Fisher Stevens

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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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo by: 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.

Photo Courtesy Of NBC

Photo Courtesy Of NBC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC

Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo Courtesy Of NBC

Photo Courtesy Of NBC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

Raymond Reddington must be an amazing chess player, due to his ability to think 10-12 moves ahead of his opponent. That skill served him well as he eluded the FBI and other Law Enforcement Agencies, before making a deal with the Bureau two years ago. That gift’s going to be crucial for Red to obtain his goal in season three of the NBC series “The Blacklist,” clearing Lizzie Keen’s name and restoring her reputation. Possibly getting her reinstated at the Bureau, but at the very least getting Keen her life back.

Prepare yourself for a long battle, this situation’s not going to straighten out in the next few episodes. Keen and Ressler won’t be sharing drinks at the FBI Task Force Christmas party, if they ever share them again. The second episode dealt with Reddington getting a strategic piece of his plan in place. His move won’t help he and Liz next week, it’s a long-term maneuver, also helping a victim of the justice system gain their freedom.

The action kicks off minutes after the conclusion of the previous episode, as Liz Keen’s seeking refuge in the Russian Embassy. A middle-management type starts questioning her and she demands to speak with the official in charge, the guy tries to stall her so she stands up in front of the security camera. She looks directly into the and says her name’s Masha Rostova and she’s a deep-cover agent for the Russian Spy Agency the FSB. She says she’s completed her assignment and now seeks asylum. Two men watch her on a monitor behind a closed-door and one picks up the phone.

The Russian Ambassador to the United States is engaging in a little afternoon-delight with the wife of a US Senator, whose also a TV News Anchor. The two are having fun in the tub when his cellphone rings, he goes out to answer it and sees Red sitting in his hotel-room holding a pistol at him. The Ambassador starts to call his security team, when Raymond suggests the Kremlin wouldn’t look kindly on the scandal that getting caught with his shower-mate would cause. Reddington tells the Ambassador he wants real-time reports on every move Lizzie makes while in the Embassy.

Ressler and Samar Navabi are with an FBI SWAT-Team outside of the Embassy and Ressler’s boiling mad. Navabi tells him that the State Department’s requested that they send Keen outside, but they’ve refused. Donald says if a Middle-Eastern Terrorist was in the Embassy they’d go in guns blazing, Samar reminds Ressler that Keen doesn’t fit that description.

Inside the Embassy Alexander Raskovich, the head of the FSB for North and South America, introduces himself to Keen. He tells her he knows the names and faces of all of his agents and she’s not one of them. So he asks her what she really wants and she tells him that she and Russia have been falsely accused of treacherous acts by the Cabal. She tells him the purpose of the Cabal’s to reignite the Cold-War between Russia and the USA. He tells her he’ll speak to his superiors in Moscow and for her to relax.

The Ambassador tells Red that Liz will get granted immunity, but they’re transferring her to Moscow. Reddington realizes that it’s a set-up by the Cabal and Liz will get killed before she makes it to Russia. He calls Ressler and tells him to make sure she doesn’t leave the Embassy. Donald tells him it’s too late they just took off and Raymond tells him the man that arranged for Russian agent Karakurt into the USA is behind this flight. Ressler realizes that Lizzie’s going to get killed unless he can stop her from getting to the airport. To confirm that to the viewers we see one of the security guys calling Mr. Solomon and telling him the package’s being delivered.

Donald starts ramming the limousine from the side with his SUV, the security guy in the back with Keen tries to shoot him but Liz wrestles away the gun. The driver crashes into a cement barricade and Ressler leaves his vehicle to try to retrieve Keen. Ressler and the security guy are aiming at each other when Keen takes out the security guy from behind, when Donald finishes his fight with another guy, Lizzie’s run away on foot. She heads to a park and punches in her location into her cellphone and perhaps Mr. Kaplan sent her an address to head to.

Deputy Attorney General Reven Wright’s trying to convince Task Force Director Harold Cooper to resign from the FBI. She says the Bureau will give him his full pension and retirement benefits and they’ll decline to file charges against him. Wright says that even if Harold wins by some miracle, he’ll finish out his career as a pencil pusher in some out-of-the-way locale. Reven says Harold deserves better than that and he says that’s right, he does.

The address leads Liz to a diner where Red’s already seated in a booth. In the booth ahead of him an abusive husband’s starting to get rough verbally with his wife. He notices Red’s glaring and asks what you looking at old man? Keen walks in at that second, which likely stops a confrontation from occurring. Raymond asks her if she’s okay and she says she’s not that Ressler just tried to kill her. Reddington informs her that Donald actually saved her life, if she’d gotten on that plane she’d be dead within hours.

Suddenly we can hear the wife telling her husband he’s hurting her and Red glares again, while Liz turns around to see what’s going on. The guy again screams at Reddington and Keen to mind their own business. Raymond gets up from his booth and walks over to the couple’s booth and starts to sit down next to the husband. The dude says you’re dead old man, then turns white when he realizes Red’s got a pistol pressed into his gut.

Raymond says to the guy that he’s obviously clueless about how to talk to a lady but he and his friend are having an important conversation. He concludes that the guy should finish his muffin, but if Red hears him say anything to his wife other than please or thank you, he’ll drag him into the restroom and wash his mouth out with soap. If that doesn’t work he’ll cut out his filthy tongue with the butter knife on the table.

Aram Mojtabai receives a tip where Liz and Red are and they all head to the diner where they’ll coordinate with the SWAT Team.  Red and Liz see the police cruisers pull up in front of the diner and checks and sees they’re behind the diner as well. He goes into his dufflebag and pulls out a shotgun and shoots out all the lights and windows on the cruiser. He then locks the diner’s doors and apologizes to all the diners, he says if everybody remains calm and in their places they’ll have a great story to share at parties.

The driver of the limousine from the Russian Embassy’s the same guy that called Mr. Solomon and as he recuperates in the hospital, Solomon pays him a visit. He injects the guy with some toxin and the man starts convulsing and soon dies quickly after. One less person who can possibly tell the FBI and the Justice Department about the Cabal.

The SWAT-Team and the FBI Task Force converge on the diner and Ressler puts his pistol down on the hood of a car and says he’s heading in there. He goes to the front door and Red’s got all the occupants forming a human-shield across the windows and doors. Donald starts calling for Liz and Reddington heads to the door toting his shotgun and tells Ressler to get a pen and paper for his list of demands. Donald keeps talking to Keen saying he knows she won’t hurt anybody. Red puts the shotgun to a young man’s head and says that he will.

Raymond tells Donald he’s got three demands, that he restore power to the diner, that he get them an armored vehicle that will give them safe passage to any airport of his choosing. His third demand’s to get him Marvin Gerard, they’ve got 90-minutes or Reddington will start killing a person every half hour.

We find out from Navabi that Gerard’s a former attorney in prison for kidnapping his son. He arrives in a police-van wearing his orange-prison jumpsuit. Samar asks him if he’s apprised of the situation and he responds he got pulled out of his cell thrown into a van and treated roughly, but received no explanation. She tells him Reddington wants to engage his services and wants him to wear the jacket, pants, shirt and tie he provided. The FBI wants him to wear a wire, he says he’s going to ask me right away and I’m going to say yes but he agrees to wear it.

Gerard gets to the door and tells Raymond he’s got a parole hearing next week and this will ruin his chances of getting paroled. Red sets him up in a booth with a laptop and tells him to go through the contents of the Fulcrum and see if he can find anything to use against the Cabal. Liz asks Reddington why he brought him there and Red replies that Gerard’s the best at doing what makes lawyers so loathsome, finding loopholes.

Red then tells Liz the real story of Marvin Gerard. A brilliant young-man he graduated at the top of his class from a prestigious law-school and was the youngest man named as a federal judge. He had the perfect life, but then his marriage broke up and his wife started abusing their son. Gerard tried to go through every legal channel to gain custody of his son, but his ex-wife came from a very influential family. Then a friend of her wife started giving the teen barbiturates and other pills and the kid soon got strung out. Gerard kidnapped his son to save him.

However he soon got tracked down, the boy was returned to his mother and Gerard got disbarred and imprisoned. A year later their son hung himself and died at the age of just 15. This was not a case of justice getting served, this was the system working against a father to save his son’s life.

Some of the diners are starting to get edgy and the abusive husband makes the stupid mistake of trying to get Liz’s gun tucked into the back of her pants. Lizzie beats the crud out of the guy and halls off and whacks the diner’s owner when he tries to pull her off. Keen then keeps kicking the guy in the ribs until Reddington points the shotgun at her and yells that’s enough. Liz immediately aims at Raymond he walks over to her and slowly takes the pistol out of her hand. Keen looks around the diner and sees all the customers looking at her and recoiling in horror.

Reddington calls Ressler and asks what’s going on with his other two demands and tells Donald he’s got sixty seconds to restore the power to the building. He thinks Reddington’s bluffing, but the SWAT-Team commander orders they get turned on. He shows Ressler and Navabi his rescue plan and says it’ll cause little collateral damage, Samar says they can’t endanger any of the hostages.

The woman starts crying that her husband can’t breath and Reddington says Liz likely broke some ribs and may have punctured a lung. She tries to help but the woman tells her to stay away from her husband and she looks totally terrified. Liz backs off and shrinks into a corner.

Gerard calls Red over and tells him to read four lines from one of the documents. Reddington reads it and looks incredulously at Marvin and asks if that can be correct. Marvin says it looks like it to him and Red’s jazzed that he’s got something to use.

The woman says her husband’s getting worse and Lizzie says that he needs medical attention. Raymond says that within half an hour he’ll be in Ressler’s hands and tells her they’re leaving. He then tells all the customers that their afternoon together has concluded and has them all walk into a walk-in refrigerator. The diner’s owner, his waitress, Red, Keen and Gerard go into a walk-in freezer that has a hidden wall. Behind that’s an elevator which takes them to some money-laundering operation the diner’s owner runs. Soon Gerard, Liz and Red are out on the street blocks from the diner.

Marvin says to Reddington this will delay him getting parole for another ten-years and now his fiancé will leave him. Raymond asks Gerard if he likes Tahiti and then tells him that’s where he and his fiancée will now live on a banana farm Reddington owns. He tells Marvin he’s a free man and he’s going to keep finding nuggets in the Fulcrum, right then a limousine pulls up with Marvin’s fiancée in it.

Keen and Reddington are drinking some brandy in what looks to be a very posh apartment somewhere in the Metro-D.C. area. He tells Lizzie they put an important piece in place, they’re not going to fight their way out, they have to think their way out.

Keen says she can’t stop thinking about the man she pummeled or the way his wife looked at her. She said she’s never seen that kind of terror in someone’s eyes and asks Raymond how he deals with people being intimidated and scared by him. Red chuckles and says when he was a boy he dreamed of becoming a sea-captain, Liz asks why he didn’t pursue it. He says we don’t have time for every silly idea we think of and Keen says she thinks he would have made a great captain.

Red smiles at her and says he can understand her being concerned with how people perceive her. However he says if it gives her any consolation, when he sees her… He smiles and she does as well as we hear Graham Nash singing the CSN&Y classic Our House. Red throws open the door to the night sky filled with stars and water below them, they’re actually living in a storage container on the waterfront. He points out Polaris to Lizzie and says that’s how ancient sea-captains found their way home. He tells her when he looks at her he sees his way home.

The story doesn’t conclude with the lovely montage. The music fades out as the camera focuses on Mr. Solomon whose taking his shirt off. He says your granddaughter received the antidote, now you need to give something to me. He reaches into a bag and pulls out a sock and starts filling it with billiard-balls. He says nobody knows where Red’s hiding, but I bet you do. The camera pans to Dembe, tied up on the floor as Solomon starts swinging the sock.

Still not finished, Ressler’s walking into his apartment when he feels a presence behind him and turns around with his weapon drawn. The figures wearing a gray hoodie like Liz wore and in the shadows he can’t make out the person’s face at first. Suddenly he focuses on the face and realizes it’s Tom Keen. Tom says we have to talk and Ressler lowers his weapon.

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