Diego Klattenhoff

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Photo Courtesy Of NBC

WARNING: SPOILER ALERT

When NBC concluded season four of their series “The Blacklist,” this viewer feared that the show’s best days were in the rear-view mirror. The season that ended in May, was incredibly dark as Raymond Reddington acted impulsively and that action cost him dearly. Reddington felt betrayed, and ended up putting a bullet into the head of the woman he used to refer to as his better half. However Red only wounded Mr. Kaplan, but took away her humanity in the process. The former Kathryn Nemec, became Hell-Bent on destroying the empire she helped create, and putting Reddington in some government black-ops site, where he would live out his final days getting tortured.

Kate was successful in destroying Raymond’s empire, but she ended up taking her own life rather than go to prison, taking a dive off of a bridge, and we watched her limp body lying in the water hundreds of feet below. She still had one more surprise for her former boss, a suitcase containing a human skeleton, that we saw in the possession of Tom Keen in the season’s final scene.

Kate told FBI Agent Elizabeth Keen, that she would reveal the truth to Lizzie, about her roots and exactly what happened during Keen’s childhood. However Kate’s final standoff involving Reddington and law enforcement officials, prevented her from passing on the information. Keen believes she was trying to tell her that Reddington’s her biological father, after Harold Cooper tested a DNA sample from some clothing the FBI kept in an evidence locker. The blood sample proved that Raymond Reddington’s the biological father of Elizabeth Keen, but it left open the question if the man we’ve come to know as Red, is in fact Raymond Reddington.

Despite the reservations I had in May, I’m now eagerly anticipating the show’s return on Wednesday, September 27. Why the change of heart? Simply because it appears that the show-runners of “The Blacklist,” will once again take this series and stand it on its head, as they did at the start of season three. However instead of exposing Liz Keen to Reddington’s world, as they did in that story-arc, this time it’s Red that has to make a drastic adjustment.

The “Concierge Of Crime’s” ceased to exist, replaced by the Fred Sanford of the criminal world. The man who could make the inside of a cargo container, look like a five-star hotel, now lives in a fleabag motor-lodge. He’s reduced to wearing hand-me-downs, and going hat in hand to apply for a job with a bail bondsman, he likely wouldn’t have hired a year ago. Judging by the clips released by NBC, it appears that starting back at the bottom has reignited that romance with the underworld. He tells Lizzie that he can’t remember the last time he felt this alive.

Not everything is hunky-dory in Raymond’s new universe however. The series introduced us to the new President of the United States, Robert Diaz, last season and he’s appointed a new FBI Director. The new Director’s auditing all of the bureau’s special-ops projects, and it’s just a matter of time before it’s discovered that Reddington’s empire lies in ashes, and his value to the bureau’s in jeopardy. Hence Raymond tells Harold Cooper, that he’s counting on Cooper and his Task-Force to help rebuild his empire.

So we’ve got the prospect of watching Raymond emerge like the Phoenix and become bigger than ever, or will his goal now turn into just getting powerful enough to keep providing names for the Task-Force? Will Reddington become satiated enough playing Grandpa, and having Liz as part of his life, or will he once again fall victim to his darkest impulses, leading to his shooting Mr. Kaplan?

That valise containing the skeleton will figure prominently in the upcoming campaign, as well as the ramifications from Laurel Hitchin’s accidental death in the previous season finale. Henry Prescott makes it clear to “The Boy-Scout,” Donald Ressler that the two will be seeing a lot of each other. Ressler also has to explain how he got his shield back from Hitchin, without revealing that he watched her slip and crack open her head, killing her instantly.

Lest we not forget the romance in the air, as Tom and Lizzie reunite after Tom went seeking his Redemption. There’s also a budding romance that seems to be steaming up quickly, between Samar Navabi and Aram Mojtabai. After playing cat and mouse games for the last two years, the couple appear to be blissful as this season opens. We might also witness Lizzie meeting her grandfather Dom, who Raymond told to seek Lizzie out if he failed to hear from him. Plus we still don’t know what Dembe’s up to, as he’s absent in all the clips the network’s released.

Last May, many fans surmised that season five could be the last campaign for the series, however I think that this new dynamic could give the show the shot of adrenaline it needs. If the show-runners and writers live up to past glory, this show might have another five-years left in the tank.

The Story Continues Wednesday, September 27, at 8:00pm on NBC.

Photo Courtesy Of William Hart/NBC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

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

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

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

Should the show’s long-term fans feel cheated if the character we’ve invested four seasons into following, turns out to be an impostor? It’s a question that I’ve wrestled with since the final few minutes of episode 22, and I’ve come up with a rationale that I can live with. Whom ever this man that we’ve been intrigued by turns out to be, he’s the guy that’s kept us glued to our respective screens for 89 episodes. He’s the man who could end Diane Fowler’s life, with a bullet to the gut while telling her she talked too much. Yet he showed empathy and gentleness, when treating a young boy to three ice-cream sundaes, in order to obtain the name of his hematologist from his mother. This is the man filled with information on almost any subject, who can entertain you all evening with his anecdotes, and seems to get perverse pleasure out of emasculating husbands, in front of their wives.

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

Can We Survive?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rising From The Ashes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo Courtesy Of Will Hart/NBC

WARNING: SPOILER ALERT

After exhausting all other options, the stage’s set for a two-hour “Battle Royale,” to conclude the fourth season for the NBC series “The Blacklist.” The mission’s clear, Team-RED, needs to keep their asset Raymond Reddington safe, and their Task-Force a secret. They now realize that they’re battling two obsessed opponents determined to derail their plans, discovering that a new actor’s entered the dynamic and adding a new unknown element to their fight. That unknown actor, FBI Special Agent Julian Gale, may prove to be the most dangerous opponent the Task-Force’s faced since its formation in 2013.

We’re not going to spend much time recapping “The Debt Collector,” a rather byzantine tale concocted by Reddington, so that he could meet face-to-face, with the woman he betrayed, Kate Kaplan. Raymond’s consumed with self-doubt, and he’s hoping that the waters have remained clear enough, that he can negotiate a truce with his former better-half.

The evening begins with Raymond and Dembe, stuck in Europe and desperately seeking a way to get back to the States. Reddington and Zuma, pay a visit to Baldur Magnusson, the underworld shipping magnate that Raymond threatened to kill earlier this season. Red convinces Magnusson, that at heart they’re both wheeler-dealers, always looking to buy low and sell high. Raymond pitches himself as a penny-stock, that will one day reward Baldur with huge dividends. Magnusson, responds that he can get the pair back in the steerage compartment of one of his ships.

Reddington calls Elizabeth Keen, and tells her that he’s gotten information that a Blacklist member known as the Debt Collector’s been hired to abduct her. He says that he’s stuck en-transit, so she’s got to take the information to Harold Cooper and the Task-Force.

The Debt Collector’s actually Edgar Grant, a high school janitor and admitted psychopath, who seeks recompense for his clients. He became a vigilante, after his wife lost her ability to walk as a result of getting hit by a man under the influence. Grant decided that the courts didn’t punish the driver harshly enough, so he mangled the man’s legs with a sledgehammer.

Grant enjoyed the experience and realized he’d found his calling, so he began hiring himself out to other’s seeking vengeance. He keeps mementos from all of his victims, in a bizarre trophy room down in his basement, ranging from a pair of hands taken from an abusive husband, to piles of cash and expensive works of art. Grant believes he’s working for Tyson Pryor, a disgraced sociology professor that Liz helped send to prison in 2012. Although given a life sentence, Pryor got released to a hospice in Baltimore, after receiving a diagnosis of terminal cancer. Grant’s instructed to abduct Lizzie, however to do her no harm until Pryor arrives.

In reality, the whole situation’s an elaborate ruse set up by Raymond to exploit Mr. Kaplan’s love for Elizabeth. Reddington gets her involved initially by identifying the Debt Collector, after examining the remains of one of his victims. He then implores her to set aside their differences in order to save Keen. Although we’ve believed that Raymond’s been setting things up while traveling in the cargo hold of a ship, he and Dembe have been lying in wait inside the cabin that Grant takes his victims to. Raymond and Dembe got back to the States, via a jet owned by a Prince, who owed Reddington a favor.

Tyson Pryor had no involvement in contracting Grant’s services, Red hired the vigilante to lure Mr. Kaplan. However Raymond doesn’t want to kill Kate, Lizzie’s pleas to spare Mr. Kaplan’s life caused Reddington to reexamine the situation. He sincerely hopes that he can arrange a permanent peace accord with Kate, allowing both of them to walk away and live out the rest of their lives without looking over their shoulders.

Let’s take a look at some key characters, and where they stand heading into the two-hour season finale:

Marvin Gerard: A rather surprising move by Raymond’s lawyer, when visited by Julian Gale and Donald Ressler. Gerard told the pair that he would only speak to Ressler, having watched him as the public face of the Bureau, when Lizzie and Raymond were on the lam. He states that Donald came off as smug, arrogant, and professional, while Gale strikes him as just smug and arrogant. Gale leaves the interrogation room, suspicious of a possible relationship between the pair.

Gerard then threatens to blow the whistle on the Task-Force to Gale, unless Donald arranges for his release. Ressler believes Marvin’s bluffing and would never give Reddington up. Gerard replies that there’s just one person he cares about more than Raymond, himself and his self-preservation instinct’s kicked in. However, does this move now put him directly in Reddington’s crosshairs?

Ressler emerges from the interrogation room, telling Gale he couldn’t get info from Gerard. Julian blows up and accuses Donald of being in cahoots with Gerard and Reddington. The two nearly come to blows, as Ressler tells Gale never to question his veracity.

Donald Ressler/Julian Gale: The “Boy Scout,” starts out the evening under suspension, the result of his shooting a secret service agent while under the influence of Bogdan Krilov’s memory manipulation. Cooper assures him that the matter will get rectified soon, and says that it might be a blessing in disguise, as he can now devote all his time with Julian Gale and stay one step ahead of his investigation. Raymond and Kate keep referencing the Mary Howitt fable, “The Spider And The Fly.” However Gale seems to have entrapped Ressler in his web, culminating in him tailing Donald when Ressler’s summoned to the cabin where Raymond, Lizzie, Dembe, and Kate, plus their assorted teams are gathered.

Perhaps it’s because of all the Russian characters in this series, but Julian Gale reminds me somewhat of Porfiry Petrovitch, the criminal investigator in the Dostoyevsky masterpiece, “Crime And Punishment.” Petrovitch pursues Rodion Raskolnikov, an impoverished student who believes that he’s part of a race of Super Men, and thus above laws made for mere mortals. Testing the bounds of his self-instilled freedom, he murders two elderly women and immediately regrets it.

Petrovitch sincerely believes in the system that he’s dedicated his life to. Gale no longer trusts the system that he works for, put off by the concept of forming alliances with criminals, in order to snare other outlaws. While both men realize that the men they pursue are brilliant, Petrovitch believes that Raskolnikov can be reformed and turned into a productive member of society. Gale carries no such illusions about Reddington, and he’s determined to put him in prison or in the ground.

Although Julian originally recruited Ressler to help him capture Reddington, he’s realized that Donald’s actually part of the team that’s working with Reddington under the auspices of the Justice Department. Gale tails Ressler to the cabin where all are gathered, and attempts to take Reddington out with a rifle from long-range. His shot goes awry, allowing Kate and her goons to escape, and causing Raymond and Lizzie to realize that a new actor has entered the scenario. Gale doesn’t let Ressler know that he’s aware of anything, and Donald doesn’t suspect Gale of being the sniper. It doesn’t seem likely that Gale will survive season four.

Mr. Kaplan: If any hopes remained that Kate would survive her battle against Raymond, they got dashed on the rocks during this episode. After getting assurance from Raymond that he could co-exist with Mr. Kaplan, Liz asked her to make the same vow. Kate’s hatred, proved to be too big an obstacle for her to overcome, and she refused to agree to the treaty. Mr. Kaplan’s now officially a dead woman walking, the only question remaining’s the person who will take her out. More on that later.

Dembe Zuma: The once silent and brooding character’s gotten a voice this season, and he’s proven that he’s far more than Raymond’s muscle. His conversation with Raymond, reflected my perception of the situation at this point. He told Red that he was heartbroken when he heard the shot that Reddington fired at Kate, and when they went home without her. He said he loved Kate, but in her efforts to prove that Raymond’s a monster, she became one herself. She no longer can see things clearly.

When Reddington counters that perhaps he’s the one not seeing things clearly, Zuma tells him he’s wrong. He stresses that they can’t allow Kate to derail their mission, the reason that Raymond surrendered himself to the FBI. He then says that they’ve got to stop Mr. Kaplan, no matter what it takes.

Prediction: I made a prediction on social media, before the Debt Collector aired, and now it’s time to share it with you. I believe that in the final moments of Episode 22, Katarina Rostova will appear and kill Mr. Kaplan to save Raymond. While this is purely conjecture, there are factors behind my theory.

As you likely remember, Alexander Kirk was ready to end Raymond’s life when Reddington whispered something into his ear, that caused him to spare Red’s life. Kirk doesn’t have a sympathetic bone in his body, so Reddington told him something that would benefit him. I believe that Raymond told Kirk, that Katarina Rostov’s still alive and that he’s close to discovering her whereabouts.

When Kathryn Nemec met Annie Kaplan, she told her she just found out her friend had died. She then said she thinks she was her best friend. In a life filled with betrayal, wouldn’t it be poetic justice for Kate to die at the hands of the woman whose final words to Kate were that she loved her? Mr. Kaplan’s destined to die a tragic death, and I can’t think of one more tragic than that.

The Two-Hour Season Finale airs at 9:00pm next Thursday on NBC.

Photo Courtesy Of Will Hart/NBC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo Courtesy Of Will Hart NBC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo Courtesy Of Virginia Sherwood, NBC

WARNING: SPOILER ALERT

The Blacklist,” returned to television with a sprawling two-hour episode, jam-packed with revelations. The evening was split into two separate episodes, the first one entitled “Dembe Zuma, Number 10,” while the second episode’s titled “Requiem.” While the first hour took place in the present, the second episode centered around the past, revealing the history of an integral character in the series. The second hour, provided some answers to long-standing questions, however many questions that fans of the series have remain mysteries. Once again the identity of Elizabeth Keen’s biological father came up, and once again fans walked away from the two-hour extravaganza without a definitive answer.

We’ll be splitting the two episodes into two separate recaps, as there’s far too much information to absorb in just one sitting. The recap of “Requiem.” will soon follow.

Our evening begins with a glimpse of the Metro-DC skyline, before taking us into the shower of Aram Mojtabai. As we see Aram through the glass doors, we watch an unidentified character come into his apartment, and open the bathroom door. Despite the ominous music, we soon realize his guest’s his on-again/off-again girlfriend, Janet Sutherland, who soon joins him in the shower. He asks how she got into the apartment, and she replied he left his front door unlocked. This doesn’t sit well with Mojtabai, as he’s certain that he locked the door, so he puts on his robe to investigate.

Aram’s instincts served him well, discovering he’s got an uninvited visitor. Dembe Zuma tackles him to the ground and soon has him hogtied on the floor. Janet hears a commotion emanating from the living room, so she slips on a towel to investigate. She discovers Aram’s bound and gagged on the floor, then she turns around to see Zuma, who orders her to remain quiet.

Next scene begins with Samar Navabi entering Aram’s apartment, as Donald Ressler and the police are doing a sweep of the premises. She asks Donald if they know where Aram’s at, and Ressler replies they’re still trying to piece things together. He escorts Navabi, into the bedroom and she sees Sutherland sitting on the bed. Jumping to the conclusion that Janet’s involved in Aram’s abduction, she starts to attack her, only to be stopped by Ressler as he explains Sutherland’s a victim and not a suspect.

We find ourselves in Harold Cooper’s office, joined by Raymond and Lizzie. Cooper asks Raymond the status of his investigation into Zuma’s location, after his month-long search. Harold tells Reddington that he and the Bureau are getting involved, as Dembe abducted Aram the night before. Red tries to assure Cooper, that Mojtabai’s not in danger, and that Dembe took a calculated risk, because he needs Aram’s help. Raymond wants to search for Zuma by himself, but Harold insists that Keen accompany him and report back to Cooper.

To avoid detection Dembe switches cars, taking Aram from the trunk of one vehicle, and then ordering him to get into another vehicle’s trunk. Zuma then takes the plates off of the car he abandoned and drives off to parts unknown.

Navabi and Ressler question Sutherland at the Post Office, about the abduction but she’s unable to provide much information, as she got stuffed into a closet. She says that she can track Aram, as he’s got a key-finder on his key ring, which she can access from his work station. Despite her innate distrust of Janet, she convinces Cooper and Ressler to allow Sutherland to use Mojtabai’s computer, as she truly believes the woman’s on their side.

Baz’s replaced Dembe as Raymond’s driver, and Reddington explains to Lizzie that they’re in search of the Sanctum Corporation. He explains to Keen, that it’s “an underground railroad for miscreants.”  Criminals that need to elude the law, or former allies turned enemies, utilize Sanctum Corporation’s services to escape the country and obtain a new identity. Liz asks if Dembe used the services, and Raymond replies that he used them last year, to hide his daughter and granddaughter, after Mr. Solomon poisoned Zuma’s grandchild.

As Raymond and Elizabeth attempt to track down a former client of Sanctum Corporation, Dembe takes Aram to a warehouse district, opens a garage type door revealing one of Reddington’s multitude of lockers stashed across the country. Mojtabai assumes that Zuma wants him to crack the code, so he can steal from Reddington and refuses to do it. Dembe punches in the code and opens the empty locker, and tells Aram he needs his help to find out who stole the contents, as that’s the identity of Raymond’s true enemy.

Aram asks him if he’s trying to help Red, and Dembe acknowledges the fact. He says he gave Raymond the poison drink, but he didn’t poison it. He can’t go back to Raymond until he finds out the identity of that person, who tried to kill Reddington, and sabotaging his operation.

The first man that Liz and Raymond attempt to question Richard Fickman’s been abducted in a bloody skirmish by the time they arrive. Which leads to our first encounter with Glen “Jellybean” Carter of the evening, who promptly tells Reddington that he’s not surprised Dembe went rogue. He said he never bought the strong, silent, brooding act and his fake African accent. He also tells Red that he found their relationship to be “a little Edgar Rice Burroughs”  (creator of Tarzan.) Reddington quickly cuts Jellybean off, and he gets the information he came for, the identity of Fickman’s abductor, an ex-con named Chuck Shaw.

Shaw admits killing Fickman, as repayment for Dr. Sophia Gallup, his prison therapist gaining him parole. Keen checks with the Prison hierarchy and confirms that Gallup’s in charge of the system’s prisons in the Northeast, however the only contact information’s a post office box. They’re able to access the last guy she paroled, Dennis Cauley, who now lives in Richmond, Virginia.

Aram’s only able to access a proprietary address, and tells Dembe that it would take him days to find out the person behind it. Zuma puts the safety on the pistol and tells Aram he can leave and asks forgiveness for his actions. He then slumps to the ground and sits in the alleyway, a defeated man. Mojtabai asks if he’s truly trying to help Reddington, and Dembe responds that he’s got three people in his life, his daughter, his granddaughter, and Raymond. Aram breaks into a grin and says he’s got an idea.

Baz, Liz, and Raymond drive to Cauley’s place, but he’s not there. A quick search of the apartment reveals a dossier on Gallup’s next victim, Alex Soto. Raymond looks at the file and says the man’s real name’s Daniel Nakamoto, a master forger of antiquities that ran afoul against a very powerful gang leader 13-years earlier. Cauley’s notes reveal that he’s usually at a museum at that time of the day.

Raymond sits next to Nakamoto on a bench in the museum, and after a quick round of you’ve got the wrong guy, Reddington reveals that his life’s in danger from the Sanctum Corporation. Nakamoto replies that if they’re truly after him, not even Raymond can help him. He starts to walk away and nearly gets stabbed by Cauley, however Baz takes the ex-con out. In Reddington’s car Nakamoto reveals that the couple behind Sanctum Corporation, Tony and Maria Lopez, ran a honey company in Ohio. They had set up safe houses in various bee colonies they owned. However they died nearly a year before. Raymond thanks him and tells him to pack up his belongings and Red would soon be in touch.

Aram comes up with the name of the person who robbed Reddington, just as Navabi and Ressler arrive on the scene after using the key-finder to track them down. Mojtabai says the woman’s named Kathryn Nemec, and we can see the shock register on Dembe’s face. It’s pretty easy to determine that Kathryn Nemec’s, actually Mr. Kaplan. He says he needs more proof, and Aram helps him elude Ressler and Navabi.

Our second meeting with Glen takes place in a car, as he’s performing his day job as a driving instructor. He tells them to climb into the backseat, and Raymond expresses his disgust at the situation. Jellybean tells them they can speak freely, as his student Ms. Vasquez doesn’t understand a word of English. We soon find out her driving skills are also non-existent. We find out that the Lopez’s died in a fire nine months before, they sold most of their bee farms, but their daughter Vanessa still owned one. Glen says that she’s a therapist, and Liz and Reddington realize that Vanessa Lopez and Sophia Gallup, are the same person.

Lizzie and Raymond head to the bee farm and walk in on Gallup, shirtless and bra-less with bees covering her entire upper torso, looking as if she’s wearing a bee-sweater. Raymond does his best Mr. Spock, as the only thing he can say is fascinating. He soon collects himself and apologizes for barging in, but says time’s of the essence. She assumes Reddington’s one of her parent’s clients, but he corrects her and says he’s looking for a friend.

She tells them that her parents were living a good life running their honey company, when a friend came to them asking for help. Soon another man arrived, and then another, and suddenly their income from Sanctum Corporation, dwarfed the money they made from their legitimate company. They stored all their money in a Vulcan safe in their basement, only the criminals they assisted knew it existed. Nine months earlier, somebody tried cracking the safe with an acetylene torch, burning down the house and leaving her as the only survivor. The bees seem to be the best way of healing her scars from the fire, as their stingers help her skin heal. After Liz calls the Bureau to inform them to arrest the therapist, she and Raymond head to Dembe’s daughter’s new home.

Dembe drives to the spot where Reddington shot Kate, and finds her gone. The burner-phone that he gave to his daughter Isabella, to contact him in case of emergency, rings. He picks it up and Raymond’s on the other end. Red tells him that his activities are making him look very guilty, Zuma counters with we’re both guilty, Raymond. He says she’s not here, and then screams in pain and drops the phone. Our old pal The Tracker’s carrying a crossbow and shot an arrow into Dembe’s calf. He steps on the phone, crushing it and continues after Zuma.

The Tracker finds Dembe on the ground writhing in pain, and he tells him he knows his identity. That he and the fellow in the hat left Kate for dead, but she survived and now he’s going to kill the two of them. He asks where’s his slick-suited pal, and Dembe pulls the arrow out of his calf and jams it into The Tracker’s thigh. As he stops to patch himself up, he calls Kate and leaves a message on her voicemail.

As Liz and Raymond drive off from the bee farm, Keen receives the information that Aram’s safe and that Dembe’s trying to help him. She then tells Reddington that Aram came up with a name, Kathryn Nemec, but she’s listed as disappearing 25-years earlier. Her words cause Raymond’s face to turn stone gray, and he tells Lizzie that’s Mr. Kaplan’s real name.

They soon arrive at the place where they left Kate, and Dembe comes out of the bushes, bleeding badly. Raymond tells Liz to get Dembe to a hospital, while he and Baz hunt for The Tracker. He shoots Baz in the leg with an arrow, but the duo outsmart the hunter, and take him prisoner. They take him to his shack for questioning.

Reddington orders The Tracker to call Kate, but he says it looks like he’s dead either way. Raymond says he truly abhors violence, and only uses it out of necessity. He then jams his pistol up against The Tracker’s forehead and says that this is one of those times. The Tracker hits speed dial and hands the phone to Red, saying that Kate knew he’d underestimate her.

Suddenly Raymond hears a cellphone ringing below them, and through the floorboards he sees it’s connected to explosives. He and Baz get out of the shack just before it erupts in a blaze of glory, The Tracker going out with a huge grin.

Our final scene takes us to Kate walking on a street at night and listening to The Tracker’s message. He tells her he didn’t give her up and refused to go down without a fight. However her war has arrived, so lock and load.

Photo by: Will Hart/NBC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

Raymond Reddington’s watched his universe collapse before his eyes over the last few episodes of the NBC series “The Blacklist.” Red’s seen his organization hemorrhaging millions in capital and long-time friends and associates methodically killed, including his money launderer, and the man that ran his Mediterranean shipping operation  The man that courted death on a daily basis for decades, suddenly became concerned about his own mortality, and he’s vowed not to go gently into the night. Last week Raymond discovered that his enemy’s one of his own, when his banker David Levine, informed him that the money used to pay one of his adversaries came from Red’s own bank account.

The final episode before going on a nearly two-month hiatus, ended with a huge question for Raymond and the show’s fans. By breaking his own moral code, did Reddington alienate one of his oldest friends, to the point that his confidant felt they had no other choice but to take Red out? As we reached the final credits, all the evidence seemed to point in one direction, leading to a conclusion that would completely rock Raymond’s world. Have the creative staff of the show, once again pointed the fans in the wrong direction, or should we believe what we think we witnessed in the episode entitled “The Apothecary?”

Our evening opens with Raymond sitting in a hardback chair in his library, while Dembe pours him a Scotch. Zuma asks Reddington, if he believes it’s wise to gather eleven of Red’s associates in the same location? Raymond responds that one of the group’s a Judas and must be confronted, Dembe counters that Red’s putting himself in a dangerous situation. Reddington drinks his Scotch.

The scene suddenly changes, as a graphic informs us that it’s now nine hours later. Raymond’s lying in a makeshift triage unit, with a mask over his nose and mouth and a doctor telling him to breathe. Reddington asks what’s going on, and the doctor says his name’s Dr. Haverkamp and he’s part of Raymond’s emergency team (Should we take this as a sign that Reddington killed Dr. Nik Korpal, when he thought Lizzie died?) Red asks where’s Dembe, and the physician responds that he doesn’t know who that is. He then says that the man that brought Reddington into the facility, took off when his condition stabilized.

Haverkamp tells Reddington he got poisoned and unless they can identify the toxin, Raymond will die within 48-hours. Haverkamp gives him a bunch of steroids and an inhaler and says the combination will control the symptoms and Raymond unhooks himself from the IV and the monitors and asks for a cellphone. He calls Elizabeth Keen and asks her to gather the Task-Force together to solve a murder.

An ashen-faced and wobbly legged Reddington arrives at the Post Office and Ressler asks what’s wrong? Raymond responds that Donald’s prayers got answered, and he’s apparently dying. He tells the Task-Force members that he believes a member of the Blacklist, known as the Apothecary’s responsible for the toxin that’s killing him. The Apothecary’s a man that creates designer poisons specifically targeted to each victim. His toxins can mimic brain-embolisms, strokes and heart-attacks. Sometimes the poisons immediately kill the victims, while other strains, put the victim into a prolonged coma. He then informs them that a building contractor named Panetti, may have recently used the drug maker’s services, to put one of his employees into a coma.

We get our first view of The Apothecary, as he’s handling snakes and extracting their venom for his designer toxins. We then see him leave his lab, and enter his bedroom, where he takes off his lab-suit and strips down to a tank-top. We see a nearly comatose woman lying on their bed and the drug maker lies down next to her, and tells her all will be fine and he hasn’t given up on her. We see tears falling from the woman at the sounds of his words.

Reddington goes off in search of Zuma, while Ressler and Keen talk to the District Attorney about Panetti. The D.A. says that he’s been attempting to bring charges against the construction magnet for years, but he lacked the evidence. However Panetti got greedy and fire-bombed a competitor’s facilities and Panetti’s accountant Helen Dahle, agreed to testify against him, saying she wrote a check to the people that were responsible for the bombing. However with Dahle in a coma, he’s got no case. Liz tells the District Attorney that she and Ressler need to contact the victim’s doctors.

Raymond takes out a burner phone and tries contacting all those who were with him at the restaurant the night before, but he only gets their voice-mails. He then pays Dr. Haverkamp a visit, in the physician’s hospital and Haverkamp freaks out that somebody might see them together. He pulls them into a patient’s room and Red asks him about Dembe, Haverkamp responds that the only thing he remembers was that he drove a green station wagon that he parked outside the facility. Reddington finds the car, breaks into it and finds the registration. He then drives the vehicle to the address on the form.

The Apothecary’s keeping the woman, who we learn is his wife, sedated so she can’t run away again. However he gives her a way to call him, by tying a string on her finger that’s attached to a bell. When she moves her finger, the bell rings. He then puts an inhaler in her mouth, that puts her back to sleep.

Elizabeth and Donald, meet with Helen’s doctor, who tells the pair she thought that Dahle reacted from a nut allergy, but the medicine she used to treat her patient made her worse. Liz notices Helen’s husband and parents sitting outside her room and the two agents go and talk with them.

Helen’s husband Robert says that his wife had dinner with a friend from college, and then lapsed into a coma. He says that the police already cleared the friend, so they believe Panetti’s behind her poisoning. He then says that Helen’s parents had kept a constant vigil outside his wife’s room, but that he had gone to a hotel in Sarasota Springs last weekend on his own to get away and sort things out. He then begs the agents to find the person responsible.

Samar meets with Panetti and his attorney. The builder denies trying to murder Dahle and says her testimony wouldn’t have hurt him in court. Helen did indeed write a check to the people responsible for the fire-bombing, but the attorney says the check got cut so that Panetti’s business didn’t suffer the same fate. Panetti then says that he likes Helen, and if Navabi and the Bureau don’t find the ones responsible for her being in a coma, he will.

Raymond arrives at the address on the registration and finds the home’s front door’s ajar. He pulls out his pistol and calls out hello, he then sees signs of a scuffle, and his fedora on the floor. He puts on his hat and walks into the garage, where a car’s parked and we hear someone whimpering in the trunk. Reddington opens it, and finds a young woman inside, bound with duct tape over her mouth. He asks her who put her in the truck, and she responds by asking him if he’s playing a sick joke? She then informs Red, that he put her in there.

Aram tracks Panetti’s check and finds out it went to a non-existent charity, and then got sent through an elaborate money-laundering setup, making it untraceable. Liz did some digging and finds out that Robert Dahle, wasn’t alone in Sarasota Springs, as surveillance footage of him at the front desk of the hotel show him getting cozy with what appears to be his mistress. Cooper tells Ressler and Keen, to track down the girlfriend and try to get her to talk.

Raymond tries to get information from the young woman he took prisoner, after apologizing for his actions. She tells him that he’d been very polite given the circumstances. She then says that Red and his friend had broken into the apartment across the hall from her, and she called the cops. She then told the duo what she did and Reddington told her she was coming along with them in his car’s trunk. Red then nearly passes out and the young woman, named Lulu tries to escape, but Raymond gets to the door and asks for her help.

Ressler and Keen bring in Robert’s mistress, a woman named Brooklyn in for questioning. Ressler says that Dahle told them she poisoned Helen, but she denies it and says she wanted nothing to do with it. She says that the only thing she knows, is that he gives her the toxin twice a week. We see Robert in the hospital, opening Helen’s eye and putting drops from the Toxin into it. The mistress says she can tell the agents where the toxin’s hidden.

Liz and Donald, head to Robert’s home with a search warrant and find their suspect’s taking a bath. He stands up and Keen says that he best get dressed, unless he wants to go to jail naked. They find the poison, and inform Dahle they’re aware of the prenuptial agreement he signed, that keeps him from getting any money until their tenth anniversary, coming up in two weeks.

Raymond and Lulu, break into a pharmacy in search of steroids and another inhaler. Lulu finds both and Raymond takes some of the pills, but before he can use the inhaler he collapses on the drug store’s floor. Lulu doesn’t abandon Reddington, instead she brings him back to her apartment. After she gets some pills in him he returns to lucidity and thanks her for saving his life. She tells him that while he’d been comatose, she discovered the owner of the apartment across the hall, is Red’s attorney Marvin Gerard.

The apartment actually belongs to Gerard’s fiancée Becky, when Lulu and Red enter the apartment, it appears the couple left the place in a rush. Raymond notices there’s a message on the answering machine, he plays it to hear his own voice, telling Marvin that everybody’s gathered at a restaurant called John’s and are waiting for him. Lulu says she knows where the restaurant’s located and can take Raymond there, but he says he’s caused her enough trouble and tells her to take off. She wishes him the best.

The Bureau’s lab analyzes the toxin and it contains the venom of a very rare breed of snake. Aram’s located the only known member of the breed in the States, it’s the property of a defunct reptile farm in Pennsylvania. Aram tells Keen and Ressler, that records show the former operator, Asa Hightower still lives in an apartment on the property. The two agents head to check the facility out.

Raymond heads to John’s, and finds the kitchen door’s been barricaded with a coat rack. He removes the wooden rack and opens the kitchen doors, to find ten of the associates he summoned inside. While they are angrier than a bunch of wet-hens, Red’s banker David Levine and his money launderer Abe, try to fill in the blanks in Reddington’s memory. Raymond was in the midst of telling the group a parable about betrayal, when he realized that Marvin Gerard, wasn’t among them. He then sent the restaurant staff home and demanded his associates go into the kitchen.

Levine starts to pour himself a glass of wine, but Red slaps the glass from his hand. He informs his associates that he got poisoned, and asks the group if the wine he drank came from one of the bottles on the table? A young attractive woman tells  Reddington, that the waiter poured his glass from another bottle and gives it to Red. There’s a note on the bottle, apologizing for not being there, signed by Marvin Gerard.

Ressler and Keen arrive at the Hightower’s apartment, but Asa’s not there. They do however hear a bell ringing and they follow it to the bedroom and discover Mrs. Hightower. They call paramedics to treat her, as the two agents look around the facility.

Raymond calls Keen and tells her he’s sending the wine containing the poison to her. Elizabeth tells Reddington that he’s going to be fine, but suddenly Raymond goes into a coughing jag and collapses on the floor while he’s on the phone with Lizzie.

Mrs. Hightower’s become more lucid since the paramedics treated her and she starts talking to the two agents. She informs them that her husband raped her, while she was comatose and got her pregnant. She tells them that she believes her husband’s at a baby-supply store, to find a mobile for the nursery he put together. Lizzie phones Aram and she and Ressler travel to the nearest baby-supply shop. After Hightower tries to take the sales clerk hostage, Keen knocks him to the floor with a table made for toddlers.

Navabi and Ressler question Hightower and he tells them he’s willing to cut a deal. Take the death-penalty off the table and he’ll tell them how to cure Reddington. Navabi asks The Apothecary if he’s afraid of death, and Asa responds that he’s not, however now he’s got something to live for. Even in a prison cell, he’ll still be a father.

Raymond’s being treated with the antidote back at the triage unit. Haverkamp comes out and tells Liz, Cooper and Aram, that he doesn’t want to raise false hopes, but Reddington’s stabilized and the antidote seems to be working just fine. Keen asks if they can go and see him, but Haverkamp says they should give him a few minutes to recover.

We see Raymond coming to, and in through the back door slip Baz and Glen. Reddington asks if they found Gerard, and Glen says they found “the little weasel,” at the airport with Becky, heading to the South Seas. Raymond asks about Dembe, but Baz gives him a look that Red recognizes as he’s still M.I.A. He gives Baz an address and tells him to bring Marvin there and he’ll meet them later.

Lizzie gets a call from the Bureau’s lab, telling her that the wine Raymond sent to her didn’t contain any of the toxin. She goes into the triage unit to inform him, only to find that Reddington left the facility without informing anybody that he took off.

Raymond’s back in his library , this time joined by one of his goons and a bound Marvin Gerard. Red’s lawyer asks what’s going on, and Reddington replies he’s not falling for Marvin’s innocent act, and asks where Dembe’s at? Gerard says he hasn’t seen Dembe, and he’s got no idea what’s bothering Reddington. Raymond tells him that he knows all about The Apothecary, and that Marvin’s the one who hired him and Isabella Stone. Red then talks about being held in a South Seas prison for 47-days, thinking he’d die there. On the 48th day, the gates swung open and Raymond was given two tins of Beluga caviar, that Marvin had somehow gotten to him, even though Gerard was also in prison.

Reddington says he’d been so touched by the gesture, that he arranged for Marvin to get released from prison. Gerard says he realizes all of that, hence he’d have no reason to betray Red. Reddington says they’ll get to Gerard’s motivation later, but right now he wants to know Dembe’s location and pulls out his pistol.

Just then Raymond’s goon comes back into the room and gives Red the cellphone, telling him Elizabeth’s on the other end. Keen tells Reddington that the wine didn’t contain the poison, and the toxin would need a higher alcohol content than wine to get released within Raymond’s system. She asks if he might have had some whiskey that day, and Reddington’s mind flashes back to the Scotch he had at the beginning of the episode. Raymond says that’s impossible, that only two people had access to that bottle, and he was one of them.

The scene shifts one last time, to a busy city street as Bob Dylan’s “All Along The Watchtower,” plays on the soundtrack. “There must be some way to get out of here, said the joker to the thief,” plays in the background as we watch Dembe Zuma enter the subway, pulling the hood of his coat over his head.

The Story Resumes Thursday, April 20, at 10:00 pm on NBC.