Teddy Coluca

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Photo Courtesy Of TV Guide

WARNING SPOILER ALERT:

Denial Ain’t Just A River In Egypt.”

Mark Twain

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who Is The Man In The Hat?

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

The Third Family.

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

Dominic Wilkinson AKA Oleander.

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

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

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

How He Fooled The World?

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

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

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

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

Known Unknowns.

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

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

Photo Courtesy of Virginia Sherwood/NBC

WARNING SPOILER ALERT:

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

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

Melanie Safka

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo by: Barbara Nitke/NBC

Photo by: Barbara Nitke/NBC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

We’ve now concluded five episodes of the fourth season for the NBC series “The Blacklist,” and this viewer’s found myself, feeling rather lost and dissatisfied. The show, coming off what could arguably be labeled as the series strongest season in the 2015-2016 campaign, as former FBI Agent Elizabeth Keen kept one step ahead of the law and the Cabal. Keen killed the United States Attorney General Tom Connelly, when the Cabal member threatened her and all those she cared for. When she finally cleared her name with the help of Raymond Reddington, she found herself going from the frying-pan and into the fire.

Lizzie found out that she carried Tom’s child and the annulled couple planned to get married and raise their baby together. Reddington, made it clear that he disapproved of the reconciliation, going as far as to putting the kibosh on Tom getting a job in Boston. However, other problems lurked in the background, as somebody kept trying to kidnap Elizabeth. Keen with the help of Mr. Kaplan and Dr. Nick, faked her death so she, Tom and their baby could have a life without Reddington in it.

While Tom knew that the mother of his daughter Agnes, actually lived, he played the part of the grief-struck widower and helped track down the man who attempted to kidnap Lizzie, Alexander Kirk. Kirk and Reddington, knew each other well and likely consider each other mortal enemies. When Kirk believes Liz passed, he sets his sights on kidnapping Agnes, which happens in the final episode of Season Three.

However Agnes, wasn’t the only one that Kirk’s operatives captured. Tom and Agnes had fled to Havana, to join Lizzie in their new life. Kirk introduced himself to Liz, (or Masha, as he called her) as her father Constantin Rostov in the final scene of the season. Lizzie’s capture revealed that Kate Kaplan thought up the plan that gave Liz, Tom and Agnes their freedom, Raymond felt betrayed.

While the third season rocketed out of the gates, picking up minutes after Liz killed Connelly. Dembe drove them to the first of many stops that Raymond and Keen to help clear her name. This season opened with a restaging of the previous episode, likely to get Megan Boone, who missed the last third of last year on maternity leave, integrated back into the action. Some fans’ describe this still young season, as dragging along on Social Media sites, if that’s true that might figure into the dynamic.

We’re going to dispense with our usual play-by-play format, this go-round, instead we’re going to discuss the episode entitled “The Lindquist Concern,” as one piece of what we’ve witnessed so far in season four. The relationships have radically evolved since Raymond Reddington turned himself in to Bureau Headquarters, to forge a professional and personal relationship with Elizabeth Keen. Despite pushing the envelope throughout this series’ the writers have retained the elasticity, to bring the regulars back into the fold, even after committing some rather heinous acts.

Those relationships have been in a constant state of flux, throughout it’s run and we’ve witnessed once bitter enemies become allies. We’ve also watched a long time partnership, undergo irreparable damage and the ripples of that action are just beginning to occur. As word filters through TEAM-RED, what will be the fallout and reaction of the Task-Force?

RED AND MR. KAPLAN: We might as well tackle the 800-pound gorilla in the room first, as it shocked and disappointed many of the long time viewers. Although Kate certainly didn’t go softly into the night, the question among the fans remains, was Raymond justified in shooting her for her betrayal. Although many viewers believe Reddington had ample justification to turn on Mr. Kaplan, I reside in the opposite camp.

Red’s a self-admitted psychopath and we’ve watched his face turn to stone and his eyes become steely, often over these three-plus seasons. However we’ve also seen the depths of Raymond’s kindness, a perfect example’s his interaction with Skyler Ayers, a special-needs child with a rare blood disease. Reddington’s likely the first person to talk to the youngster, like he’d talk to any other boy. It’s difficult to believe that someone with that big a heart, could callously turn on the woman he described as his better half.

Dembe started feeling the ramifications of his actions in this installment, as he sat in the pews of the church that Reddington and Dembe are residing in. (Raymond told Liz, that he normally has a devil of a time falling asleep, but he sleeps like a babe in the manger in the church.) He tells Red that forgiveness won’t come, for Kate and what he did. Reddington replies that Dembe did nothing and the man Raymond rescued as a teen, confirmed that was his sin. He denied Mr. Kaplan when she came to him for help and he allowed Raymond to kill her without voicing his regrets.

Teddy Brimley, the geriatric Marquis De Sade, mentioned her in this episode as he informed Raymond and Dembe he’s getting hitched on the 16, and to extend the invite to Mr. Kaplan. Lizzie’s already asked Reddington where Kate’s at and Red avoided answering her, but how will she handle it when she finds out?

Despite Raymond’s proficiency with a pistol, Reddington failed to kill his “Cleaner” in the middle of the wilderness, instead just damaging her cheek. Although Kate’s situation’s far from comforting, as she finds herself shackled to her bed by some old guy who lives off the grid and has only been identified as The Hunter, what’s in store for her future? She knows all of Reddington’s weaknesses, will she eventually turn into Raymond’s greatest foe?

WHO, EXACTLY’S CONSTANTIN ROSTOV?:  Reddington, specifically stated that although Kirk believes he’s Lizzie’s father, he believes otherwise. Keen stormed into the church clutching a DNA report, stating that Rostov’s indeed her father, why does Red continue to believe other wise? Although Rostov’s repeatedly said that he just wants his family together again, his considering using Agnes as a bone-marrow donor, shows his true desire. Rostov wants to live longer and he’s considering risking his granddaughter’s life to fulfill that wish. Unless Elizabeth Keen’s not the person who provided the DNA for this report, Rostov appears to be her biological father.

IS THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT, COMPLETELY CORRUPT IN THE BLACKLIST UNIVERSE?:  Although Raymond got the Task-Force involved in the capture of Silas Gouldsberry and The Lindquist Concern, allegedly because he’d lead them to Agnes, that didn’t come close to fruition. Instead Ressler and Navabi saved the information from going public, only to see it wind up in the hands of Laurel Hitchin. She in turn gave the information to Reddington, to see what inventions he desired, before selling them to among others the Cabal. Reddington will get 45% of any money that Hitchin receives. Is the planet truly better off with the way things went down?

Although it appears that Constantin Rostov will remain with us for at least a few more episodes, it’s time for the writer’s to progress this season’s plot. Can Raymond be forgiven for his actions, or will he like Dembe keep seeking salvation that’s never arriving?

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 Courtesy Of NBC

Photo Courtesy Of NBC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

Although we saw Elizabeth Keen and Harold Cooper gain ground in the effort to exonerate their reputations the latest episode of the NBC series “The Blacklist,” wasn’t as focused on Lizzie as the rest of the episodes in season three. Instead this chapter entitled “Zal Bin Hasaan” focused the spotlight on fellow Task Force agent Samar Navabi, a character that we know relatively little about. Navabi can be brusque and abrasive and doesn’t have any qualms about stating her opinion. While this episode didn’t expose a well-hidden soft and fuzzy side of her, we got at least a taste of what lead her on the path she’s chosen and her motivation behind certain decisions she’s made.

Before we forge ahead let’s take a minute to set the table and discuss what we do know about Samar Navabi. Raymond Reddington recruited Navabi to replace Meera Malik on the Task Force who got killed by Berlin at the end of season one. Samar was an operative for the Israeli intelligence/military agency Mossad, even though she was born and raised in Tehran, Iran an unusual pairing to say the least. We’re aware that she left Iran after killing a government official there and the murder charges haven’t gotten dropped. She’s remained an outsider since joining the Task Force, although events in the  closing moments of this episode might change that dynamic.

A graphic informs us that we’re in Tehran, back in 1992 and we watch a girl about twelve and her younger brother planting some flowers in front of  their home. A man briskly walks past them and into the house and seconds later we hear a woman scream. The girl runs in as the man leaves and she shouts for her mother but soon sees her parents got shot and lie dead on the floor. Her younger brother Shahin enters and asks her what’s going on and she blocks him from walking past her, not wanting him to see the carnage. She says to him it’s alright I’m here and will always be here. Shahin realizes his parents died and he breaks down crying in the arms of his sister Samar.

The doorbell rings at the Cooper home  and Charlene asks Harold to answer it. He’s unpleasantly surprised to find Tom Keen’s on his doorstep and Tom tells him he’s got Karakurt in the trunk of his car. Cooper tells Keen to get the car off the street and put it in his garage. Harold goes out to join Tom and Keen’s not exactly sure if Karakurt’s knocked-out or dead. Turns out he’s playing possum and tries strangling Keen to death with his bare hands until Harold whacks the assailant in the hand with a wrench. Charlene walks in at that point and drops her coffee cup on the garage floor as she takes in the scene.

Reddington, Dembe and Liz stand in the kitchen of an upscale restaurant and watch a breaking news report on the set mounted to the wall. Six employees from Lazarum Systems International based in Annapolis, got abducted at gunpoint and the government’s classifying the incident as an act of terror on United States soil. Red chuckles and says the tip was right.

The head-waiter enters the kitchen and asks Raymond why he’s there and Reddington responds he wants the man to set-up a meeting. The man says he told Red on the phone it’s impossible and Raymond replies that he told him that’s an unacceptable answer. The man says that in most situations he’d gladly accommodate him, but there’s far too much heat on Reddington and the other party and turns to leave. Raymond stops the man in his tracks and asks what if he gives them Zal Bin Hasaan in return?

The head-waiter smirks at Reddington and says the CIA, Interpol and Mossad have hunted him for years and  he thinks he can deliver him? Raymond responds he’s waiting for an answer to his question and the man replies sure you get us Zal Bin Hasaan and you’ll get your meeting. As he walks away Liz asks if that’s the tip  he got that the elusive terrorist’s behind the abduction and Red responds she’s correct and now they just have to find him. To help reach that goal Reddington calls Navabi.

Raymond tells Samar that Zal Bin Hasaan and his crew’s behind the abduction as Lazarum’s encrypting the defense shield for Israel and that he’s currently in or around Annapolis. She says that’s impossible and Raymond says you thought the same thing in Cairo as he stood right behind you killing your partner and leaving you in the ICU. He tells her she’s got another chance to capture him and this time she’s got a secret weapon  she lacked in their first go-round, him.

Remember how excited Ressler was in the previous episode when he acquired security-cam photos of Matias Solomon? They didn’t turn out to be the “smoking-gun” convincing Laurel Hitchin and Reven Wright that the Director had any connection to the Cabal. Peter Kotsiopolus says he’s never seen the man before in his life and Ressler says he’s your employee and he was on that plane to carry out your orders to kill Elizabeth Keen and Raymond Reddington.

He says that Red and Keen have discovered information harmful to his organization. The Director laughs derisively and says his organization’s the CIA. Hitchin reaches her limit and shouts enough, then says it’s obvious that they can’t work together so they should work their leads separately. She looks Donald in the eye and says if she hears about subterfuge or lack of sharing information, she’s going to make that person regret it.

Ressler tells Aram and Navabi that he presented their case and he thinks he bought them some time. Samar then tells the men about Reddington’s information that Zal Bin Hasaan’s behind the Lazarum employees getting abducted. Then she tells them the story about Cairo and Aram mentions that it’s believed he’s behind the explosion in Pishin back in 2009 that killed her brother.

Aram gets a call on his cellphone telling him to turn on the TV and a news anchor reports that the following footage was mass-mailed to news organizations and it’s a tape of one of the hostages reading a statement written by his captors. He says his name’s Michael Hastings and he got taken due to his participation of  the Iron Dome project. He then reads we will find you and you will pay for  your crimes, we’ll contact you again in two-hours. That’s all that’s written and he looks around him with a confused expression until a bullet in the back of his head kills him. Ressler says they’re taking this case.

Mojtabai approaches Donald and tells him that the guy across the room from them wearing a sweater-vest works for the Agency and hacked a phone-number that Aram believes belongs to Reddington or Keen and he’s monitoring it. Aram however hacked the CIA guy’s hack and now he also has the number and he’s also monitoring it. Ressler tells him to be diligent so the Director can’t set-up a hit on Lizzie and Raymond.

Samar keeps looking at the tape for clues and finds a big one. When the gun fired the muzzle blast back-lit his glasses and she sees an energy-plant in the reflection. Aram quickly identifies it as Sellinger Power and the raid’s on. Samar tells Ressler that Mossad deserves to be in on the bust and he tells her to alert them.

Tom and Harold try to calm Charlene down in the Cooper’s kitchen and Harold tells his wife they can’t call the police. Keen says he’ll get him to talk soon and then asks if they have any power-tools. Suddenly they hear a loud bang in the garage and they run in to find Karakurt’s escaped from the trunk and poisoned himself by drinking a soy-based jug of soap. (Karakurt’s allergic to soy-products and can die from ingesting them like people with nut allergies.) Charlene runs to one of her neighbors and brings back an epipen which negates the toxins in the assailant’s body. They duct tape him to a lawn-chair when he recovers.

The Mossad agents that arrive to assist in the raid include many of Navabi’s former teammates including her former commander Levi. They decide to begin the attack with a concussion bomb that Mossad conveniently has on hand. Ressler starts to question why they’ve got one then shakes his head and says he doesn’t want to know.

The joint-force attacks the building and seemingly kill all of the kidnappers, but Levi informs them that Zal Bin Hasaan escaped through a secondary blast as all the men they killed are too young to be him. Suddenly  a Mossad agent tells Levi  and Navabi they have to see this and he leads them to a man caged in a cage that’s so small he can only sit. Samar looks at the man then sees his tattoo and her voice breaks as she asks Shahin? The man responds sister and it turns out that Shahin wasn’t killed in the blast in Pishin.

Samar leaves the building and calls Red and asks if he knew her brother was alive and being held by Zal Bin Hasaan? Red says he’s happily surprised by the news and assures her that had he known he would have informed her. She tells  him that Zal Bin Hasaan escaped and Raymond responds if he’s in country he must have gotten smuggled in as contraband. He says he’ll put out some feelers.

Shahin’s taken by ambulance as they all go to a nearby Mossad safe-house. After Shahin’s examined and given medical clearance, brother and sister sit down along with Ressler for Shahin to explain where he’s been for the last six-years. He goes back to that day telling Samar that he’d been filled with hope as student demonstrators had finally gotten government officials to meet with them in a meeting open to the public. He says he’d been with the demonstrators but the government set them up to make the people believe students were terrorists and they planted a bomb killing most in attendance. Donald asks why the Iranian government would sacrifice high-ranking officials and Shahin responds that’s how badly they wanted to destroy the student movement.

He says the regime hunted him so he was afraid to contact her. He moved to England and started a new life but got wind that the regime tracked him down so he came to the States. However shortly after moving here Zal Bin Hasaan sent some men to his apartment to capture him and had been there for six months.

Tom tells Karakurt the bad news is he’s going to live but if he exonerates Liz Keen will make him a soy-smoothie. Karakurt says something softly in Russian and when Keen leans in to try to hear him his prisoner head-butts him. Tom laughs and then we see Charlene and Harold sitting in the kitchen when they hear a bunch of  banging. Charlene starts to get up but her husband holds her hand firmly and she sits down and sighs.

Kean beat his prisoner  bloody with a medal-stool which is now badly bent and Karakurt’s lying on the floor on his side and breathing heavily. Tom says to him here’s your choice, we can let the Russians know you’ve framed them for the murder of the CIA agents and a United  States Senator and deposit him at the Russian Embassy. He says we both know how that ends up, or you can cooperate with me.

Raymond and Liz visit a dry-cleaner named Farzin whom Red found out helped smuggle Zal Bin Hasaan into the country. He says that he must know where he’s hiding when he escaped from the FBI and Mossad. The elderly man says he knows nothing and Reddington says he better speak quick or Red’s going to shoot him in the knee-cap. Suddenly the dry-cleaner has an address for Reddington and they bid him goodbye.

We find out that it’s Tom’s cellphone that sweater-vest tapped as he calls Lizzie and tells her he’s got great news and to meet him at Wing Yee’s. Liz tells Reddington she’s going to meet him and Raymond tells her he  thinks it’s a bad idea. Aram then calls Ressler and tells him about the call and Ressler tells Navabi he’s got to leave and get down there to keep Liz alive. As he leaves we see there’s trouble at the safe-house as one of the hostages is actually one of Zal Bin Hasaan’s men and he arms a bomb placed under a table.

Cooper calls Ressler to talk to him about Karakurt but Donald says he’s on his way to bust Liz and Tom. He says they’ll soon restore Liz and Cooper’s reputation and says he’ll speak with Harold later. Although we don’t find out until later Harold then calls Keen and he and Liz meet at another restaurant.

He tells her he’s got Karakurt and he’s going to cooperate and soon Liz will be able to walk freely again. He then says he made a huge mistake getting on his boat and leaving her when she was in trouble and promises to make it up to her. He then says he needs to head back to Karakurt.

Ressler and company arrive at Wing Yee’s to see that Liz and Tom aren’t there but Matias Solomon is and Donald recognizes him from the photograph. He pats him down and finds he’s carrying a Glock and Solomon says he’s got a permit to carry the gun as a concealed weapon. When he takes it out of his wallet Ressler drops it in Solomon’s soup and says it’s illegible and they’re heading to the Task Force.

Red and Dembe go the apartment and once inside split-up and start searching for Zal Bin Hasaan. Dembe heads into the bathroom and sees the sinks filled with whiskers. He opens the shower curtain and the man inside tries attacking him but Dembe soon subdues him and he’s on the floor when Raymond enters. Red’s expression shows us that something’s amiss and he asks the man who he is and he says he’s Zal Bin Hasaan.

Reddington says the man’s lying as Hasaan suffered third-degree burns all over his back as a result of a bomb he set-off a couple of years ago. He once again asks the man his name and once again he says that he’s Zal Bin Hasaan. Time for Raymond to call his buddy Brimley.

Samar tells Shahin since he entered the States illegally he’s going to get deported. Her brother says then he can return to England but Navabi tells him that he entered England illegally as well and they won’t allow him to stay there, they’ll deport him to Iran. Shahin says the regime will kill him and she tells him she’s already applied to try to get him political asylum as she won’t lose him again.

When it comes to Reddington’s menagerie of odd-ball sidekicks, Glen finder of lost persons is my personal favorite and I also have a soft-spot for Mr. Kaplan. That being said, it’s always a treat when ever the senior-citizen Marquis De Sade, Brimley pays a visit. We watch Raymond and Dembe standing in the hallway as we hear a loud whooshing of air coming from the bathroom. Brimley emerges holding a propane-torch and breathing heavily he says well he’s not Zal Bin Hasaan. Reddington asks him who is he then and Brimley says he could care less. He says the guy’s singing like Ethel Merman, he’s ready for you now and says he needs some air. Then Brimley straps his oxygen mask onto his face and slumps against the wall as Raymond and Dembe go to question the man.

Navabi’s in one of the back room’s of the safe-house when her phone rings. Red tells her to get all the hostages out and secure the safe-house Zal Bin Hasaan’s there and he planted a bomb. Just then the bomb explodes and the two terrorists in the room start shooting Mossad agents. Navabi’s able to hide and she watches as they take the hostages outside and shoot them. We then watch the man who planted the bomb pull back  a curtain revealing Shahin and he says Zal Bin Hasaan the hostages were shot. He smiles and says that’s good and asks his soldier if he’s seen his sister. Navabi hears the conversation, she now knows the truth.

The Mossad agents are held at gunpoint as Zal Bin Hasaan walks into the room and says imagine all  the money resources and manpower Mossad spends just to try to capture him. We then find out the real purpose of his operation, to obtain the hard copy of all the addresses of every Mossad agent, that’s locked in the safe in the house.

After they kill one agent, Hasaan asks whose the commander and Levi says he is. One of the men drags Levi to the safe and demands he punch in the code. Levi says none of his people will give it up and as the guy raises his weapon to kill Levi, Samar comes in and shoots him. They open the safe and set fire to the files but as they’re burning in the wastebasket Levi gets shot. Zal Bin Hasaan are too late to save the documents but they grab Samar and head to the docks.

Ressler starts interrogating Matias and he says he’s got diplomatic immunity and he was operating as an agent of the German government looking for one of the victims when he was on the plane in the previous episode. Suddenly the Director and one of his aides walk into the office and Peter says to Matias that Ressler believes they work together and he wants to prove they don’t. Ressler leaves and reminds the Director he’s being monitored as Wright and Hitchin are watching a close-circuit feed. Peter pulls out a multi-pronged fishing hook and he says to Solomon he’s going to swallow it. Wright wants to stop the Director, but Laurel tells her to allow him to proceed.

Samar says to her brother there’s nothing noble about what he’s doing and their parents would be ashamed. He says their parents were cowards and tried to weaken the government. She asks him if he planted the bomb in Pishin and he laughs and says that’s the day he became Zal the Warrior. As they head towards an old steamer, Raymond, Dembe  and two of Red’s henchmen appear on the docks and take out the three of Hasaan’s men.

Raymond calls down to  Samar and he tells her the decision’s hers to make. They can turn Shahin over to Mossad and he’ll die rotting in some hell-hole, or she can let Red take him and make his death count. She asks him what he means and he says saving Elizabeth Keen. She says take him and Shahin says  Samar you promised to always protect me. She says I made that promise to my brother and he died in Pishin.

Donald heads to Harold’s and he finds out about Tom’s involvement and that Harold tipped him off about the set-up. Ressler and Keen start fighting in the street until Cooper breaks it up saying he’s got to live there. Ressler gets in his car and drives back to the Task Force headquarters.

Ressler and Navabi both disgusted with the world and life seek comfort in each other and start making out. They head to her place and are about to get intimate when the screen fades to  black.

The Story Continues Next Thursday Night at 9:00 pm on NBC.