Owain Yeoman

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WARNING: SPOILER ALERT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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