Jennifer Ferrin

All posts tagged Jennifer Ferrin

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 Courtesy Of NBC

WARNING SPOILER ALERT:

This will now be my tenth attempt at writing this column, which has changed in tone and format throughout this past week. This writer became hooked on the NBC veteran series “The Blacklist,” the moment James Spader, doffed his fedora and dropped to his knees in the Hoover Building in September, 2013. Beginning in September, 2014, we have faithfully recapped the last four seasons of the series.

Returning readers to these pages are well aware that we are not afraid to share both bold opinion, as well as speculation. There have been times when these pages expressed disagreement with series creator Jon Bokenkamp, and his staff of writers. Despite those disagreements, this viewer kept faith that the writing staff knew exactly where they wanted to take this epic tale. After watching the two-hour-premiere of Season Six, this viewer now doubts that premise.

It’s been almost nineteen-months, since Tom Keen picked up a battered old suitcase containing a skeleton, per the last request of Kate Kaplan. The contents of that valise would lead to the demise of two beloved characters, and stood the show on its ear in the process. The man who said “criminals are notorious liars,” shortly after meeting FBI profiler Elizabeth Keen, turned out to be living an existence built upon a foundation of falsehoods. Although the man we know as Raymond Reddington IS the “Concierge Of Crime,” he’s not the former United States Naval Officer, who decades before had a torrid affair with Katarina Rostova.

After surviving a near-apocalyptic battle against his former “better-half,” in the series fourth season, season five started out on a lighter note. Nearly penniless, Raymond was reduced to living in the seedy Terra Vista Motor Lodge, wearing borrowed clothes. Rather than being crushed by the loss of his empire and many long time associates, the situation seemed to energize Reddington. He knew that it was just a matter of time before he’d be back amongst the criminal elite, as they had left him with his greatest asset. He still possessed the mind of a chess player, who had deduced the next ten moves he’d make on the board.

Despite the lighter tone throughout the first episode of season five, our evening concluded with what proved to be a flash-forward, giving us a brief glimpse of a horrific event that took place later in the season. After a surprisingly brief period, Raymond’s financial coffers filled quickly and the comedic tone of the first few episodes receded into the background.

When the series went into it’s Fall hiatus, the show-runners’ ended the romance of the star-crossed-lovers Tom and Elizabeth Keen, killing off Tom, for getting too close to the truth. We also met the “BIG BAD” of the season, Ian Garvey, a corrupt Federal Marshall who had personal reasons for going after Reddington. Garvey took possession of the bones, after he and his goons invaded the Keen’s home, and then beat up the couple so severely that Tom died and Lizzie lapsed into an eight-month coma.

We fast forward to May, 2018. We’re introduced to a woman claiming to be Jennifer Reddington, Red’s long lost daughter, living under an assumed name thanks to the witness protection program, and the aid of Garvey. A showdown takes place in a Baltimore bar, concluding with Garvey shooting Reddington, and Keen killing Garvey. However the location of the knapsack containing the bones remained a mystery.

Season five concluded with Raymond and Elizabeth receiving what they wanted. Reddington reclaimed possession of the skeleton, and then burned the remains with Dembe, and Dom, by his side. However Elizabeth attained the knowledge she’d been seeking for months, the secret that Red refused to share with her. The man that Garvey sent the bones to Sutton Ross, revealed to Keen, and her half-sister Jennifer, that the bones were the last remains of their biological father, the actual Raymond Reddington. Sutton would not live long enough to share that information with the authorities, as Reddington snuffed out his life, while Sutton was being arrested.

Renewing “The Blacklist,” became an eleventh-hour decision for NBC, and it came with a caveat. Although season six would run a complete 22-episode schedule, the network wouldn’t air the episodes until January, 2019. So began the interminable wait, replete with rabid fan speculation, including a faction that refused to believe that James Spader’s character wasn’t a man who had taken on a new identity decades earlier.

Reading that the series would kick-off the season with a two-hour premiere, I hoped that the fan’s patience would be rewarded by transporting us back to the 20th Century, revealing the true story. Although we’ve seen that era through the perspective of four-year-old Masha Rostova, as well as Kathryn Nemec, that gave us only glimpses colored by perception. The origin story of the man we’ve come to know as Raymond Reddington, would have made for a powerful premiere, and set the tone for the season.

Instead of providing answers Bokenkamp and company, decided to venture down a new path. In the midst of a rather convoluted mish-mash, that had it’s share of highlights, every thing suddenly ground to a halt. While stopping to pick up three pretzels from a street vendor, a uniformed officer walks over to Reddington and asks for identification, and notices Raymond’s packing. The cop’s soon informed by some other uniforms, that he’s captured the man atop the FBI’S Most Wanted List. Welcome to our new adventure “Raymond Reddington Goes To Prison.”

In a nod to our current political atmosphere, Harold Cooper’s informed in no uncertain terms by Cynthia Pannabaker, that the Justice Department will deny any agreement the Task-Force has with Reddington. Cooper arranges a meeting with the prosecutor from the Southern District of New York, hoping to persuade her to kick Reddington loose. The woman who has political ambitions and her eyes on the Governor’s mansion, scoffs at the suggestion. Upon returning to New York City, she holds a press conference announcing to the planet that she’s got Raymond Reddington in custody, and intends to prosecute him to the fullest extent of the law.

While Keen and Donald Ressler attempt to track down the Blacklist member of the week, The Corsican, they receive a call from Aram Mojtabai, informing them of Reddington’s arrest. Keen’s overcome by emotion and rushes to the holding cell Raymond’s in. He tells her not to worry about his imprisonment, however he wants her to find out who tipped off the cops. He tells her he believes that it’s somebody close. She asks if he wants the person’s identity in order to kill them, and he responds, that depends.

Keen returns to her apartment, where Jennifer informs her that she’s the one that tipped off the police. After an earlier conversation, when Keen expressed second thoughts about going after Raymond, Jennifer decided to take matters into her own hands making certain Liz couldn’t back out. Despite the betrayal by her half-sister, Keen takes responsibility for Reddington’s arrest, and fears the results of Raymond finding out she’s to blame.

Although the premise of Raymond, running a maximum security prison’s somewhat intriguing, if they introduced this story-arc during the series’ fourth season, I’d likely be far more receptive to it. If the speculation’s correct that this could be the final season for this show I’m so emotionally invested in, I don’t want episodes wasted going down this rabbit hole.

Once again James Spader proved that despite the lack of recognition, he’s turned Raymond Reddington into one of the medium’s most iconic characters. The “cold-open” for Dr. Hans Koehler, may have been the best the show’s ever produced. While Reddington and Dembe case a bank they plan to rob the following week, a masked gang break into the facility carrying heavy artillery. Raymond then precedes to dress down the would-be robbers, and offers to help them escape for the lion’s share of their take. The group escape in a dump truck Reddington’s arranged for, and when the police start pursuing the vehicle, Raymond dumps the crooks, their weapons, and their money onto the street and into the officer’s arms.

Spader used his added girth to his advantage in these two episodes. The weight that he’s gained the series’ run, makes him look far older than the svelte man we were introduced to in 2013. The image accompanying this piece, evoked the aging Don Corleone, brilliantly portrayed by Marlon Brando, in my mind.

His journey to the maximum security prison was wordless, but there was no need for dialogue, as Spader’s face told us exactly what he was feeling. Despite his bravado, a primal fear gripped him, a fear that he’ll keep to himself in order to survive this ordeal. It’s just a matter of time before all the gangs within the facility, start reporting to him on a daily basis.

This won’t be Raymond’s last stand, switching from the chess analogy to poker, Reddington’s got at least two or three Aces hidden up his sleeve. It would not surprise me in the least if the POTUS from the Blacklist Universe, Robert Diaz, who of course has a history with Reddington, enters the mix. Let’s keep in mind that it’s sometime in October, 2019, in Raymond’s world, making it that much closer to Diaz entering a reelection campaign.

Raymond’s address to the empty chamber of the General Assembly at the United Nations, ranks with some of the best soliloquies Raymond’s ever performed. A long and rambling speech starting off with depreciating remarks, including tales of Cary Grant and LSD, making it sound that “Our Raymond’s” found solace through use of the chemical. We know of his taste for opium, it’s not that far a leap to surmise that Raymond’s had his share of acid-trips.

That scene lead to Elizabeth’s revelation about the man we know as Raymond Reddington. Yes, the man who assumed the identity of her biological father 30-years-earlier; is a cold-blooded killer, capable of committing heinous, unspeakable, inexcusable, acts.

However, he’s not soulless, and is indeed just as capable of showing kindness. Whether that be to a young boy born with birth-defects he buys three ice-cream sundaes for, or saving the lives of those in the United Nations Building. Reddington got nothing in return by getting Max to disarm the bomb, nor will he ever receive credit for it.

There was another nice exchange between longtime partners Keen, and Ressler, as Donald told Lizzie that she wasn’t fooling him that she was “fine” still working with Reddington, after Raymond killed Sutton Ross, and walked away with the skeleton. He told her he was willing to accept her explanation, but he wasn’t buying it. She thanked him for backing off.

There’s no doubt in this viewer’s mind that Raymond realizes Keen knows the truth. The fact that she’s yet to question him about his actions, wouldn’t get by a grade-schooler. That knowledge lead to a script hammering the viewers over the head with puns. There were variations throughout the two-hours, on I’ll show you mine, if you show me yours. The episodes also contained several versions of Raymond stating that he felt like a different person.

I’d also venture a guess that we shall soon encounter Bastien Moreau, and the shadowy organization that hired him to plant the bomb inside the United Nations building. The series has utilized the art of stunt-casting, quite successfully since the first season. Christopher Lambert, whom this writer hasn’t seen since Highlander, portrayed the assassin with a nationalist agenda. What purpose did the organization have for the man known as the Corsican to plant the explosive device inside the UN?


The Blacklist,” has bounced back before from less than stellar episodes, and story-arcs. I’m willing to give Bokenkamp and company time to improve from a rather disappointing sixth season premiere.

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