Photo by: Eric Liebowitz/NBC
Warning: Spoiler Alert
FBI Agent Elizabeth Keen and asset Raymond Reddington, are in the midst of another squabble, however that did nothing to detract from the NBC Series “The Blacklist” episode’s quality, entitled “Ruslan Denisov, Number 67,” by the network. This was non-stop action from start to finish, it also showed us the first signs of the past catching up with Liz Keen. Without Red in her corner, things could get rather sticky for the agent over the next couple of weeks.
Our story starts according to the graphic, in the village of Khumhara, Uzbekistan, which we get a breathtaking view of from the sky, showing the village surrounded by snow-capped mountains and the ocean. We see the prominent building in the village’s a Catholic Church. We go inside, see the flame of a candle, a man singing in prayer and the Priest about to eat the host and drink the wine.
Suddenly the church’s invaded by gunmen, the priest hides something in his podium and all the gunmen head straight for him. He begs the men saying he’s a simple man of God, when the leader Ruslan Denisov, slaps him in the face and says the man’s no more a priest than he is. They quickly find what the man hid, an overseas phone to contact the CIA, as the Priest’s actually an Agency operative. Denisov, says there’s your burning bush, talk to your God, the agent named Burk calls the Agency and says he “has a situation.”
Back in the States, we see an elderly woman sitting in her kitchen with a female uniform, when the doorbell rings and in enters Metro Detective Wilcox. He tells the woman Mrs. Ames, they’ll do their best to find her husband. She tells them her husband got the scare of his life a couple of days before he disappeared as he ran into a female FBI agent who had her gun pulled. We realize, this is the harbor-master that Tom killed earlier in the season. Liz gave her card to Eugene Ames, which his wife gives to Wilcox.
At the Task Force headquarters, Liz gives Tech-Wizard Aram Mojtabai, the piece of tech she found in her childhood stuffed bunny last week, she believes that’s connected with the Fulcrum. Aram says that there are many more qualified to inspect this, but Keen says none that I know and trust, then asks him to let her know what she finds.
Reddington walks in on them and Keen’s like an iceberg towards him, believing his only interest in her is finding the Fulcrum. She says she only wants to deal with him on business matters and he says that’s why he’s there. He shows her a newspaper article, about a Priest taken hostage in Uzbekistan and she looks back at Red blankly. He tells her that the Priest’s actually a CIA agent and taken hostage by an associate of his, Ruslan Denisov. He then tells Liz that the Agency will attempt to interfere.
We enter a meeting in Task Force Director Harold Cooper’s office, he’s talking with a man and a woman. We soon find out the man’s named Hayworth, Director of the CIA and the woman’s the Deputy Attorney General. Hayworth won’t confirm or deny that Burk’s his agent, so the Deputy AG, puts Cooper’s Task Force in charge. Keen and Agent Donald Ressler, fly to Uzbekistan that evening.
When they arrive they’re met by a Uzbekistan Army Commander, who has two moods; nasty and nastier. He tells them they’re working for him and they won’t negotiate with Denisov, they’ll negotiate with him. They’re then driven to their hotel, when they hear a familiar voice holding court, Red’s telling a tale to some businessman. He excuses himself to talk with Liz and Donald.
Keen asks Reddington why he’s there, he replies he can’t help them from thousands of miles away. He then tells them that Denisov finances a movement called SRU, to bring political change to Uzbekistan, by kidnapping American executives and holding them for ransom. A CIA agent’s not usually his target, but he tells them to go to their room and get cleaned up and join him for dinner.
They get into the elevator to head to their rooms, when the elevator stops and goes black, a back panel opens and men grab both of them putting black-hoods on their heads. They’re taken for a forty minute drive, when the bags get removed Denisov welcomes them to Uzbekistan.
They’re at Denisov’s facilities that he holds the hostages in, he explains that the reason they kidnapped a CIA agent’s to get the United States Government to pay attention to what an American corporation Anneca Oil’s doing to his country. Twenty-five-years earlier the Government of Uzbekistan sold the land rights to Anneca, for a fortune, which barely trickled down to the citizens. However, Denisov’s not upset about that, the pipeline that Anneca built, sprung a leak and is killing villagers. Hundreds have died, with hundreds more critically ill, the company won’t do anything and the American Ambassador ignores them. The CIA agents are plentiful reporting on any interference with American interests, so he took one.
He then tells the two agents he talked with a Vice President for Anneca, who assured him the water’s fine, he pulls up a cage with a man immersed in water. It’s the Anneca executive, with holes all over the top layer of his skin. Denisov says he’ll release him on good faith, he’s taken to the hospital and the doctor says he’ll survive. Some petroleum products caused the damage to his skin.
They tell the Uzbekistan Commander that Denisov, abducted and talked to them and he blames them for the conversation. They’re now prisoners in their hotel, via the Commander’s orders. Red has dinner with Donald, Liz chooses room service.
Red asks if they need help getting to their meeting with Denisov in the morning and Ressler says they’ve got things figured out. The next morning they get in the elevator, pull out the emergency stop button and they get handed their black-hoods again. Denisov says he’s not going to negotiate himself, he’s brought in a professional and who appears but Reddington himself, who proposes they go on a field trip.
Denisov takes the pair on a tour of some of the local villages, where they see the results of the toxic water. People are contracting cancer as well as a rash of kidney and liver failures. Ressler says the United States Government, wouldn’t tolerate this from an American corporation, Liz counters unless the information’s kept from them. She says she’ll contact the State Department and Red says, he’s pretty sure he can secure the release of Burk. Everybody wins.
Liz gets a call from Detective Wilcox asking about Eugene Ames, she said she lied to him about the case, due to national security and can’t comment on it now for the same reasons. She asked who filed the missing persons report and he responded his wife. She says good luck finding him and hangs up, but she knows this is Trouble.
Cooper meets again with Hayworth and the Deputy Attorney General and Harold informs them Burk’s alive, that Keen and Ressler were at a facility, but didn’t see the operative. Hayworth asks the location and Cooper says they approximate it’s in the Southeast quadrant, the CIA Director says he can have Black-Ops there in minutes. The Deputy AG warns Hayworth to stand down with negotiations going so well.
Hours later Liz comes to the restaurant to talk to Red, when he makes her watch the tango performed by the evening’s entertainers. It’s been a while since Raymond showed his appreciation of culture and he describes to Liz, that the tango’s the perfect analogy for negotiations.
It’s all give and take, the man can only do what the woman allows, eventually that line gets larger and larger, until they almost become one. At the same time we watch the Commander and his soldiers kill all of Denisov’s men at the facility, but a soldier tells the Commander, there are no hostages. Suddenly Red’s face turns ice-cold, as he sees a CIA operative in the restaurant, Keen asks if everything’s okay, Raymond responds everything’s terrible.
Keen and Ressler are on the phone with Cooper, when Red walks in and asks Harold why he told the CIA Director where the location was when he told him not to? Cooper says let me deal with Hayworth, Red replies deal with this, negotiations over. Then leaves to join Denisov.
Liz and Donald look out the hotel window and see troops lining the streets, Ressler says he think’s they’re now hostages. Keen tells her partner she thinks she’s in trouble, then tells Donald about Tom killing the harbor-master aboard the ship, she tried to stop him but couldn’t. Ressler asks if there were witnesses and Liz replies, there was one.
Back in the States we’re in Detective Wilcox’s office, as we see he’s found the one witness, as the man known as the Samoan’s sitting there answering questions. He says they can’t hold them and Wilcox says he’s right but tell him about Agent Elizabeth Keen.
Ruslan screams at Reddington, he should never have trusted him, Raymond responds we moved the hostages, just for that reason, all your assets are safe. One of Denisov’s men bring over one of the Uzbekistan soldiers, alive but injured, left to rot by his Commander. Red says he’s worth more dead than alive, but Denisov shoots him in the head.
He then pulls CIA Agent Burk out of his cell and points a gun to his head and Red says, you don’t want to do this Ruslan. You kill a corporate executive, you got one company upset with you, you kill a CIA agent, you’ll get boots on the ground and drones over head.
He then says to Burk that his friend’s too upset to see the big picture, tell us about Javin. The agent says he won’t and Red says that his friend’s still deciding what bed to lie on, but his bed’s been made for years and it includes a wide spectrum of events, now tell us about Javin. When the operative refuses again, Reddington asks for the gun and the operative sing’s like a canary.
Leonid Javin, former Cabinet Minister, ran the country during the last years of the Soviet Union, negotiated the deal with Anneca and is responsible for all the sickness. He’s turned religious, possibly insane, punishing himself for his past crimes. We watch the elderly former leader whip his own bare back in front of a fireplace until he bleeds.
We see the Samoan talking with Wilcox again and he asks if they have a deal and Wilcox says if the information you give us is pertinent to the case we can negotiate a deal. The Samoan asks if leading him to Eugene Ames’ body’s pertinent enough, because he can take him right to it.
Javin goes to church and slips into the confessional booth and asks why the Lord shields his face from him, Red opens the window and says maybe he doesn’t like you. Denisov pulls the former leader from the booth and Red says that Javin’s not getting absolution that easily.
Red tells the old man that he needs all the details on the deal with Anneca and he refuses, they drag him over to the sink filled with Holy Water and dunk his head under. Red nods to Denisov to pull him out and says the American Government doesn’t consider this torture, how about you? When Javin doesn’t talk they dunk him again, this time he comes up sputtering and says he’ll talk.
They arrange a meeting with Keen, Ressler and Dean Walker, the Anneca executive who tried earlier to say that Denisov sabotaged the pipeline. Javin tells all about the negotiations for the pipeline, but then reveals there was a first pipeline Anneca installed that killed thousands of people in 1988. When the Soviet Union fell apart, Javin helped cover it up, but he still has all the documentation. Walker says that Anneca will pay reparations, to family’s that lost members, but Denisov says that’s not his terms. He says Anneca will close off the pipeline and leave Uzbekistan. Walker laughs at him until he says they’re going on a field trip to one of the mass graves unless Anneca agrees.
The next morning Walker gives a press conference saying that Anneca’s leaving Uzbekistan and as a parting gesture they’re going to build schools. We watch the Commander shake his head and leave the room, he’s trapped in a stairwell by Dembe and Red.
Ressler get’s a call while he and Keen are watching a TV report about a French company coming into Uzbekistan and building a new pipeline, he tells her they’ve got to leave as Burk’s getting released a few miles out-of-town. As they start to leave, they see Red with an executive for the French oil company that’s coming into the country, it was one of the men he talked with when Liz and Donald arrived. Liz says he planned this whole thing out, knowing he’d make money from the French. Everybody wins.
Liz and Donald are to meet Dembe, Red, Denisov and Burk for the release, Hayworth’s on the phone with operatives, with orders to arrest Reddington and kill Denisov, when Keen and Ressler have Burk. Cooper boosts in his office and rips him a new one for storming the facility and tells him to expect a call from the Attorney General. Hayworth tells his agents to stand down.
Aram tells Liz that the tech’s circa late seventies/early eighties, but he can’t figure out how to operate it and suggests she asks Reddington. She not only nixes that idea, but asks Aram to promise to keep it secret from Raymond, and Aram agrees.
The Samoan brings Wilcox and some uniforms to Ames’ body and asks if he’ll get immunity if he testifies. Wilcox replies, tell me about Agent Keen.
The Story Continues Next Thursday Night at 9:00 pm on NBC.