Episode Recaps

Photo Courtesy NBC

WARNING: SPOILER ALERT:

How does a series barely get renewed for a sixth campaign, not only find its footing and turn around a lackluster season, but seemingly recapture its mojo? The answer for the veteran NBC series “The Blacklist,” which just a few weeks ago seemed to be limping through its final season, decided to return to its roots. The choice to replace the long defunct “Cabal,” with an insidious force that’s plotting against America, serves two purposes.

First and foremost it gives the Task Force, a new and exciting mission, opening up a myriad of story lines, that could extend the show even past it’s recently announced seventh season. Secondly it distracts the fans from the 400-pound gorilla in the room, that apparently the show-runners have no desire to reveal yet, the true identity of the man we know as Raymond Reddington.

Instead of having a shadow government that orchestrated events around the globe behind closed doors, the POTUS in the “Blacklist,” universe is a key player in a plot against the nation he governs. Assisting President Diaz in his plot, is Anna McMahon, a Justice department official, possessing an acidic tongue and a heart made of granite. The kind of woman that makes Laurel Hitchin look like a contender for Miss Congeniality. Along for the ride is a thuggish Presidential aide identified as Mr. Sandquist, a character this viewer’s dubbed Mr. Eyebrows.

I think that most longtime viewers will agree that the show was at its best during the first three seasons, when the Task-Force had a clearly defined opponent. Although “The Cabal” wasn’t mentioned in every episode, there was always an undercurrent throughout the proceedings. The writers were wise enough to give the audience a slow reveal of the organization and its inner-workings. We came to realize that “The Cabal” not only threatened “Our Raymond,” but the entire Task-Force, as well as the fate of the planet.

The combination of releasing “The Fulcrum,” to investigative journalists around the globe, plus the unceremonious dumping of Peter Kotsiopoulos into a European family’s living room at 20,000 feet, effectively ended “The Cabal’s” reign of power. The last member of the organization still ensconced in the government that we are aware of, was Laurel Hitchin, who died accidentally in a tussle with Donald Ressler.

Since the demise of their main opponent, the series veered towards the melodramatic. The unexpected pregnancy of series co-star Megan Boone, was a curveball that the writers hadn’t planned for, and seemed to throw them off their game for quite a while. To cover Boone’s maternity leave, the writers concocted a story-arc faking Elizabeth Keen’s death, which most fans realized was just a plot device. That feeling was reinforced when Boone’s name still appeared in the opening credits.

For the next two seasons, the writers decided to turn the Task-Force against each other, starting with the characters of Reddington and Keen. Season four threw in a new element with the introduction of Alexander Kirk, the man who raised young Masha Rostova as his own. The writers also made what I consider an ill-conceived move, when they had Raymond attempt to kill Kate Kaplan. That story consumed the latter half of the season, and in the process turned a well loved character into a monster.

Because NBC failed to renew the show’s spinoff series “Blacklist: Redemption,” the writers found themselves with a character, Tom Keen, that they didn’t know what to do with. So in another terrible decision they decided to kill him off, and turn Elizabeth Keen, into “DIRTY LIZZIE: VIGILANTE.”

Elizabeth Scott was never an angel, raised by a grifter and getting into petty larceny in her teens. However whether it was due to the head trauma she received, or the sheer pain and anger she felt about Tom’s murder, Keen threw away her moral compass in season five, utilizing the “Stewmaker’s” methods to dispose of Bobby Navarro’s body. She also allowed police psychiatrist Sharon Fulton, to not only walk away without getting charged, but for her to continue her murderous spree. Keen rationalizes this behavior by stating she is her father’s daughter.

After wringing dust from the sponge of the story-arc concerning the identity of the bones buried at Tansi Farms, viewers are informed what many had figured out a year earlier. The remains belonged to the real Raymond Reddington, and “Our Raymond,” is indeed an imposter that assumed his identity. The season ends with Keen explaining all of it to Tom’s ghost, and an unlikely alliance with Lillian Roth/Jennifer Reddington.

Due to a series of unfortunate circumstances, we haven’t published a recap since The Pawnbrokers aired. With that in mind, we’re going to eschew our regular format, and talk about season six as a whole. The two-part story-arc revolving around Bastien Moreau, tied up lots of loose ends, as well as giving viewers a brief glimpse into the past of “Our Raymond.” (We’ll get back to that later.)

Show-runner Jon Bokenkamp, did have a method to his madness after all throughout this convoluted season, as Raymond revealed in the show’s latest outing. There was a direct line starting with The Corsican, General Shiro, The Crypto-Banker, and The Man from Greece. When the pieces came together in his head and why he attempted his botched escape, realizing he’d be sacrificing his immunity agreement, has yet to be explained.

Despite reenergizing, reinvigorating, and repurposing, the series with the latest story-arc, season six has hit more than it’s share of potholes along the journey. Let’s spend the next few minutes exploring some of the off-key notes, hanging chads, and directions this series could take over the remaining episodes of this season, and setting the table for a seventh campaign, that many thought would never exist.

Good Riddance Lillian Roth/Jennifer Reddington

Perhaps the most annoying addition to an existing series, since “LOST,” fans had to suffer through Nikki and Paulo, and “Star Wars,” fans nearly revolted at the sight of Jar-Jar Binks. This viewer’s still not quite sure what to make of the character. If she’s indeed Jennifer Reddington, why did she have such zeal to find out the identity of a man who has nothing to do with her life? She found out that four-year-old Masha Rostova killed their father in the season six premiere. By all rights they should have bid adieu to the character right there.

Instead she goes behind Keen’s back and pays a homeless woman to call the police and put the dime on “Our Raymond.” Rather than feeling betrayed by the woman professing to be her half-sister, she takes responsibility for turning Reddington in. Why was Elizabeth so concerned if Raymond heard the voice on the tape?

She lost her backbone in a heartbeat, when she found herself staring down the barrel of a gun. After being so excited about being a “Junior G-Man,” and complaining she didn’t want to go back to a minimum wage gig, she sure changed her mind quickly. Leaving Keen and Raymond with the ramifications of her actions, while she hightailed it to Long Island. Let’s hope that’s the last appearance of this character. By the way, I still don’t believe Naomi’s dead.

Can We Finally Put An End To The REDARINA Theory?

We engage in conjecture constantly on these pages. Some times the theories presented here turn out to be correct, other times the theories have been way off base. (Raymond will never shoot Kate, now that he’s had a chance to cool down.) The theories and conjecture presented on these pages, is no more or less valid, than any other opinions about this series.

So why is this viewer so certain that “Our Raymond’s,” not Katarina Rostova after having undergone a sex-change conversion? TWO WORDS: Nik Korpal. I don’t care how skilled a plastic surgeon could possibly be, a skilled surgeon removing bullets from Reddington’s body and saving his life, would have known he was dealing with a transgender patient.

Even if we are willing to buy into the conceit that Korpal hid the information from Lizzie (which I find incredibly tough to believe,) there’s no way he would have kept it from Tom when they attempted to identify the bones. I rest my case.

Did Raymond Reveal The Truth In His Final Meal?

Regular readers of these pages are well aware that this viewer believes “Our Raymond’s,” the son of Dominic “Oleander” Wilkinson, and the brother of Katarina Rostova. We first published that theory on December 27, 2017, and I believe that Raymond’s conversation during his last meal confirms those suspicions.

From the moment we meet Dom in the show’s third season, the dynamic between the two characters has been at odds with their supposed relationship. Why would a man even bother to talk with a guy that impregnated his daughter, destroying her marriage, and possibly leading to her death, never mind letting him temporarily live in his house? Why would Raymond Reddington, a man who sneers at world leaders, obey an old man who forbade him to spit out a mouthful of buttermilk. “My father fancied himself a disciplinarian.”

Ponder this, Raymond’s last meal consisted of herring and cabbage soup, a meal his mother made for him as a boy. That’s the food of Eastern Europeans, Russians, Romanians, and Polish natives. He related a story of a father who never understood him for being different and excommunicated him from their family. (Dominic in their first meeting, “You destroyed my family.”)

What if Oleander and his wife had two children, a daughter who willingly followed her father’s instructions, and a son who felt he wasn’t suited to become a KGB agent? So the son goes off on his own way, lives the life of an American, gets a normal job, marries and raises a family. Including a blonde-haired daughter, who loved blowing bubbles, and was an aspiring ballerina?

Meanwhile his sister Katarina’s assigned to seduce an American Naval officer named Raymond Reddington. Reddington’s a huge thorn in the Soviet Union’s side, and they task her with seducing him and milking him for American military secrets. Unfortunately there’s a fly in the Vaseline, Rostova falls for the dashing American, and in fact bears his child, a daughter named Masha.

Unhappy with the developments, one of three possible organizations (CIA, KGB, The Cabal,) decide to send Katarina a message of their disapproval, and put a hit on her most vulnerable relative. Her brother arrives home on Christmas Eve 1987, after walking miles in the snow, to find the slaughtered bodies of his family. (This would be the house he purchased and subsequently blew up in season one.)

Some time during this period Rostova becomes an agent of “The Cabal,” as we found out when we heard that chilling conversation between Katarina and Alan Fitch. Although Fitch favors killing the Naval Officer immediately, Rostova says that Red knows about “The Cabal,” and they must discredit his name with the American public before killing him.

Apparently she had yet to accomplish that when Masha shot and killed her father. Desperate to see the plan through, she turned to her devoted brother, who had nothing left in the world to lose. He took on the face and identity of Raymond Reddington, and then used that notoriety to become the “Concierge Of Crime.” However even the act of saving the life of his granddaughter, wasn’t enough to win Dominic’s approval. They did make a pact to leave Masha with Sam and for them both to stay out of the child’s life.

“Our Raymond,” F-RED, or Doppel-Raymond, became a member of “The Cabal,” and by all accounts had a mutually beneficial relationship with the organization, until September, 2013. He had tried monitoring Elizabeth through a paid mercenary, but that kind of fell apart when the mercenary married her. So he broke his commitment to the pact and reinserted himself back into her life.

It was loyalty to his sister and fear of “The Cabal,” that brought Reddington back into Elizabeth’s life. He likely originally planned that after recovering “The Fulcrum,” and exposing “The Cabal,” for he and Dembe to fade back into the shadows. However he hadn’t counted on the paternal love that he’d develop for his niece, and thus stuck around.

Samar And Aram

You don’t have to be a “shipper,” to root for this couple. The show’s resident nerd Aram Mojtabai, falls hard for the beautiful former Mossad agent, who joins the team in the second season. After appearing to be oblivious to his feelings for what seemed like forever, she realized she was in love with Aram, when a former flame reentered her life. Unfortunately Mojtabai had gotten involved with a woman who wasn’t as wonderful as she first seemed.

Just when it looked like the couple would have their happy ending, Samar realizes she’s suffering from Aphasia, as a result of being deprived of oxygen for six minutes. She gives Harold Cooper her resignation in the closing moments of the episode, although we all know she’ll play a critical part before this season concludes.

Anna McMahon And Katarina Rostova

Much has been made about the resemblance between Jennifer Ferrin, who portrays Anna McMahon, and Lotte Verbeek, who has played Katarina Rostova. There’s been lots of fan speculation on Social Media that McMahon’s actually Rostova. Acknowledging that this is the world of television, no woman in her late fifties/early sixties, could look like Anna McMahon, no matter how skilled the surgeon. However there still might be a connection.

What if Rostova never dove into the Atlantic at Cape May, taking her own life? Working for “The Cabal,” she certainly could have gotten protection from the KGB, and the CIA, and gone onto a new life with a new identity. Rostova would have certainly be young and attractive enough to get re-married and have a new family a few years later. Could Anna McMahon, be Liz Keen’s half-sister?

We don’t know whom at this point is posing the threat against the United States described in the dossier. Could some members of “The Cabal’s” board, have survived the fallout from the release of “The Fulcrum,” and are now rising from the ashes? Could the person leading this new threat be indeed Katarina Rostova?

Donald Ressler

Just because Keen’s okay with “Our Raymond’s” identity remaining unknown, it doesn’t mean that Donald Ressler is. The look in Ressler’s eyes when Lizzie said she hoped he was okay with her decision spoke volumes. Let’s remember that “The Boy-Scout,” came close to capturing Raymond several times before he turned himself to become Lizzie’s “Guardian Angel.” If Raymond nor Dom, divulge his true identity first, look for Ressler to come up with the answer.

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

Photo by: Virginia Sherwood/NBC

WARNING: SPOILER ALERT

This gives the writers the chance to indulge their “Raymond In Prison Fantasy,” while ensuring that the story-arc should wrap up around episode five or six. Episode four will center around Raymond exerting his influence on the facility in record time. Perhaps Reddington can talk his new friend John Waters, into directing a musical starring the inmates?

Regular readers of these pages have seen many theories discussed over the last five years. Some of them have panned out, while others were completely off base. (Raymond, will never kill Kaplan!) The opening paragraph of this piece’s an excerpt from our previous recap. There wasn’t a whole lot of thought put into that paragraph. It was a guess a casual viewer of the NBC series “The Blacklist,” could have made.

This viewer could enjoy James Spader, inhabiting the character of Raymond Reddington, for the next 20-years. In fact if Spader, just sat in a chair in a library sharing Raymond’s tales for an hour a week, this viewer would be pleased. Jon Bokenkamp, if you want to utilize that format and call it “Tales From The Blacklist,” please feel free. One thing for certain, your costs will go down, and you’ll likely retain most of your viewership.

While finding the “Raymond In Prison-Land,” story-arc entertaining, it was alas totally predictable. Reddington picks up a new member for his “Island Of Misfit Toys,” in Vontae Jones, and shows his fellow inmates that Alfonse Baldomero’s, nothing but a poser. He gains the inmates’ respect when Alfonse gets gutted by one of Annunzio Ross’ goons, his first night back on the street. In the process Vontae gets some cred, and Raymond receives a record-player and some great old discs, to entertain him during the rest of his stay in the facility.

Capturing our Blacklist Members Of The Week, the Uhlmans, might have uncovered a huge score for the Bureau, but they didn’t make for memorable characters. Dorothy Lyman’s performance as Delaine Uhlman, likely shocked viewers who last saw her in the role of Nadine in “Mama’s Family.”

The Uhlmans own a mom and pop pawn-shop, with a clientele that’s just as likely to bring in a block of C-4 explosives, or a prototype from an NSA contractor, as bring in a class ring. Because of their ask no questions policy, their reputation’s well known by the denizens of the underworld. Their backstory, as Delaine, recounted to Samar Navabi, was far more interesting than the story we watched unfold.

The only part of that story-line that intrigued this viewer, centered around the reoccurring incidents that have plagued Navabi, since she returned to active duty. In the previous episode we saw her quite concerned over the fact she couldn’t recall the word sabotage. This go-round, in attempting to call 911, after Delaine got shot, she dialed 119, twice.

We saw Samar, near the end of the evening on her laptop, researching a medical condition known as Aphasia. According to the website Aphasia.org/, “Aphasia is an acquired communication disorder that impairs a person’s ability to process language, but does not affect intelligence. Aphasia impairs the ability to speak and understand others.”

The condition’s usually the result of a stroke, or a severe blow to the head, although it makes sense that Navabi, being deprived of oxygen, might have brought on the condition. If Samar’s suffering from the condition, she and Aram, should have a wonderful life together, but her career in law enforcement’s likely over.

Many long-time fans of the series had expectations going into season six, that this would be the final year for our beloved show. Although I’ve yet to check how its currently doing in the ratings, the absence of “The Blacklist,” from NBC.com, is quite telling. Not only has the website stopped promoting the show on its landing page, they haven’t posted photographs since S6E2. Six seasons, is an impressive run in this era of television, and the series has floundered in the ratings for a myriad of reasons.

While this viewer would be saddened by it’s departure, my greater fear is for the series’ reputation to be tarnished, by a lackluster and convoluted final season. Unfortunately the show-runners and writers have painted themselves into a rather uncomfortable corner. Now they need to find a way to extract themselves from it. Here are a few ways they might consider to get the show back on track.

Get Rid Of The Character Known As Jennifer Reddington

Why is this character still in the series? Last season introducing the character known as Jennifer Reddington, made sense, as she provided the connection between Ian Garvey and Raymond. However, why is she still hanging around, and why is she so eager to learn the identity of a man she’s got no connection to?

If the woman formerly known as Lillian Roth’s truly Jennifer Reddington, what purpose would she have in finding out who the Concierge of Crime, truly is? She supposedly spent her entire lifetime hiding from her biological father. This man’s never attempted to contact her, or encroach on her life in any way. What’s she got against him?

If Lillian Roth’s not Jennifer Reddington, was she playing Garvey all that time? Because Garvey, likely looked at protecting Lillian, as one of the few redeeming acts of his life. We’ve never been told exactly when Jennifer enlisted Garvey’s help, but this viewer’s assumed she was either a child or a teen. It’s difficult to believe that a girl of that age could come up with such a byzantine plot on her own. If she’s not Jennifer Reddington, could she be a plant by some organization that has an agenda with Raymond?

If she is Jennifer Reddington, then why is she so eager to go on this mission? Any misconceptions she might have had that this man killed her father and took his place, got cleared up in the season premiere, when Liz told her she killed their father when she was a four-year-old. Let’s resolve this plot as quickly as possible.

Just Ask Him Lizzie

Ever get the feeling Elizabeth Keen’s more upset with herself than with Raymond? Poor little princess wanted so badly to have a family, that she completely disregarded the fact that she remembers killing her father as a toddler. She immediately allowed her emotions to override her logic, and her training as an FBI Agent. If Raymond Reddington’s my father, and I shot my father, that means Reddington’s dead, and this guy’s an imposter.

“Our Raymond,” had made it clear since the first season that Lizzie’s father’s dead, but she never truly accepted it. First she thought Constantin Rostov, was her father. When Harold told her that the DNA from the real Reddington’s clothes matched her DNA, she reacted like a teenager, and didn’t question it for a moment. That lapse in judgement lead to all the pain and losses she suffered in season five.

If she doesn’t tell Tom that Raymond’s her father, he immediately tells her about the valise that Kaplan left for him. The valise’s inspected by the Task-Force, so Tom, Nik, and Ian Garvey’s other three victims are still alive. The Task-Force’s discovery that the bones belonged to the real Reddington, should have reinforced what Lizzie had already figured out. The man she’s been working with is not the original Raymond Reddington. So what’s his interest in her, why did he seek her out? Why did he take on the identity of her dead father?

Of course Raymond, realizes that Lizzie knows the truth. After her constant demands that Raymond share his secret with her, she suddenly drops the subject when he gets the bones back? How could she feasibly believe she’s pulling one over on a man that’s been ten-steps ahead of the entire planet’s law enforcement for decades?

Instead of putting her cards on the table, and confronting Raymond with her knowledge, we’ve been subjected to “The Three Faces Of Eve.” There’s the version that she shows to Raymond, the version she shares with the Task-Force, and the one she reveals only to Jennifer. She’s not convincing Ressler, how could she possibly think she’s fooling Reddington?

It’s time for these games to cease. I have been waiting far too long for Dom, to tell Lizzie he’s her grandfather, and to finally reveal what we’ve all been waiting six seasons to find out. Who is the man we know as Raymond Reddington, and what’s his connection to Elizabeth?

The Story Continues Friday, February 1, at 9:00 pm, on NBC.

Photo Courtesy of NBC.

WARNING: SPOILER ALERT!

Well, we got a Marvin Gerard, mention, can a “Jellybean,” sighting be far off? After starting off season six, with a wildly careening two-part premiere, the veteran NBC series “The Blacklist,” served up a far more palatable episode this week, entitled “The Pharmacist (124).” After seemingly throwing away five years of continuity in the two-part outing, Jon Bokenkamp and company, started putting things back in their proper places in the universe they’ve created.

However the level of writing’s still not as sharp as in even previous seasons. “The Blacklist,” once had the ability to take the viewer down what seemed like a familiar path, only for the viewer to realize that circumstances were not what they appeared to be. Without that ability to surprise, the show’s more reliant than ever before on the characters and the actors who portray them. Thankfully James Spader, and Harry Lennix, were more than up to the task.

The hour mainly concentrated on two story-arcs, the first concerning the preliminary hearing for Reddington, after getting busted for a concealed weapon, by some seemingly hapless New York City patrolman. The other story-line centered around the latest name provided to the Task-Force, as well as a debate about innovation versus regulation.

THE TRIAL OF RAYMOND REDDINGTON

Our universe would be far better off, if our courts were presided by jurists like Judge Roberta Wilkins. A no-nonsense woman, who never the less has the highest regard for the law, and refuses to bend to political will. The prosecutor Michael Sima, representing the Southern District of New York, was portrayed by veteran character actor Ken Leung. Leung first came to my attention as reoccurring characters, in “LOST,” and “Person Of Interest,” and chances are high that you’ve seen his face many times on the small screen over the last dozen-years.

With the Justice Department, refusing to admit that they’ve entered into an immunity agreement with Red, Raymond approaches the bench and informs the judge himself. When the jurist asks for proof of such an agreement, Reddington calls on Harold Cooper to verify the agreement.

Keen, chastises Cooper, for allowing Reddington to use him, telling her boss that Red counted on Harold’s honesty and decency, despite any consequences Cooper suffers from the Bureau. Harold, then states that the immunity agreement with the government exists, and he’s not going to follow orders for political expediency. He ends the conversation with Keen, saying he’s going to tell the truth.

After refusing Reddington’s request for old friend Marvin Gerard, to represent him at the hearing, Red dismisses his court appointed attorney and decides to represent himself. Leave it to the man we’ve come to know as Raymond Reddington, to disprove Abraham Lincoln’s old bromide “He who represents himself has a fool for a client.”

Raymond asked just one question of the Task-Force director; would you do it again? After a second to collect his thoughts Cooper stated, that he’d make the same decisions without hesitation. He spoke of the scores of criminals that Reddington helped bring to justice, many that the government and law enforcement officials were unaware of. He told the court of the hundreds, if not thousands of people saved from harm and even death by their actions.

Harold failed to stay true to his last statement to Keen, when Sima asked him if Reddington had committed any crimes since signing his agreement with the Justice Department. With images of Raymond shooting Diane Fowler, and Sutton Ross’ deaths, being flashed across the screen, Cooper tells the prosecutor, none that he’s aware of.

Harold’s decision to perjure himself hearken back to last year’s episode when he refused to accept Donald Ressler’s resignation letter. Each member of the Task-Force made a deal with the devil, and they’ve all committed acts they wouldn’t have considered doing five years earlier. They all decided long-ago that the mission was important enough to blur and sometimes break lines. They will all have to examine their acts eventually, this was not that day.

Sima’s argument to the court was that the United States Government, shouldn’t be involved in immunity deals with criminals like Reddington. Judge Wilkins, tells the prosecutor that she agrees with his opinion, however the United States government’s derived a bounty of information from the arrangement. She echoes Cooper’s statement to Liz, that the government’s obligated to fulfill its obligations, and tells Red that he’s free to leave.

Sima’s legal aide gives the prosecutor one more bite of the apple, as the SDNY will prosecute Reddington for possessing a gun, violating the terms of the agreement. Raymond informs Judge Wilkins that the weapon was discovered during an illegal search and seizure. Wilkins tells both sides they’ll reconvene in two-weeks, and Raymond’s sent to a maximum security facility for that time period.

This gives the writers the chance to indulge their “Raymond In Prison Fantasy,” while ensuring that the story-arc should wrap up around episode five or six. Episode four will center around Raymond exerting his influence on the facility in record time. Perhaps Reddington can talk his new friend John Waters, into directing a musical starring the inmates?

BLACKLIST MEMBER OF THE WEEK

We’re introduced to bio-hackers Spalding Stark, and his rather creepy partner Dr. Ethan Webb, in the cold open, as they perform clinical trials on a group of severely physically disabled people. The patients suffer from Motor Cortex Degenerative Disease, a condition that leads to the victims becoming prisoners in their own bodies. Stark’s work’s unsanctioned and highly illegal, however he offers his patients a chance to actually live again, instead of just slowly and painfully dying.

Spalding explains to his patients that the procedure’s so risky, that the patients will have to inject themselves with the serum, and asks them to do so simultaneously. Seconds later we hear giggling from one of the elderly women, and we see the faces of the other patients filled with joy, as they realize they now control their bodies again. The victory’s short-lived however, as one by one the victims lapse into seizures and then flat-line. Stark, and Webb, abandon the facility leaving the victims behind.


Raymond sees a news story on the TV that his guards are watching, after the bodies are discovered. He informs Lizzie that he knows the man responsible for the deaths. Red explains to Lizzie that Stark approached him about bankrolling one of his projects a while back, and Reddington felt confident enough in the scientist to provide him the funds. Hearing the reports have caused Reddington to doubt his initial instincts.

Spalding Stark’s looked upon as a sort of demi-god by the techno-geek community, so of course Aram’s well aware of him. He even watched a live stream of Stark injecting himself with malaria, and then coaxing a a malaria infected mosquito to bite him as well. His theory was that the two strains of malaria would cancel each other out. The theory didn’t hold up and Stark’s entire left side of his body and face are now paralyzed.

Ressler, and Samar Navabi, head to the warehouse the bodies were discovered in. They speak to the owner of the building Warren Kirby, who tells them he rented the facility to a third party, and he discovered the bodies when he came to check up on the occupants, then called 911.

He’s been unable to get in touch with his client since. Investigators don’t have much to go on, however they recover one of the high-tech injector guns that dispensed the drugs to the victims. Navabi, and Mojtabai, head to question some of Aram’s friends, while Ressler heads to Crown Life Pharmaceuticals, to try to get a handle on what they’re dealing with.

Ressler talks with one of Crown Life’s executives, and the man boats that his company’s far ahead of the curve dealing with MCDD. He tells Donald that while a cure for the condition’s yet to be discovered, Crown Life’s made tremendous advances in drugs that should help to control the symptoms of the disease.

This viewer’s antennae were raised when Donald asked the executive about Spalding Stark, and then without hesitation said he’d never heard of him. It didn’t seem logical that a man so renowned by the tech counter-culture, would escape his notice. Especially as the conversation progressed, and he expressed such disdain for the bio-hacker community.

Samar then met some friends of Aram’s who likely won’t be getting wedding invitations. The man who greets them at the door has a micro-processor embedded in his forehead, and on the back of each hand. He explains to Navabi that they turn on the lights and his computer. We then pass by three other young bio-hackers working on projects. One of them’s attempting to rewrite his DNA to give him more athleticism. The other two are playing with a CRISPR, the instrument a Chinese doctor allegedly used to create designer DNA.

We then watch as the Crown Life executive and the bio-hacker completely refute each other’s points, as they engage in their own conversations. The executive states that these outliers prey on the desperate who have run out of options and hope. He says that they operate without any regulations, and that he’s terrified of them. The bio-hacker tells Aram, and Samar, that they represent the future of science and the reason Big-Pharma’s afraid of them, is because they’ll soon become obsolete. The bio-hacker scoffs at the concerns over regulation and asks what about innovation?

Aram’s friend’s been able to identify the high-tech injector, found at the scene. When he pulls the URL up for the website, Navabi gasps. The man in the forefront of the website’s image, holding the injector’s Warren Kirby.

Kirby’s brought to the Post Office for questioning, and not only admits to knowing Stark, he says Stark cured him of MCDD. He tells the agents that he’s got all the information readily available from his own trials, and that he met Stark, when the scientist worked as a clerk at his local pharmacy. He says Stark realized the extent to which Kirby was suffering and offered him an option.

Aram checks out all the documentation and says it’s legit, and that Stark used the drugs on himself as well, as he was suffering from the disease. Kirby compares his own blood panels to those of the deceased, and discovers one significant difference. The deceased all had traces of Cylovex, a nerve agent in their systems. The agents do a background check on Mr. Creepy, Ethan Webb, and discover he used to work for Crown Life Pharmaceuticals. They assume Webb’s attempting to discredit Stark, so he can sell their cure to Big Pharma.

While hiding from the authorities, Stark’s gathered a new group of MCDD sufferers, and he believes he’s convinced Webb to assist him in the new trial session. Stark’s new group of patients are just about to self-inject, when the agents burst into the room. Unfortunately they arrived too late for one of the patients, who injected himself with the tainted formula.

Webb admits to Ressler, that he was never really Stark’s partner. He’d in fact been a plant by Crown Life Pharmaceuticals, whom intended to bury the cure, so that they could keep enriching their coffers with formulas that would only treat the symptoms.

Navabi, informs Stark, that Webb had always been out to keep him from succeeding, and that Webb was the one responsible for the victim’s deaths. She tells the bio-hacker any punishment he receives will likely be lenient, as he’ll only be charged with abandoning the original victims. Ressler heads back to Crown Life Pharmaceuticals, and tells the executive he’s under arrest.

However Stark soon learns he’s not quite off the hook, as Dembe arrives to talk to him. Zuma tells the bio-hacker that Reddington’s getting impatient waiting for Stark to finish the project he paid him for. The bio-hacker assures Dembe that completing the project’s his highest priority.

ODDS AND ENDS

One thing we didn’t discuss in our previous column, was the condition of Navabi, who got cleared to return to active duty in the premiere episode. Although the doctor eagerly signed off on allowing Navabi to return to active duty, it was quite apparent that she wasn’t being truthful with the physician, about lingering effects from her being in a coma. That point was reinforced when Dembe congratulated Samar on her engagement to Aram, and at first she had no idea what he was congratulating her for.

We saw further evidence in this episode, when Navabi couldn’t remember the word sabotage. Although people search for the proper words constantly, the episode clearly bothered her, and looks like it will become an issue she has to deal with in the next few weeks.

Yes, I read the interview with Jon Bokenkamp, in which he stated that Lizzie’s the one who turned Raymond in. I still stand by my initial impression, that the woman claiming to be Jennifer Reddington, actually informed the police behind Keen’s back. If Elizabeth had actually been the person who turned in Reddington, I don’t think she’d have had the nerve to go visit him in his cell. In this viewer’s opinion, Lizzie found out the truth when she returned to her apartment.

Yes, in case you didn’t catch on last week, I’m labeling the character portrayed by Fiona Dourif, as the woman claiming to be Jennifer Reddington. I’ve had my doubts since the character was introduced, and they’ve only increased over time. I also have had doubts that Naomi’s really dead, and I think the two subjects are intertwined.

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

Photo Courtesy Of Virginia Sherwood/NBC

WARNING: SPOILER ALERT

White supremacists, child brides, a BOLO Alert, Aram and Samar taking a new step in their relationship, and the return of Teddy Brimley. All this and more greeted viewers as the NBC series “The Blacklist,” returned to the airwaves, as another March Madness, goes into the history books.  The series that specializes in bait and switch, contained plenty of surprises that kept fans alert and aware. Combine the aforementioned with “TEAM-RED,” working together on a coordinated effort, made for this viewer’s most satisfying episode since Tom Keen’s execution, last November.

Our evening kicked off as we watch a car drive through a toney neighborhood, and pulls into the driveway of a home that’s likely worth seven figures. As we listen to Janis Ian singing “At Seventeen,” we see the driver’s a man in his forties and calls out as he enters the doorway for Reva, whose sitting at a table wearing headphones and working on her studies from high school. The man removes one of the buds from the girl’s ear and asks her how she can concentrate with the music blasting? The young woman asks the man if he’s ready for dinner, and he tells her he’s heading to his study to take a business call.

The man sits down at his desk, opens up his safe and removes a black ledger. He then grabs his cellphone, and places a call to Raymond Reddington. He tells Reddington that he’s got what Red needs, and says that he hope Ian Garvey doesn’t get wind of what he’s doing. Reddington assures him that the Federal Marshall will never know of their meeting and tells the man that if he leaves immediately they can be face to face in 30-minutes. Suddenly the man realizes he’s not alone in his study, and screams wait and no, before an assailant pumps a bullet into his chest. Reddington screams out the man’s name and then hangs up the phone.

Turns out the man named Jerry Jawal, was about to deliver the ledger to Raymond, and the book contained information on the supplier that provides heroin that the Nash syndicate sells on the streets. Reddington’s plan was to use the information to put the syndicates drug-trafficking operation out of commission. He believes that Garvey or one of his soldiers killed Jawal, while Elizabeth Keen informs him that the Bureau suspects a white supremacist named Coogan Hudnut took the man out. Jawal had become port manager of the dock that the syndicate uses to bring the narcotics into the country, and had replaced the previous crew with friends from India. The Bureau believes he killed a stevedore on the dock, and that Jawal’s murder was also racially motivated.

Dembe and Reddington drive over to a bar called the Last Chance Saloon, a watering hole that specializes in racist clientele. A bouncer comes to the door, and tells Raymond that he may enter but that “IT,” must remain outside, referring to Dembe. Red becomes indignant, but Zuma calms him down and says he’ll stay outside. When Reddington enters the bar, he offers the first man that gives him the location of Hudnut ten grand in cash. One of the men jumps at the offer, causing one of his associates to pull out his pistol. Raymond immediately responds, taking out all of the men in the room except for the squealer and the bartender. He’s quickly informed that the man he’s looking for is barricaded in his office at the back of the building.

Raymond shoots the remaining bodyguard, then steps out-of-the-way of a shotgun blast that emanates from the other side of the door. Reddington tells Hudnut that he’s got questions about the racist’s murder of Jawal, but he denies committing the crime. He then attempts to flee from the building, but of course Dembe stops him before he can run.

We move to the Post-Office, where Aram’s beating himself up over losing witness Tony Mejia, during an ambush. However his mood lightens when he shows Donald Ressler an amethyst ring that he got for Samar. Ressler thinks it’s an engagement ring, causing Mojtabai, to question whether he really should give Navabi the gift. Donald believes that Navabi will jump to the conclusion that Aram’s asking her to marry him. He tries to ask Lizzie her opinion, but he quickly changes the subject when Samar enters the room.

Jawal’s family hold a wake for him, suddenly Reva gets a text telling her to go outside. She meets another girl about her age, and Reva says she can’t believe they did it. The other young woman says that Jerry was a terrible man and deserved to die. We then realize that neither Garvey or Hudnut murdered Jawal, the other young woman was his assailant.

The scene shifts to a high school gymnasium, where we encounter a pensive girl waiting to meet someone. A short time later, the girl who killed Jerry Jawal arrives and she says that if the girl wants her help, once the plan’s in motion there’s no going back. She sees her potential client’s still has qualms about going through with their plan, so she gives the girl a burner phone, and tells her if she decides she wants to utilize her services to call her.

Raymond’s standing in a hallway, when he’s approached by a familiar face, Teddy Brimley, the geriatric master of torture. He tells Reddington that Hudnut killed the stevedore, but he didn’t kill Jawal. Teddy then says he needs pastrami, and Red can’t understand what kind of torture Brimley would inflict with the deli meat. Teddy quickly explains to Raymond that the pastrami’s for Brimley’s lunch. Raymond asks if Dembe and he can join him for the meal, and Teddy says he’ll give Dembe the address. Reddington tells the elderly man that he’s happy Brimley’s back in the fold.

Navabi and Ressler head to Jawal’s home and Reva answers the door. They tell her they’d like to ask a few questions about her father’s murder, but Reva explains to the agents that Jerry was her husband, not her father. Her parents arranged the marriage with Jawal in Maryland, and granted their consent for their daughter to marry the much older man. Caught off guard and totally flustered, it’s apparent that she’s hiding something from the agents. However the conversation concludes, when Reva faints and collapses on the floor.

We move to the home that the other prospective client Tara Rayburn, arrives home late from school. She’s also married to man more than twice her age, who owns a local car dealership. Dale joins her in their bed, and Tara starts tearing up as her husband starts to initiate sex with her. The next morning she’s running late for school, but Dale insists he cooks him breakfast before she heads to class. She then pulls out the burner phone, and tells the girl on the other end that she’s hit her limit. The other young woman tells her to stick to her usual routine, and that she’ll take out her husband.

Reva’s taken to the hospital, and the physicians inform her that she’s pregnant. Her father says that the FBI agents thought they were hiding something from them, and he feels that way as well. He demands that his daughter tells him the truth, when Raymond walks into the hospital room and says he’d be interested in hearing the explanation himself. Reva’s dad asks Reddington who he is, and he replies that he’s a friend, or possibly a foe. He then introduces himself as Raymond and says he’s an interested party.

He tells Reva that he knows she arranged Jerry’s murder, and that her husband was a drug dealer. He says that her actions have jeopardized her life and the lives of her parents, then asks Reva the name of the girl who carried out the hit. She says she never got her name, she’s known as the “GUARDIAN ANGEL,” and all she requested from Reva, was the name of another girl who was forced into an arranged marriage.

Navabi heads to Tara’s high school, while Ressler goes to Dale’s car dealership. Samar tells Tara that if the assassination of her husband takes place, she’ll likely spend the rest of her days in prison. Tara starts crying ands says she’s not sure that she can prevent the assassin from going through with the plan.

Ressler informs Dale that Tara’s put out a contract on his life, but he doesn’t believe the agent, saying that he and his wife are deeply in love. Suddenly we see the “GUARDIAN ANGEL,” lurking around the lot, and she puts a backpack in a car parked outside Rayburn’s office. Dale notices the vehicle and calls one of his staff and asks why it hasn’t been moved to one of the work bays? The employee responds that it got moved a while before, and Ressler realizes that there’s a bomb in the vehicle, and tells Dale to hit the floor. Seconds later the bomb explodes, and Ressler leaves the office running through flames to apprehend the perpetrator. The “GUARDIAN ANGEL,” tells two men in the parking lot that Ressler’s trying to kill her, and they stop him from chasing her as she gets on public transit. He then tells one of the men that he’s taking his jacket as the girl’s fingerprints are on it.

Aram receives a message that Bureau agents have discovered the device that caused the vehicle to grind to a halt, when Mejia got abducted. He also finds video footage of the man with “David Bowie Eyes“. Lizzie immediately recognizes the man as one of Reddington’s employees, then heads to Raymond’s to confront him.

Keen allows her emotions to get the best of her and get physical with Red, slamming him up against a wall of shelving covered in books. Raymond admits to her that he abducted Mejia, because if Garvey’s busted before Reddington recovers the duffel bag, his secret will be revealed. He also informs her that Mejia’s safe and hidden away. Keen issues a “BOLO Alert,” in the hopes that law enforcement can find him. What she doesn’t realize is Garvey receives the alert, and he uses it to set Keen up.

The Task-Force, gets a match on the fingerprints and identifies the perpetrator as Anna Gracia Duerte. After obtaining her address, Navabi and Ressler head to her apartment. When they get there they realize that Anna had just escaped, Ressler looks for here on the street, while Samar searches the roof.  Duerte makes it to the edge of the roof, when Navabi encounters her and threatens to jump. She then tearfully recounts her story to the agent.

Anna’s originally from Brazil and became friendly with an older man who invited her to see his home. However he had other intentions in mind and forced himself on her. Duerte reported the rape, but her parents took the rapist’s side instead of their daughters. They arranged for Anna to marry the man, 30-years her senior, and the couple emigrated to the States when she was 13.

Despising her husband and revolted by his touch, the young girl reached her limit and stabbed her husband to death. Once she recovered from the shock, she decided to dedicate her life to ending the nightmare for other girls in her situation. She took the lives of nine men, freeing their child-brides from their Hellish existence.

Samar puts her pistol back in her holster and tells Duerte that her parents were killed when she was just nine. Traumatized and unable to make sense of the tragedy, her 15-year-old cousin took her under her wing, and restored Navabi’s faith in the world. However that world came crashing around her, when her uncle announced that he’d arranged a marriage for his daughter and she would go to live with her new husband the next day. Samar begs Anna to try to let her help her, and says this shouldn’t be the end of her story.

Mojtabai finally gets some alone time with Keen, and asks her if Samar will construe the ring as him asking her to marry him. She replies that if Samar wants to marry him, she’ll assume it’s an engagement ring, but if she doesn’t want to commit, she’ll perceive things differently. Suddenly Aram’s afraid of Navabi rejecting him. making him even more fearful to give her the gift.

The U.S. Attorney arrives at the Post-Office, and Samar pleads with him to show her leniency. She says that Duerte could use an insanity defense, but the lawyer says that might get her cleared of killing her husband, but the other acts were clearly premeditated. Navabi responds that these child-brides aren’t isolated incidents, that many states don’t even have a minimum age for a girl to get married. She says that Anna’s going to be perceived as a champion for these girls, and the U.S. Attorney will be thought of as the bad guy that’s trying to put her in prison for life.

Keen gets a call from an officer in Boston, saying that he saw Mejia transported at a private airfield nearby. Aram and Liz meet with the officer, who says he saw Mejia with a man wearing a long coat and sporting a fedora. He says they took a private plane out of the country, but when he brings the pair inside the hangar Keen realizes that Garvey’s set them up. She starts to put up a fight though heavily outnumbered, but she and Mojtabai get rescued by Lizzie’s pair of “Guardian Angels,” Raymond and Dembe.

When they return to Reddington’s, Raymond apologizes to Keen. She believes he’s apologizing for cooperating with Garvey, but he explains that his apology’s for endangering her life, by telling Garvey how important she was to him. She smiles and says that the only reason she’s still alive, is due to the fact that Raymond and Dembe rescued her and Aram. He then tells Liz that he needs her to ask Duerte an extremely important question that will help them both out.

Samar reveals some incredibly good news to Anna. The U.S. Attorney has decided to charge her as a juvenile offender. Duerte has to plead guilty to all the murders, and agree to undergo rehabilitation and counseling. However if she successfully completes the program without incident, she’ll become a free woman when she turns 21. Anna’s eyes fill with tears of joy, and asks how that’s possible, Navabi responds that for the first time in years, Duerte will be treated as a child. Anna informs Liz where they can find the dumpster she threw Jawal’s ledger in. She then joins Dembe and Reddington in a delightful exercise, picking through the garbage.

Aram and Samar get back to their apartment, and Navabi pulls out some takeout trays from a Thai restaurant. Mojtabai asks what’s the occasion, and Navabi says she needed a pick-me-up, after a very tough day. Aram then starts stammering and stuttering, and pulls out the ring from his pocket, saying his grandmother’s getting rid of a lot of her possessions. She’s delighted with the ring and thanks him, he says that the present’s mostly from his grandmother. She tells him that she knows it was really his idea, then asks him if Aram would like her to order different food for him? He smiles and says everything he wants is right there.

Raymond phones Garvey and tells the Marshall that he tried and failed. Garvey responds with the old bromide, that if first you don’t succeed. He then reminds Reddington, that he’s holding onto something very important to him. Red responds that he’s now in possession of something that Garvey considers quite valuable, then says he’ll be in touch and hangs up.

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

Photo Courtesy Of Will Hart/NBC

WARNING: SPOILER ALERT

It remains to be seen how or if, the dangling threads left hanging at the conclusion of the latest episode of the NBC series”The Blacklist,” factor into the long-term story arc of season five. Whether this episode’s Blacklist member, Mr. Raleigh Sinclair III, returns to the series or not, fans of the show got to witness some magnificent acting performances.

DISCLAIMER: This viewer could watch John Noble read the phone-book for hours and be entertained. Noble created one of television’s most iconic characters, Dr. Walter Bishop, in the FOX series FRINGE. Bishop’s a discredited scientist, who constantly crosses the median line between genius and madness, assisting an FBI task-force that deals with scientific anomalies. After spending years locked away in a mental institution, Walter lacks any social graces, however he’s capable of amazing insight.

Noble’s ability to play quirky characters that still retain their humanity. made him the perfect actor to inhabit the skin of Raleigh Sinclair III, another character with a superior intellect, who maybe as crazy as a loon. Sinclair pushes his clientele like a Marine Drill Sargent, yet later in the hour we see another side of him, a mild-mannered seemingly feeble-minded old man.

As if the casting coup of Noble wasn’t enough the show doubled-down, bringing in Martha Plimpton, to portray Dr. Sharon Fulton, a Bureau psychiatrist, who must approve Elizabeth Keen mentally fit before she’s reinstated to active duty. Once again I have to admit to a bias in her favor, having watched her grow-up from the gawky tom-boy character she played in Goonies.  Fulton’s not a warm and fuzzy character, and the actress makes her suitably prickly and combative.

Three plot-lines intertwine throughout this episode, two of them will certainly carry on throughout this season, with the third one remaining open-ended. We’re going abandon our normal linear recap-format, to concentrate on those three paths, and what they might portend for the future.

The Blacklist Member Of The Week:

Raleigh Sinclair has an extensive list of satisfied clientele, who have been able to murder the subject of their revenge, or people who just got in the way, while having seemingly airtight alibis that they were miles away when the murders took place. The elderly man who resembles a librarian’s known in the criminal world as “The Alibi,” due to his ability to make it appear that his clients’ are in two places at once. Sinclair establishes a regimen for his clientele, over an extended period of time, interacting with regulars they encounter daily.

After the client becomes known to the people they interact with, Sinclair hires somebody that looks similar to the client, and enhances their resemblance with prosthetics. The day the client commits the murder, the doppelgänger takes their place in their daily routine, so that the people the client encounters tell law enforcement, that they saw the client while the crime took place.

Sinclair just helped a man named Sam DeMarco, murder his business partner and get away with it, after hiring a homeless man named Kahil Shula to perform DeMarco’s daily rituals. When law enforcement interview the folks DeMarco regularly interacts with, they all assuredly respond that they saw him the day his partner got killed. Shula, who Sinclair promised would be handsomely compensated for his efforts, wound up dead at the hands of “The Alibi.”

Sinclair’s latest client’s named Brian Barrett, a man consumed with a desire for revenge, after he came home early from work, and caught his wife having sex with another man. We quickly determine that despite Raleigh’s mild-mannered appearance, he’s as much of a disciplinarian as a football coach during training camp. Barrett’s five minutes late for their meeting, and Sinclair’s ready to walk away, until Brian assures him it won’t happen again.

Raleigh then gives Barrett a shopping list, including running shoes in a color that stands out. He also provides him with a route that he wants him to run every morning, and to interact with the same people daily, so that they expect to see him each morning. Sinclair informs Barrett that he’ll be in touch once he determines it’s time to carry out the crime.

After Raymond informs the Task-Force through Samar about “The Alibi,” Aram takes a look at the photograph that the surveillance camera took of DeMarco’s doppelgänger, and realizes it’s not an exact match. Through facial-identification software, he’s able to identify the man as Kahil Shula, a homeless man without a permanent address. Harold gives the file to Raymond, who heads over to a homeless shelter that he funds.

Raymond meets a homeless woman at the shelter who was friend’s with Kahil, named Delores. (Yet another great acting performance by guest star Marcia DeBonis.) After telling Raymond that he’s got an honest face, she tells Reddington she saw Shula get into a gold car with an EZ-Pass on the windshield. Mojtabai’s able to narrow the list to one hundred vehicles and puts the drivers in a binder. Delores quickly picks out Sinclair from the book. None too soon it turns out, as Barrett’s about to shoot his estranged wife in a parking garage, while his doppelgänger runs his morning route.

Raymond finds Sinclair’s safe-house and it’s filled with head-molds, and prosthetic pieces. He also finds information on Barrett’s situation, including his daily route and how he intends to kill his estranged wife. He gives the Task-Force enough information to apprehend Barrett, while he and Dembe go off to meet Raleigh.

Barrett’s waiting in the parking garage when his estranged wife arrives. She tries to dismiss him and walk past him, however he stops her in her tracks when he pulls out a pistol. He then tells her he wanted to kill her the night he caught her, with the wine bottle he held in his hand. He didn’t follow through on that impulse, because he didn’t want to go to prison, but now that fear’s gone.

He fires off two shots and hits her in the shoulder, she runs and attempts to hide. We watch as his double goes through Barrett’s morning routine, interacting with all the regulars. Brian finds Nicole crouching between cars and says goodbye to her as he raises his pistol. Just then Ressler and Navabi drive up, and Barrett fires at the shot at their windshield. Navabi chases him through the stairwell, while Donald attends to Nicole.

Barrett fires off a shot at Samar in the stairwell, then tries to flee by going back into the garage. Ressler stops that escape quickly, as he knocks him to the floor while doing about 20 MPH. Navabi thanks her partner for the assist, and Donald replies anytime.

The double named Eckhart, after finishing his assigned route returns to Sinclair’s car, and doesn’t comprehend what’s going on when Raleigh says about your payment, then pulls out a pistol. Suddenly we see Dembe knocking on the driver’s window with his gun, as Raymond climbs into the backseat. Eckhart asks about his money, and Reddington responds that if he leaves now, he’ll live to die another day. He then tells Sinclair he’s been looking for him, and suggests they go for a little drive.

Sinclair believes Raymond’s been sent to kill him by a man he somehow wronged in Jakarta, but Reddington quickly assures him that’s not the case. He tells Raleigh that he’s heard whispers of his work for some time, and admires him greatly. He tells him that he’s brought Sinclair to their present location, to save him getting captured by the FBI, if Raleigh will agree to his requests.

We of course don’t know yet what those requests were, but I think we can be assured that Raleigh Sinclair III, is now another member of Raymond’s “Island Of Misfit Toys.” The Task-Force had to settle for Sinclair’s client list, containing names of 51 murderers. Even those acquitted of the initial murder they committed, can be charged with the murders of their doppelgängers. Raymond provides a burial and a funeral ceremony for Kahil Shula, and stands with Delores at his grave.

Family Counseling

Although we’ve yet to determine if Dr. Sharon Fulton’s friend or foe, her personality conjures up memories of both Laurel Hitchin and Julian Gale. She’s proud of her self-proclaimed blunt, pull-no-punches style, pushing and prodding to get at what she perceives as the truth. It’s up to her whether Lizzie gets to return to active status, and she’s not going to just rubber stamp anything.

She asks Keen why she wants to return to the Bureau, and Elizabeth responds that her goal’s to capture Tom’s killer. She tells Fulton she needs her help in overcoming her anger and grief, but the psychiatrist replies that she thinks anger keeps people sharp and willing to take chances. However she does have great interest in talking about Keen’s father.

Although Reddington praised therapy, saying that it turned him into an entirely different person, (Was that line confirmation that “OUR RAYMOND’S,” is in fact an imposter, or laughing at those of us who subscribe to that theory?) he’s got no desire to meet with Fulton. In fact the only meeting he agrees to, takes place in the back seat of his car, with Liz in the front seat, and Zuma standing outside the vehicle.

She prefaces her remarks by announcing how blunt she’s about to get, then tells Reddington that he disgusts her and he’s a glorified serial killer. She tells him that if he wasn’t Keen’s father, that she’d have already signed her reinstatement papers. She then recounts Keen shooting down Tom Connelly, and going on the lam with Red, as Lizzie defends her actions. Fulton then asks Reddington if she should believe that any child of his could live up to the standards of the Bureau?

Raymond stares her in the eye, and exclaims she wouldn’t believe a word he said. He says that it’s her job to push Keen past the anger and the grief, and to discover what her true essence’s composed of. Fulton then asks him what would that be, and Red smiles and says everything that he’s not. He then looks at his watch, says their time together has ended, and says good session tough stuff.

Keen and Fulton have two more sessions, the first one doesn’t go smoothly. The shrink tells Elizabeth that she’s holding back, and she’s afraid of admitting stuff to Fulton and to herself. She says that until Keen’s ready to do a profile on herself, as she would a subject, she can’t approve of her reinstatement.

Lizzie returns near the end of the episode to Fulton’s office, and she said that it’s her turn to be blunt. She sais that the two of them are just wasting each other’s time, and she needs to be reinstated to capture the man behind Tom’s death. She then tells Fulton that as a young girl she loved ballet, and at ever recital she felt a presence in the audience. she went on to say that she felt that same protective presence at her graduations and her wedding.

Keen says that she knows that Raymond’s capable of some heinous acts, however he’s also capable of incredible kindness, as he’s displayed to her over the years. She then tells Dr. Fulton that she would describe her own profile as widow, mom, cop, and daughter.

Bring Me The Head Of Ian Garvey.

One large piece of information about the season’s major story-arc got revealed in this episode. Although Detective Norman Singleton, works with  Ian Garvey, he’s not a crooked cop. He’s been naïvely keeping Garvey in the loop as to the whereabouts of Keen and her involvement with Reddington. However that spigot of information will likely run dry for Garvey after this episode.

Elizabeth’s set-up surveillance cameras in her apartment, and she’s come up with some photograph’s of Singleton breaking into her place. She naturally assumes he’s a dirty-cop, but actually believes that she works for Reddington, and that the two of them took over operation of the Nash syndicate.

Seems that Singleton’s also a member of some law-enforcement Task-Force, apparently lead by U.S. Marshall Ian Garvey. After telling the members of the unit of the connection between Reddington and Keen, Garvey tells him to keep tracking her and reporting his findings.

The moment of truth arrives, when Elizabeth catches the detective in her apartment, pulls her weapon and tells him to put his hands up. She starts to call the police to report a robbery, when he tells her he’s got pictures of her and Raymond, if she turns him in, he’ll return the favor. She puts down the phone and they start talking.

He says his instincts tell him that they’re on the same side, but how can she explain the connection to Reddington. After she establishes that she can trust him, she says that if he reveals any information he’s about to learn, Reddington will kill him. She then says she needs to make a phone call.

Some of the cops on Garvey’s Task-Force, meet with the Marshall, and one of them suggests they grab Keen and get her to give up Reddington. Garvey dismisses the plan, saying if they do that they’d have Federal Agents all over them. He tells them to stay patient and allow Singleton to unwittingly do their dirty-work.

However those odds likely greatly decreased, after Lizzie took Singleton to the Post Office, and Navabi told him the particulars about the Task-Force. Liz smiled at Singleton and said she told him she could justify her connection to Reddington, he nodded and said it was indeed valid. He also told her he thought he could help her find the dirty-cop responsible for Tom’s death.

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

Photo Courtesy Of Will Hart/NBC

WARNING SPOILER ALERT

The NBC series “The Blacklist,” went into its two-week Olympic Games hiatus, (Personally, I think Raymond’s a luge enthusiast) with an episode that confirmed some theories, and set in motion the inevitable confrontation with Ian Garvey. One week after featuring Tommy Wattles, a Blacklist member that will remain embedded in viewers minds for years, the group that the Task-Force brought to justice paled in comparison. We’ve seen vigilante groups such as “The Invisible Hand,” countless times in fiction over the last couple of decades. (Think low-tech version of F-Society, from Mr. Robot.)  Frankly the writers and show-runners did nothing to advance the concept, resulting in a rather flat and predictable story-arc, which may have been by design.

This episode’s true strength was to put the pieces together to set the course for the balance of season five, including a bitter-sweet reunion between Lizzie and her grandfather Dominic Wilkinson. Although Dom didn’t identify himself as Keen’s grandfather, the exchange provided a glimpse into the past of the man we’ve only known as Katarina’s father. Raymond continued building a force to be reckoned with, for his upcoming war with his unknown foe. We also obtained some game-changing information concerning Ian Garvey, hinted at in this corner before the series returned from its Autumn vacation.

The Blacklist Members Of The Week.

We’re going to cut right to the chase on the story-line of The Invisible Five. The plot revolves around six kids who lived in a seemingly paradise-like cul-de-sac in the town of Brenford, New York, in the nineties. Suddenly their world got rocked, as their parents died after being ravaged by cancer they contracted as a result of Atria Chemical Corporation, dumping hazardous waste into the ground. The EPA eventually declared a ten-mile radius around the town as a toxic dump, warning people to stat away due to the massive dose of radiation emanating from the land.

The six kids scattered to different parts of the country, but got reunited at the funeral of one of the group, as a result of the radiation poisoning. The remaining five formed a vigilante group they dubbed The Invisible Hand, dedicated to punish an Atria executive, a judge and a lawyer, who settled a lawsuit with one of their neighbors and then sealed the records. The rest of the neighborhood remained ignorant of the danger, and slowly succumbed to the radiation poisoning.

They quickly got their revenge on the judge and the attorney, burying both men alive in the toxic wasteland. However the remaining member of the troika, the Atria executive Anna Hopkins, moved to England. They then decided to expand their scope, taking out people who do things within the law, but that they considered morally reprehensible. Seven more people would suffer their wrath, until some teenagers jumped the fence on a dare, and discovered their latest victim.

When the five members see the news reports they meet at a restaurant owned by Zeke, a member of the hand. Another member Stephen Altman, who seems to be their leader, says they’ve always done things together, and if any of the group wants to stop, they’ll immediately disband. However he says they might want to carry out one more mission, as Anna Hopkins’ in town to make a speech. They can finally punish the third member of the troika.

Navabi and Ressler arrive at the toxic dump, and one of the investigators tells them they’ve recovered seven bodies at that point. He also informs them of a camera the EPA installed at the site, similar to the one “The Tracker,” used last season, except this camera takes just one picture a day. Ressler asks for the contents of the camera, and when they return to the Post Office, Aram sees Stephen Altman standing in the woods without a hazmat suit on. They soon identify him as a former resident of Brenford, who unsuccessfully sued Atria, as a teenager.

Samar and Donald drive to the cul-de-sac the in Brenford, it looks as if it went through the apocalypse. Although the entire neighborhood’s deserted, Ressler notices smoke coming from Altman’s chimney, and calls in for a SWAT-Team. Altman escapes into the woods, however the agents discover the monitoring equipment set up in the house and bring it back to the Post Office.

The Invisible Hand undertakes their plan to capture and kill Anna Hopkins, staying at the Braxton Hotel. One of the group, a reporter named Bobby, interviews Hopkins about her new project, and slips a tracking unit into her purse. After he leaves, Altman poses as a courier saying he needs Hopkins to sign for two packages. She senses something wrong and calls the hotel’s front desk, and asks if they authorized a courier to come to her room? The attendant says no, and says he’ll send security up to the room.

Aram discovers the tracking unit that Bobby put into Hopkins’ purse and he’s able to triangulate the signal. He discovers it’s originating from the seventeenth floor of the Braxton Hotel. Navabi and Ressler head to the hotel, and the hotel front desk clerk’s informed that Hopkins might be in danger. He responds that he just sent security up to her room.

Two security guards head up to Hopkins’ room and tell Altman that he’s got to register at the front desk before delivering any packages, as Hopkins watches through the peephole in her door. When Altman leaves, one of the men knock on her door and she opens it to thank them, however it’s Zeke and Bobby posing as security. They quickly overtake her and bring her to a maroon van in the parking lot.

The agents arrive just as the group puts Hopkins into their van, and a shootout ensues. The agents take out Zeke and wound Bobby, and Emma. Bobby and Altman escape with Hopkins in the van, and Navabi and Ressler take the remaining member, Sophia into custody. After arriving at the Post Office, they convince her to help them find the van by threatening her with never seeing her two young children again. She leads them to where Altman was burying Hopkins, while Navabi and Sophia rescue Hopkins, Ressler tackles Altman as he tries to escape.

During Ressler’s interrogation of Altman, we learn that he’s dying of radiation poisoning, and found out two years before. He says he’s proud of what the Invisible Hand accomplished, he says they’re a corrective unit, and they carried out corrections against injustice. Although none of their victims broke the law, they all took advantage of the law and in the process ruined other people’s lives.

Raymond And Lizzie’s Discoveries

There’s a knock at Elizabeth’s apartment door, and she finds Detective Singleton on the other side, ostensibly there to deliver Tom’s last effects. However he quickly reveals his true reason for his visit, to attempt to intimidate Keen into admitting she killed Bobby Navarro, and she stole the bloody rag from Singleton’s station’s evidence lock-up. She spits back at him that she’s still a federal agent, and for him to stay away from her. He says he’ll be back soon to arrest her.

Among Tom’s effects, she finds a set of keys and immediately fixates on one. We next see her in one of Tom’s storage units, and she uses the key to open an electronic box she seems to know resides there. Opening the unit, she finds a pistol and a leather-bound journal. She sees an entry about Oleander, and then finds a travel brochure for the Oleander Hotel in Slovenia. She immediately calls Cooper asking for help.

Dembe informs Raymond they’ve got an unexpected visitor, our old fiend Anthony Pagliaro the postman, enters the room apologizing profusely. He says he’d never show up unannounced but for a dire emergency. Raymond asks the postal-worker his definition of emergency, and Anthony responds somebody’s going to kill him. Reddington deems the situation an emergency as well, and tells Pagliaro to explain his situation.

Anthony recounts how he discovered a shipment meant for Big Willie Wilkins, and deduced that it contained massive quantities of drugs, so he stole it. He figured he could convince the drug kingpin that the shipment got lost in the mail, but Wilkins didn’t fall for the story. He then told Big Willie, that the shipment got stolen by a rival drug-dealer Momo Marinello.  However when Momo got word that Pagliaro fingered him, he decided to take Anthony out. Raymond asks why he needed the extra money, and Pagliaro says he’d rather not discuss it. When pressed he admits he’s dating a woman out of his league and he wants to get liposuction surgery.

Raymond says that they’ll pay Wilkins a visit and Anthony will admit the truth. Pagliaro balks at the idea, but Reddington says that he’s found over the years that telling the truth is the best course of action. At least most of the time.

Elizabeth and Harold are meeting in Cooper’s office and he’s giving her the information he’s been able to track down on Oleander, and the first point of info’s that Oleander’s a man. He was a legendary Soviet operative, rumored to have come to the States after the Cold War ended. He give’s Keen the name of the man believed to be Oleander, but warns her that if he’s actually the operative, he might not take kindly to questions about his past.

Keen arrives at a house we’ve seen before, and when she knocks on the front door a familiar figure appears. He recognizes her identity immediately and his eyes gleam, but he soon realizes she’s unaware of their relation. She asks if he’s Dominic Wilkinson, and identifies herself. When he asks how he can be of service to her, she asks if he’s the former Soviet operative Oleander?

He lets out a cynical laugh, and says that old ghost story got disproven years before. The CIA cleared him of being Oleander, however she cuts him off and says the Agency didn’t have sufficient proof to charge him. He asks why she’s interested in a former Soviet operative, and her face softens as she explains that her husband was killed over a year ago, and she found information about Oleander among his belongings.

(Her statement doesn’t coincide with the time-line that the show runners have established. Tom died in November of 2017, and she didn’t come out of her coma until September of 2018. Professional athletes would take at least two years to recover from the injuries she received, pushing the time of her departure for Alaska to around September of 2020. When we had a glimpse of Agnes in “The Cook,” she appeared to be about four, she was born in April of 2016.)

Dom apologizes for her loss, but he says he was just a systems analyst for the Soviet Union, not an agent. When the Cold War ended he got granted asylum and a new identity by the American government, and went to work as a systems analyst for them. He’s sorry he can be of no help to her, but she asks him if he interacted with any Soviet operatives. He says he did and she asks if he knew Katarina Rostova?

Dominic breaks into a broad smile and says he knew Rostova quite well, then feigns surprise when he “realizes” he’s speaking to Masha. He says that Katarina used to come into the office he worked out of all the time. When Keen asks if they’d been friends, he quickly changed the subject to a time that Katarina brought Masha to the office when she was about three-years-old.  She asked him if he knew Raymond Reddington, and he said that he didn’t want to discuss him.

She then asked if he thought Katarina could still be alive, and mentioned the former Soviet operative she met in season one, who said he saw her at a hotel. Dom’s face softened as he said he never heard from Rostova after she moved to the States. He once again apologized for not being more informative.

Reddington, Dembe, and Anthony, go to met Big Willie, Raymond’s tickled to find the drug establishment operates out of a candy factory. He says his mind’s filled with visions of Sammy Davis Jr. Seeing the drug kingpin, he thanks him for making the time for them. Wilkins’ surprised that Raymond actually showed up for the meeting, he thought somebody was putting him on. He’s also surprised that Pagliaro works for Red.

Reddington prods Anthony to begin his confession, but the postal-worker says he’s suddenly feeling light-headed. Clearly frustrated, Raymond tells the chief of the drug syndicate that Anthony stole the cocaine, then panicked and blamed Momo for the theft. He says Pagliaro’s sincerely sorry, and he will pay Wilkins back in full, with interest. He then says since it’s no harm no foul, he thinks that Big Willie should forgive Anthony and call off the hit on him.

Wilkens sneers and says “No harm no foul, eh? Follow me.” He takes them into another room where we see some of his men disposing of the remains of Momo Marinello. Big Willie says you have to respond quickly, or his foes perceive it as a sign of weakness. Suddenly the lights cut out, Marinello’s gang’s arrived for their revenge. A shootout ensues, and the air suddenly becomes dense with smoke courtesy of a device one of Marinello’s men set off.

Raymond takes cover but joins in on the action, although at a disadvantage armed just with a pistol, while the others carried long guns. We suddenly see a pair of feet heading towards Red, and Dembe shouts to Reddington to watch out. Raymond turns and fires, realizing too late that the man approaching him was Anthony. Dembe and Reddington carry Pagliaro out of the facility, and the post-worker says he doesn’t want to die. Raymond says he won’t die as they’re getting him help.

Pagliaro wakes up in a recovery facility, Reddington tells him he’s going to be fine, but he needs to watch out for his lap-band. Anthony pulls up the blanket covering him, and realizes that Raymond had the doctors perform the liposuction procedure. Reddington tells him that as long as he was under, he figured they might as well perform the procedure. He wishes Anthony good luck with his new girlfriend and leaves.

Red then meets with Wilkins, telling the drug kingpin he wants him to take on a mission for Reddington. He wants Big Willie to start a war with the Nash Syndicate. Wilkins replies Reddington’s already a big fish, why would he want to take on another? Raymond responds he’s not a big fish, he’s Moby Dick, and for Wilkins to get things in order to proceed with his plan.

Raymond heads to the Post Office, and a look of concern crosses his face when his cell phone rings, and he realizes the caller. He asks what’s wrong, and Dom on the other hand asks him why he thinks something’s amiss. Reddington replies because Wilkinson never calls unless it’s an emergency. Dom informs him that Masha had been at his place that afternoon, seeking information on Oleander. He says he didn’t reveal that he’s actually Oleander, or say anything about Reddington. The old man then grumbles that’s all Raymond cares about anyway.

Dom tells Reddington he should tell Masha the truth, but Raymond sees Elizabeth at that point talking to Samar, and says he can’t talk about that now. Turns out that Bobby the reporter might have some information, that could lead Reddington and keen closer to Tom’s killer.

Raymond heads into the reporter’s hospital room, and he tells Bobby that most bullet wounds to the abdomen aren’t fatal. He then recounts a story of a confederate of his, getting shot 24-times in the abdomen, and surviving. He then asks Bobby about a man The Invisible hand employed, known as the Toy-Maker, and where he’s located. The reporter glares at Reddington, says he’s definitely not a cop, and asks why he should share that information with him? Raymond replies that if he doesn’t he’ll make certain that Bobby won’t survive his gunshot wound.

Lizzie and Raymond head to an electronics repair shop, and find an elderly round little man behind the welding bench. Raymond calls the man by his surname, but the man responds that Mr. Reddington should call him by his first name, Cleveland. Red smiles and says he’s pleased Cleveland knows his identity, as he’s aware that Cleveland’s the Toy-Maker, and hands him Navarro’s glass eye, asking him whom he made it for. Cleveland stammers and stutters, while Raymond puts his pistol on the welding bench, and picks up his welding gun.

Cleveland then says that the eyeball was just the first thing a mysterious man wanted from him. He says the man never introduced himself, and the Toy-Maker identified him as a man that one should never ask his name. He says the guy’s an electronics expert, that the first time they met they had a 20-minute discussion on RF-gain. When Raymond asks Cleveland if he believes the man’s a cop, the Toy-Maker remained silent. Reddington thanked him for his time and the pair left the shop.

Before recapping the hour’s final two scenes; let’s take a look back at a guess we made back in our column of December 27, entitled “Suitcase Suppositions.”

I believe Garvey is either a former agent from the Agency or the Bureau, which is why he was able to access CODIS. Ideally, I would love for him to be the new FBI Director, but that’s likely asking for too much. Plus he dresses like an out of work bureaucrat, sporting a tie so wide that it could double as a table-cloth. I had some of the same back in the mid-seventies and they’re likely still sitting in some compost heap.

Garvey looks like a retired or possibly disgraced “Spook,” (old-term parlance for a CIA Agent,) and realizes that if the information that our Raymond’s a fake emerged, Reddington’s reputation would be in tatters and his life would be endangered. So the former government employee’s going to try to put the squeeze on Red, and demanding a percentage of the profits. Personally, I don’t like Garvey’s odds.”

After Elizabeth leaves the repair shop, she heads back to the Post Office, and once again meets with Cooper. She asks to be reinstated back onto the Task-Force. Harold replies that she told him she looked at being a Federal Agent as a handicap in her search for Tom’s killers. She responds that’s until she realized the man she’s searching for, might wear a badge himself. Cooper shakes her hand, and welcomes her back to the Task-Force.

We see Detective Singleton making a call on his cellphone, telling the part on the other end that he’s concerned about Elizabeth Keen. We then see the caller on the other end’s Ian Garvey, and he tells Singleton to clam down, that he’ll take care of things on his end. Just as we realize that Singleton’s working for Garvey, the camera flashes on a star attached to his belt.

The Story Returns on Wednesday February 28, at 8:00 pm on NBC.

Photo Courtesy Of Will Hart/NBC

WARNING SPOILER ALERT:

The NBC series “The Blacklist,” crossed the meridian line of season five, with an entertaining installment, that explored new ground, but in may ways harkened back to the show’s first season. The episode featured a sick, obsessive, and twisted, member of the Blacklist, a new addition to Reddington’s “Island Of Misfit Toys,” as well as Lizzie and Raymond working side by side. Add in a semi-confession to Elizabeth from Red, stating that he knows why Tom and Nik Korpal were murdered but refusing to reveal that reason to her, tells us there’s plenty of rough seas ahead for the pair.

The evening opens with the Blacklist member in action, as he’s using a stove to mix up a deadly brew of chemicals, and then pours the concoction into a bunch of mason jars. He ten strips down and soaks his clothes in water, before putting them back on, then soaks his bald dome and face.

The scene shifts to another home, and we see that the man’s suspended the jars from the ceiling, all connected by some twine in an intricate puzzle. The man then sits down in an easy chair, and starts drinking from a beer bottle, while he pulls a lighter from his pocket and sets the twine hanging down net to him on fire. Within seconds we watch his work explode into flame, which soon envelops the room. A door opens and we hear a woman screaming. The man raises his beer bottle in salute, then gathers his equipment and walks out.

We join Dembe, Raymond, and Keen,  as they meet in what appears to be a parking lot. Reddington’s summoned Elizabeth, telling her he’s got a lead on Bobby Navarro’s glass eye. He’s hooked up with a new technology expert, who believes he can track the device back to Tom’s murderer. However there’s a complication as the tech guy lives with his mother, who hasn’t taken to Red. He asks Elizabeth to deliver a peace-offering to her office, a terrarium containing four Jaro spiders, which are a delicacy for the Japanese. She asks why he can’t take them, and he tells her he’s about to talk with the Task-Force, about the next Blacklist member.

Samar’s at Raymond’s place when Dembe and he return, and Reddington soon starts giving Navabi a dissertation on the art of arson. He then explains that despite the multitude of purposely set fires each year, very few people die in those blazes. An arsonist only wants to destroy property not people, the few misfortunates that perish in those fires were just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The Blacklist member known as “The Cook,” deviates from most arsonists, because he’s actually a serial-killer who masquerades as an arsonist. Raymond explains that he’s thought to be connected with a series of fires across the country, without any apparent rhyme or reason of how he chooses his victims.

Samar heads back to the Post Office, and Aram pulls up the files on all the blazes that Reddington attributed to “The Cook,” and he states there’s no connection among the victims. Cooper asks if Reddington can prove that the arsonist’s true purpose was to kill his victims. Navabi responds that he can’t but he knows somebody who can, however it’s complicated.

Earl Fagen was a highly regarded Fire Department Inspector, and his specialty was arson. However Fagen’s knowledge of arson stemmed from his Jekyll and Hyde existence. The admirable life he lead was actually a cover, to hide the fact that he was an arsonist. The fire filled the void within him, and it earned him a 14-year stretch in prison. Fagen’s up for parole after serving 11-years, if he’s able to help them capture the Blacklist member, the Task-Force will go to bat for him at his Parole Board hearing.

Once again the show-runners go outside the box in the casting of an almost unrecognizable C. Thomas Howell, in the role of Earl Fagen. I’ve not seen the former “Brat-Pack Member,” since he starred in an ill-chosen movie with Rae-Dawn Chong in the eighties. Howell looks every bit of his 52-years, with a mane of silver hair and a weathered face. We meet him at the apartment that we witnessed getting torched in the open, and immediately we feel the tension between him and Navabi and Ressler.

He takes a huge whiff of the accelerants in the home, as if one were standing over a pot of soup. He then starts examining the crime scene while exchanging stilted banter with the two agents. Suddenly he stops in front of one wall, and he’s found some sort of clue. He asks the agents if they could access a black-light. When they look at the wall under the black-light, they find an inverted pentagram and the words “DISCIPLINE NOT FAITH.” Fagen’s overwhelmed, and tells the pair they’ve got one humdinger of a firebug on their hands.

Raymond’s quite put-off when Keen tells him she left the terrarium outside the office door, with the note that Reddington wrote. As they head up the walkway to the tech-expert’s house, Elizabeth asks Red why he’s so concerned with the guy’s mother, is he sixteen? Raymond replies that he’s 15, and Tadashi Ito corrects him saying he’s fifteen and a half. Lizzie looks mortified until Raymond explains Ito turned down a scholarship from Harvard, two years before as a plum position with Facebook.

Raymond’s a self-confessed “Luddite,” having zero interest in interacting in a digital world, so he surrounds himself with people who can access it. However we learn in this episode that he has virtually no knowledge of “Pop Culture,” he’s even ignorant of the entire Star Wars mythos. He describes the poster hanging in Tadashi’s room as a man dressed in a bear-suit piloting a space-ship, accompanied by a small green man whom he believes is inadequate to fight with the sword he clutches. Ito starts examining the eyeball and tells them it doesn’t have a video or audio device within it, which only makes him more curious as to its purpose.

Aram’s contacted authorities involved with the other homes that “The Cook” torched, and similar messages were discovered at all the other locations. Mojtabai identifies the messages as Bible passages. Ressler sits down with a religious expert, whose written books on Satanic cults, who tells the agent that an inverted pentagram is used by those who worship Lucifer.

Navabi meets with Corrine Egan, an emergency room doctor and the only one of the victims of the Blacklist member who escaped injury, as she wasn’t home when the fire took place. She’s dumbfounded when Samar tells her that the arsonist intended to kill and about the message found on her wall. She says that it was an act of providence that she wasn’t home, as her brother flew in from out-of-town and they went out. She can’t figure who might have wanted to kill her.

Aram once again comes through with some critical information, as he’s been able to track a red Honda that “The Cook” rented to carry out one of his murders. They’ve identified him Willen Seavers, and he lives in Baltimore. Navabi and Ressler go to the location and realize it’s Seavers’ laboratory. They figure out too late that Seavers’ right there with him, he’s got the place rigged with accelerants and he sets the place on fire and escapes, Ressler gets trapped within the flames, finally escaping by crawling through a window he shatters. Navabi pulls him from the window just before flames reach the spot.

The agents get Fagen transported to Seavers’ facility, and he complains that their bargain only called for him to help out once. He expects that this time will increase the agents efforts to get him released. They look at the room under a black-light and see the walls are covered with Biblical passages. Fagen wonders if the messages are intended for Seavers’ himself, and not his victims.

Aram’s able to track back one of the chemicals that Seavers’ used back to the hardware store that they purchased it at. When they access the security footage, they’re shocked to find out he’s actually a priest. He wearing a button on his jacket, from a sect known as Traditum Primerus.

We join Seavers sitting at an airport bar, when a slightly buzzed young attractive woman asks to sit at his table. She tells him that her fiancée’s flight’s landing soon and she’s been wrestling with a moral dilemma. She tells him that she’s not religious but her fiancée’s a regular church goer. She then admits that she had a one night stand, and was going to tell her boyfriend when he landed, but now she’s unsure.

Seavers asks the young woman her name and she replies it’s Claire Homan. He then tells her to confess everything, that her sins were of the flesh and not the soul. He says that because of her fiancée’s religious beliefs, he’ll accept her mistake and keep on loving her. She asks if he’s sure, and he replies God’s sure. She hugs him and kisses his cheek and thanks him, we can see that he’s fighting back desire, and she leaves.

While Tadashi tries to deduce the purpose of the glass eye, Raymond and Elizabeth have a long overdue conversation. She had asked him earlier in the episode if he knew the what truth Tom tied to convey to her before he died. He responded that her husband was a man of many truths, which one he was about to divulge, he couldn’t say. She asked Reddington if he lacked the knowledge or the desire to tell her?

Suddenly Ito removes his headphones and tells Reddington that he knows what the device does, it’s a GPS unit and its transmitting their location to Ian Garvey. The door to the basement opens, and Dembe, Liz and Reddington draw their weapons, only to find Tadashi’s mother’s entering the room. She screams at her son that he turned down Harvard to work for criminals.

Raymond asks if she received his peace-offering and she glared back at him. He mentions the women’s sister’s restaurant, and that they’re considered a delicacy. However Reddington’s gift wasn’t appreciated as he chose to send her four of them, which represents death in Japanese culture.

The mood quickly changes when they realize Garvey and his hoodlums are in the house. After Dembe gets Tadashi and his mother out, Liz wants to stay and fight them, but Red realizes they’d be out-numbered and whisks her away. His instincts proved to be correct, as Garvey and about six goons entered with pistols drawn seconds after they left.

Navabi and Ressler pay a visit to the Spiritual Director from Seavers’ sect, and he quickly identifies him as Tommy Wattles, a priest they threw out of the order for breaking his vow of celibacy. Navabi asks if he had conversations with Wattles, and the priest responds that everything they discussed came during confession and he couldn’t divulge anything. He quickly changes his tune when the agents reveal that the former priest’s killed multiple people in the fires he set.

The priest’s face turns ashen when he hears them out and he says that Wattles told him they were just visions and nightmares. Despite Tommy’s desire to be a priest, he couldn’t control his carnal urges. He told the Spiritual Director that he believed attractive women were put on earth to tempt him, and he envisioned burning them to death. Navabi chastises the clergyman, telling him she hopes he can be forgiven by his sect for withholding the information.

The agents split up again, each carrying a photo of Wattles. Ressler’s able to track Tommy to the airport bar, and the bartender says he saw him talking with an attractive young woman. Through airport surveillance footage they find the young woman, and somehow Mojtabai finds a match through facial recognition software.

Navabi’s gone back to talk with Corrine Egan, and she immediately recognizes Wattles as a regular at the deli she has lunch at. She interacted with him shortly before her fire, she thanked him for buying lunch for a homeless man the day before. She then paid for his lunch that day, as she told him she wanted to pay it forward. She can’t believe that Wattles thought she was trying to tempt him in any way.

Raymond’s got Tadashi and his mom temporarily relocated to a luxury suite. He apologizes for getting her mixed up in his predicament, and that they’ll be his guests until they can return home safely. He tries to diffuse her anger by explaining she and her son will have full access to all amenities. He’s met with the same glare she’s given him since we met the character. It’s rather amusing to see Reddington so flustered, because he can’t get her to like him.

Ito informs him that he’s disabled the tracking device, and now he’s attempting some reverse engineering, to try to track the device back to Garvey. Lizzie’s muttering out loud that she should have stayed at the house, saying she’s blown her only chance to capture Tom’s killer. Raymond interrupts her, by telling her he knows what Tom wanted to reveal to her, but he insists he can’t share the information with her. Although she doesn’t raise her voice or show anger, Keen voices her displeasure with Reddington’s decision. She says she’s given up Agnes, until she gets this behind her, and doesn’t want that to go on one moment longer than needed.

Tadashi gets excited as he’s able to track the eyeball back to Garvey’s location, he gives Raymond the address and says May The Force Be With You. Reddington looks the teen in the eye and says he doesn’t have any idea what that means. Ito looks like he just met somebody from the Flat-Earth Society.

Dembe, Keen, and Reddington drive to Garvey’s safe-house, but they get there too late. All they are met with are a bunch of unconnected cords and the cabinet for some computer equipment. Red tells Dembe to find out where the cabinet emanates from, and Zuma responds that all the guts have been removed, however Raymond still wants him to track it. They also find a note left for them in magic-marker, “WE KNOW THE TRUTH.”

Aram gives Ressler and Navabi Claire Homan’s address and he tries to call her on her cellphone. She’s running around her apartment in her bra and panties, and she picks up the phone, but it’s taken from her by Tommy. He says he’s glad that her fiancée’s not there, and then tells her she needs to get properly dressed, while holding a pistol to her side. Mojtabai gets hinky because Homan isn’t picking up her phone, he asks the agents to get there as soon as possible.

Tommy’s got Claire imprisoned in shrink-wrap, and has set up his elaborate system on her ceiling. She tries to ask him something, but he’s got her mouth covered. He lowers the gag and she asks him why he’s doing this. Wattles stares at her then kisses her on the mouth, but immediately pulls away and gives her a backhand across her face. We hear sirens getting closer, and Tommy’s just about to light the fuse when Samar and Donald burst through the door. Wattles grabs one of the mason jars filled with the accelerant and tries to escape, with Ressler in pursuit. After making sure Claire’s okay, Navabi joins the chase.

Tommy doesn’t get far before encountering both agents, who have their guns aimed at him. Wattles then opens the jar of the accelerant and pours it over his head, as the agents try to talk him out of his suicide attempt. He then starts to laugh madly, saying this was meant to be, and he mentions the Auto-De-Fe, a term meaning an act of faith, used during the Inquisition. He then lights himself on fire and the camera stays on him until he finally falls to the ground.

Ressler speaks to the Parole Board about Fagen, saying he’d been very instrumental in them taking down a serial killer. One of the board members ask Donald if he believes Fagen’s been rehabilitated. He says that he really can’t answer the answer the question as he doesn’t know Fagen. Then his face softens and he says that he used to look at everything as black and white, but he’s not so sure about that anymore. Just because somebody commits an evil act, doesn’t mean they’re inherently evil. He says he thinks everybody deserves a second chance.

We get our first glimpse of Agnes, since Keen left her in the custody of Scottie. She’s in a school-like facility, engaged in a game with the other little kids, as Raymond and Elizabeth watch her through a window from outside the building. He vows to Elizabeth, that he’ll make certain that she’s able to reunite with her daughter shortly. Keen replies that she needs his help, but she’s unsure whether she can trust him. She then looks him in the eyes and tells him that she will uncover his secret.

Samar tells Cooper that Fagen got granted early parole, and he asks her if she thinks he deserved an early release? She says that he served the majority of his term, and that Wattles would still be on the loose without his help. She thinks that the early parole was justified.

We join Earl Fagen as he’s leaving the correctional facility, taking his first steps as a free man after 11-years. Suddenly Reddington’s car pulls up, and Fagen recognizes Raymond and asks what he wants? Red says that he’s the one to thank for his early release, and he demands two promises from Fagen as repayment. The first is that the ex-convict doesn’t even pick-up a lighter or pack of matches. The second demand’s that Fagen be ready to set a fire for Raymond at the appropriate time, Reddington says he’ll be in touch and the car drives away.

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

Photo Courtesy Of Will Hart/NBC

WARNING SPOILER ALERT:

The NBC series “The Blacklist,” celebrated the show’s one hundredth episode, by pitting two cunning con-men against each other, resulting in entertaining hour, featuring some bravura acting performances. In yet another example of the show’s brilliant casting, the series brought in stage and screen legend Nathan Lane, to portray the latest Blacklist member. Although the main plot was more simplistic than some of the series’ best chapters, the treat of watching James Spader, face off against Lane, more than compensated for the tale’s lack of complexity in this viewer’s opinion.

The lighter tone of the main story, provided a good contrast for the ever-darkening story arc of Elizabeth Keen, as she slips deeper and deeper into her obsession. This viewer’s reached the conclusion that the woman that longtime fans followed for four-plus seasons, died in the beating that took the life of her husband Tom. The woman that now inhabits her body’s, laser-focused on just one thing, finding the man that murdered her husband. She’s not going to allow emotions, relationships, or the law to stop her from completing her mission.

The cold-open starts with a shot of the DC skyline, as Dembe and Raymond have a discussion while Zuma drives them to an appointment. Raymond’s clutching the valuable 1943D bronze Lincoln penny he confiscated from Greyson Blaise, earlier this season. Reddington’s holding the three million dollar coin, as he’s on his way to talk to a Georgetown antique’s dealer. The dealer’s piqued Raymond’s interest, as he retains information about the coin, and three duplicates. Legend has it that the four coins form a set, that form a treasure map, leading to vast riches.

Raymond tells Dembe, that he hasn’t felt so excited since he and his childhood pal, Herbie Honeycutt, pooled their box-tops together to get a combination decoder-ring/periscope. Zuma, knowing him so well, responds that Reddington loves the mystery, causing Red to recall Robert Louis Stevenson, Edgar Allen Poe, and the story The Gold Bug.

As he’s highlighting the tale, their car gets T-Boned by a panel-van from a cleaning company, flipping their car on its roof. We see the rare penny on the highway, and a man wearing a suit and a trench-coat, picks up the coin as four goons emerge from the van armed to the teeth. The man who picked up the coin tells the hoods they can leave, as he’s gotten what he came for. Raymond sees the man as he’s about to black-out.

We join Elizabeth seconds after we lost saw her, standing over the corpse of Robert Navarro. She suddenly feels pain in her side and discovers there’s a shard of glass protruding from her abdomen. She pulls the glass from her body, wraps Navarro’s body in a canvas bag, and then proceeds to clean the crime scene, in a manner that Mr. Kaplan would’ve approved of.

She’s finishing cleaning, when there’s a knock on the door. Two uniforms and the superintendent, force their way into the apartment. Keen takes the bloody rag from her abdomen and sticks it in the kitchen garbage disposal, then hides in the closet. The officers responded to a domestic violence call, likely from one of Navarro’s neighbors, but they report back to dispatch that the place’s clean.  When the officers and the super leave, Keen somehow lugs the far bigger Navarro into her car’s trunk.

Raymond goes hat in hand to Harold, asking for assistance in recovering the coin he purloined. Cooper’s ready to laugh Reddington out of his office, when Red explains that the new Blacklist Member’s killed before and he’ll likely kill again, in pursuit of all four coins. We get a glimpse of the thief in his day job, he’s a loan-officer for the Republic Commerce Bank in Manhattan. He’s informing a client that he was able to restructure his payments so he won’t default on his loan. He then smiles when he says that the client should be able to pay for his panel van that was recently in an accident.

Reddington explains to the Task-Force, that in the thirties the United States Government printed a series of Federal Reserve Notes, at the Denver Mint, that were payable to the holder for the note’s denominations. Shortly after the notes were printed, they turned up missing, so Denver denied they were ever printed. However in recent years some of the notes have surfaced in some foreign countries, and the Mint claims the notes were counterfeit.

Raymond states that the notes were actually printed, and the four coin set of the 1943D Lincoln bronze pennies, allegedly form a map giving the location of the Federal Reserve Notes. Aram verifies that the Blacklist member killed three times in his quest for the coins, three security-officers in Dubai, an art collector in Italy, and the Georgetown art dealer that Raymond was set to meet with. That’s how the thief determined Reddington possessed the coin, and how he ambushed Red and Dembe. Although Harold only wants to capture the thief, Aram’s totally captivated by the idea of participating in a treasure hunt.

Keen’s nemesis, MPD Detective Singleton, arrives back at Navarro’s apartment with the uniforms. After he quickly eyeballs the apartment, he pronounces it too clean and calls for a forensic-team to join him at Navarro’s. He tells the person on the other end that a warrant’s in the works as they speak. Keen did a masterful job of getting rid of any evidence of a crime, save for the bloody rag that she left in the garbage disposal, which Singleton sends to the lab for a blood-match.

The Blacklist member’s talking to an unfortunate client of the bank, that they’re calling in his loan. The man’s desperate and offers to do anything to restructure his payments. The loan officer smiles and says he sees the man used to be an insurance investigator. He says he’s got a personal problem involving a rare coin, and perhaps they can help each other. Soon the client Frank Dobbs, and the loan officer are on their way to a museum that’s showcasing the coin in an exhibition.

Dobbs and the loan officer identify themselves as investigators from the insurance company, that insures the collection on loan from the University of Pennsylvania. The loan officer, introduces himself to the museum’s representative Patrick Church, using a posh English accent, and identifies himself as the company’s rare coin expert.

Simultaneously, Aram’s tracked the location of the fourth coin to the Gabor Museum, the same place the duo’s attempting to swindle the museum out of the coin. Cooper sends Navabi and Ressler, to talk with museum officials, and make certain the coin’s still safe.

Shortly after Samar and Donald head to the museum, Keen shows up at the Post-Office, to the delight of Aram. After he hugs her, he asks if she’s just visiting, or she’s ready to rejoin the Task-Force? She says she’s just visiting and needs to take a look at the files. We follow Elizabeth to the file cabinets, and watch as she pulls out the file of Stanley R. Kornish, the man longtime fans know as “The Stewmaker.” She pulls out here cellphone and starts photographing the documents, until she’s interrupted by Aram.

He does his best to attempt to recruit her back to work on their current case, telling her that Navabi and Ressler just headed to the Gabor Museum, to ascertain the whereabouts of a copy of the 1943D Lincoln bronze penny. He tells her about the treasure hunt, and says it might provide a good distraction for her. She quickly changes the subject to his relationship with Samar, and Aram gushes. Keen then tells him she’s got to leave, but she answers her phone to find Singleton’s on the other end.

We next see her being interviewed by Singleton in his office, as he asks her bout any contact she’s had with Robert Navarro. She reminds the officer that he told her not to contact Navarro, and he scoffs at her. He says he believes that Navarro’s dead. She looks Singleton in the eye and states she’s the last person in the world to want Navarro dead, as she wanted information about the man he worked for. She asks if there’s anything else, and he responds not until the lab gets the results of the bloody towel they found in the garbage disposal.

The loan officer and Dobbs, meet with Church and his assistant in Church’s office, and the thief tells Church they believe that the penny they possess maybe a forgery. They believe the coin might be the handiwork of a forger who tried to pass off an Italian Litra, at an auction house in Germany. He asks to see the coin and Church summons his assistant to get it. He says if the coin’s a forgery, it might be the most celebrated case since the Ready Electrotypes at the British Museum.

Keen gets a motel room with an oversized bathtub, and brings Navarro’s corpse and the mix of chemicals that “The Stewmaker,” utilized to destroy bodies without a trace. First she washes herself with some green chemical, and then covers the bathroom with plastic sheeting. She puts Navarro’s body into the tub, and then puts on the same type of gas mask that “The Stewmaker,” wore. She then pours in chemicals and fills the tub with water, after stirring the contents of the tub, she exits the bathroom as the chemicals do their work.

The loan officer tells the museum representative that he believes the coin’s a forgery, and Church nearly goes apoplectic. However the mood in the office radically changes as another museum employee enters and whispers something to the assistant, who then whispers it to Church. The three says they’ll return shortly, taking the coin with them. Dobbs looks out the window and sees police cruisers outside and starts to panic, but the thief tells him to remain calm. They then escape as the thief sets off the fire alarm, as Navabi and Ressler make their way to Church’s office.

Harold calls Reddington with bad and worse news. The Blacklist member escaped, and the remaining 1943D Lincoln bronze penny’s sitting in the MPD’S evidence vault. Harold tells Raymond that the Task-Force’s not breaking into the evidence vault for him. So Raymond calls Keen to see if she can help him in the matter. She tells Reddington that she could use the distraction, and says she’ll gladly help him. Although she’s surrendered her badge, the evidence vault’s the same place they store evidence of open homicides. She says she can give Singleton something that might help them gain access to the vault.

She gives Singleton Tom’s old cellphone, saying she finally got up the courage to start going through his things. She says she doesn’t know the password, but perhaps some of the department’s tech-staff can break into it. She tells Raymond that the device’s being used as a passive packet sniffer, a trick Tom taught her. Within minutes, Dembe’s got the evidence vault code, now they just need a way to get to the vault. Which provides a great excuse to bring into the episode a fan favorite.

Keen recruits Glen Carter, to take a pill that will induce heart-attack like symptoms in him, which will provide the diversion she’ll need to get into the vault. After Jellybean, reiterates that she owes him big time for his actions, he admits he’s looking forward to some time away from his mother, and getting a little rest and relaxation. He no sooner gets the sentence out of his mouth, when the symptoms knock him to his knees, and Keen calls for help.

During the ensuing chaos, Keen accesses the keypad and opens the vault. We see her grab the evidence envelope with the coin inside it. She returns just as paramedics are wheeling Jellybean out of the station, on a stretcher. She quickly exits the other way.

Aram’s discovered the Blacklist member’s name’s Abraham Stern, and that he’s a loan officer at the Manhattan bank. Cooper soon realizes that Reddington also has ascertained Stern’s identity, when he receives a call from MPD informing him the coin disappeared from their evidence vault. Harold calls Raymond and he says he realizes that he’s cut a deal with Stern, Red replies he’ll let him know how things work out.

The two men negotiate a truce, as Reddington states that sentiment guarantees that Red will accept a 50/50 split with Stern, since the Federal Reserve Notes are his inheritance. We then find out Stern’s father was a master engraver with the Denver Mint, when the notes went missing. His father became the prime suspect, but nobody could prove he stole the notes, so he got demoted to the mint’s maintenance staff and worked out of the boiler room.

His last act at the mint was engraving the four bronze coins as a map for his son. Later that year, the mint switched to a new boiler room, and dismissed Stern’s father. He never worked again and died a pauper, however he left Abraham the coins in his will. Stern just a teenager at the time, and angry with his father spent the coins on four gum balls at the local candy store. He realized his mistake soon after, when he received a letter from his father’ lawyer, informing him about the coin. He’s dedicated his entire life to retrieving those coins.

Stern brought another man with him to the summit meeting, a man he identified as the Professor, who was able to crack the code of the four coins. Stern’s father used his craftsmanship to put together a topographical map when the four coins were shown in an over-lay. The map showed that the notes were still in the Denver Mint, the final clue revealed in the over-lay told them the notes were still in the old boiler room.

Raymond tells the other two men that the best way for them to get into the vault, which is their only access to the old boiler room, would be to disguise themselves as drivers and deliver a truck filled with laundered money. Reddington calls Heddy Hawkins to ascertain how much available cash they’ve got on hand.

Hawkins naturally distrusts Stern and tries to warn Raymond off. Reddington voices Heddy’s feelings and asks what assurance Stern can give him, and the thief swears on his dead father’s grave. Raymond turns to Hawkins and says he can’t ask for anything better than that, and agrees to work together.

Keen returns to the hotel, and plunges the remainder of the contents of the tub down the drain. She’s surprised to find just one thing remaining. Turns out that Navarro had a glass eye, that contained tech inside it. She grabs the eyeball and cleans up the room before she vacates it.

Reddington’s able to access the mint’s computer system, to give them authorization to make the delivery. Once they get inside the gates, Stern acknowledges that Heddy’s instincts had been spot-on, and he locked Red inside the truck as his crew proceeded to steal the Federal Reserve Notes. Raymond fully prepared for the double-cross, quickly made his escape from the van and joined Hawkins and his crew on the roof of the building.

When Stern and his team reach the old boiler room, they open the boiler and find it’ stuffed with the notes. Stern tells his associates to start packing their bags. Suddenly a deafening sound fills the room, and soon the notes are going up the air shaft, getting sucked up two giant exhaust vacuums that Raymond’s crew have hooked up to a V-8 motor. They get nearly all the notes before the mint’s system seals the vault, with Stern and his crew inside. Raymond calls Cooper and tells him that he broke off his partnership with Stern when he found out that the Blacklist member wanted to rob the Denver Mint. He tells the Task-Force Director, that Stern and his crew are robbing the mint as they speak.

Later Raymond shows back up at the Post Office and heads to Cooper’s office and sits down in the chair in front of Harold’s desk. Cooper grins at him and says he knows that Reddington got the Federal Reserve Notes, he doesn’t know how Red pulled it off, but he knows he got them. Reddington asks about the four pennies, and Cooper says they’ve been recovered and returned to their rightful owners, except for the one Raymond “liberated.” He says he’ll give it to Red for the truth.

Reddington starts to explain Stern’s story to Cooper, but Harold says that’s not the truth he wants. He then asks Raymond if he stole a bloody cloth from the evidence vault, that the MPD had in relation to the death of Robert Navarro. Red looks rather shocked and says of course not. Harold gives Reddington back the coin. The Bureau has Stern in custody, and the Denver Mint reported that nothing was stolen during the break-in. Reddington literally pulled off the “Perfect Crime.”

The evening ends with Raymond voicing his displeasure to Keen. She admits she got in over her head, and never intended to kill Navarro. However he got the jump on her and he died in the ensuing scandal. Reddington says he wants to make certain that the body can’t be found, and she assures him she already took care of that. She then shows him the glass eye with the Next-Gen tech, and asks for his help. He says of course, and then pulls the bronze penny from behind her ear.

She asks if his treasure hunt was successful, and he replies he’s got his sights set on a castle in Trieste, and suggests she accompany him to take a look at it. Just then a man named Bernard walks into the room carrying a box and tells Reddington he looks incomplete. Raymond chortles as he looks at the box, and then gives Bernard the coin, while Liz stammers. She’s puzzled that Raymond would give the man the coin for the contents of the box, until Bernard tells her the box contains Winston Churchill’s hat.

Raymond carefully lifts the hat out of the box and explains it’s Churchill’s Homburg that he wore during the blitz. Under its brim Churchill defeated Hitler, and now Raymond’s the hat’s unworthy new owner. Bernard tells Keen that the hat’s been locked al these years gathering dust in a trunk in Surrey, until recently discovered. Raymond puts it on and asks how it looks, she responds kind of amazing, and he beams.

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

Photo Courtesy Of NBC.

WARNING: SPOILER ALERT

Welcome back for the second half our recap of “The Blacklist,” episode “The Informant.” Due to the complex story lines of this episode, our choice was either to write a short novella, or to give Elizabeth Keen’s story arc a separate recap. Rather than subject you to tedious writing and confusion, we chose the latter option.

As I wrote in the first recap, this episode proved to be a great showcase to contrast how Donald Ressler and Lizzie, deal with their internal demons. We detailed how important it was for Ressler to battle his dark-side, and to seek the light. His duplicitous ways proved to be a burden he could no longer carry, and he was willing and ready to pay the price for his crimes.

Vengeance’s proven to be an intoxicating elixir for Elizabeth Keen. Her time spent in Alaska, strengthened her body as she lead a Spartan existence. However it took her executing the four criminals that threatened her, for her to feel alive again. She’s hyper-focused on her mission, making the men that killed her husband pay dearly. She’s become Ahab, and the mysterious Ian Garvey’s not only her prey but her obsession. She may feel healthy and alive, but she’s ostracized herself from her old life.

In many ways the Elizabeth Keen we’re seeing, could be best compared to a feral animal. That was well displayed early in the episode, during an exchange with Samar Navabi, as the two bumped into each other at Raymond’s apartment. The pair exchanged pleasantries, with Samar describing her relationship with Aram as boring, domestic and blissful. When she asked how Agnes’ getting along, Lizzie showed her shame as she turned away and made a hasty exit. Navabi said to Reddington “She’s not coming back, is she?” She took Raymond’s silence as an affirmative.

Lizzie’s conducting her own investigation into Tom’s murder from their old apartment, and once again living a Spartan existence. She’s spent the past two days, after returning from Alaska, gathering as much information as she can on the men that invaded the apartment, nearly killing her and taking Tom’s life. She keeps flashing back to the crime as she investigates the evidence she’s gathered, including the swatch of carpet still stained with blood.

We see photographs and names of the men involved, and with each image we watch how they died. Worgul, Madigan, Fishbauch, and Shelly, plus the picture of the red-headed beefy guy that left with Garvey, Bobby Navarro. The police believe that Navarro orchestrated the hit, however they lacked the evidence to hold him. Elizabeth’s memory’s sketchy, but she remembers another man in charge, a man with glasses.

Raymond’s ascertained that the five men worked for the Nash drug syndicate, but he believes somebody may have hired them to do the hit. Unfortunately, he’s been unable to make any headway into the identity of whom that party could be. He’s basically taken on the role of sounding board for Keen at this juncture, and not for advice just information.

Reddington doesn’t approve, and he’s quite fearful about the path Lizzie’s barreling down. However he realizes she’d never accept him as her moral compass, so he approaches the man that already plays that role in her life, Harold Cooper. Raymond explains to Cooper that he’s the devil on Lizzie’s shoulder, but Harold’s the angel on her other shoulder. He says that Elizabeth’s going through troubled waters, and he’s counting on Harold to help her navigate them.

As for the man she’s ultimately seeking, we get our first glimpse of Ian Garvey since the series’ return, when he’s woken by a phone call in the middle of the night. We see he’s sleeping with a woman and he’s wearing boxers and a wife-beater. He takes a swig from a beer bottle on his night stand when he answers the phone, the man on the other end informs him that Keen’s returned to town. The other man asks Garvey if he wants him to act on it? Garvey responds to leave her be, and that he believes time will be their ally. He says he’ll get things together on his end and hangs up.

I’ve stated previously that I don’t believe Ian Garvey stems from the underworld, rather he comes from a career in one of our government intelligence services, either the Agency or the Bureau. I’m uncertain of his status, whether he’s still an active agent or retired, but he’s still retains access to CODIS. Garvey’s likely busted his hump as  bureaucrat for years, and he believes the contents of the knapsack are the pot of gold at the end of his rainbow. I’ve got severe doubts that he’ll ever see even a coin.

There’s a knock on Lizzie’s apartment door, and she recognizes Police Detective Singleton, the officer that tried to interview her about the incident after she got discharged from the hospital. She tries blowing him off, saying it’s an inconvenient time, but his persistence pays off and she invites him in for a cup of coffee.

Singleton tells her that the bullets that killed her assailants came from a gun that wasn’t found at the scene. Realizing that the bullets came from Raymond and Dembe’s weapons she pleads ignorance, as well as saying she had no idea who drove them to the hospital. Singleton realizes she’s stonewalling, and says she could be charged as an accessory, if she’s withholding information. The only bit of useful info she receives is that the Nash syndicate operate out of Kaufman’s Food and Liquor, which proves to be her next destination.

Three young low-level hoods are sitting on the corner in front of Kaufman’s when Keen drives up, and one of them approaches the car. She asks the guy where’s Navarro, and he replies she’s got the wrong place. She informs him that she’s aware that he’s a member of the Nash syndicate, and once again asks where’s Navarro.

The punk, thinking he can intimidate Keen reaches into the driver’s window and clutches her throat, big mistake. She promptly puts a handcuff on his hand, and he attaches the connecting one to her car and starts to drive off. She tells the kid he looks athletic, but she’s got a full tank of gas. He quickly says that he’ll contact the bagman Chrisanto, who could lead her to Navarro.

Chrisanto arrives to find the punk sitting in the driver’s seat of his car, so he climbs into the passenger seat. He doesn’t notice that the kid’s bound and gagged until it’s too late. Lizzie’s in the backseat, and starts choking him with some razor wire. She tells him not to panic, because then he’ll pass out, and then she’ll have to kill them. She then asks about Navarro’s location, and he gives up Navarro’s money launderer, Pee-Wee.

Keen walks into the kitchen of a greasy-spoon, where she finds Pee-wee at his day job tending the grill. She asks about Navarro, and he tries to play dumb. When she asks him again he goes for his pistol, but Lizzie shoots him in the thigh before he can grab it. she then asks the young waitress where he keeps the money, and she motions to a refrigerator, stuffed with cash. Lizzie grabs a stack and says Pee-Wee will either give her Navarro’s location now, or after she burns up all of his money, and sets the stack aflame from one of the stove burners.

Navarro’s counting money, when there’s a knock on his door. He looks through the peephole and sees Pee-Wee’s face, and he grumbles as he asks why he’s there. Pee-Wee responds, just let me in and Navarro opens the door, to find Keen standing there with the money launderer’s image on her cell phone, and she’s brandishing a pistol. She asks Navarro if he remembers her, then pushes her way and instructs him to put a pair of plastic handcuffs on himself. She then empties the cartridge from his pistol and puts the gun back on his desk.

She asks Navarro about the man with the Damascus knife that was at her apartment the night of the incident, and the thug responds he can’t remember. She gives him a back hand to his jaw and then shows him pictures of Nik, Pete McGee, and Lena, and asks if he remembers them? She says that Tom was trying to help Nik with something, that got them both killed.

He smirks and says she still doesn’t get it. Tom wasn’t trying to help Nik, rather it was the other way around. She asks what Nik was trying to help Tom with, and Navarro looked down sheepishly and lowered the volume of his voice and said he couldn’t tell her or they’d kill him. Lizzie fell for the decoy, as she let her defenses down and leaned into hear him better. That’s when Navarro made his move, and in the ensuing tussle knocked the pistol out of her hands.

Unfortunately due to allowing the hood to handcuff himself, his hands remained in front of him. He lifted Lizzie up like a rag doll and slammed her head against the wall. She looked like she was blacking out, but fought back until he got his arm around her neck, choking off her air supply.

Lizzie’s losing consciousness, but she starts fixating on Tom’s final moments in the apartment. Beaten to a pulp, he summoned the strength to hold off their attackers until Dembe and Raymond arrived. Inspired by the vision, she loosens the large man’s grip with a blow to his chin. He grabs her again, but she’s able to push him down backwards, so that they both fall on a glass coffee table that shatters under his weight.

Shaken from the incident, Liz gets up an looks at Navarro. His lifeless eyes stare back at her, with a shard of glass protruding from his jugular vein, and blood spurting like a geyser from his neck. She says out loud, okay it’s okay, but she realizes it’s anything but. Lizzie’s crossed the line, she’s turning into a full-fledged vigilante. Although Raymond can likely clean up this mess for her, Keen’s troubled waters maybe leading to a tidal wave.

The Blacklist Broadcasts Episode #100, Next Wednesday, January 17, at 8:00 pm on NBC.

Photo Courtesy Of Will Hart/NBC

WARNING: SPOILER ALERT

Remember when we thought this was going to be the “light and breezy season?” The NBC series “The Blacklist,” excels in the game of bait and switch, getting the viewer to think zig, while the story-line veers off into the land of zag. The device’s one of the most intriguing aspects of the show, beginning with the revelation that Elizabeth Keen’s life was just an illusion. Since then we’ve witnessed the show-runners and story-writers lead us down the path in one direction, only to realize that they’ve surprised viewers once again.

Viewers went into the show’s fifth season, prepared for a new dynamic centering on a down-and-out Raymond Reddington. The former concierge of crime, wiped out financially thanks to the efforts of Mr. Kaplan, and living in a seedy motor-lodge and wearing hand me downs. Adding two new members to Raymond’s “Island Of Misfit Toys,” it appeared we were on the verge of witnessing Red’s bumpy road back to respectability. There was an ominous feeling in the final scene of the season premiere, seeing a beaten and bloodied Tom Keen, lying on the floor, as Reddington and Dembe burst in brandishing pistols.

Any thoughts of an airy season dissipated long ago, culminating with Tom’s death in the fall finale. The series returned on January 3, showcasing a vigilante Lizzie, a woman obsessed with taking justice into her own hands. She went off to find herself in a cabin in the woods, returning after channeling Rambo, in a killing spree. Her execution of the four felons that threatened her life, made her feel whole again for the first time since she woke from her coma.

Elizabeth’s not the only member of the Task-Force battling inner demons, as the Boy-Scout, Agent Donald Ressler’s been dealing with the ramifications of his actions since the season four finale. Ressler’s been under the thumb of “Fixer” Henry Prescott, after Prescott made certain that evidence connecting him the accidental death of Laurel Hitchin, would never get discovered. Panic caused Donald to contact Prescott too many times, alerting the “Fixer,” to the concept that Frank Sturgeon had other secrets. Upon realizing that Ressler belonged to the Bureau, Prescott kept him on a short leash, and used his new pet to do his bidding.

The Informant, (118)” proved to be an interesting contrast in how Lizzie and Donald are dealing with their dark-sides. While Keen chooses to embrace the anger bubbling within her, Ressler’s mortified by the situation he finds himself in. He’s going against his moral grain, feelings and values that he’s had since childhood. He remembers all too well that his police-officer father, died at the hands of a dirty cop, and he’s disgusted with himself for bending and breaking the rules.

The episode, sprawling and unwieldy, and jam-packed with information, can’t be done justice in one recap. Instead we’ll divide the episode into two recaps, with the first one focusing on the main story line, and the second recap dealing with the trials and tribulations of Elizabeth Keen.

The Blacklist Member Of The Week.

The show returned to its standard cold open format, dealing with characters stricken by nerve-gas in a Toronto Disco, causing all who ingest the gas to start gagging and vomiting, followed shortly by death. A terrorist cell claimed responsibility for the 57-victims, were in custody and the Fed planned to freeze their bank accounts on Monday.

Raymond informs Samar Navabi, that a person known as the Informant accessed the account information and plans to take possession of the assets, and then sell them back to the owners. The information was accessed by somebody using Senator Cooligan’s credentials, however the Senator was at a party when the hack occurred. Aram quickly determines that Cooligan’s got 11 staff members, and all have legitimate alibis except for a man named Howard Bishop. Harold sends Ressler and Navabi to question the aide.

Samar and Donald watch Bishop walking down the street using a burner phone. When he enters a restaurant, Navabi enters shortly after, only to find that Bishop gave her the slip. He actually went to the nearest police station and reported to the desk sergeant, that he witnessed a crime.

The aide claims that he witnessed a hit and run accident, at the time of the hack but he didn’t report it because he was with his lover, a married woman. The woman’s Judge Sonia Fisher, and she admits to the agents that she and Bishop are embroiled in an affair, and when she reported witnessing the accident she left out the fact that she was with Bishop. She says her husband’s hired a private detective to spy on her, and that Howard thought Navabi worked for Fisher’s husband, and that’s why he left the restaurant. The agents don’t think all is on the up and up.

Harold pays Raymond a visit, and Reddington’s back to his opulent living style, complete with a private elevator in the apartment, and his new valet Paris, who he hired away from La Berdanin. Harold tells Raymond they’ve got the Informant, but they lack the evidence to put him away. Harold gives Raymond a list of the bank accounts and asks if Raymond can obtain information on them.

Raymond and Dembe take the private jet to the Cayman Islands, and pay a visit to a bank managed by a prissy and uptight guy named Herman. He treats Reddington with disdain, until he finds out that Red’s net-worth’s now in nine figures. At that point Herman can’t be gracious enough, but Red informs him that if wants any of his business, he must perform a service for him first. He then presents him with the information on the bank accounts, and says he’s certain Herman has a way of getting the relevant information.

Raymond’s introduced to a young woman named Ms. Isaacson, a hacker who tried breaking into the bank’s server. She got granted early release from prison, in exchange for her pointing out vulnerabilities in the bank’s computer network. She however outright refuses to assist Raymond, telling him that money doesn’t interest her, but Red quickly comes up with an offer that entices her. Turns out that he’s owed a favor by an elusive tattoo artist Sosi-San, whom the heavily tattooed woman idolizes, and Raymond gets her to help him in exchange for getting tattooed by the legendary artist.

After receiving the list of the account holders from Reddington, Aram quickly determines that they’re looking for Rozmin Hamzah, who arrived earlier that day at Dulles from Brunei, under a false identity, and agents tracked him to the hotel he’s staying at. Navabi will trail Hamzah, while Ressler follows Bishop. Donald has Bishop in his sights when his phone rings and Prescott’s on the other end. He tells Ressler that he’s a client and unless the agent backs off he’ll release the information that will end his career and send him to prison.

Thinking of self-preservation, Ressler calls Navabi off and directs her and the other agents elsewhere. He then stands outside a door, watching Bishop and Hamzah switch briefcases. His instincts as an agent override his fears and he arrests Bishop and directs Samar to where Hamzah’s heading. Bishop glares at Ressler and through gritted teeth, tells him he’s made a costly mistake.

Prescott and Ressler meet and the “Fixer” shows the agent images of him standing over Laurel Hitchin’s corpse. He then laughs as he proudly informs Donald that the judge wasn’t having an affair with Bishop, she’s just another play thing. He laughs even harder when he tells the agent that the hit-and-run accident, was actually a murder carried out by yet another person under his thumb. He then slaps Ressler across the face, Donald grabs him by the collar and puts his pistol to Prescott’s face.

Prescott flashes a rather maniacal grin and asks Ressler if he’s going to arrest him, when the agent doesn’t even know the “Fixer’s” real name. Frustrated, Donald cocks the gun at his antagonist’s head and says he can’t arrest him, but he’ll kill him if Prescott contacts him again, a truly empty threat. Prescott assures him he’ll contact him soon.

Ressler heads back to the Post Office, and Samar asks him if he remembers Henry Prescott, then she tells him that Bishop and Fisher are clients of his. Bishop admitted that the affair was a ruse and that the hit and run was actually a murder. Harold enters the room and congratulates Donald on the fine work he did, capturing the two men and stopping the money from falling back into the hands of the terrorists. They find out that the murder victim was an Internal Affairs officer named Perez, and they surmise that perhaps a dirty cop killed her. Cooper sends the pair to speak with her superior officer.

The pair interview Detective Farwell, who not only allows the duo to search the fallen officer’s apartment, he supplies them with her computer password which she entrusted to him. The password “Frank Sturgeon,” makes Ressler naturally quite nervous, and he zones out on Navabi as they head to the apartment. Donald tells Navabi to search the bedroom, but she stops first and asks him what’s up? He replies that he’s engrossed in trying to catch a cop killer, but she senses it’s much more than that.

While Samar searches the bedroom, Donald quickly finds the woman’s tablet, and types in her password. He finds a file with his name on it and finds an audio file within it. The audio file’s a doctored recording of the officer answering her phone, followed by Donald threatening Prescott, so that it sounds like he threatened the woman. At that moment his cellphone rings, Raymond’s on the other end and says it might be a good time for them to have a talk.

Turns out that Raymond orchestrated this whole affair, realizing that Donald was indebted to Prescott, and knowing the informant was one of his clients. He tells Ressler he wanted to know how far he had fallen down the rabbit hole. and Ressler passed the test. He then suggests that they visit Sonia Fisher together, and try to obtain some information from her.

Navabi heads back to the Post Office, and voices her concerns about Ressler to Cooper, and he replies that Ressler’s seemed unfocused. She says she’s worried about him, that he left he apartment they were searching without telling her. Harold assures her that he’ll talk to Donald, but he assigns her and Aram to go and speak with Judge Fisher again.

Ressler and Reddington speak to Fisher, who at first denies all their allegations, but quickly crumbles when she finds out the FBI are about to arrest her for being an accessory in a crime. We find out during this exchange that our old pal Brimley’s enjoying his golden years working at an ostrich farm.

Fisher asks Raymond if he had ever been honest, and he replies that he considers himself to be quite honest. She responds that she once was honest and moral and had convictions, but that part of her life ended when her teenage son got busted for assault. The young woman he’d assaulted had gotten a rape kit, and her son’s promising future appeared to be over before it began. Then she got a call from one of her son’s classmate’s father, an attorney who told her he could make the situation go away. The rape kit turned up missing the next morning, she didn’t ask for it to be taken, but she didn’t protest.

A few months later, the lawyer came looking for favors that she felt obligated to fulfill. She allowed guilty parties to walk free, and looked the other way countless times. Raymond says he can supply her new identity in a new country overnight, if she gives them Prescott’s real name. She reveals Prescott’s real name Mitchell Hatley, then excuses herself to get her coat in the bedroom.

Reddington starts relating a parable to Ressler about self-forgiveness, but his story’s quickly interrupted by a woman’s scream. Donald rushes to the bedroom to find that the judge took her own life by leaping out her bedroom window to the pavement below. Samara and Aram arrive just after she hits the pavement, and miss seeing Ressler in the window by a millisecond.

While Dembe drives, Ressler and red have a discussion in the back seat of the car. Donald says that he never thanked Reddington for avenging Audrey’s death and preventing the agent from taking the law into his own hands. Raymond told Ressler at that moment to go home, instead of going searching in the darkness, as he might find things down that path, he can never return from. Although Donald didn’t go home, he did heed Raymond’s advice, keeping himself from committing an unforgivable act.

He tells Reddington that the reason he wanted Hatley’s identity was to arrest him, not to kill him. Raymond responds that if Hatley goes to prison, than Ressler will as well. Donald says it’s his only way for him to escape the darkness and find the light again.

Ressler tracks down Hatley playing in a neighborhood football game, with parents and kids all participating. Hatley’s face goes gray when he sees Ressler, and asks “Sturgeon,” what he’s doing there. Mitchell’s wife asks him if he knows Donald and he introduces himself and tells her that her husband’s been doing an awful lot of lying to her. As the neighbors start to chime in, Hatley runs off with Ressler in pursuit. Dembe and Raymond, just happened to be in the neighborhood, and Raymond stops Hatley from running with a strategically placed car door.

Hatley flashes that maniacal grin once again, this time his teeth stained in blood, and goads Ressler to kill him, saying it’s the only way to save them both from going to prison. Ressler cocks his pistol and glares at Hatley, until Raymond calls out his name, then he holsters his pistol and arrests Hatley.

Donald heads back to the Post Office and makes a beeline for Cooper’s office. Both men want to talk at the same time, but Harold takes command and tells him that Mitchell Hatley died in an accident on his way to getting booked. The scene switches and we see Hatley trapped inside an empty vehicle that’s tipped upside down and is leaking gasoline all over the interior of the vehicle. Raymond sticks his head into the vehicle and tells Hatley that Donald Ressler sends his regards and then sets the vehicle ablaze.

Donald tells Cooper that Reddington killed Hatley and got rid of the evidence incriminating him, but Harold refuses to discuss the matter. Then Ressler gives him a sealed envelope containing a signed confession. Harold tells his agent that he’s realized the pain and anguish he’s been suffering for months. He then says that none of them are the same people that first signed onto the Task-Force. He says he’ll hold onto the confession until the Task-Force’s completed it’s mission, then he’ll give it to the proper authorities. As long as Ressler gives those same authorities Harold’s signed confession at the same time, and hands the agent another sealed envelope.

Ressler angrily heads over to Raymond’s apartment and demands to know why he killed Hatley despite the agent’s wishes. Reddington tells him not to flatter himself, that Hatley knew all about Red’s relationship with the Bureau, and that he needed to be silenced. Ressler says that he didn’t extract himself from being under Hatley’s thumb to in turn being obligated to Reddington.

Raymond replies that sins should be buried like dead, not that they be forgotten, but for us to remember them but find our way forward nonetheless. He says he hopes this serves that purpose for Donald, and besides blackmail’s too nasty a business to be brought up between friends. Ressler leaves the apartment grabbing a pricey looking liquor decanter on his way out the door.

Coming Up: PART TWO: She’s Not Coming Back Is She?