David Strathairn

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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 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

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.

Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC

Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

The porcupine’s a pretty tough meal for a predator to take down as long as the creature remains on all four feet. They’re covered in razor-sharp quills to keep them protected, likely causing many bigger animals to pass them by and look for an easier alternative for dinner. Wolves however realize that if they can knock the animal off its feet they can feast on the porcupine’s soft pink underbelly, filling their stomachs long before they get to the hide.

Raymond Reddington  emulates a wolf when going after his prey, realizing that ever person, organization and situation’s got that soft pink underbelly. No matter how big the odds appear against him, Red always manages to find that underbelly and defeat his adversary. That’s why he’ll eventually defeat the Cabal, exonerate former FBI Agent Elizabeth Keen and have Harold Cooper back as head of the FBI Task Force by season’s end on “The Blacklist.”

Despite the powerful people and their endless supply of personnel, weapons and assets and that their leader’s the Director of the CIA, Raymond Reddington’s not only survived all six battles he’s fought in this still young TV season, he’s come out victorious.  The Director Peter Kotsiopolus puts up a false bravado while conversing with others but  the flop sweats starting to become noticeable for viewers. The man whose spent his entire lifetime feeling supremely confident is starting to feel that hot breath on the back of his neck, taking him out of his comfort zone. Those that call the shots for the Cabal have made their displeasure known and Matias Solomon’s not a man you want out to get you.

This week’s number on the Blacklist is number 86, with a bullet (more about that later) Sir Crispin Crandall a reclusive billionaire who lives in the air. He spends his entire existence on board an A-380 aircraft that remains constantly in the air except when it needs to refuel. By remaining constantly in the air makes it impossible for any law agency to attempt to arrest him.

Crandall made much of his fortune founding a cryogenics corporation, cryogenically freezing patients to get thawed out in an age when medical advances will have discovered cures for the deadly diseases they suffer from. Although people have gotten cryogenically preserved for decades, the end results remain theoretical as nobody’s gotten revived at this date.

His latest projects not voluntary for the participants, for about the last six months Crandall’s people have kidnapped and frozen some of the greatest scientific minds of our society. It seems that they’re building a futuristic Noah’s Ark as they are kidnapping a man and a woman from every field of science. Crandall’s latest victim’s a Dr. Richard Kucera a brilliant mathematician that seems to suffer from the same condition that Dr. Stephen Hawking lives with. Crandall tells Kucera that he’ll soon belong to a magnificent existence where his brain will get freed from his body and he’ll find it easy walking and talking. He tells Kucera he admires his intellect and that’s why Crandall chose him to be one of his special few.

On board Reddington’s jet Lizzie finishes bandaging up Dembe’s torso wound and tries to get him to drink some tea with extra antioxidants. Dembe smiles and says don’t worry Elizabeth he will keep you safe. Raymond joins the two in the main compartment and asks Keen if she’s ever heard of an Andras Halmi and she asks if he’s a French economist? Red tells her he’s a Belgian Econometrician and he’s gotten abducted, problem’s that Halmi’s the guy Raymond says they need to help exonerate Lizzie. The reason that Halmi’s so important is that he’s Peter Kotsiopolus’ most trusted adviser.

Reddington knows all about the Ark except whose behind it and where it’s located, for that he needs the assistance of Frenemy and FBI Task Force Director Donald Ressler. Once again problem’s arise as Red makes it clear that the Director can’t find out that Halmi’s involved while the CIA Director’s taken up a semi-permanent residence in the building.

Kotsiopolus walks into Ressler’s office prompting Donald to hang up the phone. The Director says he’s gotten proof that Ressler’s been in contact several times with Keen and Reddington and Ressler admits to it and that Raymond still  supplies them with numbers from the Blacklist. Peter tries to turn it around that Ressler and his team’s advancing Reddington’s agenda instead of trying to capture the pair. Donald says that every case he’s given them has led to the downfall of somebody connected with the Cabal. The Director blows off Donald’s remark and says they’ve got a full briefing on the new case in 30-minutes.

Tom’s gotten in way over his head in the Asher Sutton situation and Harold Cooper lets him know loud and clear. Keen wants to meet Karakurt’s brother-in-law Charlie Volkens, Harold  informs him that’s going to happen and Tom’s not going to like the result. Cooper asks what if Tom put Asher Sutton’s life in danger and Keen responds if it clear’s Lizzie’s name he’s fine with it. (No wonder female fans love Ryan Eggold in this role. That attitude and ladies always go for the good-looking bad-boy.)

Aram discovers that the latest person kidnapped for the Ark’s Dr. Richard Kucera and he says the only  female mathematician of his caliber’s Dr. Anna Neehoff and she lives in Arlington. Ressler and Navabi try to get to her apartment before the kidnapper’s do and Samar leaves her a message telling her to lock all her doors on her cellphone. Neehoff listens to the message just as the three-man crew arrives and she hides under her sofa, she might have gotten out if her cellphone didn’t buzz. One of the guys drags her out and they put her into a van with Donald and Samar in pursuit. They rescue Neehoff, kill two of the kidnappers and Ressler captures the third.

Dembe, Reddington and Keen have landed in Montreal and then go to a building Raymond’s having renovated. His construction foreman tells him he can’t get any work done because he’s dealing with a pain-in-the-neck building inspector. Red offers the inspector named Max a substantial bribe to turn a blind-eye and Max basically tells him to shove it.

Our favorite disbarred former-attorney Marvin Gerard’s also in the building and he tells Reddington to forget about Max, if they can’t locate Andras Halmi they can’t carry out their plan. Red tells Gerard to dig up what ever he can use to put Max in a compromising position and he’ll carry on the search for Halmi.

Ressler brings the third-kidnapper to the Task Force headquarters and the perp demands a lawyer. Peter Kotsiopolus asks if that guy’s the kidnapper and Ressler tells him he is but he demanded to get an attorney before he utters a word. The Director smiles and says he’ll talk to him.

Gerard calls Raymond and tells him that Max’s a choirboy, even his ex-wife loves him. However he does have one weakness, the young woman he’s in love with an aspiring pastry-chef named Lisa. Unfortunately Lisa’s far from being Betty Crocker in the kitchen messing up all her creations. Raymond finds her at her latest job that doesn’t look promising and mentions Max and says he has some things to discuss with her. After showing her samples of wall colors and counter-tops she asks what’s this all about and Reddington says her restaurant. Lisa says she doesn’t have one and Raymond suggests they take a drive.

Tom shows up unwanted at Asher and Gwen’s place and although they tell him to leave Keen informs them that some dangerous people are coming and the two of them have to grab their passports and cash and beat feet immediately. Unfortunately they don’t heed his advice so Tom can only save Gwen telling her to hide and remain hidden despite anything she hears.

Peter Kotsiopolus enters the interrogation room and it doesn’t take long for us to realize what makes him such an effective CIA Director and leader of the Cabal. He tells the perp his birth name’s Michael Karpos and he’s done some missions for some of the Agency’s sub-contractors. He then says Karpos has an ex-wife and a grade-school aged daughter who attends St. Bartholomew’s Academy in New Jersey. He then asks Karpos if he’s studied the Bible, the Director tells him he considered the priesthood at one point. He then quotes a Psalm Exodus 20:5.6.

“For I The Lord Thy God Am A Jealous God, Visiting The Iniquities Of The Father Upon The Children.”

He walks out of the interrogation room moments later and tells Ressler that the man they’re hunting for is Sir Crispin Crandall and the kidnap victims have gotten deposited at a complex near the Boston/Manchester Regional Airport. Seconds later Aram informs them that Crandall lives in the air in his A-380, the only times he lands is for refueling. Samar and Donald along with a SWAT Team to raid the facility.

Matias Solomon summons the Director for a meeting and asks him to tell him about Andras Halmi, he’s the person the FBI have kept hidden from him. After chiding Peter that he knows everything, usually long before he finds out the Director says that Reddington’s reaching out to the billionaire to forge a deal. He says as soon as he determines where the meeting will take place he’ll contact Solomon.

Navabi, Ressler and the FBI SWAT-Team raid Crandall’s facility and find the building they’ve raided is a legitimate company. It’s Crandall Cryogenics and all the scores of cryogenic tubes contain paid patients, who utilized the service with the hopes of eventually getting revived and cured. They suddenly realize that Crandall’s got the Ark stored with him on the A-380 and they try to determine where their next fuel-stop will be.

Tom Keen wakes up battered and bruised in an alley with a dog collar around his neck attached to an iron-chain. He’s woken as a little man shakes the chain and Keen says he wants to speak to the Russian and that Asher Sutton’s not  involved in this. The man tells him that Sutton’s now deeply involved as he and Tom will fight to the death in the main bout later that day. He leaves and Keen pulls on the chain and find’s Sutton’s on the other end and still out cold.

Raymond brings Lisa over to the building and Lisa tells Max she can’t believe he’s building her own restaurant and starts talking about all the events she wants to have. She kisses and hugs him and then runs off to explore. Reddington tells him that he just needs the property for a 24-hour-window then it’s his free-and-clear. Max asks him who he is and Raymond responds he’s the man that’s making the woman he love’s dream’s come true.

Reddington’s set-up a meeting with Sir Crispin and the Task Force gets a report that Crandall’s plane will set-down for refueling near Halifax, Canada. Ressler, Navabi and company head to Halifax, however they’re relying on false information disseminated by Peter Kotsiopolus. He calls Solomon with the correct info that the plane’s landing in Pittsburgh and Matias is to terminate Reddington and Keen and retrieve Halmi’s corpse. Solomon asks why Reddington would want Halmi’s body if he’s dead and Peter says that if Matias kills Red and Liz all the loose ends will disappear.

The main bout’s taking place in an alley as Sutton and Keen still chained together are surrounded with all the extras from the original Road Warrior movie. The little man acts as ring-announcer telling the crowd that this is a no-hold-barred grudge match. All rules are thrown out the window in fact biting, scratching and gouging are encouraged. The last man breathing wins. Keen doesn’t want to fight and all he does is block Sutton’s blows. Asher says that if Tom doesn’t fight they’ll both die. Keen looks at the little man and says he doesn’t want to fight he came to see the Russian.

The ring-announcer asks the crowd what should happen and they explode into a cacophony of jeers and hissing. The little man gives Sutton a switch-blade and Keen says to Asher he doesn’t want to go this route. Sutton tries slashing Keen a few time, then Tom forces the preppie to the ground and says he’s sorry before he slits his throat.

Aram calls Ressler and Navabi and tells them the plane’s touching down in Pittsburgh and Donald quickly realizes that the Director purposely misled them. He says that Kotsiopolus has his own team to meet the plane and they’re going to kill Lizzie and Reddington. Samar heads to the cockpit to inform the pilot to change course.

Raymond and Elizabeth step on-board Crandall’s aircraft and Sir Crispin asks Reddington why his payment hasn’t been accepted for him to re-fuel. Red responds he’s changed his fee for this transaction, he wants Andras Halmi, Crandall says he’s not getting Halmi and Raymond says he will get the parts of him he requires.

He asks the billionaire if he’s a betting man and Crandall responds he detests casinos. Raymond laughs and tells him he agrees with his statement, but asks Sir Crispin if betting on situations interest him? He says that because of Crandall’s egomaniacal flawed vision that humanity’s chances of survival are far less than before he began as he’s robbed of us some of the planet’s greatest minds.

Crandall says the planet’s doomed and that society’s coming to an end shortly. He says that he and the others on his voyage will awaken to a wondrous planet of the future without any of modern humanity’s ills. Crandall says that death occurs in stages, that as long as the information of a person’s life’s retained that person remains alive.

Raymond says that the toxic-air will keep any of them from ever being revived. He tells Sir Crispin that the future’s a sucker’s bet. The only thing that has any certainty’s the here and now and that Crandall’s dramatically lowered humanities chances of surviving because of his plan. Red says cryogenics will be an abject failure.

Crandall says I’m willing to bet that’s not the case. Raymond smiles and says so you are a betting man Mr. Crandall, here’s your bet then he pulls out his pistol and fires a bullet into the old man’s heart. Crandall’s aide and a nurse run in as the aide says I heard a…. The nurse asks if he’s dead and Raymond replies oh pish-posh death comes in stages then he and Keen break into the cryogenics chamber then close the door behind them. Lizzie finds the tube containing Halmi’s corpse and Red opens it up and snaps off one of Halmi’s fingers and wraps it in a handkerchief.

They exit the plane after engaging in a shootout with Solomon’s men taking all of them out except for Matias. Solomon’s cellphone rings and the Director asks if he’s got Halmi and Solomon says well most of him he’s missing his thumbs. Kotsiopolus nearly passes out when he hears that.

The Director calls a bank in Montreal and he tells the manager he’s from the Justice Department and a Canadian judge’s ruled that the contents of a safety-deposit box at the bank belonging to Andras Halmi’s now property of the United States and to make certain that no third-party gets access to it.

That’s the reason Reddington needed use of the building in Montreal for 24-hours as its next door to the bank and Red’s lowered into the safety-deposit vault by a rope tied around his waist. He picks the lock, uses Halmi’s thumbs to open the container within and a huge grin breaks out on his face. The Director arrives to find the box empty except for Halmi’s thumbs.

Back on his jet Red calls the Director to gloat and Peter congratulates him for besting him. Raymond says the time’s come for him to exonerate Elizabeth Keen and the  Director tells him he’s not getting that. Reddington contradicts Kotsiopolus, saying the only question that remains is whether the Director will live to see that day.

Raymond says that he just took  away  Peter’s escape fund that he kept for when the Cabal turns on him. Red says without his golden-parachute he’s out-of-luck when his time runs out. He then says he’s going to make everything fall down on top of the Director. His own people will beg Raymond to kill Peter to stop the bleeding.

Ressler thinks that he can convince Laurel Hitchin that the Director’s got his own agenda with the footage they got of Solomon and company on Crandall’s plane. Whether things are just that simple remain to be determined.

Tom’s taken to meet Charlie Volkens and he says it takes a hard man to kill his buddy with a blade, then says he hears that Keen wanted to see him. Tom points to Karakurt and says he’s the one he wants and Karakurt asks him who he is. Keen replies he’s the guy that’s going to drag his tail back to DC for him to testify to what he did and clear his wife’s name.

He then tells the four men in front of him he’s about to kill three of them leaving just him and Karakurt, then does exactly what he said he’d do. Karakurt pleads for Tom not to kill him, Keen smiles and says not yet then knocks him cold and starts dragging Karakurt’s limp body in the dirt.

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

Photo Courtesy Of NBC

Photo Courtesy Of NBC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

The latest episode of the NBC series “The Blacklist,” served up more red herrings than a Norwegian fishing trawler  likely catches in a day’s excursion. What exactly is a “Red Herring“?  It’s a clue given to readers and viewers from the author of the piece that purposely leads the audience astray. The show-runners loaded this chapter up with them, some easily detected by the viewer while others weren’t quite as obvious. The device led to an episode that had as many twists and turns as the road to Haleakala on the island of Maui.

The first person we see is Mr. Kaplan meeting with Raymond Reddington in an airplane hangar with corpses and blood all over the floor. Red tells Kate she’s got 30 minutes to clean up and document the evidence, Mr. Kaplan starts taking pictures of an apparently dead Elizabeth Keen lying near a pool of blood.

Suddenly we’re in somebody’s living-room as an excited teenage girl runs in with a huge smile on her face and telling her dad they got her. She turns on the TV and she and her father watch a breaking news-report from a network anchor announcing they’ve received reports stating former FBI Agent Elizabeth Keen died earlier the victim of a gunman who  killed several people in an undisclosed area outside of New York City. We watch the report from a number of venues and we see Ressler’s reaction while he’s waiting for testimony to resume in a Presidential Committee hearing. We also see Samar, Aram’s and Harold Cooper’s reactions as they watch the report.

Kate turns to Red and she asks him if he’s sure this is what he wants? Red emphatically tells her to get the pictures to Sandquist at the Chronicle as he wants everybody to see these. Simple common sense tells us that Keen can’t be dead or the series ends with this episode. We then see a graphic that tells us we’re going back 12-hours to show us what lead up to this moment.

Tom Keen’s endeared himself to Asher Sutton, a trust-fund baby with a taste for the wild side and he informs Harold Cooper about their meeting. Sutton saw right through the con Keen put on at the underground gambling joint and that intrigued him. The two go out for some dinner and Sutton asks the guy he knows as Wainwright what’s his actual story. Keen’s utilizing a pretty convincing New York City accent and tells the rich-kid he used to make money cleaning toilets at Bronx University. He says he got raised by a single mom and he’s got a brother in prison then says he’s a townie, a nobody.

Sutton shakes his head and laughs and he says his great-grandfather was a hustler, a townie and just like Keen. He says the only interesting person in his family’s lineage was exactly like Tom then he invites him to his engagement party. Keen tries begging off saying he doesn’t want to impose and Asher insists on it saying he’ll be the only guy at the party he’ll look forward to talking to. Keen smiles and extends his hand and tells Sutton his real name’s Matt Buckley and  he’s pleased to meet him.

Tom tells Cooper that Sutton’s paying some debt to the Russian mob and Harold says he’s been withdrawing 20 grand amount from his bank account. Keen plans to use Asher to meet his Russian connections then he can eventually meet Karakurt the spy that Cooper wants him to find.

Red returns to his friend’s theater where he and Liz are hiding and tells Keen they need to move. Lizzie asks if the Cabal’s tracked them down and Raymond says it’s worse than that Wendigo’s after you. Keen’s got no knowledge of  who Wendigo is and Red tells her that he’s a nameless assassin and vigilante. Wendigo’s a lone wolf who dispenses “justice” to those he believes deserve it. Red says he’ll call her later and arrange for her to get picked up, she asks him where he’s going and he responds for help.

The AA support group that Donald Ressler attends is breaking up when Ressler feels a gun pressed to his back and a voice he knows all too well saying he needs Donald’s help. They walk to another part of the building and Reddington tells the agent he can turn around then tells Donald he’s impressed with his commitment to remaining sober. Raymond tells Ressler that he tried a stint with Alcoholics Anonymous, but he could accept that there was a more powerful being out there than him. Ressler smirks then takes out his cellphone and calls in an officer down report at the address they’re at. He tells Red that he’s got four minutes, Reddington replies he needs less than two.

Ressler’s back at the Task Force headquarters briefing Samar and Aram about Wendigo saying he’s allegedly responsible for some unsolved murders on the Bureau’s docket. Wendigo apparently executed a Guatemalan strong-man and some heinous character from South America. Navabi says the reason the cases aren’t solved is because both guys were monsters. Donald says as despicable as they were, both men became the subject of massive searches and no law-enforcement agency found them. However Wendigo found them and he’ll find Keen as well.

Reddington calls Lizzie to know that he’s got a car and two guys waiting for her downstairs. As she walks out of the building one of Raymond’s guys get picked off by a sniper, the other guy tries to take out the sniper but he never gets a shot off. Keen’s able to get to a car and hot wire it then pulls the rearview mirror from the windshield and holds it above her head so she can drive while lying down on the seat. She abandons the car ten blocks away and escapes.

Raymond calls Aram and asks what’s going on and the tech-expert says that two bodies were found at the scene and Lizzie escaped. Red then asks what Aram knows about Wendigo and he replies he’s really not supposed to talk about that with Reddington. Raymond says he’ll give him five seconds and by the time he gets to three Mojtabai’s sputtering that they found the master gunsmith that creates guns for Wendigo. His name’s Zachary O’Toole and he goes by Zed, Raymond disconnects and starts researching the gunsmith. Amar’s asking if Red’s going to count down to zero unaware Raymond’s hung-up.

One of the best aspects of this series remains the people they bring in as guest-stars and reoccurring characters and another great choice appeared on the screen in this episode. Veteran Screen and TV actress Christine Lahti portrayed the President’s Chairman of National Security Laurel Hitchin, longtime friend of Deputy Attorney General Reven Wright. We meet Hitchin as Wright and Ressler arrive for Donald to testify in front of a Presidential Commission on trying to capture Elizabeth Keen. Hitchin tells Donald not to be nervous the commission just wants to hear the truth.

The President’s adviser asks Donald if he’s attempting to interfere in the search for Keen and Ressler responds absolutely not. She then asks him if he’s sharing information with the CIA and Ressler admits he hasn’t. She says after 9/11 the Intelligence Agencies in the United States adopted a policy of working in cooperation with each other and asks why Ressler’s not adhering to that policy. Donald says because the CIA Director’s rumored to be the head of the Cabal that could be the actual source of the attacks blamed on Keen. She responds that’s just rumor and asks if the Director deserves the benefit of the doubt and Donald asks her in return what about Elizabeth Keen?

Hitchin asks Ressler if he believes Elizabeth Keen’s innocent and he responds his job’s to capture her not to determine guilt or innocence. She says he’s avoiding the question and he goes back to saying his only thoughts on the case involve apprehending the fugitive. She stops and smiles and asks him to give her his honest opinion, he knows Keen does he believe she’s innocent. Donald looks her in the eye and says he does that Liz Keen’s not a terrorist.

Liz realizes Navabi’s likely scouring the scene of the shooting for clues and as she walks to the park to meet Red she calls Samar and tells her she believes the sniper fired from the roof of a certain hotel. Navabi and a forensic guy find the bullet inscribed on the back of the casing Psalm 1:1, she tells Keen that Wendigo found her once and he’ll find her again. Lizzie hangs up and keeps walking to the park. The forensic guy asks Navabi what’s Psalm 1:1 and Samar quotes “Blessed is he that walks not in the council of the wicked.”

Red picks her up and Lizzie’s terrified, she tells Raymond the bullets were so close she heard them whizzing past her head. He tells her he’s got good news that Dembe contacted him, Lizzie asks if he called and Reddington explains they’ve got a protocol set-up and Dembe’s put it into motion. He says Dembe will meet them later that day, but we know that it’s actually Vargas that responded instead of Dembe.

They drive over to Zachary O’Toole’s place and burst down the door both brandishing weapons. Red asks where’s Wendigo and the guy asks who they are. Red asks again and this time Zed says he doesn’t know. Reddington laughs and says would you look at that a 416 Rigby Mauser and fully loaded, he then says that weapon can take out an African Bull Elephant and it came in handy on a trip to Africa. Liz asks him if he shot an elephant and Red exclaims God no, he shot a  poacher who tried shooting the elephant. Suddenly Zed provides them with an address that Wendigo stayed at before.

They head to the apartment and there’s a radio playing country music as Wendigo’s producing more of his unique bullets. Lizzie tries picking the lock and the assassin hears the sound above the music picks up his rifle and fires it through the front door then he climbs out the kitchen window and onto the fire-escape. Keen tells Raymond to take the stairs while she follows the suspect. He climbs up to the roof and starts running and he tries to use another door to escape but it’s locked.

He jumps down to a lower roof and Keen follows him, he then attempts to leap between two buildings and he’s got a tentative grip on the edge of the other rooftop. Red reaches down and braces him and tells the assassin to grab his arms. Suddenly the guy says I’m not the only one, there are lots of us and they’ll all be coming. Reddington asks him what he’s talking about and the killer says even if you kill me she still isn’t safe one of the others will get her. Raymond asks him whom he’s referring to and the vigilante just starts laughing and Red lets him fall to his death on the streets below.

Wendigo spoke the truth with his last words, Keen’s problems were far from being over as there’s a bounty of over 700 grand on her head. Aram tells Samar that he was just sent a link from the NYPD that shows a Dark-Net site DeadNotAlive.Org is a crowd-sourcing site that’s funded by haters. The more hated a figure is the more crowd-funding they get for the bounty. He says every nut-job’s going to be trying to collect that bounty and Navabi asks how they get the money. Aram says that the killer has to give the time, the place and the method of execution plus leave a signature marker, Wendigo used Psalm 1:1 as his.

Keen’s sitting on a bench in the park with a laptop looking at the site and she looks around her and imagines everyone she sees is a potential assassin. Red puts his hand on her shoulder startling Keen and he says it’s time to meet Dembe. They walk towards the street and Mr. Vargas gets out of the car they expected Dembe to emerge from. Reddington asks where’s Dembe and Vargas somberly shakes his head and Raymond asks what happened?

We join “Matt Buckley” at Asher Sutton’s engagement party as Sutton’s fiancé Gwen Hollander says to Keen that he must be Asher’s new BFF. She says she fell in love with her fiancée at first sight and she puts up with him collecting unusual personalities even at her engagement party as long as she’s assured of one thing. That he’ll never cause any harm to the man she loves and Matt gives her his word. She gulps down her last sip of wine and says get started then I need a refill. He laughs and says she’s got it.

When he arrives at the bar to get Gwen her refill he sees Asher’s dealing with some low-level enforcer sent by the Russians. Sutton says to the guy he’ll get the money Friday and the goon responds the money’s due right then. “Matt Buckley” asks if  everything’s alright and Sutton quickly says all’s good, the enforcer then says he said no problem. Keen smiles and says he heard him and it’s time for the goon to leave. He glares at Sutton as he walks away and says this not over. “Matt Buckley” says it looks like he made a friend and Sutton replies he wished he’d stayed out of the conversation.

Back at the park Mr. Vargas lies to Reddington saying he stayed with Dembe until the end and that if he attempted to bring back Dembe’s body they both have gotten killed. Camera strays from the three of them for a moment and we see a well dressed man appear to make eye contact with Reddington and leaves something among the flowers. Red grabs Vargas face between his hands and says we will avenge this good man’s death. Something seems off Red would be far more devastated if he truly believed Dembe died. Lizzie suddenly gasps and tells Red she’s seen the symbol from the website that’s got the bounty on her head.

They return to Zed’s the gunsmith’s place and Liz says he gave up Wendigo because he plans to kill her himself and she points to the doodle of the symbol on his desk blotter. He stammers and stutters and Reddington asks who created the website and he says he doesn’t know and Raymond shoots him in the thigh. He screams in pain and says all he knows is the creator goes by the name of Gavrilo Princip, Raymond politely thanks him and then shoots him dead.

The Task Force arrest Gavin Delgado, Princip’s actual name and confiscate his computers. He tells the agents they’ve got no right seizing his computers as their his intellectual property. It doesn’t stop the agents for locking up the laptops or Delgado.

Red gives Vargas the  keys to the car and tells him to call Edward to get the jet ready. Vargas makes a call and says this is Mr. Vargas. Mr. Reddington would like you to meet us at Garden Avenue Airfield. Matias Solomon’s actually on the other end of the phone and says he likes the name Edward, then tells his assistant to get the car ready.

CIA Director Kotsiopolus give his testimony to the commission and Hitchin’s asks him why he believes that the FBI hasn’t shared information with the Agency. The Director replies because the case involves Special Agent Elizabeth Keen. She asks him if he shares Donald’s belief that Keen’s innocent and he almost chortles as he says she’s a Russian Sleeper Agent. He says she admitted as much to Ressler when she scaled the wall of the Russian Embassy and asked for asylum.

She asks Kotsiopolus about the Cabal and he says it’s a discredited relic and mentions an article debunking it in the Washington Post. Hitchin says she doesn’t rely on columnists for information, the Director says the Fulcrum got published by Raymond Reddington getting it to the media. He says Reddington lacks any credibility and says the attacks in Washington emanated from Russia and the cold-war has re-escalated. He says in times of trouble people look for simplistic explanations and the idea of the Cabal suits that purpose. He says he’s flattered to be accused of heading up a shadow-government that controls world events but that isn’t true. The Cabal simply doesn’t exist.

Vargas, Keen and Reddington arrive at the hangar and as soon as they leave the car Red asks Vargas where’s Edward and then asks him what he did as gunmen start to surround them. Once again this just feels wrong, Raymond Reddington didn’t elude capture from every law-enforcement agency on the planet by being this dumb.

Matias Solomon walks out of the jet and asks what’s the story with you too anyway, that’s what everybody wants to know? Some think it’s a daddy/daughter thing while others believe it’s a May/September romance, I like to think of it as a bit of both.  Liz and Raymond are still holding their weapons though guys are encircling them with guns aimed at their heads. Mr. Solomon says that at best Red might kill one or two and Keen might do as well, but they’ll still both die. Raymond tells Keen to drop her gun and the second time he says it she does. Once again something seems wrong, Raymond Reddington’s going out with a whimper instead of a bang?

Navabi’s over her head trying to question Delgado so Aram goes into talk to him. He tells Delgado to take Lizzie’s name off the site and he refuses to saying the masses control the process. Aram threatens to knock out the site with a virus and Delgado laughs at him and says that people put millions into  the site because he’s thought of every bad case scenario. Aram says they realize he can’t run with the money and suddenly realizes Delgado needs the person to put the bounty on Keen’s head to remove her name from the site.

At the airfield Matias has one of his thugs bring over a metal table and  two other guys try putting Liz on it. She kicks one of them in the face but they finally pin her down. Raymond says to Matias to call the Director if he allows Liz to live he’ll give up all the incriminating documents on him that he possesses. Solomon’s eyes grow wide as he gets in Reddington’s face and says not to concern himself with the director any longer, he now belongs to him.

Back at the engagement party, Gwen and Asher are discussing his problems with the Russian’s when “Matt Buckley” comes over and wants to help with the situation. Sutton asks him if he know of underground boxing tournaments and Keen replies that’s like human dog-fighting and advises him to refrain from betting on that. Asher says he fought in one and was supposed to throw the fight but he won. Lots of bad people lost lots of money. Gwen then says Sutton paid them all back but when they found out about his family they demanded 20 grand a month. Asher says it will never stop but “Matt Buckley” says it ends now as I’ll stop them. Sutton says no, however Gwen tells him to shut-up and asks Keen his proposal.

Matias Solomon pulls out a long knife and says the reason people fear him so much as he keeps going more and more over the top in his crimes. He says he’s going to carve up Keen artistically, like a great chef would fillet a salmon. Lizzie screams and suddenly there’s the sound of machinery in the hangar. A dead man’s at the controls of a forklift which confuses everybody. Suddenly Dembe struts in carrying an automatic weapon in each hand and then either kills, wounds or scares away all the gunmen. Vargas sits on the floor with a bullet wound in his side and Red walks over to him and shoots him at point-blank range. Dembe’s shirt’s covered in blood and when he and Red embrace he sinks to the floor.

Next scene opens with Dembe on a stretcher with an oxygen mask on his face and paramedics are going to put him in an ambulance and Raymond gives them the address of a safe-house he secured to treat Dembe. He tells Dembe that they’re going to get him well and he kisses him on top  of his head. Red calls Aram and asks if Lizzie’s names off the website and Aram responds that until the person that set her up as the target thinks she’s dead her name will remain  on there. Hence the reason that Mr. Kaplan faked Lizzie’s death.

Raymond’s able to get the address and name of the person that put Keen’s name on the site, he’s Arioch Cain the father of the teenage girl we saw early in the show. Red and Liz arrive at his door and he looks at Lizzie and says your dead. She asks him why he put her name on the site and he’s totally clueless. Suddenly we hear his daughter Blair says she’s responsible that she wants Keen dead.

Blair’s mom died in the explosion that Karakurt created and pinned the blame on Liz last season. She promises the teenager that she had no involvement in the explosion or the death of Blair’s mom. She tells her that she lost her mother when she was a little girl and she still  dreams about the sound of her voice and the way she smelled. She looks Blair in the eyes and says that she’ll do what ever she can to bring her mother’s killer to justice. Blair removes Lizzie’s name from the site.

The Russian enforcer drives up and Sutton gives him an envelope filled with cash. When he takes off “Matt Buckley” steps up to the drivers window and tells the thug that’s the last payment his people will get from Sutton. From now on they deal with him. The guy responds they will come for you and Keen says he’s counting on it, dude draws his pistol and “Matt Buckley” grabs it  and kills the driver.

Reven Wright comes to get Ressler and Laurel Hitchin has also arrived. Donald says he hopes the President’s adviser’s stopped by with good news when we hear the Director raving about the lollipop that Laurel gave him. She says that from that point onward they’ll share information. Ressler says he disagrees with the way she’s resolved it and she smiles and says the President favors it.

Asher and Gwen go to meet with “Matt Buckley” and he says he took care of it. Sutton asks him if that’s blood on his  collar and Gwen asks  him for the keys to his trunk and he tells her please not to  look in there. She takes the keys out of his hand and opens the trunk and sees the enforcer’s corpse, “Matt Buckley” says he told them he’d handle it.

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

Photo Courtesy Of NBC

Photo Courtesy Of NBC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

Season Three of the NBC series “The Blacklist,” picks up seconds after the conclusion of season two as former FBI Agent Liz Keen and Raymond Reddington, attempt eluding capture by a manhunt that’s shut down all of Washington D.C. Lizzie’s former partner Donald Ressler heads the effort, coordinating law-enforcement agencies to catch the duo before they get out of the city. Ressler’s attempting to ignore his personal feelings for Keen and trying to focus on the fact she’s a fugitive from justice. He’s addressing the team assembled around him, emphasizing that they have to capture the pair before they leave the city, or they’ll be chasing ghosts.

Back at the Task Force headquarters Aram Mojtabai tells Agent Samar Navabi that he believes Keen’s innocent, then reveals he’s found the vehicle they’re trying to escape in. Navabi and Aram get a visual image of the silver van they’re in and they watch it go into a tunnel, but it doesn’t come out the other side. Rewinding the video-feed they realize that the van went onto a truck carrying new-cars in the tunnel and eluded capture.

Ressler heads back to the Task Force center and starts questioning the Task Force’s former director Harold Cooper about Liz shooting United States Attorney General Tom Connolly. Cooper tells the agent that Connolly worked for the Cabal and tried to make Harold believe he was dying, to put Cooper in a compromising position. He tells Ressler however, he ordered Liz not to shoot the Attorney General. She wouldn’t listen however as Connolly threatened to take down everybody on the Task Force, including Donald.

The pair get out of the van at a trucking facility, each wearing police uniforms and they jump into a Metro-Police cruiser. They then drive to a bar owned by a longtime associate of Red’s, but there’s a wildcard Reddington wasn’t expecting. The guy’s sister Tiffany’s now living with him, after her husband died in Denver about a month before. The guy tells Red that his sister’s trustworthy and Raymond gives her the benefit of the doubt. That turns out to be a rare mistake on Reddington’s part. They go into the bar’s kitchen step down into an underground bunker, hidden beneath a trap-door. Red tells Kean this is where they’ll wait until the Troll Farmer’s ready, she’s got no idea what he’s referring to.

Young woman’s in her kitchen fixing a meal when she hears a strange man’s voice on her baby monitor. She grabs a kitchen knife and runs in, seeing a strange man holding her infant. He asks her which toy Ellie would like to take on her trip and decides on a panda. The woman asks the man what he want’s and he replies he wants her father and he’ll text her instructions. She tries to attack him with the knife, but he easily pushes her to the ground. We’ve just met the “BIG BAD” for season three, a man who works for the Cabal named Mr. Solomon.

Down in the bunker Red and Lizzie watch a newscast on an old black and white TV, the newscaster says although the Government accuses Keen of being a Russian spy, several major newspapers claim that’s not the case. We then cut to a press-conference being held by the Director. Liz suddenly realizes that Red gave the Fulcrum to journalists and the Director’s attempting to put these reports to rest.

He tells his audience that in the 65-years that the CIA has had a Director of National Clandestine Services, the Director’s identity’s never been revealed during their tenure. However he received permission from the President to reveal himself and to challenge these irresponsible accusations, that not only smear his name but threaten National Defense. He then asks whose word will you believe, two fugitive criminals or him. Liz shuts off the set and says if she didn’t know better, she’d believe him.

The press conference didn’t sit well with the other members of the Cabal and Mr. Solomon pays the Director a visit. He reminds the Director he convinced the other member Red was bluffing about possessing the Fulcrum and he was very wrong. He says that puts our plans in jeopardy, the Director corrects him and says my plans. Solomon tells him they were his plans, but no longer as he’s lost the Cabal’s confidence. He then tells the Director he’s dancing on the edge of a razor-blade, as the Cabal control just how long he’ll remain breathing.

Red hears Tiffany and her brother arguing upstairs and Raymond grabs Tiffany’s cellphone and hits redial, reaching the FBI Tip-Hotline. Reddington tells Lizzie they’re leaving but the FBI have arrived, he grabs the brother and tells Tiffany to get rid of them or her brother dies. They head to the bunker as Ressler and a SWAT Team burst through the door.

Tiffany denies calling the FBI and the SWAT-Team announce the house’s clear, Donald heads into the kitchen but doesn’t notice anything amiss. They’re about to leave, when Ressler tells one of the officers to call back the number that left the tip and Tiffany’s phone rings from beneath the bar. Donald tells them to come up and when they don’t respond he throws a smoke-bomb down into the bunker. The agents climb down into the bunker only to realize Red and Lizzie escaped through a grate.

The pair reemerge on the street and open a valet parking box and grab the keys for a two-seater Porsche. Lizzie figures the owner lives alone or maybe with a girlfriend and his apartment’s likely empty. They can get his address off his registration in the glove compartment.

Turn’s out the young woman’s Isabella, Dembe’s daughter and Ellie’s his granddaughter. He asks her to describe the man and then asks what he wanted. Isabella tells her father that the man wanted him, Dembe swears to his daughter that he’ll get his granddaughter back to her safe and sound.

Red and Lizzie hideout in the Porsche owner’s apartment and Keen dyes her hair honey-blonde, causing the usually loquacious Reddington to start stammering. She suddenly remembers the picture of her mother on Red’s desk and that she’s blonde in the photograph and she looks like her mother. Red then tells her they’ll have to change their plans and go see the Troll Farmer now.

Raymond explains that the Troll Farmer’s a master manipulator of social-media and creates events to hide other situations. Red claims that among the Troll Farmer’s accomplishments, he invented an Ebola plague in Atlanta to raise the price for a drug manufacturer’s stock. They’re about to leave when the housekeeper enters, Raymond assures the woman they won’t hurt her. They’re just going to take her cellphone and lock her in the bathroom.

Back at Task Force headquarters, Navabi tells Ressler she scoured all of the footage of the shooting of Connolly at a hotel and Cooper’s not complicit. She says that she knows Ressler helped Liz escape from the Task Force center, which lead to Connolly’s shooting. She says she doesn’t know why he won’t admit it, but she’s wary of him.

The Troll Master’s a young Asian guy and none too happy to see Red and Liz at his door a week earlier than he expected. He tries sending them away, but Red convinces him to let them in. Once inside we see the large-scale hacking network, that the man whose real name’s Chang operates.

Keen starts walking around the facility and bumps into a double of herself as a brunette, wearing a police uniform. The woman’s posing s Keen to try to redirect law enforcement officials and suddenly recognizes Lizzie and acts like she’s meeting Lady GAGA. She asks if Red’s there as well and practically squeals when Liz tells her he is. Then she asks what’s it like being a fugitive?

Ressler tells Harold that Charlene’s been released and he’s getting released as well, pending future questioning. Cooper says he’s glad Donald doesn’t think he’s complicit in Lizzie’s crime, but Ressler corrects him and tells him they’re both complicit as he allowed Liz to escape. He says he’s going to catch her though, because his job isn’t going with his gut. His job’s to enforce the law.

Lizzie tells Reddington when she was a little girl she fantasized that her mother was a prima-ballerina and would one day come for her. She then asks Red what happened to her and Raymond says at one time he thought he knew, but as the years have passed, he realized he had no idea where she is or what happened to her. Chang comes in and tells them that in an hour they’ll either be free, or in prison on charges of treason.

Liz and Red each are transported in a separate van to double their chances of one of them escaping and clearing Keen’s name. Chang tells Red that their business relationship’s over and tells Raymond he’s a crazy old man. Reddington and Liz are each hidden in secret compartments in each vehicle and they head north, while the Troll Farmer’s network sends out pictures over social media having them in five different locations in the south. Ressler realizes it’s a set-up and redirects all officers to the north.

Reddington gets past the perimeter and it appears Lizzie has too, as a radio-dispatcher tells all officers to stand down, as the duo’s in custody. However seconds later Ressler shows up and the search resumes. Raymond calls Liz and tells her that he’s made it out but she won’t make it, so she has to hide. She tells the driver to take her to 2650 Wisconsin Avenue.

Dembe’s outside a restaurant he knocks out the doorman, then heads inside and takes out two goons. He sees Mr. Solomon eating a shellfish dish and Solomon motions for him to sit down. After he finishes his meal, he takes out his cellphone and calls Isabella, he tells her to go to her front door and open it. Ellie’s in her little travel seat, he tells Isabella to take a picture with her phone and to send it to him. When the picture arrives, he thanks Isabella and shows the picture to Dembe.

Dembe asks what’s keeping him from ripping Solomon apart with his bare hands and the Cabal operative, explains he’s infected Ellie with a deadly toxin and if he dies, she’ll die a painful death within three weeks. He then gives Dembe a small gas mask attached to a vial and tells him to breath deeply. After about three breaths, Dembe’s knocked out.

Samar and Donald drive around trying to figure out where Keen’s headed, when they seize on the fact she’s accused of being a Russian spy and they head to the Russian Embassy. They get there just in time to watch Lizzie scale the fence and then tells the soldier’s her name’s Masha Rostova and she’s a Russian agent. She asks for immunity as the screen fades to black.

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