Johnny Coyne

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Photo Courtesy Of NBC.

WARNING: SPOILER ALERT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo Courtesy Of Will Hart/NBC

WARNING: SPOILER ALERT

Remember when we thought this was going to be the “light and breezy season?” The NBC series “The Blacklist,” excels in the game of bait and switch, getting the viewer to think zig, while the story-line veers off into the land of zag. The device’s one of the most intriguing aspects of the show, beginning with the revelation that Elizabeth Keen’s life was just an illusion. Since then we’ve witnessed the show-runners and story-writers lead us down the path in one direction, only to realize that they’ve surprised viewers once again.

Viewers went into the show’s fifth season, prepared for a new dynamic centering on a down-and-out Raymond Reddington. The former concierge of crime, wiped out financially thanks to the efforts of Mr. Kaplan, and living in a seedy motor-lodge and wearing hand me downs. Adding two new members to Raymond’s “Island Of Misfit Toys,” it appeared we were on the verge of witnessing Red’s bumpy road back to respectability. There was an ominous feeling in the final scene of the season premiere, seeing a beaten and bloodied Tom Keen, lying on the floor, as Reddington and Dembe burst in brandishing pistols.

Any thoughts of an airy season dissipated long ago, culminating with Tom’s death in the fall finale. The series returned on January 3, showcasing a vigilante Lizzie, a woman obsessed with taking justice into her own hands. She went off to find herself in a cabin in the woods, returning after channeling Rambo, in a killing spree. Her execution of the four felons that threatened her life, made her feel whole again for the first time since she woke from her coma.

Elizabeth’s not the only member of the Task-Force battling inner demons, as the Boy-Scout, Agent Donald Ressler’s been dealing with the ramifications of his actions since the season four finale. Ressler’s been under the thumb of “Fixer” Henry Prescott, after Prescott made certain that evidence connecting him the accidental death of Laurel Hitchin, would never get discovered. Panic caused Donald to contact Prescott too many times, alerting the “Fixer,” to the concept that Frank Sturgeon had other secrets. Upon realizing that Ressler belonged to the Bureau, Prescott kept him on a short leash, and used his new pet to do his bidding.

The Informant, (118)” proved to be an interesting contrast in how Lizzie and Donald are dealing with their dark-sides. While Keen chooses to embrace the anger bubbling within her, Ressler’s mortified by the situation he finds himself in. He’s going against his moral grain, feelings and values that he’s had since childhood. He remembers all too well that his police-officer father, died at the hands of a dirty cop, and he’s disgusted with himself for bending and breaking the rules.

The episode, sprawling and unwieldy, and jam-packed with information, can’t be done justice in one recap. Instead we’ll divide the episode into two recaps, with the first one focusing on the main story line, and the second recap dealing with the trials and tribulations of Elizabeth Keen.

The Blacklist Member Of The Week.

The show returned to its standard cold open format, dealing with characters stricken by nerve-gas in a Toronto Disco, causing all who ingest the gas to start gagging and vomiting, followed shortly by death. A terrorist cell claimed responsibility for the 57-victims, were in custody and the Fed planned to freeze their bank accounts on Monday.

Raymond informs Samar Navabi, that a person known as the Informant accessed the account information and plans to take possession of the assets, and then sell them back to the owners. The information was accessed by somebody using Senator Cooligan’s credentials, however the Senator was at a party when the hack occurred. Aram quickly determines that Cooligan’s got 11 staff members, and all have legitimate alibis except for a man named Howard Bishop. Harold sends Ressler and Navabi to question the aide.

Samar and Donald watch Bishop walking down the street using a burner phone. When he enters a restaurant, Navabi enters shortly after, only to find that Bishop gave her the slip. He actually went to the nearest police station and reported to the desk sergeant, that he witnessed a crime.

The aide claims that he witnessed a hit and run accident, at the time of the hack but he didn’t report it because he was with his lover, a married woman. The woman’s Judge Sonia Fisher, and she admits to the agents that she and Bishop are embroiled in an affair, and when she reported witnessing the accident she left out the fact that she was with Bishop. She says her husband’s hired a private detective to spy on her, and that Howard thought Navabi worked for Fisher’s husband, and that’s why he left the restaurant. The agents don’t think all is on the up and up.

Harold pays Raymond a visit, and Reddington’s back to his opulent living style, complete with a private elevator in the apartment, and his new valet Paris, who he hired away from La Berdanin. Harold tells Raymond they’ve got the Informant, but they lack the evidence to put him away. Harold gives Raymond a list of the bank accounts and asks if Raymond can obtain information on them.

Raymond and Dembe take the private jet to the Cayman Islands, and pay a visit to a bank managed by a prissy and uptight guy named Herman. He treats Reddington with disdain, until he finds out that Red’s net-worth’s now in nine figures. At that point Herman can’t be gracious enough, but Red informs him that if wants any of his business, he must perform a service for him first. He then presents him with the information on the bank accounts, and says he’s certain Herman has a way of getting the relevant information.

Raymond’s introduced to a young woman named Ms. Isaacson, a hacker who tried breaking into the bank’s server. She got granted early release from prison, in exchange for her pointing out vulnerabilities in the bank’s computer network. She however outright refuses to assist Raymond, telling him that money doesn’t interest her, but Red quickly comes up with an offer that entices her. Turns out that he’s owed a favor by an elusive tattoo artist Sosi-San, whom the heavily tattooed woman idolizes, and Raymond gets her to help him in exchange for getting tattooed by the legendary artist.

After receiving the list of the account holders from Reddington, Aram quickly determines that they’re looking for Rozmin Hamzah, who arrived earlier that day at Dulles from Brunei, under a false identity, and agents tracked him to the hotel he’s staying at. Navabi will trail Hamzah, while Ressler follows Bishop. Donald has Bishop in his sights when his phone rings and Prescott’s on the other end. He tells Ressler that he’s a client and unless the agent backs off he’ll release the information that will end his career and send him to prison.

Thinking of self-preservation, Ressler calls Navabi off and directs her and the other agents elsewhere. He then stands outside a door, watching Bishop and Hamzah switch briefcases. His instincts as an agent override his fears and he arrests Bishop and directs Samar to where Hamzah’s heading. Bishop glares at Ressler and through gritted teeth, tells him he’s made a costly mistake.

Prescott and Ressler meet and the “Fixer” shows the agent images of him standing over Laurel Hitchin’s corpse. He then laughs as he proudly informs Donald that the judge wasn’t having an affair with Bishop, she’s just another play thing. He laughs even harder when he tells the agent that the hit-and-run accident, was actually a murder carried out by yet another person under his thumb. He then slaps Ressler across the face, Donald grabs him by the collar and puts his pistol to Prescott’s face.

Prescott flashes a rather maniacal grin and asks Ressler if he’s going to arrest him, when the agent doesn’t even know the “Fixer’s” real name. Frustrated, Donald cocks the gun at his antagonist’s head and says he can’t arrest him, but he’ll kill him if Prescott contacts him again, a truly empty threat. Prescott assures him he’ll contact him soon.

Ressler heads back to the Post Office, and Samar asks him if he remembers Henry Prescott, then she tells him that Bishop and Fisher are clients of his. Bishop admitted that the affair was a ruse and that the hit and run was actually a murder. Harold enters the room and congratulates Donald on the fine work he did, capturing the two men and stopping the money from falling back into the hands of the terrorists. They find out that the murder victim was an Internal Affairs officer named Perez, and they surmise that perhaps a dirty cop killed her. Cooper sends the pair to speak with her superior officer.

The pair interview Detective Farwell, who not only allows the duo to search the fallen officer’s apartment, he supplies them with her computer password which she entrusted to him. The password “Frank Sturgeon,” makes Ressler naturally quite nervous, and he zones out on Navabi as they head to the apartment. Donald tells Navabi to search the bedroom, but she stops first and asks him what’s up? He replies that he’s engrossed in trying to catch a cop killer, but she senses it’s much more than that.

While Samar searches the bedroom, Donald quickly finds the woman’s tablet, and types in her password. He finds a file with his name on it and finds an audio file within it. The audio file’s a doctored recording of the officer answering her phone, followed by Donald threatening Prescott, so that it sounds like he threatened the woman. At that moment his cellphone rings, Raymond’s on the other end and says it might be a good time for them to have a talk.

Turns out that Raymond orchestrated this whole affair, realizing that Donald was indebted to Prescott, and knowing the informant was one of his clients. He tells Ressler he wanted to know how far he had fallen down the rabbit hole. and Ressler passed the test. He then suggests that they visit Sonia Fisher together, and try to obtain some information from her.

Navabi heads back to the Post Office, and voices her concerns about Ressler to Cooper, and he replies that Ressler’s seemed unfocused. She says she’s worried about him, that he left he apartment they were searching without telling her. Harold assures her that he’ll talk to Donald, but he assigns her and Aram to go and speak with Judge Fisher again.

Ressler and Reddington speak to Fisher, who at first denies all their allegations, but quickly crumbles when she finds out the FBI are about to arrest her for being an accessory in a crime. We find out during this exchange that our old pal Brimley’s enjoying his golden years working at an ostrich farm.

Fisher asks Raymond if he had ever been honest, and he replies that he considers himself to be quite honest. She responds that she once was honest and moral and had convictions, but that part of her life ended when her teenage son got busted for assault. The young woman he’d assaulted had gotten a rape kit, and her son’s promising future appeared to be over before it began. Then she got a call from one of her son’s classmate’s father, an attorney who told her he could make the situation go away. The rape kit turned up missing the next morning, she didn’t ask for it to be taken, but she didn’t protest.

A few months later, the lawyer came looking for favors that she felt obligated to fulfill. She allowed guilty parties to walk free, and looked the other way countless times. Raymond says he can supply her new identity in a new country overnight, if she gives them Prescott’s real name. She reveals Prescott’s real name Mitchell Hatley, then excuses herself to get her coat in the bedroom.

Reddington starts relating a parable to Ressler about self-forgiveness, but his story’s quickly interrupted by a woman’s scream. Donald rushes to the bedroom to find that the judge took her own life by leaping out her bedroom window to the pavement below. Samara and Aram arrive just after she hits the pavement, and miss seeing Ressler in the window by a millisecond.

While Dembe drives, Ressler and red have a discussion in the back seat of the car. Donald says that he never thanked Reddington for avenging Audrey’s death and preventing the agent from taking the law into his own hands. Raymond told Ressler at that moment to go home, instead of going searching in the darkness, as he might find things down that path, he can never return from. Although Donald didn’t go home, he did heed Raymond’s advice, keeping himself from committing an unforgivable act.

He tells Reddington that the reason he wanted Hatley’s identity was to arrest him, not to kill him. Raymond responds that if Hatley goes to prison, than Ressler will as well. Donald says it’s his only way for him to escape the darkness and find the light again.

Ressler tracks down Hatley playing in a neighborhood football game, with parents and kids all participating. Hatley’s face goes gray when he sees Ressler, and asks “Sturgeon,” what he’s doing there. Mitchell’s wife asks him if he knows Donald and he introduces himself and tells her that her husband’s been doing an awful lot of lying to her. As the neighbors start to chime in, Hatley runs off with Ressler in pursuit. Dembe and Raymond, just happened to be in the neighborhood, and Raymond stops Hatley from running with a strategically placed car door.

Hatley flashes that maniacal grin once again, this time his teeth stained in blood, and goads Ressler to kill him, saying it’s the only way to save them both from going to prison. Ressler cocks his pistol and glares at Hatley, until Raymond calls out his name, then he holsters his pistol and arrests Hatley.

Donald heads back to the Post Office and makes a beeline for Cooper’s office. Both men want to talk at the same time, but Harold takes command and tells him that Mitchell Hatley died in an accident on his way to getting booked. The scene switches and we see Hatley trapped inside an empty vehicle that’s tipped upside down and is leaking gasoline all over the interior of the vehicle. Raymond sticks his head into the vehicle and tells Hatley that Donald Ressler sends his regards and then sets the vehicle ablaze.

Donald tells Cooper that Reddington killed Hatley and got rid of the evidence incriminating him, but Harold refuses to discuss the matter. Then Ressler gives him a sealed envelope containing a signed confession. Harold tells his agent that he’s realized the pain and anguish he’s been suffering for months. He then says that none of them are the same people that first signed onto the Task-Force. He says he’ll hold onto the confession until the Task-Force’s completed it’s mission, then he’ll give it to the proper authorities. As long as Ressler gives those same authorities Harold’s signed confession at the same time, and hands the agent another sealed envelope.

Ressler angrily heads over to Raymond’s apartment and demands to know why he killed Hatley despite the agent’s wishes. Reddington tells him not to flatter himself, that Hatley knew all about Red’s relationship with the Bureau, and that he needed to be silenced. Ressler says that he didn’t extract himself from being under Hatley’s thumb to in turn being obligated to Reddington.

Raymond replies that sins should be buried like dead, not that they be forgotten, but for us to remember them but find our way forward nonetheless. He says he hopes this serves that purpose for Donald, and besides blackmail’s too nasty a business to be brought up between friends. Ressler leaves the apartment grabbing a pricey looking liquor decanter on his way out the door.

Coming Up: PART TWO: She’s Not Coming Back Is She?

Photo Courtesy Of Will Hart/NBC

WARNING: POSSIBLE SPOILERS AND RAMPANT SPECULATION

With the return of the NBC series “The Blacklist,” almost upon us a myriad of questions, both long and short-term, have fans of the show buzzing with anticipation. The immediate concern for many long-time viewers, centers on the health and well-being of FBI Agent Elizabeth Keen.  We last saw her emerging from an eight month coma, after a beating that took the life of her husband Tom. Published reports inform us that we’ll rejoin the characters, months after we left them in the Winter Finale.

The Lizzie that we’ll encounter on January 3, is a broken woman, physically, mentally, and spiritually. Suddenly her life got put into a blender, then spit her out, and when she came to she found herself in a new life that didn’t make sense. The love of her life taken from her, a daughter that blossomed from a baby into a young girl, that she doesn’t know. Her body and mind atrophied from her injuries and the coma.

Keen’s focused on just one thing, seeking vengeance on the men that took her husband. She says it’s her only motivation for getting out of bed each morning. According to an article published last week, that story-arc will dominate the return episode, described as a “free-standing Cape May, type story.”

We’re going to concentrate on the show’s big question of this season in this article, the same question that’s had fans speculating since last May. Whose bones are in the valise that Mr. Kaplan, wanted Tom to deliver to Elizabeth, and why are they so important to the man we know as Raymond Reddington? That question produced a new query in the last couple of episodes of the Fall campaign, the identity of Ian Garvey, and what he intends to do with the information he possesses?

The following is pure speculation, however I can give you what I consider a logical explanation for my theories. As with any theory, there are flaws and I try to address each one to my satisfaction. We shall see if they meet yours,  or if you find holes in this theory that I’ve yet to discover. As always your thoughts, comments, and other theories are always welcome. So, with that let’s delve down the rabbit hole!

DNA TESTS DON’T LIE.

Raymond Reddington IS the biological father of Masha Rostova.

Harold Cooper, obtained the DNA sample came from the clothes of Naval Intelligence Officer Raymond Reddington, from an evidence locker where the clothe got deposited 30-years before. All that proves is the man that Katarina had the affair with and fathered Masha, was indeed the REAL Raymond Reddington.

However, it’s yet to be revealed whether the man we know as Raymond matches that DNA sample. Also let’s remember in the finale of season four, when our Raymond tells Dembe what Lizzie believes, the first thing he asks is “And You Didn’t Deny It??” Lizzie KNEW that Kaplan’s final mission was to reveal some truth to Keen. When Harold told her about the DNA results, she automatically jumped to the conclusion that our Raymond is her BIO-Dad, Which our Raymond welcomes, because it’s kept Lizzie from seeking out Kate’s real secret, whose in the suitcase from Tansi Farms?

SO WHOSE IN THE SUITCASE?

Many fans theorize that Katarina Rostova’s last remains are in the suitcase now held by Ian Garvey. I’ve never subscribed to that theory, mainly because Kate apologized to Katarina before she retrieved the valise from Tansi Farms. She wouldn’t apologize to Rostova for informing Lizzie that the valise contained her mother’s bones.

There’s another contingent of fans that believe the bones belong to either Masha, or Raymond’s daughter Jennifer. Some believe that the real Masha died the night of the fire, and Raymond’s behind Jennifer believing that she’s Elizabeth Keen. Others believe the bones belong to Jennifer, that Raymond was simply too grief-stricken to bury his daughter, after the events that he described to Madeline Pratt. However once again Mr. Kaplan doesn’t figure into the latter scenario.

Now that we’ve eliminated some names off our list, it’s time to reveal whom I believe occupies the purloined knapsack The REAL Raymond Reddington. Think back to “Requiem,” the flashback story from season four that told us the history of the affair between a KGB Agent and a U.S. Naval Intelligence Officer, through the eyes of Kathryn Nemec. The only time we saw Raymond Reddington, before Katarina disappeared,  was through the back window of a car, as he was passionately kissing Rostova.  The view obscured,  and we only really saw the back and the side of his head.

The man that we know as Raymond Reddington’s not introduced until after Lizzie’s lived with Sam Milhoan for a while. Kate’s working for Little Nikos as a bail bondsman, after she recovered from the shot to the head in the attack that killed her partner Annie. He entices Mr. Kaplan to come work for his criminal empire that he stresses exists primarily to keep Elizabeth safe. If Kaplan’s aware that the man she’s meeting’s a faux Raymond Reddington, we’re given no indication, but remember we’re watching this scenario play out from her point of view.

Alexander Kirk/Constantin Rostov, said to the man that we know as Raymond Reddington, that there was nothing Reddington could say, that would keep Kirk from killing him. Yet after Raymond whispered something in his ear, Red walked away without a scratch. Why did Constantin not follow through on his vow?

After the conversation between Dembe and Raymond in last season’s finale, I believed that the suitcase contained the final remains of Raymond Reddington. My suspicions solidified after seeing Tom Keen’s face after reading the DNA results as he sat in Penn Station, during the episode “Ian Garvey.” Tom opens up the large yellow envelope, looks at the name, and immediately does a double-take. This can’t be right. Then he looks at it again, and it starts to dawn on him, this is real. Then anger sets in as he realizes why the man we know as Raymond, keeps that information from Lizzie. When Raymond has him paged at Penn Station, he tells Red that he know everything, and we watch Reddington’s complexion turn slate gray.

There’s only one name that could cause Tom to have that reaction and subsequent reaction, and cause Ian Garvey to go on a murderous rampage to exploit that information. The REAL Raymond Reddington. Which brings us to our ultimate question: whose the man that we know as Raymond Reddington?

Dom Is The Wild Card.

There are just three people out there that know the true story of the man we know as Raymond Reddington. Raymond, Dembe, and Dom, Katarina’s father and Lizzie’s grandfather. There’s an incredibly strong bond that we’ve seen play out between Dom and Raymond, far more of a bond that one would expect from a man that impregnated a married woman and her father.

Why would Dom welcome into his home, the disgraced American Naval Officer, who helped lead to his daughter’s apparent demise? What could have compelled him to enter an agreement with that man, thirty years earlier to safeguard his granddaughter?

Why would that American Naval Officer taken the time to rebuild nd replace new piano key, for a man whose only connection’s Elizabeth? Why would that same man care that he didn’t turn out the way that Dom expected, that he didn’t measure up?

Truly doesn’t make sense that bond existed between Dom and Raymond Reddington, however it would be perfectly logical, if the man we know as Raymond’s actually Dom’s son and Katarina’s brother. He’s masqueraded as Reddington, since Masha shot her father to death the night of the fire. Why would he takeover Reddington’s identity? Likely for the safety of Katarina and Masha. Reddington’s name trashed in Intelligence circles and likely wanted for treason, gave this man the perfect gateway into the criminal world.

We learned in season one that Raymond had utilized the services of renowned plastic surgeon Dr. Abraham Maltz, whose claim to fame’s his ability to give underworld figures new identities. This young man likely had plenty of audio and videotape recordings of Reddington’s voice and he studied it until he mastered it. When the question of the veracity of his identity surfaced during Mr. Gregory Devry, Ressler informed Cooper that they lacked a DNA sample to compare our Raymond’s DNA to.

Keeping a thirty year distance between himself and Cooper, likely hid any tells that our Raymond might display. We know that Fitch and Peter Kotsiopoulos, knew the younger Reddington, however they might have been on the whole thing due to their connection through the Cabal.

This would explain the bond between the man we know as Raymond Reddington and Lizzie, as well as his fears for her finding out the truth. Dembe’s asked him to be forthright with Elizabeth since the early episodes of the series. If this man had only been upfront about his identity from the onset, at the very least Tom would still be alive.

When Raymond last spoke to Dom, he told him to seek Elizabeth out if Reddington hadn’t contacted him. I’m willing to make an educated guess that call never got made and Dom will seek Elizabeth out. I believe that’s when everything will finally get revealed, as Dom explains the true story of her parents and their fates. Will Elizabeth still perceive Raymond as her Sin-Eater, and continue to work with him and accept him as an uncle and surrogate father? Guess that will determine how long the series airs.

Bring Us The Head Of Ian Garvey!

The Blacklist has given us an array of sick, twisted, depraved, sinister, villains, over the years, from zealots to career criminals. Criminals involved in every facet of the underworld, some operating deeply underground, while others did their dirty work, in full view of the whole planet. However their may be one breed of “BIG BAD,” that stands out from the rest, they’re colder, and seemingly without a soul. People like Peter Kotsiopoulos, and Laurel Hitchin, Government.

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

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

I always believe if you’re going to make a prediction, swing for the fences! We shall see what develops starting January 3.

The Story Continues Wednesday Night January 3, at 8:00 pm on NBC.

Photo Courtesy Of Will Hart/NBC

WARNING SPOILER ALERT

Long-time fans of the NBC series “The Blacklist,” realize that the show-runners are never afraid of “shaking the snow-globe,” to entertain the viewers. As expected, the show enters it’s Winter hiatus, with a radically altered dynamic, which is nothing new for long-time fans. We’ve witnessed an FBI profiler named Elizabeth Keen, discover her entire life was based on lies in the show’s first season. We then watched her on the lam, after killing the United States Attorney Tom Connelly, after he threatened her and her friends, during season three. Last year we witnessed a feud to the death between Raymond Reddington, and the woman he once called his better-half, Kate Kaplan.

Although season five started off on a lighter note, with Raymond reduced to living in a motor court and wearing borrowed clothes, we felt a sense of trepidation from the closing moments of the season premiere. The image that left fans of the show unsettled, revolved around Tom Keen lying on a floor bloodied, as Raymond and Dembe burst through a door with guns drawn. Unsure if the scene was a premonition, or a flash-forward, provided plenty of fodder for speculation and conversation.

The lighthearted feeling of the season’s first few episodes, dissipated a while back. Raymond’s fortunes have drastically improved from when he need Elizabeth to provide a ride for him to track down a guy wanted by a bounty hunter. His new ventures have replenished his coffers, and he’s back to wearing designer suits, flying on his private jet, and living once again in luxury.

However he’s been on a mission all year to recover a valise that’s vitally important to him. The suitcase contains a skeleton, a gift from beyond the grave courtesy of Mr. Kaplan, to further complicate his life. She left it in the care of Tom Keen, with instruction for him to reveal the contents to Elizabeth. That skeleton ended up massively complicating Tom’s life, costing him the life of Tom and Lizzie’s friend Nik Korpal, and two other people he got involved in trying to identify the bones. We left Tom last week with his life endangered, captured by the sinister Ian Garvey, who also possess the valise, and vowed to stop at nothing to contact Raymond.

Series creator Jon Bokenkamp, promised viewers an emotional episode as the show goes into its hiatus, and this hour lived up to that promise. It took fans into the final scene unsure of what they just witnessed, and then hit us collectively in the gut with a powerful one-two punch, that left this viewer reeling. If you’ve yet to watch the episode, this is your final warning to watch the episode before reading further.

I’ve watched every episode of “The Blacklist,” and recapped every episode since the start of season two, but I don’t remember any episode that contained a warning upfront cautioning viewer discretion. Perhaps because of the violence contained in this hour or because it aired in the 8:00 pm hour in the East, as this was one of the most violent chapters of the series.. It also featured lots of disturbing images throughout the hour.

Historically, the cold opens that kick off the episode feature ancillary characters, some of whom are never seen for the remainder of the episode. The episode entitled “Ian Garvey (No. 13)” broke from that formula, as we see Lizzie on her phone attempting to reach Tom. Although she’s attempting to keep things light, she’s clearly worried about his safety. Harold asks her what’s wrong and she tells him Tom’s missing.

The scene shifts to the place that Ian Garvey’s imprisoned Tom, we see the corpses of Pete McGee, and Lena Mercer. Keen crawls over to Mercer, whispers he’s sorry and closes her eyelids, as he fingers the dog-tags around her neck. Garvey enters the building and Tom says that she didn’t know anything, and either did McGee. Garvey responds that Pete had the bones and Lena was looking for him so they knew too much.

He then tells Tom that what ever he thinks are inside the valise, it’s better. He then bemoans the fact that McGee had accessed CODIS, and says that curiosity killed those two cats, but they provided him with a gift that keeps on giving. He says that Raymond’s power’s legendary, and with the valise he now controls that power.

He tells Tom that he’s going to arrange a meeting with Reddington, and in case he’s changed his mind he’s going to show what Keen’s in store for. He then has two of his goons put Lena’s body into a wood-chipper, her blood and guts spurt all over Tom’s face.

We return from the credits to see Crespin in the woods looking through binoculars. He’s on the phone with Raymond, as Reddington and Dembe head to his location in their car. He says that he sees five hostiles possibly more, and has yet to see Tom, but he says things don’t look good. Red says they’re 20 minutes out and will call for an update in ten minutes.

Seconds later Raymond’s phone rings again, and Tom’s on the other end. He says that he’s got the package and he’s fine, he givers Raymond an address of a motel and a room number. Raymond responds that he’s a half hour away. Garvey takes three of his goons with him to drive to the hotel, and tells the rest of them to keep an eye on Tom and the valise. He tells them if Keen gives them any trouble, to take him out. Tom says he held up his end of the bargain, now he should get set free. Garvey responds with a blow to Keen’s jaw, knocking he and the chair he’s tied to, to the floor. As Tom falls he sees the remains of Lena’s dog-tags and starts using it to cut his binds.

Samar informs Lizzie that she’s issued a BOLO alert (Be On The Look Out for.) She then asks Liz if Tom might be involved in something Lizzie’s unaware of? Keen responds that just might be the case, and she calls Raymond. Reddington says he just spoke with her twenty minutes before, and he’s checking on a lead about Nik’s death. She asks if Tom’s involved and he responds he’s not certain, but will call her back when he gets more information.

Tom asks his captors if he could sit-up, and one of the guys responds knock yourself out. Keen says he needs a hand as he’s tied to a chair. The guy helps get Tom and the chair upright, then sarcastically asks if he can do anything else? Tom says he could give Keen his gun, and the guy laughs and says that’s never going to happen. Tom then stands up and cracks the guy over the head with his chair and grabs his gun. Keen overcomes all his captors and grabs the valise and hightails it into the woods.

With Garvey’s men on his tail, it appears he’ll soon be captured once again, but suddenly Raymond’s car pulls up and Reddington opens the back door and shouts for Keen to get in, Tom hesitates for a bit, and he gets shot in the back, but it’s just a flesh wound. He gets into the car and Raymond says I told you to stay away from that damn suitcase.

Aram finds out that Tom’s car got towed from the parking lot of Pete’s motel. Lizzie and Donald head down to the place, and when the manager fails to cooperate they break down the door. They see the room’s trashed, and Lizzie’s certain that Tom’s hurt. She tries to call his cellphone from the room, and they hear it ring, she finds it under some debris in the room.

Dembe drives the car as far as it will take them, but it suffered major damage from the gunfire, and breaks down yards away from a farm-house. Dembe tells Raymond and Tom to sit tight as he’ll explore the house. While Zuma checks out the property, we see a flashback in black and white, as Keen’s former boss the Major gives him a new assignment.

The Major tells Tom that a very wealthy client wants to hire Tom for an open-ended project, keeping an eye on a young woman named Elizabeth Milhoan. Tom sees her dossier and says she’s cute, the Major tells her the client’s stressed that Tom not get romantically involved with her. He says that Tom’s role’s to be a friend of a friend, and nothing more.

Dembe returns to the car and informs the house is empty, Raymond says they’ll use it to clean up and to get first aid, and then they’ll leave. While Raymond stitches Tom up in the kitchen, Dembe heads into the garage and finds a car under a tarp. He tries starting the car but the engine fails to turn over, so he lifts the hood and starts tinkering.

Aram discovers the report on the incident caused by Lena and Tom at the convenience store, as it matches the area and the timeline of Tom’s disappearance. Ressler and Keen head to the store and speak with a State Trooper, who says they identified the woman as Lena Mercer, but don’t have an identity for her male companion. Told that the man had been in the back room checking out surveillance footage, they head back to view the footage. They somehow realize that Tom checked out the footage on McGee, and they realize they’re likely right as they see the key from Pete’s motel.

We view another of Tom’s flashback’s, this time a few months after the previous memory. The Major says that the client’s incensed that Keen’s gotten involved with the mark. Tom spits back at him that her name’s Elizabeth. The Major responds “I don’t care if she’s Queen Elizabeth and screwing her makes you King. You’ve got to break this off, or you’ll get killed.”

Aram gets a report about the crime scene containing the corpse of Pete McGee, who they’ve identified as the owner of the car at the convenience store. Liz and Donald head to the scene, but there’s no sign of Tom at the crime scene. Aram tells Liz that McGee was a suspect in the murder of Nik Kroll, as he called him two hours before Nik got murdered, and he’d been MIA ever since. Liz theorizes that Tom got involved to find Nik’s murderer.

While Raymond’s stitching up Tom, he says to Keen that Tom’s always perceived Red’s relationship with Elizabeth as a zero sum game. If something’s good for Raymond’s it’s automatically bad for Lizzie, and he believes the opposite as well. He asks Tom what if finding out the identity of the skeleton, won’t provide Lizzie with happiness and closure, but just the opposite. Tom responds it won’t because Raymond’s trying to keep Lizzie in the dark.

Garvey and his men find the farmhouse, Raymond tells Tom they stayed too long. The men enter the house and search the premises, but find nothing. Garvey tells them to search the property. Raymond and Tom are hiding above the ceiling in the kitchen, while Dembe’s hidden on the floorboards of the car. They might have gone undetected, but Tom’s blood drips through the ceiling’s air vent and hits one of the thugs in the face. He shoots up into the ceiling, but Reddington takes him out with a shotgun blast.

Hearing the gunfire, Dembe starts up the car and runs over the guy inspecting the garage. Raymond get hit in the forehead with the butt of a rifle, but he takes the man out with a shotgun blast. Injured, he drops the shotgun and pulls out his pistol, and he takes out another guy before running out of the house. Tom stays behind to make two improvised Molotov Cocktails, from some large bottles of whiskey and some cloth. He guns down another of Garvey’s men before he leaves the house.

The guy Zuma ran over grabs his shotgun and blows out the car’s back window. Zuma slams the vehicle into reverse and backs over the man, taking him out. Dembe and Reddington takeout another couple of men outside the house. Garvey’s gang’s now down to just Garvey and his red-bearded henchman. Tom lights the cloth on fire, and puts one in each of their two vehicles which soon start blazing. They drive off with Raymond in pain, and Tom grinning like a six year-old.

We rejoin the trio at a gas station. While Dembe fills the tank, Tom says that Raymond’s got to trust him by now. He says that the father-in-law hating the son-in-law’s a tired cliché and it’s time they put a stake in it. He .then says to Raymond, you go first, who do the bones belong to, and flashes a smile

Raymond sits silently for a moment, then he tells Keen that he was in the Andes mountains, when he heard that Tom and Lizzie were engaged. Raymond was acting as a negotiator between the Colombian government, and the FARC rebels. whom he’d previously done business with. When he resolved the situation peacefully, he headed back on his 2,300 mile trek to the States, intent on killing Tom.

He arrived on their wedding day and attended the service. He said once he saw the incandescent glow on Elizabeth’s face, he realized he couldn’t kill Tom. We see a flashback of their wedding day, once again in black and white. He said he’s a violent man, a terrible, violent man. However the way Elizabeth looked at Tom, the way she loves Tom, he’s powerless against that.

Tom smiles and says Raymond’s not going to reveal the identity of the bones, and then asks or are you. Raymond looks at Tom and says he’ll say this for him, he’s always had Elizabeth’s best interests at heart. When Tom betrayed him and joined forces with Berlin, and when he helped fake Lizzie’s death he’d been trying to keep Liz safe. Tom says he appreciates Red telling him that and then grabs his knapsack and says he’d better change.

While Tom heads to the station’s restroom to change, Raymond realizes Dembe’s unhappy with him. Raymond smiles and says what, I’m making peace, you always want me to make peace. Dembe looks at him disapprovingly, and says that Raymond’s lying to Tom and Elizabeth, and as long as he lies, there can’t be peace. For some reason Dembe’s words make Reddington check the suitcase, and they find it’s filled with guns. They check inside the station’s office and realize he took off.

Tom heads to Penn Station and he’s about to take train to Baltimore, when he opens up the envelope marked DNA results. He looks at it and does a double-take, then his face becomes ashen and grim. He walks over to a bank of payphones and calls Lizzie. He tells her he’s fine but he needs to talk to her alone., He tells her to head home and not tell anybody what she’s doing. Liz tells Tom he’s scaring her, he just repeats meet him at home and hangs up.

Unable to contact Lizzie, Raymond calls Aram to find out her location. Aram responds that he’s searching for her as well. She left Ressler at the crime scene without saying anything and she’s turned off her cellphone and her GPS. He says that he was able to track the last call she received, it came from a payphone at Penn Station.

Tom’s lifted another passenger’s suitcase and he dresses in the owner’s clothes. He finds a pair of glasses that look like the pair he wore in season one, but leaves them on the bathroom floor. As he walks out he hears he’s being paged to pick up a red courtesy phone. He picks up the phone to hear Raymond telling him he’s making a terrible mistake. Tom responds that he’s not backing down, that he now knows the truth and slams down the phone. This time Reddington’s face looks grim and ashen.

Lizzie arrives at their apartment and sees Tom sitting in a chair and she starts babbling about how worried she’s been. She comes around to his front, and sees he’s bleeding and knocked out. She pulls her weapon, but Garvey’s men overtake her from behind. Garvey smiles at her and says you must be the wife, what’s your name darling? She responds with a right to Garvey’s jaw, knocking him to the floor.

He orders his thugs to put her in a chair and calls her a spitfire. One of the goons emerges from Agnes’ room with the knapsack. Garvey then says to Tom, that he like to think he’s the kind of guy that could just tell Tom to walk away and Tom would adhere to his wishes. However he says that he know Tom’s never will stop so he’s got to stop him, he then tells Liz he’s sorry and stab’s Keen twice in the abdomen. Liz screams and somebody knocks her in the back of her head, opening a deep gash. She falls to the floor and tries to stay alert.

Garvey then attempts to revive Tom, and tells him he needs him to contact Reddington again. Tom says he won’t and Garvey says then how about another session with the blade and stabs him again, then he sticks the blade into a piece of their furniture. He says they got what they came for, and grabs the knapsack. He tells his goons to finish them off and clean up the bodies.

Speaking of clichés, the goons break the rule of Criminology 101, taking out their victims as quickly as possible. Instead one of the thugs says let’s have some fun, and they put one of Tom and Lizzie’s records on the turntable, Southern Cross from CSN. As the song plays the goon who put the record on starts dancing and decides to suffocate Lizzie with some plastic wrap. Tom comes to and grabs the knife and starts to valiantly fight off the thugs.

He buys them enough time for Dembe ands Raymond to make it to the apartment, they force open the door wielding their guns. They quickly take out the thugs, and then check on Tom and Lizzie. Dembe says Tom’s lost an awful lot of blood. Raymond tells Dembe to call Cooper and tell them they’re heading to the hospital. Zuma says they’ll never make it in time, Raymond says to make the call.

Samar gets on the radio and asks for policemen to close off all roads between the apartment and the hospital, as they’ve got an agent down and it’s a life or death situation. Dembe carries Tom to the car while Raymond assists Lizzie to the vehicle. Tom looks at Liz and tells her she’s beautiful. She’s floating in and out of consciousness and she asks Tom to promise he’ll tell Agnes all about her.

Tom replies he won’t have to and then begs Lizzie to stay with him. He says he’d die without her. Raymond asks Dembe how long until they reach the hospital and Dembe responds in less than two minutes. Tom hears that and says we’re almost there, please hang on. The two are rushed into the hospital but Raymond and Dembe stay in the car. Harold sees Raymond in the car when he enters the hospital.

Both are in critical condition, they insert a breathing tube down Lizzie’s throat, and prepare to drill into her skull. Tom flat-lines on the table, and the doctors attempt to bring him back with the paddles. The camera pans over to the members of the Task-Force, and we see the concern on their faces as the scene fades to black.

The next image we see, is Raymond sitting next to a comatose Lizzie, who still has the breathing tube down her throat. Raymond’s reading her some poetry, he reads aloud Invictus, composed by William Ernest Hensley.

Invictus,  William Ernest Hensley

Out of the night that covers me,
      Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
      For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
      I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
      My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
      Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
      Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
      How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
      I am the captain of my soul.”

When Raymond finishes the poem, we hear a beep from Elizabeth’s life support system and she opens her eyes, and taps Reddington on his head. His eyes become big as pancakes and he grabs her hand and kisses it, saying that Agnes will be so excited. Elizabeth motions for a pen and paper and she writes out her first question how long?

Raymond tells her she’s been unconscious for almost a year, actually ten months. She then writes out Tom? We see Harold looking at Tom’s corpse at the mortuary. Raymond says to her that Tom’s dead, and Lizzie starts sobbing uncontrollably.

The Series Returns from Winter Hiatus, on January 3, 2018, on NBC.

Photo Courtesy Of Will Hart/NBC

WARNING: SPOILER ALERT

Who is Ian Garvey, and what’s his connection to Raymond Reddington?

We’ll dive into that question a bit later, and we’ll most likely find out the answer to that query on November 15. However we’ve got many avenues to explore concerning the episode of the NBC series “The Blacklist,” entitled “The Kilgannon Corporation (48).” This chapter harkened back to the feel that the show had during its first three seasons, dividing our attention between just two subplots, unlike the byzantine structure we’ve seen unfold in the last few episodes. The hour concluded with the Task-Force successfully completing their mission, while leaving us salivating to witness how the cliffhanger plays out.

The hour revolved around this writer’s favorite character Dembe Zuma, masterfully portrayed by actor Hisham Tawfiq. Even when relegated to the silent brooding “Muscle-Shake” persona, of the first three seasons, Tawfiq found a way to make Zuma a three-dimensional character. He did more with a raised eyebrow, or his face registering amusement, than many actors could convey in a soliloquy.

Dembe’s the series’ most mysterious character, we know bits and pieces of his past, we’ve met his daughter and granddaughter. We’re aware that Raymond rescued him decades earlier, breaking him free from the grip of the Boko Haram. Since the show-runners expanded Tawfiq’s role last season, we’ve learned that along with his physical strength, and strong sense of compassion, Zuma’s quite an educated man.

Raymond called him a natural golfer, we witnessed his skills in the kitchen a few weeks back, and he blew away Aram when he revealed that he took the electrical engineering course at Khan Academy, and he’s fluent in eight different languages. Mojtabai gushed that except for the fact Dembe’s forced to kill people as part of his job, Zuma’s his role model.

The evening begins with a very abrupt cold open. We’re at a beach on the Carolina coast, watching Mom, Dad, brother and sister setting up for a picnic, while Dad’s on the phone with friends, giving them directions. The daughter who appears to be about nine, explores the rocks and shells at the edge of the water, when she suddenly sees a man floating just feet from her. She looks up and into the ocean and there’s about 20 bodies coming towards the shore. Dad tells his daughter to stay with Mom, and he goes into the water attempting to save people.

After the credits we find ourselves in Lizzie and Tom’s apartment, with Tom begging his new bride not to answer the call from Raymond, and take the day off. While sorely tempted to indulge her new husband, she says that Raymond insisted they meet that afternoon. Tom’s phone then rings and the display registers unidentified number, Liz jokingly says that’s mysterious, and Tom flings the phone to the other side of the room.

The “Concierge Of Crime’s” still rebuilding his empire, but his days of wearing hand me downs are behind him, as he nattily attired when Elizabeth arrives for their meeting. Lizzie tells Raymond that she and Tom got married the previous afternoon, and after a moment of silence he says that though he and Tom have had their differences, he knows that Tom’s got her best interests at heart. He kisses he on the cheek and congratulates her.

She tells Raymond that she can’t remember the last time she felt that happy, until she looks down at the newspaper on the table. The headline reads that 29 people died off the Carolina coast, and Keen shakes her head at the concept of human trafficking. Reddington corrects her, explaining that these people weren’t prisoners, they paid for transportation. He says they got packed like sardines in a freighter that couldn’t withstand the weight, and sank off the coast before making port.

Red says that before Kate destroyed his empire, he ran an international human smuggling ring. However some unscrupulous gang filled the void, and hundreds of people have died in similar incidents over the last few months. Raymond says that he needs the Bureau’s help in finding out who took over the operation.

We get our introduction to the new operators, as a hot-headed young guy with a thick Irish brogue, speaks to a man he calls Captain Zhang. Zhang owned and operated the ship that sank, and the young guy’s angry because the 29 people that died hadn’t paid the balance for their transport. Zhang replies that he’d simply followed the man’s orders, and the hotheaded guy responds by shooting him dead. He turns to his father and apologizes that he had to see the killing. The father says his son compounded the problem by killing a valued employee.

Cooper questions Reddington’s motives and Raymond explains there are far easier ways to make a buck. He says that his reasons for setting up his human smuggling network, had been simply because the void needed to be filled. He wanted to ensure that clients weren’t exploited or subjected to the conditions they’re facing. Harold commends Red for his noble reasons, but says all the Bureau can only aid in shutting down the new operators.

Raymond does insist however that rather than sending in an agent to infiltrate the network, that Dembe goes in undercover, posing as a Nigerian seeking passage to Germany. After getting fitted with a radio-transmitting cap on his rear molar, Zuma and the Task-Force head to Thessaloniki, Greece, where the new operators have a base. They smuggle people north through Macedonia.

Dembe heads into a bookshop that serves as a cover for the smuggling ring. He’s brought into a back room where he encounters Cornelius Goga, the head of the local operation. He identifies himself as Malik Charef, from Oran, but the smuggler thinks he’s a cop. After Dembe wins a game of chicken with the smuggler, he’s told to return the next day with three thousand euros, and he’ll be in Germany in a few days. He says the Irishmen now demand the entire fee up front. Lizzie relays the information to Red, who identifies the Irishman as Arthur Kilgannon.

Back in the States, Tom meets up with Lena Mercer in Manassas, Virginia. Mercer got a call from a credit card fraud-protection team, saying they spotted unusual activity on her card at a convenience store in Manassas. While distracting the teenage clerk behind, the counter by stripping down to her bra and trying on a tee-shirt,

Tom sneaks into the backroom and checks out the surveillance camera footage. he finds the footage with Pete McGee on it and he’s able to zoom in on the name of the motel McGee’s crashing in, from his room key. They take off in search of the motel, with the mysterious Crespin following right behind.

Raymond and Dembe travel to Sofia, Bulgaria and pay a surprise visit to the home of Arthur Kilgannon. Reddington says that Kilgannon’s reputation precedes him, and the Irishman responds the same can be said for Red’s and mentions Reddington’s setbacks. Raymond mentions that they took over his smuggling network, and the old man says that Red needs to speak to his son, because he runs the operation.

Red says that his son’s over his head and that hundreds of people have died due to the shoddy operation. Arthur responds that the 29 deaths on the Chinese vessel, was an isolated incident, but Raymond tells him to do some digging. Reddington proposes a partnership, allowing him to handle the network and giving Kilgannon half the profits. The old man scoffs at the proposal, saying Reddington’s just trying to muscle his way in. Red responds that Kilgannon’s reputation’s one of a man that does everything top-notch, but now he sees that isn’t true.

After failing to negotiate with Kilgannon, the decision’s made to destroy the network in a bust. Zuma says because he’s already cleared for travel, he’s the obvious choice to infiltrate the network, but Reddington objects. Dembe says that he knows what it’s like to be seen as less than human. Raymond rescued him from that life, and now it’s his turn to rescue others from the same fate. Red grudgingly agrees, and says that the Task-Force will maintain contact with him, and if that fails Raymond will track him down and get him back.

Lena and Tom head to McGee’s room and force their way in. Pete swears that he didn’t kill Nik, that somebody tracked him down, after he hacked the Federal database. They ended up cutting off some of his fingers to give up who else he’d been working with, but he remained silent. He said he passed out from the pain, and when he woke he heard struggling and saw a guy strangling Nik, He used that opportunity to run away. Just then two beefy looking guys burst through the motel door, and knock Tom out.

Dembe meets with Goga and pays him the three thousand euros, he’s then brought into a facility with a few other people, including an Arabic couple and their young daughter. After having black hoods put over their heads the groups transported to a huge facility, and deposited into cages. The facility’s filled with cages each containing others searching for a new life. Dembe sees the fear in the little girl’s eyes and tries to comfort her, but her parents pull her away.

Arthur Corrigan angrily confronts his son Colin, after verifying what Reddington told him. He tells his son that he hoped by putting him in charge, Colin would rise to the occasion and mature. However he says he should’ve known better, that Colin always had a mean-streak, even as a child. He tells his son he’s no longer in charge, and Colin responds by choking the life out of his father.

Cornelius Goga announces that the trucks have arrived and the transport’s underway. People get divided into groups and loaded onto trucks, but the little girl’s been separated from her parents. Dembe tries to reason with Goga, but the smuggler socks him in the jaw, breaking the audio-link to the Task-Force. With their link down, Cooper refuses to allow the Task-Force to invade the facility. The Macedonia police arrive a short while later and engage in a shootout. Although they quickly subdue the smugglers, seven trucks escaped during the battle, including the one containing Dembe and the little girl.

Goga reveals to the authorities that he sent out a message to all the drivers to dump their vehicles in isolated areas. The vehicles are refrigerator trucks, which means they’re airtight, and the only time air circulates in the truck’s when the engine’s running. All the people imprisoned within those trucks have about two and a half hours of air remaining, so the race against the clock’s on.

Raymond heads back to Arthur Kilgannon’s home, where Kilgannon’s widow informs him her husband’s dead. Reddington demands to speak to their son, and when he connects with Colin he says that unless he gets the info on all the truck driver’s he’ll unfortunately be forced to shoot Colin’s mother. The young man laughs and says Reddington would be doing him a favor, and saving him the trouble of killing her himself. Raymond apologizes that Mrs. Kilgannon had to hear that, and she replies that if Red allows her to access her computer she’ll provide Colin’s exact location through the GPS unit in her son’s car.

The truck that contains Dembe and the little girl, pulls to a stop and the motor shuts off. The people in the back start to panic, so Dembe tries to reassure them that help’s on the way. However two guys pry loose a bar from the roof of the truck and try smashing through the walls to no avail. After the effort proves to be fruitless, Dembe grabs the bar and flings it away, telling the guy he’s using too much oxygen.

Tom wakes up to find that he along with Lena and Pete, are tied to chairs and facing an ominous looking bald man with horned rimmed glasses, that IMDB identifies as Ian Garvey. In yet another great choice of casting, Garvey’s portrayed by the fine character actor Johnny Coyne. He tells the trio that only one of them will live through this experience, the one that can connect him to Raymond Reddington.

McGee’s over come with fear to the point that he’s almost in tears. He tells their captor that he’s completely clueless, that Tom got him and Nik involved and he’s got no idea how to contact Reddington. The man responds that McGee just revealed he’s completely useless, and shoots him dead. Lena then begs the man to let her go, she promises she’ll never say a thing and she doesn’t even know where they are.

Tom also pleads with their abductor to let her go, and the man smiles and says that she can leave. Her hand restraints get cut off, and she starts to scurry towards the door, when the man plants two slugs into her back. He turns towards Tom and smiles once more and says “And then there was one.”

Raymond arrives at Colin’s hideout just as he and two associates are leaving, with Red taking two of them out before they realize he’s in the room. He then points the gun at Kilgannon and asks where he’s hidden the info on the truck drivers. Colin points top one of the dead men’s briefcase, and after getting the list he kills the punk.

With the air fading quickly, the gut that attempted to smash through the truck, says that if there were fewer people, the air supply would last longer. Somebody asks how that would be decided, and the guy says that they should start with the oldest. An elderly man asks if he wants to kill his wife, and the guy says that he would so more of them could live.

Dembe asks the malcontent if he could watch the life go out of the woman’s eyes as he choked her to death? The man responds that perhaps Dembe should be the first to die and takes a swing at Zuma, who flattens the dude with a blow to the jaw. He says that they’ll get through this together, and then tells the little girl to lay her head on his lap and sleep. When she awakens she’ll see her parents.

Raymond gets the location of the truck from the driver, and they get to the vehicle and release the prisoners. Dembe says the little girl’s pulse is weak and she can’t wait for an ambulance. He drives her to a hospital, where the doctors says she’ll be fine. When she’s released she’s overjoyed to see her parents waiting for her. After a tearful reunion, she runs over to give Dembe a big hug.

Ian Garvey’s patience runs out and he’s about to kill Tom, saying he should’ve realized that a little puissant like Tom had no connection to Reddington. Tom counters by saying that he works for Raymond and that he can arrange a meeting between the two of them. He says he’s got a wife and a baby, and has no intention of dying for Reddington.

The Fall Finale Airs Next Wednesday Night at 8:00pm on NBC.