Megan Boone

All posts tagged Megan Boone

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: SPOILER ALERT

This was not Cape May, and it’s quite probable that we shall never see an episode of that caliber again, from the NBC series “The Blacklist.” That statement’s not meant to demean the series, creators or writing staff, but there’s a reason why the nineteenth episode from season three, became a touchstone for the show’s longtime fans. That episode featured a searing performance by James Spader, as Raymond Reddington interacting with spirits from an opium dream. The viewer slowly realizes that the entire time he’s inside the home by the sea, he’s actually by himself, reacting to the memory of a woman that he hasn’t seen in three decades.

Surfing the internet over the past couple of weeks, one could easily find websites comparing the winter return of the long running series with that much beloved episode. Sorry to say that the analogy doesn’t fit; the only real similarity between the two episodes, shows Elizabeth Keen going off to heal on her own. While this episode had merit on its own, attempting to put it on the same lofty plateau with the earlier episode’s rather ludicrous, and demeaning to the original.

Music didn’t play as prominent a role in the first installment coming off the Autumn hiatus, however the hour started and ended with powerful selections. We open the evening taking in some majestic mountains, and then we find ourselves in the forest, watching Lizzie doing wind sprints. We then hear the acoustic guitar of Leonard Cohen, playing one of his prettiest songs, Famous Blue Raincoat.

Lizzie’s pretty handy with an axe, as she chops firewood. A twinge from her shoulder flashes her back to her first days in rehab, and we see Elizabeth’s confined to a wheelchair, and struggling doing reps with three-pound barbells. Her physician tells her that pain’s good, as it tells the body it’s alive. Keen says she just wants to get out of the wheelchair and the doctor responds she’ll get there.

Liz’s living way off the grid, in a cabin in the woods with her German shepherd Kate, miles from the nearest town. The cabin’s powered by a cantankerous kerosene generator, which needs a new plug. She heads to the local hardware store, and during a conversation with the store owner, we learn that she’s using the name Grace.

A while after the power’s restored, Grace gets a visit from the local Ranger, Colin, who arrives with a package that she’s yet to pick up from the post office. There’s an early winter storm about to hit the area, and the temperature’s dropped radically in the last few hours. We can tell he’s got a crush on her, and while Keen has no desire for any romantic entanglements, she’s very nice to him. Grace sends Colin off with a fresh thermos of hot coffee.

We flash back to the DC area, as Elizabeth pays a visit to Tom’s grave, and she’s walking with the use of a cane. She falls apart when she reaches the gravestone, telling Tom she’s not doing well, then chastising herself for telling him that. She also tells him that she’s thinking of going away.

She’s jolted back to the present by Kate’s incessant barking at the window. Grace and the dog head outdoors and she sees an unconscious lying on the ground just yards from her doorstep. She touches him to see if he’s alive and the man opens his eyes and grabs her hand, in a plea for help.

With the aid of a toboggan, she drags the injured man to her cabin. Once she gets him inside, she opens his coat and sees a deep gash in his abdomen. She sterilized her hands and the wound with a bottle of whiskey, then sewed up the gash. She then heads to the barn and tries broadcasting out a plea for help on her weather radio, but nobody responds to her call. She’s put the wounded man in her bed while she watches over him in a chair by his side.

Realizing the man’s condition’s rapidly deteriorating, she tries starting her vehicle, however the battery’s drained by the cold and the engine fails to turn over. Frustrated she starts banging on the steering wheel. which causes her to recall another memory before she chose her new nomadic life. Her apartment’s filled with the other members of the Task-Force, and Harold and Donald start reminiscing about their tracking down Karakurt in season three. Harold recalls Tom pulling up to his home with Karakurt imprisoned in the trunk of his car. He says that although he was upset with the surprise, Tom’s charm convinced him to help bring Karakurt to justice. The Task-Force then toasts Tom’s memory.

With the prospect of the stranger dying in her bed a realistic possibility, Grace heads into town and goes into the Ranger’s office. Seeing the office vacant, she calls for Colin, but he’s not on the premises. Her patience exhausted, she leaves a note for the Rangers, stating that she’s in an emergency situation and for them to head to her cabin as soon as possible.

We once again go back in time as Lizzie’s packing up her belongings into boxes which Dembe starts carrying them out to her car. She attempts to explain her rationale to Raymond on why she must leave the DC area, Raymond counters that she’s only running away from her problems, and she’ll never find peace until she comes to grips with her emotions. Raymond fears Elizabeth’s heading to a very dark place, and Keen reinforces those fears, by telling him the only motivation she’s got to jump out of bed each morning, is to avenge Tom’s death.

She then asks Raymond to grant her two promises. The first being that Red continues supplying names on the Blacklist to the remaining members of the Task-Force. Reddington responds that the dynamic doesn’t work without her being a part of it, and she begs him to promise to keep the important work going. Reddington spits out a promise that he’ll honor her wishes.

She then asks for one more promise and tells Raymond this will be a difficult one for him to keep. She asks for Reddington to vow that he’ll let her go off on her own, that she’s got to be on her own to work through her grief and find herself again. Raymond asks what about Agnes?

Grace and Kate head back to the cabin, and finds four strange men waiting for her. She quickly brandishes her pistol, but the spokesman for the foursome tells her to take it easy. He then introduces himself as Billy and introduces Grace to the other three men.

Billy tells her that the four of them plus the man in her bed, survived a charter plane crash that killed the pilot. He then says the man in her bed’s named Mike, and though he got badly wounded, he disregarded the advice of the others and took off on his own seeking help. Billy says that their plane crashed about ten miles away, and they were fortunate to come across her cabin. We can see by the look on Grace’s face that she’s at best skeptical about their story.

One of the series strong points has always been the casting of guest stars, and this episode followed in kind. The actor portraying Billy’s William Mapother, who played one of the creepiest characters on the ABC network’s classic series Lost. Mapother’s character Ethan Rom, masqueraded as one of the plane crash survivors, but was in reality a member of the “Others.” The “Others” were indigenous to the island the plane crashed on, a secret society, that either converted the survivors of the plane crash to their mindset, or killed them. Just the sight of his face, made this viewer realize that the foursome were up to no good.

We encounter another flashback, but this one takes place in New York City, as Famke Jensen reprises her role as Scottie Hargrave. When it was first reported that Jensen would appear on this episode, my initial instinct was that Lizzie would leave Agnes in Tom’s mother’s care. That was indeed the case, and we join Liz, Scottie, and young Agnes in Scottie’s apartment, as the two women sit on the couch while Agnes furiously scribbles on a pad of paper while sitting on the floor. We never see the little girl’s face, whether this was done purposely, or was just the best footage of the girl playing Liz’s daughter remains to be seen in future episodes.

Fans of the ill-fated spinoff, “The Blacklist: Redemption,” received some closure in this exchange. Turns out that Tom testified against his father Howard, and was a strong advocate for Scottie, putting all right in the Hargrave’s. Keen says she can’t hide her anger and pain from Agnes, and it’s having a detrimental effect on her daughter. She asks Scottie if she can mask the pain and anger, that she’s feeling after the loss of her son?

Hargrave responds that she went through the emotional rollercoaster Lizzie’s currently riding 30-years before, when her three-year old son got taken from her life. She considers the time she got to spend with Tom over the past couple of years a bonus. She promises her daughter-in-law, that Agnes will remain healthy and happy, until the day comes when Liz can take her daughter back.

Grace leaves the cabin once again, and when she returns she’s greeted by the smiling face of Ranger Colin, who asks if everything’s okay. Grace states the obvious, that she’s far from okay with a complete stranger near death in her bed. Colin says that the roads are impassable, Liz then asks Billy about the radio in the charter craft, and he responds that it’s not functioning. Liz then says that they could access the plane’s black-box, sending out a signal that would send authorities to the area.

Colin and one of the foursome go out to try to find the plane, Grace wants to join them but Billy says they need her to take care of their friend. He begs her to stay so that he doesn’t have to inform Mike’s wife that he died on his watch. Grace pulls Colin aside, and tells the Ranger that she feels hinky about the men’s story, and she finds it hard to believe that there could have been a plane crash without her hearing it. Colin laughs and says she’s just paranoid and that he and the other guy will return shortly.

Grace heads into her bedroom to check the patient’s condition, this time he’s conscious and can speak. She informs him that his friends are also in the cabin, and the victim croaks out that they’re not his friends, but instead hitmen from a prominent crime family. The victim testified against the family and the government put him in the witness location system, and relocated him to her community with a new identity. However the hitmen tracked him down nd they’re going to kill him, and he says they’ll kill Grace as well. She gives him her pistol, and he hides it under his blanket.

Returning to the kitchen, Grace starts cleaning up the area around the sink, when Bill says he never expected their hunting trip to turn out to be so treacherous. Grace says that Billy had told her they were on a fishing trip, he tries to cover his mistake by saying the other four guys were going fishing, while his goal was killing a bear. Grace responds that it’s a crime to go bear-hunting, and Billy smirks and asks her if she’s ever broken any rules?

Grace drops a glass that shatters on the floor, Billy offers to help clean up the mess, but Grace tells him to stay put. She then realizes that her dog Kate’s been missing for a while and she starts to call for her. Just then the guy that went out with Colin returns saying they had no luck finding the plane. Grace asks where’s Colin, and the guy replies that another Ranger showed up on a three-wheeler, and took Colin back to town, and help should be on its way.

Grace decides the time’s right for her to begin her attack. She puts on the garbage disposal which she realizes will cause her generator to stop running. She says she’ll brave the weather and go out and repair it, Billy offers to help her, but she responds the one thing she’s learned in the mountains is men only get in the way.

She heads immediately to her weather radio, only to find they’ve cut the microphone line. She then reaches for her pistol, which she had retrieved from the injured man, but somehow they got to the pistol and emptied out the magazine. She starts hearing a beeping sound inside the barn and follows it, she discovers that the man who went with Colin killed Kate and Colin and left both their bodies in the barn.

The foursome arrived with walkie-talkies and had given Grace one to communicate with them. She turns on her unit and calls for Billy, he asks why the power hasn’t returned. She replies because they killed her dog and the Ranger, and she’s aware that the injured man’s their victim not their friend. Billy starts gloating and says the only reason the man and her are alive, is Billy’s boss wants to question the man before they kill him. They kept her alive to tend to his injuries, but now that the pretense’s over, they’re coming after her. He then starts coughing.

She asks him if he’s okay, and then she giggles and said of course he’s not. She then reveals her name’s not Grace, it’s Elizabeth and she’s an FBI Profiler, and sized them up the moment she saw them. Billy’s coughing due to the shards of broken glass she put into his glass of ice, that he incessantly chews. She tells him now every time he breathes he’s sending tiny pieces of glass into his lungs. She then says that if the four of them want a battle they best bring it, because if they come out there, she’s just going to look at them as practice.

What follows is a rampage worthy of Clint Eastwood as Harry Callahan, or Charles Bronson in the Death Wish series. Long time viewers saw a glimpse of Elizabeth’s dark-side in season three when she nearly killed a fellow patron in a diner, when she and Raymond were on the lam. You may recall that the incident terrified Lizzie, realizing what her fury and anger could override her humanity. There were no misgivings this time around, as Keen waged a campaign that Rambo would have admired.

Seconds after disconnecting, one of the men fall to the floor foaming at the mouth. Lizzie poisoned him with spiked peanut-butter, that he’d been spooning out of the jar. The other two men get nervous, but Billy reminds them that she’s outnumbered three-to-one. All they have to do is encircle her and keep shrinking the circle until they capture her.

The trio head out to the barn but find it’s abandoned, the guy that killed Kate and Colin notices a cellar door’s open and goes down the steps to investigate. Of course it’s a trap, and Lizzie latches the cellar door shut, then lights a match, igniting the kerosene in the cellar and roasts the man to death.

Their advantage down to just two-to-one, they go to the bedroom and realize their victim’s gone, and we see Lizzie dragging him to town on the toboggan. The second man overtakes Keen and a scuffle ensues, promptly ended when she sticks the axe into his chest.

Liz and the victim reach the Ranger’s office, and she assures her companion that she’ll get him to a hospital soon. She flashes back once more to DC, and the conclusion of her conversation with Raymond. He’s flabbergasted that she’s leaving Agnes in Scottie’s care, after she order a hit job on her wedding day. She counters that Scottie didn’t know who they were, and she’s a good woman and will take good care of her daughter. Raymond asks her to make a promise to him, that she always look for the light.

Back in the present, she scours the facility looking for anything she can use for a weapon if Billy decides to follow them. She finds among other things a flare gun and a box of flares, none too soon, it turns out as Billy bursts into the office. He pays her a compliment, saying from one professional to another you’re very good, but the game ends now. Keen then douses Billy with some liquid that burns his eyes and allows her to leave the facility.

She doesn’t get far, before he catches up to her. He pulls out his pistol and she brandishes the flare gun, and shoots a flare the hitman. The liquid she doused him in was highly flammable, and fried him extra crispy style. Her enemies vanquished, Keen could now concentrate on getting the victim medical attention.

The next day law-enforcement officials descend on the town, incredulous with what they discover. Four well-known felons dead, two burned to death by a lone mysterious woman. Grace Talbot’s left town, without a trace, not even a piece of tissue or any of her hair in the drains. The woman obviously received help from a professional, covering her tracks.

Officers interrogate the few townspeople who knew her, including the owner of the hardware store. The description’s consistent from all interviewed, a very pleasant young woman who kept to herself, and always paid cash. We find out that the victim’s resting comfortably in an area medical facility, after some personnel found him on the facility’s doorstep like a Christmas present.

As to who was that un-masked woman, the hardware store owner theorizes that she’s a ghost, one of many that we encounter in life. We see Lizzie standing on the side of the road with her thumb out looking to hitch a ride to her next destination.

Turns out that destination was Raymond’s place, Dembe answers the door with a big smile visibly pleased to see her. Raymond tells her she looks stronger and she replies that she’s healed. She thanks him for keeping his promise, but admits she failed to keep hers. She tells she killed some men, not because they deserved it, which they did, but because of the pleasure she received. She says she hasn’t lost a wink of sleep over it, he replies that she will.

Elizabeth asks Raymond if he can forgive her? After a momentary pause he says he can, but the more prescient question’s whether she can forgive herself?

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

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.

Photo Courtesy of Will Hart/NBC

WARNING: SPOILER ALERT

Any thoughts that the NBC show “The Blacklist,” morphed into a “kinder and gentler“” series in season five, can officially be put to rest. Raymond Reddington, may have an extra bounce in his step, after ending up victorious in his battle against his former confidante turned deadly foe Mr. Kaplan, and he’s thoroughly enjoying rising from the ashes and rebuilding his once vast empire. The series added two new comical characters to Reddington’s band of misfit toys, and they appear to be welcome additions to Red’s motley crew, joining the ranks of Jellybean and Brimley.

However in Raymond Reddington’s universe, there’s always a sense as Bruce Springsteen would put it, of “Darkness On The Edge Of Town.” During the last three episodes, we’ve watched that darkness advance from the perimeters and invade the lives of the members of “TEAM-RED.” Some ramifications of bad strategy have already been felt, however it’s likely that over the next few episodes, far more damage will occur as secrets unravel. We’ll watch as relationships crumble and lives become endangered. We ended the evening with a bitter-sweet moment, hoping that two characters learned enough from past mistakes to ensure a happy future, but fearful that their relationship maybe doomed.

The installment entitled “The Travel Agency (No.90),” contained far too many interwoven plots, to recap in linear fashion, so once again we’ll concentrate on plot points. Before we continue however; let’s take a look at what might be plot trends that slip under the radar. For the third straight week, Raymond Reddington received no financial benefit or any kind of kick-back, when the Task-Force stopped a member of The Blacklist. An associate did reach out to Red, requesting his assistance but Reddington told the man he couldn’t help him. He instead turned the information over to Elizabeth Keen, and allowed the Task-Force to do their work unimpeded.

Long-time fans of the show realize that there’s always a method to Raymond Reddington’s madness, so why the sudden change of heart? Are these “Freebies,” being supplied to keep the new FBI Director off of Harold Cooper’s back, which in turn keeps him off of Red’s? Is he giving up this information to strengthen the bond between he and Elizabeth Keen, who now believes Reddington’s her bio-father? Or is Raymond simply collecting chips, so that the Task-Force will help capture a yet unknown member of The Blacklist, leading to a huge payday for Red?

The season opener concluded with a scene featuring a bloody Tom Keen, lying on the floor as Reddington and Dembe Zuma burst into the room with guns drawn. That scene became the subject of much debate, as fans wondered if Tom envisioned a worst-case scenario of the future, or if we actually witnessed a flash-forward. Many took for granted that Reddington and Zuma had beaten and tortured Tom, and returned to finish the job. I couldn’t believe that Red would jeopardize his relationship with Lizzie, by torturing her baby’s daddy, so I perceived it was a premonition when I first saw it.

My opinion changed during the most recent episode, and I now believe that we did see a glimpse of the future in that scene. However I don’t believe that Raymond and Dembe left Tom beaten and bloodied, nor do I think that they entered the room to kill Keen. I now believe that the path Tom’s currently taking will lead him into the hands of those who now possess the suitcase, and we witnessed Raymond and Dembe arriving to regain the suitcase and hopefully save Tom in the bargain.

The Blacklist Member Of The Week

This was an extremely entertaining and complex story, making us question whether the series adopted a sci-fi tone, and dealing with a character that could travel through time, along with an homage to the Bill Murray film “Groundhog Day.” If the old-school General Electric digital clock radio, wasn’t enough of a giveaway, the morning DJ announcing that Roxette finally knocked Janet Jackson off the top of the charts, made it clear that we were back in the late 1980’s. A thin, pasty-faced man sits on the edge of his bed and prepares for his day. He goes down to his kitchen to find his wife watching Tom Brokaw reporting on the destruction of the Berlin Wall. He asks if his daughters are still asleep, and his wife tells him that a friend already took them to daycare. He then provides her the answer for a crossword puzzle she’s working on.

Suddenly his pager goes off, and he glances at it and sees the number 342. He tells his wife that he’s off to work, and she protests that it’s too early. He smiles and says “Early is on time, on time is late, and late is unacceptable.” He then kisses his wife who smiles back at him and he leaves the home and travels to the local post office, and opens up his PO box number 342 and pulls a folder out of it.

A graphic informs us that we’re now in York County, Pennsylvania, and the man goes through the contents in the folder. There’s a dossier and photograph of a white-haired gentleman, who appears to be enjoying good health in his early seventies. When we see the man in the photograph, he’s splitting firewood with an axe, until the man we’ve followed approaches him brandishing a pistol. He tries to run away, but he gets hit with the second bullet the man fires.

The man throws the axe at the gunman, but his aim’s off and the axe ends up embedded in a tree. The gunman looks rather shocked at first, but then shoots the man again and this time his victim falls to the ground. The gunman then pulls the axe from the tree and goes after his victim with it as the opening credits roll.

We start to realize that our gunman’s involved with this week’s Blacklist member, as Raymond informs Lizzie that an associate of his Mitchell David Dunning, contacted Red seeking protection. Although Reddington couldn’t provide the security Dunning needed, he found out that the furniture-importer believes he’s the target of The Travel Agency. Raymond explains that The Travel Agency operated as a murder for hire operation for 30-years, before going dark a dozen years back.

Liz informs Cooper and the Task-Force about the information Raymond shared with her, and Harold sends Keen and Samar Navabi to bring Dunning and his wife to the Post-Office for protective custody. When the pair arrive they find Dunning and his wife packing the car to leave town and head up their home in the country.

Keen says they’ve come to give the couple protective custody, but Dunning scoffs at the idea. Seconds later, two shots to the chest end his life, Keen and Navabi keep the wife safe. Samar finds a newspaper on the front seat of Dunning’s car, with the headline of an axe murder in York County, Pennsylvania. Dunning’s wife says she never heard of the victim from Pennsylvania. We see who killed Dunning, it’s the same man that killed the man with the axe.

The first victim’s named Knobbs, Lizzie and Samar, travel to the man’s property in Pennsylvania, and talk to his daughter. She says her father became somewhat of a hermit after closing his business the Seawall Travel Agency, and she’s never seen or heard of Mitchell Dunning. Keen asks if she and Navabi can look through her father’s company records, and find logs filled with details on all the murders committed by the agents of The Travel Agency.

It’s Deja-Vu all over again, as we watch the gunman shut off his radio alarm, go down to the kitchen to find his wife watching Tom Brokaw’s coverage of the destruction of the Berlin Wall. She asks for the same answer on the crossword puzzle she’s working on, and once again the gunman leaves right after his pager goes off while his wife protests that it’s too early. He responds once more “Early is on time, on time is late, and late is unacceptable.”

Aram does some digging and finds that Knobbs and Dunning were the principal owners of the Seawall Travel Agency, and there’s just one former operative still alive. Ressler and Navabi go searching for Argun Wright, who now works on a construction crew. They find Wright and tell him they’re bringing him for protective custody, when a gunshot rings out and wings Wright. Ressler sees the gunman’s driving a 1986 Oldsmobile, equipped with a high-powered rifle that’s hidden in a compartment in the car’s rear-end. The gunman leaves far too quickly for Donald to fire a shot.

Questioning Wright back at the Post Office, the former Seawall Travel Agency employee tells the agents that nobody knew the other operatives names, they all went by numbers. He does however remember an operative he knew as number five that had a car like the Oldsmobile that the gunman escaped in. He tells the agents that he used to leave dossiers for the operative at PO Box 342 in Seven Valleys.

Navabi and Keen talk to the postmaster and he tells them the PO Box belongs to Calvin Dawson, and he’s owned since before the postmaster started working at the branch. Dawson now lives in a local convalescent home, which the agents head to and talk to Dawson’s physician. He explains that Dawson suffered a traumatic brain-injury after a terrible accident. He can remember things perfectly until the late eighties, but he can’t retain any new memories. In his mind every day’s November 1, 1989. The physician then tells the agents that he’s currently at home with his wife, and he regularly spends a few days a week there.

Eleanor Dawson receives a phone call and she tells Calvin that their daughter Mia’s been injured and they have to pick her up at daycare. Navabi and Keen arrive at the house moments after the couple left, as they search the home they find a ladder leading to a floor above the kitchen, and they discover the elaborate system that Eleanor uses to recreate November, 1989 on a daily basis.

As Eleanor drives Calvin to their destination, she reveals the horrific details behind his brain injury. The couple and their two daughters were on a family vacation when Eleanor’s appendix burst and she underwent emergency surgery. Calvin left the hospital to carry out a hit, and foolishly brought his daughters’ with him, fearing they’d get traumatized waiting alone at the hospital. Dawson’s intended victim knew the hitman was coming and he got the upper hand, leaving Calvin near death in an alley.

Unfortunately the girls were locked in the car and something occurred that caused fatal damage to the girls’ hearts, and they died from heat failure before they got discovered. Eleanor then went on a mission to find out the truth about the man she was married to and discovered he was a monster. Once she put all the pieces together, she manipulated Calvin to kill the remaining members of the Seawall Travel Agency.

They’ve stopped at a cemetery and Eleanor leads her husband to the graves of their daughters. She tells him that she’d hoped to feel some sort of closure after Calvin killed his associates, but it never came. She then pulls out a pistol, just before Liz, Samar and a SWAT team arrive at the graveside. Lizzie pleads with Eleanor to put the gun down, and tells her that she too is a mother. Eleanor says then Keen will understand what she must do and pumps multiple shots into her husband’s abdomen. Seconds later she’s taken out by a member of the SWAT unit, and the four Dawson’s are finally together in death.

The Continuing Suitcase Saga

There was no game of cat and mouse, nor a little dance between Raymond and Tom, instead Red cut right to the chase after he and Dembe trailed Keen to the DC Court Of Records. Reddington told Tom that he knew Kate gave him the valise, and that he enlisted Nik Korpal to identify the bones, leading to Nik’s murder and the theft of the suitcase.

Raymond goes onto say that the murderer discovered the identity of the skeleton, and realizes their value, especially to Red. He says he’ll make himself known to the thieves, and then kill them and rebury the bones which will then be lost in the sands of time, and keeping the identity a secret. Tom then proceeds to get all high and mighty with Raymond, telling him secrets put people in harm’s way. A rather hypocritical statement coming from the man whose responsible for his friend’s death.

Reddington basically tells Keen to stand down, but we realize Tom’s not going to take the advice. Raymond then asks him the contents of the envelope that Keen was holding when he came out of the court of records, to which Tom responds, what envelope?

Pete McGee’s fiancé Lena Mercer’s surprised by an uninvited guest in her apartment, carrying a baton and saying he hopes nobody needs to get hurt. He then tells Mercer to say aloud that she doesn’t know Pete McGee, and she should forget he ever existed. She asks the man named Crespin, if McGee sent him there, but he ignores her question and repeats his demand that she say she doesn’t know Pete McGee. She does so and he leaves saying he hopes they’ve got an understanding.

Tom arrives at her apartment a short time after and tells Lena that he’s got all sorts of info on McGee, that he obtained from the Court Of Records. Scared because of her earlier visitor, she tells Tom to go, but she changes her mind after Keen informs her McGee’s never been married. So his excuse of waiting for his divorce to become final was just another scam.

She leaves her apartment with a suitcase, and Crespin calls his superior and tells him the message was delivered and the target stood down. He’s unaware however that she’s gone to the medical lab she works at to access and download all of McGee’s files.

She and Tom meet later on a park bench, and Tom tells her that the reason Pete’s not leaving a trail’s because he’s using Lena’s identity. The camera pans and we see Crespin talking on his cellphone while he spies on the pair, saying that apparently he’ll need to deliver the message again.

Harold’s Fight For Justice

Task-Force Director Harold Cooper’s life outside of the Post-Office, remains pretty much a mystery after five-years. We’re aware that his marriage to Charlene survived a rocky-stretch, after she admitted to infidelity, because of Cooper’s devotion to his work. We found out earlier this season that Harold’s got at least one grown son, as he told Lizzie he learned some tricks raising a teenage boy.

We’ve witnessed his wisdom, loyalty, and his anger, but we’ve never been provided with any insight into what shaped this man, until this episode. We find out that Cooper’s reasons for joining the Bureau, weren’t solely based on feelings of patriotism and service to country. Part of his motivation stems from what he witnessed as a child.

Harold asks Donald to oversee the Task-Force, shortly after Elizabeth shares the info about The Travel Agency. He tells Ressler that he needs to attend to a personal matter. He’s searching for the son of a friend, a cop that died unjustly, and his son reacted to his father’s death by attempting to numb himself with a combination of alcohol and drugs. The young man’s mother, Cooper’s wife Charlene, and Harold staged an intervention to put Isaiah Hill back on the path of sobriety, a year earlier. However Harold received a call from Hill’s mother, as she believes he slipped back into his old vices.

Cooper heads to Hill’s apartment, but finds another man living there. He says he needed a place to crash and Isaiah handed him the keys. After initially denying he knew anything about Hill’s whereabouts, he eventually provides Harold with some information. Cooper then brings the information to Raymond, who provides him the name of a drug-dealer, and an offer for he and Dembe to be his backup. Harold sincerely thanks Reddington for the offer, but says he can handle it on his own.

Cooper heads to a drug-den, and knocks out the guy guarding the door, who resembles a wall with a face. He then grabs a junkie to lead him to the dealer Castro, and becomes embroiled in a shootout. It appears that Castro’s about to escape, but as he runs out the door, he runs into Dembe’s fist. Harold complains that Raymond and Dembe didn’t adhere to his wishes.

Castro wakes up to find himself bound to a chair, and Raymond standing over him with a syringe filled with a fatal dose of Fentanyl. Reddington says that unless Castro tells them where Isaiah’s hiding, a toxic dose of the substance will soon be flowing through his veins. Castro’s incredulous that Cooper would allow Reddington to kill him, but he says that unless Castro talks he dies. the dealer tells them he sold Hill a gun and gives them the address of where Isaiah’s living in Ivy City.

The trio arrive at Hill’s apartment and Harold knocks on the door, and somehow escapes getting injured from the gun blast that blows a hole through the door. Isaiah’s shocked when he sees “Mr. C.” enter his apartment. After he finishes his tirade about dirty-cops, he admits to them his life’s in danger. After trying to score some Fentanyl from his usual supplier, he tried copping some from a dealer named Zeke Wilson. Unfortunately Hill’s timing was terrible, and he arrived just as Wilson killed a guy. He’s been running ever since. Cooper says he’ll take care of that matter.

Harold’s about to give in to the Dark-Side, planning on executing Wilson with an unregistered handgun. In a scene reminiscent of Tom talking Donald out of killing Karakurt, in season three, Raymond reasons with Harold. He tells him that his position will allow him to walk away from the execution unscathed, his conscience will haunt him for the rest of his days. He then says just in case Cooper’s emotions get the best of him, Dembe will accompany him.

Harold finds Wilson at a table in a club, accompanied by two attractive women, who quickly scatter when he identifies himself as a Special Agent of the FBI. Wilson smirks at him and asks what makes him so special? Cooper says he’s special because he’s arresting him for threatening a witness, and as soon ass Isaiah Hill completes his statement he’ll be charged with murder.

Wilson sneers once again and says that snitches tend to find themselves victims of accidents, and he can’t arrest somebody in an accident. He says to Cooper that he’s not that special an agent, and Harold says he maybe right, but he’s still going to put him away for life, and connects with an uppercut to Wilson’s jaw.

We find out that Isaiah’s father had been a cop and was pulled over one night while off-duty. A white cop said he pulled him over for expired tags and for Hill to remain in his vehicle. However Hill knew he recently put on the new tags and climbed out of his car. As he reached for his badge to identify himself, a white cop shot him to death even though Hill was unarmed. The officer was acquitted on all charges.

Harold tells Isaiah that one of the main reasons he joined the Bureau, was due to the treatment his father received after attending marches organized by Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. Cooper’s father got branded as a revolutionary, and the Bureau opened a file on him and hounded him for years. Harold tells Isaiah that was his main motivation for working for the organization that mistreated his father. To protect other African-Americans to be branded unjustly.

As stated earlier, this episode concludes with a bitter-sweet ending. After watching Calvin and Eleanor Dawson get shot to death, Lizzie realized just how fragile life is. She brought Tom down to City Hall, and asked if they could get married right then. Tom of course agreed, and we watched a magistrate pronounce them husband and wife. Will this attempt at happiness survive, or will events separate Lizzy and Tom once again?

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

 

Photo Courtesy Of NBC

WARNING: SPOILER ALERT:

During its five season run, the NBC series “The Blacklist,” has featured some extremely disturbing and unnerving scenes and plotlines. The show’s never flinched while showing graphic images, or taking a beloved character and turning them into monsters. The characters are multi-dimensional and the show runners and story writers have shared “TEAM-RED’S,” flaws and shortcomings. Jon Bokenkamp and company, have shown us from the start that Raymond Reddington, doesn’t occupy a black and white universe, it utilizes a color palate composed of different shades of gray. An angel can easily be lead astray, while no demon’s ever beyond redemption.

We’ve witnessed mortal enemies develop a grudging respect for each other, as well as a decades old alliance get dashed upon the rocks. We’ve seen the old bromide that there’s “Honor Among Thieves,” disproven countless times, as loyalists of Raymond Reddington’s have turned against and paid the prices with their lives. We’ve met a rogue’s gallery of ghoulish Blacklist members, including “The Stewmaker,” a giant taxidermist who enjoyed setting up tableaus filled with his human trophies, and a man who drugged and raped his wife to produce a child.

The first three seasons of “The Blacklist,” prominently featured a notorious organization known as “The Cabal,” a virtual shadow government comprised by powerful people from across the globe. Loosely based on the Tri-Lateral Commission, and other fantasies courtesy of paranoia and fiction, this group of people secretly ran the planet behind the scenes. Lead by Peter Kotsiopoulos, known as the Director, The Cabal had infiltrated the upper echelons of our Government, including Tom Connelly, the Attorney General of the USA.

With the deaths of Connelly and Kotsiopoulos, and the release of the contents of the Fulcrum to an All-Star panel of prominent global journalists implicating most of its leadership, The Cabal seems to have gone into deep hibernation if it still exists. One of the last members ensconced in the government Laurel Hitchin, died in the season finale last May, cracking her skull open during a tussle with Agent Donald Ressler.

Although The Cabal may no longer be a factor, we’ve seen that political leaders in Raymond Reddington’s universe, are no more paragons of virtue, than those that occupy the real world. The current POTUS in Reddington’s universe Robert Diaz, had a deal in place to take campaign contributions from Alexander Kirk, until Red interceded and bankrolled the politician himself. That contribution forced Diaz to ask his predecessor to pardon Elizabeth Keen, allowing her to rejoin the FBI.

The series introduced a new storyline involving the government, in the episode entitled “Ilyas Surkov (No. 54),” one that this viewer believes will play out through the course of this season. It touches upon a subject that plagues this nation currently, the inherent distrust we have for our officials from both sides of the aisle. America suffers from “Institutional Distrust,” giving many of us a jaundiced view of the media, elected officials, and those in charge of the very agencies established to protect us.

That lack of faith whether earned or unfounded, puts us in a collective mindset that makes the fantastic seem credible. What we might have perceived as the creative musings of a fertile mind three or four generations ago, suddenly doesn’t seem that implausible in our current era. Just because you’re paranoid, doesn’t mean somebody’s not out to get you!

This episode does not lend itself to our usual linear format, instead we’re going to concentrate on plot point, some of which will overlap. It’s worth speculating if we are witnessing the birth of a trend, for the second straight week Raymond received no benefit from “TEAM-RED,” capturing those whose trail he sent the Task-Force after. His motivation in apprehending The Endling, was simply to rid the world of a heinous criminal. Whether Reddington knew where the information he gave to Lizzie lead to its eventual source, or just to satiate his curiosity, Red’s fortunes and fate weren’t altered.

The Blacklist Member Of The Week

Our evening starts out in a posh neighborhood of Leeds, England at a lemonade stand in front of one of the handsome homes. Inside the house the mother’s preparing more lemonade while talking to her husband, when her son Ethan, excitedly enters the home and tells her it’s snowing on a beautiful autumn day. She comes outside and indeed at first it appears to be snowing, however they soon realize the sky’s filled with ash. Not just any ash, but the cinders emanate from a nearby chemical explosion, and a dangerous looking brown cloud’s heading straight for them. The mother yells for everybody to enter her home, before the cloud reaches them.

Headlines around the globe blame notorious terrorist Ilyas Surkov for the destructive blast, however Raymond informs Lizzie that can’t be the case. Raymond knows the physician that treated Surkov when he died from pancreatic cancer 15 months before. However Surkov’s been blamed for two other attacks, aside from the episode in Leeds. Cooper sends Keen and Ressler to Leeds, to talk with local officials.

Liz and Donald confer with an MI-6 agent Liam Gladstone, and he’s convinced that Surkov’s very much alive. He tells the pair that he put chemical markers inside the C4 used by Surkov’s arms-dealer Raagan Ghaffari, and those markers showed up at the remains of the chemical plant. Ghaffari lives in Belgrade and speaks French and Arabic, Navabi’s dispatched there to make contact with the arms-dealer, and her concerned boyfriend Aram, tags along.

Samar heads into Ghaffari’s hangout the Bruttka Club, and convinces him that she’s Surkov’s agent, after she tells him that MI-6 tracked the C-4 used in Leeds to him. The pair leave the club, but they’re kidnapped and put into an SUV by a team of four. Ressler and keen reach the street just in time to watch the vehicle drive off and they engage in a high-speed chase that ends when the SUV slams into a barrier. Guns get drawn from both sides, but soon holstered once the other team identifies themselves as a CIA Black-Ops unit.

The team’s lead by a man known as Tobias Reuther, played by one of my favorite character actors, Boris McGiver. There are two other men and woman named Calhoun, who left the Agency to start a family, but got enticed back into the game by Reuther. The family thing didn’t turn out like she planned.

Reuther’s team try torturing and interrogating Ghaffari for hours and the arms-dealer remains silent. Lizzie says to them now it’s her turn and she and Samar head into the room to talk to Ghaffari. Less than a minute later, she tells the Black-Ops force that the arms-dealer’s ready to talk.

Ghaffari tells the agents that Surkov’s next target’s in Virginia, and he supplied the terrorist with an explosive far more powerful than C-4, so he could rip through Kevlar. Just then Lizzie receives a phone call from Cooper, who has the Director of the CIA Leon Cox in his office, and Cox says that the team doesn’t exist and the agents are impostors. Reuther shoots Ghaffari at point-blank range, he and the other two guys escape but the Task-Force captures Calhoun, and bring her back to the Post-Office.

Calhoun and the two men that escaped with Reuther, are listed in the Agency’s records as former agents, but no record exists for Tobias Reuther. Calhoun’s incredulous, she says she saw documentation and that Reuther maintained contact with the Director. Cox enters the room and tells Calhoun that Reuther’s actually Brian Osterman, a former top-echelon agent that the Agency dismissed in 2008. Cox tells Calhoun that Osterman suffers from incredibly dark delusions, and that he actually used their team to carry out incidents, and blame it on the deceased Surkov.  Calhoun tells him that they have a staging area in Ivy City, but when they arrive with a SWAT team, they find the facility’s been ransacked, save for an empty file marked cyclone.

With the help of Raymond, Keen realizes that the target’s code name’s Cyclone and that it’s a military target composed of Kevlar. Aram determines that it’s a naval vessel docked in Virginia, and Liz heads there to stop Osterman. She finds him with a rifle on a tripod, his scope aimed on a sailor carrying a black backpack that he says will blow up the naval vessel. As he prepares to take the shot after refusing to stand down, Lizzie shoots Osterman in the shoulder, keeping him from making the shot. seconds later we hear the explosion emanating from the backpack.

The target wasn’t the naval vessel, instead a communications line between the United States and China, that the Agency wanted to get rid of without causing an international incident. So Cox’s actually been using the identity of Ilyas Surkov to cover Agency missions. they set off the bomb at the chemical plant in Leeds, to take-out the foreman, who they realized was a double-agent.

Although Osterman’s arrested, Cooper tells Cox that he’s informing his superiors about his antics and he hopes that they hold the Director and his methods in as much disdain as he does. As I wrote earlier, I expect that we’ll be seeing far more of Leon Cox over the next few weeks and months.

Liz, Tom, Nik, Pete, Raymond, And It’s Complicated

Nik Korpal’s body showed up in an empty lot, miles away from his home or any hospital. Lizzie instinctually blamed Raymond for Korpal’s murder, thinking that because he wanted to cut off contact with them, Reddington perceived him as a threat and disposed of him. Tom discounted her suppositions, mainly because he realized that Nik’s death was likely a result of their joint investigation into the suitcase.

Does it strike anybody else as odd that Korpal, who escaped death after helping Liz fake hers, and having started over again with a new fiancée, risked everything to help the man Lizzie dumped him for? If you’re Tom Keen, don’t you feel the least bit hinky, that this surgeon still carries a strong enough torch for your Baby’s Mama, that he’s willing to risk it all just to help her? That was actually th first thought that came into my head when Korpal died of strangulation in the previous episode.

Elizabeth pays Raymond a visit and Korpal’s death comes as a surprise to him. He tells Keen that he supposes somebody with a connection to him could have killed Nik, but he’s unaware of any connection. He promises Lizzie that he’ll do his best to find out whose responsible for his death.

Tom heads to Pete McGee’s apartment and of course McGee’s long gone. after some exploration he finds that McGee’s employed by a medical facility that uses paid volunteers as human guinea-pigs, to test some pretty dangerous substances. After filling out the paper work, Tom’s informed that he’ll receive an extra fifty dollars as he’s going to get injected with some heavy-duty stuff.

After the attendant Carly, starts pumping the drugs into Tom’s veins and leaves the room, Tom disconnects himself from the intravenous tubes and starts exploring McGee’s work-space. The only clue he discovers is Carly’s heart-tattoo reflected in Pete’s eyeglasses in a photo in the work area, leading Tom to the conclusion that Pete and Carly are romantically entwined. He confronts Carly with that when she comes to check on him, but she refuses to talk to him.

Raymond pursues a far more direct route for information, as he and Dembe track down a little fire-plug of a man named Lou, as he’s out walking his bulldog Coco. Lou’s the evidence clerk at the facility that Korpal’s body’s in, and Raymond tells the bespectacled man he has 24 hours to get Reddington Nik’s last effects. He tells Lou that he’ll be holding Coco for collateral, and she’ll be spending the day at a doggie-spa.

Lou returns the next day with Korpal’s possessions and Raymond gives him back Coco along with some assorted ointments to cure a skin ailment. Within the envelope containing Nik’s stuff, Raymond discovers the keys to the suitcase, leading Dembe to believe that Kate entrusted the suitcase with the doctor. Raymond also finds a burner phone, containing several phone numbers.

Tom’s contacted by Carly and the two meet on a park bench. Keen tells the technician that he believes Pete killed his friend, but regardless he possesses something that’s putting his life at risk. Carly doesn’t believe McGee’s capable of murder, his divorce become final the following month, and they’ve got plans to get married. However he hasn’t been to work in weeks and she hasn’t heard from him, so she’ll help Tom try to locate him. We then see Pete his hand in a cast and he’s just shaved off his long hair.

Tom and Elizabeth attend Nik’s funeral, but Liz can’t bring herself to even make eye-contact with any of the other mourners, until she sees Raymond standing in the distance. Raymond says that Nik saved his life, and did other services for him, and he grieves his passing. Elizabeth asks him if he’s found out any info on Nik’s killers and Reddington nods.

Liz meets back up with Tom and they agree that it was a nice gesture that Raymond came to pay his respects. She says that Raymond seemed to infer that he had a lead, but when Tom tried to pursue the conversation, she said she believed Meera was buried nearby and wanted to visit her grave. When he asked if she wanted company she replied she wanted to do it alone.

Raymond and Dembe are still at the cemetery and Reddington starts exploring the burner phone. He calls one of the numbers from his own cellphone, and Tom picks up on the other end. Tom says hello, and then asks who it is and Raymond quickly disconnects.

Raymond And Hawkins Excellent Adventure

This week there was very little interchange between “TEAM-RED,” and Raymond, in fact except for his meetings with Lizzie, they didn’t enter each other’s airspace. As expected, Reddington wasted no time and had Anthony The Postman’s safe-houses turning a tidy profit, of 45 Grand in a week. Hawkins got so excited that she said if she felt the least bit of physical attraction to Raymond, she’d bare his child. Reddington told his financial chief that next week they’ll expand their base from two lists to eight, and Hawkins nearly chortled in glee.

Reddington however didn’t share her excitement, as they had no plan on how to launder the money. However in aiding Elizabeth, Red discovered the perfect vehicle for introducing the money into circulation. The dog grooming center that he treated Coco to, serves as groomers for all the area’s pounds to freshen up the pups and make them more presentable for adoption. Although they do some grooming on the side for cash, all the money goes back into the business, and they’ve got branches in cities throughout the country. Best of all the organization’s a non-profit, so it provides a perfect cover to launder their funds. Looks like Raymond’s on his way back.

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