Category Archives: Allegiance

Allegiance: The Family That Spies Together Lies Together

Courtesy of NBC
Courtesy of NBC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

Last we spoke, Alex meant to meet with his younger sister at a Chinese restaurant. Instead he was surprised to find his parents waiting for him. “Now, it’s time to tell you everything, so you’ll understand why”. The first 5 seconds of tonight’s episode shows Alex frantically leaving the restaurant looking disoriented and distraught. Which might not cover it. Not the best news for a fast tracked CIA analyst to discover.

In snipits jumping from present time to minutes earlier and back, we begin to fill in some blanks on the back story of Katya and Mark O’Connor. Katya apparently, was set on the KGB track as early as 9 years old. Mark was recruited, but resistant at every step. He and Katya fell in love and removing her from a life she didn’t want became his motivation.

To say Alex is not taking it well is a VAST understatement. Considering his condition, he’s handling it as best as can be expected. However, even he can sense the spiral. “Remember you steps, remember your steps”.

While Alex tries to manage the emotion and assumed sense of betrayal, his parents try to explain the more pressing and immediate problem. They explain the story behind the laptop and slide him papers that describe what was on the laptop after Natalie’s former flame decrypted it. The quick, essential information approach is working better for him. Or it could just be providing him with enough ram to absorb the information and articulate his sense of betrayal.

Meanwhile, Alex, Luttrell, Prado and Agent Brock are all set to see a judge about their role in the laptop sting. Not the best time to have this information rattling around in his head. As he stands with his colleagues in front of the judge, he spaces out daydreaming about the conversation he just had, compromising his otherwise steadfast readiness. And for good reason. His parents just asked him to help them take down the SVR independent of the CIA or the FBI. Some would consider that asking him to become a traitor.

Mark: If you turn us in we will go to prison.

Alex: I think that’s where you belong…

Before the judge, Alex snaps out of his relative funk long enough to be asked directly by the judge whether he concurs with Prado’s testimony. After stalling, Alex completely recanted his stance as a way to protect his parents and can rationalize that by hiding behind a devil’s advocate approach. Needless to say, his entire team is ready to burn him at the stake. Still, he finds a way to put some logic behind it and fall on the sword. It’s not OK, but it’s better.

At the O’Connor’s residence, Mark and Katya begin to outline what this will take. It is unacceptable all around to Alex. Stealing a FBI access code, choosing his partner as the mark, all of it creates a conflict with Alex’s sense of moral absolutes.

The decision has been made to target Prado’s computer. Natalie is the one that has to give him the ‘how to’ on the tech. Looking down the entire time, Alex listens, takes the card and tries to leave. Natalie is begging him to get pissed. He doesn’t because his condition wouldn’t find any logic in it. Natalie gives it to him straight with no filler or explanation. This moment may act to solidify an otherwise middle of the road brother/sister relationship.

Upon arrival at the FBI offices, Alex is quickly informed that he and the rest of the office are experiencing the privilege of a random polygraph. He struggles bouncing between a wide range of questions. His partners bring a completely different calm and style of retort to their poly. After which the administrator asked Luttrell, “what’s with the twitchy guy?” Long story short, Alex broke the polygraph machine. A wide range of questions and the machine could not get a solid read on the answers.

Sarah abruptly leaves a conversation with “Ritchie” (some punk her age) when Victor slides in to have a chat with Ritchie. Victor needs his help with Sarah.

Alex intentionally spills Prado’s drink on her so that she might leave momentarily, providing him with the opportunity to clone her login. Halfway through, Luttrell walks up with disturbing news. A CIA buddy of his with the requisite clearance, to be brought in happens to be a Mason. This gives him a way in. He was able to secure the video footage from the temple no problem. So now Alex’s boss is going to see footage of the SVR agents in question. Only question that remains is how long it will take them to connect said video to the suspects being Alex’s parents?

Alex calls his mother to tip them off. It’s a snag, but one Katya feels confident they can handle without involving Alex directly. Mark spots the CIA delivery guy exiting his vehicle. Katya is already waiting on the elevator. Natalie joins them both in the elevator. Katya and Natalie both armed to the teeth with large magnets. Thought being, sandwich the carrier with magnets and it should destroy any data on said hard drive. Which works like a charm.

The polygraph agent (Favor) observed Alex when the footage went scrambled. He believes he’s onto something and is digging accordingly.

Alex was able to clone Prado’s login, and by doing so was able to connect account numbers to the proper financial institution. But that’s where the luck ends. The money transfers were ‘packeted’ or broken up into thousands of small transactions. The banker is the in. Natalie makes her entrance at the bar the banker is at, playing up her sultry and naughty side.

Ritchie shows up at the house where only Sarah currently is. He’s come to apologize for his remarks earlier and brings with him a peace-offering. DVDs. Once inserted into the DVD player, a program activates utilizing the XBox Kinnect to get a steady video feed of the O’Connor’s living room.
Natalie’s plan to use her feminine wears works well. Until the mark sees her going for a taser. He is able to not only get over on Natalie, but Katya too. The situation looks grim, but Mark ran after Katya. Mark gets the jump on the banker and proceeds to beat him with the intent to kill when Alex shows up and pulls Mark off of him.

Allegiance: Breadcrumbs Leave The O’Connors At The Point Of No Return

Courtesy of NBC
Courtesy of NBC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

Last week the feds found no laptop at the Philadelphia City Hall. That’s because Katya and Mark got there first. Despite the clear risk of checking further, Alex attempts to do just that. Katya sends Natalie a text, “Plans changing, be ready”.

Let me just say one thing, then we can get past it. So far Allegiance is a very good show. Where it goes is still left to be seen. By design. There is one thing I just can’t get past. If Katya (specifically) and Mark are highly skilled agents who have only been their alter egos for the last couple decades, what’s the rush? A spy would know better than to try to speed things up. Katya is insistent on getting out as soon as possible. With that comes danger to Alex, Sarah and even those in the family in the know. You keep doing what is asked until they lower their guard. Minimal risk. Instead, Katya’s determination to get out as soon as possible is inviting risk.

New plan. They can’t copy the hard drive now. Instead, Natalie needs to get Sarah, and meet them at the Federal building 6 blocks away. Katya and Mark will utilize other means underneath the buildings. They won’t have to surface until they are in front of the FBI building. One catch, Sarah is out on the street, Natalie spotted her from her lookout spot. Sarah is ignoring Natalie’s calls.

Katya and Mark simply walked out like they were audience members for the Mayor’s speech. They get out and get close to where they were supposed to meet Natalie and Sarah. While they wait they open the laptop to see what is so valuable. Once they find what’s so valuable, the computer prompts them to enter the ‘second-tier password’, which they don’t have. The laptop just auto deleted itself.

Katya, Mark and Natalie meet in a parking garage. Natalie is blown away with the stupidity of trying to get into the laptop in the first place. Though the hard drive is destroyed, Natalie thinks she can encrypt the hard drive so at the very least, it will appear as if it has not been tampered with. They take the laptop to Victor. His demeanor suggests they know something.

A van pulls up to a very not downtown Philadelphia looking location. Two bodies that are hooded, get tossed from the van. The two bodies are Katya and Mark. Wherever they are, they are joined by a number of SVR higher-ups. Arkady being one of them. He’s been suspecting Katya of playing both sides since the beginning. She talks her way out of being killed on the spot. But only for now. Moscow will work on breaking the encryption, when they do things should get dramatically worse.

Alex sits pondering something as the Director arrives. The same director that was clear that this job had to work, and it didn’t. The Director proceeds to rip everyone involved up and down. Outside on the roof of the building Luttrell tells Alex that he doesn’t think Alex was wrong. Hunch or experience, but Luttrell just gave Alex a vote of confidence for the first time. Once back at his hotel room, Alex thinks to check something. There was a door that should have tripped an alarm, which it didn’t. Or at least not when the FBI went through it. It did sound momentarily when Mark went through it though.

Natalie meets with a former ‘flame’ who clearly was not the one doing the breaking up. He tries to parlay decrypting the video into something more and Natalie isn’t having it. Regardless, he’s on board. For now.

Sarah just got pinched for being in a group of kids smoking a joint. That might complicate things further.

Alex and Prado head back to City Hall to pursue Alex’s theory. Once inside, Alex finds the fuse box and discovers that the red wire has been cut. Then they follow-up to the crawl space he couldn’t check before. Two sets of footprints found in otherwise years of unmolested dust build up. Then they found their entry point, the old tunnel. They follow the tunnel out into the area of the church across the street where they entered.

Alex: Whoever planned this operation was very good, they were working on short notice.
Prado: How do you possibly know that?
Alex: Because they were probably filmed with that camera.

At home, Mark and Katya are laying into Sarah for her skipping school. Then she fires back with the double standard found in this house. Claiming that she can read between the lines, even if Alex can’t.

Alex and Prado can’t ask to access the Masonic Temple’s video footage because the entire operation is off the books. So Prado’s strategy is to build up a case using other evidence and then come back for the video footage later. Then Alex notices the public buses have exterior cameras.

Natalie attempts to break up with Victor but is unsuccessful. She couldn’t bring herself to do it. As she leaves, the ex-boyfriend who was to decrypt the video file emerges. He was able to do it. The important part is that the file describes a blast radius half a mile wide. That and account numbers. Natalie briefs her parents on what was found. Which doesn’t seem like enough for immunity. At the same time, Alex and Prado are going through bus footage.

Natalie meets with Victor again. This time a much shorter visit. She drops a bag and says she has to distance herself from him. He verbally resists, but she’s already out the door. Once outside, she gets very emotional.

Now Alex, Prado and Luttrell are all looking through bus video footage. They saw a man go inside, but not exit yet. Then Alex sees someone outside of one of the buses. Its Sarah, clear as day. He notices that its Sarah. Prado notices that Alex noticed something. He quickly advances the video so Prado won’t see Sarah. The horror on his face says it all. He steps outside and texts Sarah. Were you in Philly? Nat told me not to say. He asks her to meet him at ‘their Chinese place’. When Alex arrives, the place is empty. Except for a couple sitting side by side. The couple is Katya and Mark.

Allegiance: The O’Connors Have A Way Out, But Alex Gets In The Way

Courtesy of NBC
Courtesy of NBC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

Last week Alex and Prado were extremely close to getting their hands on the means to access the SVR files. The very moment before a sniper took a shot that would inevitable end Alex’s life, Katya shot the sniper instead. Alex was able to get some of the password to access the files but Vaso’s light faded first.

Finding Mikhail’s laptop is paramount. Alex will work through his issues from plugging a man’s chest with his finger as he died, but in the meantime we find him in a tile store. He gets one of each sample in the store. Then sniffs them. Everyone looks on curious to know why the quirky analyst is sniffing stone samples. They go back to Mikhail’s apartment. Alex sniffs one of this old jackets.

Prado: Ok. You gonna tell me why we came all the way over here?
Alex (under his breath): Philadelphia City Hall.
Prado: What?
Alex: The egg. The laptop with the SVR files, Mikhail hid it in Philadelphia City Hall.

Alex begins to describe just exactly how he was able to discern that the laptop was hidden in Philadelphia City Hall. Then the Director of the FBI decides the best course of action is to get a warrant for that location. Alex interjects and lays out a very impressive plane to remove the files and replace it with a laptop that holds low-end SVR files as to bring relief to the SVR. They’ll assume the breach wasn’t what they were led to believe it was. They won’t change their behavior at all and US government will have the ball. So to speak. The FBI Director stone walls the idea suggesting it would be too difficult.

Brock (speaking to Alex): You’re crazy.
Luttrell: Two days ago you were lecturing us that there was no time to put surveillance on Mikhail’s apartment with the specter of an SVR attack looming over us. And today, suddenly, the government doesn’t work weekends Bill…? That laptop auto-deletes in 36 hours. And every hour from now until then is another hour the Russians could to beat us to it.

The receiver in the shirt button Alex is wearing transmits all of that to Arkady. They need to get a team in there to secure the laptop before the Americans do. There simply is no time to get a new team read for something like that. Arkady’s solution? Use the O’Connors.

They are angered by yet another mission that they are not supposed to be required to do. As long as Alex is in play there will likely be no end in sight for Katya and Mark. Unless… Mark notices an old Mason underground tunnel from a church to city hall. By accessing the tunnel they can come from underneath, then move from court room to court room never stepping foot into a hallway that will certainly have guards and cameras. They make their way to the vault, boost the laptop and depart. It’s a brilliant plan, but riddled with risk.

Natalie takes Sarah out of school as a cover to travel to Philly and scout the Masonic Temple and specifically the entry point to the tunnel. Meanwhile, Luttrell gave Alex some instructions on how to ‘cultivate a relationship’ with Prado. When Prado asks what’s going on as they sit at a lovely rooftop restaurant overlooking the White House and Washington Monument, he tells her. Word for word what Luttrell suggested.

Natalie, playing up the ‘sisters on vaca’ bit, gets a text from Katya to meet her downstairs immediately. Victor is in the room along with Mark and Katya. The government is moving faster than the SVR had hoped. They can no longer wait until the next night. They have to go as soon as possible, which as it turns out is 6am the morning of the city’s anniversary. The Mayor will be giving a speech 40 feet from the target. But again, if Alex gets to the laptop before they do its game over.

Katya and Natalie head to the roof to ‘have a cigarette’ and Katya lays into Natalie about the sense she has that Natalie is with Victor, romantically. Once that unnecessary and painfully awkward moment is over, Katya transitions into what’s next. They plan to double cross Victor tomorrow, but they will need Natalie on board. The plan involves making a duplicate of the laptop drive in transit remotely. Getting the laptop into the hands of the SVR. Then, trading their copied drive to the FBI for immunity. The only way to get out. Even if it means the death of Victor.

They know Sarah is nearby. That complicates everything. Katya picks the lock of the Masonic Temple without tripping an alarm. Natalie navigates them through turn by turn. A naked arch reveals a secret door that leads them to the underground tunnel. They run into a snag when the passage is locked by something Katya can’t pick. Just as they get through, Victor gives word that the FBI has clearance to execute Alex’s plan. They left 30 minutes ago, but not by car. They will arrive eminently.

The O’Connor’s get into the vault, but there are no electrical outlets. The tool used to break open the safe requires electricity. Mark goes to open an access door and it trips an alarm. A guard is tipped to the alarm and he advances towards Katya’s location. Looks through the crack between doors and leaves. Mark gets the device working and they wait for it to pop the door open. Meanwhile the FBI team is already following a similar path to that of the O’Connor’s, through courtrooms.

THe O’Connors get to the laptop first, but as they walk away Katya can hear the sound of someone picking the outer lock. The Feds are busy trying to open the empty safe while the O’Connors make their escape. When the safe door pops for the second time and there is no laptop, Alex moves to the next idea. The SVR must have gotten there first and very well might be in the building still. Alex moves through the access door and shines a flashlight upwards. The light is mere feet from where Katya and Mark are standing.

I wish there was more, but that’s where NBC chose to end this episode.

Allegiance: Just How Deep Does The Rabbit Hole Go?

Courtesy of NBC
Courtesy of NBC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

The pilot episode left us with Alex’ s ultimatum. Tell me the truth or I’m turning you in. As of last week, there was no real indication of which way the O’Connors would play it. What happened was rather unimpressive, intentionally. Its actually a pretty impressive scene. Katya struggles on the spot to adequately sell her story. Alex on the other hand is unrelenting. Intense even. His gaze never alters and despite her best efforts, he keeps hitting her with holes in her story. Meanwhile Victor and Natalie race towards the house listening to the tapped audio hoping she can pull off a miracle.

In that perfect moment where push becomes shove, Katya pulls a 180 and Mark just follows her lead. I was having an affair. Mark jumps right in as if this is the first he’s heard of this. It is a perfect redirect as it suffices every question Alex pointed out. It’s not the truth but it is completely plausible. With the immediate threat now neutralized, the bigger benefit is that this buys them time and cover. Alex demanded the truth. It’s now Alex’s fault that Mark has this information. So the next few times, he thinks he’s got it figured out, he may second guess himself.

Luttrell catches up to Alex and informs him that his work on the furnace execution has his superiors considering the credible threat. In the secured joint CIA-FBI briefing, it is clear that there is no love lost between these two agencies. The FBI wants to charge in as if this ‘attack on US soil’ will happen today. Every day. Until they stop it. The CIA would rather be more careful and makes sure they can stop it without any unnecessary risk.

The FBI wants to check Mikhail’s apartment, which naturally the Russians have already scrubbed. In the apartment, Alex notices a suspicious cab across the street. He goes to follow-up on his hunch. Alex jumps in the cab and asks the man directly about Mikhail in Russian. The cabbie bolts before they could corner him. Alex pursues on foot. After a long chase, they’ve lost him.

After the failed chase, Luttrell suggests that Alex go back to the hotel and clean up. Alex only packed for three days. He’s out of clean shirts. From my loose understanding of Aspergers, the affliction that makes Alex the way he is. He reached out to Natalie to help him buy shirts. Something he claims to not be good at. There, Natalie tries to discover what Alex’s issue with Mom is, even though she already knows. He lets it out eventually and she shrugs it off as if everyone knew except him.

Victor walks up on Katya in what looks like an antique shop. Snuck up on Katya or rendezvous point, I’m not exactly sure. Victor explains the problem with recording Alex’s conversations in his office. Katya shrugs it off like it isn’t her problem. Then he makes it her problem. He places a bag by her feet that has exact duplicates of the shirts Alex just bought. Each shirt has a transmitter hidden in one of each of the shirt buttons.

Katya tries to explain the newest problem they have but Mark looks like his mind is elsewhere. He described a time when Alex was to memorize the Gettysburg Address for an Elementary school assignment. He memorized every Lincoln speech just in case. Yet Mark and Katya have trouble recalling certain events. Mark brings up the example she gave Alex about the hospital. Then Mark adds questions of this own. The affair response came off so quickly that he actually began to wonder if an affair had occurred. She eventually convinced him.

There are times when Alex O’Connor (the character) does step up and from the perspective of an agent conveying information, he can be better than Gregory House, Temperance Brennan and Sherlock Holmes (the Johnny Lee Miller version not the Benedict Cumberbatch version. No one is better than Benedict Cumberbatch) combined. In under two minutes he disproves the FBI’s entire theory based on a number of criteria they didn’t even consider. And it didn’t even take him all night to figure it out.

The man in the cab does work for the SVR but not directly related to the Mikhail situation. Making his presence there highly questionable for both sides. The SVR has a team out trying to bring him in. In the meantime, the guy in the cab calls a flip phone sitting in the center console of the car that Alex and Prado are sitting in. He gives them specific instructions to meet and talk about what he knows about Mikhail.

Victor stands in Arkady’s (Victor’s immediate under boss) office. They can hear everything Alex can. They know the feds are heading to meet with Vasso (guy in the cab). They have to seize Vasso at all costs. Despite how crazy it sounds for SVR agents to engage American agents on their own soil.

Arkady: I don’t think you understand the stakes Victor…
Victor: I do. If it goes wrong. If they end up dead, this is the kind of thing that could restart the cold war.
Arkady: If the Americans get their hands on the files Mikhail stole, it will start an actual war.

The SVR are not the only ones listening in. Katya and Mark are in pursuit. It feels like a trap. The moment Alex and Prado exit the car, there is a gunshot. Half a mile on foot later, there is a face to face meeting. Vasso wasn’t waiting outside the apartment with malicious intent. He and Mikhail were working together. Mikhail didn’t steal the files, Vasso did.

Vasso continues to spill what he knows. He and Mikhail did not sign up for what the files described. Operation Black Dagger. A single effort to bring excessive loss of life to Americans with no concern for the loss of innocent lives. This could, dare I say would start a war. Then Alex asks the question why? The risk is considerable. Why would the Kremlin do that? The answer is not shocking but intriguing. The Kremlin has lost control of the SVR.

While Vasso is the one that stole the files, he left the files on a laptop encoded with a virus. A virus that will delete the files in 48 hours if the correct password is not entered after that amount of time. While that soaks in, Vasso cocks the assault rifle he’s carrying. A fire fight ensues. Vasso is hit and Alex is out of his element. The order from the SVR is to take Vasso out, regardless of collateral damage. Arkady is communicating with a sniper. He demands the sniper take the shot. Problem is, Alex is in the line of sight. When Arkady yells to take the shot, a shot is fired. But this bullet was meant for the sniper and fired by Katya.

Allegiance: The Parental Betrayal Is Just The Beginning

Courtesy of NBC
Courtesy of NBC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

Allegiance is a show that NJATVS circled on the calendar almost seven months ago. Then all we knew was that it sounded a lot like The Americans on NBC. A family of spies. NBC was rather tight-lipped in the early going. Then we discovered that there was a wrinkle. A family of Russian spies living in the United States, had a son. That son grew up to be a very real CIA agent. How long could the family keep their true identity a secret from their own son. On a personal note, I am not blown away with the cast on paper. That said, I will go into this with a clear and open mind, keeping expectations low. With shows of this nature, the natural tendency is to want to compare it The Blacklist, 24, Homeland, or even Legend. A tall order for a show no one has seen to this point. All indications are that Allegiance looks like a significant player in the network drama landscape. So, on to the recap.

The pilot episode starts exactly the way a show like this should. Drops you right in the middle of the action without any explanation. Our lead character (unknowing son) is escorted to the 7th floor of the Russian division after only 4 months in. The head of the department wants an analyst in the room. An analyst that the mark in question would not recognize (based on his whopping 4 months of service). A Russian SVR operative approached a CIA station chief hoping to defect. Putting Alex (O’Connor) in the room with her may create an advantage.

Alex arrives back home (Brooklyn, NY) unexpectedly due to his new role. His mother (Hope Davis) is predictably excited. There seems to be a slight disconnect between mother and son. While Alex looks for a tie to poach from his father, he stops abruptly before tying it. His mother says, “ok, just work your steps”. There is something as of yet not revealed about Alex.

Elsewhere, Dad is out getting groceries. By the time he returns, he’s spotted two different vehicles that are familiar. One even had the engine running with no one in it. With the Russian embassy listening in, Mark (Dad) mentions something about being picky about groceries and hands her the receipt which reads, “house under surveillance”. They continue small talk as to not throw off who is listening. The doorbell rings. Katya (Mom) goes to see who it is. A Russian man greets her in Russian. Fear overwhelms her and she closes the door in his face.

There is clearly no love lost between this Victor and the O’Connors. Victor brings them their first ‘task’ in six years. It is clear that Mark did something significant in order to prevent these types of meetings, which doesn’t seem to matter to the new management. The task is recruiting Alex to spy for the SVR and betray the CIA and United States at large. The case that Alex has been flown to NY to assist with could be the beginning of the end for the SVR. There are also files in the wind. Files that could I.D. every SVR operative in the US. Including the O’Connors. None of which seem to matter as Katya believes Alex’s moral compass is so steadfast that he would turn them in upon discovery of their SVR affiliation.

Alex introduces himself as “Bill Adams”. One of many details they are leaking out one piece at a time. He meets with the Station Chief who is not thrilled that this is Alex/Bill’s first operation. The Station Chief begins to tell him the report is on a computer, then Alex/Bill interrupts him to say he’s already read it. All 406 pages. There is something about Alex. A genius mind or a meticulous method that speaks to something more than just being smart.

The O’Connors take their SUV in to get it washed. Victor and others are listening in. What they hear is a discussion between spouses about how to break the news to Alex. What they are really listening to is a recording of those two having said discussion. Katya isn’t even in the vehicle. Katya instead is accessing a storage unit. Under a couple of couch cushions is a lot of cash, passports, and guns. Mark pays for the car wash and four burner phones, then sends a bogus text that has to be a code.

The text was sent to a woman of Alex’s age. They have mentioned an older sister who is in the loop and an operative herself. She excuses herself from her ‘date’ (or whatever it was supposed to be).

Alex and Luttrell (Station Chief) make their way through the streets, into a train station and down the tracks. The defector follows a similar path starting from a train car. Underground behind subway lines is a formidable and stable setup. Luttrell and agent Julie Marcus greet this asset in a dark room. She begins to tell the story of what prompted her to want to defect, while Alex views her mannerisms from across the glass.

Natalie, Alex’s sister was the recipient of the text. She and her mother talk about the plan. The plan is to run. Natalie is not so eager. She has a life there. Then it turns into a blame game about how her mother turned her into a spy when she was young. To which Mom replies with a similar tale of woe. Katya then attempts to get some prescriptions filled at a local pharmacy.

The interview (not to be confused with an interrogation) was pretty straight forward. Luttrell doesn’t believe she’s telling the truth or that any of her information was even intel they didn’t already have. Then Alex speaks up. If he can talk directly to her, he can find out definitively whether this is legit or a ‘dangle’. He goes in and asks a series of multiple choice questions to more clearly identify where she was even though she thought she could not identify it. Alex was able to discern enough info from those answers to at least narrow the search to something more manageable.

Victor walks up on Katya in the pharmacy talking about the time of year and how nice it would be to escape to somewhere tropical. The SVR has cancelled their plane tickets and knew exactly what they were trying to do. Katya meets Mark on a rooftop patio. The SVR thinks they won’t fight back because they have nothing to lose. Then Katya proclaims, “They can’t have another one of our children” and storms off. Mark catches up to her.

Mark: What are you doing?
Katya: The only way I have left to protect my home is to burn theirs down. I’m going to the FBI.

Alex goes through the video and finds something hidden in the story. Using his familiarity with native Russian as opposed to translated Russian finds a line of thinking that utilizes the term Easter Egg but outside the context of religion. In terms of internet lingo, an Easter Egg is a piece of information leaked that suggests something big. The Comic Book genre of movies does this all the time. Alex believes there is something massive on the horizon.

Mark chases after Katya. He tries to call her but she won’t answer. He quickly calls Natalie and tells her that her mother is about to turn herself in, so call her. That doesn’t work either. Miles later she still isn’t even considering changing her mind. Mark pulls up next to her and asks her to pull over. When she doesn’t he races ahead and slides into her lane forcing her to ‘t-bone’ into him. Literally on the steps of the FBI building, Mark talks her off the ledge. They spy on Alex. This way they can make anything that points to them disappear before it gets to him.
Mark’s plan is not completely rejected by Victor. For now.

Alex arrives at the house. Let the fun begin. Katya takes his coat then walks into another room to replace his phone battery with another, I assume to ‘ghost’ the phone. Track it at minimum. Mark approaches Alex’s car and puts a tracker in the wheel well. Back inside, they have your typical family small talk. But the tension between Katya, Mark and Natalie is noticeable.

Victor arrives in an old warehouse and is met by what must be a superior. A superior who is not pleased that Katya almost walked into the FBI and they weren’t contacted immediately. Victor sheds some light on Alex and why recruiting him could be a volatile situation. He didn’t speak until he was 8. And when he did it was in complete sentences with perfect pronunciation. By age 9 he couldn’t read. And then just like that he could. Point being, Alex’s response to anything they throw at him would be completely and utterly unpredictable. Then Victor lays out the other plan.

NEW WRINKLE! Natalie and Victor are an ‘item’. To what extent is still as of yet not clear. She does slap him pretty hard a couple of times for at the very least going around her to get to Alex.

They have found a steam plant that fits the description Alex was able to formulate. In the plant, FBI agents are relaying the information they have. Alex interjects and completely goes all Sherlock on the FBI agents poking holes in their conclusions, deducing from a number of small details a different conclusion. That new conclusion gives them a clue to check. A piece of stainless steel which they later find out was part of a knee surgery.

They take Alex down into a ‘cube’ or big metal box that will prevent any electronic signals from penetrating. If you’ve been watching The Blacklist, this idea should be familiar. This cuts off Mark and Katya’s ability to hear what is being said. Inside, they have a match using the surgical metal. The image is not only familiar to me, but painfully familiar to Alex. The man who was burned alive for stealing Russian secrets is the same man we saw earlier in a picture at the O’Connor’s home.

Alex arrives at his parent’s home. He is determined and devoid of emotion. He walks over to the piano and pulls a framed photo off the piano. Mentions how they once mistakenly referred to their family friend as Mikael instead of Nikolai. He drops the framed photo and CIA documents on the table in front of them.

Alex: I’ll give you two choices. You tell me everything. From the beginning. Or, I can turn you in.

Reaction: As open minded as a person can be, it is difficult to view a show like this without some sort of expectation. The problem is that shows like this one inherently have unrealistic expectations. This pilot episode and overall concept completely destroyed the expectation. Is it The Blacklist? Probably not, but the jury’s still out on that. As pilot episodes go this was almost exceptional. The pace was passively relentless. They gave us only as much information as was necessary to keep moving forward. They hinted to a great many things that should serve as ‘easter eggs’ for future developments. If you missed this episode, I recommend you find it through or the NBC app and set your DVR. This one feels every inch the show it was billed to be.