans in and says that someone wants her dead before the end of the day getting the lawyers attention.

Peter wakes up dazed and confused with his head buzzing and hears somebody in another room talking in Spanish. The Director walks out of the room and realizes he’s on Reddington’s private jet, along with Raymond, Dembe and the Spanish-speaking gentleman. The Director scoffs at Red and says kidnapping, you think you’ll get away with this? Raymond then informs him that he’s not holding The Director at all, then introduces him to Minister Diaz the Foreign Minister of Venezuela.

Diaz informs The Director he’s under arrest and they’re on their way to the World Court in the Hague, where he’ll be tried for committing War Crimes under the Rome Agreement. Kotsiopolus laughs and says that the United States never signed that agreement and Diaz laughs back and says it doesn’t matter that Venezuela did and they’ve decided to press charges. The Director says that Venezuela will be severely punished by the United States Government and Raymond gets Laurel Hitchin on the phone.

Donald alerts Tom Keen that things are in motion and he’ll call back in the next few hours for Tom to deliver Karakurt to the courthouse. When Tom hangs up Karakurt says he maybe getting “cold-feet” about their agreement. Tom grabs the Russian by the back of the head and says you’ve got two choices, talk to the FBI and you might live. Refuse and Tom will kill him slowly and he also knows where Karakurt’s sister’s hiding and he’ll kill her as well then he knocks the Russian out by slamming his head against the table.

Liz and Gaines meet Judge Trotter and the Deputy-Attorney General in the courtroom and Trotter insist that all the names of the victims be read to Liz. He’s clearly not the sympathetic figure that she assumed that Reven Wright set-up to hear the case.

Laurel’s coming to grips with the fact that Raymond and Diaz have The Director and are actually flying to The Hague where he’ll go on trial in front of The World Court and causing the Government at the very least a volatile and embarrassing situation. She then asks Red hypothetically if they reach an agreement what are his terms? Raymond replies the same thing he’s asked for consistently complete exoneration of Elizabeth Keen. However if Lizzie suffers a scratch his offer changes drastically.

Donald meets Liz back at her cell and he’s ready to transfer her to Fort Meade. However he’s unaware that one of the court employee’s a man named Iverson’s waiting for Keen’s transfer as he’s a paid assassin for Laurel Hitchin. Hitchin tries calling Iverson to tell him the hit’s been cancelled but he won’t pick up his phone. She then calls Ressler and tells him there’s danger in the hallways. Iverson’s handcuffed before he can get a shot off.

Laurel gets back on the phone with Reddington and says his girl got a temporary reprieve. She then asks exactly what are the terms Raymond wants and he says his attorney Marvin Gerard has all the details. Just then Laurel’s assistant opens the door and says Marvin Gerard’s arrived and he said she’d be waiting for him.

Donald gets Lizzie back to her cell and says he’s got the floor sealed off and they’re not moving until they get the all-clear from Reddington. Liz asks what happened back there and he said that Laurel called and said there’s danger in the hall and Keen asks why she called off the hit she planned? Donald realizes that Red’s negotiating must be working.

Hitchin and Marvin have gone back and forth over the deal and Gerard tells Raymond that he’s getting almost everything he wants but one glaring omission. They’ll drop the charges on the deaths of the agents and the United States Senator, but Liz must plead guilty to involuntary manslaughter in the death of Connolly. Laurel says she’ll see no jail time but Red declines the offer. Hitchin says she can’t get the charge against Connolly dismissed and Red tells Marvin to pick up the receiver and he goes into the room The Director was in before.

He asks Gerard his thoughts and Marvin says it’s a really good deal and frankly better than he ever hoped of getting. Raymond says get it done and then gets on the phone with Hitchin and tells her she’s got a deal and they’ll drop The Director somewhere safe. She then asks if they could talk privately and says that Peter’s become a liability and asks Red to dispose of him. Raymond allows a cold smile to cross his face and says I thought that’s what you’d want.

Marvin comes down to Lizzie’s cell with the deal for her to sign. She hesitates because she’s still pleading guilty to a homicide and they’ll take away her badge and she can’t be an agent any longer. Donald says however if you sign it the Task Force stays intact, you’ll clear Cooper’s name and he’ll be back in charge and you’ll work for the Task Force as a paid asset to work with Red and lockup bad guys. He then gives her his cell phone and says this is for you, as if the Wizard Of Oz was on the other end. Perhaps in a way he was.

Red asks Lizzie if she’s seen the deal and she says she has. He says he realizes it’s not all he hoped but she’s safe and she’s free. She responds that now she’s an asset like him and he reminds her that he told her when she pulled the trigger she crossed a threshold from her world into his. She says that the deal’s fair and he responds sometimes fairness is overrated, but tells her to sign the deal.

Tom delivers Karakurt to Ressler and an alerted press contingent see him taken into custody. Ressler says he’ll give a brief statement and that the man taken into a custody’s a Russian agent known as Karakurt and he’s admitted to setting Elizabeth Keen up.

Laurel Hitchin hold a press conference and announcing that Elizabeth Keen’s been exonerated of all of her crimes except in the case of Tom Connolly’s death. She then says they’ve got Karakurt in custody due to a successful search headed by Special Agent Donald Ressler. She then reveals the existence of the Cabal that she says is an organization that’s tried to create a new Cold-War with Russia.

She then says that members of the Cabal infiltrated the United States Government and the evidence’s overwhelming that Attorney General Connolly belonged to the Cabal and had threatened and tried to coerce Keen and that’s why she shot him. She then says that The Director’s also a member and says he’s fled the country to places unknown. Peter sees her says that while he watches the conference on the TV set on the plane. Laurel then issues a public apology to Elizabeth Keen and what the Government put her through. She finishes her speech by saying she hopes Keen can get solace in knowing the system works. Tom watches on his TV and raises a beer. Red looks at The Director and says the plane’s been decelerating for a while looks like they’ll drop Peter off before dinner.

We find ourselves in the living room of a Dutch family with the Television on a newscast of Liz’s release. The father yells at his two teenage daughters that they should put down their phones and watch the news. He then asks what he needs to do to make them pay attention? His question’s quickly answered as something crashes through the roof and lands on the living room floor. It’s the corpse of The Director his eyes wide open, one of the daughters glances at the TV and sees the man lying on their floor’s the guy on TV and nudges her father.

One more great song to take us out as we hear Andra Day sing “Rise Up” over the closing montage that includes a meeting over drinks in Laurel Hitchin’s house with Red. She says she figured part of his end plan was getting a seat at the table. Harold Cooper takes back the reins from a relieved Donald Ressler who says he’s a field-agent and kicks down doors. He’ll leave politics to the pros.

Lizzie gets released and she exits the courthouse into the night air she’s alone. However a city bus drives by and as it passes she sees Red and Dembe waiting outside the car for her. She smiles walks over looks at Raymond then hugs him. Red’s eyes are closed and he looks like he’s at peace with the world. (BTW, yes counting Karakurt, Minister Diaz and Raymond, Reddington’s eleven was indeed eleven.)

The Story Continues Next Thursday Night at 9:00 pm on NBC.

Photo Courtesy Of NBC

Photo Courtesy Of NBC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

How could the NBC series “The Blacklist,” possibly hope to meet fans expectations when the show returned from a two-month hiatus on January 7? The show concluded 2015, with an episode ending with the capture of fugitive Elizabeth Keen by her former FBI partner Donald Ressler. Both Ressler and Keen were fully aware that her arrest put her life in imminent danger as The Cabal wanted her dead as soon as possible. Donald promised Lizzie he’d keep her safe, however he had no idea what kind of a hornet’s nest he stepped into with that move.

For this viewer the series exceeded my hopes, airing possibly the best episode of the show since it began in September of 2013. It showcased the incredibly talented cast, that sometimes gets lost in the shadow of James Spader’s masterful portrayal of Raymond Reddington. With the extra time allotted to other series regulars besides Red and Lizzie, we saw facets of familiar characters never displayed before in the joint effort to clear Elizabeth Keen’s name and save her life.

The episode opens with Ressler coming to transfer Liz from the holding cell she’s locked in back to the task-force headquarters. Keen tells Donald she’s not ashamed of anything she did and Ressler replies through gritted teeth she killed the United States Attorney General. She responds that Tom Connolly was a bad man and would have hurt many innocent people if still alive.

The scene switches to a meeting between The Director Peter Kotsiopolus and Presidential adviser Laurel Hitchin as they’re discussing that The Director’s prediction that Keen would never get captured turned out wrong. Kotsiopolus shows a lack of concern for the development, telling her he’ll have CIA agents take her into custody. Hitchin tells him that the President’s counsel Cynthia Panabaker already had made plans with Deputy Attorney General Reven Wright for Keen to meet in a private session with Judge Trotter. She tells The Director he has three hours to gain control of Keen, he tells her he’s taken down entire governments in less time.

As Keen and Ressler get driven in an SUV back to the task-force building, Ressler gets a call from Raymond. Donald says he’s got every precaution in place and he’ll keep Liz safe. Red responds that the FBI agent has no idea what he’s up against, that a shadow government will use every resource to get custody of Lizzie. He tells Donald that he’s come up with a meticulous plan to clear Keen’s name but he needs a day to get it in place. Ressler tells him to go for it, however Reddington says that Ressler, Samar and Aram have to team together to keep Keen protected. Ressler tells Raymond that he dismissed Navabi from the task-force and hangs up.

Ressler and an FBI SWAT-Team bring Elizabeth into the task-force building and Laurel Hitchin congratulates him as he walks past her with the prisoner. Lizzie’s put into the glass-cell that Ressler and Red got locked in back in the show’s first season. He once again assures her he’ll keep her safe, she tells him that she doesn’t blame him for what will soon take place.

Aram’s in his office when his cellphone rings and Red’s on the other end. He tells Mojtabai that Lizzie’s life’s in danger and he’s the only person who can save her. Aram’s jaw nearly hits his desk hearing Raymond’s words and asks Reddington what he needs to do?

Ressler’s becoming concerned because he can’t contact Reven Wright. Just then the fox enters the henhouse as Kotsiopolus comes into the building with a squad of his men with documented orders giving him custody of Keen saying that she’s a Russian agent and Homeland Security has evidence of an imminent Russian attack on the United States. Donald tells him that Wright will never allow that to happen and The Director asks where Reven’s at, as people have been looking for her all day?

The Director says he’s opening the cell and Ressler tells him he won’t give him the code, however Kotsiopolus tells him he got it from the FBI Director’s office. When he punches in the code on the keypad the cell remains shut, he asks Ressler what’s going on and Donald says he didn’t do a thing. We then see Aram quietly smiling in a corner and we realize that he changed the code before The Director arrived.

As Kotsiopolus continues to try to open the glass cell, Ressler’s phone rings and he’s relieved to hear Red on the other end. Raymond tells him that everything’s fine as long as he doesn’t let the Director get Liz, he says that Karakurt should be in the city within an hour. Donald asks what he’s got to do with things and Reddington informs him that he’s going to confess to the FBI that he set Liz up and was working for the Cabal. He tells him that Cooper and Tom have him in a cabin in Yvonne, Maryland, they tried to tell Donald but he refused to listen.

Down at the cabin Tom chains up Karakurt so he can’t escape, Cooper tells Tom he’s taking Charlene to her sister’s house as the Cabal will be looking for Karakurt and he wants to keep her safe. He tells Keen to guard Karakurt until he gets back.

Ressler lets the frustration of not getting in contact with Reven get the best of him and he goes into the office that Laurel Hitchin’s occupying. He asks if she can order The Director to leave the building as she did in an earlier situation, she says that if Reven calls her she can intercede then asks if he knows where she’s at. Donald decides to trust his gut and the move backfires big time. He says to Hitchin that Reven said he could trust her and then tells her about Karakurt.

She looks intrigued and tells Ressler she’ll do some digging. She then says the last time she talked with Reven, Wright mentioned a young associate named Tommy Markin and asks Donald if he knows him? Ressler says he never heard the name before and then tells her needs to get back to work.

Reddington’s enlisted the services of Samar Navabi to get back his “care-package” that the Bureau took into custody when they arrested Keen and Dembe. She tells him that the package would be in an evidence vehicle taking the highway to Pittsburgh to bring it to a facility for storage. Red tells her they’re going to stage a drug-bust to divert the drivers so Samar can get the “care-package.” He also says he needs to meet that day with the Argentinian Foreign Minister.

Ressler realizes he messed up badly and grabs Aram and tells him that Hitchin killed Reven Wright. Mojtabai asks him why he believes that and Donald tells him that Laurel mentioned Tommy Markin, the most corrupt cop ever and he told Reven about him the last time he saw her. He tells Aram that Hitchin’s calling The Director as they speak and telling him about Karakurt and Kotsiopolus will send men to the cabin to take out Karakurt. Aram tells Ressler to head to the cabin that he’ll control things at the task-force then admits he changed the code.

Red unpleasantly surprises Rafael, the man who promised to set-up a meeting with the Argentinian Foreign-Minister when he delivered terrorist Zal Bin Hasaan. He tells Rafael that he needs to meet with the minister today but the man says it’s impossible as he’s traveling all day. Raymond then hands Rafael a wrapped package and wishes him happy birthday. The man responds his birthday’s in August and Red apologizes for being late with the present, then suggests that they go somewhere quiet to talk and head into Reddington’s car.

When the pair sit down in the backseat, Raymond points out Navabi with a 35mm camera and tells Rafael that she’s a stringer for UPI. He then says when her pictures show up in the Argentinian media things will look pretty bad for Rafael, consorting and taking gifts from a renowned criminal. Red’s promised a 15 minute meeting with the minister at 3:15 pm.

Ressler finally contacts Cooper on his cellphone and tells Harold that they’ve got to leave the cabin as the Cabal’s heading there to kill Karakurt. Harold tells Ressler he’s on the way to Charlene’s sister and they realize Ressler’s closer than Cooper to the cabin and has Harold text him the address.

Reddington take Navabi to a storage-facility he owns in West Virginia and tells Samar he has many of them in states all across the nation, with a couple in most Red-States. He breaks open a crate filled with kilos of cocaine and he explains he’s not a drug-dealer, but the only payment he could receive in a bad deal in Cartagena was the crate. They grab about a dozen kilos and leave the facility.

Raymond’s arranged for some of his associates to stage what looks like a two-car crash and the vehicle with the trunk filled with the coke’s all shot-up. He’s got two guys disguised as West Virginia State Troopers and Navabi calls the Bureau dispatch saying she’s been standing all day waiting for the evidence truck to pick up the cocaine. The dispatch tells her they’ll reroute the vehicle heading to Pittsburgh and says they should be there shortly.

Aram goes over to the glass cage to console Liz and tells her she just needs to hold on for another hour, that helps on the way. Lizzie suddenly says she’s having trouble breathing just as Kotsiopolus walks over to talk to Aram. He says that he believes Aram changed the code of the cell and though he can’t prove it, he’s pretty certain that’s the case.

Lizzie calls to Aram with concern in her voice saying she’s having problems breathing. The Director says that it would be unfortunate if the cell’s ventilation system wasn’t working properly and Aram realizes his men shut off the air. He tells Lizzie that he’ll try to override the system from his terminal, but he’s denied access. Liz asks even if The Director stopped incoming air, why would the oxygen have depleted so quickly and Mojtabai realizes The Director’s pumping nitrogen into the cell to deplete the oxygen.

Back at the cabin Karakurt hears a car pull up and Tom goes to the door brandishing his rifle. Ressler knocks and identifies himself and Tom lets him in. He says the Cabal’s heading there and they’ve got to take off, he spoke with Harold and got the address. Keen says he’d rather wait for word from Cooper, but suddenly they realize the Cabal’s right outside the cabin.

The Bureau agents and the evidence car arrive to transport the coke to Pittsburgh, one of the fake cops distracts the agents with a question and Navabi’s able to nick the “care-package.” Before the agents hit the road she asks one of them if he can assure her that the drugs will arrive in Pittsburgh without incident and he tells her they will.

Lizzie’s gasping for air and Aram says he’s got to open the cell to save her life but she shakes her head no then falls to the floor. Mojtabai starts screaming into the surveillance camera that he’ll go to the media that they’re killing her. Watching on a monitor in her office Laurel asks The Director what happens next? Kotsiopolus replies if she dies in the cell they can blame it on equipment failure and nobody can prove otherwise. Hitchin asks what if Aram opens the door and The Director says they go back to the original plan. They take Keen to a remote facility and she’s shot to death when she attempts an escape.

Matias Solomon’s outside the cabin with lots of mercenaries, we hear a window crash and a smoke-bomb’s thrown into the cabin followed by two gunmen. Tom and Ressler quickly kill the two guys and throw the smoke-bomb out of the house. Ressler asks Tom if he’s okay, Karakurt still chained to a chair says he’s not.

Lizzie doesn’t appear to be breathing and rather than let her die he gives The Director the code, it’s Navabi. They open the cell and Aram performs mouth-to-mouth and gets Lizzie breathing again. He then apologizes for opening the cell as he realizes that Kotsiopolus and company will soon spirit her away.

Red greets the Foreign-Minister and thanks him for adjusting his schedule to accommodate Raymond. He asks about the country’s president and the Minister replies he’s got a bad stomach, because he just borrowed five billion from China. He then asks Reddington what’s this all about and Raymond says he wants to help put money into the Argentinian coffers.

Solomon yells to the trio in the cabin that they’ve got one chance to preserve the peace and quiet of the country and that’s to send Karakurt out immediately. Ressler says we’re not sending him out there likely to convince himself it’s the right thing to do. He then tells Tom that he’s the reason the Cabal found out they hid Karakurt in the cabin. He says his father was a cop and he died for not taking a bribe. He always believed in the principles his father stood for, but now he’s not so sure. Tom sarcastically says he never allows principles to figure into any decisions.

Karakurt says that if they’re going to engage in a firefight they best give him a gun, he can’t run away and Ressler tells Tom to unchain him and arm him. Then like a scene from a Clint Eastwood Spaghetti-Western the three men engage in a shootout with all the mercenaries outside the cabin. After no more gunfire comes from the cabin, Solomon tells his men to stop shooting and check the cabin for survivors.

When the men enter the cabin it looks like the trio-escaped as we just see the two dead mercenaries on the floor. Except it’s actually Ressler and Karakurt disguised as the dead men and Tom’s hiding around the corner and they take out all the invaders.

The Director and his men have Liz on an ambulance stretcher and are about to get onto the elevator when Aram stops them in their tracks as he aims his pistol at Kotsiopolus’ head. He says that he’s not taking her and if he tries he won’t get out. Laurel tells Aram to lower his weapon but he’s not backing down.

Lizzie calls out to Aram and tells him to lower his gun, they’ll shoot him without a second thought. She tells him to look at her face and then says she doesn’t blame him in the least. He saved her life and she realizes how much he cares. Aram looks at her and lowers his weapon and he’s quickly handcuffed by one of The Director’s men. However just then the President’s counsel Cynthia Panabaker arrives and says she’s got jurisdiction in this situation and then calls the National Intelligence Director and puts Laurel on the phone.

The Foreign-Minister and Reddington are in Raymond’s car and the Minister’s clearly displeased as he asks Red why he would agree to his plan. Reddington says to stick it to the USA, that they’ve hurt the regime for years. The Minister says that if he does what Red suggests the United States will impose more sanctions and his country will starve to death.

Samar arrives with the “care-package” and gives it to Raymond who thanks her and Navabi leaves. He says to the Minister that he told him he wanted to put money into the Argentine economy and them opens the package to reveal chromium plated master-printing plates for United States 100 dollar bills that are exactly like the ones the Treasury Department uses. Red’s been holding onto them since he captured them from Major Ludd in Season One. The Minister cagily smiles and says you son of a gun and Raymond says he’s been called far worse.

The trio leave the cabin and they find a car they can drive back when Solomon sneaks up on Tom and pulls a gun on him. Matias tells Donald if he doesn’t drop his weapon Tom dies and Keen says take him out, because if you drop the gun he’ll kill us all. Ressler agrees to drop his gun and Solomon cackles and says he should have listened to Tom, when Harold Copper arrives and knocks out Matias with a right to the jaw. He says he figured they could use some back-up.

Solomon regains consciousness and smiles and says good morning and Ressler says he should just kill him, he did so much damage to his friends and his country. Solomon laughs derisively and says he doesn’t care about his friends and he hates this country. Then he amends that and says he loves the fact within hours he’ll be processed freed and on a plane to France. Ressler says he’ll never see the inside of a court-room.

Cooper tells Ressler to lower his weapon, but Donald says he’s right if we bring him in he’ll just walk and he deserves to die. Tom says Donald’s right but not by Ressler’s hands. Donald asks Tom since when did he grow a conscience and Keen responds maybe since I’ve hung out with you. However if you want to know if your father died for something or not, that Ressler will decide that with whether he kills Solomon or not. Donald cuffs him and arrests him.

Hitchin gets off the phone and tells Panabaker she stands corrected and Cynthia does have jurisdiction. The Director says his agents are on the property and Panabaker cuts him off and says and they’ll remain on the property. Reven told me if Miss Keen was being taken into custody only one agent should do that, Agent Donald Ressler. The Director says Ressler’s not there and suddenly the elevator opens and Donald and Solomon emerge. He tells one of the agents to take Solomon into custody and then says to Liz he’s going to escort her into custody. She smiles and asks what took him so long?

Ressler gets into Laurel’s face and says I know about you, you killed Reven Wright and this isn’t over. He then sneers at The Director and says I want you out of here before I come back. Panabaker cheerily chirps she’s got to come around more often and follows Ressler. Liz kisses Aram on the cheek and thanks him before she leaves.

The Blacklist has always used music tastefully and they chose Ben Lee’s poignant and beautiful Gamble Everything For Love in a closing montage. We see Tom get a text and Karakurt asks if she’s alive and Tom smiles and nods. Harold and Charlene are discussing their broken marriage. Dembe’s released from a cell in task-force headquarters and then he stands face-to-face with Matias before he walks away and Solomon’s put into the cell.

Then we see Aram riding his bicycle with a helmet on at night in a cemetery and he meets Red there. Reddington tells him to come closer and Aram sees Raymond’s standing over an open grave with no body inside it. Red says he’s stood over the open grave of far too many loved ones beginning with his mother. He then says he wanted to remember that feeling distinctly so he could properly thank Aram for being a hero. He says you saved Elizabeth’s life today and I’ll be forever in your  debt. Then he tells Aram to gather his team for they’re about to take down the Cabal.

The Story Continues Next Thursday Night at 9:00 pm on NBC.

Photo Courtesy Of NBC

Photo Courtesy Of NBC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

Not all soldiers contain the qualities to become Generals. In fact the skill sets of an exemplary soldier and an effective General likely couldn’t be more at odds with each other. A good soldier never questions orders and does what ever it takes to fulfill the mission even if it means sacrificing their life in the process. An effective General or leader of any kind needs to be able to react to changing conditions and adapt their plans accordingly. There’s too much knowledge and experience within a leader to sacrifice easily. Soldiers are easily replaceable, however wise veteran leaders aren’t.

If you’re a fan of the NBC series “The Blacklist,” you’ve seen this dynamic in place throughout the show’s third season. FBI Agent Donald Ressler got pressed into running the FBI Task Force, formerly lead by Harold Cooper and Ressler’s first mission’s been attempting to capture his former partner, former agent Elizabeth Keen. Before the series took it’s winter hiatus in November, Ressler took Lizzie into custody and likely put her life in great jeopardy.

Ressler believes that his former partner’s innocent and has gotten set-up by the Cabal, a shadow government that secretly pulls all the strings that have caused the greatest catastrophes of our lifetimes. The group’s made up of leaders of governments and industries across the planet and lead by the CIA Director Peter Kotsiopolus whose usually referred to as The Director. The Cabal’s infested the halls of power in the United States Government, with the President’s NSA Director Laurel Hitchin’s among their ranks. She executed Deputy Attorney General Reven Wright, after Wright revealed she knew some potentially incriminating information.

Meanwhile Ressler naïvely sits back thinking he’s winning Hitchin’s confidence and she’ll soon start taking his side over that of The Director’s. Donald Ressler’s a good man who truly wants to do the right thing, however he’s way over his head right now in shark-infested waters. Because he’s been trained his entire career to think within certain parameters, he lacks the skills he needs to think outside-the-box and being able to adjust strategy as the situation changes. Those skills are absolutely essential to being a good leader, we shall see if Ressler takes advice either from Raymond Reddington or Harold Cooper once the series returns on January 7.

That failure to adapt to the situation and to realize that sometimes you have to deal with the lesser of two evils to salvage a situation, has led Donald to feel betrayed by his former boss Harold Cooper. Both share a severe dislike of the man they know as Tom Keen, however only Cooper was smart enough not to turn an asset away in time of need. After Tom approached Ressler in his apartment building about helping clearing Lizzie’s name and Ressler told him to leave immediately, Cooper sought Keen out. Tom’s completed his mission capturing the Russian spy Karakurt and forcing him to admit that he’s responsible for all the crimes Lizzie’s being charged with.

Meanwhile Cooper’s got to be feeling pretty betrayed himself right about now, as his wife Charlene decided that in the midst of trying to get Karakurt to the proper authorities that it was the perfect time to reveal to her husband that she had an affair a couple of years before. Was this her way of getting back at her husband for involving her in the dangerous situation they’re attempting to complete? Or did Charlene simply have a nervous breakdown due to the stress of the situation and that just tumbled out of her mouth?

When the series does return to TV on January 7, reports have surfaced that the first two episode will revolve around The Director Peter Kotsiopolus. David Strathairn who portrays The Director’s a first-rate actor that came to my attention in the late seventies and he’s added several amazing performances to his resume since then. Having Strathairn just appearing along the sidelines for about the last year’s like having a Porsche up on blocks in the garage. I can’t wait to see what he does with all the time allotted to him.

The Director decided to take a gamble in season two that backfired badly. He decided to chance that Raymond Reddington was bluffing when he claimed to have access to The Fulcrum, a blackmail file that if released would put many members of the Cabal in certain danger. Red obtained the file last season and flew in the planet’s most renowned Investigative-Journalists and gave them each a copy.

Kotsiopolus and other Cabal members have attempted to discredit the information revealed in those documents ever since and the Cabal’s not happy that The Director’s gamble failed so badly. Enter one Matias Solomon, the hitman/enforcer/messenger for the Cabal, Solomon just enjoys killing it doesn’t really matter to him who the victim is. He’d just as soon slit The Director’s throat as he would Raymond Reddington, just depends on which way the wind’s blowing.

Elizabeth Keen will get imprisoned in that same glass cell that Ressler and Red got locked in during the first season, until Raymond agreed to surrender to save Lizzie’s life. Ressler’s promised his former partner he’d protect her while in his custody. How much help will he need from this bizarre lineup that now comprises Team-Reddington?

We’re well aware that Raymond would without hesitation trade his life for Lizzie’s, we’re also well aware that The Blacklist recently inked a contract for a fourth season. Without Lizzie and or Raymond there’s no longer a series, so we know going in that they’ll both survive. However this show’s already displayed they’ll sacrifice a regular cast member if they consider it necessary. They ended the first season with the death of series regular Meera Malik, killed by Reddington’s foe Berlin.

Could Ressler, Samar Navabi, Aram or Harold Cooper be sacrificed this season? Or what about Ryan Eggold who portrays good-looking bad-buy Tom Keen? The happy ending that Liz told Red about earlier this season, about her accompanied by her husband and child walking serenely through some small town square will never happen if she stays with Tom/Jacob. Which means more to her, those dreams or her former husband? We’ll start getting answers to those and other questions in just over two-weeks.

The Story Continues January 7, at 9:00 pm on NBC.

Photo Courtesy Of NBC

Photo Courtesy Of NBC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

Social Media was abuzz this past week as fans of the NBC series “The Blacklist,” expected their favorite show to exonerate FBI Agent Elizabeth Keen and put Harold Cooper back in charge of the FBI Task Force in this final episode before going on hiatus. Even Raymond Reddington stated early in this episode that her life on the lam beginning at the end of last season when the Cabal set her up would conclude very soon. Liz would be partnered up once again with Donald Ressler, while the Director of the Cabal bled-out in some field and Matias Solomon stowed-away on a tramp-steamer to Laos.

Now viewers will display concern for Lizzie until the show returns on January 7, as Ressler tackled her in the woods and arrested her in the episode’s final scene. Although her former partner will do his best to ensure her safety in Federal-Custody the Cabal’s got enough operatives in high-places in the United States Government, that keeping that promise will be challenging for Donald.

Reddington and Dembe speak on the phone as Red’s driving with Keen while Dembe’s waiting in what looks like an antique shop waiting for a package. Dembe says something feels wrong to him and he should be with Raymond right now. Reddington says they need their “Care-Package” and they’ll hook-up in about an hour.

Raymond pulls in to fill up the tank and Liz says she’s going to use the rest-room to freshen up. Red says he’ll get them something to eat in the convenience store that’s part of the station. Liz returns a few minutes later and there’s no sign of Reddington or the beat-up SUV they’re traveling in. She checks with the store clerk and Raymond never made it into the store.

Liz calls Dembe and asks if he’s heard from Raymond and he says he’ll start searching for him, but Keen tells him to wait at the store for the package. She then calls Samar Navabi and asks her if she gives her the information to track Reddington’s computer will she promise not to tell Ressler? Unfortunately Keen couldn’t  have picked a worse time to call Navabi as the agent’s lying in Donald’s bed while he’s showering. The morning after their unexpected “coupling” late in the previous episode.

Samar has to use Ressler’s laptop to conduct the search and she tells Liz that Red’s outside Davis Creek, West Virginia in what looks like an industrial building.  After she gives Keen the information she deletes the surfing information, a move that came back to haunt her.

Aram tells Donald that  Reven Wright’s waiting for him in Cooper’s office. Ressler’s screaming at the Deputy Attorney General that Harold Cooper sold them out and told Tom Keen that he was heading to Wing Yee’s to bust Keen and Liz. Reven’s not concerned with Harold and Tom but she asks Ressler some information about Matias Solomon. When he tells her he can’t answer her questions she says she’s going to do some digging.

Harold and Charlene Cooper get some unexpected house-guests as four assassins carrying rifles head towards their house to kill them Tom Keen and Karakurt. Keen and Cooper kill all four gunmen and the four of them get into the Cooper’s car and take off. They soon realize why Cabal operatives can find them so easily as Karakurt’s got a tracking chip they put into his chest. Keen tells Cooper they have  to get under concrete or cement to block the signal.

Raymond come’s to and realizes he’s gotten kidnapped by a gang of robber-barons that look like extras from My Name Is Earl. Three brothers, Cash the oldest and dominant, Pablo the middle-brother with authority issues and T-Bone who speaks with a stutter. They live with Jilly who seems to be Cash’s girlfriend, but she could have a friends with benefits relationship with the other brothers.

The group’s teamed up with a local named Jasper and they kidnap and rob seemingly affluent drivers when they visit the area. Although the brother’s go gaga over Red’s Rolex they complain that he’s only got $700 in his and doesn’t have credit-cards or an ATM card. Raymond says that if they can negotiate terms he’ll make it worth their while to release them.

Harold hides the car inside a tunnel and Tom starts to conduct surgery using what looks like the lid of a cat-food can to slice open his chest. On the other end of the tunnel Solomon and a crew are tracking Karakurt and the man holding the laptop says the signal’s weak but they still can track it.

Aram tells Navabi that  Ressler wants him to check out Donald’s personal laptop to find out how search information got deleted. Samar tells Aram he can’t say anything to Ressler as she promised Liz she’d keep it from him, the information she deleted gives Red’s location. Mojtabai asks why she used Donald’s laptop and she says it was on her work station. The tech-guru promises to keep Ressler in the dark.

Liz makes the connection between Jasper and the Kings Of The Road, the name the thieves use and she picks him up in this blue-collar bar. He suddenly looks at his watch and says he’s got to get back to work when she asks him how she’d like her to go back with him to his place instead? Work’s no longer a priority.

Cash says that if they hurt Reddington they might lose out on  getting some money, so he suggests that Jilly goes and talks with him. She brings a children’s tea-set with her and pretends to have a tea-party with Reddington. She asks him his first name and he replies Kenneth as it says on the driver’s license he carries. She says no your real first name and he responds the same. She says they’ll hurt her if he doesn’t tell her and Red says that he thinks Jilly likes getting hurt or she would have left long ago. She giggles and starts rubbing him and finds a bank-deposit bag containing 25-grand.

The three brothers and Jilly are whooping and hollering saying that they’ll each get over six grand apiece. Pablo asks what about Jasper and Cash says he’s hired help, he’ll get what they give him. That doesn’t sit well with Pablo who says Jasper’s family, Cash points to the four of them and says this is the family.

Mojtabai breaks his promise to Navabi and tells Ressler that Samar erased the information and gives him Reddington’s location. Donald stomps over to Navabi and starts screaming at her asking how she could have hidden this from him. He says first Harold plots against him and now she does, Samar tells Ressler that she called Liz and warned her about the raid. Donald sneers at her and says you’re out of here, gather your stuff and be gone by the end of the day. Aram looks like he’s about to get sick.

Red’s picked the lock on his handcuffs a while before, but he waits for the right moment to attempt his escape.  He decides the time’s best when T-Bone and he are alone at the house and the youngest brother threatens him with the pistol. Raymond grabs the gun and shoots his opponent in the gut then tries to drive away, but Cash smacks him in the back of the head knocking Reddington out.

Mojtabai goes up to Samar and says if he realized Ressler would fire her he would never have told him. She says he promised her he wouldn’t say anything and he says that she lied to him. He says you told me that his laptop was on your workstation but you did your search in his apartment in the wee-hours of the morning. Aram’s jealousy cost Navabi her job.

Pablo and T-Bone convince Cash to let T-Bone go to the hospital to get his wound treated. As soon as the youngest brother leaves Raymond starts telling Pablo that Cash and Jilly are going to kill Pablo and fly to Aruba. At first Pablo tells him to shut-up but soon Reddington’s gotten into his head. Suddenly there’s laughing and hollering coming from the other room and Cash yells he’s on TV.

They see a news-report identifying Red and Liz and Cash calls up Jasper to find out if he knows where Liz’s at and tells him about her. He hangs up his cellphone and starts attacking her but she soon gets the upper-hand and grabs his gun and now he’s her prisoner.

Wright heads to Task Force headquarters and Ressler tells her they’ve got a location on Red and he’s fired Navabi for trying to keep the information from him. Reven asks if he’s perhaps being too inflexible and Donald looks her in the eye and says Tommy Markin and Wright looks confused. Ressler says that when his father joined the police-force he befriended another young cop named Tommy Markin and the two pledged they’d clean up the department. When Ressler’s dad refused to take a bribe from corrupt cops his old pal Tommy Markin ended his life by shooting him.

The four head down a dirt-road and Cash says they’re going to kill Reddington, but Red tells Pablo if Cash wants any money he can’t kill him. Pablo says that must mean he’s going to kill me and Raymond asks if he trusts Cash with his life. Suddenly Cash’s cellphone rings and Lizzie’s on the other end, she says she’s got Jasper as her prisoner and proposes a one-for-one swap. Cash laughs derisively at her and says Jasper’s just dead weight and hangs up the phone.

Pablo’s so angry he’s ready to spit and he tells his brother that Jasper’s family and it’s not his decision to make. The phone rings again and Pablo tells his brother to pick it up and work out a deal and Cash just laughs. Pablo pulls his pistol and the older brother says he doesn’t have the stones to use it. Pablo blasts him twice then tells Jilly to answer the phone and put it on speaker. He says to Keen he’s willing to trade Red to Liz for Jasper and two million bucks. She agrees but says she’ll call back in two-hours after she sets things up. Jilly says to Pablo that was beautiful and Red shudders.

Ressler gets a call from a West Virginia State Trooper and meets him at the hospital that T-Bone’s getting treated at. The officer tells Donald the guy says he got hurt in a hunting accident, but who hunts with a 38? T-Bone walks out soon after and tells both men he’s feeling fine now and just wants to go home and sleep in his bed. Ressler tells the officer that the guy’s wearing Reddington’s coat and he’s going to follow him home.

Dembe’s finally addressed by the man behind the sales counter at the store he’s waited at. There’s a military looking  brief-case on the counter and the man tells Dembe that it’s heavier than it looks. Liz picks him up and tells him they’re trading the briefcase for Red and Dembe says they need it to clear her name. She says that Red’s life’s more important.

Reven Wright pays Laurel Hitchin a visit at the President’s adviser’s home and Laurel says what a pleasant surprise. Reven wants to discuss Matias Solomon and says he used to work for Laurel at the CIA and the Presidential adviser says she had lots of employees. Reven says he was a special attaché for you so you must have worked closely. Hitchin says he imagines that Wright’s discussed this with Ressler in great detail and Reven says she came right over to ask Laurel when she discovered the connection.

Laurel pulls out a pistol and fires it into Reven’s heart, when she falls to the floor in a heap Hitchin says she hated to do that. She then asks Wright if she has any last words and Reven looks Laurel straight in the eyes and says Tommy Markin then takes her final breath.

Liz, Dembe and Jasper meet with Pablo and T-Bone and Liz and Dembe see Red on a cellphone and he tells her not to make the trade. Pablo says okay show us what you’ve got and Dembe opens the case revealing the contents to both men, although we see nothing. Pablo asks if it’s what he thinks it is and Keen says it’s worth far more than the reward money. Pablo tells Jilly to let Red go and he tells he she’s sick and needs to get help. She smiles to herself when he leaves.

After being on the run since the final episode of last season, Elizabeth Keen’s finally been captured. Ressler and a crew came seconds after the exchange and Ressler chased her down and finally handcuffed her in the woods. Will he be able to guarantee her safety under his charge? We’ll find out in January.

The Story Resumes January 7, at 9:00 pm on NBC.

Photo Courtesy Of NBC

Photo Courtesy Of NBC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

Although we saw Elizabeth Keen and Harold Cooper gain ground in the effort to exonerate their reputations the latest episode of the NBC series “The Blacklist,” wasn’t as focused on Lizzie as the rest of the episodes in season three. Instead this chapter entitled “Zal Bin Hasaan” focused the spotlight on fellow Task Force agent Samar Navabi, a character that we know relatively little about. Navabi can be brusque and abrasive and doesn’t have any qualms about stating her opinion. While this episode didn’t expose a well-hidden soft and fuzzy side of her, we got at least a taste of what lead her on the path she’s chosen and her motivation behind certain decisions she’s made.

Before we forge ahead let’s take a minute to set the table and discuss what we do know about Samar Navabi. Raymond Reddington recruited Navabi to replace Meera Malik on the Task Force who got killed by Berlin at the end of season one. Samar was an operative for the Israeli intelligence/military agency Mossad, even though she was born and raised in Tehran, Iran an unusual pairing to say the least. We’re aware that she left Iran after killing a government official there and the murder charges haven’t gotten dropped. She’s remained an outsider since joining the Task Force, although events in the  closing moments of this episode might change that dynamic.

A graphic informs us that we’re in Tehran, back in 1992 and we watch a girl about twelve and her younger brother planting some flowers in front of  their home. A man briskly walks past them and into the house and seconds later we hear a woman scream. The girl runs in as the man leaves and she shouts for her mother but soon sees her parents got shot and lie dead on the floor. Her younger brother Shahin enters and asks her what’s going on and she blocks him from walking past her, not wanting him to see the carnage. She says to him it’s alright I’m here and will always be here. Shahin realizes his parents died and he breaks down crying in the arms of his sister Samar.

The doorbell rings at the Cooper home  and Charlene asks Harold to answer it. He’s unpleasantly surprised to find Tom Keen’s on his doorstep and Tom tells him he’s got Karakurt in the trunk of his car. Cooper tells Keen to get the car off the street and put it in his garage. Harold goes out to join Tom and Keen’s not exactly sure if Karakurt’s knocked-out or dead. Turns out he’s playing possum and tries strangling Keen to death with his bare hands until Harold whacks the assailant in the hand with a wrench. Charlene walks in at that point and drops her coffee cup on the garage floor as she takes in the scene.

Reddington, Dembe and Liz stand in the kitchen of an upscale restaurant and watch a breaking news report on the set mounted to the wall. Six employees from Lazarum Systems International based in Annapolis, got abducted at gunpoint and the government’s classifying the incident as an act of terror on United States soil. Red chuckles and says the tip was right.

The head-waiter enters the kitchen and asks Raymond why he’s there and Reddington responds he wants the man to set-up a meeting. The man says he told Red on the phone it’s impossible and Raymond replies that he told him that’s an unacceptable answer. The man says that in most situations he’d gladly accommodate him, but there’s far too much heat on Reddington and the other party and turns to leave. Raymond stops the man in his tracks and asks what if he gives them Zal Bin Hasaan in return?

The head-waiter smirks at Reddington and says the CIA, Interpol and Mossad have hunted him for years and  he thinks he can deliver him? Raymond responds he’s waiting for an answer to his question and the man replies sure you get us Zal Bin Hasaan and you’ll get your meeting. As he walks away Liz asks if that’s the tip  he got that the elusive terrorist’s behind the abduction and Red responds she’s correct and now they just have to find him. To help reach that goal Reddington calls Navabi.

Raymond tells Samar that Zal Bin Hasaan and his crew’s behind the abduction as Lazarum’s encrypting the defense shield for Israel and that he’s currently in or around Annapolis. She says that’s impossible and Raymond says you thought the same thing in Cairo as he stood right behind you killing your partner and leaving you in the ICU. He tells her she’s got another chance to capture him and this time she’s got a secret weapon  she lacked in their first go-round, him.

Remember how excited Ressler was in the previous episode when he acquired security-cam photos of Matias Solomon? They didn’t turn out to be the “smoking-gun” convincing Laurel Hitchin and Reven Wright that the Director had any connection to the Cabal. Peter Kotsiopolus says he’s never seen the man before in his life and Ressler says he’s your employee and he was on that plane to carry out your orders to kill Elizabeth Keen and Raymond Reddington.

He says that Red and Keen have discovered information harmful to his organization. The Director laughs derisively and says his organization’s the CIA. Hitchin reaches her limit and shouts enough, then says it’s obvious that they can’t work together so they should work their leads separately. She looks Donald in the eye and says if she hears about subterfuge or lack of sharing information, she’s going to make that person regret it.

Ressler tells Aram and Navabi that he presented their case and he thinks he bought them some time. Samar then tells the men about Reddington’s information that Zal Bin Hasaan’s behind the Lazarum employees getting abducted. Then she tells them the story about Cairo and Aram mentions that it’s believed he’s behind the explosion in Pishin back in 2009 that killed her brother.

Aram gets a call on his cellphone telling him to turn on the TV and a news anchor reports that the following footage was mass-mailed to news organizations and it’s a tape of one of the hostages reading a statement written by his captors. He says his name’s Michael Hastings and he got taken due to his participation of  the Iron Dome project. He then reads we will find you and you will pay for  your crimes, we’ll contact you again in two-hours. That’s all that’s written and he looks around him with a confused expression until a bullet in the back of his head kills him. Ressler says they’re taking this case.

Mojtabai approaches Donald and tells him that the guy across the room from them wearing a sweater-vest works for the Agency and hacked a phone-number that Aram believes belongs to Reddington or Keen and he’s monitoring it. Aram however hacked the CIA guy’s hack and now he also has the number and he’s also monitoring it. Ressler tells him to be diligent so the Director can’t set-up a hit on Lizzie and Raymond.

Samar keeps looking at the tape for clues and finds a big one. When the gun fired the muzzle blast back-lit his glasses and she sees an energy-plant in the reflection. Aram quickly identifies it as Sellinger Power and the raid’s on. Samar tells Ressler that Mossad deserves to be in on the bust and he tells her to alert them.

Tom and Harold try to calm Charlene down in the Cooper’s kitchen and Harold tells his wife they can’t call the police. Keen says he’ll get him to talk soon and then asks if they have any power-tools. Suddenly they hear a loud bang in the garage and they run in to find Karakurt’s escaped from the trunk and poisoned himself by drinking a soy-based jug of soap. (Karakurt’s allergic to soy-products and can die from ingesting them like people with nut allergies.) Charlene runs to one of her neighbors and brings back an epipen which negates the toxins in the assailant’s body. They duct tape him to a lawn-chair when he recovers.

The Mossad agents that arrive to assist in the raid include many of Navabi’s former teammates including her former commander Levi. They decide to begin the attack with a concussion bomb that Mossad conveniently has on hand. Ressler starts to question why they’ve got one then shakes his head and says he doesn’t want to know.

The joint-force attacks the building and seemingly kill all of the kidnappers, but Levi informs them that Zal Bin Hasaan escaped through a secondary blast as all the men they killed are too young to be him. Suddenly  a Mossad agent tells Levi  and Navabi they have to see this and he leads them to a man caged in a cage that’s so small he can only sit. Samar looks at the man then sees his tattoo and her voice breaks as she asks Shahin? The man responds sister and it turns out that Shahin wasn’t killed in the blast in Pishin.

Samar leaves the building and calls Red and asks if he knew her brother was alive and being held by Zal Bin Hasaan? Red says he’s happily surprised by the news and assures her that had he known he would have informed her. She tells  him that Zal Bin Hasaan escaped and Raymond responds if he’s in country he must have gotten smuggled in as contraband. He says he’ll put out some feelers.

Shahin’s taken by ambulance as they all go to a nearby Mossad safe-house. After Shahin’s examined and given medical clearance, brother and sister sit down along with Ressler for Shahin to explain where he’s been for the last six-years. He goes back to that day telling Samar that he’d been filled with hope as student demonstrators had finally gotten government officials to meet with them in a meeting open to the public. He says he’d been with the demonstrators but the government set them up to make the people believe students were terrorists and they planted a bomb killing most in attendance. Donald asks why the Iranian government would sacrifice high-ranking officials and Shahin responds that’s how badly they wanted to destroy the student movement.

He says the regime hunted him so he was afraid to contact her. He moved to England and started a new life but got wind that the regime tracked him down so he came to the States. However shortly after moving here Zal Bin Hasaan sent some men to his apartment to capture him and had been there for six months.

Tom tells Karakurt the bad news is he’s going to live but if he exonerates Liz Keen will make him a soy-smoothie. Karakurt says something softly in Russian and when Keen leans in to try to hear him his prisoner head-butts him. Tom laughs and then we see Charlene and Harold sitting in the kitchen when they hear a bunch of  banging. Charlene starts to get up but her husband holds her hand firmly and she sits down and sighs.

Kean beat his prisoner  bloody with a medal-stool which is now badly bent and Karakurt’s lying on the floor on his side and breathing heavily. Tom says to him here’s your choice, we can let the Russians know you’ve framed them for the murder of the CIA agents and a United  States Senator and deposit him at the Russian Embassy. He says we both know how that ends up, or you can cooperate with me.

Raymond and Liz visit a dry-cleaner named Farzin whom Red found out helped smuggle Zal Bin Hasaan into the country. He says that he must know where he’s hiding when he escaped from the FBI and Mossad. The elderly man says he knows nothing and Reddington says he better speak quick or Red’s going to shoot him in the knee-cap. Suddenly the dry-cleaner has an address for Reddington and they bid him goodbye.

We find out that it’s Tom’s cellphone that sweater-vest tapped as he calls Lizzie and tells her he’s got great news and to meet him at Wing Yee’s. Liz tells Reddington she’s going to meet him and Raymond tells her he  thinks it’s a bad idea. Aram then calls Ressler and tells him about the call and Ressler tells Navabi he’s got to leave and get down there to keep Liz alive. As he leaves we see there’s trouble at the safe-house as one of the hostages is actually one of Zal Bin Hasaan’s men and he arms a bomb placed under a table.

Cooper calls Ressler to talk to him about Karakurt but Donald says he’s on his way to bust Liz and Tom. He says they’ll soon restore Liz and Cooper’s reputation and says he’ll speak with Harold later. Although we don’t find out until later Harold then calls Keen and he and Liz meet at another restaurant.

He tells her he’s got Karakurt and he’s going to cooperate and soon Liz will be able to walk freely again. He then says he made a huge mistake getting on his boat and leaving her when she was in trouble and promises to make it up to her. He then says he needs to head back to Karakurt.

Ressler and company arrive at Wing Yee’s to see that Liz and Tom aren’t there but Matias Solomon is and Donald recognizes him from the photograph. He pats him down and finds he’s carrying a Glock and Solomon says he’s got a permit to carry the gun as a concealed weapon. When he takes it out of his wallet Ressler drops it in Solomon’s soup and says it’s illegible and they’re heading to the Task Force.

Red and Dembe go the apartment and once inside split-up and start searching for Zal Bin Hasaan. Dembe heads into the bathroom and sees the sinks filled with whiskers. He opens the shower curtain and the man inside tries attacking him but Dembe soon subdues him and he’s on the floor when Raymond enters. Red’s expression shows us that something’s amiss and he asks the man who he is and he says he’s Zal Bin Hasaan.

Reddington says the man’s lying as Hasaan suffered third-degree burns all over his back as a result of a bomb he set-off a couple of years ago. He once again asks the man his name and once again he says that he’s Zal Bin Hasaan. Time for Raymond to call his buddy Brimley.

Samar tells Shahin since he entered the States illegally he’s going to get deported. Her brother says then he can return to England but Navabi tells him that he entered England illegally as well and they won’t allow him to stay there, they’ll deport him to Iran. Shahin says the regime will kill him and she tells him she’s already applied to try to get him political asylum as she won’t lose him again.

When it comes to Reddington’s menagerie of odd-ball sidekicks, Glen finder of lost persons is my personal favorite and I also have a soft-spot for Mr. Kaplan. That being said, it’s always a treat when ever the senior-citizen Marquis De Sade, Brimley pays a visit. We watch Raymond and Dembe standing in the hallway as we hear a loud whooshing of air coming from the bathroom. Brimley emerges holding a propane-torch and breathing heavily he says well he’s not Zal Bin Hasaan. Reddington asks him who is he then and Brimley says he could care less. He says the guy’s singing like Ethel Merman, he’s ready for you now and says he needs some air. Then Brimley straps his oxygen mask onto his face and slumps against the wall as Raymond and Dembe go to question the man.

Navabi’s in one of the back room’s of the safe-house when her phone rings. Red tells her to get all the hostages out and secure the safe-house Zal Bin Hasaan’s there and he planted a bomb. Just then the bomb explodes and the two terrorists in the room start shooting Mossad agents. Navabi’s able to hide and she watches as they take the hostages outside and shoot them. We then watch the man who planted the bomb pull back  a curtain revealing Shahin and he says Zal Bin Hasaan the hostages were shot. He smiles and says that’s good and asks his soldier if he’s seen his sister. Navabi hears the conversation, she now knows the truth.

The Mossad agents are held at gunpoint as Zal Bin Hasaan walks into the room and says imagine all  the money resources and manpower Mossad spends just to try to capture him. We then find out the real purpose of his operation, to obtain the hard copy of all the addresses of every Mossad agent, that’s locked in the safe in the house.

After they kill one agent, Hasaan asks whose the commander and Levi says he is. One of the men drags Levi to the safe and demands he punch in the code. Levi says none of his people will give it up and as the guy raises his weapon to kill Levi, Samar comes in and shoots him. They open the safe and set fire to the files but as they’re burning in the wastebasket Levi gets shot. Zal Bin Hasaan are too late to save the documents but they grab Samar and head to the docks.

Ressler starts interrogating Matias and he says he’s got diplomatic immunity and he was operating as an agent of the German government looking for one of the victims when he was on the plane in the previous episode. Suddenly the Director and one of his aides walk into the office and Peter says to Matias that Ressler believes they work together and he wants to prove they don’t. Ressler leaves and reminds the Director he’s being monitored as Wright and Hitchin are watching a close-circuit feed. Peter pulls out a multi-pronged fishing hook and he says to Solomon he’s going to swallow it. Wright wants to stop the Director, but Laurel tells her to allow him to proceed.

Samar says to her brother there’s nothing noble about what he’s doing and their parents would be ashamed. He says their parents were cowards and tried to weaken the government. She asks him if he planted the bomb in Pishin and he laughs and says that’s the day he became Zal the Warrior. As they head towards an old steamer, Raymond, Dembe  and two of Red’s henchmen appear on the docks and take out the three of Hasaan’s men.

Raymond calls down to  Samar and he tells her the decision’s hers to make. They can turn Shahin over to Mossad and he’ll die rotting in some hell-hole, or she can let Red take him and make his death count. She asks him what he means and he says saving Elizabeth Keen. She says take him and Shahin says  Samar you promised to always protect me. She says I made that promise to my brother and he died in Pishin.

Donald heads to Harold’s and he finds out about Tom’s involvement and that Harold tipped him off about the set-up. Ressler and Keen start fighting in the street until Cooper breaks it up saying he’s got to live there. Ressler gets in his car and drives back to the Task Force headquarters.

Ressler and Navabi both disgusted with the world and life seek comfort in each other and start making out. They head to her place and are about to get intimate when the screen fades to  black.

The Story Continues Next Thursday Night at 9:00 pm on NBC.