Megan Boone

All posts tagged Megan Boone

Photo Courtesy Of TV Guide

WARNING SPOILER ALERT:

Denial Ain’t Just A River In Egypt.”

Mark Twain

The fifth season finale for the longtime NBC series “The Blacklist,” left the show’s faithful fans in one of three subsets. Elation, Anger/Sorrow/Denial, or just outright Confused. Despite series creator Jon Bokenkamp’s statements that James Spader’s portrayed an imposter since entering our lives, there’s many diehard fans still refuses to believe it. There’s yet another group that’s stated that they’re disgusted by the news revealed in the season ending episode, and vow they won’t ever watch the series again. They feel tricked, and deluded, some even fell they’ve wasted five years, falling for the “ULTIMATE CON MAN.” Isn’t that exactly what this show’s always been about? “Criminals Are Notorious Liars.

Some incredibly intuitive viewers, realized early on that “OUR RAYMOND,” wasn’t the Naval Intelligence Officer that fathered Masha Rostova. I failed to catch on until it became apparent when Mr. Kaplan left her going away present, a valise she dug up from Tansi Farms, in the season four finale. That gift that kept on giving, along with Dembe Zuma’s reaction to the news that Raymond didn’t deny being Elizabeth Keen’s father, felt like waking up from “The Matrix,” for this viewer. It felt like shields being lifted from my eyes, this season’s purpose was always about how they’d reveal that news.

Let’s get the formalities out-of-the-way early on, lest we forget. congratulation to Samar Navabi and Aram Mojtabai, on their engagement! May they have a long and happy life together, and remain the example that functional relationships do exist; even in The Blacklist Universe.

We’re not going to delve too deeply into this episode or the latest Blacklist member, Sutton Ross. It seems that Ian Garvey’s legacy was a softness for young girls in the Witness Protection Program, and sympathetic thieves. Garvey granted Ross his freedom years before, rather than arrest him, so Ian knew exactly where to turn to ensure the bones would be revealed to Lillian Roth. The supposed kidnapping of Lizzie from the witness interrogation room, was handled ham-handedly. How on earth did Sutton get his kidnap victim to voluntarily crawl through an air-duct system?

However this episode’s intention wasn’t meant to be put under a microscope, and combed for clues to solve the mystery, this was the payoff we’ve waited for, or at least part of it. The whole kidnapping ploy didn’t need to exist, save for the chance for Liz and Jennifer to hear the imposter almost say “I am not Raymond Reddington.”

Next season should get broken down into three sections; revealing the identity, acceptance by Keen and willing to continue working with “OUR RAYMOND,” and finally gratitude. Although John Waters expressed admiration of the name, the man we’ve watched for five seasons remains Lizzie’s “SIN EATER.”

We’ve made some rather bold predictions on these pages, especially since late December, and admittedly the sense of validation’s welcome. However it’s only being mentioned in the hopes that our theories have proved credible, and that there’s a method to our madness. With that in mind let’s delve into speculation as to the true identity of “OUR RAYMOND.”

Why did he assume the identity of “THE AMERICAN,” in Katarina Rostova’s journal, a once well-respected Naval Intelligence Officer, who at the very least betrayed his marital vows and had an affair with Rostova, producing a child we know as Elizabeth Keen? We see the love and protective quality that in the end guides his every move. If not for the SWAT-Team breaking into Ross’ compound, he’d have said the words he vowed would never leave his lips. We soon would have heard his entire back-story, in order to keep Lizzie safe.

Who Is The Man In The Hat?

He is not Elizabeth Keen/Masha Rostova’s father. Raymond Reddington’s Lizzie’s father, he died when she shot him as a four-year-old the night of the fire. The scenario she remembers actually took place, we saw the aftermath in “Requiem,” as Katarina consoles her daughter, telling Masha he was a very bad man. Raymond Reddington took Masha from her home and away from her family. The night of the fire, a confrontation took place between Rostova and Reddington, possibly and likely physical. Masha somehow got a hold of a gun and shot the bad man to protect her mommy. Unfortunately that shot doomed them both, KGB, CIA, The Cabal, and possibly all three would soon be looking for Raymond Reddington. What could Rostova do?

The Third Family.

Sorry to burst the bubble of the Katarina’s Actually Raymond contingency, but “Our Raymond’s,” a man. The Imposter’s daughter’s the little blonde-haired girl we’ve seen with the bubbles in the flashbacks. She’s the ballerina, and it’s her house that Raymond purchased in season one and subsequently blew up. The story he told Madeline Pratt of coming home to find his family executed took place. That’s the family Diane Fowler refers to just before Raymond says she talks too much and shoots her.

Dominic Wilkinson AKA Oleander.

Dominic Wilkinson appears for the fourth time in the series, since being introduced in the show’s third season. This time “Our Raymond,” and Dembe bring the Real Reddington’s bones to his place to finally burn them. (I’ve seen some fans question why the bones weren’t burned originally instead of buried? My guess would be that Rostova buried the bones at Tansi Farm, in a panic and didn’t consider that option.) We’ve been able to perceive a bond between the two men, since the first time we met Dom. One that never added up if it existed between the old man and the Real Reddington.

Raymond takes a sip of milk and his face shows his displeasure. Dom tells him it’s buttermilk, and Reddington’s about to spit it out, when the old man stops him with the words don’t you. Dom’s stopped playing his piano, because he’s got a broken key. While Wilkinson’s away doing chores, Raymond heads to the old man’s work bench and painstakingly crafts a replacement, before he departs. Reddington saying to him at one point that he realizes he’s not what Dom wanted him to be.

Combine that with the obvious love he’s got for Lizzie, and in this viewer’s eyes’ the answer’s obvious. Certainly there’s a chance that he’s just another former KGB operative that worked with Dom and Katarina, but it makes a lot more sense if our imposter’s Dom’s son and Katarina’s brother. Desolate after the loss of his own family, “Our Raymond,” agrees to become Raymond Reddington. With that move he effectively killed the man he once was, that’s why Kate and Dembe always referred to him as Raymond.

How He Fooled The World?

Obviously he didn’t fool everybody, we know that Mr. Kaplan and Dembe have always known, however it’s unclear because of “Requiem,” when Kate actually found out. Was she referring to the imposter, when she initially refused Sam Milhoan to talk with that awful man, or did she believe the Real Reddington was still living? I’d also venture a guess that Alan Fitch and Peter Kotsiopoulos, knew that he wasn’t the Real Reddington. I’m also in the camp that believes Naomi knew as well, and not on board with the idea that she’s dead.

As for everybody else, it seems pretty obvious that he became Raymond Reddington’s Doppelgänger, courtesy of the skills of renowned plastic surgeon Dr. Abraham Maltz. Longtime viewers remember his introduction in the first season, portrayed by Andrew “Dice” Clay. We may have sneaked a peek at one part of the rest of the process, when we watched Raleigh Sinclair III, coach Anthony to ape the characteristics of Ian Garvey a few weeks ago.

However the entire process would be far more entailed. Over the last few months we’ve learned that our intelligence officers, are well-trained in the art of taking meticulous notes. That certainly would have been a valuable resource that the imposter used to garner as much information as possible about the Real Reddington. Likely there was also a large trove of video and audio tape of Reddington, given his position, and the imposter probably spent weeks perfecting Reddington’s sound and cadence. Who was his trainer, was it his father and sister?

Obviously this new “Reddington,” couldn’t return to the original’s old life and family, for fear of being found out. Perhaps with the aid of The Cabal, the imposter used the name and reputation of the former Naval Intelligence Officer, to create a criminal empire worth millions. How much of that empire was actually used to keep Elizabeth safe, would be up for debate.

Known Unknowns.

Exactly why did “Our Raymond,” enter back into Keen’s life five years ago? Was it a combination of his disapproval of her marriage to Tom, his need to recover the Fulcrum, or to protect her from Alexander Kirk? Or is there another purpose that we’re unaware of? Is Naomi Hyland, truly dead and if so why wasn’t Raymond informed of her death? He’s the one who arranged for her and her husband Frank, to assume new identities in a new location. It would seem logical that he’d be made aware of her death by his people. Does Jennifer have her own agenda? When will Lizzie reunite with Agnes, and where is the dog?

We’ve got until next January to kick around these subjects. Thanks to you for joining us for this ride, and we look forward to getting more answers in season six.

Photo Courtesy of Virginia Sherwood/NBC

WARNING SPOILER ALERT:

“Look what they done to my song ma
Look what they done to my song
Well it’s the only thing
That I could do half right
And it’s turning out all wrong ma
Look what they done to my song

Look what they done to my song ma
Look what they done to my song ma
Well they tied it up in a plastic bag
And turned it upside down ma
Look what they done to my song” 

Melanie Safka

With one episode remaining in season five, and the show’s fate still unknown, social media’s been abuzz with chatter about the NBC series “The Blacklist,” after the season’s penultimate episode aired. Although to a person the show’s fans want to see their longtime favorite renewed, the grumbling among the fan-base’s has increased in volume. There are even those who have dared to pose the question, that’s known to make show-runner’s blood run cold, and remove any remnants of a tan. “Has The Blacklist Jumped The Shark?”

You likely weren’t born when the ABC series “Happy Days,” first broadcast the episode in 1977, that thrust the phrase into the American lexicon. In the show’s fifth-season opener, the gang from Milwaukee found themselves in Hollywood. In Fonzie’s quest to become the next James Dean/Elvis Presley of the silver screen, he put on water-skis, and literally pulled a stunt Evil Knievel, might have thought twice about.

The phrase eventually took on the connotation, signifying that a television series had peaked and was on the downward trend. Some series recover from that perception, another ABC series “Lost,” hit a rough patch until the show-runners and the network agreed on how long the series would run. There’s no definitive time period that a series exists after receiving that diagnosis. Some shows wither and die quickly, while others hang on for years, they are those series you stumble across while channel surfing, and you think, “is that still on?”

Let me state upfront that I’m not in the Jumped The Shark category, (a phrase from here on out that will be referred to as “JTS.”) However, I’ve got problems with the shows last two episodes in particular, and of season five in general. In season’s passed, we’ve experienced excitement and anticipation as each season’s finale approached. This year’s conversation’s morphed into, they better give me a reason to come back!

Season number five has progressed in fits and starts, beginning with a greatly needed light tone after all the loss in the previous campaign. However even in the season premiere, moments after watching Raymond dancing with Lizzie, we witnessed what we’d come to find was a flash-forward to the fall season finale. A scene that showed us a bloody and beaten Tom Keen, lying on the floor as Reddington and Dembe, burst through a door brandishing pistols.

The perceived reboot didn’t last for long. Reddington’s fortunes turned around quickly, ditching hand-me-downs and the Terra Vista Motor Lodge, and back to a manner he had grown far more accustomed to, Soon he lived in a luxurious suite complete with private elevator, and a personal chef named Paris. The episodes took on a darker tone, as Tom and Nik Korpal undertook a mission that would ultimately cost them. trying to identify the bones in the suitcase Kate dug up from Tansi Farms. The tone of the show would be altered irrevocably, to the cheers of some and the tears of others.

We’ll have time during the Summer to debate whether killing off Ryan Eggold’s character turned out to be a good move for the series. (I recently read Jon Bokenkamp, respond to a question if Tom would return, saying that the show’s had other character’s seemingly return from the dead. Any move like that would destroy the series’ credibility, no matter how popularly it could be received. You made your move Jon, now you live with the ramifications of that decision.)

File this if you like under pet peeves, but the series took a ten month jump in time when Elizabeth emerged from her coma. Given the extent of her injuries, it’s likely it took her at least eighteen months, for her to get into the shape she was in when she journeyed to Alaska. Agnes was a baby in a high-chair, unable to talk when Tom confessed to her about his role in identifying the bones. However she appeared to be about four, or five, when Keen left her with Scottie Hargrave. How could the date of the paper reporting Maybelle being found have been May, 2018? The Blacklist Universe should be somewhere in the midst of the year 2020, not in-sync with our reality. Continuity’s vital to maintaining a story, something the writer’s seem to have forgotten.

Since the show returned to the airwaves in January, we’ve watched a young woman who felt such remorse over the harbor-master’s death, that she sold her condo and anonymously gave the money to his widow and daughter, turn into a heartless killer. While Elizabeth Keen was hardly a babe in the woods when we met her, she’s evolved into “DIRTY LIZZIE,” a cross between Clint Eastwood’s Harry Callahan, and Charles Bronson’s “Death Wish,” character.

We could understand her going all vigilante, and taking out all four of the hitmen that she encountered in Alaska, and she accidentally killed Bobby Navarro, in self-defense. However she went way over the top when she utilized the “Stew-Maker’s” methods, to dispose of Navarro’s corpse. We’ve watched Donald and Harold wrestle with their dark-sides, Ressler even employing Henry Prescott, but when push came to shove, they reverted back to form. Keen can never come back from that decision.

The show writer’s seem to have lost the consistency which among other qualities, made this series’ beloved by its fans, especially during the first three seasons. Season four’s scorched earth battle between Mr. Kaplan and Reddington, didn’t sit well with many fans, and this season’s sometimes glacial pace has turned many longtime viewers off. After revealing Ian Garvey’s a dirty cop in February, what have we learned other than Garvey’s declaration to Jennifer Reddington, that she spent a lifetime hiding for no reason?

We head into the fifth season finale, essentially trying to fit a ten-pound sausage into a five-pound casing. Suddenly after months of stagnation Season Five Episode 22, has become “Cliff-Hanger Central.” Who is Sutton Ross, and what’s his connection to Garvey and Reddington? Will Samar Navabi emerge from her coma and get her “Happily Ever After,” with Aram? Will Aram face charges in the death of Nicholas T. Moore, or will Harold look the other way? Is Naomi Hyland actually dead, and if so why didn’t Reddington know about it? Is Lillian Roth, indeed Jennifer Reddington, and if not, what was her connection to Garvey?

Why’s Keen whose only objective was to avenge Tom’s death by killing Garvey, now interested in the contents of the duffel bag? Will Raleigh Sinclair and Anthony Pagliaro serve time for the death of Zarak Mosadek?  Will we encounter Dominic Wilkinson in the episode, and will he reveal to Keen he’s her grandfather? We haven’t even mentioned the identity of the bones that Ross now apparently has.

Has this confluence of events, been Jon Bokenkamp’s master plan all along? Has the basis of this series always come down to what’s going on between Lizzie and Raymond? Will The Blacklist members turn out to be as anti-climactic, as the numbers on “Lost“?  Was the concept of this series always just about whom Raymond Reddington actually is, and the role he’s played throughout Keen’s life? Jon’s often times mentioned his BIBLE, the framework a show-runner puts together, before they begin writing an initial script. I often wonder just how much he’s adhering to it?

It’s likely foolish to expect all the questions I posed here, in one episode. However at the very least, fans deserve to know Raymond’s secret before the series, goes on Summer hiatus. I’ve anticipated that they’d hold off revealing that the Real Reddington’s bones are in the duffel bag, and that we’ll finally find out “OUR RAYMOND’S,” real identity, as Etta James would say “AT LAST.

Season Five Concludes Wednesday May 16, at 8:00pm on NBC.

Photo Courtesy Of Virginia Sherwood/NBC

WARNING SPOILER ALERT:

Please consider this your FINAL WARNING: If you have yet to watch Season Five Episode Eighteen, of the NBC series The Blacklist,Do Not Read Any Further!

Now that we’ve gotten those formalities out-of-the-way, the episode entitled “Zarak Mosadek (23),” proved to be a taut, exciting, action-packed installment, that kept viewers on the edge of their chairs. Extremely well written and produced, choreographing the characters expertly, concluding the episode with a left-hook that this viewer certainly didn’t see coming. An episode that could hold its own against some of the highlights during the show’s run. However it won’t be recapped on these pages, except to say I want that language deciphering device featured in the episode.

We have been recapping “The Blacklist,” since the opening episode of Season Two. Throughout our run synopsizing episodes, one recap published back on April 24, 2015, entitled “Has The Fulcrum Arrived In Time To Save Red?” held a commanding lead over every other article we’ve featured about the show. That lead however might have evaporated by the time you read this piece.

Back on December 27, we published an article entitled “Suitcase Suppositions,” a table-setting piece as the show returned to the air in early January. As the title suggests, this writer provided theories concerning the identity of the bones dug up from Tansi Farms, as well as the identity of Ian Garvey. Without going to deeply into that article, I explained why I believed that the identity of the bones in the duffel bag, is none other than the real Raymond Reddington, and the man we’ve followed for four plus season’s an imposter.

I also theorized that Ian Garvey got the CODIS information on the bones identity through his professional connections, concluding that Tom’s murderer was a member of the government or some branch of law enforcement. My supposition at that point, centered around Garvey holding that information over the Imposter’s head, leading to Garvey walking away handsomely compensated. It turned out that the Federal Marshall wouldn’t settle just for money, he wanted an explanation why the imposter’s gone through this elaborate charade for decades.

Up until this point in time, I believed the bespectacled lawman’s obsession with finding out the answer to the mystery was just professional curiosity.  However information revealed in the latest chapter of the show, has provided a clearer indication why Garvey won’t just take the money and run, without finding out the reason the man we’ve known as Raymond Reddington, is adamant about keeping his secret.  It seems that there’s a connection between Reddington and Garvey that “Our Raymond’s” unaware of.

While Reddington, Dembe, Samar Navabi, and Donald Ressler, pulled off a caper in Paris, that would have been worthy of the Impossible Mission Force, Aram and Liz stayed in the States and tailed the Federal Marshall. Keen discovered a woman about her age that had a deep connection with the dirty cop, and attempted to convince the woman to help her put Garvey away. However Keen didn’t realize that the woman, Lillian May Roth, also had ties to Reddington.

Viewers jaws dropped collectively, during the evening’s final scene when it’s revealed that Lily Roth spent most of he life in the witness protection program. The bond between her and Garvey formed when the lawman got her into the program to prevent her father from finding her when she was still a kid. Her birth father’s a wanted fugitive, and has been a fixture on the Bureau’s most wanted list for 20-years. Lily Roth’s actually Jennifer Reddington, the daughter of Raymond and Carla Reddington abandoned by her father decades earlier.

Long time fans of the show have been aware of Jennifer’s existence since season two, when we met Reddington’s ex-wife Naomi Hyland. When the Real Raymond Reddington disappeared, Carla Reddington’s life got turned upside down. After countless hours fielding questions from government agents, Carla Reddington took her daughter to Philadelphia, where she started life over again. Changing her name to Naomi, she built new identities for her and Jennifer. Years later she got remarried, and apparently her second marriage caused her and Jennifer to drift apart.

Jennifer’s name never got mentioned again, causing some fans to wonder whether Elizabeth Keen was in reality Jennifer and that the bones in the duffel bag were actually Lizzie’s who died as a child. That theory can now finally be put to rest, as we’ve now seen both women at the same time. However if the man we know as Raymond’s an imposter, Jennifer’s father likely died decades before, falling victim to a gunshot by four-year-old Masha Rostova and an intense fire.

This revelation seems to be a major puzzle piece, in Garvey’s thinking process and that “Our Raymond’s,” an imposter. If the man that we know as Reddington’s actually the real-deal, why wouldn’t Garvey have already killed Red? We’ve witnessed many situations showing Garvey won’t hesitate to kill, and his connection to Jennifer, would seemingly be more than ample reason for the Marshall, to have already finished Reddington off long ago. What question could he have for the real Raymond Reddington, that would have stopped Ian from just having his revenge and killing the guy?

If the man we know as Raymond’s actually an imposter, there’s no way he’ll want to encounter Jennifer. Perhaps believing that she’ll realize that he’s indeed a fake, a man who took her father’s name and used it to build a vast criminal empire. We can safely assume that Jennifer’s got zero desire to see the man she believes abandoned her and Naomi. Will Keen still attempt to orchestrate them meeting, or will Garvey end up as the conduit that brings them face-to-face? One thing I’m pretty certain we can count on, is a meeting will occur during the last four-episodes of the current campaign. It’s likely that episode nineteen will be the last episode until May, when the network airs the final three episodes of this season.

Jon Bokenkamp, and the rest of the creative team behind this series, once again radically changed the dynamic of this season and the show, introducing Jennifer, and having Ian Garvey as her surrogate father. However at this juncture, I’m taking her showing up at this time, only solidifies my theory that “Our Raymond’s” an imposter. Although I would have preferred this story-arc to have concluded by now, the show’s hit its stride the last two episodes.

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

Photo Courtesy Of Virginia Sherwood/NBC

WARNING: SPOILER ALERT

White supremacists, child brides, a BOLO Alert, Aram and Samar taking a new step in their relationship, and the return of Teddy Brimley. All this and more greeted viewers as the NBC series “The Blacklist,” returned to the airwaves, as another March Madness, goes into the history books.  The series that specializes in bait and switch, contained plenty of surprises that kept fans alert and aware. Combine the aforementioned with “TEAM-RED,” working together on a coordinated effort, made for this viewer’s most satisfying episode since Tom Keen’s execution, last November.

Our evening kicked off as we watch a car drive through a toney neighborhood, and pulls into the driveway of a home that’s likely worth seven figures. As we listen to Janis Ian singing “At Seventeen,” we see the driver’s a man in his forties and calls out as he enters the doorway for Reva, whose sitting at a table wearing headphones and working on her studies from high school. The man removes one of the buds from the girl’s ear and asks her how she can concentrate with the music blasting? The young woman asks the man if he’s ready for dinner, and he tells her he’s heading to his study to take a business call.

The man sits down at his desk, opens up his safe and removes a black ledger. He then grabs his cellphone, and places a call to Raymond Reddington. He tells Reddington that he’s got what Red needs, and says that he hope Ian Garvey doesn’t get wind of what he’s doing. Reddington assures him that the Federal Marshall will never know of their meeting and tells the man that if he leaves immediately they can be face to face in 30-minutes. Suddenly the man realizes he’s not alone in his study, and screams wait and no, before an assailant pumps a bullet into his chest. Reddington screams out the man’s name and then hangs up the phone.

Turns out the man named Jerry Jawal, was about to deliver the ledger to Raymond, and the book contained information on the supplier that provides heroin that the Nash syndicate sells on the streets. Reddington’s plan was to use the information to put the syndicates drug-trafficking operation out of commission. He believes that Garvey or one of his soldiers killed Jawal, while Elizabeth Keen informs him that the Bureau suspects a white supremacist named Coogan Hudnut took the man out. Jawal had become port manager of the dock that the syndicate uses to bring the narcotics into the country, and had replaced the previous crew with friends from India. The Bureau believes he killed a stevedore on the dock, and that Jawal’s murder was also racially motivated.

Dembe and Reddington drive over to a bar called the Last Chance Saloon, a watering hole that specializes in racist clientele. A bouncer comes to the door, and tells Raymond that he may enter but that “IT,” must remain outside, referring to Dembe. Red becomes indignant, but Zuma calms him down and says he’ll stay outside. When Reddington enters the bar, he offers the first man that gives him the location of Hudnut ten grand in cash. One of the men jumps at the offer, causing one of his associates to pull out his pistol. Raymond immediately responds, taking out all of the men in the room except for the squealer and the bartender. He’s quickly informed that the man he’s looking for is barricaded in his office at the back of the building.

Raymond shoots the remaining bodyguard, then steps out-of-the-way of a shotgun blast that emanates from the other side of the door. Reddington tells Hudnut that he’s got questions about the racist’s murder of Jawal, but he denies committing the crime. He then attempts to flee from the building, but of course Dembe stops him before he can run.

We move to the Post-Office, where Aram’s beating himself up over losing witness Tony Mejia, during an ambush. However his mood lightens when he shows Donald Ressler an amethyst ring that he got for Samar. Ressler thinks it’s an engagement ring, causing Mojtabai, to question whether he really should give Navabi the gift. Donald believes that Navabi will jump to the conclusion that Aram’s asking her to marry him. He tries to ask Lizzie her opinion, but he quickly changes the subject when Samar enters the room.

Jawal’s family hold a wake for him, suddenly Reva gets a text telling her to go outside. She meets another girl about her age, and Reva says she can’t believe they did it. The other young woman says that Jerry was a terrible man and deserved to die. We then realize that neither Garvey or Hudnut murdered Jawal, the other young woman was his assailant.

The scene shifts to a high school gymnasium, where we encounter a pensive girl waiting to meet someone. A short time later, the girl who killed Jerry Jawal arrives and she says that if the girl wants her help, once the plan’s in motion there’s no going back. She sees her potential client’s still has qualms about going through with their plan, so she gives the girl a burner phone, and tells her if she decides she wants to utilize her services to call her.

Raymond’s standing in a hallway, when he’s approached by a familiar face, Teddy Brimley, the geriatric master of torture. He tells Reddington that Hudnut killed the stevedore, but he didn’t kill Jawal. Teddy then says he needs pastrami, and Red can’t understand what kind of torture Brimley would inflict with the deli meat. Teddy quickly explains to Raymond that the pastrami’s for Brimley’s lunch. Raymond asks if Dembe and he can join him for the meal, and Teddy says he’ll give Dembe the address. Reddington tells the elderly man that he’s happy Brimley’s back in the fold.

Navabi and Ressler head to Jawal’s home and Reva answers the door. They tell her they’d like to ask a few questions about her father’s murder, but Reva explains to the agents that Jerry was her husband, not her father. Her parents arranged the marriage with Jawal in Maryland, and granted their consent for their daughter to marry the much older man. Caught off guard and totally flustered, it’s apparent that she’s hiding something from the agents. However the conversation concludes, when Reva faints and collapses on the floor.

We move to the home that the other prospective client Tara Rayburn, arrives home late from school. She’s also married to man more than twice her age, who owns a local car dealership. Dale joins her in their bed, and Tara starts tearing up as her husband starts to initiate sex with her. The next morning she’s running late for school, but Dale insists he cooks him breakfast before she heads to class. She then pulls out the burner phone, and tells the girl on the other end that she’s hit her limit. The other young woman tells her to stick to her usual routine, and that she’ll take out her husband.

Reva’s taken to the hospital, and the physicians inform her that she’s pregnant. Her father says that the FBI agents thought they were hiding something from them, and he feels that way as well. He demands that his daughter tells him the truth, when Raymond walks into the hospital room and says he’d be interested in hearing the explanation himself. Reva’s dad asks Reddington who he is, and he replies that he’s a friend, or possibly a foe. He then introduces himself as Raymond and says he’s an interested party.

He tells Reva that he knows she arranged Jerry’s murder, and that her husband was a drug dealer. He says that her actions have jeopardized her life and the lives of her parents, then asks Reva the name of the girl who carried out the hit. She says she never got her name, she’s known as the “GUARDIAN ANGEL,” and all she requested from Reva, was the name of another girl who was forced into an arranged marriage.

Navabi heads to Tara’s high school, while Ressler goes to Dale’s car dealership. Samar tells Tara that if the assassination of her husband takes place, she’ll likely spend the rest of her days in prison. Tara starts crying ands says she’s not sure that she can prevent the assassin from going through with the plan.

Ressler informs Dale that Tara’s put out a contract on his life, but he doesn’t believe the agent, saying that he and his wife are deeply in love. Suddenly we see the “GUARDIAN ANGEL,” lurking around the lot, and she puts a backpack in a car parked outside Rayburn’s office. Dale notices the vehicle and calls one of his staff and asks why it hasn’t been moved to one of the work bays? The employee responds that it got moved a while before, and Ressler realizes that there’s a bomb in the vehicle, and tells Dale to hit the floor. Seconds later the bomb explodes, and Ressler leaves the office running through flames to apprehend the perpetrator. The “GUARDIAN ANGEL,” tells two men in the parking lot that Ressler’s trying to kill her, and they stop him from chasing her as she gets on public transit. He then tells one of the men that he’s taking his jacket as the girl’s fingerprints are on it.

Aram receives a message that Bureau agents have discovered the device that caused the vehicle to grind to a halt, when Mejia got abducted. He also finds video footage of the man with “David Bowie Eyes“. Lizzie immediately recognizes the man as one of Reddington’s employees, then heads to Raymond’s to confront him.

Keen allows her emotions to get the best of her and get physical with Red, slamming him up against a wall of shelving covered in books. Raymond admits to her that he abducted Mejia, because if Garvey’s busted before Reddington recovers the duffel bag, his secret will be revealed. He also informs her that Mejia’s safe and hidden away. Keen issues a “BOLO Alert,” in the hopes that law enforcement can find him. What she doesn’t realize is Garvey receives the alert, and he uses it to set Keen up.

The Task-Force, gets a match on the fingerprints and identifies the perpetrator as Anna Gracia Duerte. After obtaining her address, Navabi and Ressler head to her apartment. When they get there they realize that Anna had just escaped, Ressler looks for here on the street, while Samar searches the roof.  Duerte makes it to the edge of the roof, when Navabi encounters her and threatens to jump. She then tearfully recounts her story to the agent.

Anna’s originally from Brazil and became friendly with an older man who invited her to see his home. However he had other intentions in mind and forced himself on her. Duerte reported the rape, but her parents took the rapist’s side instead of their daughters. They arranged for Anna to marry the man, 30-years her senior, and the couple emigrated to the States when she was 13.

Despising her husband and revolted by his touch, the young girl reached her limit and stabbed her husband to death. Once she recovered from the shock, she decided to dedicate her life to ending the nightmare for other girls in her situation. She took the lives of nine men, freeing their child-brides from their Hellish existence.

Samar puts her pistol back in her holster and tells Duerte that her parents were killed when she was just nine. Traumatized and unable to make sense of the tragedy, her 15-year-old cousin took her under her wing, and restored Navabi’s faith in the world. However that world came crashing around her, when her uncle announced that he’d arranged a marriage for his daughter and she would go to live with her new husband the next day. Samar begs Anna to try to let her help her, and says this shouldn’t be the end of her story.

Mojtabai finally gets some alone time with Keen, and asks her if Samar will construe the ring as him asking her to marry him. She replies that if Samar wants to marry him, she’ll assume it’s an engagement ring, but if she doesn’t want to commit, she’ll perceive things differently. Suddenly Aram’s afraid of Navabi rejecting him. making him even more fearful to give her the gift.

The U.S. Attorney arrives at the Post-Office, and Samar pleads with him to show her leniency. She says that Duerte could use an insanity defense, but the lawyer says that might get her cleared of killing her husband, but the other acts were clearly premeditated. Navabi responds that these child-brides aren’t isolated incidents, that many states don’t even have a minimum age for a girl to get married. She says that Anna’s going to be perceived as a champion for these girls, and the U.S. Attorney will be thought of as the bad guy that’s trying to put her in prison for life.

Keen gets a call from an officer in Boston, saying that he saw Mejia transported at a private airfield nearby. Aram and Liz meet with the officer, who says he saw Mejia with a man wearing a long coat and sporting a fedora. He says they took a private plane out of the country, but when he brings the pair inside the hangar Keen realizes that Garvey’s set them up. She starts to put up a fight though heavily outnumbered, but she and Mojtabai get rescued by Lizzie’s pair of “Guardian Angels,” Raymond and Dembe.

When they return to Reddington’s, Raymond apologizes to Keen. She believes he’s apologizing for cooperating with Garvey, but he explains that his apology’s for endangering her life, by telling Garvey how important she was to him. She smiles and says that the only reason she’s still alive, is due to the fact that Raymond and Dembe rescued her and Aram. He then tells Liz that he needs her to ask Duerte an extremely important question that will help them both out.

Samar reveals some incredibly good news to Anna. The U.S. Attorney has decided to charge her as a juvenile offender. Duerte has to plead guilty to all the murders, and agree to undergo rehabilitation and counseling. However if she successfully completes the program without incident, she’ll become a free woman when she turns 21. Anna’s eyes fill with tears of joy, and asks how that’s possible, Navabi responds that for the first time in years, Duerte will be treated as a child. Anna informs Liz where they can find the dumpster she threw Jawal’s ledger in. She then joins Dembe and Reddington in a delightful exercise, picking through the garbage.

Aram and Samar get back to their apartment, and Navabi pulls out some takeout trays from a Thai restaurant. Mojtabai asks what’s the occasion, and Navabi says she needed a pick-me-up, after a very tough day. Aram then starts stammering and stuttering, and pulls out the ring from his pocket, saying his grandmother’s getting rid of a lot of her possessions. She’s delighted with the ring and thanks him, he says that the present’s mostly from his grandmother. She tells him that she knows it was really his idea, then asks him if Aram would like her to order different food for him? He smiles and says everything he wants is right there.

Raymond phones Garvey and tells the Marshall that he tried and failed. Garvey responds with the old bromide, that if first you don’t succeed. He then reminds Reddington, that he’s holding onto something very important to him. Red responds that he’s now in possession of something that Garvey considers quite valuable, then says he’ll be in touch and hangs up.

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

Photo Courtesy Of Will Hart/NBC

WARNING: SPOILER ALERT

It remains to be seen how or if, the dangling threads left hanging at the conclusion of the latest episode of the NBC series”The Blacklist,” factor into the long-term story arc of season five. Whether this episode’s Blacklist member, Mr. Raleigh Sinclair III, returns to the series or not, fans of the show got to witness some magnificent acting performances.

DISCLAIMER: This viewer could watch John Noble read the phone-book for hours and be entertained. Noble created one of television’s most iconic characters, Dr. Walter Bishop, in the FOX series FRINGE. Bishop’s a discredited scientist, who constantly crosses the median line between genius and madness, assisting an FBI task-force that deals with scientific anomalies. After spending years locked away in a mental institution, Walter lacks any social graces, however he’s capable of amazing insight.

Noble’s ability to play quirky characters that still retain their humanity. made him the perfect actor to inhabit the skin of Raleigh Sinclair III, another character with a superior intellect, who maybe as crazy as a loon. Sinclair pushes his clientele like a Marine Drill Sargent, yet later in the hour we see another side of him, a mild-mannered seemingly feeble-minded old man.

As if the casting coup of Noble wasn’t enough the show doubled-down, bringing in Martha Plimpton, to portray Dr. Sharon Fulton, a Bureau psychiatrist, who must approve Elizabeth Keen mentally fit before she’s reinstated to active duty. Once again I have to admit to a bias in her favor, having watched her grow-up from the gawky tom-boy character she played in Goonies.  Fulton’s not a warm and fuzzy character, and the actress makes her suitably prickly and combative.

Three plot-lines intertwine throughout this episode, two of them will certainly carry on throughout this season, with the third one remaining open-ended. We’re going abandon our normal linear recap-format, to concentrate on those three paths, and what they might portend for the future.

The Blacklist Member Of The Week:

Raleigh Sinclair has an extensive list of satisfied clientele, who have been able to murder the subject of their revenge, or people who just got in the way, while having seemingly airtight alibis that they were miles away when the murders took place. The elderly man who resembles a librarian’s known in the criminal world as “The Alibi,” due to his ability to make it appear that his clients’ are in two places at once. Sinclair establishes a regimen for his clientele, over an extended period of time, interacting with regulars they encounter daily.

After the client becomes known to the people they interact with, Sinclair hires somebody that looks similar to the client, and enhances their resemblance with prosthetics. The day the client commits the murder, the doppelgänger takes their place in their daily routine, so that the people the client encounters tell law enforcement, that they saw the client while the crime took place.

Sinclair just helped a man named Sam DeMarco, murder his business partner and get away with it, after hiring a homeless man named Kahil Shula to perform DeMarco’s daily rituals. When law enforcement interview the folks DeMarco regularly interacts with, they all assuredly respond that they saw him the day his partner got killed. Shula, who Sinclair promised would be handsomely compensated for his efforts, wound up dead at the hands of “The Alibi.”

Sinclair’s latest client’s named Brian Barrett, a man consumed with a desire for revenge, after he came home early from work, and caught his wife having sex with another man. We quickly determine that despite Raleigh’s mild-mannered appearance, he’s as much of a disciplinarian as a football coach during training camp. Barrett’s five minutes late for their meeting, and Sinclair’s ready to walk away, until Brian assures him it won’t happen again.

Raleigh then gives Barrett a shopping list, including running shoes in a color that stands out. He also provides him with a route that he wants him to run every morning, and to interact with the same people daily, so that they expect to see him each morning. Sinclair informs Barrett that he’ll be in touch once he determines it’s time to carry out the crime.

After Raymond informs the Task-Force through Samar about “The Alibi,” Aram takes a look at the photograph that the surveillance camera took of DeMarco’s doppelgänger, and realizes it’s not an exact match. Through facial-identification software, he’s able to identify the man as Kahil Shula, a homeless man without a permanent address. Harold gives the file to Raymond, who heads over to a homeless shelter that he funds.

Raymond meets a homeless woman at the shelter who was friend’s with Kahil, named Delores. (Yet another great acting performance by guest star Marcia DeBonis.) After telling Raymond that he’s got an honest face, she tells Reddington she saw Shula get into a gold car with an EZ-Pass on the windshield. Mojtabai’s able to narrow the list to one hundred vehicles and puts the drivers in a binder. Delores quickly picks out Sinclair from the book. None too soon it turns out, as Barrett’s about to shoot his estranged wife in a parking garage, while his doppelgänger runs his morning route.

Raymond finds Sinclair’s safe-house and it’s filled with head-molds, and prosthetic pieces. He also finds information on Barrett’s situation, including his daily route and how he intends to kill his estranged wife. He gives the Task-Force enough information to apprehend Barrett, while he and Dembe go off to meet Raleigh.

Barrett’s waiting in the parking garage when his estranged wife arrives. She tries to dismiss him and walk past him, however he stops her in her tracks when he pulls out a pistol. He then tells her he wanted to kill her the night he caught her, with the wine bottle he held in his hand. He didn’t follow through on that impulse, because he didn’t want to go to prison, but now that fear’s gone.

He fires off two shots and hits her in the shoulder, she runs and attempts to hide. We watch as his double goes through Barrett’s morning routine, interacting with all the regulars. Brian finds Nicole crouching between cars and says goodbye to her as he raises his pistol. Just then Ressler and Navabi drive up, and Barrett fires at the shot at their windshield. Navabi chases him through the stairwell, while Donald attends to Nicole.

Barrett fires off a shot at Samar in the stairwell, then tries to flee by going back into the garage. Ressler stops that escape quickly, as he knocks him to the floor while doing about 20 MPH. Navabi thanks her partner for the assist, and Donald replies anytime.

The double named Eckhart, after finishing his assigned route returns to Sinclair’s car, and doesn’t comprehend what’s going on when Raleigh says about your payment, then pulls out a pistol. Suddenly we see Dembe knocking on the driver’s window with his gun, as Raymond climbs into the backseat. Eckhart asks about his money, and Reddington responds that if he leaves now, he’ll live to die another day. He then tells Sinclair he’s been looking for him, and suggests they go for a little drive.

Sinclair believes Raymond’s been sent to kill him by a man he somehow wronged in Jakarta, but Reddington quickly assures him that’s not the case. He tells Raleigh that he’s heard whispers of his work for some time, and admires him greatly. He tells him that he’s brought Sinclair to their present location, to save him getting captured by the FBI, if Raleigh will agree to his requests.

We of course don’t know yet what those requests were, but I think we can be assured that Raleigh Sinclair III, is now another member of Raymond’s “Island Of Misfit Toys.” The Task-Force had to settle for Sinclair’s client list, containing names of 51 murderers. Even those acquitted of the initial murder they committed, can be charged with the murders of their doppelgängers. Raymond provides a burial and a funeral ceremony for Kahil Shula, and stands with Delores at his grave.

Family Counseling

Although we’ve yet to determine if Dr. Sharon Fulton’s friend or foe, her personality conjures up memories of both Laurel Hitchin and Julian Gale. She’s proud of her self-proclaimed blunt, pull-no-punches style, pushing and prodding to get at what she perceives as the truth. It’s up to her whether Lizzie gets to return to active status, and she’s not going to just rubber stamp anything.

She asks Keen why she wants to return to the Bureau, and Elizabeth responds that her goal’s to capture Tom’s killer. She tells Fulton she needs her help in overcoming her anger and grief, but the psychiatrist replies that she thinks anger keeps people sharp and willing to take chances. However she does have great interest in talking about Keen’s father.

Although Reddington praised therapy, saying that it turned him into an entirely different person, (Was that line confirmation that “OUR RAYMOND’S,” is in fact an imposter, or laughing at those of us who subscribe to that theory?) he’s got no desire to meet with Fulton. In fact the only meeting he agrees to, takes place in the back seat of his car, with Liz in the front seat, and Zuma standing outside the vehicle.

She prefaces her remarks by announcing how blunt she’s about to get, then tells Reddington that he disgusts her and he’s a glorified serial killer. She tells him that if he wasn’t Keen’s father, that she’d have already signed her reinstatement papers. She then recounts Keen shooting down Tom Connelly, and going on the lam with Red, as Lizzie defends her actions. Fulton then asks Reddington if she should believe that any child of his could live up to the standards of the Bureau?

Raymond stares her in the eye, and exclaims she wouldn’t believe a word he said. He says that it’s her job to push Keen past the anger and the grief, and to discover what her true essence’s composed of. Fulton then asks him what would that be, and Red smiles and says everything that he’s not. He then looks at his watch, says their time together has ended, and says good session tough stuff.

Keen and Fulton have two more sessions, the first one doesn’t go smoothly. The shrink tells Elizabeth that she’s holding back, and she’s afraid of admitting stuff to Fulton and to herself. She says that until Keen’s ready to do a profile on herself, as she would a subject, she can’t approve of her reinstatement.

Lizzie returns near the end of the episode to Fulton’s office, and she said that it’s her turn to be blunt. She sais that the two of them are just wasting each other’s time, and she needs to be reinstated to capture the man behind Tom’s death. She then tells Fulton that as a young girl she loved ballet, and at ever recital she felt a presence in the audience. she went on to say that she felt that same protective presence at her graduations and her wedding.

Keen says that she knows that Raymond’s capable of some heinous acts, however he’s also capable of incredible kindness, as he’s displayed to her over the years. She then tells Dr. Fulton that she would describe her own profile as widow, mom, cop, and daughter.

Bring Me The Head Of Ian Garvey.

One large piece of information about the season’s major story-arc got revealed in this episode. Although Detective Norman Singleton, works with  Ian Garvey, he’s not a crooked cop. He’s been naïvely keeping Garvey in the loop as to the whereabouts of Keen and her involvement with Reddington. However that spigot of information will likely run dry for Garvey after this episode.

Elizabeth’s set-up surveillance cameras in her apartment, and she’s come up with some photograph’s of Singleton breaking into her place. She naturally assumes he’s a dirty-cop, but actually believes that she works for Reddington, and that the two of them took over operation of the Nash syndicate.

Seems that Singleton’s also a member of some law-enforcement Task-Force, apparently lead by U.S. Marshall Ian Garvey. After telling the members of the unit of the connection between Reddington and Keen, Garvey tells him to keep tracking her and reporting his findings.

The moment of truth arrives, when Elizabeth catches the detective in her apartment, pulls her weapon and tells him to put his hands up. She starts to call the police to report a robbery, when he tells her he’s got pictures of her and Raymond, if she turns him in, he’ll return the favor. She puts down the phone and they start talking.

He says his instincts tell him that they’re on the same side, but how can she explain the connection to Reddington. After she establishes that she can trust him, she says that if he reveals any information he’s about to learn, Reddington will kill him. She then says she needs to make a phone call.

Some of the cops on Garvey’s Task-Force, meet with the Marshall, and one of them suggests they grab Keen and get her to give up Reddington. Garvey dismisses the plan, saying if they do that they’d have Federal Agents all over them. He tells them to stay patient and allow Singleton to unwittingly do their dirty-work.

However those odds likely greatly decreased, after Lizzie took Singleton to the Post Office, and Navabi told him the particulars about the Task-Force. Liz smiled at Singleton and said she told him she could justify her connection to Reddington, he nodded and said it was indeed valid. He also told her he thought he could help her find the dirty-cop responsible for Tom’s death.

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

Photo Courtesy Of Will Hart/NBC

WARNING SPOILER ALERT

The NBC series “The Blacklist,” went into its two-week Olympic Games hiatus, (Personally, I think Raymond’s a luge enthusiast) with an episode that confirmed some theories, and set in motion the inevitable confrontation with Ian Garvey. One week after featuring Tommy Wattles, a Blacklist member that will remain embedded in viewers minds for years, the group that the Task-Force brought to justice paled in comparison. We’ve seen vigilante groups such as “The Invisible Hand,” countless times in fiction over the last couple of decades. (Think low-tech version of F-Society, from Mr. Robot.)  Frankly the writers and show-runners did nothing to advance the concept, resulting in a rather flat and predictable story-arc, which may have been by design.

This episode’s true strength was to put the pieces together to set the course for the balance of season five, including a bitter-sweet reunion between Lizzie and her grandfather Dominic Wilkinson. Although Dom didn’t identify himself as Keen’s grandfather, the exchange provided a glimpse into the past of the man we’ve only known as Katarina’s father. Raymond continued building a force to be reckoned with, for his upcoming war with his unknown foe. We also obtained some game-changing information concerning Ian Garvey, hinted at in this corner before the series returned from its Autumn vacation.

The Blacklist Members Of The Week.

We’re going to cut right to the chase on the story-line of The Invisible Five. The plot revolves around six kids who lived in a seemingly paradise-like cul-de-sac in the town of Brenford, New York, in the nineties. Suddenly their world got rocked, as their parents died after being ravaged by cancer they contracted as a result of Atria Chemical Corporation, dumping hazardous waste into the ground. The EPA eventually declared a ten-mile radius around the town as a toxic dump, warning people to stat away due to the massive dose of radiation emanating from the land.

The six kids scattered to different parts of the country, but got reunited at the funeral of one of the group, as a result of the radiation poisoning. The remaining five formed a vigilante group they dubbed The Invisible Hand, dedicated to punish an Atria executive, a judge and a lawyer, who settled a lawsuit with one of their neighbors and then sealed the records. The rest of the neighborhood remained ignorant of the danger, and slowly succumbed to the radiation poisoning.

They quickly got their revenge on the judge and the attorney, burying both men alive in the toxic wasteland. However the remaining member of the troika, the Atria executive Anna Hopkins, moved to England. They then decided to expand their scope, taking out people who do things within the law, but that they considered morally reprehensible. Seven more people would suffer their wrath, until some teenagers jumped the fence on a dare, and discovered their latest victim.

When the five members see the news reports they meet at a restaurant owned by Zeke, a member of the hand. Another member Stephen Altman, who seems to be their leader, says they’ve always done things together, and if any of the group wants to stop, they’ll immediately disband. However he says they might want to carry out one more mission, as Anna Hopkins’ in town to make a speech. They can finally punish the third member of the troika.

Navabi and Ressler arrive at the toxic dump, and one of the investigators tells them they’ve recovered seven bodies at that point. He also informs them of a camera the EPA installed at the site, similar to the one “The Tracker,” used last season, except this camera takes just one picture a day. Ressler asks for the contents of the camera, and when they return to the Post Office, Aram sees Stephen Altman standing in the woods without a hazmat suit on. They soon identify him as a former resident of Brenford, who unsuccessfully sued Atria, as a teenager.

Samar and Donald drive to the cul-de-sac the in Brenford, it looks as if it went through the apocalypse. Although the entire neighborhood’s deserted, Ressler notices smoke coming from Altman’s chimney, and calls in for a SWAT-Team. Altman escapes into the woods, however the agents discover the monitoring equipment set up in the house and bring it back to the Post Office.

The Invisible Hand undertakes their plan to capture and kill Anna Hopkins, staying at the Braxton Hotel. One of the group, a reporter named Bobby, interviews Hopkins about her new project, and slips a tracking unit into her purse. After he leaves, Altman poses as a courier saying he needs Hopkins to sign for two packages. She senses something wrong and calls the hotel’s front desk, and asks if they authorized a courier to come to her room? The attendant says no, and says he’ll send security up to the room.

Aram discovers the tracking unit that Bobby put into Hopkins’ purse and he’s able to triangulate the signal. He discovers it’s originating from the seventeenth floor of the Braxton Hotel. Navabi and Ressler head to the hotel, and the hotel front desk clerk’s informed that Hopkins might be in danger. He responds that he just sent security up to her room.

Two security guards head up to Hopkins’ room and tell Altman that he’s got to register at the front desk before delivering any packages, as Hopkins watches through the peephole in her door. When Altman leaves, one of the men knock on her door and she opens it to thank them, however it’s Zeke and Bobby posing as security. They quickly overtake her and bring her to a maroon van in the parking lot.

The agents arrive just as the group puts Hopkins into their van, and a shootout ensues. The agents take out Zeke and wound Bobby, and Emma. Bobby and Altman escape with Hopkins in the van, and Navabi and Ressler take the remaining member, Sophia into custody. After arriving at the Post Office, they convince her to help them find the van by threatening her with never seeing her two young children again. She leads them to where Altman was burying Hopkins, while Navabi and Sophia rescue Hopkins, Ressler tackles Altman as he tries to escape.

During Ressler’s interrogation of Altman, we learn that he’s dying of radiation poisoning, and found out two years before. He says he’s proud of what the Invisible Hand accomplished, he says they’re a corrective unit, and they carried out corrections against injustice. Although none of their victims broke the law, they all took advantage of the law and in the process ruined other people’s lives.

Raymond And Lizzie’s Discoveries

There’s a knock at Elizabeth’s apartment door, and she finds Detective Singleton on the other side, ostensibly there to deliver Tom’s last effects. However he quickly reveals his true reason for his visit, to attempt to intimidate Keen into admitting she killed Bobby Navarro, and she stole the bloody rag from Singleton’s station’s evidence lock-up. She spits back at him that she’s still a federal agent, and for him to stay away from her. He says he’ll be back soon to arrest her.

Among Tom’s effects, she finds a set of keys and immediately fixates on one. We next see her in one of Tom’s storage units, and she uses the key to open an electronic box she seems to know resides there. Opening the unit, she finds a pistol and a leather-bound journal. She sees an entry about Oleander, and then finds a travel brochure for the Oleander Hotel in Slovenia. She immediately calls Cooper asking for help.

Dembe informs Raymond they’ve got an unexpected visitor, our old fiend Anthony Pagliaro the postman, enters the room apologizing profusely. He says he’d never show up unannounced but for a dire emergency. Raymond asks the postal-worker his definition of emergency, and Anthony responds somebody’s going to kill him. Reddington deems the situation an emergency as well, and tells Pagliaro to explain his situation.

Anthony recounts how he discovered a shipment meant for Big Willie Wilkins, and deduced that it contained massive quantities of drugs, so he stole it. He figured he could convince the drug kingpin that the shipment got lost in the mail, but Wilkins didn’t fall for the story. He then told Big Willie, that the shipment got stolen by a rival drug-dealer Momo Marinello.  However when Momo got word that Pagliaro fingered him, he decided to take Anthony out. Raymond asks why he needed the extra money, and Pagliaro says he’d rather not discuss it. When pressed he admits he’s dating a woman out of his league and he wants to get liposuction surgery.

Raymond says that they’ll pay Wilkins a visit and Anthony will admit the truth. Pagliaro balks at the idea, but Reddington says that he’s found over the years that telling the truth is the best course of action. At least most of the time.

Elizabeth and Harold are meeting in Cooper’s office and he’s giving her the information he’s been able to track down on Oleander, and the first point of info’s that Oleander’s a man. He was a legendary Soviet operative, rumored to have come to the States after the Cold War ended. He give’s Keen the name of the man believed to be Oleander, but warns her that if he’s actually the operative, he might not take kindly to questions about his past.

Keen arrives at a house we’ve seen before, and when she knocks on the front door a familiar figure appears. He recognizes her identity immediately and his eyes gleam, but he soon realizes she’s unaware of their relation. She asks if he’s Dominic Wilkinson, and identifies herself. When he asks how he can be of service to her, she asks if he’s the former Soviet operative Oleander?

He lets out a cynical laugh, and says that old ghost story got disproven years before. The CIA cleared him of being Oleander, however she cuts him off and says the Agency didn’t have sufficient proof to charge him. He asks why she’s interested in a former Soviet operative, and her face softens as she explains that her husband was killed over a year ago, and she found information about Oleander among his belongings.

(Her statement doesn’t coincide with the time-line that the show runners have established. Tom died in November of 2017, and she didn’t come out of her coma until September of 2018. Professional athletes would take at least two years to recover from the injuries she received, pushing the time of her departure for Alaska to around September of 2020. When we had a glimpse of Agnes in “The Cook,” she appeared to be about four, she was born in April of 2016.)

Dom apologizes for her loss, but he says he was just a systems analyst for the Soviet Union, not an agent. When the Cold War ended he got granted asylum and a new identity by the American government, and went to work as a systems analyst for them. He’s sorry he can be of no help to her, but she asks him if he interacted with any Soviet operatives. He says he did and she asks if he knew Katarina Rostova?

Dominic breaks into a broad smile and says he knew Rostova quite well, then feigns surprise when he “realizes” he’s speaking to Masha. He says that Katarina used to come into the office he worked out of all the time. When Keen asks if they’d been friends, he quickly changed the subject to a time that Katarina brought Masha to the office when she was about three-years-old.  She asked him if he knew Raymond Reddington, and he said that he didn’t want to discuss him.

She then asked if he thought Katarina could still be alive, and mentioned the former Soviet operative she met in season one, who said he saw her at a hotel. Dom’s face softened as he said he never heard from Rostova after she moved to the States. He once again apologized for not being more informative.

Reddington, Dembe, and Anthony, go to met Big Willie, Raymond’s tickled to find the drug establishment operates out of a candy factory. He says his mind’s filled with visions of Sammy Davis Jr. Seeing the drug kingpin, he thanks him for making the time for them. Wilkins’ surprised that Raymond actually showed up for the meeting, he thought somebody was putting him on. He’s also surprised that Pagliaro works for Red.

Reddington prods Anthony to begin his confession, but the postal-worker says he’s suddenly feeling light-headed. Clearly frustrated, Raymond tells the chief of the drug syndicate that Anthony stole the cocaine, then panicked and blamed Momo for the theft. He says Pagliaro’s sincerely sorry, and he will pay Wilkins back in full, with interest. He then says since it’s no harm no foul, he thinks that Big Willie should forgive Anthony and call off the hit on him.

Wilkens sneers and says “No harm no foul, eh? Follow me.” He takes them into another room where we see some of his men disposing of the remains of Momo Marinello. Big Willie says you have to respond quickly, or his foes perceive it as a sign of weakness. Suddenly the lights cut out, Marinello’s gang’s arrived for their revenge. A shootout ensues, and the air suddenly becomes dense with smoke courtesy of a device one of Marinello’s men set off.

Raymond takes cover but joins in on the action, although at a disadvantage armed just with a pistol, while the others carried long guns. We suddenly see a pair of feet heading towards Red, and Dembe shouts to Reddington to watch out. Raymond turns and fires, realizing too late that the man approaching him was Anthony. Dembe and Reddington carry Pagliaro out of the facility, and the post-worker says he doesn’t want to die. Raymond says he won’t die as they’re getting him help.

Pagliaro wakes up in a recovery facility, Reddington tells him he’s going to be fine, but he needs to watch out for his lap-band. Anthony pulls up the blanket covering him, and realizes that Raymond had the doctors perform the liposuction procedure. Reddington tells him that as long as he was under, he figured they might as well perform the procedure. He wishes Anthony good luck with his new girlfriend and leaves.

Red then meets with Wilkins, telling the drug kingpin he wants him to take on a mission for Reddington. He wants Big Willie to start a war with the Nash Syndicate. Wilkins replies Reddington’s already a big fish, why would he want to take on another? Raymond responds he’s not a big fish, he’s Moby Dick, and for Wilkins to get things in order to proceed with his plan.

Raymond heads to the Post Office, and a look of concern crosses his face when his cell phone rings, and he realizes the caller. He asks what’s wrong, and Dom on the other hand asks him why he thinks something’s amiss. Reddington replies because Wilkinson never calls unless it’s an emergency. Dom informs him that Masha had been at his place that afternoon, seeking information on Oleander. He says he didn’t reveal that he’s actually Oleander, or say anything about Reddington. The old man then grumbles that’s all Raymond cares about anyway.

Dom tells Reddington he should tell Masha the truth, but Raymond sees Elizabeth at that point talking to Samar, and says he can’t talk about that now. Turns out that Bobby the reporter might have some information, that could lead Reddington and keen closer to Tom’s killer.

Raymond heads into the reporter’s hospital room, and he tells Bobby that most bullet wounds to the abdomen aren’t fatal. He then recounts a story of a confederate of his, getting shot 24-times in the abdomen, and surviving. He then asks Bobby about a man The Invisible hand employed, known as the Toy-Maker, and where he’s located. The reporter glares at Reddington, says he’s definitely not a cop, and asks why he should share that information with him? Raymond replies that if he doesn’t he’ll make certain that Bobby won’t survive his gunshot wound.

Lizzie and Raymond head to an electronics repair shop, and find an elderly round little man behind the welding bench. Raymond calls the man by his surname, but the man responds that Mr. Reddington should call him by his first name, Cleveland. Red smiles and says he’s pleased Cleveland knows his identity, as he’s aware that Cleveland’s the Toy-Maker, and hands him Navarro’s glass eye, asking him whom he made it for. Cleveland stammers and stutters, while Raymond puts his pistol on the welding bench, and picks up his welding gun.

Cleveland then says that the eyeball was just the first thing a mysterious man wanted from him. He says the man never introduced himself, and the Toy-Maker identified him as a man that one should never ask his name. He says the guy’s an electronics expert, that the first time they met they had a 20-minute discussion on RF-gain. When Raymond asks Cleveland if he believes the man’s a cop, the Toy-Maker remained silent. Reddington thanked him for his time and the pair left the shop.

Before recapping the hour’s final two scenes; let’s take a look back at a guess we made back in our column of December 27, entitled “Suitcase Suppositions.”

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.”

After Elizabeth leaves the repair shop, she heads back to the Post Office, and once again meets with Cooper. She asks to be reinstated back onto the Task-Force. Harold replies that she told him she looked at being a Federal Agent as a handicap in her search for Tom’s killers. She responds that’s until she realized the man she’s searching for, might wear a badge himself. Cooper shakes her hand, and welcomes her back to the Task-Force.

We see Detective Singleton making a call on his cellphone, telling the part on the other end that he’s concerned about Elizabeth Keen. We then see the caller on the other end’s Ian Garvey, and he tells Singleton to clam down, that he’ll take care of things on his end. Just as we realize that Singleton’s working for Garvey, the camera flashes on a star attached to his belt.

The Story Returns on Wednesday February 28, at 8:00 pm on NBC.

Photo Courtesy Of Will Hart/NBC

WARNING SPOILER ALERT:

The NBC series “The Blacklist,” celebrated the show’s one hundredth episode, by pitting two cunning con-men against each other, resulting in entertaining hour, featuring some bravura acting performances. In yet another example of the show’s brilliant casting, the series brought in stage and screen legend Nathan Lane, to portray the latest Blacklist member. Although the main plot was more simplistic than some of the series’ best chapters, the treat of watching James Spader, face off against Lane, more than compensated for the tale’s lack of complexity in this viewer’s opinion.

The lighter tone of the main story, provided a good contrast for the ever-darkening story arc of Elizabeth Keen, as she slips deeper and deeper into her obsession. This viewer’s reached the conclusion that the woman that longtime fans followed for four-plus seasons, died in the beating that took the life of her husband Tom. The woman that now inhabits her body’s, laser-focused on just one thing, finding the man that murdered her husband. She’s not going to allow emotions, relationships, or the law to stop her from completing her mission.

The cold-open starts with a shot of the DC skyline, as Dembe and Raymond have a discussion while Zuma drives them to an appointment. Raymond’s clutching the valuable 1943D bronze Lincoln penny he confiscated from Greyson Blaise, earlier this season. Reddington’s holding the three million dollar coin, as he’s on his way to talk to a Georgetown antique’s dealer. The dealer’s piqued Raymond’s interest, as he retains information about the coin, and three duplicates. Legend has it that the four coins form a set, that form a treasure map, leading to vast riches.

Raymond tells Dembe, that he hasn’t felt so excited since he and his childhood pal, Herbie Honeycutt, pooled their box-tops together to get a combination decoder-ring/periscope. Zuma, knowing him so well, responds that Reddington loves the mystery, causing Red to recall Robert Louis Stevenson, Edgar Allen Poe, and the story The Gold Bug.

As he’s highlighting the tale, their car gets T-Boned by a panel-van from a cleaning company, flipping their car on its roof. We see the rare penny on the highway, and a man wearing a suit and a trench-coat, picks up the coin as four goons emerge from the van armed to the teeth. The man who picked up the coin tells the hoods they can leave, as he’s gotten what he came for. Raymond sees the man as he’s about to black-out.

We join Elizabeth seconds after we lost saw her, standing over the corpse of Robert Navarro. She suddenly feels pain in her side and discovers there’s a shard of glass protruding from her abdomen. She pulls the glass from her body, wraps Navarro’s body in a canvas bag, and then proceeds to clean the crime scene, in a manner that Mr. Kaplan would’ve approved of.

She’s finishing cleaning, when there’s a knock on the door. Two uniforms and the superintendent, force their way into the apartment. Keen takes the bloody rag from her abdomen and sticks it in the kitchen garbage disposal, then hides in the closet. The officers responded to a domestic violence call, likely from one of Navarro’s neighbors, but they report back to dispatch that the place’s clean.  When the officers and the super leave, Keen somehow lugs the far bigger Navarro into her car’s trunk.

Raymond goes hat in hand to Harold, asking for assistance in recovering the coin he purloined. Cooper’s ready to laugh Reddington out of his office, when Red explains that the new Blacklist Member’s killed before and he’ll likely kill again, in pursuit of all four coins. We get a glimpse of the thief in his day job, he’s a loan-officer for the Republic Commerce Bank in Manhattan. He’s informing a client that he was able to restructure his payments so he won’t default on his loan. He then smiles when he says that the client should be able to pay for his panel van that was recently in an accident.

Reddington explains to the Task-Force, that in the thirties the United States Government printed a series of Federal Reserve Notes, at the Denver Mint, that were payable to the holder for the note’s denominations. Shortly after the notes were printed, they turned up missing, so Denver denied they were ever printed. However in recent years some of the notes have surfaced in some foreign countries, and the Mint claims the notes were counterfeit.

Raymond states that the notes were actually printed, and the four coin set of the 1943D Lincoln bronze pennies, allegedly form a map giving the location of the Federal Reserve Notes. Aram verifies that the Blacklist member killed three times in his quest for the coins, three security-officers in Dubai, an art collector in Italy, and the Georgetown art dealer that Raymond was set to meet with. That’s how the thief determined Reddington possessed the coin, and how he ambushed Red and Dembe. Although Harold only wants to capture the thief, Aram’s totally captivated by the idea of participating in a treasure hunt.

Keen’s nemesis, MPD Detective Singleton, arrives back at Navarro’s apartment with the uniforms. After he quickly eyeballs the apartment, he pronounces it too clean and calls for a forensic-team to join him at Navarro’s. He tells the person on the other end that a warrant’s in the works as they speak. Keen did a masterful job of getting rid of any evidence of a crime, save for the bloody rag that she left in the garbage disposal, which Singleton sends to the lab for a blood-match.

The Blacklist member’s talking to an unfortunate client of the bank, that they’re calling in his loan. The man’s desperate and offers to do anything to restructure his payments. The loan officer smiles and says he sees the man used to be an insurance investigator. He says he’s got a personal problem involving a rare coin, and perhaps they can help each other. Soon the client Frank Dobbs, and the loan officer are on their way to a museum that’s showcasing the coin in an exhibition.

Dobbs and the loan officer identify themselves as investigators from the insurance company, that insures the collection on loan from the University of Pennsylvania. The loan officer, introduces himself to the museum’s representative Patrick Church, using a posh English accent, and identifies himself as the company’s rare coin expert.

Simultaneously, Aram’s tracked the location of the fourth coin to the Gabor Museum, the same place the duo’s attempting to swindle the museum out of the coin. Cooper sends Navabi and Ressler, to talk with museum officials, and make certain the coin’s still safe.

Shortly after Samar and Donald head to the museum, Keen shows up at the Post-Office, to the delight of Aram. After he hugs her, he asks if she’s just visiting, or she’s ready to rejoin the Task-Force? She says she’s just visiting and needs to take a look at the files. We follow Elizabeth to the file cabinets, and watch as she pulls out the file of Stanley R. Kornish, the man longtime fans know as “The Stewmaker.” She pulls out here cellphone and starts photographing the documents, until she’s interrupted by Aram.

He does his best to attempt to recruit her back to work on their current case, telling her that Navabi and Ressler just headed to the Gabor Museum, to ascertain the whereabouts of a copy of the 1943D Lincoln bronze penny. He tells her about the treasure hunt, and says it might provide a good distraction for her. She quickly changes the subject to his relationship with Samar, and Aram gushes. Keen then tells him she’s got to leave, but she answers her phone to find Singleton’s on the other end.

We next see her being interviewed by Singleton in his office, as he asks her bout any contact she’s had with Robert Navarro. She reminds the officer that he told her not to contact Navarro, and he scoffs at her. He says he believes that Navarro’s dead. She looks Singleton in the eye and states she’s the last person in the world to want Navarro dead, as she wanted information about the man he worked for. She asks if there’s anything else, and he responds not until the lab gets the results of the bloody towel they found in the garbage disposal.

The loan officer and Dobbs, meet with Church and his assistant in Church’s office, and the thief tells Church they believe that the penny they possess maybe a forgery. They believe the coin might be the handiwork of a forger who tried to pass off an Italian Litra, at an auction house in Germany. He asks to see the coin and Church summons his assistant to get it. He says if the coin’s a forgery, it might be the most celebrated case since the Ready Electrotypes at the British Museum.

Keen gets a motel room with an oversized bathtub, and brings Navarro’s corpse and the mix of chemicals that “The Stewmaker,” utilized to destroy bodies without a trace. First she washes herself with some green chemical, and then covers the bathroom with plastic sheeting. She puts Navarro’s body into the tub, and then puts on the same type of gas mask that “The Stewmaker,” wore. She then pours in chemicals and fills the tub with water, after stirring the contents of the tub, she exits the bathroom as the chemicals do their work.

The loan officer tells the museum representative that he believes the coin’s a forgery, and Church nearly goes apoplectic. However the mood in the office radically changes as another museum employee enters and whispers something to the assistant, who then whispers it to Church. The three says they’ll return shortly, taking the coin with them. Dobbs looks out the window and sees police cruisers outside and starts to panic, but the thief tells him to remain calm. They then escape as the thief sets off the fire alarm, as Navabi and Ressler make their way to Church’s office.

Harold calls Reddington with bad and worse news. The Blacklist member escaped, and the remaining 1943D Lincoln bronze penny’s sitting in the MPD’S evidence vault. Harold tells Raymond that the Task-Force’s not breaking into the evidence vault for him. So Raymond calls Keen to see if she can help him in the matter. She tells Reddington that she could use the distraction, and says she’ll gladly help him. Although she’s surrendered her badge, the evidence vault’s the same place they store evidence of open homicides. She says she can give Singleton something that might help them gain access to the vault.

She gives Singleton Tom’s old cellphone, saying she finally got up the courage to start going through his things. She says she doesn’t know the password, but perhaps some of the department’s tech-staff can break into it. She tells Raymond that the device’s being used as a passive packet sniffer, a trick Tom taught her. Within minutes, Dembe’s got the evidence vault code, now they just need a way to get to the vault. Which provides a great excuse to bring into the episode a fan favorite.

Keen recruits Glen Carter, to take a pill that will induce heart-attack like symptoms in him, which will provide the diversion she’ll need to get into the vault. After Jellybean, reiterates that she owes him big time for his actions, he admits he’s looking forward to some time away from his mother, and getting a little rest and relaxation. He no sooner gets the sentence out of his mouth, when the symptoms knock him to his knees, and Keen calls for help.

During the ensuing chaos, Keen accesses the keypad and opens the vault. We see her grab the evidence envelope with the coin inside it. She returns just as paramedics are wheeling Jellybean out of the station, on a stretcher. She quickly exits the other way.

Aram’s discovered the Blacklist member’s name’s Abraham Stern, and that he’s a loan officer at the Manhattan bank. Cooper soon realizes that Reddington also has ascertained Stern’s identity, when he receives a call from MPD informing him the coin disappeared from their evidence vault. Harold calls Raymond and he says he realizes that he’s cut a deal with Stern, Red replies he’ll let him know how things work out.

The two men negotiate a truce, as Reddington states that sentiment guarantees that Red will accept a 50/50 split with Stern, since the Federal Reserve Notes are his inheritance. We then find out Stern’s father was a master engraver with the Denver Mint, when the notes went missing. His father became the prime suspect, but nobody could prove he stole the notes, so he got demoted to the mint’s maintenance staff and worked out of the boiler room.

His last act at the mint was engraving the four bronze coins as a map for his son. Later that year, the mint switched to a new boiler room, and dismissed Stern’s father. He never worked again and died a pauper, however he left Abraham the coins in his will. Stern just a teenager at the time, and angry with his father spent the coins on four gum balls at the local candy store. He realized his mistake soon after, when he received a letter from his father’ lawyer, informing him about the coin. He’s dedicated his entire life to retrieving those coins.

Stern brought another man with him to the summit meeting, a man he identified as the Professor, who was able to crack the code of the four coins. Stern’s father used his craftsmanship to put together a topographical map when the four coins were shown in an over-lay. The map showed that the notes were still in the Denver Mint, the final clue revealed in the over-lay told them the notes were still in the old boiler room.

Raymond tells the other two men that the best way for them to get into the vault, which is their only access to the old boiler room, would be to disguise themselves as drivers and deliver a truck filled with laundered money. Reddington calls Heddy Hawkins to ascertain how much available cash they’ve got on hand.

Hawkins naturally distrusts Stern and tries to warn Raymond off. Reddington voices Heddy’s feelings and asks what assurance Stern can give him, and the thief swears on his dead father’s grave. Raymond turns to Hawkins and says he can’t ask for anything better than that, and agrees to work together.

Keen returns to the hotel, and plunges the remainder of the contents of the tub down the drain. She’s surprised to find just one thing remaining. Turns out that Navarro had a glass eye, that contained tech inside it. She grabs the eyeball and cleans up the room before she vacates it.

Reddington’s able to access the mint’s computer system, to give them authorization to make the delivery. Once they get inside the gates, Stern acknowledges that Heddy’s instincts had been spot-on, and he locked Red inside the truck as his crew proceeded to steal the Federal Reserve Notes. Raymond fully prepared for the double-cross, quickly made his escape from the van and joined Hawkins and his crew on the roof of the building.

When Stern and his team reach the old boiler room, they open the boiler and find it’ stuffed with the notes. Stern tells his associates to start packing their bags. Suddenly a deafening sound fills the room, and soon the notes are going up the air shaft, getting sucked up two giant exhaust vacuums that Raymond’s crew have hooked up to a V-8 motor. They get nearly all the notes before the mint’s system seals the vault, with Stern and his crew inside. Raymond calls Cooper and tells him that he broke off his partnership with Stern when he found out that the Blacklist member wanted to rob the Denver Mint. He tells the Task-Force Director, that Stern and his crew are robbing the mint as they speak.

Later Raymond shows back up at the Post Office and heads to Cooper’s office and sits down in the chair in front of Harold’s desk. Cooper grins at him and says he knows that Reddington got the Federal Reserve Notes, he doesn’t know how Red pulled it off, but he knows he got them. Reddington asks about the four pennies, and Cooper says they’ve been recovered and returned to their rightful owners, except for the one Raymond “liberated.” He says he’ll give it to Red for the truth.

Reddington starts to explain Stern’s story to Cooper, but Harold says that’s not the truth he wants. He then asks Raymond if he stole a bloody cloth from the evidence vault, that the MPD had in relation to the death of Robert Navarro. Red looks rather shocked and says of course not. Harold gives Reddington back the coin. The Bureau has Stern in custody, and the Denver Mint reported that nothing was stolen during the break-in. Reddington literally pulled off the “Perfect Crime.”

The evening ends with Raymond voicing his displeasure to Keen. She admits she got in over her head, and never intended to kill Navarro. However he got the jump on her and he died in the ensuing scandal. Reddington says he wants to make certain that the body can’t be found, and she assures him she already took care of that. She then shows him the glass eye with the Next-Gen tech, and asks for his help. He says of course, and then pulls the bronze penny from behind her ear.

She asks if his treasure hunt was successful, and he replies he’s got his sights set on a castle in Trieste, and suggests she accompany him to take a look at it. Just then a man named Bernard walks into the room carrying a box and tells Reddington he looks incomplete. Raymond chortles as he looks at the box, and then gives Bernard the coin, while Liz stammers. She’s puzzled that Raymond would give the man the coin for the contents of the box, until Bernard tells her the box contains Winston Churchill’s hat.

Raymond carefully lifts the hat out of the box and explains it’s Churchill’s Homburg that he wore during the blitz. Under its brim Churchill defeated Hitler, and now Raymond’s the hat’s unworthy new owner. Bernard tells Keen that the hat’s been locked al these years gathering dust in a trunk in Surrey, until recently discovered. Raymond puts it on and asks how it looks, she responds kind of amazing, and he beams.

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

Photo Courtesy Of Will Hart/NBC

WARNING: SPOILER ALERT

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Blacklist Member Of The Week.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo Courtesy Of Will Hart/NBC

WARNING: 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 WHO IS 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: who IS 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, have taken the time to rebuild and replace a 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.