Diego Klattenhoff

All posts tagged Diego Klattenhoff

Photo Courtesy Of TV Guide

WARNING SPOILER ALERT:

Denial Ain’t Just A River In Egypt.”

Mark Twain

The fifth season finale for the longtime NBC series “The Blacklist,” left the show’s faithful fans in one of three subsets. Elation, Anger/Sorrow/Denial, or just outright Confused. Despite series creator Jon Bokenkamp’s statements that James Spader’s portrayed an imposter since entering our lives, there’s many diehard fans still refuses to believe it. There’s yet another group that’s stated that they’re disgusted by the news revealed in the season ending episode, and vow they won’t ever watch the series again. They feel tricked, and deluded, some even fell they’ve wasted five years, falling for the “ULTIMATE CON MAN.” Isn’t that exactly what this show’s always been about? “Criminals Are Notorious Liars.

Some incredibly intuitive viewers, realized early on that “OUR RAYMOND,” wasn’t the Naval Intelligence Officer that fathered Masha Rostova. I failed to catch on until it became apparent when Mr. Kaplan left her going away present, a valise she dug up from Tansi Farms, in the season four finale. That gift that kept on giving, along with Dembe Zuma’s reaction to the news that Raymond didn’t deny being Elizabeth Keen’s father, felt like waking up from “The Matrix,” for this viewer. It felt like shields being lifted from my eyes, this season’s purpose was always about how they’d reveal that news.

Let’s get the formalities out-of-the-way early on, lest we forget. congratulation to Samar Navabi and Aram Mojtabai, on their engagement! May they have a long and happy life together, and remain the example that functional relationships do exist; even in The Blacklist Universe.

We’re not going to delve too deeply into this episode or the latest Blacklist member, Sutton Ross. It seems that Ian Garvey’s legacy was a softness for young girls in the Witness Protection Program, and sympathetic thieves. Garvey granted Ross his freedom years before, rather than arrest him, so Ian knew exactly where to turn to ensure the bones would be revealed to Lillian Roth. The supposed kidnapping of Lizzie from the witness interrogation room, was handled ham-handedly. How on earth did Sutton get his kidnap victim to voluntarily crawl through an air-duct system?

However this episode’s intention wasn’t meant to be put under a microscope, and combed for clues to solve the mystery, this was the payoff we’ve waited for, or at least part of it. The whole kidnapping ploy didn’t need to exist, save for the chance for Liz and Jennifer to hear the imposter almost say “I am not Raymond Reddington.”

Next season should get broken down into three sections; revealing the identity, acceptance by Keen and willing to continue working with “OUR RAYMOND,” and finally gratitude. Although John Waters expressed admiration of the name, the man we’ve watched for five seasons remains Lizzie’s “SIN EATER.”

We’ve made some rather bold predictions on these pages, especially since late December, and admittedly the sense of validation’s welcome. However it’s only being mentioned in the hopes that our theories have proved credible, and that there’s a method to our madness. With that in mind let’s delve into speculation as to the true identity of “OUR RAYMOND.”

Why did he assume the identity of “THE AMERICAN,” in Katarina Rostova’s journal, a once well-respected Naval Intelligence Officer, who at the very least betrayed his marital vows and had an affair with Rostova, producing a child we know as Elizabeth Keen? We see the love and protective quality that in the end guides his every move. If not for the SWAT-Team breaking into Ross’ compound, he’d have said the words he vowed would never leave his lips. We soon would have heard his entire back-story, in order to keep Lizzie safe.

Who Is The Man In The Hat?

He is not Elizabeth Keen/Masha Rostova’s father. Raymond Reddington’s Lizzie’s father, he died when she shot him as a four-year-old the night of the fire. The scenario she remembers actually took place, we saw the aftermath in “Requiem,” as Katarina consoles her daughter, telling Masha he was a very bad man. Raymond Reddington took Masha from her home and away from her family. The night of the fire, a confrontation took place between Rostova and Reddington, possibly and likely physical. Masha somehow got a hold of a gun and shot the bad man to protect her mommy. Unfortunately that shot doomed them both, KGB, CIA, The Cabal, and possibly all three would soon be looking for Raymond Reddington. What could Rostova do?

The Third Family.

Sorry to burst the bubble of the Katarina’s Actually Raymond contingency, but “Our Raymond’s,” a man. The Imposter’s daughter’s the little blonde-haired girl we’ve seen with the bubbles in the flashbacks. She’s the ballerina, and it’s her house that Raymond purchased in season one and subsequently blew up. The story he told Madeline Pratt of coming home to find his family executed took place. That’s the family Diane Fowler refers to just before Raymond says she talks too much and shoots her.

Dominic Wilkinson AKA Oleander.

Dominic Wilkinson appears for the fourth time in the series, since being introduced in the show’s third season. This time “Our Raymond,” and Dembe bring the Real Reddington’s bones to his place to finally burn them. (I’ve seen some fans question why the bones weren’t burned originally instead of buried? My guess would be that Rostova buried the bones at Tansi Farm, in a panic and didn’t consider that option.) We’ve been able to perceive a bond between the two men, since the first time we met Dom. One that never added up if it existed between the old man and the Real Reddington.

Raymond takes a sip of milk and his face shows his displeasure. Dom tells him it’s buttermilk, and Reddington’s about to spit it out, when the old man stops him with the words don’t you. Dom’s stopped playing his piano, because he’s got a broken key. While Wilkinson’s away doing chores, Raymond heads to the old man’s work bench and painstakingly crafts a replacement, before he departs. Reddington saying to him at one point that he realizes he’s not what Dom wanted him to be.

Combine that with the obvious love he’s got for Lizzie, and in this viewer’s eyes’ the answer’s obvious. Certainly there’s a chance that he’s just another former KGB operative that worked with Dom and Katarina, but it makes a lot more sense if our imposter’s Dom’s son and Katarina’s brother. Desolate after the loss of his own family, “Our Raymond,” agrees to become Raymond Reddington. With that move he effectively killed the man he once was, that’s why Kate and Dembe always referred to him as Raymond.

How He Fooled The World?

Obviously he didn’t fool everybody, we know that Mr. Kaplan and Dembe have always known, however it’s unclear because of “Requiem,” when Kate actually found out. Was she referring to the imposter, when she initially refused Sam Milhoan to talk with that awful man, or did she believe the Real Reddington was still living? I’d also venture a guess that Alan Fitch and Peter Kotsiopoulos, knew that he wasn’t the Real Reddington. I’m also in the camp that believes Naomi knew as well, and not on board with the idea that she’s dead.

As for everybody else, it seems pretty obvious that he became Raymond Reddington’s Doppelgänger, courtesy of the skills of renowned plastic surgeon Dr. Abraham Maltz. Longtime viewers remember his introduction in the first season, portrayed by Andrew “Dice” Clay. We may have sneaked a peek at one part of the rest of the process, when we watched Raleigh Sinclair III, coach Anthony to ape the characteristics of Ian Garvey a few weeks ago.

However the entire process would be far more entailed. Over the last few months we’ve learned that our intelligence officers, are well-trained in the art of taking meticulous notes. That certainly would have been a valuable resource that the imposter used to garner as much information as possible about the Real Reddington. Likely there was also a large trove of video and audio tape of Reddington, given his position, and the imposter probably spent weeks perfecting Reddington’s sound and cadence. Who was his trainer, was it his father and sister?

Obviously this new “Reddington,” couldn’t return to the original’s old life and family, for fear of being found out. Perhaps with the aid of The Cabal, the imposter used the name and reputation of the former Naval Intelligence Officer, to create a criminal empire worth millions. How much of that empire was actually used to keep Elizabeth safe, would be up for debate.

Known Unknowns.

Exactly why did “Our Raymond,” enter back into Keen’s life five years ago? Was it a combination of his disapproval of her marriage to Tom, his need to recover the Fulcrum, or to protect her from Alexander Kirk? Or is there another purpose that we’re unaware of? Is Naomi Hyland, truly dead and if so why wasn’t Raymond informed of her death? He’s the one who arranged for her and her husband Frank, to assume new identities in a new location. It would seem logical that he’d be made aware of her death by his people. Does Jennifer have her own agenda? When will Lizzie reunite with Agnes, and where is the dog?

We’ve got until next January to kick around these subjects. Thanks to you for joining us for this ride, and we look forward to getting more answers in season six.

Photo Courtesy of Virginia Sherwood/NBC

WARNING SPOILER ALERT:

“Look what they done to my song ma
Look what they done to my song
Well it’s the only thing
That I could do half right
And it’s turning out all wrong ma
Look what they done to my song

Look what they done to my song ma
Look what they done to my song ma
Well they tied it up in a plastic bag
And turned it upside down ma
Look what they done to my song” 

Melanie Safka

With one episode remaining in season five, and the show’s fate still unknown, social media’s been abuzz with chatter about the NBC series “The Blacklist,” after the season’s penultimate episode aired. Although to a person the show’s fans want to see their longtime favorite renewed, the grumbling among the fan-base’s has increased in volume. There are even those who have dared to pose the question, that’s known to make show-runner’s blood run cold, and remove any remnants of a tan. “Has The Blacklist Jumped The Shark?”

You likely weren’t born when the ABC series “Happy Days,” first broadcast the episode in 1977, that thrust the phrase into the American lexicon. In the show’s fifth-season opener, the gang from Milwaukee found themselves in Hollywood. In Fonzie’s quest to become the next James Dean/Elvis Presley of the silver screen, he put on water-skis, and literally pulled a stunt Evil Knievel, might have thought twice about.

The phrase eventually took on the connotation, signifying that a television series had peaked and was on the downward trend. Some series recover from that perception, another ABC series “Lost,” hit a rough patch until the show-runners and the network agreed on how long the series would run. There’s no definitive time period that a series exists after receiving that diagnosis. Some shows wither and die quickly, while others hang on for years, they are those series you stumble across while channel surfing, and you think, “is that still on?”

Let me state upfront that I’m not in the Jumped The Shark category, (a phrase from here on out that will be referred to as “JTS.”) However, I’ve got problems with the shows last two episodes in particular, and of season five in general. In season’s passed, we’ve experienced excitement and anticipation as each season’s finale approached. This year’s conversation’s morphed into, they better give me a reason to come back!

Season number five has progressed in fits and starts, beginning with a greatly needed light tone after all the loss in the previous campaign. However even in the season premiere, moments after watching Raymond dancing with Lizzie, we witnessed what we’d come to find was a flash-forward to the fall season finale. A scene that showed us a bloody and beaten Tom Keen, lying on the floor as Reddington and Dembe, burst through a door brandishing pistols.

The perceived reboot didn’t last for long. Reddington’s fortunes turned around quickly, ditching hand-me-downs and the Terra Vista Motor Lodge, and back to a manner he had grown far more accustomed to, Soon he lived in a luxurious suite complete with private elevator, and a personal chef named Paris. The episodes took on a darker tone, as Tom and Nik Korpal undertook a mission that would ultimately cost them. trying to identify the bones in the suitcase Kate dug up from Tansi Farms. The tone of the show would be altered irrevocably, to the cheers of some and the tears of others.

We’ll have time during the Summer to debate whether killing off Ryan Eggold’s character turned out to be a good move for the series. (I recently read Jon Bokenkamp, respond to a question if Tom would return, saying that the show’s had other character’s seemingly return from the dead. Any move like that would destroy the series’ credibility, no matter how popularly it could be received. You made your move Jon, now you live with the ramifications of that decision.)

File this if you like under pet peeves, but the series took a ten month jump in time when Elizabeth emerged from her coma. Given the extent of her injuries, it’s likely it took her at least eighteen months, for her to get into the shape she was in when she journeyed to Alaska. Agnes was a baby in a high-chair, unable to talk when Tom confessed to her about his role in identifying the bones. However she appeared to be about four, or five, when Keen left her with Scottie Hargrave. How could the date of the paper reporting Maybelle being found have been May, 2018? The Blacklist Universe should be somewhere in the midst of the year 2020, not in-sync with our reality. Continuity’s vital to maintaining a story, something the writer’s seem to have forgotten.

Since the show returned to the airwaves in January, we’ve watched a young woman who felt such remorse over the harbor-master’s death, that she sold her condo and anonymously gave the money to his widow and daughter, turn into a heartless killer. While Elizabeth Keen was hardly a babe in the woods when we met her, she’s evolved into “DIRTY LIZZIE,” a cross between Clint Eastwood’s Harry Callahan, and Charles Bronson’s “Death Wish,” character.

We could understand her going all vigilante, and taking out all four of the hitmen that she encountered in Alaska, and she accidentally killed Bobby Navarro, in self-defense. However she went way over the top when she utilized the “Stew-Maker’s” methods, to dispose of Navarro’s corpse. We’ve watched Donald and Harold wrestle with their dark-sides, Ressler even employing Henry Prescott, but when push came to shove, they reverted back to form. Keen can never come back from that decision.

The show writer’s seem to have lost the consistency which among other qualities, made this series’ beloved by its fans, especially during the first three seasons. Season four’s scorched earth battle between Mr. Kaplan and Reddington, didn’t sit well with many fans, and this season’s sometimes glacial pace has turned many longtime viewers off. After revealing Ian Garvey’s a dirty cop in February, what have we learned other than Garvey’s declaration to Jennifer Reddington, that she spent a lifetime hiding for no reason?

We head into the fifth season finale, essentially trying to fit a ten-pound sausage into a five-pound casing. Suddenly after months of stagnation Season Five Episode 22, has become “Cliff-Hanger Central.” Who is Sutton Ross, and what’s his connection to Garvey and Reddington? Will Samar Navabi emerge from her coma and get her “Happily Ever After,” with Aram? Will Aram face charges in the death of Nicholas T. Moore, or will Harold look the other way? Is Naomi Hyland actually dead, and if so why didn’t Reddington know about it? Is Lillian Roth, indeed Jennifer Reddington, and if not, what was her connection to Garvey?

Why’s Keen whose only objective was to avenge Tom’s death by killing Garvey, now interested in the contents of the duffel bag? Will Raleigh Sinclair and Anthony Pagliaro serve time for the death of Zarak Mosadek?  Will we encounter Dominic Wilkinson in the episode, and will he reveal to Keen he’s her grandfather? We haven’t even mentioned the identity of the bones that Ross now apparently has.

Has this confluence of events, been Jon Bokenkamp’s master plan all along? Has the basis of this series always come down to what’s going on between Lizzie and Raymond? Will The Blacklist members turn out to be as anti-climactic, as the numbers on “Lost“?  Was the concept of this series always just about whom Raymond Reddington actually is, and the role he’s played throughout Keen’s life? Jon’s often times mentioned his BIBLE, the framework a show-runner puts together, before they begin writing an initial script. I often wonder just how much he’s adhering to it?

It’s likely foolish to expect all the questions I posed here, in one episode. However at the very least, fans deserve to know Raymond’s secret before the series, goes on Summer hiatus. I’ve anticipated that they’d hold off revealing that the Real Reddington’s bones are in the duffel bag, and that we’ll finally find out “OUR RAYMOND’S,” real identity, as Etta James would say “AT LAST.

Season Five Concludes Wednesday May 16, at 8:00pm on NBC.

Photo Courtesy of Eric Liebowicz/NBC

WARNING SPOILER ALERT:

So, have we actually seen the last of Ian Garvey? Although it appeared that the dirty cop’s life was drawing to a close during the final seconds of the most recent episode of the NBC series “The Blacklist,” long time fans of the show realize that appearances can be deceiving. Staring with the first season’s finale, when Lizzie appeared to take the life of her estranged husband Tom Keen, we’ve witnessed many characters cheat death. I’m certainly not ready to accept that the United States Marshall has breathed his last breath.

The episode entitled “Ian Garvey Conclusion (13),” contained more twists and turns than the Appian Way, including the welcome return of two familiar faces in Raleigh Sinclair III, and Postman Anthony Pagliaro. We once again saw that any attempt to double-cross Raymond, turns out to be a deadly mistake for the perpetrator, as Zarak Mosadek realized in his final seconds. If Raymond could withstand the attack on his empire and life, by the woman who knew where all the bodies were buried, it will be an incredibly tough task for any enemy to defeat him.

Once again we will dispense with our normal recap format, and jump right to the final moments of this chapter. Although Garvey never got to share his secret with Elizabeth Keen, and Jennifer Reddington, enough information got revealed to make this viewer feel secure that the man we know as Raymond Reddington’s actually an imposter. In this viewer’s opinion, the only question remaining’s the true identity of “OUR RAYMOND.” While Garvey’s words failed to convey the truth to Keen and Reddington, what he said to Jennifer, solidified my opinion that the man we know isn’t the former United States Naval Intelligence Officer.

Before dissecting the final moments of most recent episode, I would be remiss in not addressing an issue that’s troubling many long time fans of the show. There’s a significant segment that despises the idea that the character we’ve followed for five years, isn’t the man we believed him to be. Many will feel cheated and even betrayed if “OUR RAYMOND’S” an imposter, and I can easily understand that mindset, though I don’t subscribe to it.

From the moment “OUR RAYMOND,” dropped to his knees and doffed his fedora in the series debut, I’ve been transfixed with the “Concierge Of Crime,” portrayed by the amazing James Spader. As I’ve written many times, the character embodied by Spader’s, his King Lear. It’s a disgrace that he’s never even been nominated for an Emmy Award, portraying one of the most compelling characters in the history of Television. It’s an indictment of an organization that seems to believe that the medium begins and ends with HBO and Netflix, and what critics find appealing.

Spader’s part of a select few performers that can cause me to giggle like a schoolboy, and get misty-eyed minutes later. He’s invented a multi-layered character, a man who cattily exclaimed to Diane Fowler that she talked too much, before ending her life with a well-aimed bullet. A stone-faced assassin that takes perverse pleasure in emasculating men in front of their wives. He’s also capable of amazing compassion, treating a young boy with birth defects like any other child, and providing him with an array of ice cream sundaes.

He’s a man without a country, a collector of fine items, but he also enjoys simple pleasures. Throwing quarters into the pool at the Terra Vista Motor Lodge, for a young girl to fetch. Roaring with laughter watching The Three Stooges with Dembe, while giving his full attention to playing Oregon Trail. The elation he experienced acquiring Winston Churchill’s homburg, radiated through the screen.

This character’s the reason I’ve been devoted to this series, it really doesn’t matter to me if his name’s Raymond Reddington, or Latka Gravas. I have no allegiance to the man whose affair with Katarina, resulted in the birth of Masha, Unless he’s the man we’ve spent the last five seasons with. In my eyes “OUR RAYMOND,” being an imposter would only add another layer to the onion.

Let’s return to the bar in Baltimore, as a badly injured Garvey comes inside after Jennifer unlocks the door. Ian just escaped the clutches of Reddington and Zuma, by forcing Dembe to crash the car he was driving into a tree. He’s now a fugitive of the law, after Sinclair turned Anthony into Garvey’s doppelgänger, who then shot Mosadek to death in front of a bunch of witnesses including TEAM-RED. Jennifer’s unaware she’s wearing a bug that’s transmitting her location to the Task-Force, and that Lizzie’s hiding in the back room.

Jennifer’s seen the news reports that Garvey’s wanted for Mosadek’s murder, and she asks him about Tom Keen’s and Singleton’s murders. Garvey quickly realizes his surrogate daughter’s been talking with Liz, and then he discovers the bug when he grabs her coat to get her car keys. He tells Jennifer he didn’t kill Mosadek and he needs to clear his name, he’s got lots to tell her, but he’ll reach out to her when he’s safe. She begs him to tell her then and now.

He then takes her face in his hands and tells her that she’s been living a lie for the last thirty years. He goes on to say that she’s spent a lifetime hiding for no reason. Those words could only mean one of two scenarios took place. The bones could belong to the REAL Jennifer Reddington, and Lily Roth had memories implanted in her that caused her to believe that she’s Jennifer Reddington, and Naomi’s been complicit in causing her to believe that. We can’t rule that scenario out, but I’d say the odds of that being correct are miniscule.

The more likely scenario’s that “OUR RAYMOND’S,” an imposter, he’s not the man that abandoned Carla and Jennifer on that Christmas eve of long ago. Nor is he the man that had the affair with Rostova culminating in Masha’s birth. That scenario seems even more likely as the action continues, starting with Lizzie coming out of the back room with her pistol aimed at Garvey. He says she doesn’t want to arrest him, or she’ll never learn Reddington’s secret. She tells him he’s got two choices, reveal everything and go to prison, or remain quiet and she’ll kill him.

She tells him to put his hands on the bar and start talking, and Garvey asks why Tom didn’t tell Lizzie what was in the bag, and Reddington and Dembe enter the room with their pistols aimed at the dirty cop. Raymond replies that he killed Tom before he had a chance to tell Liz, and that if the Marshall makes a sound he’s a dead man. Keen then tells Garvey to talk and aims her pistol at Red, saying she’ll take him out if he shoots Ian.

Suddenly, Jennifer starts to speak, she asks Raymond if he’s got any idea who she is? She then starts to recount her memories of sitting in her pink pajamas in her pink room waiting for her daddy to come home for Christmas Eve, but he never arrived. Raymond then says her name, but doesn’t lower his pistol and his eyes remain cold as the arctic. He remains that way as she tells him that she and her mother wondered what happened to her good and decent daddy. However they soon found out that her daddy wasn’t decent, and he betrayed his nation. Garvey became her surrogate father, and he’s the reason she survived all the turmoil in her life. She begs him not to shoot the Marshall for her sake.

Raymond’s face never softens even for an instant, how could this possibly be the daughter he abandoned nearly thirty-years before? How could Jennifer not reach “her daddy,” when we’ve seen this man filled with compassion for those without a child/parent bond? Instead of adhering to her wishes, he asks Dembe to take her out of harm’s way, allowing Garvey the opportunity to shoot Red. Keen responds reflexively shooting the dirty cop who drops to the floor. It appears that Reddington suffered a shoulder wound, and he walks out of the bar as Jennifer calls 911, with Dembe, under his own power.

Garvey’s grievously wounded and Keen shouts to him that he’s not going to die without telling her what he knows. Paramedics soon arrive and Lizzie and Jennifer ride in the ambulance with Garvey. Upon his arrival at the hospital, doctors are not encouraged by his vital signs. Keen screams to Garvey that it’s his last chance to tell them, he pulls off his oxygen mask but he’s unable to speak. A medical team member shouts they’re losing him and wheels the gurney away, leaving Jennifer and Liz in the hallway.

So if “OUR RAYMOND’S” secret throughout this series, has been that he’s indeed an imposter, who is he and why did assume this role? Regular readers of this page will recognize some of what’s contained in the next few paragraphs, but my theory’s been fleshed out since I revealed it back in late December. Once again let me preface the following by stating this is pure conjecture, I’m not privy to inside information, nor blessed with remarkable perception.

We’re going to be doing some time jumping throughout the seasons over the next few paragraphs. Hopefully I’ll prove to be an insightful guide during our journey, instead of wasting your time.

Raymond Reddington’s Elizabeth Keen’s Father.

As we all remember Harold Cooper recovered Raymond Reddington’s bloody uniform, and the DNA from the uniform’s a match for Lizzie’s, in the season four finale. What many seem to forget, is Dembe’s reaction when Raymond told him Keen believes he’s her father. Red explained that Lizzie believes that’s what Kate had prepared to tell her, and Keen’s unaware of the suitcase from Tansi Farms. Her believing that falsehood would buy them time to recover the valise, but things didn’t go according to Hoyle.

Tom realized the truth when he grabbed his duffel bag filled with the bones and the CODIS report, identifying the bones. In one of Ryan Eggold’s strongest moments in the series, his face registers disbelief, acceptance, and then anger in a matter of seconds. He quickly comprehends that the man’s an imposter and he’s taken on this role in part to get close to his wife. When Raymond pages him, he tells the imposter he knows everything and he slams down the phone in disgust. He then fires off a call to Lizzie, telling her to go to their apartment and wait for him. He never gets a chance to share the information with him.

Voices Carry.

During the series’ first two seasons, we joined Liz on some flashbacks to her childhood. We hear a male voice shouting her name’s Elizabeth, and we’ve come to realize that’s from the confrontation between Reddington and Rostova. Although we’ve never witnessed the scene playing out, we saw the aftermath in “Requiem,” as Katarina returns home with four-year-old Masha, consoling her daughter by saying he’s a very bad man. When Keen shoots Tom Connelly taking his life, she suddenly remembers shooting her father. The male voice we heard in the flashbacks, wasn’t James Spader’s. The REAL Raymond Reddington died that night, and Masha’s memories got manipulated by Dr. Krilov.

Madeline Pratt.

Way back in season one, we’re introduced to the beautiful and deadly Madeline Pratt, and Raymond gains her sympathy by telling her an enthralling tale. It’s Christmas Eve, and he’s heading home with a carload of presents. He runs into a storm, has to abandon the car, and hoof it home. He thinks to himself that this will be an evergreen story that will get revisited every Yule Time. Silly Daddy had to walk home and arrived with no presents. He sees the smoke from the chimney, walks in the house and sees his family’s slaughtered. He picks up his daughter’s limp body and smells the blood on her neck.

When Pratt asks Reddington if the tale’s true, he refuses to confirm it. So was this story just a fanciful yarn concocted to gain Pratt’s empathy, or did it actually take place? Even though Raymond’s the master of deception, I’ve always accepted that story as gospel. He bared his soul, and spoke of an event that he likely only discussed when it took place long before. So did Raymond Reddington have a third family? Or was this story about the Imposter’s family? With everything he loved destroyed, would that make him more receptive to becoming Raymond Reddington?

Dominic’s Unknown Son?

Who would take on the role of Raymond Reddington, and why on earth would he do it? If we take the “Cape May,” episode as anything more than an opium induced fantasy, then “OUR RAYMOND,” had a deep connection and affection for Katarina Rostova. Many of us assumed that his feelings were romantic, but could those feelings have been fraternal? Is our imposter in reality Katarina’s brother and Dom’s son?

We know Katerina was a KGB agent and we recently discovered that Dom’s a former KGB operative known as Oleander. What if Dom had a son who settled in the USA? Possibly another KGB operative, or perhaps a civilian whose family was executed because of his ties to his father and sister? After losing his family, he faced the probability of losing Masha and his sister, if he did not become the former Naval Officer. Perhaps his becoming Reddington actually saved Masha’s life?

We were introduced to Dom for a reason, and he wouldn’t be portrayed by the great Brian Dennehy, if he was an unimportant character. I believe that Dom will reappear in either episode 21, or 22, and he’ll reveal to Lizzie and the world what secrets “OUR RAYMOND’S” hiding.

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

Photo Courtesy Of Virginia Sherwood/NBC

WARNING: SPOILER ALERT

White supremacists, child brides, a BOLO Alert, Aram and Samar taking a new step in their relationship, and the return of Teddy Brimley. All this and more greeted viewers as the NBC series “The Blacklist,” returned to the airwaves, as another March Madness, goes into the history books.  The series that specializes in bait and switch, contained plenty of surprises that kept fans alert and aware. Combine the aforementioned with “TEAM-RED,” working together on a coordinated effort, made for this viewer’s most satisfying episode since Tom Keen’s execution, last November.

Our evening kicked off as we watch a car drive through a toney neighborhood, and pulls into the driveway of a home that’s likely worth seven figures. As we listen to Janis Ian singing “At Seventeen,” we see the driver’s a man in his forties and calls out as he enters the doorway for Reva, whose sitting at a table wearing headphones and working on her studies from high school. The man removes one of the buds from the girl’s ear and asks her how she can concentrate with the music blasting? The young woman asks the man if he’s ready for dinner, and he tells her he’s heading to his study to take a business call.

The man sits down at his desk, opens up his safe and removes a black ledger. He then grabs his cellphone, and places a call to Raymond Reddington. He tells Reddington that he’s got what Red needs, and says that he hope Ian Garvey doesn’t get wind of what he’s doing. Reddington assures him that the Federal Marshall will never know of their meeting and tells the man that if he leaves immediately they can be face to face in 30-minutes. Suddenly the man realizes he’s not alone in his study, and screams wait and no, before an assailant pumps a bullet into his chest. Reddington screams out the man’s name and then hangs up the phone.

Turns out the man named Jerry Jawal, was about to deliver the ledger to Raymond, and the book contained information on the supplier that provides heroin that the Nash syndicate sells on the streets. Reddington’s plan was to use the information to put the syndicates drug-trafficking operation out of commission. He believes that Garvey or one of his soldiers killed Jawal, while Elizabeth Keen informs him that the Bureau suspects a white supremacist named Coogan Hudnut took the man out. Jawal had become port manager of the dock that the syndicate uses to bring the narcotics into the country, and had replaced the previous crew with friends from India. The Bureau believes he killed a stevedore on the dock, and that Jawal’s murder was also racially motivated.

Dembe and Reddington drive over to a bar called the Last Chance Saloon, a watering hole that specializes in racist clientele. A bouncer comes to the door, and tells Raymond that he may enter but that “IT,” must remain outside, referring to Dembe. Red becomes indignant, but Zuma calms him down and says he’ll stay outside. When Reddington enters the bar, he offers the first man that gives him the location of Hudnut ten grand in cash. One of the men jumps at the offer, causing one of his associates to pull out his pistol. Raymond immediately responds, taking out all of the men in the room except for the squealer and the bartender. He’s quickly informed that the man he’s looking for is barricaded in his office at the back of the building.

Raymond shoots the remaining bodyguard, then steps out-of-the-way of a shotgun blast that emanates from the other side of the door. Reddington tells Hudnut that he’s got questions about the racist’s murder of Jawal, but he denies committing the crime. He then attempts to flee from the building, but of course Dembe stops him before he can run.

We move to the Post-Office, where Aram’s beating himself up over losing witness Tony Mejia, during an ambush. However his mood lightens when he shows Donald Ressler an amethyst ring that he got for Samar. Ressler thinks it’s an engagement ring, causing Mojtabai, to question whether he really should give Navabi the gift. Donald believes that Navabi will jump to the conclusion that Aram’s asking her to marry him. He tries to ask Lizzie her opinion, but he quickly changes the subject when Samar enters the room.

Jawal’s family hold a wake for him, suddenly Reva gets a text telling her to go outside. She meets another girl about her age, and Reva says she can’t believe they did it. The other young woman says that Jerry was a terrible man and deserved to die. We then realize that neither Garvey or Hudnut murdered Jawal, the other young woman was his assailant.

The scene shifts to a high school gymnasium, where we encounter a pensive girl waiting to meet someone. A short time later, the girl who killed Jerry Jawal arrives and she says that if the girl wants her help, once the plan’s in motion there’s no going back. She sees her potential client’s still has qualms about going through with their plan, so she gives the girl a burner phone, and tells her if she decides she wants to utilize her services to call her.

Raymond’s standing in a hallway, when he’s approached by a familiar face, Teddy Brimley, the geriatric master of torture. He tells Reddington that Hudnut killed the stevedore, but he didn’t kill Jawal. Teddy then says he needs pastrami, and Red can’t understand what kind of torture Brimley would inflict with the deli meat. Teddy quickly explains to Raymond that the pastrami’s for Brimley’s lunch. Raymond asks if Dembe and he can join him for the meal, and Teddy says he’ll give Dembe the address. Reddington tells the elderly man that he’s happy Brimley’s back in the fold.

Navabi and Ressler head to Jawal’s home and Reva answers the door. They tell her they’d like to ask a few questions about her father’s murder, but Reva explains to the agents that Jerry was her husband, not her father. Her parents arranged the marriage with Jawal in Maryland, and granted their consent for their daughter to marry the much older man. Caught off guard and totally flustered, it’s apparent that she’s hiding something from the agents. However the conversation concludes, when Reva faints and collapses on the floor.

We move to the home that the other prospective client Tara Rayburn, arrives home late from school. She’s also married to man more than twice her age, who owns a local car dealership. Dale joins her in their bed, and Tara starts tearing up as her husband starts to initiate sex with her. The next morning she’s running late for school, but Dale insists he cooks him breakfast before she heads to class. She then pulls out the burner phone, and tells the girl on the other end that she’s hit her limit. The other young woman tells her to stick to her usual routine, and that she’ll take out her husband.

Reva’s taken to the hospital, and the physicians inform her that she’s pregnant. Her father says that the FBI agents thought they were hiding something from them, and he feels that way as well. He demands that his daughter tells him the truth, when Raymond walks into the hospital room and says he’d be interested in hearing the explanation himself. Reva’s dad asks Reddington who he is, and he replies that he’s a friend, or possibly a foe. He then introduces himself as Raymond and says he’s an interested party.

He tells Reva that he knows she arranged Jerry’s murder, and that her husband was a drug dealer. He says that her actions have jeopardized her life and the lives of her parents, then asks Reva the name of the girl who carried out the hit. She says she never got her name, she’s known as the “GUARDIAN ANGEL,” and all she requested from Reva, was the name of another girl who was forced into an arranged marriage.

Navabi heads to Tara’s high school, while Ressler goes to Dale’s car dealership. Samar tells Tara that if the assassination of her husband takes place, she’ll likely spend the rest of her days in prison. Tara starts crying ands says she’s not sure that she can prevent the assassin from going through with the plan.

Ressler informs Dale that Tara’s put out a contract on his life, but he doesn’t believe the agent, saying that he and his wife are deeply in love. Suddenly we see the “GUARDIAN ANGEL,” lurking around the lot, and she puts a backpack in a car parked outside Rayburn’s office. Dale notices the vehicle and calls one of his staff and asks why it hasn’t been moved to one of the work bays? The employee responds that it got moved a while before, and Ressler realizes that there’s a bomb in the vehicle, and tells Dale to hit the floor. Seconds later the bomb explodes, and Ressler leaves the office running through flames to apprehend the perpetrator. The “GUARDIAN ANGEL,” tells two men in the parking lot that Ressler’s trying to kill her, and they stop him from chasing her as she gets on public transit. He then tells one of the men that he’s taking his jacket as the girl’s fingerprints are on it.

Aram receives a message that Bureau agents have discovered the device that caused the vehicle to grind to a halt, when Mejia got abducted. He also finds video footage of the man with “David Bowie Eyes“. Lizzie immediately recognizes the man as one of Reddington’s employees, then heads to Raymond’s to confront him.

Keen allows her emotions to get the best of her and get physical with Red, slamming him up against a wall of shelving covered in books. Raymond admits to her that he abducted Mejia, because if Garvey’s busted before Reddington recovers the duffel bag, his secret will be revealed. He also informs her that Mejia’s safe and hidden away. Keen issues a “BOLO Alert,” in the hopes that law enforcement can find him. What she doesn’t realize is Garvey receives the alert, and he uses it to set Keen up.

The Task-Force, gets a match on the fingerprints and identifies the perpetrator as Anna Gracia Duerte. After obtaining her address, Navabi and Ressler head to her apartment. When they get there they realize that Anna had just escaped, Ressler looks for here on the street, while Samar searches the roof.  Duerte makes it to the edge of the roof, when Navabi encounters her and threatens to jump. She then tearfully recounts her story to the agent.

Anna’s originally from Brazil and became friendly with an older man who invited her to see his home. However he had other intentions in mind and forced himself on her. Duerte reported the rape, but her parents took the rapist’s side instead of their daughters. They arranged for Anna to marry the man, 30-years her senior, and the couple emigrated to the States when she was 13.

Despising her husband and revolted by his touch, the young girl reached her limit and stabbed her husband to death. Once she recovered from the shock, she decided to dedicate her life to ending the nightmare for other girls in her situation. She took the lives of nine men, freeing their child-brides from their Hellish existence.

Samar puts her pistol back in her holster and tells Duerte that her parents were killed when she was just nine. Traumatized and unable to make sense of the tragedy, her 15-year-old cousin took her under her wing, and restored Navabi’s faith in the world. However that world came crashing around her, when her uncle announced that he’d arranged a marriage for his daughter and she would go to live with her new husband the next day. Samar begs Anna to try to let her help her, and says this shouldn’t be the end of her story.

Mojtabai finally gets some alone time with Keen, and asks her if Samar will construe the ring as him asking her to marry him. She replies that if Samar wants to marry him, she’ll assume it’s an engagement ring, but if she doesn’t want to commit, she’ll perceive things differently. Suddenly Aram’s afraid of Navabi rejecting him. making him even more fearful to give her the gift.

The U.S. Attorney arrives at the Post-Office, and Samar pleads with him to show her leniency. She says that Duerte could use an insanity defense, but the lawyer says that might get her cleared of killing her husband, but the other acts were clearly premeditated. Navabi responds that these child-brides aren’t isolated incidents, that many states don’t even have a minimum age for a girl to get married. She says that Anna’s going to be perceived as a champion for these girls, and the U.S. Attorney will be thought of as the bad guy that’s trying to put her in prison for life.

Keen gets a call from an officer in Boston, saying that he saw Mejia transported at a private airfield nearby. Aram and Liz meet with the officer, who says he saw Mejia with a man wearing a long coat and sporting a fedora. He says they took a private plane out of the country, but when he brings the pair inside the hangar Keen realizes that Garvey’s set them up. She starts to put up a fight though heavily outnumbered, but she and Mojtabai get rescued by Lizzie’s pair of “Guardian Angels,” Raymond and Dembe.

When they return to Reddington’s, Raymond apologizes to Keen. She believes he’s apologizing for cooperating with Garvey, but he explains that his apology’s for endangering her life, by telling Garvey how important she was to him. She smiles and says that the only reason she’s still alive, is due to the fact that Raymond and Dembe rescued her and Aram. He then tells Liz that he needs her to ask Duerte an extremely important question that will help them both out.

Samar reveals some incredibly good news to Anna. The U.S. Attorney has decided to charge her as a juvenile offender. Duerte has to plead guilty to all the murders, and agree to undergo rehabilitation and counseling. However if she successfully completes the program without incident, she’ll become a free woman when she turns 21. Anna’s eyes fill with tears of joy, and asks how that’s possible, Navabi responds that for the first time in years, Duerte will be treated as a child. Anna informs Liz where they can find the dumpster she threw Jawal’s ledger in. She then joins Dembe and Reddington in a delightful exercise, picking through the garbage.

Aram and Samar get back to their apartment, and Navabi pulls out some takeout trays from a Thai restaurant. Mojtabai asks what’s the occasion, and Navabi says she needed a pick-me-up, after a very tough day. Aram then starts stammering and stuttering, and pulls out the ring from his pocket, saying his grandmother’s getting rid of a lot of her possessions. She’s delighted with the ring and thanks him, he says that the present’s mostly from his grandmother. She tells him that she knows it was really his idea, then asks him if Aram would like her to order different food for him? He smiles and says everything he wants is right there.

Raymond phones Garvey and tells the Marshall that he tried and failed. Garvey responds with the old bromide, that if first you don’t succeed. He then reminds Reddington, that he’s holding onto something very important to him. Red responds that he’s now in possession of something that Garvey considers quite valuable, then says he’ll be in touch and hangs up.

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

Photo Courtesy Of Virginia Sherwood/NBC

WARNING SPOILER ALERT:

It was back in nineteen forty-two,
I was a member of a good platoon.
We were on maneuvers in-a Louisiana,
One night by the light of the moon.
The captain told us to ford a river,
That’s how it all begun.
We were — knee deep in the Big Muddy,
But the big fool said to push on.

Pete Seeger

With “MARCH MADNESS” in the air, it might be a good time to break out this analogy. I covered the NBA for nearly twenty-years, in a previous lifetime, and consider myself a basketball purist. Growing up in the sixties, I got to witness  two of the greatest coaches of all time: John Wooden, the bench-boss for the UCLA Bruins, and Red Auerbach, head coach of the Boston Celtics.  Both men stressed the fundamentals of the game, and chastised their teams for taking last-minute, desperation shots. A major part of the success of their teams, was the ability to get the ball close to the basket, before attempting to score.

A strategy employed by both coaches to get into position for high-percentage shots, was a crisp passing-game. It served three purposes, advancing the ball closer to the basket, keeping the defensive team off-balance, and eating valuable minutes off the clock, to keep their opponents possessions down. A great passing game’s a beautiful sight to behold, and as graceful as ballet. However there might not be a more deflating moment during a game, when the offense makes “one pass too many,” leading to a turnover.

The NBC series “The Blacklist,” decided to shake-up the snow-globe throughout the show’s fifth season. We rejoined Raymond Reddington, back in September, when the former “Concierge Of Crime,” found himself living in a cheap motor-lodge, and wearing hand-me-downs. Many viewers assumed that this campaign would be devoted to the restoration of Raymond Reddington, to his former status. However a fortunate encounter with a postman named Anthony, quickly restored his depleted coffers after he setup a network of high-end safe-houses, used by criminals on the lam.

The series went into its fall-hiatus after altering the show’s dynamic irrevocably, in a move that angered many of the show’s long-time fans, and cheered by others. Jon Bokenkamp and company, decided to put an end to the tempestuous relationship between Lizzie and Tom Keen, as Tom became a casualty of this season’s “BIG BAD” Ian Garvey, dying in November. The show also fast-forwarded rejoining Liz and Raymond after she awoke from a ten-month coma. When the series returned in January, viewers reentered their universe after another time leap.

Liz completed her physical-therapy, and living in Alaska under an alias, trying to deal with her grief. She pronounced herself healed and returned home, after she channeled her inner Charles Bronson, and executed four contract killers. She felt no remorse for her actions, considering it just a warm-up for the carnage she would wreak on those who took her husband from her.

Thus began a long and drawn out dance as Keen started embracing her demons, as she first explored and eventually started to inhabit her dark-side, while searching for those responsible for Tom’s death. She even took inspiration from Blacklist members, utilizing the Stewmaker’s skill set to dispose of Bobby Navarro’s corpse. She became so laser-focused on her mission, that she sent her daughter Agnes to live with Tom’s mother, and gave up her badge.

This new dynamic altered the series cadence, with episodes branching off into three different story-arcs, sometimes but not necessarily intersecting. While the Task-Force primarily deals with the Blacklist members after Samar meets with Raymond, we follow Reddington and Keen on their journeys. Red and Elizabeth share a common goal, making Garvey pay for killing Tom and Nik Korpal, however he’s intent on keeping the occupant of the duffel bag’s identity from Keen, while she’s determined to learn Reddington’s secret.

Here’s where we get back to the basketball analogy. While the game carried on in a slow-downed pace, the execution remained top-notch. Bringing in key players off the bench such as Dominic Wilkinson, Earl Fagen, Raleigh Sinclair, and Abraham Stern, kept the action entertaining. Until the squad made “one pass too many,” and threw the ball out-of-bounds.

One of the many reasons that the “Cabal,” story-line successfully played out over nearly three seasons, was the pacing. Bokenkamp and the rest of his team doled out information in small doses, keeping viewers intrigued. Fans watched as the mysterious relationship between Reddington, and Alan Fitch, got revealed leading to our discovery of the shadow organization as well as the “Fulcrum.” Eventually viewers realized that the organization played a large part of Keen’s life since childhood.

The story-arc finally culminated, when Laurel Hitchin asked Reddington to get rid of “The Director,” Peter Kotsiopoulos. That happened in dramatic fashion, getting thrown out of a private jet and crashing to his death in a European family’s living-room., in a move nobody could have predicted. That’s also been a critical factor in the appeal of the series, the writers ability to zig instead of zag. Leading viewers down a pathway that seems familiar, then suddenly veers off into an unexpected direction took this series to a rarefied level.

In this viewer’s eyes, the show-runners’ seemed to have lost some of that magic over the last few episodes. Part of that reason stems from telegraphing its short-term plots. Norman Singleton became “Dead Man Walking,” the moment Liz took him into her confidence, and brought him to the Post-Office. When he told her that after they captured the dirty cop, she needed to pickup Agnes, and he’d get a new lawyer, I suddenly recalled Keen asking Tom, why everybody they love dies?

Why would a police detective in his own station-house fear the threats of a dirty cop, and instead of arresting him, goes on a ride that he realizes will lead to his death? Especially when that detective has an established with a Bureau Task-Force, and Raymond Reddington? Just by picking up his phone, his daughters would either be in protective custody, or safely relocated before Garvey could make his one phone-call.  We saw that demonstrated in the most recent episode, as Reddington safely relocated witness Tony Mejia and his grandmother, keeping them out of Garvey’s hands.

When we met Bureau psychiatrist Sharon Fulton, she reminded me of a combination of Laurel Hitchin and Julian Gale. While being unsure if Fulton would be a friend or foe, she made this viewer feel hinky, thinking that was far more to the character than she revealed. When Keen asks Fulton whether Anthony Hollis could be the man she’s searching for, she failed to realize that it would take someone with the doctor’s intelligence to discover the serial killers’ identities. Her obsession with darkness dulling her skills, she embraced Fulton as a mentor, not realizing the psychiatrist skillfully played her.

While enjoying Aram Mojtabai suddenly taking a more active role on the Task-Force, was there any doubt that Reddington engineered Tony Mejia’s extraction from FBI custody? (It’s just a matter of time until Aram encounters the man with David Bowie eyes again.) Or that Raymond would hand the young man over to Garvey? Tony and his grandmother have likely been relocated to a far more upscale existence, than either of them dreamed of experiencing.

Elizabeth Milhoan Keen/Masha Rostova, was by no means an innocent babe in the woods when the man we know as Raymond Reddington, entered back into her life. Her methods could be questioned, but not her morals. The woman we’ve come to know over the past five years, could be mercurial and impulsive. However unlike Reddington, we’ve never questioned that she had a true moral compass that always pointed north. That’s why Raymond told Lizzie, that when he looks at her he sees his way home. That’s why he described her to Fulton, as everything that he’s not.

When she brutally executed the four men in Alaska, and in Bobby Navarro’s accidental death, we could justify them all as self-defense. However in “The Capricorn Killer,” Keen crossed a huge moral line, she allowed Sharon Fulton to escape, and to continue tracking down and executing serial killers. We’ll never know if Keen would have smothered the “Sandman,” to death, something that seemed impossible to contemplate at the onset of this season.

While the acting’s been incredible throughout this campaign, the story seems stuck “In The Big Muddy,” over the last few episodes. The much-anticipated first encounter between Raymond Reddington and Ian Garvey, proved to be anti-climactic to say the least. There are now six episodes remaining in the show’s fifth campaign, seemingly heading into a sixth season. I made my predictions on this season back in December, if you desire you can read my theories and feel free to leave your commentary. My concerns aren’t with next season at this point, it’s more a matter of getting season five back on course. Hopefully the man we know as Raymond Reddington, will sail this season safely into port.

Photo Courtesy Of Will Hart/NBC

WARNING: SPOILER ALERT

It remains to be seen how or if, the dangling threads left hanging at the conclusion of the latest episode of the NBC series”The Blacklist,” factor into the long-term story arc of season five. Whether this episode’s Blacklist member, Mr. Raleigh Sinclair III, returns to the series or not, fans of the show got to witness some magnificent acting performances.

DISCLAIMER: This viewer could watch John Noble read the phone-book for hours and be entertained. Noble created one of television’s most iconic characters, Dr. Walter Bishop, in the FOX series FRINGE. Bishop’s a discredited scientist, who constantly crosses the median line between genius and madness, assisting an FBI task-force that deals with scientific anomalies. After spending years locked away in a mental institution, Walter lacks any social graces, however he’s capable of amazing insight.

Noble’s ability to play quirky characters that still retain their humanity. made him the perfect actor to inhabit the skin of Raleigh Sinclair III, another character with a superior intellect, who maybe as crazy as a loon. Sinclair pushes his clientele like a Marine Drill Sargent, yet later in the hour we see another side of him, a mild-mannered seemingly feeble-minded old man.

As if the casting coup of Noble wasn’t enough the show doubled-down, bringing in Martha Plimpton, to portray Dr. Sharon Fulton, a Bureau psychiatrist, who must approve Elizabeth Keen mentally fit before she’s reinstated to active duty. Once again I have to admit to a bias in her favor, having watched her grow-up from the gawky tom-boy character she played in Goonies.  Fulton’s not a warm and fuzzy character, and the actress makes her suitably prickly and combative.

Three plot-lines intertwine throughout this episode, two of them will certainly carry on throughout this season, with the third one remaining open-ended. We’re going abandon our normal linear recap-format, to concentrate on those three paths, and what they might portend for the future.

The Blacklist Member Of The Week:

Raleigh Sinclair has an extensive list of satisfied clientele, who have been able to murder the subject of their revenge, or people who just got in the way, while having seemingly airtight alibis that they were miles away when the murders took place. The elderly man who resembles a librarian’s known in the criminal world as “The Alibi,” due to his ability to make it appear that his clients’ are in two places at once. Sinclair establishes a regimen for his clientele, over an extended period of time, interacting with regulars they encounter daily.

After the client becomes known to the people they interact with, Sinclair hires somebody that looks similar to the client, and enhances their resemblance with prosthetics. The day the client commits the murder, the doppelgänger takes their place in their daily routine, so that the people the client encounters tell law enforcement, that they saw the client while the crime took place.

Sinclair just helped a man named Sam DeMarco, murder his business partner and get away with it, after hiring a homeless man named Kahil Shula to perform DeMarco’s daily rituals. When law enforcement interview the folks DeMarco regularly interacts with, they all assuredly respond that they saw him the day his partner got killed. Shula, who Sinclair promised would be handsomely compensated for his efforts, wound up dead at the hands of “The Alibi.”

Sinclair’s latest client’s named Brian Barrett, a man consumed with a desire for revenge, after he came home early from work, and caught his wife having sex with another man. We quickly determine that despite Raleigh’s mild-mannered appearance, he’s as much of a disciplinarian as a football coach during training camp. Barrett’s five minutes late for their meeting, and Sinclair’s ready to walk away, until Brian assures him it won’t happen again.

Raleigh then gives Barrett a shopping list, including running shoes in a color that stands out. He also provides him with a route that he wants him to run every morning, and to interact with the same people daily, so that they expect to see him each morning. Sinclair informs Barrett that he’ll be in touch once he determines it’s time to carry out the crime.

After Raymond informs the Task-Force through Samar about “The Alibi,” Aram takes a look at the photograph that the surveillance camera took of DeMarco’s doppelgänger, and realizes it’s not an exact match. Through facial-identification software, he’s able to identify the man as Kahil Shula, a homeless man without a permanent address. Harold gives the file to Raymond, who heads over to a homeless shelter that he funds.

Raymond meets a homeless woman at the shelter who was friend’s with Kahil, named Delores. (Yet another great acting performance by guest star Marcia DeBonis.) After telling Raymond that he’s got an honest face, she tells Reddington she saw Shula get into a gold car with an EZ-Pass on the windshield. Mojtabai’s able to narrow the list to one hundred vehicles and puts the drivers in a binder. Delores quickly picks out Sinclair from the book. None too soon it turns out, as Barrett’s about to shoot his estranged wife in a parking garage, while his doppelgänger runs his morning route.

Raymond finds Sinclair’s safe-house and it’s filled with head-molds, and prosthetic pieces. He also finds information on Barrett’s situation, including his daily route and how he intends to kill his estranged wife. He gives the Task-Force enough information to apprehend Barrett, while he and Dembe go off to meet Raleigh.

Barrett’s waiting in the parking garage when his estranged wife arrives. She tries to dismiss him and walk past him, however he stops her in her tracks when he pulls out a pistol. He then tells her he wanted to kill her the night he caught her, with the wine bottle he held in his hand. He didn’t follow through on that impulse, because he didn’t want to go to prison, but now that fear’s gone.

He fires off two shots and hits her in the shoulder, she runs and attempts to hide. We watch as his double goes through Barrett’s morning routine, interacting with all the regulars. Brian finds Nicole crouching between cars and says goodbye to her as he raises his pistol. Just then Ressler and Navabi drive up, and Barrett fires at the shot at their windshield. Navabi chases him through the stairwell, while Donald attends to Nicole.

Barrett fires off a shot at Samar in the stairwell, then tries to flee by going back into the garage. Ressler stops that escape quickly, as he knocks him to the floor while doing about 20 MPH. Navabi thanks her partner for the assist, and Donald replies anytime.

The double named Eckhart, after finishing his assigned route returns to Sinclair’s car, and doesn’t comprehend what’s going on when Raleigh says about your payment, then pulls out a pistol. Suddenly we see Dembe knocking on the driver’s window with his gun, as Raymond climbs into the backseat. Eckhart asks about his money, and Reddington responds that if he leaves now, he’ll live to die another day. He then tells Sinclair he’s been looking for him, and suggests they go for a little drive.

Sinclair believes Raymond’s been sent to kill him by a man he somehow wronged in Jakarta, but Reddington quickly assures him that’s not the case. He tells Raleigh that he’s heard whispers of his work for some time, and admires him greatly. He tells him that he’s brought Sinclair to their present location, to save him getting captured by the FBI, if Raleigh will agree to his requests.

We of course don’t know yet what those requests were, but I think we can be assured that Raleigh Sinclair III, is now another member of Raymond’s “Island Of Misfit Toys.” The Task-Force had to settle for Sinclair’s client list, containing names of 51 murderers. Even those acquitted of the initial murder they committed, can be charged with the murders of their doppelgängers. Raymond provides a burial and a funeral ceremony for Kahil Shula, and stands with Delores at his grave.

Family Counseling

Although we’ve yet to determine if Dr. Sharon Fulton’s friend or foe, her personality conjures up memories of both Laurel Hitchin and Julian Gale. She’s proud of her self-proclaimed blunt, pull-no-punches style, pushing and prodding to get at what she perceives as the truth. It’s up to her whether Lizzie gets to return to active status, and she’s not going to just rubber stamp anything.

She asks Keen why she wants to return to the Bureau, and Elizabeth responds that her goal’s to capture Tom’s killer. She tells Fulton she needs her help in overcoming her anger and grief, but the psychiatrist replies that she thinks anger keeps people sharp and willing to take chances. However she does have great interest in talking about Keen’s father.

Although Reddington praised therapy, saying that it turned him into an entirely different person, (Was that line confirmation that “OUR RAYMOND’S,” is in fact an imposter, or laughing at those of us who subscribe to that theory?) he’s got no desire to meet with Fulton. In fact the only meeting he agrees to, takes place in the back seat of his car, with Liz in the front seat, and Zuma standing outside the vehicle.

She prefaces her remarks by announcing how blunt she’s about to get, then tells Reddington that he disgusts her and he’s a glorified serial killer. She tells him that if he wasn’t Keen’s father, that she’d have already signed her reinstatement papers. She then recounts Keen shooting down Tom Connelly, and going on the lam with Red, as Lizzie defends her actions. Fulton then asks Reddington if she should believe that any child of his could live up to the standards of the Bureau?

Raymond stares her in the eye, and exclaims she wouldn’t believe a word he said. He says that it’s her job to push Keen past the anger and the grief, and to discover what her true essence’s composed of. Fulton then asks him what would that be, and Red smiles and says everything that he’s not. He then looks at his watch, says their time together has ended, and says good session tough stuff.

Keen and Fulton have two more sessions, the first one doesn’t go smoothly. The shrink tells Elizabeth that she’s holding back, and she’s afraid of admitting stuff to Fulton and to herself. She says that until Keen’s ready to do a profile on herself, as she would a subject, she can’t approve of her reinstatement.

Lizzie returns near the end of the episode to Fulton’s office, and she said that it’s her turn to be blunt. She sais that the two of them are just wasting each other’s time, and she needs to be reinstated to capture the man behind Tom’s death. She then tells Fulton that as a young girl she loved ballet, and at ever recital she felt a presence in the audience. she went on to say that she felt that same protective presence at her graduations and her wedding.

Keen says that she knows that Raymond’s capable of some heinous acts, however he’s also capable of incredible kindness, as he’s displayed to her over the years. She then tells Dr. Fulton that she would describe her own profile as widow, mom, cop, and daughter.

Bring Me The Head Of Ian Garvey.

One large piece of information about the season’s major story-arc got revealed in this episode. Although Detective Norman Singleton, works with  Ian Garvey, he’s not a crooked cop. He’s been naïvely keeping Garvey in the loop as to the whereabouts of Keen and her involvement with Reddington. However that spigot of information will likely run dry for Garvey after this episode.

Elizabeth’s set-up surveillance cameras in her apartment, and she’s come up with some photograph’s of Singleton breaking into her place. She naturally assumes he’s a dirty-cop, but actually believes that she works for Reddington, and that the two of them took over operation of the Nash syndicate.

Seems that Singleton’s also a member of some law-enforcement Task-Force, apparently lead by U.S. Marshall Ian Garvey. After telling the members of the unit of the connection between Reddington and Keen, Garvey tells him to keep tracking her and reporting his findings.

The moment of truth arrives, when Elizabeth catches the detective in her apartment, pulls her weapon and tells him to put his hands up. She starts to call the police to report a robbery, when he tells her he’s got pictures of her and Raymond, if she turns him in, he’ll return the favor. She puts down the phone and they start talking.

He says his instincts tell him that they’re on the same side, but how can she explain the connection to Reddington. After she establishes that she can trust him, she says that if he reveals any information he’s about to learn, Reddington will kill him. She then says she needs to make a phone call.

Some of the cops on Garvey’s Task-Force, meet with the Marshall, and one of them suggests they grab Keen and get her to give up Reddington. Garvey dismisses the plan, saying if they do that they’d have Federal Agents all over them. He tells them to stay patient and allow Singleton to unwittingly do their dirty-work.

However those odds likely greatly decreased, after Lizzie took Singleton to the Post Office, and Navabi told him the particulars about the Task-Force. Liz smiled at Singleton and said she told him she could justify her connection to Reddington, he nodded and said it was indeed valid. He also told her he thought he could help her find the dirty-cop responsible for Tom’s death.

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

Photo Courtesy Of Will Hart/NBC

WARNING SPOILER ALERT

The NBC series “The Blacklist,” went into its two-week Olympic Games hiatus, (Personally, I think Raymond’s a luge enthusiast) with an episode that confirmed some theories, and set in motion the inevitable confrontation with Ian Garvey. One week after featuring Tommy Wattles, a Blacklist member that will remain embedded in viewers minds for years, the group that the Task-Force brought to justice paled in comparison. We’ve seen vigilante groups such as “The Invisible Hand,” countless times in fiction over the last couple of decades. (Think low-tech version of F-Society, from Mr. Robot.)  Frankly the writers and show-runners did nothing to advance the concept, resulting in a rather flat and predictable story-arc, which may have been by design.

This episode’s true strength was to put the pieces together to set the course for the balance of season five, including a bitter-sweet reunion between Lizzie and her grandfather Dominic Wilkinson. Although Dom didn’t identify himself as Keen’s grandfather, the exchange provided a glimpse into the past of the man we’ve only known as Katarina’s father. Raymond continued building a force to be reckoned with, for his upcoming war with his unknown foe. We also obtained some game-changing information concerning Ian Garvey, hinted at in this corner before the series returned from its Autumn vacation.

The Blacklist Members Of The Week.

We’re going to cut right to the chase on the story-line of The Invisible Five. The plot revolves around six kids who lived in a seemingly paradise-like cul-de-sac in the town of Brenford, New York, in the nineties. Suddenly their world got rocked, as their parents died after being ravaged by cancer they contracted as a result of Atria Chemical Corporation, dumping hazardous waste into the ground. The EPA eventually declared a ten-mile radius around the town as a toxic dump, warning people to stat away due to the massive dose of radiation emanating from the land.

The six kids scattered to different parts of the country, but got reunited at the funeral of one of the group, as a result of the radiation poisoning. The remaining five formed a vigilante group they dubbed The Invisible Hand, dedicated to punish an Atria executive, a judge and a lawyer, who settled a lawsuit with one of their neighbors and then sealed the records. The rest of the neighborhood remained ignorant of the danger, and slowly succumbed to the radiation poisoning.

They quickly got their revenge on the judge and the attorney, burying both men alive in the toxic wasteland. However the remaining member of the troika, the Atria executive Anna Hopkins, moved to England. They then decided to expand their scope, taking out people who do things within the law, but that they considered morally reprehensible. Seven more people would suffer their wrath, until some teenagers jumped the fence on a dare, and discovered their latest victim.

When the five members see the news reports they meet at a restaurant owned by Zeke, a member of the hand. Another member Stephen Altman, who seems to be their leader, says they’ve always done things together, and if any of the group wants to stop, they’ll immediately disband. However he says they might want to carry out one more mission, as Anna Hopkins’ in town to make a speech. They can finally punish the third member of the troika.

Navabi and Ressler arrive at the toxic dump, and one of the investigators tells them they’ve recovered seven bodies at that point. He also informs them of a camera the EPA installed at the site, similar to the one “The Tracker,” used last season, except this camera takes just one picture a day. Ressler asks for the contents of the camera, and when they return to the Post Office, Aram sees Stephen Altman standing in the woods without a hazmat suit on. They soon identify him as a former resident of Brenford, who unsuccessfully sued Atria, as a teenager.

Samar and Donald drive to the cul-de-sac the in Brenford, it looks as if it went through the apocalypse. Although the entire neighborhood’s deserted, Ressler notices smoke coming from Altman’s chimney, and calls in for a SWAT-Team. Altman escapes into the woods, however the agents discover the monitoring equipment set up in the house and bring it back to the Post Office.

The Invisible Hand undertakes their plan to capture and kill Anna Hopkins, staying at the Braxton Hotel. One of the group, a reporter named Bobby, interviews Hopkins about her new project, and slips a tracking unit into her purse. After he leaves, Altman poses as a courier saying he needs Hopkins to sign for two packages. She senses something wrong and calls the hotel’s front desk, and asks if they authorized a courier to come to her room? The attendant says no, and says he’ll send security up to the room.

Aram discovers the tracking unit that Bobby put into Hopkins’ purse and he’s able to triangulate the signal. He discovers it’s originating from the seventeenth floor of the Braxton Hotel. Navabi and Ressler head to the hotel, and the hotel front desk clerk’s informed that Hopkins might be in danger. He responds that he just sent security up to her room.

Two security guards head up to Hopkins’ room and tell Altman that he’s got to register at the front desk before delivering any packages, as Hopkins watches through the peephole in her door. When Altman leaves, one of the men knock on her door and she opens it to thank them, however it’s Zeke and Bobby posing as security. They quickly overtake her and bring her to a maroon van in the parking lot.

The agents arrive just as the group puts Hopkins into their van, and a shootout ensues. The agents take out Zeke and wound Bobby, and Emma. Bobby and Altman escape with Hopkins in the van, and Navabi and Ressler take the remaining member, Sophia into custody. After arriving at the Post Office, they convince her to help them find the van by threatening her with never seeing her two young children again. She leads them to where Altman was burying Hopkins, while Navabi and Sophia rescue Hopkins, Ressler tackles Altman as he tries to escape.

During Ressler’s interrogation of Altman, we learn that he’s dying of radiation poisoning, and found out two years before. He says he’s proud of what the Invisible Hand accomplished, he says they’re a corrective unit, and they carried out corrections against injustice. Although none of their victims broke the law, they all took advantage of the law and in the process ruined other people’s lives.

Raymond And Lizzie’s Discoveries

There’s a knock at Elizabeth’s apartment door, and she finds Detective Singleton on the other side, ostensibly there to deliver Tom’s last effects. However he quickly reveals his true reason for his visit, to attempt to intimidate Keen into admitting she killed Bobby Navarro, and she stole the bloody rag from Singleton’s station’s evidence lock-up. She spits back at him that she’s still a federal agent, and for him to stay away from her. He says he’ll be back soon to arrest her.

Among Tom’s effects, she finds a set of keys and immediately fixates on one. We next see her in one of Tom’s storage units, and she uses the key to open an electronic box she seems to know resides there. Opening the unit, she finds a pistol and a leather-bound journal. She sees an entry about Oleander, and then finds a travel brochure for the Oleander Hotel in Slovenia. She immediately calls Cooper asking for help.

Dembe informs Raymond they’ve got an unexpected visitor, our old fiend Anthony Pagliaro the postman, enters the room apologizing profusely. He says he’d never show up unannounced but for a dire emergency. Raymond asks the postal-worker his definition of emergency, and Anthony responds somebody’s going to kill him. Reddington deems the situation an emergency as well, and tells Pagliaro to explain his situation.

Anthony recounts how he discovered a shipment meant for Big Willie Wilkins, and deduced that it contained massive quantities of drugs, so he stole it. He figured he could convince the drug kingpin that the shipment got lost in the mail, but Wilkins didn’t fall for the story. He then told Big Willie, that the shipment got stolen by a rival drug-dealer Momo Marinello.  However when Momo got word that Pagliaro fingered him, he decided to take Anthony out. Raymond asks why he needed the extra money, and Pagliaro says he’d rather not discuss it. When pressed he admits he’s dating a woman out of his league and he wants to get liposuction surgery.

Raymond says that they’ll pay Wilkins a visit and Anthony will admit the truth. Pagliaro balks at the idea, but Reddington says that he’s found over the years that telling the truth is the best course of action. At least most of the time.

Elizabeth and Harold are meeting in Cooper’s office and he’s giving her the information he’s been able to track down on Oleander, and the first point of info’s that Oleander’s a man. He was a legendary Soviet operative, rumored to have come to the States after the Cold War ended. He give’s Keen the name of the man believed to be Oleander, but warns her that if he’s actually the operative, he might not take kindly to questions about his past.

Keen arrives at a house we’ve seen before, and when she knocks on the front door a familiar figure appears. He recognizes her identity immediately and his eyes gleam, but he soon realizes she’s unaware of their relation. She asks if he’s Dominic Wilkinson, and identifies herself. When he asks how he can be of service to her, she asks if he’s the former Soviet operative Oleander?

He lets out a cynical laugh, and says that old ghost story got disproven years before. The CIA cleared him of being Oleander, however she cuts him off and says the Agency didn’t have sufficient proof to charge him. He asks why she’s interested in a former Soviet operative, and her face softens as she explains that her husband was killed over a year ago, and she found information about Oleander among his belongings.

(Her statement doesn’t coincide with the time-line that the show runners have established. Tom died in November of 2017, and she didn’t come out of her coma until September of 2018. Professional athletes would take at least two years to recover from the injuries she received, pushing the time of her departure for Alaska to around September of 2020. When we had a glimpse of Agnes in “The Cook,” she appeared to be about four, she was born in April of 2016.)

Dom apologizes for her loss, but he says he was just a systems analyst for the Soviet Union, not an agent. When the Cold War ended he got granted asylum and a new identity by the American government, and went to work as a systems analyst for them. He’s sorry he can be of no help to her, but she asks him if he interacted with any Soviet operatives. He says he did and she asks if he knew Katarina Rostova?

Dominic breaks into a broad smile and says he knew Rostova quite well, then feigns surprise when he “realizes” he’s speaking to Masha. He says that Katarina used to come into the office he worked out of all the time. When Keen asks if they’d been friends, he quickly changed the subject to a time that Katarina brought Masha to the office when she was about three-years-old.  She asked him if he knew Raymond Reddington, and he said that he didn’t want to discuss him.

She then asked if he thought Katarina could still be alive, and mentioned the former Soviet operative she met in season one, who said he saw her at a hotel. Dom’s face softened as he said he never heard from Rostova after she moved to the States. He once again apologized for not being more informative.

Reddington, Dembe, and Anthony, go to met Big Willie, Raymond’s tickled to find the drug establishment operates out of a candy factory. He says his mind’s filled with visions of Sammy Davis Jr. Seeing the drug kingpin, he thanks him for making the time for them. Wilkins’ surprised that Raymond actually showed up for the meeting, he thought somebody was putting him on. He’s also surprised that Pagliaro works for Red.

Reddington prods Anthony to begin his confession, but the postal-worker says he’s suddenly feeling light-headed. Clearly frustrated, Raymond tells the chief of the drug syndicate that Anthony stole the cocaine, then panicked and blamed Momo for the theft. He says Pagliaro’s sincerely sorry, and he will pay Wilkins back in full, with interest. He then says since it’s no harm no foul, he thinks that Big Willie should forgive Anthony and call off the hit on him.

Wilkens sneers and says “No harm no foul, eh? Follow me.” He takes them into another room where we see some of his men disposing of the remains of Momo Marinello. Big Willie says you have to respond quickly, or his foes perceive it as a sign of weakness. Suddenly the lights cut out, Marinello’s gang’s arrived for their revenge. A shootout ensues, and the air suddenly becomes dense with smoke courtesy of a device one of Marinello’s men set off.

Raymond takes cover but joins in on the action, although at a disadvantage armed just with a pistol, while the others carried long guns. We suddenly see a pair of feet heading towards Red, and Dembe shouts to Reddington to watch out. Raymond turns and fires, realizing too late that the man approaching him was Anthony. Dembe and Reddington carry Pagliaro out of the facility, and the post-worker says he doesn’t want to die. Raymond says he won’t die as they’re getting him help.

Pagliaro wakes up in a recovery facility, Reddington tells him he’s going to be fine, but he needs to watch out for his lap-band. Anthony pulls up the blanket covering him, and realizes that Raymond had the doctors perform the liposuction procedure. Reddington tells him that as long as he was under, he figured they might as well perform the procedure. He wishes Anthony good luck with his new girlfriend and leaves.

Red then meets with Wilkins, telling the drug kingpin he wants him to take on a mission for Reddington. He wants Big Willie to start a war with the Nash Syndicate. Wilkins replies Reddington’s already a big fish, why would he want to take on another? Raymond responds he’s not a big fish, he’s Moby Dick, and for Wilkins to get things in order to proceed with his plan.

Raymond heads to the Post Office, and a look of concern crosses his face when his cell phone rings, and he realizes the caller. He asks what’s wrong, and Dom on the other hand asks him why he thinks something’s amiss. Reddington replies because Wilkinson never calls unless it’s an emergency. Dom informs him that Masha had been at his place that afternoon, seeking information on Oleander. He says he didn’t reveal that he’s actually Oleander, or say anything about Reddington. The old man then grumbles that’s all Raymond cares about anyway.

Dom tells Reddington he should tell Masha the truth, but Raymond sees Elizabeth at that point talking to Samar, and says he can’t talk about that now. Turns out that Bobby the reporter might have some information, that could lead Reddington and keen closer to Tom’s killer.

Raymond heads into the reporter’s hospital room, and he tells Bobby that most bullet wounds to the abdomen aren’t fatal. He then recounts a story of a confederate of his, getting shot 24-times in the abdomen, and surviving. He then asks Bobby about a man The Invisible hand employed, known as the Toy-Maker, and where he’s located. The reporter glares at Reddington, says he’s definitely not a cop, and asks why he should share that information with him? Raymond replies that if he doesn’t he’ll make certain that Bobby won’t survive his gunshot wound.

Lizzie and Raymond head to an electronics repair shop, and find an elderly round little man behind the welding bench. Raymond calls the man by his surname, but the man responds that Mr. Reddington should call him by his first name, Cleveland. Red smiles and says he’s pleased Cleveland knows his identity, as he’s aware that Cleveland’s the Toy-Maker, and hands him Navarro’s glass eye, asking him whom he made it for. Cleveland stammers and stutters, while Raymond puts his pistol on the welding bench, and picks up his welding gun.

Cleveland then says that the eyeball was just the first thing a mysterious man wanted from him. He says the man never introduced himself, and the Toy-Maker identified him as a man that one should never ask his name. He says the guy’s an electronics expert, that the first time they met they had a 20-minute discussion on RF-gain. When Raymond asks Cleveland if he believes the man’s a cop, the Toy-Maker remained silent. Reddington thanked him for his time and the pair left the shop.

Before recapping the hour’s final two scenes; let’s take a look back at a guess we made back in our column of December 27, entitled “Suitcase Suppositions.”

I believe Garvey is either a former agent from the Agency or the Bureau, which is why he was able to access CODIS. Ideally, I would love for him to be the new FBI Director, but that’s likely asking for too much. Plus he dresses like an out of work bureaucrat, sporting a tie so wide that it could double as a table-cloth. I had some of the same back in the mid-seventies and they’re likely still sitting in some compost heap.

Garvey looks like a retired or possibly disgraced “Spook,” (old-term parlance for a CIA Agent,) and realizes that if the information that our Raymond’s a fake emerged, Reddington’s reputation would be in tatters and his life would be endangered. So the former government employee’s going to try to put the squeeze on Red, and demanding a percentage of the profits. Personally, I don’t like Garvey’s odds.”

After Elizabeth leaves the repair shop, she heads back to the Post Office, and once again meets with Cooper. She asks to be reinstated back onto the Task-Force. Harold replies that she told him she looked at being a Federal Agent as a handicap in her search for Tom’s killers. She responds that’s until she realized the man she’s searching for, might wear a badge himself. Cooper shakes her hand, and welcomes her back to the Task-Force.

We see Detective Singleton making a call on his cellphone, telling the part on the other end that he’s concerned about Elizabeth Keen. We then see the caller on the other end’s Ian Garvey, and he tells Singleton to clam down, that he’ll take care of things on his end. Just as we realize that Singleton’s working for Garvey, the camera flashes on a star attached to his belt.

The Story Returns on Wednesday February 28, at 8:00 pm on NBC.

Photo Courtesy Of Will Hart/NBC

WARNING SPOILER ALERT:

The NBC series “The Blacklist,” crossed the meridian line of season five, with an entertaining installment, that explored new ground, but in may ways harkened back to the show’s first season. The episode featured a sick, obsessive, and twisted, member of the Blacklist, a new addition to Reddington’s “Island Of Misfit Toys,” as well as Lizzie and Raymond working side by side. Add in a semi-confession to Elizabeth from Red, stating that he knows why Tom and Nik Korpal were murdered but refusing to reveal that reason to her, tells us there’s plenty of rough seas ahead for the pair.

The evening opens with the Blacklist member in action, as he’s using a stove to mix up a deadly brew of chemicals, and then pours the concoction into a bunch of mason jars. He ten strips down and soaks his clothes in water, before putting them back on, then soaks his bald dome and face.

The scene shifts to another home, and we see that the man’s suspended the jars from the ceiling, all connected by some twine in an intricate puzzle. The man then sits down in an easy chair, and starts drinking from a beer bottle, while he pulls a lighter from his pocket and sets the twine hanging down net to him on fire. Within seconds we watch his work explode into flame, which soon envelops the room. A door opens and we hear a woman screaming. The man raises his beer bottle in salute, then gathers his equipment and walks out.

We join Dembe, Raymond, and Keen,  as they meet in what appears to be a parking lot. Reddington’s summoned Elizabeth, telling her he’s got a lead on Bobby Navarro’s glass eye. He’s hooked up with a new technology expert, who believes he can track the device back to Tom’s murderer. However there’s a complication as the tech guy lives with his mother, who hasn’t taken to Red. He asks Elizabeth to deliver a peace-offering to her office, a terrarium containing four Jaro spiders, which are a delicacy for the Japanese. She asks why he can’t take them, and he tells her he’s about to talk with the Task-Force, about the next Blacklist member.

Samar’s at Raymond’s place when Dembe and he return, and Reddington soon starts giving Navabi a dissertation on the art of arson. He then explains that despite the multitude of purposely set fires each year, very few people die in those blazes. An arsonist only wants to destroy property not people, the few misfortunates that perish in those fires were just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The Blacklist member known as “The Cook,” deviates from most arsonists, because he’s actually a serial-killer who masquerades as an arsonist. Raymond explains that he’s thought to be connected with a series of fires across the country, without any apparent rhyme or reason of how he chooses his victims.

Samar heads back to the Post Office, and Aram pulls up the files on all the blazes that Reddington attributed to “The Cook,” and he states there’s no connection among the victims. Cooper asks if Reddington can prove that the arsonist’s true purpose was to kill his victims. Navabi responds that he can’t but he knows somebody who can, however it’s complicated.

Earl Fagen was a highly regarded Fire Department Inspector, and his specialty was arson. However Fagen’s knowledge of arson stemmed from his Jekyll and Hyde existence. The admirable life he lead was actually a cover, to hide the fact that he was an arsonist. The fire filled the void within him, and it earned him a 14-year stretch in prison. Fagen’s up for parole after serving 11-years, if he’s able to help them capture the Blacklist member, the Task-Force will go to bat for him at his Parole Board hearing.

Once again the show-runners go outside the box in the casting of an almost unrecognizable C. Thomas Howell, in the role of Earl Fagen. I’ve not seen the former “Brat-Pack Member,” since he starred in an ill-chosen movie with Rae-Dawn Chong in the eighties. Howell looks every bit of his 52-years, with a mane of silver hair and a weathered face. We meet him at the apartment that we witnessed getting torched in the open, and immediately we feel the tension between him and Navabi and Ressler.

He takes a huge whiff of the accelerants in the home, as if one were standing over a pot of soup. He then starts examining the crime scene while exchanging stilted banter with the two agents. Suddenly he stops in front of one wall, and he’s found some sort of clue. He asks the agents if they could access a black-light. When they look at the wall under the black-light, they find an inverted pentagram and the words “DISCIPLINE NOT FAITH.” Fagen’s overwhelmed, and tells the pair they’ve got one humdinger of a firebug on their hands.

Raymond’s quite put-off when Keen tells him she left the terrarium outside the office door, with the note that Reddington wrote. As they head up the walkway to the tech-expert’s house, Elizabeth asks Red why he’s so concerned with the guy’s mother, is he sixteen? Raymond replies that he’s 15, and Tadashi Ito corrects him saying he’s fifteen and a half. Lizzie looks mortified until Raymond explains Ito turned down a scholarship from Harvard, two years before as a plum position with Facebook.

Raymond’s a self-confessed “Luddite,” having zero interest in interacting in a digital world, so he surrounds himself with people who can access it. However we learn in this episode that he has virtually no knowledge of “Pop Culture,” he’s even ignorant of the entire Star Wars mythos. He describes the poster hanging in Tadashi’s room as a man dressed in a bear-suit piloting a space-ship, accompanied by a small green man whom he believes is inadequate to fight with the sword he clutches. Ito starts examining the eyeball and tells them it doesn’t have a video or audio device within it, which only makes him more curious as to its purpose.

Aram’s contacted authorities involved with the other homes that “The Cook” torched, and similar messages were discovered at all the other locations. Mojtabai identifies the messages as Bible passages. Ressler sits down with a religious expert, whose written books on Satanic cults, who tells the agent that an inverted pentagram is used by those who worship Lucifer.

Navabi meets with Corrine Egan, an emergency room doctor and the only one of the victims of the Blacklist member who escaped injury, as she wasn’t home when the fire took place. She’s dumbfounded when Samar tells her that the arsonist intended to kill and about the message found on her wall. She says that it was an act of providence that she wasn’t home, as her brother flew in from out-of-town and they went out. She can’t figure who might have wanted to kill her.

Aram once again comes through with some critical information, as he’s been able to track a red Honda that “The Cook” rented to carry out one of his murders. They’ve identified him Willen Seavers, and he lives in Baltimore. Navabi and Ressler go to the location and realize it’s Seavers’ laboratory. They figure out too late that Seavers’ right there with him, he’s got the place rigged with accelerants and he sets the place on fire and escapes, Ressler gets trapped within the flames, finally escaping by crawling through a window he shatters. Navabi pulls him from the window just before flames reach the spot.

The agents get Fagen transported to Seavers’ facility, and he complains that their bargain only called for him to help out once. He expects that this time will increase the agents efforts to get him released. They look at the room under a black-light and see the walls are covered with Biblical passages. Fagen wonders if the messages are intended for Seavers’ himself, and not his victims.

Aram’s able to track back one of the chemicals that Seavers’ used back to the hardware store that they purchased it at. When they access the security footage, they’re shocked to find out he’s actually a priest. He wearing a button on his jacket, from a sect known as Traditum Primerus.

We join Seavers sitting at an airport bar, when a slightly buzzed young attractive woman asks to sit at his table. She tells him that her fiancée’s flight’s landing soon and she’s been wrestling with a moral dilemma. She tells him that she’s not religious but her fiancée’s a regular church goer. She then admits that she had a one night stand, and was going to tell her boyfriend when he landed, but now she’s unsure.

Seavers asks the young woman her name and she replies it’s Claire Homan. He then tells her to confess everything, that her sins were of the flesh and not the soul. He says that because of her fiancée’s religious beliefs, he’ll accept her mistake and keep on loving her. She asks if he’s sure, and he replies God’s sure. She hugs him and kisses his cheek and thanks him, we can see that he’s fighting back desire, and she leaves.

While Tadashi tries to deduce the purpose of the glass eye, Raymond and Elizabeth have a long overdue conversation. She had asked him earlier in the episode if he knew the what truth Tom tied to convey to her before he died. He responded that her husband was a man of many truths, which one he was about to divulge, he couldn’t say. She asked Reddington if he lacked the knowledge or the desire to tell her?

Suddenly Ito removes his headphones and tells Reddington that he knows what the device does, it’s a GPS unit and its transmitting their location to Ian Garvey. The door to the basement opens, and Dembe, Liz and Reddington draw their weapons, only to find Tadashi’s mother’s entering the room. She screams at her son that he turned down Harvard to work for criminals.

Raymond asks if she received his peace-offering and she glared back at him. He mentions the women’s sister’s restaurant, and that they’re considered a delicacy. However Reddington’s gift wasn’t appreciated as he chose to send her four of them, which represents death in Japanese culture.

The mood quickly changes when they realize Garvey and his hoodlums are in the house. After Dembe gets Tadashi and his mother out, Liz wants to stay and fight them, but Red realizes they’d be out-numbered and whisks her away. His instincts proved to be correct, as Garvey and about six goons entered with pistols drawn seconds after they left.

Navabi and Ressler pay a visit to the Spiritual Director from Seavers’ sect, and he quickly identifies him as Tommy Wattles, a priest they threw out of the order for breaking his vow of celibacy. Navabi asks if he had conversations with Wattles, and the priest responds that everything they discussed came during confession and he couldn’t divulge anything. He quickly changes his tune when the agents reveal that the former priest’s killed multiple people in the fires he set.

The priest’s face turns ashen when he hears them out and he says that Wattles told him they were just visions and nightmares. Despite Tommy’s desire to be a priest, he couldn’t control his carnal urges. He told the Spiritual Director that he believed attractive women were put on earth to tempt him, and he envisioned burning them to death. Navabi chastises the clergyman, telling him she hopes he can be forgiven by his sect for withholding the information.

The agents split up again, each carrying a photo of Wattles. Ressler’s able to track Tommy to the airport bar, and the bartender says he saw him talking with an attractive young woman. Through airport surveillance footage they find the young woman, and somehow Mojtabai finds a match through facial recognition software.

Navabi’s gone back to talk with Corrine Egan, and she immediately recognizes Wattles as a regular at the deli she has lunch at. She interacted with him shortly before her fire, she thanked him for buying lunch for a homeless man the day before. She then paid for his lunch that day, as she told him she wanted to pay it forward. She can’t believe that Wattles thought she was trying to tempt him in any way.

Raymond’s got Tadashi and his mom temporarily relocated to a luxury suite. He apologizes for getting her mixed up in his predicament, and that they’ll be his guests until they can return home safely. He tries to diffuse her anger by explaining she and her son will have full access to all amenities. He’s met with the same glare she’s given him since we met the character. It’s rather amusing to see Reddington so flustered, because he can’t get her to like him.

Ito informs him that he’s disabled the tracking device, and now he’s attempting some reverse engineering, to try to track the device back to Garvey. Lizzie’s muttering out loud that she should have stayed at the house, saying she’s blown her only chance to capture Tom’s killer. Raymond interrupts her, by telling her he knows what Tom wanted to reveal to her, but he insists he can’t share the information with her. Although she doesn’t raise her voice or show anger, Keen voices her displeasure with Reddington’s decision. She says she’s given up Agnes, until she gets this behind her, and doesn’t want that to go on one moment longer than needed.

Tadashi gets excited as he’s able to track the eyeball back to Garvey’s location, he gives Raymond the address and says May The Force Be With You. Reddington looks the teen in the eye and says he doesn’t have any idea what that means. Ito looks like he just met somebody from the Flat-Earth Society.

Dembe, Keen, and Reddington drive to Garvey’s safe-house, but they get there too late. All they are met with are a bunch of unconnected cords and the cabinet for some computer equipment. Red tells Dembe to find out where the cabinet emanates from, and Zuma responds that all the guts have been removed, however Raymond still wants him to track it. They also find a note left for them in magic-marker, “WE KNOW THE TRUTH.”

Aram gives Ressler and Navabi Claire Homan’s address and he tries to call her on her cellphone. She’s running around her apartment in her bra and panties, and she picks up the phone, but it’s taken from her by Tommy. He says he’s glad that her fiancée’s not there, and then tells her she needs to get properly dressed, while holding a pistol to her side. Mojtabai gets hinky because Homan isn’t picking up her phone, he asks the agents to get there as soon as possible.

Tommy’s got Claire imprisoned in shrink-wrap, and has set up his elaborate system on her ceiling. She tries to ask him something, but he’s got her mouth covered. He lowers the gag and she asks him why he’s doing this. Wattles stares at her then kisses her on the mouth, but immediately pulls away and gives her a backhand across her face. We hear sirens getting closer, and Tommy’s just about to light the fuse when Samar and Donald burst through the door. Wattles grabs one of the mason jars filled with the accelerant and tries to escape, with Ressler in pursuit. After making sure Claire’s okay, Navabi joins the chase.

Tommy doesn’t get far before encountering both agents, who have their guns aimed at him. Wattles then opens the jar of the accelerant and pours it over his head, as the agents try to talk him out of his suicide attempt. He then starts to laugh madly, saying this was meant to be, and he mentions the Auto-De-Fe, a term meaning an act of faith, used during the Inquisition. He then lights himself on fire and the camera stays on him until he finally falls to the ground.

Ressler speaks to the Parole Board about Fagen, saying he’d been very instrumental in them taking down a serial killer. One of the board members ask Donald if he believes Fagen’s been rehabilitated. He says that he really can’t answer the answer the question as he doesn’t know Fagen. Then his face softens and he says that he used to look at everything as black and white, but he’s not so sure about that anymore. Just because somebody commits an evil act, doesn’t mean they’re inherently evil. He says he thinks everybody deserves a second chance.

We get our first glimpse of Agnes, since Keen left her in the custody of Scottie. She’s in a school-like facility, engaged in a game with the other little kids, as Raymond and Elizabeth watch her through a window from outside the building. He vows to Elizabeth, that he’ll make certain that she’s able to reunite with her daughter shortly. Keen replies that she needs his help, but she’s unsure whether she can trust him. She then looks him in the eyes and tells him that she will uncover his secret.

Samar tells Cooper that Fagen got granted early parole, and he asks her if she thinks he deserved an early release? She says that he served the majority of his term, and that Wattles would still be on the loose without his help. She thinks that the early parole was justified.

We join Earl Fagen as he’s leaving the correctional facility, taking his first steps as a free man after 11-years. Suddenly Reddington’s car pulls up, and Fagen recognizes Raymond and asks what he wants? Red says that he’s the one to thank for his early release, and he demands two promises from Fagen as repayment. The first is that the ex-convict doesn’t even pick-up a lighter or pack of matches. The second demand’s that Fagen be ready to set a fire for Raymond at the appropriate time, Reddington says he’ll be in touch and the car drives away.

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

Photo Courtesy Of Will Hart/NBC

WARNING SPOILER ALERT:

The NBC series “The Blacklist,” celebrated the show’s one hundredth episode, by pitting two cunning con-men against each other, resulting in entertaining hour, featuring some bravura acting performances. In yet another example of the show’s brilliant casting, the series brought in stage and screen legend Nathan Lane, to portray the latest Blacklist member. Although the main plot was more simplistic than some of the series’ best chapters, the treat of watching James Spader, face off against Lane, more than compensated for the tale’s lack of complexity in this viewer’s opinion.

The lighter tone of the main story, provided a good contrast for the ever-darkening story arc of Elizabeth Keen, as she slips deeper and deeper into her obsession. This viewer’s reached the conclusion that the woman that longtime fans followed for four-plus seasons, died in the beating that took the life of her husband Tom. The woman that now inhabits her body’s, laser-focused on just one thing, finding the man that murdered her husband. She’s not going to allow emotions, relationships, or the law to stop her from completing her mission.

The cold-open starts with a shot of the DC skyline, as Dembe and Raymond have a discussion while Zuma drives them to an appointment. Raymond’s clutching the valuable 1943D bronze Lincoln penny he confiscated from Greyson Blaise, earlier this season. Reddington’s holding the three million dollar coin, as he’s on his way to talk to a Georgetown antique’s dealer. The dealer’s piqued Raymond’s interest, as he retains information about the coin, and three duplicates. Legend has it that the four coins form a set, that form a treasure map, leading to vast riches.

Raymond tells Dembe, that he hasn’t felt so excited since he and his childhood pal, Herbie Honeycutt, pooled their box-tops together to get a combination decoder-ring/periscope. Zuma, knowing him so well, responds that Reddington loves the mystery, causing Red to recall Robert Louis Stevenson, Edgar Allen Poe, and the story The Gold Bug.

As he’s highlighting the tale, their car gets T-Boned by a panel-van from a cleaning company, flipping their car on its roof. We see the rare penny on the highway, and a man wearing a suit and a trench-coat, picks up the coin as four goons emerge from the van armed to the teeth. The man who picked up the coin tells the hoods they can leave, as he’s gotten what he came for. Raymond sees the man as he’s about to black-out.

We join Elizabeth seconds after we lost saw her, standing over the corpse of Robert Navarro. She suddenly feels pain in her side and discovers there’s a shard of glass protruding from her abdomen. She pulls the glass from her body, wraps Navarro’s body in a canvas bag, and then proceeds to clean the crime scene, in a manner that Mr. Kaplan would’ve approved of.

She’s finishing cleaning, when there’s a knock on the door. Two uniforms and the superintendent, force their way into the apartment. Keen takes the bloody rag from her abdomen and sticks it in the kitchen garbage disposal, then hides in the closet. The officers responded to a domestic violence call, likely from one of Navarro’s neighbors, but they report back to dispatch that the place’s clean.  When the officers and the super leave, Keen somehow lugs the far bigger Navarro into her car’s trunk.

Raymond goes hat in hand to Harold, asking for assistance in recovering the coin he purloined. Cooper’s ready to laugh Reddington out of his office, when Red explains that the new Blacklist Member’s killed before and he’ll likely kill again, in pursuit of all four coins. We get a glimpse of the thief in his day job, he’s a loan-officer for the Republic Commerce Bank in Manhattan. He’s informing a client that he was able to restructure his payments so he won’t default on his loan. He then smiles when he says that the client should be able to pay for his panel van that was recently in an accident.

Reddington explains to the Task-Force, that in the thirties the United States Government printed a series of Federal Reserve Notes, at the Denver Mint, that were payable to the holder for the note’s denominations. Shortly after the notes were printed, they turned up missing, so Denver denied they were ever printed. However in recent years some of the notes have surfaced in some foreign countries, and the Mint claims the notes were counterfeit.

Raymond states that the notes were actually printed, and the four coin set of the 1943D Lincoln bronze pennies, allegedly form a map giving the location of the Federal Reserve Notes. Aram verifies that the Blacklist member killed three times in his quest for the coins, three security-officers in Dubai, an art collector in Italy, and the Georgetown art dealer that Raymond was set to meet with. That’s how the thief determined Reddington possessed the coin, and how he ambushed Red and Dembe. Although Harold only wants to capture the thief, Aram’s totally captivated by the idea of participating in a treasure hunt.

Keen’s nemesis, MPD Detective Singleton, arrives back at Navarro’s apartment with the uniforms. After he quickly eyeballs the apartment, he pronounces it too clean and calls for a forensic-team to join him at Navarro’s. He tells the person on the other end that a warrant’s in the works as they speak. Keen did a masterful job of getting rid of any evidence of a crime, save for the bloody rag that she left in the garbage disposal, which Singleton sends to the lab for a blood-match.

The Blacklist member’s talking to an unfortunate client of the bank, that they’re calling in his loan. The man’s desperate and offers to do anything to restructure his payments. The loan officer smiles and says he sees the man used to be an insurance investigator. He says he’s got a personal problem involving a rare coin, and perhaps they can help each other. Soon the client Frank Dobbs, and the loan officer are on their way to a museum that’s showcasing the coin in an exhibition.

Dobbs and the loan officer identify themselves as investigators from the insurance company, that insures the collection on loan from the University of Pennsylvania. The loan officer, introduces himself to the museum’s representative Patrick Church, using a posh English accent, and identifies himself as the company’s rare coin expert.

Simultaneously, Aram’s tracked the location of the fourth coin to the Gabor Museum, the same place the duo’s attempting to swindle the museum out of the coin. Cooper sends Navabi and Ressler, to talk with museum officials, and make certain the coin’s still safe.

Shortly after Samar and Donald head to the museum, Keen shows up at the Post-Office, to the delight of Aram. After he hugs her, he asks if she’s just visiting, or she’s ready to rejoin the Task-Force? She says she’s just visiting and needs to take a look at the files. We follow Elizabeth to the file cabinets, and watch as she pulls out the file of Stanley R. Kornish, the man longtime fans know as “The Stewmaker.” She pulls out here cellphone and starts photographing the documents, until she’s interrupted by Aram.

He does his best to attempt to recruit her back to work on their current case, telling her that Navabi and Ressler just headed to the Gabor Museum, to ascertain the whereabouts of a copy of the 1943D Lincoln bronze penny. He tells her about the treasure hunt, and says it might provide a good distraction for her. She quickly changes the subject to his relationship with Samar, and Aram gushes. Keen then tells him she’s got to leave, but she answers her phone to find Singleton’s on the other end.

We next see her being interviewed by Singleton in his office, as he asks her bout any contact she’s had with Robert Navarro. She reminds the officer that he told her not to contact Navarro, and he scoffs at her. He says he believes that Navarro’s dead. She looks Singleton in the eye and states she’s the last person in the world to want Navarro dead, as she wanted information about the man he worked for. She asks if there’s anything else, and he responds not until the lab gets the results of the bloody towel they found in the garbage disposal.

The loan officer and Dobbs, meet with Church and his assistant in Church’s office, and the thief tells Church they believe that the penny they possess maybe a forgery. They believe the coin might be the handiwork of a forger who tried to pass off an Italian Litra, at an auction house in Germany. He asks to see the coin and Church summons his assistant to get it. He says if the coin’s a forgery, it might be the most celebrated case since the Ready Electrotypes at the British Museum.

Keen gets a motel room with an oversized bathtub, and brings Navarro’s corpse and the mix of chemicals that “The Stewmaker,” utilized to destroy bodies without a trace. First she washes herself with some green chemical, and then covers the bathroom with plastic sheeting. She puts Navarro’s body into the tub, and then puts on the same type of gas mask that “The Stewmaker,” wore. She then pours in chemicals and fills the tub with water, after stirring the contents of the tub, she exits the bathroom as the chemicals do their work.

The loan officer tells the museum representative that he believes the coin’s a forgery, and Church nearly goes apoplectic. However the mood in the office radically changes as another museum employee enters and whispers something to the assistant, who then whispers it to Church. The three says they’ll return shortly, taking the coin with them. Dobbs looks out the window and sees police cruisers outside and starts to panic, but the thief tells him to remain calm. They then escape as the thief sets off the fire alarm, as Navabi and Ressler make their way to Church’s office.

Harold calls Reddington with bad and worse news. The Blacklist member escaped, and the remaining 1943D Lincoln bronze penny’s sitting in the MPD’S evidence vault. Harold tells Raymond that the Task-Force’s not breaking into the evidence vault for him. So Raymond calls Keen to see if she can help him in the matter. She tells Reddington that she could use the distraction, and says she’ll gladly help him. Although she’s surrendered her badge, the evidence vault’s the same place they store evidence of open homicides. She says she can give Singleton something that might help them gain access to the vault.

She gives Singleton Tom’s old cellphone, saying she finally got up the courage to start going through his things. She says she doesn’t know the password, but perhaps some of the department’s tech-staff can break into it. She tells Raymond that the device’s being used as a passive packet sniffer, a trick Tom taught her. Within minutes, Dembe’s got the evidence vault code, now they just need a way to get to the vault. Which provides a great excuse to bring into the episode a fan favorite.

Keen recruits Glen Carter, to take a pill that will induce heart-attack like symptoms in him, which will provide the diversion she’ll need to get into the vault. After Jellybean, reiterates that she owes him big time for his actions, he admits he’s looking forward to some time away from his mother, and getting a little rest and relaxation. He no sooner gets the sentence out of his mouth, when the symptoms knock him to his knees, and Keen calls for help.

During the ensuing chaos, Keen accesses the keypad and opens the vault. We see her grab the evidence envelope with the coin inside it. She returns just as paramedics are wheeling Jellybean out of the station, on a stretcher. She quickly exits the other way.

Aram’s discovered the Blacklist member’s name’s Abraham Stern, and that he’s a loan officer at the Manhattan bank. Cooper soon realizes that Reddington also has ascertained Stern’s identity, when he receives a call from MPD informing him the coin disappeared from their evidence vault. Harold calls Raymond and he says he realizes that he’s cut a deal with Stern, Red replies he’ll let him know how things work out.

The two men negotiate a truce, as Reddington states that sentiment guarantees that Red will accept a 50/50 split with Stern, since the Federal Reserve Notes are his inheritance. We then find out Stern’s father was a master engraver with the Denver Mint, when the notes went missing. His father became the prime suspect, but nobody could prove he stole the notes, so he got demoted to the mint’s maintenance staff and worked out of the boiler room.

His last act at the mint was engraving the four bronze coins as a map for his son. Later that year, the mint switched to a new boiler room, and dismissed Stern’s father. He never worked again and died a pauper, however he left Abraham the coins in his will. Stern just a teenager at the time, and angry with his father spent the coins on four gum balls at the local candy store. He realized his mistake soon after, when he received a letter from his father’ lawyer, informing him about the coin. He’s dedicated his entire life to retrieving those coins.

Stern brought another man with him to the summit meeting, a man he identified as the Professor, who was able to crack the code of the four coins. Stern’s father used his craftsmanship to put together a topographical map when the four coins were shown in an over-lay. The map showed that the notes were still in the Denver Mint, the final clue revealed in the over-lay told them the notes were still in the old boiler room.

Raymond tells the other two men that the best way for them to get into the vault, which is their only access to the old boiler room, would be to disguise themselves as drivers and deliver a truck filled with laundered money. Reddington calls Heddy Hawkins to ascertain how much available cash they’ve got on hand.

Hawkins naturally distrusts Stern and tries to warn Raymond off. Reddington voices Heddy’s feelings and asks what assurance Stern can give him, and the thief swears on his dead father’s grave. Raymond turns to Hawkins and says he can’t ask for anything better than that, and agrees to work together.

Keen returns to the hotel, and plunges the remainder of the contents of the tub down the drain. She’s surprised to find just one thing remaining. Turns out that Navarro had a glass eye, that contained tech inside it. She grabs the eyeball and cleans up the room before she vacates it.

Reddington’s able to access the mint’s computer system, to give them authorization to make the delivery. Once they get inside the gates, Stern acknowledges that Heddy’s instincts had been spot-on, and he locked Red inside the truck as his crew proceeded to steal the Federal Reserve Notes. Raymond fully prepared for the double-cross, quickly made his escape from the van and joined Hawkins and his crew on the roof of the building.

When Stern and his team reach the old boiler room, they open the boiler and find it’ stuffed with the notes. Stern tells his associates to start packing their bags. Suddenly a deafening sound fills the room, and soon the notes are going up the air shaft, getting sucked up two giant exhaust vacuums that Raymond’s crew have hooked up to a V-8 motor. They get nearly all the notes before the mint’s system seals the vault, with Stern and his crew inside. Raymond calls Cooper and tells him that he broke off his partnership with Stern when he found out that the Blacklist member wanted to rob the Denver Mint. He tells the Task-Force Director, that Stern and his crew are robbing the mint as they speak.

Later Raymond shows back up at the Post Office and heads to Cooper’s office and sits down in the chair in front of Harold’s desk. Cooper grins at him and says he knows that Reddington got the Federal Reserve Notes, he doesn’t know how Red pulled it off, but he knows he got them. Reddington asks about the four pennies, and Cooper says they’ve been recovered and returned to their rightful owners, except for the one Raymond “liberated.” He says he’ll give it to Red for the truth.

Reddington starts to explain Stern’s story to Cooper, but Harold says that’s not the truth he wants. He then asks Raymond if he stole a bloody cloth from the evidence vault, that the MPD had in relation to the death of Robert Navarro. Red looks rather shocked and says of course not. Harold gives Reddington back the coin. The Bureau has Stern in custody, and the Denver Mint reported that nothing was stolen during the break-in. Reddington literally pulled off the “Perfect Crime.”

The evening ends with Raymond voicing his displeasure to Keen. She admits she got in over her head, and never intended to kill Navarro. However he got the jump on her and he died in the ensuing scandal. Reddington says he wants to make certain that the body can’t be found, and she assures him she already took care of that. She then shows him the glass eye with the Next-Gen tech, and asks for his help. He says of course, and then pulls the bronze penny from behind her ear.

She asks if his treasure hunt was successful, and he replies he’s got his sights set on a castle in Trieste, and suggests she accompany him to take a look at it. Just then a man named Bernard walks into the room carrying a box and tells Reddington he looks incomplete. Raymond chortles as he looks at the box, and then gives Bernard the coin, while Liz stammers. She’s puzzled that Raymond would give the man the coin for the contents of the box, until Bernard tells her the box contains Winston Churchill’s hat.

Raymond carefully lifts the hat out of the box and explains it’s Churchill’s Homburg that he wore during the blitz. Under its brim Churchill defeated Hitler, and now Raymond’s the hat’s unworthy new owner. Bernard tells Keen that the hat’s been locked al these years gathering dust in a trunk in Surrey, until recently discovered. Raymond puts it on and asks how it looks, she responds kind of amazing, and he beams.

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

Photo Courtesy Of NBC.

WARNING: SPOILER ALERT

Welcome back for the second half our recap of “The Blacklist,” episode “The Informant.” Due to the complex story lines of this episode, our choice was either to write a short novella, or to give Elizabeth Keen’s story arc a separate recap. Rather than subject you to tedious writing and confusion, we chose the latter option.

As I wrote in the first recap, this episode proved to be a great showcase to contrast how Donald Ressler and Lizzie, deal with their internal demons. We detailed how important it was for Ressler to battle his dark-side, and to seek the light. His duplicitous ways proved to be a burden he could no longer carry, and he was willing and ready to pay the price for his crimes.

Vengeance’s proven to be an intoxicating elixir for Elizabeth Keen. Her time spent in Alaska, strengthened her body as she lead a Spartan existence. However it took her executing the four criminals that threatened her, for her to feel alive again. She’s hyper-focused on her mission, making the men that killed her husband pay dearly. She’s become Ahab, and the mysterious Ian Garvey’s not only her prey but her obsession. She may feel healthy and alive, but she’s ostracized herself from her old life.

In many ways the Elizabeth Keen we’re seeing, could be best compared to a feral animal. That was well displayed early in the episode, during an exchange with Samar Navabi, as the two bumped into each other at Raymond’s apartment. The pair exchanged pleasantries, with Samar describing her relationship with Aram as boring, domestic and blissful. When she asked how Agnes’ getting along, Lizzie showed her shame as she turned away and made a hasty exit. Navabi said to Reddington “She’s not coming back, is she?” She took Raymond’s silence as an affirmative.

Lizzie’s conducting her own investigation into Tom’s murder from their old apartment, and once again living a Spartan existence. She’s spent the past two days, after returning from Alaska, gathering as much information as she can on the men that invaded the apartment, nearly killing her and taking Tom’s life. She keeps flashing back to the crime as she investigates the evidence she’s gathered, including the swatch of carpet still stained with blood.

We see photographs and names of the men involved, and with each image we watch how they died. Worgul, Madigan, Fishbauch, and Shelly, plus the picture of the red-headed beefy guy that left with Garvey, Bobby Navarro. The police believe that Navarro orchestrated the hit, however they lacked the evidence to hold him. Elizabeth’s memory’s sketchy, but she remembers another man in charge, a man with glasses.

Raymond’s ascertained that the five men worked for the Nash drug syndicate, but he believes somebody may have hired them to do the hit. Unfortunately, he’s been unable to make any headway into the identity of whom that party could be. He’s basically taken on the role of sounding board for Keen at this juncture, and not for advice just information.

Reddington doesn’t approve, and he’s quite fearful about the path Lizzie’s barreling down. However he realizes she’d never accept him as her moral compass, so he approaches the man that already plays that role in her life, Harold Cooper. Raymond explains to Cooper that he’s the devil on Lizzie’s shoulder, but Harold’s the angel on her other shoulder. He says that Elizabeth’s going through troubled waters, and he’s counting on Harold to help her navigate them.

As for the man she’s ultimately seeking, we get our first glimpse of Ian Garvey since the series’ return, when he’s woken by a phone call in the middle of the night. We see he’s sleeping with a woman and he’s wearing boxers and a wife-beater. He takes a swig from a beer bottle on his night stand when he answers the phone, the man on the other end informs him that Keen’s returned to town. The other man asks Garvey if he wants him to act on it? Garvey responds to leave her be, and that he believes time will be their ally. He says he’ll get things together on his end and hangs up.

I’ve stated previously that I don’t believe Ian Garvey stems from the underworld, rather he comes from a career in one of our government intelligence services, either the Agency or the Bureau. I’m uncertain of his status, whether he’s still an active agent or retired, but he’s still retains access to CODIS. Garvey’s likely busted his hump as  bureaucrat for years, and he believes the contents of the knapsack are the pot of gold at the end of his rainbow. I’ve got severe doubts that he’ll ever see even a coin.

There’s a knock on Lizzie’s apartment door, and she recognizes Police Detective Singleton, the officer that tried to interview her about the incident after she got discharged from the hospital. She tries blowing him off, saying it’s an inconvenient time, but his persistence pays off and she invites him in for a cup of coffee.

Singleton tells her that the bullets that killed her assailants came from a gun that wasn’t found at the scene. Realizing that the bullets came from Raymond and Dembe’s weapons she pleads ignorance, as well as saying she had no idea who drove them to the hospital. Singleton realizes she’s stonewalling, and says she could be charged as an accessory, if she’s withholding information. The only bit of useful info she receives is that the Nash syndicate operate out of Kaufman’s Food and Liquor, which proves to be her next destination.

Three young low-level hoods are sitting on the corner in front of Kaufman’s when Keen drives up, and one of them approaches the car. She asks the guy where’s Navarro, and he replies she’s got the wrong place. She informs him that she’s aware that he’s a member of the Nash syndicate, and once again asks where’s Navarro.

The punk, thinking he can intimidate Keen reaches into the driver’s window and clutches her throat, big mistake. She promptly puts a handcuff on his hand, and he attaches the connecting one to her car and starts to drive off. She tells the kid he looks athletic, but she’s got a full tank of gas. He quickly says that he’ll contact the bagman Chrisanto, who could lead her to Navarro.

Chrisanto arrives to find the punk sitting in the driver’s seat of his car, so he climbs into the passenger seat. He doesn’t notice that the kid’s bound and gagged until it’s too late. Lizzie’s in the backseat, and starts choking him with some razor wire. She tells him not to panic, because then he’ll pass out, and then she’ll have to kill them. She then asks about Navarro’s location, and he gives up Navarro’s money launderer, Pee-Wee.

Keen walks into the kitchen of a greasy-spoon, where she finds Pee-wee at his day job tending the grill. She asks about Navarro, and he tries to play dumb. When she asks him again he goes for his pistol, but Lizzie shoots him in the thigh before he can grab it. she then asks the young waitress where he keeps the money, and she motions to a refrigerator, stuffed with cash. Lizzie grabs a stack and says Pee-Wee will either give her Navarro’s location now, or after she burns up all of his money, and sets the stack aflame from one of the stove burners.

Navarro’s counting money, when there’s a knock on his door. He looks through the peephole and sees Pee-Wee’s face, and he grumbles as he asks why he’s there. Pee-Wee responds, just let me in and Navarro opens the door, to find Keen standing there with the money launderer’s image on her cell phone, and she’s brandishing a pistol. She asks Navarro if he remembers her, then pushes her way and instructs him to put a pair of plastic handcuffs on himself. She then empties the cartridge from his pistol and puts the gun back on his desk.

She asks Navarro about the man with the Damascus knife that was at her apartment the night of the incident, and the thug responds he can’t remember. She gives him a back hand to his jaw and then shows him pictures of Nik, Pete McGee, and Lena, and asks if he remembers them? She says that Tom was trying to help Nik with something, that got them both killed.

He smirks and says she still doesn’t get it. Tom wasn’t trying to help Nik, rather it was the other way around. She asks what Nik was trying to help Tom with, and Navarro looked down sheepishly and lowered the volume of his voice and said he couldn’t tell her or they’d kill him. Lizzie fell for the decoy, as she let her defenses down and leaned into hear him better. That’s when Navarro made his move, and in the ensuing tussle knocked the pistol out of her hands.

Unfortunately due to allowing the hood to handcuff himself, his hands remained in front of him. He lifted Lizzie up like a rag doll and slammed her head against the wall. She looked like she was blacking out, but fought back until he got his arm around her neck, choking off her air supply.

Lizzie’s losing consciousness, but she starts fixating on Tom’s final moments in the apartment. Beaten to a pulp, he summoned the strength to hold off their attackers until Dembe and Raymond arrived. Inspired by the vision, she loosens the large man’s grip with a blow to his chin. He grabs her again, but she’s able to push him down backwards, so that they both fall on a glass coffee table that shatters under his weight.

Shaken from the incident, Liz gets up an looks at Navarro. His lifeless eyes stare back at her, with a shard of glass protruding from his jugular vein, and blood spurting like a geyser from his neck. She says out loud, okay it’s okay, but she realizes it’s anything but. Lizzie’s crossed the line, she’s turning into a full-fledged vigilante. Although Raymond can likely clean up this mess for her, Keen’s troubled waters maybe leading to a tidal wave.

The Blacklist Broadcasts Episode #100, Next Wednesday, January 17, at 8:00 pm on NBC.