#THEBLACKLISTRETURNS

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Photo Courtesy Of NBC

Photo Courtesy Of NBC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

Season Three of the NBC series “The Blacklist,” picks up seconds after the conclusion of season two as former FBI Agent Liz Keen and Raymond Reddington, attempt eluding capture by a manhunt that’s shut down all of Washington D.C. Lizzie’s former partner Donald Ressler heads the effort, coordinating law-enforcement agencies to catch the duo before they get out of the city. Ressler’s attempting to ignore his personal feelings for Keen and trying to focus on the fact she’s a fugitive from justice. He’s addressing the team assembled around him, emphasizing that they have to capture the pair before they leave the city, or they’ll be chasing ghosts.

Back at the Task Force headquarters Aram Mojtabai tells Agent Samar Navabi that he believes Keen’s innocent, then reveals he’s found the vehicle they’re trying to escape in. Navabi and Aram get a visual image of the silver van they’re in and they watch it go into a tunnel, but it doesn’t come out the other side. Rewinding the video-feed they realize that the van went onto a truck carrying new-cars in the tunnel and eluded capture.

Ressler heads back to the Task Force center and starts questioning the Task Force’s former director Harold Cooper about Liz shooting United States Attorney General Tom Connolly. Cooper tells the agent that Connolly worked for the Cabal and tried to make Harold believe he was dying, to put Cooper in a compromising position. He tells Ressler however, he ordered Liz not to shoot the Attorney General. She wouldn’t listen however as Connolly threatened to take down everybody on the Task Force, including Donald.

The pair get out of the van at a trucking facility, each wearing police uniforms and they jump into a Metro-Police cruiser. They then drive to a bar owned by a longtime associate of Red’s, but there’s a wildcard Reddington wasn’t expecting. The guy’s sister Tiffany’s now living with him, after her husband died in Denver about a month before. The guy tells Red that his sister’s trustworthy and Raymond gives her the benefit of the doubt. That turns out to be a rare mistake on Reddington’s part. They go into the bar’s kitchen step down into an underground bunker, hidden beneath a trap-door. Red tells Kean this is where they’ll wait until the Troll Farmer’s ready, she’s got no idea what he’s referring to.

Young woman’s in her kitchen fixing a meal when she hears a strange man’s voice on her baby monitor. She grabs a kitchen knife and runs in, seeing a strange man holding her infant. He asks her which toy Ellie would like to take on her trip and decides on a panda. The woman asks the man what he want’s and he replies he wants her father and he’ll text her instructions. She tries to attack him with the knife, but he easily pushes her to the ground. We’ve just met the “BIG BAD” for season three, a man who works for the Cabal named Mr. Solomon.

Down in the bunker Red and Lizzie watch a newscast on an old black and white TV, the newscaster says although the Government accuses Keen of being a Russian spy, several major newspapers claim that’s not the case. We then cut to a press-conference being held by the Director. Liz suddenly realizes that Red gave the Fulcrum to journalists and the Director’s attempting to put these reports to rest.

He tells his audience that in the 65-years that the CIA has had a Director of National Clandestine Services, the Director’s identity’s never been revealed during their tenure. However he received permission from the President to reveal himself and to challenge these irresponsible accusations, that not only smear his name but threaten National Defense. He then asks whose word will you believe, two fugitive criminals or him. Liz shuts off the set and says if she didn’t know better, she’d believe him.

The press conference didn’t sit well with the other members of the Cabal and Mr. Solomon pays the Director a visit. He reminds the Director he convinced the other member Red was bluffing about possessing the Fulcrum and he was very wrong. He says that puts our plans in jeopardy, the Director corrects him and says my plans. Solomon tells him they were his plans, but no longer as he’s lost the Cabal’s confidence. He then tells the Director he’s dancing on the edge of a razor-blade, as the Cabal control just how long he’ll remain breathing.

Red hears Tiffany and her brother arguing upstairs and Raymond grabs Tiffany’s cellphone and hits redial, reaching the FBI Tip-Hotline. Reddington tells Lizzie they’re leaving but the FBI have arrived, he grabs the brother and tells Tiffany to get rid of them or her brother dies. They head to the bunker as Ressler and a SWAT Team burst through the door.

Tiffany denies calling the FBI and the SWAT-Team announce the house’s clear, Donald heads into the kitchen but doesn’t notice anything amiss. They’re about to leave, when Ressler tells one of the officers to call back the number that left the tip and Tiffany’s phone rings from beneath the bar. Donald tells them to come up and when they don’t respond he throws a smoke-bomb down into the bunker. The agents climb down into the bunker only to realize Red and Lizzie escaped through a grate.

The pair reemerge on the street and open a valet parking box and grab the keys for a two-seater Porsche. Lizzie figures the owner lives alone or maybe with a girlfriend and his apartment’s likely empty. They can get his address off his registration in the glove compartment.

Turn’s out the young woman’s Isabella, Dembe’s daughter and Ellie’s his granddaughter. He asks her to describe the man and then asks what he wanted. Isabella tells her father that the man wanted him, Dembe swears to his daughter that he’ll get his granddaughter back to her safe and sound.

Red and Lizzie hideout in the Porsche owner’s apartment and Keen dyes her hair honey-blonde, causing the usually loquacious Reddington to start stammering. She suddenly remembers the picture of her mother on Red’s desk and that she’s blonde in the photograph and she looks like her mother. Red then tells her they’ll have to change their plans and go see the Troll Farmer now.

Raymond explains that the Troll Farmer’s a master manipulator of social-media and creates events to hide other situations. Red claims that among the Troll Farmer’s accomplishments, he invented an Ebola plague in Atlanta to raise the price for a drug manufacturer’s stock. They’re about to leave when the housekeeper enters, Raymond assures the woman they won’t hurt her. They’re just going to take her cellphone and lock her in the bathroom.

Back at Task Force headquarters, Navabi tells Ressler she scoured all of the footage of the shooting of Connolly at a hotel and Cooper’s not complicit. She says that she knows Ressler helped Liz escape from the Task Force center, which lead to Connolly’s shooting. She says she doesn’t know why he won’t admit it, but she’s wary of him.

The Troll Master’s a young Asian guy and none too happy to see Red and Liz at his door a week earlier than he expected. He tries sending them away, but Red convinces him to let them in. Once inside we see the large-scale hacking network, that the man whose real name’s Chang operates.

Keen starts walking around the facility and bumps into a double of herself as a brunette, wearing a police uniform. The woman’s posing s Keen to try to redirect law enforcement officials and suddenly recognizes Lizzie and acts like she’s meeting Lady GAGA. She asks if Red’s there as well and practically squeals when Liz tells her he is. Then she asks what’s it like being a fugitive?

Ressler tells Harold that Charlene’s been released and he’s getting released as well, pending future questioning. Cooper says he’s glad Donald doesn’t think he’s complicit in Lizzie’s crime, but Ressler corrects him and tells him they’re both complicit as he allowed Liz to escape. He says he’s going to catch her though, because his job isn’t going with his gut. His job’s to enforce the law.

Lizzie tells Reddington when she was a little girl she fantasized that her mother was a prima-ballerina and would one day come for her. She then asks Red what happened to her and Raymond says at one time he thought he knew, but as the years have passed, he realized he had no idea where she is or what happened to her. Chang comes in and tells them that in an hour they’ll either be free, or in prison on charges of treason.

Liz and Red each are transported in a separate van to double their chances of one of them escaping and clearing Keen’s name. Chang tells Red that their business relationship’s over and tells Raymond he’s a crazy old man. Reddington and Liz are each hidden in secret compartments in each vehicle and they head north, while the Troll Farmer’s network sends out pictures over social media having them in five different locations in the south. Ressler realizes it’s a set-up and redirects all officers to the north.

Reddington gets past the perimeter and it appears Lizzie has too, as a radio-dispatcher tells all officers to stand down, as the duo’s in custody. However seconds later Ressler shows up and the search resumes. Raymond calls Liz and tells her that he’s made it out but she won’t make it, so she has to hide. She tells the driver to take her to 2650 Wisconsin Avenue.

Dembe’s outside a restaurant he knocks out the doorman, then heads inside and takes out two goons. He sees Mr. Solomon eating a shellfish dish and Solomon motions for him to sit down. After he finishes his meal, he takes out his cellphone and calls Isabella, he tells her to go to her front door and open it. Ellie’s in her little travel seat, he tells Isabella to take a picture with her phone and to send it to him. When the picture arrives, he thanks Isabella and shows the picture to Dembe.

Dembe asks what’s keeping him from ripping Solomon apart with his bare hands and the Cabal operative, explains he’s infected Ellie with a deadly toxin and if he dies, she’ll die a painful death within three weeks. He then gives Dembe a small gas mask attached to a vial and tells him to breath deeply. After about three breaths, Dembe’s knocked out.

Samar and Donald drive around trying to figure out where Keen’s headed, when they seize on the fact she’s accused of being a Russian spy and they head to the Russian Embassy. They get there just in time to watch Lizzie scale the fence and then tells the soldier’s her name’s Masha Rostova and she’s a Russian agent. She asks for immunity as the screen fades to black.

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

Photo Courtesy Of NBC

Photo Courtesy Of NBC

Warning: Spoiler Alert:

It’s nearly three-months since NBC has shown an episode of “The Blacklist,” waiting to showcase it’s return after the airing of the most viewed TV broadcast of the calendar year, as the network hosted Super Bowl XLIX. Raymond Reddington and company, surely must have gained a large quantity of new viewers in their return, as the show lacked any slow moments and lots of questions that have intrigued viewers  from the start of this series, got revealed or are tantalizingly close to getting discovered.

The Blacklist,” roared out of the gates last season, as the freshman entry combining an intriguing story of the number one wanted man by the FBI, who turns himself into Federal authorities, with an outstanding performance by the series lead James Spader. The show lacked the spark, the excitement, the chemistry, that made it a ratings hit last year in the first few episodes, though it found it’s footing in the fall finale.

The show-runners built on that momentum in their return, as we came out of the game seeing a supposed news bulletin, with the graphic reading “Reddington In U.S. Custody.” A series of talking-heads inform us that Raymond got captured in Hong Kong and they had no reports of where he would get taken to. Red’s looking dapper in a tuxedo sans tie, handcuffed, when a soldier puts a black-hood over his head and tells him, from that moment forward he cease’s to exist, Red responds with that’s a load off and gets whisked into a helicopter.

We approach what looks like an oil-rig, but the graphic tells us we’ve arrived at a Black-Ops Site, somewhere in the Bering Sea. Red’s taken off the chopper, with the hood still over his head, then his hands get shackled to opposite walls and the hood’s removed. As soon as it comes off he says to the guard 202-555-0511, then repeats the number. The third time he repeats it, he tells the guard to ask for Housman and $50,000 will get wired into any account the guard requests. He leaves the cell remaining silent.

At FBI Task Force Headquarters, Tech-Wizard Aram Mojtabai, tells Assistant FBI Director Harold Cooper that Reddington’s fallen off the grid, they check reports and find he’s gotten arrested by the CIA. Reddington’s partner FBI Agent Elizabeth Keen, asks why they can’t just get him back and Cooper informs her that only 41 Intelligence Agency Officials are in the loop about Red’s status. So Don Ressler, starts working the phones working on his contacts.

Back at the Black-Ops Site, the Warden comes into question if Raymond offered the guard a bribe and Red replies that within 12-hours, a prisoner Luther Braxton will escape from his cell and steal a Classified Intelligence Package, that will put United States national security at stake. He says the plan’s already in action and the Warden laughs him off, saying that Braxton’s in solitary confinement.

What the Warden was unaware of was that Braxton was getting electro-shock therapy and some guard slipped Luther a piece of electrical wire, that Braxton swallowed. After he got the wire back, he somehow rigged his cell so that the door became electrified and when the guard put his metal key in the door, he got fried. Braxton, aware that the guards would use tear gas, covered his nose and mouth with a bandanna, then came out of his cell with a flamethrower, burning a couple of guards, then grabbing a machine gun and wiping out the rest.

Ressler’s found out that they’re holding Reddington at a Black-Ops Site called “The Factory.” Mossad and FBI Agent Samar Navabi, exclaims they’re in trouble, Aram asks if it really exists and Keen asks what it is. Cooper reveals that it’s a level-10 Black-Ops Facility, known as a Spy Slaughterhouse. It’s said when they’re done with you, you’re just an empty husk, ready to serve out existence lost and forgotten, or killed immediately. Keen says they’ve got to get Raymond back and Ressler says, it’s going to get tough, pulling off that stunt.

Suddenly the Director of the NSC (the now deceased’s Alan Fitch’s boss,) and his Liaison, enter the Task Force Headquarters and the Liaison asks what’s Red’s status? Cooper, hems and haws and she responds that the NSC is well aware of the ongoing arrangement they’ve got going on with Raymond and Cooper, tells her where he’s at, but states he lacks the authority to get him back. She says that Cooper now has that authority and send a team to extract him.

Back at the Black-Ops Site, the Warden asks Reddington how he knew what was going down and Raymond says the conversations useless, that Braxton’s already got control of the prison. The Warden says that they’ve sent a chopper in to extract Red and he tells them to tell them to turn it around. Ressler, Navabi, Keen and the helicopter pilot land just then, all but Keen get caught and imprisoned, she hides in the shadows.

Braxton’s got a crew of eight in place in order to complete every angle of the mission he intends to complete. He’s after the Fulcrum, the object that Fitch talked about with Red prior to exploding in the fall finale. We now realize, why Raymond’s gotten in there, to assure that Braxton, doesn’t gain possession of the Fulcrum and that Red does, although we’re still in the dark to its identity.

After Braxton takes control of the facility, he calls in on one of the FBI agents phones and gets attached to a Bureau Hostage Negotiator, Luther says he wants to speak to someone higher up the food chain. The Negotiator attempts to form a bond with Braxton and says everything’s okay and he just needs to speak to the Warden and Luther says no, The Negotiator, asks again and the prisoner puts the warden on the phone with the Negotiator, after Braxton takes back the phone, he kills the Warden and says give me someone with authority.

Cooper grabs the phone and identifies himself as the FBI Assistant Director and Braxton tells Cooper, he knows how it works, either Harold gives him what he wants or someone dies. From now on he’s the Warden. Keen’s sneaking around, when Reddington, grabs her from behind and asks what she’s doing there. She says she came to rescue him and he tells her to turn and run, but she tells him about the other three held hostage and says she won’t leave without them or him.

She then asks Red’s purpose in being there and he reveals that he’s there to stop Luther from finding and stealing the Fulcrum, which she’s never heard of. Red tells her it’s a blackmail file, proof of the existence of an extremely powerful clandestine organization. If their activities get made public some of the most powerful people on the planet, will get sent to prison or executed. He explains, that this cartel believes he has the file, hence he still lives. She asks how they’ll stop Braxton and Red says that sadly he knows at least one person on every prison on Earth.

Braxton calls back Cooper and says he’s aware that when security gets breached, all computers go offline and he’s provided with a code-number to reboot the machines. Cooper says that’s true and he’ll look into what he can do to provide Luther information, Braxton shoots a hostage and tells Cooper his reflexes are slow, he’ll call again.

Keen and Reddington joined in the Warden’s office by the guard, and three prisoners, that Red knows. One guy’s on a laptop searching the ship’s schematics and tells Red where the facility’s server’s located, but he says they can’t access it due to Braxton’s lockdown. However the guy referred to as the German says that if they can access the boiler room, they could cause the boiler to explode, knocking out the server. The rub’s that the only access is a 24 inch single air-duct that only Keen’s small enough to crawl through. She’ll get into the boiler room, let Red and the German in. The other prisoner asks what’s his job and Red shoots him in retaliation for killing some of Reddington’s soldiers.

One of Braxton’s people see a security breach in the Warden’s office, so Luther calls the extension and Raymond responds the Warden can’t be reached can he take a message and Braxton remains silent as he immediately recognizes the voice. Red says nothing, a hello, how are you and Luther spits out his name, to which Raymond responds it’s him. Braxton immediately brings up Belgrade, a previous battle between the two that Luther claims to have won, but Raymond says that his opponent, chewed and clawed his way into his pockets and killed innocent people.

Braxton, says they both know it takes guts and someone willing to run the gauntlet, to take him out and after Belgrade, Red showed he lacked what it takes and asks what’s he going to do?

Reddington: A Wise Man Can Learn More From A Foolish Question, Than A Fool Can From A Wise Answer.

Braxton: Who said that, Nietzsche?

Reddington: No, Bruce Lee.

Luther calls Cooper again and demands the code and Cooper tells him he’s not giving it to him. Then Braxton tells him that he’s got his agent Samar Navabi, chained up and unless he gives him the code in ten-minutes, he’ll be down one agent. Aram asks Cooper if he’s going to give Braxton the code and Harold and the Liaison enter his office. He says he’s got three agents on the ground and he’s not going to let them die over a code. He says that if Braxton escapes they can recapture him, then she tells Cooper that it’s information that Luther’s trying to obtain that’s the problem.

Braxton calls again and he’s hanging Navabi and as Cooper hears her groans he gives the prisoner the code. Braxton sends his team down to the server to reboot it and get what he wants. The Liaison fires off a text to the Director of the NSC and the following scene’s the Director meeting with the organizations members. Although some think that Reddington will release the Fulcrum if killed, the Director says that this incident, proves Red doesn’t possess it.

The National Security Director meets with his liaison in his car and he tells her to send two air fighter jets to destroy the facility. She tries convincing him otherwise due to the three agents, but he says he can’t take the risk that Braxton can have that power over so many important people.

The German can’t override the computer settings, says the boiler needs to get overridden manually and he’s not taking that risk with his life. Liz says that she and Red can do it and the other two prisoners high-tail it out. As they’re overriding the boiler, Liz asks why Red’s obsessed with stopping Braxton and Red says that if Braxton gets the information he’ll realize the only way he can get the Fulcrum’s through Keen. The boiler’s about to explode and they run out, both knocked out by shrapnel.

The Liaison tells Cooper and Aram that the order’s sent to have the Black Site Ops Site destroyed, Aram says that two fighter jets just took off heading for the target. Cooper asks how far out are they and Aram responds that the jets will reach the facility in 24-minutes.

Liz wakes up and finds Red not breathing, she gives him CPR, getting him breathing again, but he’s still knocked out. She hears voices, hides him under some rubble and quickly gets caught, she gets taken back to Braxton who whacks her and asks where Reddington is, she responds he’s dead.

Red’s found by the guard and he takes him back to the Warden’s office, they don’t know where Liz’s at. All the prisoners escaped when the server exploded and they’re rioting. Red loads up a shotgun and tells the guard he’s getting her back. Reddington struts like Al Pacino in Scarface, taking down anyone and everyone in his way, he shoots Braxton, but he tries to fight when Liz pulls a pistol on him. Amar tells Cooper that the fighter jets just released their missiles.

Raymond tells Braxton’s he’s not getting a golden ticket, all he’d gain’s a target on his back. Luther says he knows the stories, about the fire and the girl and he looks over at Liz and his jaw drops. Braxton says that’s her, that’s the girl and Raymond shouts to Keen to shoot him now, when we see the bomb start to hit the facility.

The Story Continues, Thursday, February 5, at 9:00 pm on NBC.