Grant Koo

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Photo By: David Giesbrecht/NBC

Photo By: David Giesbrecht/NBC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

 “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”

 Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

If you’ve never had the pleasure of reading the Tolstoy classic, I’d recommend it highly, for fans of the NBC series “The Blacklist.” A key component of the novel’s plot revolves around an aristocratic woman leaving her husband and children for a dashing soldier from the Russian Army, Count Vronsky. Don’t settle for a cinematic rendition, as none of them do the book justice. However as Tolstoy notes, each dysfunctional family has its own unique collection of baggage and the nuclear and extended family of Elizabeth Keen, certainly stands out from the rest.

We begin the episode however with a group of strangers, as we watch four paramilitary frogmen emerge from the water in the dead of night. The four operatives take out a power station that controls the electricity for Savannah, Georgia, they kill the three security guards on the premises and then set explosive charges. The blast destroys the facility and plunges the city into darkness.

Liz and Tom arrive at the Post Office with Ressler, and Liz asks why she can’t help in the investigation of her own daughter getting kidnapped. Donald, tells her that she’s lost her security clearance when she lost her shield, then out of frustration tells the Keens’ to check things out as he’s already broken laws by showing them what he’s already shared.

As Tom and Lizzie look through the documents, Aram and Samar walk into the Post Office and Mojtabai says you’re back and then walks over and gives Liz a hug and tells her he’s glad she’s okay. Keen says she’s sorry and she didn’t mean to hurt anybody, but Navabi responds she believes Liz failed to think whom she was hurting. Aram tries to make peace, but Keen owns up to it and says she was trying to save her daughter and hopes they can understand that. Liz receives a call from Reddington to set up a meeting.

Keen meets Dembe and Reddington in a cemetery, which strikes Liz as odd. Raymond muses who Mr. Kaplan has buried in a certain grave, when Liz asks where’s Mr. Kaplan. Red avoids the question and says that he’s doing his best to find Agnes and he hopes to return the infant to her mother. She asks Reddington if he has any leads, he confirms that he does, however he’s working this case alone. Keen says she understands that Reddington feels betrayed, but this involves her daughter and if Raymond has any information he has to share it with her, to which Red replies no he doesn’t.

However Reddington relents and tells Keen that he expected Kirk would go underground after the FBI raided his estate, but his sources tell him differently. Apparently Constantin Rostov contacted a young venture capitalist named Miles McGrath. McGrath’s what the tech world refers to as an “Incubator,” criminals pitch their schemes to him and if he believes there’s a profit to be made, he bankrolls the enterprise. He’ll be spending the night in London and Reddington intends on contacting him there.

Keen informs the Task Force what Reddington shared with her, and that he doesn’t want to work with the Bureau on this mission. Harold Cooper, decides he doesn’t like that strategy and he tells Aram to contact the London attaché office and to get eyes on McGrath. The decision doesn’t work out as Cooper expected.

We see glimpses of a London disco, then we join McGrath, his bodyguard and one of the frogmen, a guy named Dean Bradley. Bradley tells the tech genius that all went better than planned in their mission in Savannah, and Miles grins and says it appears they’re ready for stage two.

As Bradley leaves the hotel and gets into his car, two London detectives take photos of Bradley and start sending the images to the Bureau. However suddenly there’s a knock on the driver’s side window and the body-guard kills the two men plus another law enforcement official and destroys the laptop in the middle of the transmission.

We’re transported to the country and we start to hear the moans and groans of Mr. Kaplan. There’s blood on the ground and we see some on her face, but we really can’t see how much damage she suffered. Suddenly she stretches her arm out and grabs for her glasses, which has one of the lenses cracked.

Liz and Tom head to Bureau headquarters and try to get some information on Agnes and Rostov, the agent they deal with says that an Agent Sarvino’s working the case and that he’s tied up presently. Liz and Tom pull off a sting, palming the agent’s key card as Liz says she needs to get some air. She then calls Sarvino and pretends she’s the other agent’s assistant and asks for Sarvino to meet the Keens’ in a conference room. It’s a dodge to get Lizzie into Sarvino’s office, and she takes photographs of lots of files and absconded Katarina’s journal. She then gets Tom and thanks the agent for his time and they exit the building.

We watch Kate crawling on her hands and knees until she gets to a creek. She looks at her reflection in the water and gasps. I tried my best to get a visible screen capture of her image, but alas failed to do so, although there did appear to be damage on the right-side of her skull or face.

Aram’s able to get a partial photograph of Dean Bradley from the e-mail sent from London, unfortunately they’re unable to question the former Navy SEAL, as McGrath had one of his operatives take Bradley out while he was jogging. Miles tells Johan Halbeck, the paramilitary leader he couldn’t guarantee that Bradley would remain quiet about their mission. Halbeck asks where he’s going to pick up another guy on such short notice and McGrath says that’s Johan’s problem.

Ressler and Raymond start to put the pieces together during a phone call, once Bradley’s record as a SEAL becomes known. Donald tells Reddington about four frogmen attacking the power station in Savannah, and Red suddenly realizes the frogmen are likely operatives of his old associate Johan Halbeck. Reddington used Halbeck to recover a watch he lost during a romantic tryst.

Raymond and Dembe show up at Johan’s garage and Reddington attempts to convince Halbeck to dump his client for twice as much as he would collect from the client. Halbeck says that he really wishes he could, be he’s partners with this other guy on the deal and it’s turned into a nightmare. Raymond says it sounds like Martin and Lewis, and Johan has no idea Reddington’s referencing Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis.

Halbeck then says that the partner killed one of his men and Raymond says that Johan should walk away from the deal. He says most times he’d try to find him a replacement, but he’s freaked out by this situation and tells Halbeck to contact him when he gets things straightened out. Johan then asks Raymond if he could possibly get a guy and Reddington replies it depends on what his cut would be. The new man joining Johan’s team’s Tom Keen, which Keen gets accepted to after winning a fight with one of the other crew members.

We rejoin Mr. Kaplan as she’s discovered by a dog and the animal’s owner, we never see the person we’re just aware of their presence.

Lizzie reads from Katarina’s journal and she finds out that Katarina’s mission was to seduce and betray Reddington, instead she fell in love with him. Suddenly sees a vision of Katarina writing in her journal at her dressing table and she walks towards the vision. When she gets off the bed, Tom wakes up and asks if she’s okay, she tells him of the irony of the situation, that Katarina had been assigned to Reddington and Tom was assigned to her. She then begs him to be careful, she says lost Agnes and couldn’t stand losing him as well. Tom says soon she’ll have Tom and Agnes back with her.

Halbeck tells his team there will be four security guards, guarding the payload they want to acquire, two in front and two in the back. Ressler and Navabi are tailing the paramilitary unit but then they lose them, the unit’s not going after a truck, it’s target’s a train. There are no trains scheduled to run in that time period, but this is an unscheduled event. The train’s filled with six vats containing samples of every Type A virus known to humanity, Ebola, HIV, Polio and at least 50 more strains of disease. That was why the frogmen took out the power in Savannah, knowing the government would ship it out of the city because they were only using generators for more than 72 hours.

Suddenly all communication they’re receiving from the train drops off and the train’s no longer visible, as if it just vanished into thin air. However Navabi and Ressler at the scene discover a split in the track and a warehouse set where the train’s unloading the deadly toxins. Halbeck give’s McGrath’s goon the sample he requested, the goon’s going to meet Miles at a drinking establishment called the Lodge. Johan then gives Reddington McGrath’s name and his location and tells him he should shoot the tech genius.

Raymond and Dembe surprise Miles and his enforcer at the bar and Raymond demands that McGrath hand over the sample. The arrogant nerd tells Reddington to screw himself and Raymond kills the enforcer with a bullet to the heart, then asks Miles, you were saying?

McGrath wisely chooses to give up Rostov and the sample to Raymond, telling the Concierge Of Crime, he deduced his best way of leaving the bar alive depended on giving Reddington what he wanted. Raymond tells Miles’ that his luck wasn’t as good as he hoped and handcuffs McGrath to the corpse and tells him the Bureau’s on its way.

Dembe and Reddington head to the location but nobody from Rostov’s group is waiting, they’re about to leave when a payphone in the parking lot rings. Raymond picks it up congratulating Kirk and he in turn congratulates Reddington. Raymond offers to trade Rostov the virus for Agnes, but Constantin says he’ll die before he allows his granddaughter to be back in Raymond’s arms.

While Liz awaits word from Reddington, she reads further into Katarina’s journal and discovers her mother’s entry confirming that her husband has the blood disorder that’s plagued the Rostov clan for generations. Katarina says the only saving grace is Masha won’t inherit the disease as it’s only passed from father’s to sons. She once again envisions Katarina in front of her and grabs for her mother’s hand, when a knock at the door brings her back to reality.

Raymond enters and tells Liz and Tom that Rostov was after a sample of the Ribowski virus which causes Leukemia. Apparently the one male member of the Rostov family that lived the longest had contracted the virus and the Leukemia basically counteracted his blood disorder and lived far longer than other family members.

Raymond then says to Liz that she kept asking why her father wanted physical contact with her and the only reason was for her to give him the bone marrow transplant to cure his disease and save his life. He says Kirk didn’t want Lizzie to keep him from Reddington, he just wanted her for his own purposes. He only thinks of her as a collection of cells. She says well Rostov doesn’t have her, but Tom reminds her he’s got Agnes.

Our last vision is seeing Kate being dragged on a makeshift stretcher as the dog and the dog’s owner appear to be trying to help Mr. Kaplan.

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

Photo Courtesy of NBC

Photo Courtesy of NBC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

We’ve been introduced to some pretty creepy characters during the three seasons of the NBC series “The Blacklist,” including “The Stewmaker” in the show’s first year and Matthew the giant bald-headed taxidermist featured in the “Mombasa Cartel,” last year.  We can now add a religious order to the list of folks you’d want to avoid in dark alleys after meeting the disciples of “The Vehm,” a religious vigilante group that originated in the German territories in the 15th Century. Their first time around they tortured people for blasphemy and witchcraft, this generation of zealots have a new target, punishing others that committed the same crimes they served prison-sentences for.

I try to stay away from engaging in generalities, however I have to admit that I perceive any zealot with a mixture of fear and disdain. The only thing that troubles me more than a zealot would be a former sinner that’s now repented and become a zealot. If you’ve found happiness and fulfilment in conquering a bad habit, or you believe you’ve found the answer to secret of life in religion then I’m happy for you. However don’t try to push your agenda down my throat, or I’ll keep my distance from you.

Of course the previous episode ended with the bombshell of Lizzie Keen’s pregnancy coming to light and just like every aspect of the former FBI agent’s life, things are complicated. Will Elizabeth keep her child and if she does, whose she going to choose to help her raise her newborn, her former husband and the baby’s father Tom Keen, or Liz’s self-designated protector/controller Raymond Reddington? If she remains as an adviser for the FBI Task-Force can she be a good/nurturing/loving mother? If she decides to runaway with Tom and raise the child in a new life, can that family be safe?

The action opens in unfamiliar territory with a circus clown leaving a suburban children’s party. The mother throwing the fun-fest runs after the clown to give him a tip and thank him for the entertainment. He drives off in his car listening to Gary Lewis and the Playboys “Everybody Loves A Clown,” as he drives away and removes his greasepaint. Suddenly he realizes he’s gotten barricaded by about four other vehicles and he pulls to a screeching halt. A group of young powerful looking men break his car windows and pull him from his car screaming into their van.

We then watch the men go through what looks like a purification ceremony, they’ve all got shaved head and eyebrows. We see the clown tied up on the floor with some sort of iron torture-mask on his face and we watch as the zealots pour molten metal into an aperture on the front of the mask and the clown screams in agony.

Lizzie’s compiling a pros/cons list as she attempts to decide whether to take off with Tom and raise their child in a new life, or give the child up for adoption and maintain the life she’s living when Tom comes into her new apartment with breakfast for the two of them. Tom informs her he got an offer for a teaching job in Boston and wants Liz to join him, she starts to say she can’t and he asks her to think about it. She’s heading to work so he tells her he’ll tidy up before he takes off. Amongst the get-well cards sent to her from her co-workers for the three broken ribs she suffered when a stranger beat her up in a grocery-store parking lot and left her unconscious, Tom finds Liz’s pro/con list.

At the Post Office Raymond and Aram address the Task-Force about their new target. Red explains that an associate of his Edward Weston was murdered by an unknown assailant and by an unknown method until earlier that morning. That’s when authorities recovered the body of the clown William Dowd under the 14th St. Bridge. Aram says both victims got killed by the same instrument, known as a lead-sprinkler which can either burn a victim to death with external or internal injuries. Dowd was forced to swallow a bunch of molten-lead which lead to a painful end.

Reddington notices Ressler’s not paying attention and asks if he’s dozing off and Donald asks where Liz’s at, Raymond says she’s likely home recuperating. However he’s proven wrong seconds later when to everyone’s surprise she arrives apologizing she’s late and thanking them for their cards. She then asks what’s the agenda and Red says the Holy Vehm, disciples of a 15th Century group of religious vigilantes who punished those they thought guilty of high-crimes against the church. Keen suggests they contact lead distributors to see if they can track down the cult that way.

Liz tells Raymond she’s pregnant and he says he’s realized that for weeks, due to her appearance, eating habits and mood-swings. She says she knew in the back of her mind for a while but couldn’t face it with the Cabal out to get her. She brought home a HPT but threw it away without using it, Raymond says this could be an inconvenient time to have a child. She tells him she hasn’t told Tom yet as he’s trying to get his new life in order.

Time to praise one of my favorite young actors who played a guest role in this episode, as Anthony Carrigan portrayed one of the cult members Harris Holt. Anthony’s a regular on the FOX series Gotham, as he chews the scenery portraying my favorite psychopath assassin Victor Zsasz. Carrigan plays Zsasz completely over the top, as a man who truly enjoys the art of killing. He’s also displayed a ghoulish sense of humor, like when he used a freshly severed head as a ventriloquist’s dummy. (Bottle Of Beer Boss?)

Carrigan showed his range as an actor in this role, playing the cult member as far more restrained than the character he plays regularly but just as menacing. Holt puts on prosthetic eyebrows and a wig to blend into society and then goes to a church for confession. He enters the confessional booth and begs for forgiveness for murdering two men in the week since his last confession. The Priest praises the cult-member saying that the man’s the tip of God’s spear and through his hands God’s judgement’s witnessed. He then slides him a dossier and a photo of Holt’s next target Dr. Campbell Meyer.

Ressler and Navabi go to William Dowd’s home to interview his widow. His grief-stricken wife says that her husband was loved by all who knew him and was a good husband and father. Ressler asks how any children they had and Mrs. Dowd says they had a daughter. When they leave the house, Ressler says something’s hinky as with all the pictures on their refrigerator, there wasn’t one of the daughter. They decide to check things out.

Liz informs the Task-Force that it appears there about a dozen dead by the hand of the Vehm over the last few weeks. All murdered by some form of medieval torture, one man whipped so hard an artery burst, another man had his body crush by an instrument known as the Spanish boot. Navabi and Ressler track down the Dowd’s daughter Amy, she’s working in a restaurant and adopted a new name and Social Security number.

Liz meets her new neighbor a young mother with an infant named Stanley, whom she calls the Devil-Child, as he’s up all night/every night. Lizzie tells her she’s going to be having her own little Devil soon and the woman named Zoe tells Keen if she’s got any questions to just stop by as she’s home all the time.

Tom’s still in Lizzie’s apartment when she returns from work, having rescheduled his interview in Boston until the next day. He then lets her know he found her list and says we’re pregnant. She smiles and says they are but before he gets his hopes too high she may give the child up for adoption. He does his best soft-pressure sale to get her to think things through and puts the pro part of the list on her refrigerator before he leaves the apartment.

Two meetings then take place simultaneously, that start to give us an idea of the Vehm’s agenda. Samar and Donald meet with Lisa Neil, the identity that Amy Dowd’s adopted, at the same time Holt’s meeting with child-psychologist Campbell Meyer about Holt’s “son.” The daughter says she found her father raping a young boy at her family’s home when she came home swimming from a friend’s house when she was 12. Her parents tried to make her think she was crazy and finally the girl ran away from home, broke off contact and changed her name. She says whomever killed her father did the world a favor as he was a monster.

Holt’s asked Meyer how he treats his patients and the doctor responds that the first few meetings are just between him and the child to establish absolute trust. Holt then asks Meyer if he’d touch his “son’ during these sessions and Meyer says of course not, then Holt asks the doctor if he’d be thinking about touching the boy? Meyer’s clearly freaked out and asks him to leave and opens his door to the hallway. However other cult-members enter the office and they soon inform him they’ve arrived to carry out justice for him molesting little boys.

Raymond’s also decided to carry out justice himself and he and Dembe are in the home of the man who beat up Lizzie in the parking lot and he’s bleeding and secured to a chair. Dembe interrupts Red to take a phone call from Lizzie, she says that the Vehm seem to be targeting child-molesters. All the dead men had been tied to rumors that they molested children over the years. Reddington says that he knew Edward Weston well and of all the terrible things he did child-molesting wasn’t in his repertoire. Liz says then perhaps it had to do with something he’s aware Weston did do and Red has the lightbulb click on in his brain. He thanks Lizzie, hangs up the phone then shoots the assailant dead with three slugs to the heart. He tells Dembe to contact Mr. Kaplan when they get to the car about Gerald Sullivan.

They track down the lead distributor and find out the lead’s sold in large quantity to the religious order at the St. James shelter, the order makes religious jewelry. Navabi and Ressler get down there just after they’ve finished torturing Meyer whom Ressler finds with his entire abdomen burnt open. They shoot one of the cult-members and Samar bests one of them in a fight just before Ressler finds her.

The medical-examiner informs Navabi that the dead cult-member’s a eunuch and had castrated himself. They then find out all the cult-members are convicted child-molesters who castrated themselves to shorten their prison terms and now hunt others who commit the same crimes they did. At least that’s what they believe.

Red and Dembe track down Gerald Sullivan and Sullivan’s wife living in the woods out of their Bentley. Reddington accuses Sullivan of turning Weston and the others over to the Vehm, Sullivan says that he and his wife are trying to outrun them himself. Raymond asks whose directing the cult-members and Sullivan says if he gives Red the name he’s a dead man. Reddington soon makes it clear that both Sullivan and his wife will die immediately unless Raymond gets that name.

Cardinal Richards, a man recently working in the Vatican in conjunction with Pope Francis on the Vatican bank accounts, leads the Vehm and though he’s told them all their targets are molesters they were in reality money-launderers. The Church Official was trying to get rid of the competition, unfortunately for him Raymond’s decided to take over his territory. He then sends the Vehm to carry out justice and to give the Cardinal that misled them his just desserts, his body’s found later and he died from lead-exposure as well.

Raymond tells Navabi and Keen how he rectified the situation and Liz asks Reddington if the Cardinal’s death will benefit him. Red says it will as he needs to build up enough of a bankroll to finance a war. Navabi asks him what kind of a war and Raymond responds by saying our war.

Things are on the outs between Liz and Raymond again, as he made certain that Tom didn’t get the teaching gig in Boston. He’s bought Liz a new sofa for her new apartment which she doesn’t seem to want, he then says that if she misunderstood him earlier he apologizes. He didn’t mean she should give up her child when he said this was an inconvenient time for a child. He then tells Lizzie when her mother carried her she thought Liz was a curse throughout her pregnancy, but realized Lizzie was a blessing one she was born. Keen asks Raymond to leave and he tells her he arranged for her to receive a pregnancy massage later that evening.

Liz knocks on Zoe’s door, but finds Red’s man Baz inside the apartment. Raymond got Zoe a nicer apartment and set Baz up in there to keep Liz under constant surveillance. She walks back into her apartment and leaves a voicemail for an adoption agency to talk about placing her child up for adoption.

The Story Continues Next Thursday night at 9:oo pm on NBC.