Deirdre Lovejoy

All posts tagged Deirdre Lovejoy

Photo Courtesy Of Will Hart NBC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

Our most dangerous enemies always come from within our circles, former friends and confidants, turned foes. Battling strangers or those we’ve kept at a distance, quickly becomes a game of whack-a-mole, smacking indiscriminately and hoping to cause damage. Former allies know our strengths and weaknesses, exploiting our fears and zeroing in on our soft underbelly. The battle that could rightfully claim the title of “Mother Of All Wars,” escalated greatly on the latest chapter of the NBC series “The Blacklist,” opening with a sneak attack that left “Team-Red,” reeling.

Our evening begins in a bustling night spot, an attractive young woman sits alone at a table looking gloomy, when a waitress approaches with a drink. A young man sitting at the bar, tells the waitress to put the drink on his tab. He tells the young woman there are no strings attached, it appears she’s having a tough night. He joins her at her table, and he breaks the ice telling her that he knows the best bridges in the city to jump from. He introduces himself as Joe, and she tells him her name’s Philomena.

We soon join the couple in the midst of a make-out session in his car, and we hear some awkward giggling as the young woman says she’s stuck. The laughter ends quickly, when she puts a Taser against his throat and knocks him out. He awakens to find himself bound to a chair, with a bag over his head. The bag’s removed and Joe sees Mr. Kaplan standing before him. He gasps and says he thought she was dead, she replies that the reports were greatly exaggerated.

Raymond and Baz explore the woods near the spot where The Tracker’s cabin once stood, and Reddington discovers the hunter’s surveillance equipment. Scrolling through the images on the cameras, Red finds a photo of the pickup truck that picked Kate up on November 10, the night she left The Tracker’s cabin.

We head to the Post Office and check in with the Task-Force, as Lizzie congratulates Samar on being nominated for the prestigious Katai Fellowship. The mood quickly turns somber as Aram informs them that Cynthia Pannabaker, just arrived and she doesn’t look happy.

There’s not a trace of sweetness in Pannabaker’s Southern drawl, as she informs the Task-Force that an anonymous tip lead law enforcement officials to an ice-rink in Reston. They discovered 86 bodies on the ice, that according to the tipster are the remains of Raymond Reddington’s associates and opponents. Harold Cooper replies that none of the members of the Task-Force are responsible, as the group came together at the request of Dianne Fowler at Main Justice.

Pannabaker responds that the investigation’s already begun and the agent in charge is someone she describes as a “peach-orchard hog.” She tells the agents that if he’s able to find evidence that links the Task-Force to Reddington, Justice will disavow any knowledge of the operation, and the agents will find themselves behind bars.

We get our first glimpse of the investigation, and we hear a uniform complain to one of his peers about the stench in the air. A plain-clothes agent, tells the uniform that what he smells is injustice and the uniformed officer scoffs at the remark. He says that the corpses aren’t victims, they’re criminals who used to work for or against Reddington.

The plain clothes agent asks the uniform if that means that their wives don’t miss them, and their children are better off without their fathers? He then introduces himself as Special Agent Julian Gale, and tells the rest of the officers in the facility to get out. He then walks alone among the corpses, and apologizes saying this is all his fault.

Raymond and Baz have tracked down the owner of the truck, a mechanic named Carl. Raymond says that a witness informed the sheriff’s department, that they saw Raymond’s Aunt Kate, in the mechanic’s truck and he shows him a picture of Mr. Kaplan. Carl replies that she said her name was Sheila, and Reddington responds that she must be off her medication. He says that her car was found in a ravine, with her medication inside. Raymond tells the mechanic that she suffers from senility, and she quickly loses touch with reality when deprived of her medication.

Carl informs Reddington that he dropped Kate off at a motel, and we watch Raymond the motel office to speak with the manager. Realizing the manager’s visually impaired, Reddington identifies himself as a State Police Officer and tells the manager that he needs to inspect the room that Kate stayed in back in November.

Kate’s captured Joe Peracchio, the man who handles all of Raymond’s financial affairs. She tells Peracchio, that his life he knew is over, but she’s giving him the chance she never got. He can turn on Raymond and cut a deal with law enforcement to implicate Raymond and insure his freedom, or spend a long stretch behind bars. Peracchio tells Kate that he’ll never turn on Reddington.

Lizzie explains to the Task-Force that Raymond’s “Cleaner,” Mr. Kaplan, unearthed all the bodies and Cooper asks why she suddenly turned against him? Donald Ressler’s cellphone rings and he leaves the meeting to take the call, he’s taken aback to hear a familiar voice from his past on the other end of the line. Turns out that Julian Gale and Donald worked side-by-side, on the Task-Force formed to capture Reddington, and after some time away from the Bureau, he’s heading the investigation at the ice-rink. He tells Ressler to get his tail down to the facility, and help him finally put Reddington behind bars. Ressler tells him he’ll have to think about it and will get back to him.

Cooper realizes that Ressler appears shaken and asks if all’s well. Donald informs him that unfortunately, that’s not the case, as he just got off the phone with the “peach-orchard hog.” He tells Harold that Gale wants him to join his investigation, and Cooper thinks it’s a good idea, so Ressler can keep one step ahead. Donald says that Gale will eventually find the truth, and Harold replies that it’s better to find out things sooner, rather than later.

Raymond’s going over the motel room with a fine toothed comb, when his cell phone rings. It’s Marvin Gerard, who informs Reddington that Joe Peracchio wound up hog-tied in front of the ninth precinct, with a detailed financial statement pinned to his chest, connecting him to Red. Raymond says that Kate’s begun her war, and tells Marvin to spread the word to the troops for all to lay low and seek cover. He also tells Gerard to move to another location, but Marvin says he’s been on the lam for two-years and he’ll be fine.

Raymond checks the air vent in the room and finds a microphone. He heads back to the manager, puts the microphone in his hand and tells the manager he needs to listen to the tapes from Kate’s stay in the room. The manager’s clearly embarrassed and says he’s not a sicko, that he’s just fascinated with people. Raymond replies that he’s not there to judge, just to listen to the audio recordings.

The first few minutes of the recording’s mundane conversation, but Raymond hears a snippet of conversation that intrigues him, as he listens to Kate’s first meeting with a woman who calls herself Philomena.

Reddington informs the Task-Force that Philomena’s turned bounty-hunting into performance art. She captures her unwilling prey by befriending them and becoming part of her target’s life. Then when she earns their confidence, she swoops in for the capture.

As Raymond’s explaining this, we see Philomena in action as she’s working in her cover job as a waitress at a coffee shop. Her intended prey’s a woman named Alexa Feist, a rather average woman who among other things is a member of the PTA. However the reason that Philomena’s targeted her, is to get access to Feist’s brother, Marvin Gerard. She engineers a traffic accident, as she starts riding her bicycle as Feist starts to leave the parking lot, causing a collision.

Although the “accident,” was clearly the bicyclist’s fault, Feist immediately feels guilty and offers to pay for any damages to the bike and any medical bills the young woman may encounter. Philomena, tells her that she’ll be fine, but Alexa insists on exchanging information.

Raymond and Elizabeth go off to speak with somebody that Reddington says used Philomena’s services. The pair enter a synagogue, and hear a boy practicing his Bar Mitzvah prayers. Raymond startles the boy, his father and another man by chuckling and clapping. He then congratulates the father Congressman Edelstein, saying that his son will make his parents very proud. Edelstein asks Reddington if they’ve met, and Raymond comes up with an alias and says they met at another family event. He says that families need to uphold traditions, even if they have to hire outside help, such as Philomena. The member of Congress, then asks his son and the other man for some privacy, so he can talk with Reddington.

Edelstein hired the bounty hunter to break up a torrid affair between the Congressman’s wife and her tennis instructor. She did so by unearthing information that put the tennis instructor in a compromising position, forcing him to end the affair. Raymond tells the member of Congress that he just wants to find out how to contact Philomena, and Edelstein tells him to head to Randy’s Boot Emporium on 29th street. Go to the repair counter and ask for ticket 652. After he’s vetted, if he passes Philomena will contact him.

Aram walks into Cooper’s office and tells his boss that twenty seconds after Reddington left the boot shop, the man at the repair counter made a call. Mojtabai tells him he’s tried to trace the call but it’s too heavily encrypted. Samar then walks in and says they’ve recovered Peracchio’s car, and they found traces of cement mixed with copper on the floor boards, which likely emanated from an active construction site. Cooper tells Navabi to come up with a list of sites near the bar where he was captured, but Aram reminds Harold that Samar’s got her interview for the Katai Fellowship, and says he’ll generate the list.

Julian Gale’s clearly pumped to see his old associate Ressler, and greets him with a hug. He then tells Donald he should thank him, as they’ll finally get closure and put Reddington behind bars. He identifies a few of the corpses, Tiger Branson, Lou Capote, and Junior Wallace. Ressler gasps and says these were guys, that they tried to turn, Gale replies that instead they got them killed. Donald says that the Lou Capote’s of the world, won’t put Red behind bars. Gale then directs Ressler to his prize catch.

Julian informs Donald that they are looking at the corpse of Dianne Fowler, yes that Dianne Fowler! He tells Ressler that somebody actually hates Reddington more than they do, and they’re the beneficiaries of what he describes as a wet sloppy kiss. All their efforts over the years will soon be rewarded.

Baz drives up to Lizzie’s apartment, and Raymond asks about Agnes, she responds that her daughter’s doing fantastic. He asks if he can see her, and she replies if she does her a favor, and he says name it. She says that when she thought Kate died, she felt complicit. She says she’ll help Raymond stop her, but not harm her. She then asks Reddington to promise he won’t kill Mr. Kaplan, and he says he can’t make that promise. She replies then he can’t come upstairs and leaves the car.

Raymond’s refusal to adhere to Lizzie’s wishes, prevented what at best would have been a tense encounter, and likely would have been far worse. Keen opens her apartment door to find Kate sitting there with Agnes in her lap, and remarking how big she’s grown. (Who the Hell was babysitting Agnes? Are viewers supposed to accept that an infant would be fine left to her own resources, while Mommy goes off to work?)

Liz tells Kate that she wants to protect her, but the only way she can do that is if she can put Mr. Kaplan into protective custody. Kate puts Agnes in her crib, kisses the baby on the head and says “You are safe, you are loved, and you are wise” Elizabeth mouths the last words with her, and tells Kate she know that phrase, Mr. Kaplan responds that she used to say that to her many times every day, when Lizzie was a baby. She tells Keen, that she’s her nanny and Liz used to call her Katya, Katarina hired her and Kate vowed to protect Elizabeth with her life.

Mr. Kaplan says that she’s provided enough evidence to put Reddington away for life, but the Task-Force needs to disavow any relationship with him. Liz asks if Kate did all that to protect her, and she responds that she already failed Lizzie, now she’s trying to protect Agnes. Keen says she can protect her own daughter, and Mr. Kaplan points out that wasn’t the case this time. She begs Keen to walk away, and don’t make the same mistake that Katarina did, by waiting until it’s too late.

Alexa Feist starts to fly too close to the flame, as she calls Philomena to find out how she’s doing. The bounty hunter invents a story about an ex-husband and a non-existent daughter. She says that if his lawyer’s found out she’d been in an accident, they’ll try to keep her daughter away from her. She asks Feist, to please forget about her and the accident, knowing full well she just ensnared Feist in her web.

Deep inside of the “Concierge Of The Criminal World,” lies the remains of the once proud Naval Intelligence Officer, Raymond Reddington. We’ve seen him emerge every so often, throughout the series. We last saw him when he first heard the name Kathryn Nemec, causing him to tell Lizzie that he received absolution through admitting all his most heinous sins to Mr. Kaplan. He returned in this episode, as he paid Dembe a visit to check up on him.

Raymond gives Zuma a wrapped package, and tells him it’s a parting gift. He then says that most of the people that work for him, are under the misimpression that they must always stay with Reddington. He says that’s not the case at all, he says he attempts to induce his employees to stay with him, by rewarding them handsomely. He tells Dembe, that he’s only got one friend and that’s him. He then says he can never attempt to apologize for misjudging him, and that his instincts should have kicked in and woken him up. He then says that when Dembe leaves him, whether it’s today, tomorrow, or ten-years in the future, that will be the time to open the package.

Liz and Samar have discovered Philomena’s hideout, but she’s not on the premises. Liz wonders how long she’s lived there and Navabi finds a scrap of paper on the counter, with the name Alexa Feist written on it. Finding no other clues, they send the name to Aram and wait for his response.

The Justice Department, put all of Dianne Fowler’s living room furniture in storage. Gale’s got it all assembled on the ice-rink, recreating the crime scene, save for the chair that Fowler sat in when she got shot. He even plays the record on the turntable, Gordon Lightfoot’s “Sundown.” We then get a glimpse at what might have caused Julian to leave the Bureau. He literally envisions himself as Raymond, shooting at Dianne Fowler, in reality he’s taking aim at Ressler. His ability to actually see the crime scene play out in front of him, makes him a superb agent, but he maybe straddling the line between genius and madness.

Every inch of the crime scene’s devoid of fingerprints, except for one, the brush Fowler used for cleaning her albums. Mr. Kaplan missed it, and the brush contains fingerprints. Donald takes the print back to the Post Office, but he fears running it through the system, as it could lead to all of “Team-Red,” spending the next few years behind bars.

No Good Deeds Go Unpunished.” Alexa Feist’s about to learn that lesson the hard way, as she pays Philomena a visit at the coffee shop she works at. The two women sit down together, and Feist tells the younger woman that her brother’s a brilliant attorney, and he’s agreed to meet with her. Philomena asks if they can drive to his place right now, and Alexa says let’s go.

Just as Feist and Philomena enter Marvin’s apartment, Liz and Samar get the report from Aram containing the information about Feist. Keen realizes that Alexa’s Gerard’s sister and immediately calls Raymond, and head to Marvin’s apartment. Reddington calls Gerard, but it’s too late as Philomena’s already pulled out her pistol and she’s pointing it at Alexa. Marvin says he’ll do what ever she wants, as long as she doesn’t hurt his sister. She tells Gerard to put the Taser against his forehead and pull the trigger, he does and slumps to the ground.

Samar and Liz arrive at Marvin’s ten minutes after Philomena’s made her getaway. She remembers that the woman was driving a green SUV with a sticker on the window. Aram identifies the vehicle as a rental and through the GPS unit, Keen and Navabi are able to find the vehicle and force it off the road. They pull their weapons and order the woman from the car, but she’s alone.

Marvin’s strapped to a chair with a bag over his head and when it’s removed, he sees Kate standing in front of him. She tells him she wishes she could say it was good to see him. She then offers Gerard the same deal, that she offered Peracchio, and Marvin also refuses it. She says she’s sorry to hear that and puts the bag back over his head.

Keen talks to Philomena, now in custody. She pleads with her to tell her Kate’s location, as she wants to help her. She also says that if Reddington finds her first, Mr. Kaplan’s a dead woman. The bounty hunter asks Lizzie why she should believe that Keen wants to help her. Liz replies, because she just found out that Kate helped her when she was a baby.

Samar sits down with Scott Middleton, who heads the board that grants the Katai Fellowship. He asks her about her extensive writing, about what he refers to as the perceived bias that law enforcement officials have against Muslims. She replies, that she believes it’s not perceived, it’s fact. She then points out that America’s leaders instill fear in their citizens, while statistics show that there have been less than 100 deaths in the United States, since 9/11, that came at the hands of Muslim terrorists. She apologizes for her passion, and Middleton says no apology’s needed, and asks her about growing up in Iran.

Donald heads back to the ice-rink and tells Julian that the print didn’t match any print in the system. Gale replies that the system’s fixed and Reddington’s the guy who fixed it. He then says Red must have somebody inside, that’s helping him out, and then asks about Lizzie. He says that’s going to be their next target, they’re going to find out what Liz knows.

Philomena tells Liz that Kate’s en route to Vienna, she lets Harold and Raymond know. Cooper says he’s going to get the Department of Homeland Security involved.

Donald and Samar talk about Ressler doing the right thing and running the print. He tells Navabi, that Gale’s an inspiration in his doggedness, and that he’s going to prove that Laurel Hitchin murdered Reven Wright. He tells Samar that he knows in his bones that she’s guilty.

A cruiser finds Marvin Gerard shrink-wrapped to a lamp-post. They cut him free and then take him into custody. A Federal Agent tells Joe Peracchio, that as he’s explained to Peracchio’s lawyer if he testifies against Reddington, he’ll get full protection, and then starts asking about their relationship.

A chauffeur greets Kate and welcomes her to Milan. She asks how long it will take them to reach Vienna, and he replies eight hours. She tells him to wake her when they are a half hour out.

Our final scene shows us Dembe arriving at the Post Office, and Raymond asking him why he’s there? Zuma responds he’s looking for Raymond, and Reddington says he should be resting. Dembe says he’s had his share of rest and now it’s time for them to find Kate. Raymond agrees, but suggests that they have dinner first.

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

Photo by: Virginia Sherwood/NBC

Photo by: Virginia Sherwood/NBC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo by: Will Hart/NBC

Photo by: Will Hart/NBC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

With two episodes remaining in the Fall Season for the NBC series “The Blacklist,” the show’s close to wrapping up the Alexander Kirk/Constantin Rostov, story-arc. However, plenty of questions remain unanswered, concerning Elizabeth Keen and Raymond Reddington’s past and Lizzie’s relationship to Rostov, and the future of our characters and the Task-Force. Although the episode concluded with Agnes back with her parents and Constantin imprisoned in the glass cell in the Post Office, we’re really not more informed about our characters’ history, then we were before the former FBI Agent faked her death last spring.

This episode did remove some layers and showed us the dynamic will change once again, as new loyalties get formed and some established ones look tenuous presently. Whether next week’s episode provides more information for the characters and the fans remain to be seen. We’ll also find out if the show gives us a preview of the next upcoming adventure, or simply decides to let our cast catch its collective breath and enjoy the moment?

For the second straight week, the characters in the opening scene are all strangers to us. We’ve landed in a rather posh conference room in Minsk, Belarus, as the host tries to entice his four guests into a business proposition. The man’s named Rene LeBron and the four men are criminal bosses that had their assets seized by the United States government.

LeBron tells the four criminals that the President of the United States, isn’t God and his decisions aren’t final. He says that although the government perceives these men as drug-traffickers, violators of human rights and impediments to democracy, he’s got a different point of view. LeBron says he sees the men as businessmen, who got their money seized and he’s willing to help them out. The four men collectively are out $760 million, LeBron offers to give them $600 million in cash immediately, in return for the $160 million balance and market rate interest on the loan. Although the senior member of the guests voices objections to the deal, his companions are hot to make the deal.

LeBron gets into the elevator after completing the agreement, with two other men and a woman alongside him. Two floors later, three Asian women and one Asian man enter the car, looking like nondescript tourists. We find out they’re assassins shortly after the doors close, as they eliminate LeBron’s companions and hold him at gunpoint. The loan-shark tells the man that he’s got close to three-quarters of a billion dollars nearby and the man responds that he’s already taken possession of the cash.

The man makes a call from his cellphone and it turns out that Oscar and his crew are contractors for Raymond. He’s told to take his fee from the cash he recovered and to donate some cash to a Belarus charity. He also tells Oscar that he wants the plane.

Raymond meets with the Task-Force at the Post Office and tells the team of his capturing Rene LeBron and Baz and some of Reddington’s men will hand off LeBron to Ressler and Navabi. Liz’s far from happy, especially with Red and she lets it be known without a hint of subtlety. She’s angry with the fact that this case won’t help them recover Agnes and Raymond informs her that Rostov’s a client of LeBron’s. He’s willing to give up Constantin, in exchange for a promise that he won’t get prosecuted. Cooper says he’ll need to get clearance from Cynthia Panabaker. Harold dismisses his team but asks Keen to stay with him.

Cooper says to Keen he can only imagine the pain and the pressure she’s feeling, but he says he believes Reddington’s doing his best to recover Agnes. Lizzie starts breaking down and tell Harold that she got a hold of a DNA report and Rostov’s her father and Red wants to kill him. However she states that she’s enough of a professional to work with Reddington.

After a week of being M.I.A., we rejoin Mr. Kaplan and her captor the Hunter. He comes inside with his dog and he says to Kate we’ve got a problem. He says the guy who shot her will kill somebody else and dump the body where he shot Kate. When he realizes she’s not there, he’ll come sniffing around. Or somebody will report her missing and the cops will search for her and they’ll come looking for her. He says he could let her go, but she’d tell somebody about him. He says he doesn’t like company, so he’s not sure what to do with her.

Kate tells the Hunter she tried to commit suicide and he asks her where’s her gun? She says she dropped it but she’s not sure where. The Hunter says she left a trail and he’s a tracker, so he’ll go out looking for the gun.

Harold calls Panabaker and tells her about the situation. Although she’s not happy about granting LeBron immunity, she tells Cooper to pick up the loan-shark and bring him in.

What Harold fails to realize is his phone’s tapped by some of Kirk’s contractors and the man monitoring the call contacts Rostov’s number one, Olga and passes on the information. She calls Rostov and tells him that Reddington’s the one that captured LeBron and asks Constantin if she should take him out? Rostov tells her to go ahead and Olga says to him that the seeds of doubt he planted with Masha have taken root. Constantin says he should reach out to her but they should take adequate precautions. Olga calls him a fool and says she doesn’t trust Masha. Rostov smiles and says Olga doesn’t trust anybody, but he’s asking her to trust him on this.

Baz releases LeBron from his bonds and then puts a white-hood over his head as he prepares to pass the loan-shark over to Donald and Samar. As we watch the exchange take place, we see a sniper putting together his rifle and he takes out LeBron. Raymond looks at Dembe and says the loan-shark died right on schedule and now it’s time to send out the invitations.

Welcome To The Past: The next morning, Aram, Samar, Ressler and Cooper receive pizza deliveries from Nick’s Pizza. Inside the box is a formal invitation stating their cars will arrive at 7:30 am and their discretion’s appreciated. The four get greeted by Reddington’s newest employees, Sweater-Vest-Man, whose name’s Chester. He maybe Mr. Kaplan’s replacement as he has the four agents deposit their cellular devices and then puts them through an airport type body-scanner.

Once they’ve passed the inspection, they’re sent deeper into the building and Raymond greets them saying welcome to the past. The building they’re standing in can’t be penetrated by any digital signal and all the equipment in the facility’s analog. Cooper asks why they’re in a museum and Lizzie enters and says because they’ve been breached. Aram can’t believe it, saying their system’s unhackable. Raymond smiles and says exactly and that’s why Rostov hired the Thrushes.

The Thrushes were formed in 1982 by a man named Plemen Radkov. Radkov got arrested in 1986 and died in a Soviet gulag a few years later. That’s when the Thrushes went underground and they’ve taken on jobs based on degree of difficulty and the money offered. They’ve been involved in some high scale operations over the years and many lives were lost due to their activities. Cooper tells Navabi and Ressler to find out what they can about the other incidents and tells Aram to contact the NSA.

Who’s The Mole?: Navabi finds out first as she meets with another intelligence operative about the incident they were involved in, in Jaipur. The operative brings a book with pictures of all the Thrushes operative and says all 38 were engineers and perished in the incident. Samar going through the pictures realizes that the agent’s incorrect, one of the people’s not an engineer and is still alive. Although she’s identified as Kate Bond, she’s in reality Aram’s new girlfriend Elise.

Navabi tells Cooper and Donald and both men tell her they’ve got to keep this from Mojtabai, that he’ll be heartbroken and will blow their cover. Just then Aram walks into the Post Office looking desolate, he’s been working on the problem for the last 18-hours and he realized that Elise’s the mole. He’s hurt and angry, but he wants to get involved in her capture. They’ve got a date that evening at his apartment and he’s going to download a virus on her laptop.

Samar sets up Aram for the sting in a van that’s right below his apartment, she gives him a pen that’s also a wire and then hands Mojtabai a pistol. He asks if she wants her to shoot his girlfriend and she adamantly says she’s not his girlfriend. She also tells Aram that if he gets into trouble, to say the word banana and the cavalry will burst in.

Elise realizes something’s up with Aram but he keeps saying he’s fine and then he goes to the refrigerator and pulls out a bottle of wine he bought for her. As he pulls the cork out, he spills wine all over the front of his shirt and says he’s got to change. He goes into his bedroom and takes her laptop out of her bag and inserts the thumb drive into it, but she enters the room before he can put it back in the bag. She enters the room and she tries to seduce him as he’s shirtless, but he rebuffs her advances, saying they’ll have a fire on the stove.

Now Elise knows something’s wrong with Aram and demands to know what it is. Ressler’s ready to charge into the apartment, but Mojtabai says that he’s actually in love with somebody else. Elise says that it’s Samar but Aram denies it, just then her cellphone rings and Olga’s on the other end. She tells Aram she’s got to take this work call and walks into his bedroom.

Olga asks her operative if her laptop’s secure and Elise responds it is. Olga replies she best make sure of it as her life could depend on it. She gets off the phone and goes into her bag for her laptop, but sees it’s missing. She lifts up Aram’s shirt and sees it and the thumb-drive Mojtabai installed, he walks in with the pistol drawn, but she knocks it out of hand.

The two start fighting and Aram says banana, about six times before the SWAT-Team and Donald and Samar burst in. Elise is about to hit Aram with a piece of wood, when Ressler tells her to drop it. At gunpoint, Elise calls back Olga and tells her all’s well.

Mr. Kaplan And The Hunter: The Hunter goes to the area where he first found Kate and checks out some old camera’s he’s got set up monitoring the area. He opens the third camera and shakes his head. He heads back to the camera and tells Mr. Kaplan she lied to him. She denies it, but then he shows her the camera and says three went in but only two came out.

Perhaps seeing the pictures gave the Hunter sympathy for Kate, as the last time we see them, they’re sitting at a table and the Hunter’s feeding Mr. Kaplan with a spoon.

The Capture Of Constantin Rostov: Liz receives a phone-call from a shoe-repair shop that she’s never visited and the owner says she left her cell phone there. She realizes that Rostov’s attempting to contact her and she picks up the phone. When she brings it back, she sees just one number on the burner-phone and calls it. She immediately asks about Agnes and Constantin replies she’s in good health but wants her mother.

Lizzie tells Rostov that she got ahold of his records and she saw a DNA report confirming that Constantin’s her father. He asks if she, Agnes and he can meet, she says she’d agree to that and Rostov says he’ll call her back with arrangements. When she gets off the phone Raymond asks her why she believes the lies Constantin’s told her, she says when she went to the Summer Palace, she recognized things and had memories of her childhood. Reddington replies just because he was married to Lizzie’s mother, it doesn’t make Rostov her father.

Keen gets a call from Constantin and sets up the meeting at an abandoned station on the Bowery Line. Reddington tells Cooper that his men will handle capturing Rostov. However Liz calls back Constantin and tells him it’s a trap, Rostov asks if she’d still be willing to meet him and gives her a new location.

Reddington sets up his plan of attack, but it appears he and his crew are heading into a trap. When Liz arrives at the new location, Rostov and some of his soldiers meet her but Agnes’ isn’t there. Constantin says that she’ll join them soon, but first he needs to kill Reddington. Lizzie reacts horrified, that Rostov’s set a trap for Raymond, but in reality Reddington and his team are right downstairs. As Raymond’s soldiers arrive, Rostov summons the woman who traveled with Matos and she’s cradling Agnes in her arms.

Rostov grabs the infant and stands on the ledge of the roof, he says if he can’t have his granddaughter, he’ll take her with him. Raymond tells him that’s insane and Masha says please father give her back to me. Constantin puts down his pistol and gives Agnes to Liz. Rostov’s taken into custody.

For the first time this season we get a pleasant montage ending the episode as Harry Nilsson’s version of One plays in the background. Raymond goes to visit Tom and Liz and he asks to see Agnes and Lizzie invites him in. She says to Raymond now that Rostov’s been captured the three of them will find a new place, Reddington nods and says he realized that.

The final image of the evening’s Constantin Rostov locked away in the glass cage inside the Post Office, a broken and defeated man.

Photo by: Virginia Sherwood/NBC

Photo by: Virginia Sherwood/NBC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

After months of speculation concerning the revelations that would surface during the premiere episode of the fourth season for the NBC hit series “The Blacklist,” most viewers likely ended the hour feeling no more informed than they were last May. Although the episode contained plenty of action and fraught with tension, including two volatile personal relationships, the hour ended after a lot of travel to windup in the same point it started at. Constantin Rostov left Cuba via a seaplane with his daughter Liz, his reluctant travel companion and Rostov’s hitman ended the evening with Agnes in his possession.

Why the show-runners and writers decided to reset a table instead of advancing the story perplexed this viewer, and left me wondering whether this episode’s purpose was to acclimate star Megan Boone back into the action, after missing the latter part of Season Three on maternity leave? While we got to see that Lizzie seems well-toned after her pregnancy, we didn’t acquire any major information that had yet to be revealed or speculated about. After spending much of the episode in a car trunk, Tom regained his freedom near the conclusion of the episode.

The episode did concentrate heavily on exposition in this episode, as Raymond attempted to come to grips with his mercurial feelings concerning Mr. Kaplan. Kate, not content to sit idly by and allow his sense of betrayal from dooming their relationship and perhaps her life, keeps trying to show Reddington she just tried to save Raymond from himself. However with even Dembe, telling Mr. Kaplan he can’t defend her, can she hope to make amends?

Emotions also ran high when the TASK-Force realized that Lizzie faked her death, as Keen’s colleagues realized they’d been lied to and manipulated and they all handled the news differently. Donald Ressler, seemingly had no problem with his former partner’s actions, realizing she was attempting to convince Reddington she died. TASK-Force Director Harold Cooper, exclaimed he didn’t think it was possible to feel so angry and happy simultaneously. Tech-Genius Aram, seemed to have problems processing the information, while Samar Navabi expressed her disdain and anger for Keen’s stunt.

We rejoin Dembe, Raymond and Kate, moments after they arrived at the Keen family escape-haven, not in time from stopping Alexander Kirk/Constantin Rostov’s henchmen kidnapping mom, dad and daughter. Mr. Kaplan looks at the blood on the floor and says it came from one of Rostov’s men and that he’s likely in the area. Seconds later Dembe says he’s got a location.

They arrive where the badly bleeding man’s being treated, to find out he just expired on the table. Raymond spits out that since his “Cleaner” over stepped her bounds, he would do her job and proceeds to hack the man’s head from his neck.

Liz demands that Rostov produce Agnes and Tom, Constantin replies that her daughter will soon join them. She then demands, that Rostov reveal his true identity and he responds that he’s indeed her father. He says Reddington and her mother had an affair, he says at one time he questioned if Raymond was her father, but Rostov confirmed Masha was his daughter. He says Reddington kidnapped her when she turned three and he never knew what happened to her until she and Reddington made headlines while they were on the lam.

Rostov’s got a hitman that might give Matthias Solomon a run for his money, he’s called Bobo, by his female companion, whose got Agnes in her arms and Tom’s tied up in the trunk. Neither father or daughter seem pleased with the situation, however Keen’s able to reach his hand through the tail light socket and the car behind them calls the police.

Reddington finds the house where Rostov’s holding Liz prisoner. He tells Constantin he’ll give him what ever he desires to release Lizzie and Rostov replies he wants the 26-years he missed with his daughter. Raymond responds that Liz was never meant to be raised by Constantin

Raymond contacts Cooper and tells him to send a team to Cuba, however Samar refuses to join Ressler for the mission due to her anger at Keen. Cooper let’s it be known he’s displeased with Navabi’s decision, but he’s basically helpless. He contacts old friend Cynthia Panabaker, to arrange for Ressler to meet with Manuel Esteban, a double-agent who works for Castro and the CIA. Raymond believes the despot can ascertain Lizzie’s location before Rostov can get her off the island.

Raymond tells Esteban, that with political relations improving between Havana and Washington improving, his days running his own prison and playing the two nations off each other are rapidly coming to an end. Any time the Double-Agent could be assassinated, however if he can get Liz’s location before Rostov gets her off the island, Raymond will keep the despot safe.

Tom’s taken out to the desert to dig his own grave, but of course he overpowers his captor and escapes. Mr. Kaplan recovers Agnes, from the hitman’s female accomplice, however they’re not able to stop Rostov from leaving the island via the seaplane. Reddington consoles himself with the fact they were able to get back Agnes, but that dynamic soon changes as the hitman T-Bones Raymond’s vehicle and grabs the infant out of the vehicle and puts his finger on Kate’s lips.

Ressler, who hadn’t made a deal with Esteban, turns the despot over to the Cubans and that causes the Cuban soldiers to release all of Esteban’s prisoners. However the two prisoners that Raymond’s most concerned with, Liz and Agnes, have been spirited away by Rostov and the search begins anew.

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

 Photo by: Virginia Sherwood/NBC

Photo by: Virginia Sherwood/NBC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo Courtesy Of NBC

Photo Courtesy Of NBC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

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.