Season Five Episode Two

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Photo Courtesy Of NBC

WARNING: SPOILER ALERT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo Courtesy Of AMC

Photo Courtesy Of AMC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

Terminus burns in the distance. The group continues on the road; Abraham is anxious to resume escorting Eugene to Washington, Rick is unsure if he and his group should accompany him. The recently reunited survivors begin to ask and answer the questions that have befallen them, their own intentions and ultimate humanity precariously hanging on those conversations.

Rick and Tara reaffirm the gratitude they share for each other and commit to leaving the events at the prison in the past. She saved Glenn’s life, Glenn saved hers, she is willing to contribute to the group’s survival, and that is enough to satisfy Rick. Tyreese is coming to terms with Carol’s confession, but still struggling to deal with the deaths of Mika and Lizzie. He confesses to Carol that, while he wants the group to know and accept her actions in the prison, he doesn’t want to tell them what happened to the girls. There are things he wants to accept, it seems, but things he wants to forget.

As they settle into camp for the evening, Rick and Carol get into a deeper conversation. While Rick’s interest in the wellbeing of the world outside his group has waned, his understanding and concern for those within has deepened. He apologizes to Carol for expelling her from the prison before it fell. Since the group is now in the world that he turned Carol into, he feels it only right that she accept them into her charge. Carol gladly grants Rick the privilege to lead herself and the others on the road.

She and Daryl take watch that evening. With the concerned and watchful gaze of a concerned younger sibling, he asks Carol if she “wants to talk about it.” She declines, saying that she just wants to forget. Daryl doesn’t press her, but it’s obvious that he’ll be willing to listen if she changes her mind. Before they can share much more uncomfortable silence, a noise in the woods sends Daryl on alert. They peer into the woods, but no walker emerges. The pair settle back into their positions, but a long shot from across the forest reveals a figure circling the camp.

The next morning, the group breaks camp. Daryl startles the group as he catches up to them, bearing a trap line of squirrels. He has shared the events of the previous night with Rick, but he concedes that he found no sign of anyone near the camp when he checked his trap line that morning. It wasn’t what he heard, he presses to Rick, but that he felt like someone watched him.

Sasha and Bob, at least, are unaware of the Daryl’s suspicions. The two stroll together, Bob’s unrelenting optimism answering each of Sasha’s complaints about their situation. She bemoans wet socks, he answers that the itching reminds her that she’s alive. She rues the lack of privacy, Bob brags of a captive audience. The two lean into each other and kiss, officially throwing their hat in the ring for “Cutest Walking Dead Couple.” Watch out, Glenn and Maggie!

Rick’s mistrust of the outside world’s tested soon enough—the group hears screaming and cries for help from nearby, and Carl insists that they investigate. Rick relents, but one gets the feeling that if it weren’t his son insisting on looking out for their fellow-man he would keep on walking.

They come upon a man atop a rock surrounded by walkers, which the group easily takes down. They assist the man, who we now see dressed in a priest’s vestments and collar. He introduces himself as Father Gabriel. Rick is (reasonably) suspicious of this clean-looking, well-fed man. His answers to Rick’s Three Questions inform that he hasn’t killed any walkers, and he hasn’t killed any people, and he hasn’t

done so because the Lord abhors violence. Rick presses him, but Gabriel insists that he confesses his sins to God, not strangers. Very convenient answers that absolutely no one in the group believes.

However, they still want to believe that others possess humanity. Gabriel offers to lead them to the church where he was staying. As they walk along, Gabriel jokes that he might be leading them into a trap, and how would anyone even know? That’s enough to get everyone in the group to draw down on him, and he nervously admits that his “flock” was often not impressed with his weird sense of humor.

Luckily, they reach the church. Gabriel claims he’s been staying there by himself; Rick insists that they sweep the building to be sure. They find some odd things—a Sunday School room with some now-very-creepy children’s scribbled drawings on the walls, an office where Gabriel holed up, recopying passages of the bible into a notebook, an altar with several dozen open cans of paint surrounding it—but no people or walkers.

Abraham’s search of the property finds a small bus that he intends to fix up to continue the push to Washington. Rick isn’t concerned with moving on so quickly—he insists that some of the group stay and set up camp while others go on a run for supplies. Tyreese volunteers to stay with Judith, promising to Rick that he’ll do whatever it takes, always, to keep that little girl safe.

Carl is to stay behind, too, but not before a stern, frank conversation with his father. Rick stresses his mistrust of Gabriel, and of the world in general. His words are plainly those of a man who does not want to lose another person in his life. He tells Carl to always remember that he is not safe, and that in an instant, it could all be over. Carl agrees, but also reiterates his faith in the strength of the group. He wants the world to be the kind of place where those who can help others do so.

How a man remained inside a church for so long remains unexplained; Gabriel claims that the church recently had a food drive that left an (now depleted) abundance of food in the building. He says he knows of some possible locations for supplies nearby. He offers to draw a map, but Rick informs him that he’ll be joining his group. Gabriel falters, nervously admitting that he’s useless against walkers. Rick isn’t concerned about Gabriel’s ability to fight. Gabriel joins Michonne, Rick, Glenn, Maggie, Tara, Abraham, Sasha, and Bob as they venture to a nearby town.

Bob uses the journey to attempt to rub some positivity off onto Rick. Bob believes in Abraham and Eugene, he believes that they can help the world find a cure and bring back “the real world.” Rick scoffs—walkers and murderous people, that’s the real world now. Bob unflinchingly denies Rick’s statement. “This is a nightmare,” he proclaims, “and nightmares end.”

But, even if Bob is right, this one won’t end anytime soon. They reach the food bank that Gabriel was leading them to, and quickly discover why the supplies escaped untouched. The basement flooded through a leaking roof, and a dozen or so walkers get trapped in chest-deep water, meandering between shelves of canned goods.

Do nightmares smell bad, Bob? “If a sewer could puke, this is what it would smell like.” Even Bob’s nose can’t look on the bright side of this one.

They hatch a plan to descend into the basement, eliminate the walkers, and retrieve the food. Unwilling to let Gabriel out of his sight, Rick forces him to join the rest of them in the walker-soup. The walkers begin to fall at the capable, methodic hands of our survivor-warriors. Gabriel becomes increasingly distressed when a certain female walker wearing glasses lurches at him. He panics and leaves the safety of the group. He can’t manage to escape, though, and instead braces himself against a wall as she bears down on him. Rick reaches her before she can begin to eat Gabriel and cracks her head like an egg against a drain pipe. Gabriel’s horrified. Rick’s annoyed.

The walkers get killed and the group begins to gather the supplies to take back to the church.

BUT WAIT THERE WAS A WALKER THAT WASN’T DEAD AND IT DRAGS BOB UNDERWATER HOLY JESUS SEE THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU’RE HOPEFUL.

But Sasha is right there, and she’s not gonna let any gross waterlogged zombie eat her boyfriend. Bob survives the attack, although he’s visibly shaken.

So, the group has a renewed cache of food, and no one has become walker meat so far. As they journey back to the church with their haul, Gabriel apologizes to Rick for panicking. Rick regards him with the strained patience of a man trying to do the right thing despite his sadder, wiser instincts. He realizes Gabriel must have known the walker that was approaching him, but Gabriel will admit to nothing. Before he can say anything else he may regret, Rick snaps “Yeah, I get it, you only tell your sins to God.”

Michonne catches up to Rick, and as they begin to speak, his “suspicious protector” visage falls away. He appreciates this chance to connect with Michonne, especially since they begin by bonding over how much they distrust Gabriel. They continue his earlier conversation with Bob. What is the real world? Was it before, or is it now? Michonne misses Andrea, she admits, and she misses Hershel, but she doesn’t miss anything before that. She doesn’t miss her sword. She’s more grateful to be with the group now than anything else.

Meanwhile, Carol and Daryl discover a car abandoned along the road. The battery is dead, but there’s a charger in the trunk that still has some juice. Carol thinks they should leave it as an escape option in case things go bad at the church. He reminds her that this is her chance to start over. She agrees, but she looks unconvinced as Daryl turns away.

The group reconvenes at the church. As the crew unpacks and organizes the supplies, Carl calls Rick’s attention to some “important things” outside the church. There’s a shuttered window that shows evidence of an attempted but unsuccessful break-in. Worse, though, are the words “You’ll burn for this,” carved into the side of the church a few feet away.

Gabriel, Rick Grimes does not trust your ass. You’re officially on-notice.

The group is ecstatic with their haul of food, and they gather in the church for their feast. Abraham stands and proposes a toast, which is really a not-so-subtle list of reasons why the group should accompany him to Washington. The thing is, he says, that all in the room have earned the title “survivor”, but with Washington, they could do more than survive. They’ve got an opportunity to let the dead die and let the living take the world again. Eugene reveals that there were measures taken to leave stores of food, fuel, and other necessities, even in with “this FUBAR magnitude.”

The group’s gaze settles on Rick, who is holding Judith on his lap and feeding her. He returns their gaze, and then looks down at his food-smeared, grinning daughter. She giggles, and Rick breaks his stony-faced silence. Judith seems to be on board, and that’s good enough for Rick. He announces the group’s commitment to accompany Abraham, Eugene, and Rosita to Washington.

Everyone’s buoyed by Rick’s hopeful decision, and they return to their food and wine. Tara seeks out Maggie and admits to her role in the prison’s fall. Maggie looks stricken, but she also remembers that Tara is the one who saved Glenn’s life. Whether this is the real world or the nightmare, Maggie accepts Tara’s apology. These days, even if someone helped carry out a plot that lead to your father’s murder, if they subsequently save your husband’s life, they’re good enough to be a friend. Rick spies Gabriel at the edge of the crowd, drinking communion wine from the bottle. He approaches the wobbling priest, and delivers the best Rick Grimes Is No Sucker Speech of the evening.

“You’re hiding something,” he deduces, “And it’s obvious it’s something that you can’t hide from. That’s your business, not mine. But these people? They’re my family. And if what you’re hiding hurts my family, I will kill you.”

Sasha and Bob have another tender, new-love moment, but as Sasha turns way, Bob appears troubled. He slips away from the group, with an increasingly obvious limp. Was he hurt worse than he let on in the earlier siege at the food bank?

Bob isn’t the only one who has slipped away. Carol is loading up the car she found earlier, but she’s caught by Daryl. He begins to confront her about her intentions, but a car comes speeding along before they can speak. The car just happens to be black, with a white cross in the back windshield. Yup, it’s the car that took Beth. Daryl and Carol jump into the car to give chase. Will those two EVER get a chance to really talk?!

Back at the church, Bob has staggered into the graveyard. He leans against a tree (with a bit of a carved-out marking on it) and begins to weep. Before he can collapse, he’s struck from behind by a hooded figure.

His vision returns in blurry scenes—people around a campfire, and a chipper, menacing voice speaking to him. (We see flashes of vaguely familiar faces… Oh, Tyreese, you didn’t kill that guy from last week! That’s gonna be a problem!!!)

It’s Gareth that’s speaking to Bob, outlining why exactly he’s been forced to do what he’s doing. It didn’t start out this way, he explains. The world changed, and the situation “evolved” into eating people (I guess we really had to drive the cannibalism point home—like the human-parts meat locker from last episode wasn’t enough?) He had a home, but that got destroyed, so he’s been forced to devolve into a hunter. (Um, wait, dude. Daryl Dixon is a hunter and he isn’t “devolved” one bit. You’re just crazy. Eating people will do that to you, I suppose).

It’s a chilling speech, as any justification for cannibalism would be, punctuated by Gareth taking sloppy mouthfuls of meat. Bob, Gareth explains, may seem like a victim of cosmic justice, but Gareth’s hunters would have done the same thing to anyone in his situation.

And then the camera pulls back, and we realize that Bob’s leg is roasting on a fire behind them. Gareth grins. “You taste much better than we thought you would.”

Blackness. Credits.

I would say we’re in for a juicy episode next week, but that invokes an image that makes even me a little queasy.

The Story Continues Next Sunday Night at 10:00 pm on AMC.