Hisham Tawfiq

All posts tagged Hisham Tawfiq

Photo Courtesy Of Virginia Sherwood/NBC


WARNING: SPOILER ALERT

For those viewers that feared that the NBC series “The Blacklist,” had lost its edge since moving to the 8:00pm hour, the episode entitled “The Endling,” put those concerns to rest.  The fourth installment from season five, was a tough, gritty, unnerving and uncomfortable hour, starting with the open. This week’s Blacklist member killed with abandon to achieve her goal, however the darkness didn’t end there. As the hour concluded we realized that the darkness that pervaded the hour, altered the lives of some long-term characters, with one chilling event yet to be discovered by Team-Red and its extended members.

The evening began in a pastoral setting, but that mood wouldn’t last for long. A graphic informs us that we’re in Cork, Ireland, and we watch a magnificent steed galloping inside his pen. We join two people, an elderly Irishman named Malloy, the horse’s trainer, and a young Middle-Eastern woman, identified as Nirah. The horse’s named Fitzpleasure, and his owner ended his racing days early in order to make far more money in stud fees. The animal will fetch $150,000 per mating and will perform his services 150 times a year. The woman agrees to the costly stud fee, and hands her flask to Malloy as the couple celebrate their transaction with a toast.

Seconds later Malloy starts to gasp, realizes he’s ingested poison and falls to the ground inside the barn. Nirah pets Fitzpleasure and tells him he’s a beautiful creature, too beautiful for this world. She then starts a blaze inside the barn, the horse starts whinnying in fear. She says it will be over soon, sets the barn door and leaves as the structure’s engulfed in flames.

Lizzie and Tom make plans to have lunch together that day, and they’re extremely pleased to engage in an activity that’s normal for most couples. Tom’s cellphone rings and Nik Korpal’s on the other end, he tells Keen that Pete McGee’s recovered DNA from the bones in the suitcase, and the three of them will met up at McGee’s apartment at 2:00pm. Tom tells Liz that it’s a telemarketer, and she says that they’re on the no-call list. She shouts into the phone that the caller’s breaking the law, Korpal says to Tom that she’s right and he doesn’t know how they roped them into this.

Elizabeth discovers that Raymond and Dembe’s living arrangements have taken a drastic turn for the better since vacating the motor court, as she finds them staying in a well furnished upper-class home. Reddington’s amazed at the concept of a “BNB,” nd tickled that Dembe was able to secure a three-day rental of the house without ever meeting the owners.

After losing his game of Scrabble to Dembe, Red shows Liz a newspaper article on the fire that killed Fitzpleasure and his trainer Malloy. Keen asks Raymond when he developed an interest in race horse, and he responds that the horse and Malloy were murdered. He says the proof’s the fact that the horse only sired one foal. He says the murderer is the latest member of The Blacklist, known as the Endling. Raymond explains that an “Endling” is the term for the last of its species or kind. Fitzpleasure was a perfect steed and the owner of the foal now possesses the only other horse from that gene-pool, vastly increasing the horse’s value.

Nik and Tom meet with Korpal’s old medical classmate Pete McGee, who tells them that he’s hit a brick wall in his attempt to identify the bones in the valise. He says that the only way he can access the national data base is with the assistance of the Bureau, and they’ll never obtain it. Tom asks if they’d be able to access the database with Lizzie’s ID badge, and McGee says that would work. Against the advice of Korpal, Tom tells McGee he’ll get the badge.

The Task-Force get the alias that Nirah used to set up her meeting with Malloy, and quickly find the owner of the foal. The man’s named Caleb Hess, owner of a large security firm that’s undergoing financial difficulties. Nirah approached him about the horse, only telling him that she would greatly increase his horse’s value in exchange for some information.

Hess had set-up security protocols a few years earlier for Princess Sonya of Montenegro. (Montenegro, actually hasn’t operated under a monarchy since 1921. The nation has a President Filip Vujanović, and a Prime Minister Milo Đukanović, whom you might remember got shoved out-of-the-way in a photo-op by President Trump, earlier this year.)

Nirah’s stalking the Princesses’ party at the hotel she’s staying at in Washington D.C. She gains access to the floor that the party’s taken over by knocking out a room service attendant who brings champagne to her suite, and taking her uniform. She then brings the cart up to the floor with a bomb on a timer hidden within it. Ressler and Navabi arrive on the floor just before the bomb goes off. They’re able to secure the Princess, and escort her to safety, however Sonya wasn’t Nirah’s target. Instead she went after and captured Sonya’s “assistant” Ana, who had a hidden role known only by a select few.

Princess Sonya’s pregnant and she has an extremely rare blood type, however Ana’s blood type is far rarer. She’s one of just seven people, out of over seven billion people on the planet, born with what’s known as “golden blood.” Her blood type is the only universal blood type on the planet, meaning her blood can be used for transfusions with any blood type. The Task-Force believe that Nirah kidnapped Ana to corner the market on “golden blood,” an almost priceless commodity. However they’ve got no idea what Nirah’s real motivation is.

One of the reasons that Raymond’s looking rather portly this season, maybe his nocturnal snacking, as he gets up in the middle of the night to raid the refrigerator. As he enjoys a tablespoon of peanut-butter, he hears some rustling at the outside doors. He quietly alerts Dembe, who quickly overtakes the two home invaders. Zuma and Reddington believe the two men were set to kill them, but they find out they’re on the wrong track.

It turns out that two that two other people with “golden blood,” have gone missing ion the last couple of months. The Task-Force locates the only other person in the States with that blood type, his name’s Ethan Isaacs, currently a patient in the ICU at Mercy Hospital. Cooper sends Navabi and Ressler to the hospital to talk with Isaacs.

Nirah’s already at the hospital and we find out that Ethan Isaacs’ a young boy dying from a heart condition, and Nirah’s been masquerading as his nurse at the hospital, who Ethan’s parents know as Alma. Since there’s no hope for saving the boy’s life, Ethan’s parents are taking their son home, to live out his final days in his own bed. Nirah tells the parents that she promised the nurses on the fourth floor that she’d bring him by for them to throw a going away party for Ethan. She tells his parents to gather his belongings and meet them on the fourth floor.

Raymond and Dembe torture the pair of home invaders and realize that they weren’t sent to take down the pair. They were hired by a man they refer to as The Mailman to rob the home. The Mailman’s an actual Post Office employee, who contracts thieves to rob homes of people who’ve had their mail service stopped when they go on vacation. Realizing the owners are away, makes the homes easy pickings for the thieves he contracts, he takes an upfront cut and the thieves keep everything they steal.

Ressler and Navabi arrive at the hospital too late, as Nirah’s kidnapped Ethan. The Task-Force obtain images from close circuit cameras and identify Nirah as a former Syrian rebel-fighter, and the birth mother of Ethan. She gave him up for adoption years before, so she should carry on her fighting in her country, but her priorities changed when she found out her son had contracted the deadly disease. The only way for Ethan to survive, would be for him to undergo a heart transplant, and he’d need plenty of “golden blood” for transfusions, and his heart donor would have to be one of the other six people on the planet with the rare blood type. That’s why Nirah’s kidnapped Ana and her two other captives.

Liz turns to Raymond for help tracking down Nirah, and she brings a photograph of the woman and her male associate. He recognizes the man, and he takes Lizzie to met one of his former paramours, Dr. Melissa Lomay, who operates an organization called Doctors Without Morals, an enterprise that caters to the underworld. The male associate’s one of Melissa’s staff members, and Raymond convinces the doctor to give up his location.

Keen, Reddington, and Zuma arrive at the facility as the surgeon’s preparing for the procedure. Raymond convinces Nirah to trust him, telling her that the Bureau would soon be raiding the facility, she’ll be put behind bars and Ethan will die. He says he has another way and tells her that a mother’s love’s capable of miracles. When Ressler and Navabi arrive Lizzie tells the pair that Nirah and Ethan were gone when she arrived. Meanwhile Raymond pays a visit to Nik Korpal, telling the doctor he required his services. Nik responds with a no, Reddington replies that he wasn’t making a request.

Liz arrives at the facility where Korpal will conduct the surgery, and she apologizes to her former fiancée that he got dragged into this. He says that she’s lying, that she’s become part of this world now, part of Raymond’s world. Melissa, who’ll also be involved in the procedure informs Raymond that the boy’s prepped for surgery as soon as the donor heart arrives, Reddington responds it’s already there, and he pulls out his pistol and hands it to Nirah. She says she always realized that someone with “golden-blood ” would have to die to save her son, but she never thought she’d have to take her own life. She take the pistol, holds it under her chin and pulls the trigger. Her heart saves her son’s life.

Raymond informs Lizzie that he had no ulterior motive in stopping the Endling, he just wanted to stop a vicious killer. Liz asks him what his thoughts are now that everything’s played out, he replies that a sinner can still be a saint. Keen asks Reddington if that description might describe himself, he replies that he’d like to think he could summon that courage in a similar situation.

Raymond thanks Korpal and tells him he’s in the surgeon’s debt. Nik asks if he can collect immediately, and Red asks him what he’d like. Korpal responds that neither he or Liz ever contact him again. Lizzie lets out a nervous giggle and says that Nik doesn’t mean that, Korpal responds that Reddington’s a wanted criminal. Keen replies that Raymond’s her father, and Nik replies that’s not justification.

Raymond summons Anthony the mailman back to the house he’s staying at, and the Postal worker breathes a sigh of relief when Reddington says he doesn’t want a cut of Anthony’s racket. However the relief’s short lasting as Red tells Anthony he’s taking over the operation and Anthony will now receive 10%. His mood brightens considerably when Raymond says they’ll soon be obscenely wealthy, as they’re not going to rob the homes, but instead rent them out as safe houses, on a nationwide business. It looks like the Concierge Of Crime’s on the comeback trail.

Tom contacts Nik, whose none too happy about Raymond and Lizzie involving him in their plot against his will. He says he’s on his way home and will stop by McGee’s on the way, to find out what kind of progress he’s made since accessing the national database. Tom tells Korpal he’s feeling hinky about Pete, but Nik tells him to relax.

Ethan’s put in an ambulance and he arrives back at Mercy Hospital for a joyful reunion with his parents. Cooper let’s Liz no that he’s irate with her for lying to her partners and colluding with Reddington. He tells her he loves her like a daughter, but he’s extremely concerned that she’s starting to fall under he father’s influence. He ends the conversation by saying “I’m watching you Elizabeth.”

Lizzie arrives back home and tells Tom that she fears she’s too much like Reddington. Tom attempts to console her, telling her that she’s good and kind and nothing like Raymond. She then shares her fear that Nik’s really upset with her and he’ll break off contact with the two of them. Tom hugs her and says that Korpal’s a big boy and can take care of himself and his anger won’t last for long.

Korpal goes to Pete’s apartment and he’s surprised that the front door’s ajar. He enters the apartment and calls for his old classmate, then starts looking at the computer. Somebody comes up from behind him and strangles Korpal to death with a wire. As Ni’s limp body falls to the floor, we see a hooded man grab the valise and leave the apartment. Was it McGee, an associate of Reddington, or possibly somebody that worked for Kate?

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

Photo Courtesy Of Will Hart/NBC

WARNING: SPOILER ALERT

This week’s episode of the NBC series “The Blacklist,” contained more twists and turns than a ride along the California coast, on US Highway 101. Although this installment featured some very funny moments, the tone in general was far darker than the first two episodes of season five, beginning with the opening sequence. The Task-Force spent the hour attempting top stop a very deadly member of the Blacklist, while Raymond, Dembe, and some friends both old and new, focused on acquiring Reddington some new assets.

Aside from the two main storylines, the bones inside the valise got closer to being identified, while Donald Ressler’s fixer started calling in favors, so he’d remain mum about the FBI Agent’s involvement in the death of Laurel Hitchin. Plus Raymond had to part ways with the Terra Vista Motor Lodge, after some criminals tracked his new location.

Rather than going with our usual play-by-play format in this recap, We’re going to change things up concentrate more on the bullet-points of the episode, and what they signify in the short-term, as well as how the season progresses. Although the Task-Force and Raymond and company, took two different paths throughout the evening, we saw the paths intersect as the hour came to its conclusion.

The Blacklist Members Of The Week

The Task-Force found themselves investigating what appeared to be a rash of “Killer-Cops,” uniforms paid to execute innocent victims, who had the misfortune to get scammed by a shady financial company. Waterday Financial made deals withy some plaintiffs in a class-action suit, that caused the plaintiffs brain-damage due to lead-paint exposure as children. Waterday took advantage of the plaintiffs limited mental capabilities and gave them a lump-sum payout, for far less money than they would have received through the original settlement.

The company took out six figure life-insurance policies on the plaintiffs, then coerced police officers in tight financial situations to kill the plaintiffs, while making it look like a good kill in the line of duty. We watched one of the executions play out during the opening sequence, as two young uniformed patrolman enter the apartment of a junkie on parole, with a  warrant for his arrest. The officers split up to search the premises, and one of the patrolman named McGinnis finds the suspect washing dishes.

The suspect asks for mercy because he’s been using and doesn’t want his parole officer to find out, but something’s hinky. McGinnis stands in front of the suspect Scottie Stansbury, shaking with his weapon drawn. He then whispers “Sorry Scottie,” and pumps a shot into his chest, killing Stansbury instantly. His partner Parker shouts for McGinnis, who quickly pulls another gun from his sock, fires two shots into the wall and puts the gun in the dead man’s hand. Parker assumes that McGinnis had no choice but to shoot the suspect, and McGinnis pretends that’s what occurred,

The patrolman’s questioned by his chief, who tells him he’s certain that McGinnis’ will get cleared by Internal Affairs, but he’s got to go home and get a lawyer. Instead we watch him meet a blonde attractive woman wearing dark glasses in his car. She informs him that the money’s gotten transferred into his account, and the patrolman says he didn’t think carrying out the execution would be that hard. The woman responds that the officer’s still alive, unlike Scottie Stansbury.

Raymond gives Lizzie Keen the heads-up that McGinnis executed Stansbury, and that the dirty cop would lead to the next member on the Blacklist. Keen informs the Task-Force, and Cooper send her and Ressler out to interview the two patrolman, with Keen getting assigned to interrogate McGinnis. She meets with Ressler after the interrogation, and tells her partner that the cop’s dirty.

Keen and Ressler go to speak with Scottie’s parents and their attorney, who identifies herself as Rebecca Thrall, but she’s the blonde that met with McGinnis earlier. We find out That Scottie suffered brain-damage due to the lead-paint exposure and that he made the deal to accept the lump-settlement without discussing it with them. The parents break down crying when they say that the officer murdered their boy, and that Scottie never had anything to do with guns.

Ressler’s cellphone keeps ringing while he and Keen are interviewing the parents, it’s Henry Prescott demanding that Ressler get a car out of the police impound immediately, or he’ll call his boss. Liz asks what’s going on and Donald says that a friend of his is in trouble and he’s attempting to help him. Keen tells Ressler that she’s got the situation handled and go help his friend. Ressler calls Prescott, and says he’s not his errand boy, Prescott replies that the agent’s his indentured servant. Donald says that if Prescott says anything he’ll implicate himself as well, the fixer says that Ressler doesn’t know if Prescott’s willing to do just that, then threatens the agent to call his bluff.

Aram does some digging and discovers that Waterday, not only paid out the lump settlement to Stansbury, they also recently gave a substantial loan to Officer McGinnis. Keen and Samar question Waterday Financial executive named Johnson, who tells the agents that the situation’s just circumstantial. He says that the company’s granted a large number of loans this year, and quite a lot of them were granted to police officers. He also tells the agents that they only got reimbursed for $62 thousand of the $100 thousand they paid to Stansbury, so they lost a substantial amount of money when he died.

Keen asks to look at the company’s records, and Johnson asks her if she’s got a warrant? She responds that she could get one, and he scoffs at her and says good luck trying. He tells her it’s far more difficult to secure such a warrant than she imagines. He tells her and Navabi to come back when they get one, and he’s correct as the court refuses the request.

Rebecca Thrall’s in the midst of recruiting a female State Police Officer to execute their next victim. The officer’s sister needs a life-saving operation, and her getting involved with Thrall’s her only means of having the funds to pay for the surgery. Still the officer hesitates about crossing the line, but Thrall makes it seem as if the officer will actually be carrying out an act of mercy. The intended victim’s named Robert Urwiller, he’s suffered brain damage due to the lead-paint exposure and has quite a lengthy rap-sheet. Thrall says that Urwiller suffers from constant physical pain as well, and the officer would be doing a good deed by taking him out of his misery.

Thrall heads back to her apartment, and we see that she’s got a kinky side, as there’s a man waiting for her tried up and encased in a black rubber suit, with what looks like an elephant’s trunk that allows him to breathe. Rebecca asks her plaything if he’s happy to see her, and the man nods his head enthusiastically. She smiles and starts to get undressed, telling the man she’s glad to see him too.

After the court refuses to grant the warrant, Aram does some more digging and comes up with some very damning information on Waterday. Turns out the company took out a $5 million life insurance policy on Scottie Stansbury, and three other plaintiffs in the class-action suit. The other three also died at the hands of police officers, and the three officers in the other cases all got substantial loans from Waterday just before the deaths. He’s also determined that the next victim will be Robert Urwiller.

The Task-Force gets the warrant and access to Waterday’s financial records. Turns out that Johnson’s, Thrall’s rubber-suited lover, as we find out when his assistant calls him while the couple are playing. Johnson tells his assistant that he’ll return to the office immediately, and then tells Rebecca to release him, that they’re in deep trouble. She tells her playmate that they’re not in trouble, the Feds are in his office going through his files. She then closes up the rubber suit and suffocates him inside it.

While Liz and Samar try to find Urwiller, before it’s too late, Ressler’s down at the impound yard getting Prescott’s car. The vehicle’s got a flat so Donald opens the trunk to pull out the spare. Just then Cooper calls and tells Ressler that they need him in helping to stop the cop from killing Urwiller. He says he’s got the situation handled, but then sees a corpse in the car’s trunk. He tells Cooper he’s on his way.

Urwiller goes into a convenience store and asks for two scratch tickets, as the officer sits in her cruiser looking at a picture of her sister. When Urwiller gets into his car and drives off, she follows him. Aram keeps trying to reach Urwiller on his cellphone, but the man doesn’t answer, however Liz and Samar are in pursuit. The officer sounds her siren and flashes her lights and Urwiller pulls over to the side of the road. She asks him for his license and registration, but he suddenly looks up in horror as the officer’s got her weapon pointed at his head. Navabi and Keen arrive just in time to stop her.

Donald arrives a short time later driving Prescott’s car and proceeds to tell Liz that the car’s his buddy’s and there’s a corpse in the trunk and he’s going to dump the body for him. Liz apparently believes he’s kidding as she responds sarcastically. Navabi says that the cop refuses to talk and Ressler asks if he can give it a try.

He tells the officer a parable about a poor Mongolian man’s brought into a wealthy man’s office, and he’s offered $1 million if he pushes the red button on the wealthy man’s desk. If he pushes the button, an old man in Mongolia will die, he’s not told who or why, only that it will be good for the people. The man pushes the button and receives the money and goes home, but he never spends the money and eventually kills himself. He then says a friend recently told him that everybody has a Mongolian peasant in their lives, something we’re ashamed of, and as soon as somebody finds that secret they can make you do or say anything, either to cover it up or atone.

The officer confesses and then she calls Thrall and tells her she didn’t kill Urwiller. Rebecca says they still have time and she asks to meet with the officer. Thrall arrives at the designated meeting spot, sees the cruiser and attempts to shoot the cop through the driver’s side window, but her bullets don’t penetrate the bullet proof glass. Ressler comes out of hiding and cuffs her, recognizing her as the Stansbury’s attorney.

Ressler meets up with Henry Prescott and asks whose the corpse? Prescott, responds that Ressler’s mission was to recover a car, nothing more. The fixer tells Donald that he’ll be in touch soon with details about his next favor. We’re left to wonder how long Donald will suffer his Mongolian peasant.

Raymond’s Latest Scheme.

While the Task-Force were in the midst of stopping Waterday’s execution plans, Raymond and Dembe attempted to pay off an outstanding debt, that put Reddington in considerable danger while trying to gain something for themselves in the bargain. Unfortunately Red had to leave his beloved Terra Vista Motor Lodge, after three goons ransacked his room. Raymond came back to the room to find a note left by the trio saying Rivera wants you.

Raymond and Dembe easily tracked down the goons and ambushed them. The leader of the trio told Reddington that he owed their boss Rivera a shipment of guns for a couple of months, and either Red delivered the weapons, or Rivera’s gang of assassins would take him out. Raymond told the leader that he’d have his weapons within 36-hours. Dembe asked Raymond how he could pull off a seemingly impossible task, Reddington replied that the task was merely improbable.

Tom and Nik meet up with a former classmate of Korpal’s who gave up medicine and got involved with criminal activities, but Nik says the dude’s brilliant and he can help identify the bones inside the suitcase. Nik’s friend Pete and Tom don’t hit it off, but Korpal convinces the two of them to work together.

Usually when Raymond pays Glen Carter a visit at the DMV, Reddington will get stuck there for hours as his foil loves to watch Red’s agitation reach extreme levels. However this time the diminutive finder of lost persons, felt nothing but pity for the former Concierge Of Crime, and brought him into his office promptly. Raymond asked Jellybean to borrow $1 million for 48-hours, Carter gave him a hard time at first, but then broke into a grin opened up his arms and said “Who loves you baby?” Reddington managed a weak smile in return.

Reddington met with Smokey Putnam and Heddy Hawkins at a diner, to come up with plans to either build or acquire an airstrip. The two former partners-in-crime, that Raymond rescued from prison to utilize their services, were too busy arguing to formulate a plan. Red told the pair that he was leaving the project in their hands and asked them not shed each others blood while working together. Tom arrived at the diner just as the conversation was concluding, and Raymond told him that he had a role for him in his latest business venture.

Reddington, Keen and Dembe paid a visit to Adika Buhari, a second-rate gun-runner, previously the object of Raymond’s disdain, a man Red once referred to as a walrus. Reddington introduced Keen as Heath Edwards his munitions expert, he said that he wouldn’t accept any guns without Edwards inspecting them first. Buhari asked about the money and Raymond replied that wouldn’t be a problem, However the gun-runner responded that word on the street’s money’s Raymond’s biggest problem.

Just then we hear Jellybean’s voice, as he apologizes for arriving late. Buhari asks who he is and Glen gives an alias and says he’s the money guy, then opens up his briefcase revealing the million in cash. Buhari demands that he hold the money for collateral, Reddington says he can hold Edwards for collateral. The gun-runner agrees and they take Tom as their prisoner.

Hawkins and Putnam find a great plot of land for the airstrip, however the lands covered in trees and shrubbery. That’s not a problem for Smokey as he brings a crew of men with chain saws, and two former circus elephants to help clear the land. The pachyderms drag trees behind them like toothpicks and the landing strip’s finished just moments before the gun-runner’s jet appears on the horizon.

Although Buhari complains of the rough landing, the plane lands safely and after Edwards’ checks out the weapons, money’s exchanged and Raymond starts talking about a fruitful long-term partnership. Suddenly sirens are heard in the distance and Reddington asks Buhari what he’s done. The area’s soon filled with vehicles as the ATF arrive to bust the entire crew.

Raymond and Tom get put together in a paddy-wagon and Keen goes nuts, incredulous that he came to help Red because Liz asked him to and now he’s heading to prison for life. He says his only consolation’s knowing that at least Red will no longer have any involvement with Liz or Agnes. He says that Raymond tells Liz he never lies to her, but he knows better.

A short time later, Keen and Reddington get released from the paddy-wagon. Raymond set-up Buhari, and the gun-runner and Blacklist member, now was in government custody. Raymond wound up with the jet which Harold knew about, and the shipment of guns to alleviate the debt to Rivera, which Harold didn’t have knowledge of. Tom gets a call from Nik, Pete was able to get DNA from a tooth. Tom thanks him and asks him to keep him updated.

The final scene featured an unusual pairing, as Raymond and Donald told each other they didn’t have much respect for each other before they teamed up on the Task-Force. However Raymond said that Ressler’s earned and won his respect over the years, and if Donald ever found himself in a bind, Reddington would gladly rectify the situation. Ressler smiled and said not a chance.

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

Photo Courtesy Of NBC

WARNING: SPOILER ALERT

Judging by the first two episodes of season five, it appears that the NBC series “The Blacklist,” will take on a lighter tone generally than the past couple of years, with some very dark moments thrown in for balance. Raymond Reddington’s displaying an impish quality while rebuilding his empire, which Liz Keen seems to find intoxicating. She’s thoroughly enjoying watching the man she believes is her father displaying his grifter and con-man skills, while the Task-Force assists Reddington in re-acquiring his status in the criminal world.

However, unbeknownst to her, Raymond and Dembe are working on a hidden agenda that could hit quite close to home. They are searching for the valise that Mr. Kaplan recovered from Tansi Farms just before her death, unaware that the suitcase’s in Tom Keen’s possession. Unwilling to let Lizzie know what he’s holding, Keen attempts to enlist an old friend to help carry out his plan.

The episode entitled “Greyson Blaise,” revolved around a UK billionaire, with a penchant for high-end thievery. Blaise is a thrill-seeker and uses his ill-gotten gains to finance a possible run for office in the coming years. The action begins with him lowering himself down from a ceiling dressed in a black cat-suit, and he cuts the glass display case grabbing a very ornate diamond necklace. Vacating the premises, he peels off the cat-suit, revealing that he’s wearing a white dinner jacket and bow-tie, and he shows up just in time to get introduced at a swanky society function.

The billionaire tells his guests the story of Napoleon marrying a second time to gain an heir. He informs the gathering that in exchange for producing an heir, Bonaparte gave his new wife a magnificent diamond necklace, which he got on loan from the Smithsonian in another room. When he takes the guests to see the necklace, security discovers it’s stolen. Actually the necklace’s in the room, in the clutch purse of Greyson’s girlfriend Anna Cartwright, who joking chastises Blaise for being a naughty boy.

We join Tom and Lizzie, moments after we left them last week, and they start getting amorous. Tom suddenly talks about how big Agnes’ grew in the time he was with his parents. He then tells Lizzie they need to get married, she asks him if it can wait until after they make love?

Lizzie arrives to the Post Office tardy the next morning and apologizes to Cooper, but he’s in no mood for excuses. Harold’s visibly freaked about the new FBI Director, and the fact that Red’s been reticent about giving them a name from the Blacklist. Recalling the slacker attitude of his son as a teenager, Cooper tells Keen that the pair are heading to the motor lodge and demand he cooperate with them.

Raymond and Dembe finish a conversation with man named Myron, who gives Reddington a slip of paper and Red tells him he’s forever in the man’s debt. Myron replies that the marker won’t do him any good if the boys find out he talked to Reddington. Raymond hands the slip of paper to Zuma, advising him that the name on the paper will lead to them to a man named Dennison, who in turn knows where the suitcase’s at.

We get the return of an old friend in the next scene, as Dr. Nik Korpal calls his fiancée to tell her his shift at the hospital’s ending, and he’ll be home soon. We watch his face pale, as he suddenly looks as if he’s encountered a ghost, he tells his fiancée he needs to go and we see that Tom Keen’s the source of his change of mood. Korpal says to Tom that what ever he needs the answer’s no, Keen pleads for two minutes of his time.

Harold and Elizabeth arrive at the motor lodge, and Raymond attempts top entice them with food, but Cooper demands a name. Reddington quickly supplies them with the name of Greyson Blaise, but tells the agents that the member of the Blacklist’s not theirs to arrest. He says that by partnering with Blaise, he’ll leap back to his former dominance at warp-speed, but he needs the Bureau’s help in gaining the billionaire’s attention. Red and Keen, Ressler, and Navabi, will attend an exclusive auction in Zagreb, that Blaise’s attending.

Keen wastes no time in telling Nik that Raymond’s Lizzie’s dad, he then shows Korpal the valise and says he needs the doctor’s help in identifying the bones within. Nik asks why Liz can’t get the bureau to investigate, and Tom responds he’s yet to tell Lizzie, fearing she’ll run to Reddington upon finding out. Keen says that if she does that they’ll never find out the truth, and that Lizzie gaining that knowledge was Kate’s dying wish. Nik says that he thinks it’s time for him to leave and wishes him good luck.

Aram accesses the auction guest list and puts Navabi on the list under an alias. Once she gets into the auction house, she overtakes a security guard and Raymond and the other two agents enter the affair. Trying to attract Blaise’s attention, Reddington bids $1.8 million for a bronze 1943D Lincoln penny, a coin that the billionaire acquires for a bid of $3 million. After winning the coin, Blaise waive to Reddington in acknowledgement.

Back in the States, Dembe finds the man that Myron snitched on in a restaurant kitchen. Zuma’s furiously sharpening a knife, while the man nervously says that if he knew Dennison’s location, he’d tell Dembe. Zuma goes to the refrigerator unit and asks the man if he likes carrots, the man nervously responds he does and Dembe says good and breaks out in a big smile. We watch as Dembe starts rapidly slicing vegetables and frying them, while putting pasta in a pot.

The man incredulously asks if Dembe’s trying to gain Dennison’s whereabouts, by making him a meal? Zuma responds that he believes that you get more flies with honey than vinegar, and the FBI hostage programs suggests that a captor attempt to find empathy and rapport with their prisoners. Dembe sets the food in front of the man and says they should give thanks. “Praised be Allah, who gives us our food and drink, and whose wisdom will lead to a resolution of our conflict without hospitalization.” (Perhaps the best segment in the show’s run for Hisham Tawfiq, whose dialogue’s thankfully increased in the last two seasons!)

Raymond and Blaise start up a conversation a bit later in the evening, and Reddington broaches the topic of the two men joining forces. The billionaire’s initial interest wanes, until Red invites him to a party at his home on Lake Como in Italy, and he’ll show Greyson, Rembrandt’s “Sea Of Galilee.” Blaise chuckles when Reddington mentions the work, as he’s aware that the painting got stolen in 1990, he’s taken aback a bit when Reddington tells him he’s the thief and owner of the work. Blaise has a property on the same lake and says he just might attend Raymond’s party.

Raymond and the Task-Force, then have to break the news to Cooper that Team-Red’s now tasked with making Raymond’s scenario a reality. Reddington says he can handle getting the house and the party, however he’ll need the Bureau to recover the painting for him. Navabi states that the work hasn’t been seen in 27-years, Raymond scoffs at her statement saying the painting’s in the Paris flat of Amalia Hammett. He knows it because he brokered the sale.

Navabi and Ressler attempt to steal the painting from the society dowager, but she sold the work to somebody else years before. With the original work no longer an option, Raymond enlists the services of a master forger to recreate the work. After being initially met with resistance by the forger, the artist tells Red that he’ll have the duplicate ready in just 20-hours.

It turns out that Dembe and Reddington, aren’t the only ones in search of Albert Dennison, as Tom’s also trying to locate the man, to find out the answer to who do the bones in the valise belong to. Keen gets Dennison’s address by impersonating him to Dennison’s cellphone representative, spinning a tale of being a cuckolded husband, whose wife left him for a guy with the nickname of Chesty.

Raymond coerces an Italian couple named Paolo and Analia Beneventi, to allow him to pretend the house is his, and help him throw the party. Analia serves as the faux caterer, while her husband plays piano during the affair. Blaise shows up at the mansion before the forgery’s arrived, leaving Raymond to keep the billionaire occupied withy a tour of the home. He finally realizes Reddington’s stalling and asks him outright if he really owns the work, Raymond responds that he doesn’t.

Ticked off that his time’s been wasted under false pretenses, Greyson starts to leave but gets intercepted by Lizzie, who asks him if he wants to see the Rembrandt? They walk into a room and see Ressler and the forger with the duplicate work, and Blaise nearly drools. He turns to Raymond and asks why Red said he didn’t own the painting? Reddington responds because the painting now belongs to the billionaire, a gift to seal their new partnership. Blaise’s nearly overcome with emotion as the two men put the painting in his car. As he drives off, Raymond alerts a local detective that the man with the stolen masterpiece is heading his way. Soon Blaise and his Major-Domo find themselves under arrest.

The whole mission had been an elaborate scam so that Reddington could rob the billionaire. Pretending to be the head of a security detail to keep Blaise in the clear, Reddington soon gains access to Greyson’s safe. He and Lizzie acquire a thumb drive detailing all of Blaise’s criminal undertakings, the Napoleon necklace, and a stolen work by Picasso, plus the three million dollar penny.

Raymond meets with a very angry Harold Cooper when they return to the States. Cooper’s upset that Raymond not only scammed Blaise, but he suckered the Bureau into helping him, while they got nothing in return. A sly smile breaks out on Raymond’s face as he gives Cooper the thumb-drive and the necklace. He tells Harold that the Italian authorities will release Blaise when they discover the Rembrandt’s a forgery. Harold will soon be able to present the new FBI Director with a major name on the Blacklist, plus Napoleon’s necklace, which should give Cooper some breathing room.

After a rather fun adventure, the darkness of the episode’s final few scenes proved to be a jarring contrast. Tom finds Albert Dennison, but unfortunately it’s too late to save him. He walks into the man’s apartment and finds him bound and bloody, with Dembe and Raymond on their way back to finish him off. Keen hides in the closet when he hears the elevator bell ringing.

Dembe’s not been gentle with Dennison, and Raymond gets right to the point as soon as the pair enter the apartment. Reddington praises Dennison for being a tough man, but then asks one final time where the valise’s located. Albert laughs at first, but then breaks down crying. Raymond empties two shots into the man’s chest and he and Dembe leave the premises. Tom tries to get information from the dying man, Dennison tells him to find Oleander with his last breath.

Keen’s spirits pick up a short time later, when he receives a call from Nik Kroll, telling him that he’ll help Tom identify the bones. The final scene of the evening takes place at the Keen’s apartment, as Tom tells Liz they’re expecting company for dinner. The doorbell rings and Raymond walks into the place carrying a bottle of wine. He apologizes to Tom and says he can’t stay for dinner, but they share a glass of wine. It’s their first meeting since Tom returned from working with his father, and Raymond reminds Keen that he advised him not to enter that situation. Tom then asks Raymond what’s new, and we leave the trio in the midst of a rather uncomfortable silence.

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

Photo Courtesy Of NBC

WARNING: SPOILER ALERT

This should be a gas! After an extremely dark fourth campaign the NBC series “The Blacklist,” returned to the airwaves on a new night and time (Wednesdays at 8:00pm) and a very enjoyable kickoff to its fifth season. Life has changed drastically for Raymond Reddington, the former concierge of crime finds himself broke, and his empire destroyed. However it appears that Raymond’s become reenergized by the prospect of starting over, and there’s a bounce in his step that’s been missing for the last couple of years.

That doesn’t mean that all of Reddington’s and “TEAM-RED’S” problems are in the past however, beginning with the suitcase that Mr. Kaplan recovered from Tansi Farms in the final episode of last season. That valise’s now in the possession of Tom Keen, although Raymond and Dembe are clueless about its whereabouts. There’s also the death of NSA Director Laurel Hitchin, who slipped and hit her head during a scuffle with Agent Donald Ressler in that same episode. Ressler utilized the services of fixer Henry Prescott to hide his involvement in her death.

Our evening begins with Raymond having a coffee near a valet station at an upscale New York restaurant. We see a red Corvette convertible pulling up to the station, when Reddington approaches the valet with a claim ticket, saying he’s been waiting 20 minutes for his Range-Rover. When the attendant says the car on that ticket had already left, Raymond demands to see the manager.

As the attendant runs off, Red masquerades as the supervisor of the valet service and apologizes to the driver of the Corvette, who cuts him off and tells him to do his job. As the couple enter the restaurant, Reddington drives off with their car, and we hear “Back In The New York Groove” on the soundtrack. Two cruisers start chasing Reddington, who takes a call from Liz on his cellphone while he attempts to elude them. Raymond tells Lizzie to meet him at his new place and tells her he’ll speak to her later. With cruisers approaching from both directions, Raymond at the last-minute maneuvers the sports car out-of-the-way and the two cruisers collide, with one flipping on its roof.

Reddington brings the car to a chop shop, and with the proceeds he gets for the vehicle he pays off a man named Dariush, who manages the Terra Vista Motor Lodge, for his outstanding balance and to pay off his room until the end of the month. He also tells the manager that he wants to foot the bill for that evening’s happy hour, for all the motor lodge’s guests. With James Brown’s “Paid The Cost To Be The Boss,” as the soundtrack, we realize that Raymond’s become a regular at the poolside of this rather seedy establishment. He plays with a young girl, throwing quarters into the pool for the child to dive and scoop-up.

After many seasons of will they or won’t they; Samar Navabi and Aram Mojtabai, have become a very passionate couple, as we watch them making out in the elevator in the Post Office. Aram, reminds Samar that they promised to keep things professional at the workplace, and she grumbles that they didn’t break any laws.

Ressler greets them at the elevator, informing the couple they’re late and Cooper’s looking for them. The Task Force Director informs them that a new Bureau Director got sworn in that morning, and his first task is an in-depth review of all of the Bureau’s special operations. Aram says that the new Director will discover that Reddington’s empire’s in ruins. but Navabi counters that the Task-Force’s been incredibly successful in capturing major criminals.

Harold responds that he’s not concerned with the Task-Force proving their worth, but he’s going to have to reveal the results of the DNA test he performed on Lizzie and Raymond, proving that Reddington’s Lizzie’s biological father. He realizes this will cause problems for Keen, but he feels obligated to disclose the information.

Keen’s flabbergasted when she sees the sub par living arrangements that Raymond finds himself in, but Red makes it sound like paradise. He’s become very chummy with Dariush and the eclectic clientele that the motor lodge services. He tries to temp Liz into dipping her toes into the pool, but she responds with a look of revulsion. She tells Raymond that Cooper sent her to find him for a new Blacklist member, and Red responds he’ll have to change into pants.

Reddington takes Liz to the office of a bail bondsman named Maurice, who immediately recognizes Red and says he wants no trouble. Raymond quickly informs him that he’s in search of employment because he desperately needs the cash, and asks for the bondsman for his toughest case. Maurice tells him he needs to find a former carny named Smokey Putnum, whose being tried for embezzling $2 million from a carnival operator. If Putnum’s not in court in 48 hours, Maurice will forfeit 80 grand in bond money. Reddington makes a deal to have Putnum back in time for 40 grand, and tells Lizzie they’re going on a road-trip as he doesn’t have a car.

Before the pair head down to Russell Springs, Kentucky, Raymond gets a call from Dembe, who is in search of the suitcase. He tells Reddington that he tracked the valise down to a bus station in Columbia Heights, but it had vanished by the time he got there. Raymond stresses to Dembe how crucial it is for them to recover the valise. As they hang up, we see Tom Keen examining the skeleton in the suitcase.

Lizzie and Reddington reach a carnival grounds in Kentucky, and we view a phone call between Keen and Cooper. Harold demands to speak to Red and starts to read him the riot act, but Raymond stops him in his tracks. He tells Cooper that the FBI will help him rebuild his criminal empire, so that Reddington can return to the status of getting the information to capture more members of the Blacklist. He then tells Harold that he’s the equivalent of deep-fried butter, unhealthy and irresistible.

Back at the Post-Office, the Task-Force’s informed that Laurel Hitchin’s body was found at her home, and she might have been the victim of foul play. Cooper tells Navabi and Ressler to head to the crime scene, he thinks Reddington’s behind her death, and he wants to make certain nothing points back to the Task-Force.

When the agents arrive at Hitchin’s home, it looks exactly the same as it did when Ressler left in a panic after she slipped and fell during their scuffle. One of the examiners at the scene tell Donald, that although there’s no sign of forced entry, Hitchin had a surveillance system in her home, That should let them determine if her death was an accident, or indeed caused by foul play. Ressler tells the examiner that he wants the results from the surveillance system yesterday.

Liz and Red burst in on two scraggly looking guys who work for the carnival, asking about the whereabouts of Putnum. One of the guys starts telling the other something in what almost sounds like Pig-Latin, Raymond explains to Lizzie that it’s a carny lingo known as Cant, to keep outsiders in the dark about their conversations. Reddington puts his pistol to the head of one of the pair, and soon Keen and Red are given the address of Putnum’s girlfriend, Tammy Lynn Thompson.

Raymond tries to convince Thompson that he’s an attorney trying to find Putnum, because a sister that Smokey didn’t realize he had left him a fortune. Lizzie walks over to an ashtray and sees a cigar sitting in it, and it’s still warm, which means Smokey’s in the house. The carny’s hiding above the suspended ceiling, and comes crashing though to the floor, after Red fires a couple of rounds into the ceiling.

Ressler panics and when he gives Henry Prescott the fee for covering up Hitchin’s death, he asks him what’s going on. He says her body was found at her home and it opened up a huge interagency investigation. Prescott tells “Mr. Sturgeon,” the name he knows Ressler by, that he removed all the evidence and the death will be ruled as accidental. As long as Mr. Sturgeon keeps his mouth shut, his involvement will never get discovered.

Putnum pleads with Liz and Reddington to let him go, he gives them an address in West Virginia, and tells them that’s where he hid the money. Raymond thanks him for the info, and says he’s turning him and then he’ll take the money. It turns out that Red knows quite a bit about Smokey Putnum, as the carny headed up all the logistic and travel plans for the Ringling Brothers Circus. Military officers studied his plans as they were far more effective   than any plans that the pentagon had come up with.

Suddenly Keen sees two black SUVs behind them and she thinks they’re Federal Marshalls. Raymond says they have to lose them or he’ll get taken into custody, but Liz stops the car and says she’ll handle things. As Lizzie approaches the vehicle, Raymond realizes they’re not Marshalls, they’re actually assassins trying to take out Putnum. Keen and Red engage in a shootout with the gunmen, taking most of them out but two keep firing at their vehicle as the trio speeds away.

They get the car to a deserted road in the woods before it breaks down. Putnum tells the pair that the assassins were members of a skinhead group, that utilizes the carnival company to launder their money that they use to run a vast drug network through the prison system. He got set up by his partner, a female accountant that goes by the name of Hawkins. She struck a deal with prosecutors to testify against him in return for a lighter sentence. He tells the pair that if he goes to jail, he won’t survive long before they kill him. The car won’t budge, so the trio end up taking the bus to Cincinnati. As they reach the outskirts of the city, Putnum says he’s having a diabetic attack and Liz gets the bus-driver to drop them off at a café.

After eating a good size piece of pie and a glass of orange juice, Putnum informs them he’s feeling much better. Red’s cellphone rings, and speaks to Maurice the bail bondsman. He tells Maurice that they have Smokey in custody and they’re taking the train from Cincinnati to DC, and should arrive with time to spare. What both men are unaware of is that the skinheads have tapped Maurice’s phone and now they know exactly where the trio are.

Cooper calls Donald into his office, and starts asking him about being at Hitchin’s home the day she died. Ressler says he included that in his report, but Harold asks why he didn’t mention the bad blood between them, Donald says he didn’t think it was relevant, and Harold asked him if the woman he despised died shortly after he left her home, was just coincidence? Ressler responds either that or Karma, and Cooper says he’s satisfied with Donald’s response, but he had to ask.

Sitting at the Amtrak station in Cincinnati, Raymond starts to freak as their bus keeps getting delayed. Fearful of not making the deadline, Red tells Lizzie he’s going to steal a car. When Keen starts to object, Reddington asks her for an alternative solution. She pouts and tells him not to treat her like a child, he smiles and heads out to the parking lot to look for a vehicle he can heist.

As Red heads outside, Smokey tells Liz she’s helping Reddington because he’s her dad. He realized she was a cop when she got the bus-driver to drop them at the café, but he couldn’t figure out why she was helping Red. She says she’s helping capture a fugitive, but Putnum realizes he stuck a nerve. He then tells her he needs to use the men’s room, at first she refuses, but then she accompanies him inside. A trucker comes out of a stall, and Putnum walks over to a urinal. Liz’s modesty gets the best of her and she waits outside the restroom.

A couple of minutes later the trucker emerges from the bathroom, and Liz goes back inside to see what’s taking Putnum so long. She discovers that the carny knocked out the trucker and took his clothes. Liz gets out to the street just in time to see the skinheads abduct Putnum and drive away. She tells Raymond, who just got their getaway vehicle. He tells Keen he believes he knows where they are.

Lizzie contacts Aram and he sends her pictures of men who match the kidnapper’s description. She identifies a picture of a man named Odin Nieland. Aram tells her that he’s connected to Roman LeMarc who heads up the Friedrich Brigade, a criminal organization that runs a drug trade through the Federal Prison system.

Reddington’s hunch proved to be spot-on, as the pair surprised LeMarc and his men, as Liz pressed her pistol to the back of LeMarc’s skull, not far from where Putnum hid the money in West Virginia. Raymond told Putnum to go find his money, and told LeMarc to sit down at gunpoint. When Smokey returned with the cash, Red told LeMarc he could have his money back in exchange for Putnum. Roman said he wanted his money and Smokey, but Raymond told the criminal that he was dictating the terms because LeMarc and his men were without weapons. Liz didn’t want LeMarc to escape, and said she’d shoot the drug kingpin if he took the money, but she couldn’t shoot an unarmed man.

The trio arrived in DC 45 minutes before the trial commenced, and Putnum pleaded to call his girlfriend one last time. He wanted to have privacy to make the call, so Raymond pointed him to a bench right outside their vehicle. Smokey attempted to escape once again as he called in a bomb-threat and tried to vanish in the crowd that soon surrounded them. However Keen chased him down, and tackled him to the ground, handing him off to two policemen who took him to the courthouse.

Liz met with Cooper and told him of their adventure. He then apologized to Keen, and told her of his decision to inform the new FBI Director about the results of the DNA test. She nodded her head and said he was doing the right thing, he responded that he knew the information would make her life tougher and put he under all sorts of scrutiny. However he believed she would come through the experience in good shape as long as she didn’t lose herself.

After Raymond received his 40 grand from Maurice, Lizzie met him back at his car in a parking structure. Suddenly a paddy-wagon pulled up in front of them, containing Hawkins the accountant. However it wasn’t a real police vehicle or real cops, Raymond gave the men the bag with Maurice’s money in exchange for Hawkins. The accountant asked Reddington who he was, he explained he was her guardian angel. The Prosecutors were going to reduce her prison sentence to four-years, he reduced it to no time served. He asked her if she wanted to hear more details and she anxiously awaited the information.

With Hawkins not showing up to testify, Putnum got released and granted his freedom. Liz picked him up at the courthouse and drove him straight to the Terra Vista Motor Lodge, where Hawkins and Raymond were waiting. The two former partners balked at the idea of working together, but Reddington offered them each two percent of his corporation, to utilize their skills. Hawkins for money laundering and Smokey for logistics, Raymond suddenly had the first two members of his new team.

Cooper informs the Task-Force that the Medical-Examiner determined that Hitchin’s death was accidental, and Ressler sighs with relief, thinking he’s now in the clear. However he soon realizes that the waters haven’t calmed for him, as Henry Prescott surprises him when Donald gets into his car a short while later. Prescott realized that Reddington’s security guy, Frank Sturgeon wouldn’t be privy to police reports. So he ran Donald’s fingerprints and found out his true identity. The fixer tells the FBI Agent, that he’ll be doing some favors for Prescott over the next few months.

Dembe arrived later in the evening and Liz offered to get him a drink. He informed Raymond that he came up empty in his search for the suitcase. Raymond once again stressed that neither could rest before they had the valise in their possession.

Our final scene reunited Liz and Tom, after coming back from helping his father get back his company. They embraced and then each said they had news for the other. Lizzie went first and told Tom that Raymond’s her father, hearing that Tom pushed the valise behind the couch so Liz wouldn’t see it. She asked him what his news was, and he told her he loved her and would never leave her again. However in his mind he envisioned Raymond and Dembe shooting him down to get back the valise.

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

Photo Courtesy Of NBC

WARNING: SPOILER ALERT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo Courtesy Of William Hart/NBC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

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

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

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

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

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

Can We Survive?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rising From The Ashes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo Courtesy Of Will Hart/NBC

WARNING: SPOILER ALERT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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