Susan Blommaert

All posts tagged Susan Blommaert

Photo Courtesy Of Virginia Sherwood, NBC

WARNING: SPOILER ALERT

Hopefully, you still have room for the main course after such a filling appetizer, as “The Blacklist,” followed up “Dembe Zuma,” with a rather mind-bending second episode. Entitled “Requiem,” the hour presented the history of Kathryn Nemec,  the woman fans of the series know as Mr. Kaplan. Long time viewers of the series, likely noticed some inconsistencies during the hour, from the stories we previously heard during the show’s run. I believe that some of the new wrinkles stem from seeing history through Kate’s perspective, while others got omitted or altered in Raymond’s recounting of the past to Elizabeth Keen.

The opening scene begins in 1962, as a man and a little girl stand over the open casket of a woman. The little girl asks the man if she’s in there, and says she can’t see her. The man replies that they’re looking at a skin-sack full of bones, and the woman abandoned her body due to all the sorrow and pain it absorbed. The man then tells the child, “What happens in life, writes a story in our flesh.” He then tells her to dry her eyes and say goodbye to her mother. The little girl puts on a very familiar pair of horned-rimmed glasses and says “Goodbye Momma.”

We return to the present, as we see Kate driving a pickup truck attached to an RV, while the Gloria Gaynor hit “I Will Survive,” provides the soundtrack. She pulls over to the side of the road, and takes some pills and makes a call on her cellphone. She tells the man on the other end she’s fine, but complications have risen. She’s cutting her trip short, but she’s got one more stop to make. The man asks her if she’s getting migraines and she once again assures him she’ll be okay. After finishing her call, she pushes her hair aside and we get our first glimpse of the horrifying scar she received when Raymond shot her.

Once again in the past, we rejoin Kathryn Nemec, now a young woman applying for a position as a nanny. Her prospective employer’s a woman we know quite well, Katarina Rostova. She tells Nemec that she’s very impressed with her résumé and references, then asks why she dropped out of the medical program at Northwestern University. Kathryn replies that she had an odd fascination with corpses, and decided instead to dedicate her life to child-care.

Rostova informs Nemec, that her duties revolve around taking care of her daughter Masha, when ever she’s not around. When Katarina’s in the house, Kathryn’s job is to observe exactly how Rostova treats her child, and to duplicate it when she’s not there, with one exception. She will not love her.

A graphic states that the next scene takes place three months later, and we join a conversation between the two women. Nemec informs Katarina, that she’d give up her life for Masha, and that they’d formed a pact. Every time that the child takes a bottle from her, or falls asleep in her arms, she shows Nemec that she trusts her.

We rejoin Mr. Kaplan in the present, as she turns into a motel parking lot, and then pulls out a fistful of phony licenses. She presents one to the motel manager and says she’s got a reservation for room eight. He gives her the keys for room twelve, and tells her the young couple in room eight, decided to extend their stay. She asks for the adjacent room.

Later that evening, Kate sits in her motel room listening to the young couple arguing, and it brings back a memory. Nemec’s upstairs, while Katarina’s arguing in Russian, with a man in the kitchen. The volume of the shouting increases, and suddenly Kathryn hears bangs and thuds, She runs downstairs to find Rostova and the man in the midst of a tussle. Nemec sees a steak knife by her feet, and kicks it over to Katerina, who uses it to slice the man’s neck.

Rostova then looks at he corpse and all the blood on the floor, and says that her husband’s on his way home and he can’t see this. Kathryn tells her employer to go upstairs and shower while she cleans up the mess. She pulls on the yellow rubber gloves, that will one day seem like part of her own anatomy, she does her first job as a “Cleaner.”

Returning to the present, we watch the young man from room eight, leave the room and start slamming on the locked front desk door. He starts screaming that all he wants is a pack of cigarettes, he’s surprised when he hears Mr. Kaplan’s voice behind him, as she tells him she’s got an extra pack in her trailer. The two enter the mobile home, and that’s the last we see of the young man.

Kate flashes back to her memories of the next morning, as Katarina greets her with a smile. She tells Nemec that she seriously considered killing her the night before. Rostova says that the nanny witnessed something that she’s kept hidden from her husband and their friends. Kathryn asks her employer if she works for Russian Intelligence, then explains that she saw some papers in the man’s pockets when she buried him. She informs Rostova, that she took ample precautions so that the body would never be found. She also says that her pact with Masha, includes protecting Katerina.

A sudden pounding on her motel room door, jolts Mr. Kaplan from her slumber. She opens the door and it’s the young woman from the next room, and she asks Kate if she’s seen her boyfriend? Mr. Kaplan says that perhaps he bolted, but the young woman says he left his car and his keys behind. She then scowls as she says she’s got to try to find him. We watch a cleaning woman leaving room eight and handing Kate the key to the room.

Nemec’s in the woods taking Masha for a walk in her stroller, when she comes upon a parked car. She quickly sees a couple in the throes of lovemaking, and realizes that Rostova is the woman in the car. She quickly turns the stroller around, and heads back to the house. Later Katerina asks Nemec, if she’s got any questions, and the nanny responds it’s none of her business. Rostova says the man was a target, and now she’s not sure what their relationship is. Nemec asks if the man’s American, and if she loves him. Katarina confirms that the man’s American, but she says the only person she know she loves is Masha. Kathryn then says that she should end the relationship.

Kathryn sees police cruisers in front of the house when she returns from an errand, and runs into the home. Katarina tells her that she broke things off with Raymond, and that he took Masha, as he believes the girl’s his daughter. Nemec asks if that’s true, and Katarina says she never checked, as she didn’t want to know the answer. She says she’ll find Masha on her own, and Nemec corrects her, saying she won’t be alone.

Mr. Kaplan pulls aside a bureau and a painting and starts marking the wall, as we hear the band Cake’s cover of “I Will Survive.” She then pulls out a chainsaw and starts cutting through the wall, revealing the body parts of a corpse she buried there, in 2006. She puts all the body parts into a large suitcase and drives away, the cleaning woman’s astonished when she goes to clean the room.

A traumatized Katarina, enters the home carrying Masha. She says they had escaped a fire, and then she tells Masha that he was a very bad man. We realize she’s talking about the man that the child shot, but we receive no explanation of the fire or the man’s identity. She tells Kathryn to take Masha to a motel, she needs to hide but will contact them soon.

Katarina calls Nemec from a phone booth, about a week later. She tells Kathryn that the KGB know about her affair with Raymond, which means US Intelligence, also knows or will soon find out. Nemec says that the child can’t stay in a motel, and suggests that she and Masha go to live with her sister in Chicago. Rostova, tells her that Masha wouldn’t be safe with her, and tells her to take the child to a friend of her and Raymond, named Sam Milhoan, who lives in Kearney, Nebraska. She also tells the nanny, that she needs to disappear so that nobody can question her about her relationship with Rostova. She tells Kathryn she loves her and hangs up.

Kathryn gets to Milhoan’s home, and he apologizes but says he can’t care for the child. He tells her that he’s a grifter, and he’s attempting to go straight, however he can’t provide a stable environment for Masha. Nemec pleads with the man, saying he’s their only hope. Masha then realizes that her nanny won’t be living with them, and Sam’s emotions get the better of him. He tells Nemec that the girl needs her mother, but she’s got him until the heat’s off. With that statement, Masha Rostova ceases to exist, the child become Elizabeth Scott, taking on Milhoan’s birth name, Scott, as her own.

A few weeks later, Nemec’s sitting in a bar reading a newspaper. She hears some of the men in the bar making some lewd comments about an attractive young blonde woman, and she looks up to see the woman selecting a song on the jukebox. Returning to reading, she starts to cry when she sees an article with the headline that authorities have ended their search for a missing Russian woman, Katarina Rostova.

The blonde sits down next to her at the bar, and says she hopes she’s not intruding, but she needed to get away from those guys. She then introduces herself as Annie, and asks Kathryn if she’d like to dance. Nemec’s rather shocked by the invitation, but Annie leads her to the dance floor. As the pair start to awkwardly dance, she asks Nemec what’s wrong? Kathryn replies that her friend died, then says she thinks she was her best friend. Annie hugs Nemec and shares her pain.

Later that evening, as the women share some beers at a table, Annie asks Nemec what her plans are. The former nanny says she’s unsure, she had devoted her life to Masha and her family. Annie says that she’s heading to Amarillo, Texas. Her uncle Nikos lives there, and he’s going to teach her how to become a bail bondsman. Kathryn asks what’s the job market like in Amarillo?

A few months later, Kathryn’s working in a morgue and living with Annie in Amarillo. Annie gets off early one night, and comes over to the morgue to meet Nemec, but she gets squeamish when she sees Kathryn washing off a table covered with blood and body tissue. She suggests that Kathryn find another line of work, and then the pair kiss.

Mr. Kaplan turns on a cassette recorder, and opens the suitcase. She then proceeds to give an autopsy report on the victim, who died from a blunt trauma to the head in 2006. The victim’s name was Everett Oldfield. Apparently he died at the hands of Raymond, or one of Reddington’s associates.

Nemec’s now back in child-care, and gets an unexpected evening off as the couple she works for decided to stay at home for the evening. She surprises Annie at the bail bond office, bringing some Chinese food that they can enjoy, while Annie finishes her paperwork.

Suddenly a guy bursts through the front door, holding a pistol, and demanding to see Little Nikos. Annie informs him that they’re closed, and that Little Nikos isn’t there. The guy starts screaming that he wasn’t in court, because he was at his father’s funeral, and that Little Nikos’ thugs broke his brother’s jaw, in an attempt to find him.

Annie’s flustered, and she offers to give him his money back, the guy gives her a dirty look, and says he doesn’t want her money. He then asks what her name is, and she relies Annie Kaplan. The gunman then says to Nemec “That must make you Mr. Kaplan.” He then shoots Annie in the abdomen, when Nemec tries to help her, he shoots her in the head and then shoots Annie once again, before he flees. Kathryn drags them out to the street, where Annie takes her last breath.

Kathryn wakes up in the hospital, with a doctor standing over her, he tells her that the gunshot didn’t cause any lasting damage, but they had to put her in a coma for three weeks, due to the swelling. Little Nikos walks into the room and tells her she got an upgrade, a metal plate in her head. She then asks about Annie, and the doctor says he’ll give them some privacy.

Little Nikos tells Kathryn that Annie died before the ambulance arrived, and she completely breaks down, letting out these primal howls of grief. Little Nikos takes her in his arms, and tells her that Annie was family, and he knows the way they felt about each other, so that makes her family as well. He says we’ll get through this together.

Kate gets another migraine attack, so she pulls over to the side of the road and parks there. She takes some of her pills, but the attack’s too severe for her to keep on driving. So she goes into her trailer and lies down in the bed to take a nap, until the pain subsides.

Kathryn’s taken over Annie’s old job, when one day a man she never expected to see again, comes to the office. Sam Milhoan quickly reassures her that Lizzie’s fine, however Raymond Reddington’s reaching out to her, due to his concerns about the girl’s future. Kathryn erupts into a ball of fury, saying that man destroyed the life she loved. She calls him an outlaw and a traitor, and says he had no regard for his own family. However Sam convinces her to meet with Reddington.

My curiosity had been piqued, as to how the show-runners would present the young Raymond Reddington. They elected to go with James Spader in the role, obscuring his appearance with lighting, so the only things we saw clearly were his eyes. He tells Kathryn that he’s built a criminal empire in order to protect Elizabeth, but he realizes he needs somebody by his side for counsel. She agrees to work for him, with the understanding, that if she ever has to choose between he and the girl, she’ll always come down on Lizzie’s side. He says he wouldn’t expect anything less.

Kate’s jolted awake by the pounding on her trailer door, she opens it to find a female State Police Officer, standing outside. She asks if Kate’s been drinking, and Mr. Kaplan replies that she gets severe migraines that make it impossible to drive. The officer says she parked illegally and she needs to see her license and registration. Kate accidentally pulls out two licenses, and the officer says she’ll have to search the trailer.

Kate refuses to allow her inside, and then begs the officer not to call it in. She says that she’s on the run from her husband, who abuses her badly. He’s a State Judge, so his word’s sovereign. The officer starts talking about a shelter, when Mr. Kaplan reveals her scar. The officer asks Kate if she’s got a gun, and Kate replies she does. The officer then tells her to high-tale it to a stand your ground state, and wishes her good luck.

We rejoin Kathryn and Raymond, in 2013, as he informs her that he’s made up his mind to reveal himself to Elizabeth. Mr. Kaplan says he can’t just waltz into her life again, and he replies that he’s got no choice. He hired Tom Keen to watch her, but he married her. Because of Katarina, there are too many dark forces swirling around Elizabeth, and he’s got to protect her.

The next scene takes place outside the Bureau headquarters, as Raymond sits on a bench before surrendering. A young man identified by IMDB, as the character “Grey,” sits down next to him. He asks Raymond if it’s good to be home? Raymond responds we’ll see about that, and heads towards the building, while Grey joins Kate and Dembe in the car. Grey says he’s in FBI custody. What could go wrong. We then see a series of images flash by, ending with Raymond shooting Mr. Kaplan in the head.

Raymond finally recovers The Tracker’s phone from the debris, and calls Mr. Kaplan. He says her friend put on quite a show, and Kate replies she told him it wouldn’t work. He then suggests that they talk, and Kate scoffs at the notion. She says she told him that when they first met, she’d always take Lizzie’s side, and he says she was misguided and betrayed him. She counters that she catered to his every whim for over 20-years, and he tried to take her out like a mad dog.

She says it took a bullet in the head for her to remember it, but her father was right. “What happens in life, writes a story in our flesh.” Raymond starts boasting about how impenetrable his organization is, when she interrupts him. She says I know where all the bodies are buried dearie, or at least where they were buried. Now I’ve got them all and they’ll end up putting you in the ground. The camera pans to a wide shot, and we see that Kate’s speaking from an ice-skating rink. There are dozens of corpses staying cool on the ice.

The Story Continues Next Thursday Night, at 10:00pm on NBC.

Photo Courtesy Of Virginia Sherwood, NBC

WARNING: SPOILER ALERT

The Blacklist,” returned to television with a sprawling two-hour episode, jam-packed with revelations. The evening was split into two separate episodes, the first one entitled “Dembe Zuma, Number 10,” while the second episode’s titled “Requiem.” While the first hour took place in the present, the second episode centered around the past, revealing the history of an integral character in the series. The second hour, provided some answers to long-standing questions, however many questions that fans of the series have remain mysteries. Once again the identity of Elizabeth Keen’s biological father came up, and once again fans walked away from the two-hour extravaganza without a definitive answer.

We’ll be splitting the two episodes into two separate recaps, as there’s far too much information to absorb in just one sitting. The recap of “Requiem.” will soon follow.

Our evening begins with a glimpse of the Metro-DC skyline, before taking us into the shower of Aram Mojtabai. As we see Aram through the glass doors, we watch an unidentified character come into his apartment, and open the bathroom door. Despite the ominous music, we soon realize his guest’s his on-again/off-again girlfriend, Janet Sutherland, who soon joins him in the shower. He asks how she got into the apartment, and she replied he left his front door unlocked. This doesn’t sit well with Mojtabai, as he’s certain that he locked the door, so he puts on his robe to investigate.

Aram’s instincts served him well, discovering he’s got an uninvited visitor. Dembe Zuma tackles him to the ground and soon has him hogtied on the floor. Janet hears a commotion emanating from the living room, so she slips on a towel to investigate. She discovers Aram’s bound and gagged on the floor, then she turns around to see Zuma, who orders her to remain quiet.

Next scene begins with Samar Navabi entering Aram’s apartment, as Donald Ressler and the police are doing a sweep of the premises. She asks Donald if they know where Aram’s at, and Ressler replies they’re still trying to piece things together. He escorts Navabi, into the bedroom and she sees Sutherland sitting on the bed. Jumping to the conclusion that Janet’s involved in Aram’s abduction, she starts to attack her, only to be stopped by Ressler as he explains Sutherland’s a victim and not a suspect.

We find ourselves in Harold Cooper’s office, joined by Raymond and Lizzie. Cooper asks Raymond the status of his investigation into Zuma’s location, after his month-long search. Harold tells Reddington that he and the Bureau are getting involved, as Dembe abducted Aram the night before. Red tries to assure Cooper, that Mojtabai’s not in danger, and that Dembe took a calculated risk, because he needs Aram’s help. Raymond wants to search for Zuma by himself, but Harold insists that Keen accompany him and report back to Cooper.

To avoid detection Dembe switches cars, taking Aram from the trunk of one vehicle, and then ordering him to get into another vehicle’s trunk. Zuma then takes the plates off of the car he abandoned and drives off to parts unknown.

Navabi and Ressler question Sutherland at the Post Office, about the abduction but she’s unable to provide much information, as she got stuffed into a closet. She says that she can track Aram, as he’s got a key-finder on his key ring, which she can access from his work station. Despite her innate distrust of Janet, she convinces Cooper and Ressler to allow Sutherland to use Mojtabai’s computer, as she truly believes the woman’s on their side.

Baz’s replaced Dembe as Raymond’s driver, and Reddington explains to Lizzie that they’re in search of the Sanctum Corporation. He explains to Keen, that it’s “an underground railroad for miscreants.”  Criminals that need to elude the law, or former allies turned enemies, utilize Sanctum Corporation’s services to escape the country and obtain a new identity. Liz asks if Dembe used the services, and Raymond replies that he used them last year, to hide his daughter and granddaughter, after Mr. Solomon poisoned Zuma’s grandchild.

As Raymond and Elizabeth attempt to track down a former client of Sanctum Corporation, Dembe takes Aram to a warehouse district, opens a garage type door revealing one of Reddington’s multitude of lockers stashed across the country. Mojtabai assumes that Zuma wants him to crack the code, so he can steal from Reddington and refuses to do it. Dembe punches in the code and opens the empty locker, and tells Aram he needs his help to find out who stole the contents, as that’s the identity of Raymond’s true enemy.

Aram asks him if he’s trying to help Red, and Dembe acknowledges the fact. He says he gave Raymond the poison drink, but he didn’t poison it. He can’t go back to Raymond until he finds out the identity of that person, who tried to kill Reddington, and sabotaging his operation.

The first man that Liz and Raymond attempt to question Richard Fickman’s been abducted in a bloody skirmish by the time they arrive. Which leads to our first encounter with Glen “Jellybean” Carter of the evening, who promptly tells Reddington that he’s not surprised Dembe went rogue. He said he never bought the strong, silent, brooding act and his fake African accent. He also tells Red that he found their relationship to be “a little Edgar Rice Burroughs”  (creator of Tarzan.) Reddington quickly cuts Jellybean off, and he gets the information he came for, the identity of Fickman’s abductor, an ex-con named Chuck Shaw.

Shaw admits killing Fickman, as repayment for Dr. Sophia Gallup, his prison therapist gaining him parole. Keen checks with the Prison hierarchy and confirms that Gallup’s in charge of the system’s prisons in the Northeast, however the only contact information’s a post office box. They’re able to access the last guy she paroled, Dennis Cauley, who now lives in Richmond, Virginia.

Aram’s only able to access a proprietary address, and tells Dembe that it would take him days to find out the person behind it. Zuma puts the safety on the pistol and tells Aram he can leave and asks forgiveness for his actions. He then slumps to the ground and sits in the alleyway, a defeated man. Mojtabai asks if he’s truly trying to help Reddington, and Dembe responds that he’s got three people in his life, his daughter, his granddaughter, and Raymond. Aram breaks into a grin and says he’s got an idea.

Baz, Liz, and Raymond drive to Cauley’s place, but he’s not there. A quick search of the apartment reveals a dossier on Gallup’s next victim, Alex Soto. Raymond looks at the file and says the man’s real name’s Daniel Nakamoto, a master forger of antiquities that ran afoul against a very powerful gang leader 13-years earlier. Cauley’s notes reveal that he’s usually at a museum at that time of the day.

Raymond sits next to Nakamoto on a bench in the museum, and after a quick round of you’ve got the wrong guy, Reddington reveals that his life’s in danger from the Sanctum Corporation. Nakamoto replies that if they’re truly after him, not even Raymond can help him. He starts to walk away and nearly gets stabbed by Cauley, however Baz takes the ex-con out. In Reddington’s car Nakamoto reveals that the couple behind Sanctum Corporation, Tony and Maria Lopez, ran a honey company in Ohio. They had set up safe houses in various bee colonies they owned. However they died nearly a year before. Raymond thanks him and tells him to pack up his belongings and Red would soon be in touch.

Aram comes up with the name of the person who robbed Reddington, just as Navabi and Ressler arrive on the scene after using the key-finder to track them down. Mojtabai says the woman’s named Kathryn Nemec, and we can see the shock register on Dembe’s face. It’s pretty easy to determine that Kathryn Nemec’s, actually Mr. Kaplan. He says he needs more proof, and Aram helps him elude Ressler and Navabi.

Our second meeting with Glen takes place in a car, as he’s performing his day job as a driving instructor. He tells them to climb into the backseat, and Raymond expresses his disgust at the situation. Jellybean tells them they can speak freely, as his student Ms. Vasquez doesn’t understand a word of English. We soon find out her driving skills are also non-existent. We find out that the Lopez’s died in a fire nine months before, they sold most of their bee farms, but their daughter Vanessa still owned one. Glen says that she’s a therapist, and Liz and Reddington realize that Vanessa Lopez and Sophia Gallup, are the same person.

Lizzie and Raymond head to the bee farm and walk in on Gallup, shirtless and bra-less with bees covering her entire upper torso, looking as if she’s wearing a bee-sweater. Raymond does his best Mr. Spock, as the only thing he can say is fascinating. He soon collects himself and apologizes for barging in, but says time’s of the essence. She assumes Reddington’s one of her parent’s clients, but he corrects her and says he’s looking for a friend.

She tells them that her parents were living a good life running their honey company, when a friend came to them asking for help. Soon another man arrived, and then another, and suddenly their income from Sanctum Corporation, dwarfed the money they made from their legitimate company. They stored all their money in a Vulcan safe in their basement, only the criminals they assisted knew it existed. Nine months earlier, somebody tried cracking the safe with an acetylene torch, burning down the house and leaving her as the only survivor. The bees seem to be the best way of healing her scars from the fire, as their stingers help her skin heal. After Liz calls the Bureau to inform them to arrest the therapist, she and Raymond head to Dembe’s daughter’s new home.

Dembe drives to the spot where Reddington shot Kate, and finds her gone. The burner-phone that he gave to his daughter Isabella, to contact him in case of emergency, rings. He picks it up and Raymond’s on the other end. Red tells him that his activities are making him look very guilty, Zuma counters with we’re both guilty, Raymond. He says she’s not here, and then screams in pain and drops the phone. Our old pal The Tracker’s carrying a crossbow and shot an arrow into Dembe’s calf. He steps on the phone, crushing it and continues after Zuma.

The Tracker finds Dembe on the ground writhing in pain, and he tells him he knows his identity. That he and the fellow in the hat left Kate for dead, but she survived and now he’s going to kill the two of them. He asks where’s his slick-suited pal, and Dembe pulls the arrow out of his calf and jams it into The Tracker’s thigh. As he stops to patch himself up, he calls Kate and leaves a message on her voicemail.

As Liz and Raymond drive off from the bee farm, Keen receives the information that Aram’s safe and that Dembe’s trying to help him. She then tells Reddington that Aram came up with a name, Kathryn Nemec, but she’s listed as disappearing 25-years earlier. Her words cause Raymond’s face to turn stone gray, and he tells Lizzie that’s Mr. Kaplan’s real name.

They soon arrive at the place where they left Kate, and Dembe comes out of the bushes, bleeding badly. Raymond tells Liz to get Dembe to a hospital, while he and Baz hunt for The Tracker. He shoots Baz in the leg with an arrow, but the duo outsmart the hunter, and take him prisoner. They take him to his shack for questioning.

Reddington orders The Tracker to call Kate, but he says it looks like he’s dead either way. Raymond says he truly abhors violence, and only uses it out of necessity. He then jams his pistol up against The Tracker’s forehead and says that this is one of those times. The Tracker hits speed dial and hands the phone to Red, saying that Kate knew he’d underestimate her.

Suddenly Raymond hears a cellphone ringing below them, and through the floorboards he sees it’s connected to explosives. He and Baz get out of the shack just before it erupts in a blaze of glory, The Tracker going out with a huge grin.

Our final scene takes us to Kate walking on a street at night and listening to The Tracker’s message. He tells her he didn’t give her up and refused to go down without a fight. However her war has arrived, so lock and load.

Photo by: Will Hart/NBC

Photo by: Will Hart/NBC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

With two episodes remaining in the Fall Season for the NBC series “The Blacklist,” the show’s close to wrapping up the Alexander Kirk/Constantin Rostov, story-arc. However, plenty of questions remain unanswered, concerning Elizabeth Keen and Raymond Reddington’s past and Lizzie’s relationship to Rostov, and the future of our characters and the Task-Force. Although the episode concluded with Agnes back with her parents and Constantin imprisoned in the glass cell in the Post Office, we’re really not more informed about our characters’ history, then we were before the former FBI Agent faked her death last spring.

This episode did remove some layers and showed us the dynamic will change once again, as new loyalties get formed and some established ones look tenuous presently. Whether next week’s episode provides more information for the characters and the fans remain to be seen. We’ll also find out if the show gives us a preview of the next upcoming adventure, or simply decides to let our cast catch its collective breath and enjoy the moment?

For the second straight week, the characters in the opening scene are all strangers to us. We’ve landed in a rather posh conference room in Minsk, Belarus, as the host tries to entice his four guests into a business proposition. The man’s named Rene LeBron and the four men are criminal bosses that had their assets seized by the United States government.

LeBron tells the four criminals that the President of the United States, isn’t God and his decisions aren’t final. He says that although the government perceives these men as drug-traffickers, violators of human rights and impediments to democracy, he’s got a different point of view. LeBron says he sees the men as businessmen, who got their money seized and he’s willing to help them out. The four men collectively are out $760 million, LeBron offers to give them $600 million in cash immediately, in return for the $160 million balance and market rate interest on the loan. Although the senior member of the guests voices objections to the deal, his companions are hot to make the deal.

LeBron gets into the elevator after completing the agreement, with two other men and a woman alongside him. Two floors later, three Asian women and one Asian man enter the car, looking like nondescript tourists. We find out they’re assassins shortly after the doors close, as they eliminate LeBron’s companions and hold him at gunpoint. The loan-shark tells the man that he’s got close to three-quarters of a billion dollars nearby and the man responds that he’s already taken possession of the cash.

The man makes a call from his cellphone and it turns out that Oscar and his crew are contractors for Raymond. He’s told to take his fee from the cash he recovered and to donate some cash to a Belarus charity. He also tells Oscar that he wants the plane.

Raymond meets with the Task-Force at the Post Office and tells the team of his capturing Rene LeBron and Baz and some of Reddington’s men will hand off LeBron to Ressler and Navabi. Liz’s far from happy, especially with Red and she lets it be known without a hint of subtlety. She’s angry with the fact that this case won’t help them recover Agnes and Raymond informs her that Rostov’s a client of LeBron’s. He’s willing to give up Constantin, in exchange for a promise that he won’t get prosecuted. Cooper says he’ll need to get clearance from Cynthia Panabaker. Harold dismisses his team but asks Keen to stay with him.

Cooper says to Keen he can only imagine the pain and the pressure she’s feeling, but he says he believes Reddington’s doing his best to recover Agnes. Lizzie starts breaking down and tell Harold that she got a hold of a DNA report and Rostov’s her father and Red wants to kill him. However she states that she’s enough of a professional to work with Reddington.

After a week of being M.I.A., we rejoin Mr. Kaplan and her captor the Hunter. He comes inside with his dog and he says to Kate we’ve got a problem. He says the guy who shot her will kill somebody else and dump the body where he shot Kate. When he realizes she’s not there, he’ll come sniffing around. Or somebody will report her missing and the cops will search for her and they’ll come looking for her. He says he could let her go, but she’d tell somebody about him. He says he doesn’t like company, so he’s not sure what to do with her.

Kate tells the Hunter she tried to commit suicide and he asks her where’s her gun? She says she dropped it but she’s not sure where. The Hunter says she left a trail and he’s a tracker, so he’ll go out looking for the gun.

Harold calls Panabaker and tells her about the situation. Although she’s not happy about granting LeBron immunity, she tells Cooper to pick up the loan-shark and bring him in.

What Harold fails to realize is his phone’s tapped by some of Kirk’s contractors and the man monitoring the call contacts Rostov’s number one, Olga and passes on the information. She calls Rostov and tells him that Reddington’s the one that captured LeBron and asks Constantin if she should take him out? Rostov tells her to go ahead and Olga says to him that the seeds of doubt he planted with Masha have taken root. Constantin says he should reach out to her but they should take adequate precautions. Olga calls him a fool and says she doesn’t trust Masha. Rostov smiles and says Olga doesn’t trust anybody, but he’s asking her to trust him on this.

Baz releases LeBron from his bonds and then puts a white-hood over his head as he prepares to pass the loan-shark over to Donald and Samar. As we watch the exchange take place, we see a sniper putting together his rifle and he takes out LeBron. Raymond looks at Dembe and says the loan-shark died right on schedule and now it’s time to send out the invitations.

Welcome To The Past: The next morning, Aram, Samar, Ressler and Cooper receive pizza deliveries from Nick’s Pizza. Inside the box is a formal invitation stating their cars will arrive at 7:30 am and their discretion’s appreciated. The four get greeted by Reddington’s newest employees, Sweater-Vest-Man, whose name’s Chester. He maybe Mr. Kaplan’s replacement as he has the four agents deposit their cellular devices and then puts them through an airport type body-scanner.

Once they’ve passed the inspection, they’re sent deeper into the building and Raymond greets them saying welcome to the past. The building they’re standing in can’t be penetrated by any digital signal and all the equipment in the facility’s analog. Cooper asks why they’re in a museum and Lizzie enters and says because they’ve been breached. Aram can’t believe it, saying their system’s unhackable. Raymond smiles and says exactly and that’s why Rostov hired the Thrushes.

The Thrushes were formed in 1982 by a man named Plemen Radkov. Radkov got arrested in 1986 and died in a Soviet gulag a few years later. That’s when the Thrushes went underground and they’ve taken on jobs based on degree of difficulty and the money offered. They’ve been involved in some high scale operations over the years and many lives were lost due to their activities. Cooper tells Navabi and Ressler to find out what they can about the other incidents and tells Aram to contact the NSA.

Who’s The Mole?: Navabi finds out first as she meets with another intelligence operative about the incident they were involved in, in Jaipur. The operative brings a book with pictures of all the Thrushes operative and says all 38 were engineers and perished in the incident. Samar going through the pictures realizes that the agent’s incorrect, one of the people’s not an engineer and is still alive. Although she’s identified as Kate Bond, she’s in reality Aram’s new girlfriend Elise.

Navabi tells Cooper and Donald and both men tell her they’ve got to keep this from Mojtabai, that he’ll be heartbroken and will blow their cover. Just then Aram walks into the Post Office looking desolate, he’s been working on the problem for the last 18-hours and he realized that Elise’s the mole. He’s hurt and angry, but he wants to get involved in her capture. They’ve got a date that evening at his apartment and he’s going to download a virus on her laptop.

Samar sets up Aram for the sting in a van that’s right below his apartment, she gives him a pen that’s also a wire and then hands Mojtabai a pistol. He asks if she wants her to shoot his girlfriend and she adamantly says she’s not his girlfriend. She also tells Aram that if he gets into trouble, to say the word banana and the cavalry will burst in.

Elise realizes something’s up with Aram but he keeps saying he’s fine and then he goes to the refrigerator and pulls out a bottle of wine he bought for her. As he pulls the cork out, he spills wine all over the front of his shirt and says he’s got to change. He goes into his bedroom and takes her laptop out of her bag and inserts the thumb drive into it, but she enters the room before he can put it back in the bag. She enters the room and she tries to seduce him as he’s shirtless, but he rebuffs her advances, saying they’ll have a fire on the stove.

Now Elise knows something’s wrong with Aram and demands to know what it is. Ressler’s ready to charge into the apartment, but Mojtabai says that he’s actually in love with somebody else. Elise says that it’s Samar but Aram denies it, just then her cellphone rings and Olga’s on the other end. She tells Aram she’s got to take this work call and walks into his bedroom.

Olga asks her operative if her laptop’s secure and Elise responds it is. Olga replies she best make sure of it as her life could depend on it. She gets off the phone and goes into her bag for her laptop, but sees it’s missing. She lifts up Aram’s shirt and sees it and the thumb-drive Mojtabai installed, he walks in with the pistol drawn, but she knocks it out of hand.

The two start fighting and Aram says banana, about six times before the SWAT-Team and Donald and Samar burst in. Elise is about to hit Aram with a piece of wood, when Ressler tells her to drop it. At gunpoint, Elise calls back Olga and tells her all’s well.

Mr. Kaplan And The Hunter: The Hunter goes to the area where he first found Kate and checks out some old camera’s he’s got set up monitoring the area. He opens the third camera and shakes his head. He heads back to the camera and tells Mr. Kaplan she lied to him. She denies it, but then he shows her the camera and says three went in but only two came out.

Perhaps seeing the pictures gave the Hunter sympathy for Kate, as the last time we see them, they’re sitting at a table and the Hunter’s feeding Mr. Kaplan with a spoon.

The Capture Of Constantin Rostov: Liz receives a phone-call from a shoe-repair shop that she’s never visited and the owner says she left her cell phone there. She realizes that Rostov’s attempting to contact her and she picks up the phone. When she brings it back, she sees just one number on the burner-phone and calls it. She immediately asks about Agnes and Constantin replies she’s in good health but wants her mother.

Lizzie tells Rostov that she got ahold of his records and she saw a DNA report confirming that Constantin’s her father. He asks if she, Agnes and he can meet, she says she’d agree to that and Rostov says he’ll call her back with arrangements. When she gets off the phone Raymond asks her why she believes the lies Constantin’s told her, she says when she went to the Summer Palace, she recognized things and had memories of her childhood. Reddington replies just because he was married to Lizzie’s mother, it doesn’t make Rostov her father.

Keen gets a call from Constantin and sets up the meeting at an abandoned station on the Bowery Line. Reddington tells Cooper that his men will handle capturing Rostov. However Liz calls back Constantin and tells him it’s a trap, Rostov asks if she’d still be willing to meet him and gives her a new location.

Reddington sets up his plan of attack, but it appears he and his crew are heading into a trap. When Liz arrives at the new location, Rostov and some of his soldiers meet her but Agnes’ isn’t there. Constantin says that she’ll join them soon, but first he needs to kill Reddington. Lizzie reacts horrified, that Rostov’s set a trap for Raymond, but in reality Reddington and his team are right downstairs. As Raymond’s soldiers arrive, Rostov summons the woman who traveled with Matos and she’s cradling Agnes in her arms.

Rostov grabs the infant and stands on the ledge of the roof, he says if he can’t have his granddaughter, he’ll take her with him. Raymond tells him that’s insane and Masha says please father give her back to me. Constantin puts down his pistol and gives Agnes to Liz. Rostov’s taken into custody.

For the first time this season we get a pleasant montage ending the episode as Harry Nilsson’s version of One plays in the background. Raymond goes to visit Tom and Liz and he asks to see Agnes and Lizzie invites him in. She says to Raymond now that Rostov’s been captured the three of them will find a new place, Reddington nods and says he realized that.

The final image of the evening’s Constantin Rostov locked away in the glass cage inside the Post Office, a broken and defeated man.

Photo Courtesy Of NBC

Photo Courtesy Of NBC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

“Woke up this morning my house was cold
Checked out the furnace she wasn’t burnin’
Went out and hoped in my old Ford
Hit the engine but she ain’t turnin’
We’ve given each other some hard lessons lately
But we ain’t learnin’
We’re the same sad story that’s a fact
One step up and two steps back.”

Bruce Springsteen One Step Up

Tempers flaring, patience running thin and we’re witnessing long-term relationships hitting the danger zone. That could be an accurate summary, for Season Four of the NBC hit-drama “The Blacklist,” but that level spiked in Episode Four, entitled “Gaia.” When Aram Mojtabai let’s the fur fly, we know we’re traveling in unchartered waters.

Our episode begins out in the woods as we see the speaker horn of an old Victrola and sound of Classical Music fills the great outdoors. We then see a man who appears to be in his mid-thirties and as the camera pans to a long shot we see that he lives in an old school bus and he’s raising his own potted crops. He starts looking at his tomatoes, when blood starts dripping from his nose and he goes inside the bus. He grabs a pair of surgical scissors and extracts a large wad of blood-soaked cotton gauze out of his nostril.

He then picks up a radio phone and we hear him talking to a woman named Maya, he tells her he’s got two new targets and that she has to get her and someone else out of the state. The call doesn’t last long, as she either hung up on him or he reached her voice mail.

We follow the man to a retirement party, for a man who owns a helicopter charter service. The man retiring pokes fun at his head mechanic for being a Cubs’ fan and the man from the woods, puts a beer down in front of the mechanic and says he’s from Wrigley Ville. The mechanic nods in appreciation for the free beer.

The next scene, the mechanic and the guy from the woods run into each other again and start making small-talk, but the mechanic’s unaware that the guy from the woods laced his beer with poison and he dies of what the coroner believes was a heart-attack.

Liz Keen’s sitting on the floor, scouring through documents that she hopes will lead her to the location of her infant daughter Agnes, when her laptop emits a tone informing her somebody’s attempting to contact her. She opens her computer and she’s getting a video-feed from Constantin Rostov, he says he wanted to speak to her when she was alone and Lizzie only wants to know how Agnes’ doing. Rostov adjusts the camera to show Keen her cooing daughter and though she’s relieved her child’s safe, she tells Rostov she’s on to him and his plans.

The former FBI Agent tells Rostov that she’s aware of the blood disease he suffers from and that’s the real reason he’s been searching for her and Agnes. Rostov admits that his health’s at stake, but tells Lizzie that he just wants his family reunited and he says the only way that can happen is for her to cut ties with Reddington. He then tells Masha that the link will remain open, so she can check in with Agnes at any time. There’s an unspoken agreement that she won’t try to trace the link, or he’ll cut off contact.

Rostov’s getting another transfusion and Constantin asks if he has six-months, the doctor replies possibly less. He says Rostov always realized that the transfusions were only a temporary fix and a young dark-haired woman says that Rostov’s got to use the child. The doctor vehemently disagrees, saying even if Agnes’ and Rostov are a genetic match, the procedure would put the infant in mortal danger. The young woman scoffs at the doctor’s words and says that he’s not the one who’s dying.

Tom heads back to where he’s staying with Liz and she tells him about her conversation with Kirk and the link he’s set-up so she can see Agnes. Keen immediately wants to trace the link, but Lizzie begs him not to. She says that she can play on Rostov’s ego and gain his trust and then they can rescue Agnes and ensure her safety. Tom remains silent on the issue, so naturally Liz assumed he’d follow her wishes, you’d think that after all this time she’d realize that Keen always believes he knows best.

Raymond and Liz meet and he says he’s got a kind of, sort of clue that could lead them to Agnes. Reddington says that he’s searching for an eco-terrorist known only as Gaia, which is Mother Earth in Greek. Raymond explains that the eco-terrorist disguises his attacks as accidents, so that the people force Government Agencies to fix the problem.

When Keen informs the rest of the task force, they review some of the accidents that Gaia engineered in the past and that some of the incidents took innocent lives in order to save other innocent lives. Harold sends Navabi and Ressler into the field to see what they can find on Gaia, however Aram stops Samar and apologizes that he basically blew her off the previous evening on the phone.

Mojtabai, asks Samar if she’d like for them to talk about her possible transfer later, but she informs him that she already decided to request a transfer and that its being processed. Although shaken, Aram congratulates her on her upcoming move and she says she’d better not keep Donald waiting.

As Donald and Navabi search through records trying to find some info on Gaia, Ressler tells Samar that he Googled Aram’s new girl-friend. She asks why he did that and he responds that he wanted to see if Elise was hot and Donald says she’s quite hot indeed.

The Gaia poisons a second victim an inspector for Borron Energy Service. He lambasted the inspector for allowing environmental dangers to exist, the guy replied that just about everything in this world can kill you. He takes his laced coffee back to his vehicle and shortly thereafter as the inspectors taking his last breaths, the eco-terrorist goes out to the guy’s vehicle and says that he was right about so many dangers out in the world. He then grabs the guy’s clipboard and hard hat.

We find ourselves in a shack and see Mr. Kaplan lying on a cot with a piece of cloth covering the wound on her cheek. Suddenly the door opens and we see the dog and it’s owner enter the cabin, however without Kate having her glasses the shapes are too blurry for her to identify and she falls back to sleep.

Aram tells the rest of the Task Force that he might have identified their suspect, as he’s been pretending to be an inspector doing spot inspections in energy plants. Aram’s tracked him to an energy facility he’s doing a spot inspection on at that moment and Navabi and Ressler head to the plant to apprehend the suspect. Security informs them where the suspect’s at, but he eludes them and steals a security vehicle with Donald and Samar in pursuit.

The Gaia thinks he’s made his escape but then he’s cut off by police vehicles in front of him and when he attempts to back up, he realizes he’s boxed in by law enforcement. The Gaia then goes forward and slams against the two police vehicles and escapes.

They recover his forged ID card and Keen tells Harold that Raymond’s in contact with one of his guys to track down the Gaia. Dembe and Raymond arrive at a bowling alley and Red shouts to our old friend Glen Carter, finder of lost people, that he needs his services immediately. Jelly Bean says he’s off the clock now and Dembe starts giving Glen pointers on how to improve his game. Raymond shows Glen the badge and he immediately recognizes it as the work of Ji Ming a Chinese associate of his.

Dembe, Raymond, Glen and the Asian fellow meet in the next scene and apparently the Chinese man only speaks Mandarin, which Jelly Bean happens to speak. Reddington tries to hurry the conversation along and tells Glen he just needs an address. The Asian gentleman looks at Red and then speaks in Mandarin and walks away. Glen says the guy doesn’t like Raymond, as Reddington looks like his third wife. At this point Raymond realizes that Glen’s just yanking his chain and he already acquired the address.

Liz, Raymond and Dembe head to where Gaia’s made his base of operations. They find a picture of Maya who’s pregnant in the photo and Keen starts talking about missing babies and now she’s consumed with Agnes. Raymond realizes what’s going on and tells Lizzie that they’ll soon have Agnes back safe and sound.

Tom gets in contact with a former associate named Krantz and the mercenary agrees to gather his crew and to locate Rostov’s link and help Keen recover Agnes.

They’ve identified the eco-terrorist as Owen Ayers, a highly decorated military veteran who retired for medical reasons a few years before. Ayers final mission was Fukushima, Japan, which suffered a catastrophic accident inside a nuclear plant. Ayers inhaled toxic-gas while on the mission, making him a dead man walking and he and his toddler son Skyler share a blood disease, that caused the child to be born with a disfigured face.

We’re back at the shack with Mr. Kaplan, when we finally see who carried Kate away on a make-shift stretcher. So far he’s only been identified as The Hunter, but he’s portrayed by veteran actor Leon Rippy,  who played the school janitor in 11/22/63. The Hunter resembles a retired roadie from the Allman Bros. Band, circa early Seventies, with silver hair hanging down to his shoulders.

He tells Kate that she’s been on her back for too long and he’s going to put her into a sitting position. He then puts his arm behind her neck and although she screams in pain, she’s able to sit. He asks her if she can understand him and then asks if she can nod, which Mr. Kaplan does. He then asks if the men who did this to her will be coming back and she shakes her head no. He starts feeding her some soup, but he realizes she wants to say something to him, she croaks out thank you and The Hunter smiles.

Aram and Liz realize that Ayers is planning a gas explosion in the Hudson River, dangerously close to the biggest nuclear facility on the Eastern Seaboard. Ayers intends to create a Fukushima on the Hudson and when contacted by Ressler on the radio he says there’s no way they’ll be able to stop him as he’s piloting a chopper over the Hudson.

Mojtabai attempts to hack into the helicopter’s controls but he’s unable to do anything. Cooper then asks if Aram can shut off the rotor and the Tech Guru realizes he can, but he says he’s already taken one life and couldn’t take another. Cooper then pushes the button that stops the rotor and Ayers crashes and dies in a field not far from where some kids are playing football.

Keen’s back at her home and she’s singing Rock-A-Bye-Baby to Agnes, just as Krantz, Tom and the other mercenaries are about to break into Kirk’s hideout. Unfortunately Rostov sees them before they can rescue Agnes and Constantin tells Masha that he’s disappointed in her for tracking the signal. She breaks down crying and says she doesn’t know what he’s talking about, then Rostov shows Tom on one of the camera feeds. Constantin says that he’s cutting off contact and cuts off the feed.

Maya and Skyler are sitting in an ice-cream shop when Raymond and Dembe join them in their booth. Red tells Skyler that he’s been looking forward to meeting him and right then the waitress puts down three ice-cream sundaes on the table, chocolate, strawberry and caramel.  Reddington says that he’s always found caramel’s a great lubricant in awkward introductions. Turns out that Raymond just wants the name of Tyler’s hematologist, which Maya gives up willingly. She asks if Raymond also has a special-needs child and Reddington says that an infant’s life’s in danger.

When Tom returns to the place he and Liz are staying at, Lizzie gets in his face about not respecting her wishes and she says she knows Reddington’s involved. Tom says that Raymond had no knowledge of what Keen did, that he got in touch with a former associate. Liz asks him if the associate’s from his skinhead days or when he was Berlin’s goon. Tom responds that nobody’s sorrier than he is that he failed, but Liz replies their daughter feels worst of all where ever she is.

Raymond and Lizzie meet again and Reddington explains that the reason he went after Owen Ayers, was that he Skyler and Rostov have the same doctor. That they’re very close to finding him and then they’ll be able to get Rostov and rescue Agnes. Lizzie tells Raymond she lied to him earlier and that Kirk did reach out to her with the link, but in Tom’s effort to rescue their daughter, Rostov escaped with their child.

We end this episode with two quick scenes. Raymond visits Dr. Sebastian Reifler and he recognizes Reddington. He informs Red that Skyler Ayers, has done well and Red says he’s aware of that. However he needs to accompany the doctor the next time he has a house call for Kirk.

Kate wakes up in the cabin and after calling out hello, she realizes she’s alone. She gets up from the bed and realizes that one of her ankles has a shackle around it. Apparently The Hunter is not just a nice guy.

Photo By: David Giesbrecht/NBC

Photo By: David Giesbrecht/NBC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

 “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”

 Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

If you’ve never had the pleasure of reading the Tolstoy classic, I’d recommend it highly, for fans of the NBC series “The Blacklist.” A key component of the novel’s plot revolves around an aristocratic woman leaving her husband and children for a dashing soldier from the Russian Army, Count Vronsky. Don’t settle for a cinematic rendition, as none of them do the book justice. However as Tolstoy notes, each dysfunctional family has its own unique collection of baggage and the nuclear and extended family of Elizabeth Keen, certainly stands out from the rest.

We begin the episode however with a group of strangers, as we watch four paramilitary frogmen emerge from the water in the dead of night. The four operatives take out a power station that controls the electricity for Savannah, Georgia, they kill the three security guards on the premises and then set explosive charges. The blast destroys the facility and plunges the city into darkness.

Liz and Tom arrive at the Post Office with Ressler, and Liz asks why she can’t help in the investigation of her own daughter getting kidnapped. Donald, tells her that she’s lost her security clearance when she lost her shield, then out of frustration tells the Keens’ to check things out as he’s already broken laws by showing them what he’s already shared.

As Tom and Lizzie look through the documents, Aram and Samar walk into the Post Office and Mojtabai says you’re back and then walks over and gives Liz a hug and tells her he’s glad she’s okay. Keen says she’s sorry and she didn’t mean to hurt anybody, but Navabi responds she believes Liz failed to think whom she was hurting. Aram tries to make peace, but Keen owns up to it and says she was trying to save her daughter and hopes they can understand that. Liz receives a call from Reddington to set up a meeting.

Keen meets Dembe and Reddington in a cemetery, which strikes Liz as odd. Raymond muses who Mr. Kaplan has buried in a certain grave, when Liz asks where’s Mr. Kaplan. Red avoids the question and says that he’s doing his best to find Agnes and he hopes to return the infant to her mother. She asks Reddington if he has any leads, he confirms that he does, however he’s working this case alone. Keen says she understands that Reddington feels betrayed, but this involves her daughter and if Raymond has any information he has to share it with her, to which Red replies no he doesn’t.

However Reddington relents and tells Keen that he expected Kirk would go underground after the FBI raided his estate, but his sources tell him differently. Apparently Constantin Rostov contacted a young venture capitalist named Miles McGrath. McGrath’s what the tech world refers to as an “Incubator,” criminals pitch their schemes to him and if he believes there’s a profit to be made, he bankrolls the enterprise. He’ll be spending the night in London and Reddington intends on contacting him there.

Keen informs the Task Force what Reddington shared with her, and that he doesn’t want to work with the Bureau on this mission. Harold Cooper, decides he doesn’t like that strategy and he tells Aram to contact the London attaché office and to get eyes on McGrath. The decision doesn’t work out as Cooper expected.

We see glimpses of a London disco, then we join McGrath, his bodyguard and one of the frogmen, a guy named Dean Bradley. Bradley tells the tech genius that all went better than planned in their mission in Savannah, and Miles grins and says it appears they’re ready for stage two.

As Bradley leaves the hotel and gets into his car, two London detectives take photos of Bradley and start sending the images to the Bureau. However suddenly there’s a knock on the driver’s side window and the body-guard kills the two men plus another law enforcement official and destroys the laptop in the middle of the transmission.

We’re transported to the country and we start to hear the moans and groans of Mr. Kaplan. There’s blood on the ground and we see some on her face, but we really can’t see how much damage she suffered. Suddenly she stretches her arm out and grabs for her glasses, which has one of the lenses cracked.

Liz and Tom head to Bureau headquarters and try to get some information on Agnes and Rostov, the agent they deal with says that an Agent Sarvino’s working the case and that he’s tied up presently. Liz and Tom pull off a sting, palming the agent’s key card as Liz says she needs to get some air. She then calls Sarvino and pretends she’s the other agent’s assistant and asks for Sarvino to meet the Keens’ in a conference room. It’s a dodge to get Lizzie into Sarvino’s office, and she takes photographs of lots of files and absconded Katarina’s journal. She then gets Tom and thanks the agent for his time and they exit the building.

We watch Kate crawling on her hands and knees until she gets to a creek. She looks at her reflection in the water and gasps. I tried my best to get a visible screen capture of her image, but alas failed to do so, although there did appear to be damage on the right-side of her skull or face.

Aram’s able to get a partial photograph of Dean Bradley from the e-mail sent from London, unfortunately they’re unable to question the former Navy SEAL, as McGrath had one of his operatives take Bradley out while he was jogging. Miles tells Johan Halbeck, the paramilitary leader he couldn’t guarantee that Bradley would remain quiet about their mission. Halbeck asks where he’s going to pick up another guy on such short notice and McGrath says that’s Johan’s problem.

Ressler and Raymond start to put the pieces together during a phone call, once Bradley’s record as a SEAL becomes known. Donald tells Reddington about four frogmen attacking the power station in Savannah, and Red suddenly realizes the frogmen are likely operatives of his old associate Johan Halbeck. Reddington used Halbeck to recover a watch he lost during a romantic tryst.

Raymond and Dembe show up at Johan’s garage and Reddington attempts to convince Halbeck to dump his client for twice as much as he would collect from the client. Halbeck says that he really wishes he could, be he’s partners with this other guy on the deal and it’s turned into a nightmare. Raymond says it sounds like Martin and Lewis, and Johan has no idea Reddington’s referencing Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis.

Halbeck then says that the partner killed one of his men and Raymond says that Johan should walk away from the deal. He says most times he’d try to find him a replacement, but he’s freaked out by this situation and tells Halbeck to contact him when he gets things straightened out. Johan then asks Raymond if he could possibly get a guy and Reddington replies it depends on what his cut would be. The new man joining Johan’s team’s Tom Keen, which Keen gets accepted to after winning a fight with one of the other crew members.

We rejoin Mr. Kaplan as she’s discovered by a dog and the animal’s owner, we never see the person we’re just aware of their presence.

Lizzie reads from Katarina’s journal and she finds out that Katarina’s mission was to seduce and betray Reddington, instead she fell in love with him. Suddenly sees a vision of Katarina writing in her journal at her dressing table and she walks towards the vision. When she gets off the bed, Tom wakes up and asks if she’s okay, she tells him of the irony of the situation, that Katarina had been assigned to Reddington and Tom was assigned to her. She then begs him to be careful, she says lost Agnes and couldn’t stand losing him as well. Tom says soon she’ll have Tom and Agnes back with her.

Halbeck tells his team there will be four security guards, guarding the payload they want to acquire, two in front and two in the back. Ressler and Navabi are tailing the paramilitary unit but then they lose them, the unit’s not going after a truck, it’s target’s a train. There are no trains scheduled to run in that time period, but this is an unscheduled event. The train’s filled with six vats containing samples of every Type A virus known to humanity, Ebola, HIV, Polio and at least 50 more strains of disease. That was why the frogmen took out the power in Savannah, knowing the government would ship it out of the city because they were only using generators for more than 72 hours.

Suddenly all communication they’re receiving from the train drops off and the train’s no longer visible, as if it just vanished into thin air. However Navabi and Ressler at the scene discover a split in the track and a warehouse set where the train’s unloading the deadly toxins. Halbeck give’s McGrath’s goon the sample he requested, the goon’s going to meet Miles at a drinking establishment called the Lodge. Johan then gives Reddington McGrath’s name and his location and tells him he should shoot the tech genius.

Raymond and Dembe surprise Miles and his enforcer at the bar and Raymond demands that McGrath hand over the sample. The arrogant nerd tells Reddington to screw himself and Raymond kills the enforcer with a bullet to the heart, then asks Miles, you were saying?

McGrath wisely chooses to give up Rostov and the sample to Raymond, telling the Concierge Of Crime, he deduced his best way of leaving the bar alive depended on giving Reddington what he wanted. Raymond tells Miles’ that his luck wasn’t as good as he hoped and handcuffs McGrath to the corpse and tells him the Bureau’s on its way.

Dembe and Reddington head to the location but nobody from Rostov’s group is waiting, they’re about to leave when a payphone in the parking lot rings. Raymond picks it up congratulating Kirk and he in turn congratulates Reddington. Raymond offers to trade Rostov the virus for Agnes, but Constantin says he’ll die before he allows his granddaughter to be back in Raymond’s arms.

While Liz awaits word from Reddington, she reads further into Katarina’s journal and discovers her mother’s entry confirming that her husband has the blood disorder that’s plagued the Rostov clan for generations. Katarina says the only saving grace is Masha won’t inherit the disease as it’s only passed from father’s to sons. She once again envisions Katarina in front of her and grabs for her mother’s hand, when a knock at the door brings her back to reality.

Raymond enters and tells Liz and Tom that Rostov was after a sample of the Ribowski virus which causes Leukemia. Apparently the one male member of the Rostov family that lived the longest had contracted the virus and the Leukemia basically counteracted his blood disorder and lived far longer than other family members.

Raymond then says to Liz that she kept asking why her father wanted physical contact with her and the only reason was for her to give him the bone marrow transplant to cure his disease and save his life. He says Kirk didn’t want Lizzie to keep him from Reddington, he just wanted her for his own purposes. He only thinks of her as a collection of cells. She says well Rostov doesn’t have her, but Tom reminds her he’s got Agnes.

Our last vision is seeing Kate being dragged on a makeshift stretcher as the dog and the dog’s owner appear to be trying to help Mr. Kaplan.

The Story Continues Next Thursday Night At 10:00 pm EDT, on NBC.

Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC

Photo by: Peter Kramer/NBC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

While watching the final few minutes of “The Blacklist,” I realized that I really DON’T know Raymond Reddington, as well as I thought I had after spending the past three-seasons-plus with him. Although killing became as normal to Raymond, as breathing over the past 20-odd years, I allowed myself to believe what Raymond told Katarina’s ghost in the Cape May episode from last season. “I’ve never killed anyone who didn’t deserve to die.” If Reddington still believes in that code, then his definition of deserving and mine, aren’t in the same area-code.

The second episode of season four, entitled ”Matos,” will likely become one of the most controversial and polarizing chapters of the series, even if the show lasts another decade. The entire episode messed with our sensibilities and with the knowledge we’ve acquired since Raymond turned himself in to FBI Headquarters in 2013. Lizzie Keen, spent most of the episode unsure of what’s real and what’s fictional, her surroundings evoke memories, long since buried and forgotten. Could both sets of memories she has of her childhood, be true? Or was one of these ”realities” implanted in her brain as a child?

The action begins just moments after the conclusion of the previous episode, Constantin Rostov, Liz and a pilot, are escaping Cuba in a sea-plane. The pilot’s purposely flying low, trying to remain undetected by radar. After some back and forth sniping between Rostov and Keen, Liz attacks the pilot and attempts to crash the aircraft into the ocean. A gun appears and Keen gets possession, shooting the pilot and firing a shot into Constantin’s thigh. We never see the actual crash as the credits roll.

Back in Cuba, Tom locates the wreckage of Raymond’s car and they realize that the hitman took Agnes, when he T-Boned their car. We find out that the hitman’s named Matos, he’s incredibly proficient and has worked for Kirk/Rostov for years. He’s full-blooded Native-American, and legend has it that he’s a Shaman. Matos and Mr. Kaplan, also have a mutual friend, a bail-bondsman named Little Nikos, who operates out of Amarillo, Texas. Reddington, Dembe, Kate and Tom, hop on Red’s jet and head to the Lone-Star State.

The other plane in this scenario’s now floating on the ocean, the pilot’s dead, Rostov’s unconscious as Lizzie wakes-up to find the ship’s radio’s on the fritz and the aircraft’s taking on water. Constantin comes to and realizes that Keen’s got him tied up and tells Liz that he’s her father and she can’t let him die. Liz responds with an evil gleam in her eye, just watch.

Now in Texas, Mr. Kaplan begs Reddington to be allowed to talk to Little Nikos first. Turns out that decades before Kate had her skull bashed in and Nikos basically saved her life. Raymond agrees to allow Kate to try to convince her friend to give them Matos’ location.

Team-Red, could not have picked a worse time to land in Amarillo from Little Nikos’ vantage point, though Reddington perceived the timing as a strategic advantage. The bail-bondsman, had a surgical team in his facility in the midst of performing lap-band surgery. Reddington insists that he be revived immediately, the surgeon responds that could put Nikos’ life in jeopardy. Red flashes his pistol and tells the surgeon that his patient’s life’s already in danger, the question’s whether the doctor wishes to put his own life in jeopardy?

The plane that Lizzie and Kirk are floating on’s taking water on at an enormous rate, but suddenly Keen finds a flare gun and fires off a flare into the sky. Unfortunately, she forgets to keep her weapon on her and Rostov grabs the pistol and points it at Lizzie, he tells her the only way they can survive is to trust each other, then hands her back the gun.

The surgeon tells Reddington that the patient’s conscious, but in incredible pain, so the conversation needs to be brief. The bail-bondsman’s strapped to the operating table and there are four excavation sites on his torso. Kate tries talking to him first, telling her that Reddington’s with her, and he’ll kill Nikos unless he gives up Matos’ location. Reddington walks into the room and assures Nikos that he won’t kill him, he actually admires his loyalty.

Unfortunately Reddington says his associates don’t share his convictions and he invites Tom into the room and tells Keen that Nikos knows how to contact, the psychopath that kidnapped Agnes. As Reddington leaves, Keen picks up a drill like instrument and asks aloud what this instrument’s used for?

Kirk and Keen are now both in the water hanging onto the fuselage of the plane, Liz says help’s on the way. Rostov replies they’ll save her and that’s what’s important and then he lets go of the fuselage and sinks under the water. Surprisingly, Keen dives under the water and rescues him. Shortly thereafter a boat sees them and rescues them.

Back in Amarillo, we join Reddington and Mr. Kaplan in a room, as we listen to Nikos’ screams of pain and cries of agony. Kate tells Red, that she betrayed Nikos for the same reason she betrayed Raymond, to keep Lizzie safe. She recalls the first time she met Lizzie, when Raymond put the infant in her arms. Just then Tom enters the room and he’s got the way to contact Matos. Nikos text messages the mercenary with a password and Matos heads to Nikos’ storefront within two-hours. They text the message to the kidnapper, who when he receives the message heads North.

The captain who rescues them speaks Spanish and apparently can understand English but doesn’t speak it. Keen attempts to get the seaman to alert the local authorities about Rostov, but Constantine figures out what’s going on and shoots the Captain.

Waiting for Matos to arrive, Kate and Tom are in a car in front of Nikos’ building. Tom apologizes for what he did to Nikos’ blaming his concern for Agnes for showing no mercy. Mr. Kaplan asks Keen why he’s telling her that and Tom replies that Nikos’ is Kate’s friend. Kate then says that Tom wants her to grant him absolution for his actions, then says people count on her to make their lives happier. To make others lives “cleaner” hence her job title. She says Keen and Reddington want her to make things easier for them, but she won’t grant their requests.

Mr. Kaplan steps out of the car, telling Tom she needs some air, but her timing was terrible, stepping out of the car at the exact moment Matos pulls up. He steps out of his car and looks around, then he sees Kate and starts to run in the opposite direction. Dembe and Tom chase after the mercenary, but Kate ends the chase knocking him the ground with the car.

Raymond decides he doesn’t want to play his usual game of cat and mouse with Matos’ so he cuts right to the chase. He tells Matos that he realizes his prisoner has no fear of pain or death, but he’s fully aware that members of his tribe possess a fear of being stuck on earth surrounded by rotting flesh with his soul trapped for eternity inside his coffin.  The threat works and Matos says they’re heading to the Summer Palace, a location Reddington remembers quite well. He calls Harold Cooper and requests that Cooper send a team to raid Rostov’s complex in Nova Scotia.

Keen and Rostov, arrive at the Summer Palace and Constantin tells Keen he needs to meet with his doctors, but tells Liz to explore. Lizzie starts checking out the house and soon discovers a room that bring a flood of memories into her head. Rostov walks into the room and Keen says this was her bedroom, but it’s impossible as she remembers a fire and shooting her father. Rostov says those memories were just lies concocted by Reddington, he was in love with her mother and he’s obsessed with her.

Keen looks out a window and sees a child’s swing hanging from a tree. She runs downstairs and onto the grass, but we see Masha Rostova as a toddler when she appears. Suddenly she runs over to Katarina and sees her mother working in the garden. Mother and daughter speak to each other in Russian, Katarina’s burying a coffee-can into the ground and tells her daughter, that the can’s a time machine and one day when Masha’s older, she can return and dig up the treasure. Katarina take the yarn bracelet to her daughter and the toddler puts it the can and buries it. Back in the present, Keen finds the can containing Katarina’s bracelet and puts it on her own wrist.

The idyllic moment’s shattered as an FBI SWAT-Team invades the “Summer Palace,” killing most of Kirk’s guards in the process, while Rostov makes his escape. Ressler who accompanied the SWAT-Team hugs Lizzie when he sees her while Keen breaks down and cries, as Agnes’ whereabouts are still unknown.

Keen’s transported back to the States. Raymond stays just long enough to verify that Lizzie’s safe then he and Dembe drive away. She’s reunited with Tom who assures her that they will get Agnes back safe and sound.

Dembe drives Reddington and Mr. Kaplan out into the country when he finally pulls over, Reddington asks Dembe to stay with the car. Kate’s fully aware these are her final moments and she’s determined not to go out meekly into the night. She calmly and coolly explains to Reddington that she devoted her existence to him, but she realizes that Reddington now perceives Kate as a liability, as she knows too much about him. Red responds that even if he could put aside his anger and betrayal, he’d never be able to trust her. He says when he looks at her it’s like seeing a stranger. He then fires a shot at her from about 20-feet away and she collapses to the ground. Showing no signs of remorse or guilt, Reddington walks back to his car, unaware that Mr. Kaplan’s alive.

Photo by: Virginia Sherwood/NBC

Photo by: Virginia Sherwood/NBC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

After months of speculation concerning the revelations that would surface during the premiere episode of the fourth season for the NBC hit series “The Blacklist,” most viewers likely ended the hour feeling no more informed than they were last May. Although the episode contained plenty of action and fraught with tension, including two volatile personal relationships, the hour ended after a lot of travel to windup in the same point it started at. Constantin Rostov left Cuba via a seaplane with his daughter Liz, his reluctant travel companion and Rostov’s hitman ended the evening with Agnes in his possession.

Why the show-runners and writers decided to reset a table instead of advancing the story perplexed this viewer, and left me wondering whether this episode’s purpose was to acclimate star Megan Boone back into the action, after missing the latter part of Season Three on maternity leave? While we got to see that Lizzie seems well-toned after her pregnancy, we didn’t acquire any major information that had yet to be revealed or speculated about. After spending much of the episode in a car trunk, Tom regained his freedom near the conclusion of the episode.

The episode did concentrate heavily on exposition in this episode, as Raymond attempted to come to grips with his mercurial feelings concerning Mr. Kaplan. Kate, not content to sit idly by and allow his sense of betrayal from dooming their relationship and perhaps her life, keeps trying to show Reddington she just tried to save Raymond from himself. However with even Dembe, telling Mr. Kaplan he can’t defend her, can she hope to make amends?

Emotions also ran high when the TASK-Force realized that Lizzie faked her death, as Keen’s colleagues realized they’d been lied to and manipulated and they all handled the news differently. Donald Ressler, seemingly had no problem with his former partner’s actions, realizing she was attempting to convince Reddington she died. TASK-Force Director Harold Cooper, exclaimed he didn’t think it was possible to feel so angry and happy simultaneously. Tech-Genius Aram, seemed to have problems processing the information, while Samar Navabi expressed her disdain and anger for Keen’s stunt.

We rejoin Dembe, Raymond and Kate, moments after they arrived at the Keen family escape-haven, not in time from stopping Alexander Kirk/Constantin Rostov’s henchmen kidnapping mom, dad and daughter. Mr. Kaplan looks at the blood on the floor and says it came from one of Rostov’s men and that he’s likely in the area. Seconds later Dembe says he’s got a location.

They arrive where the badly bleeding man’s being treated, to find out he just expired on the table. Raymond spits out that since his “Cleaner” over stepped her bounds, he would do her job and proceeds to hack the man’s head from his neck.

Liz demands that Rostov produce Agnes and Tom, Constantin replies that her daughter will soon join them. She then demands, that Rostov reveal his true identity and he responds that he’s indeed her father. He says Reddington and her mother had an affair, he says at one time he questioned if Raymond was her father, but Rostov confirmed Masha was his daughter. He says Reddington kidnapped her when she turned three and he never knew what happened to her until she and Reddington made headlines while they were on the lam.

Rostov’s got a hitman that might give Matthias Solomon a run for his money, he’s called Bobo, by his female companion, whose got Agnes in her arms and Tom’s tied up in the trunk. Neither father or daughter seem pleased with the situation, however Keen’s able to reach his hand through the tail light socket and the car behind them calls the police.

Reddington finds the house where Rostov’s holding Liz prisoner. He tells Constantin he’ll give him what ever he desires to release Lizzie and Rostov replies he wants the 26-years he missed with his daughter. Raymond responds that Liz was never meant to be raised by Constantin

Raymond contacts Cooper and tells him to send a team to Cuba, however Samar refuses to join Ressler for the mission due to her anger at Keen. Cooper let’s it be known he’s displeased with Navabi’s decision, but he’s basically helpless. He contacts old friend Cynthia Panabaker, to arrange for Ressler to meet with Manuel Esteban, a double-agent who works for Castro and the CIA. Raymond believes the despot can ascertain Lizzie’s location before Rostov can get her off the island.

Raymond tells Esteban, that with political relations improving between Havana and Washington improving, his days running his own prison and playing the two nations off each other are rapidly coming to an end. Any time the Double-Agent could be assassinated, however if he can get Liz’s location before Rostov gets her off the island, Raymond will keep the despot safe.

Tom’s taken out to the desert to dig his own grave, but of course he overpowers his captor and escapes. Mr. Kaplan recovers Agnes, from the hitman’s female accomplice, however they’re not able to stop Rostov from leaving the island via the seaplane. Reddington consoles himself with the fact they were able to get back Agnes, but that dynamic soon changes as the hitman T-Bones Raymond’s vehicle and grabs the infant out of the vehicle and puts his finger on Kate’s lips.

Ressler, who hadn’t made a deal with Esteban, turns the despot over to the Cubans and that causes the Cuban soldiers to release all of Esteban’s prisoners. However the two prisoners that Raymond’s most concerned with, Liz and Agnes, have been spirited away by Rostov and the search begins anew.

The Story Continues Next Thursday Night, on NBC at 10:00pm EDT.