Tag Archives: Perry Yung

The Blacklist: Rubber Baby Buggy Bumpers

Photo Courtesy of NBC
Photo Courtesy of NBC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

{“The Blacklist,” which normally occupies this space will be preempted this week for the following special program.}

Welcome to the world of Halcyon Aegis, a corporation that exists as a result of the United States Government outsourcing more and more of their military budget to subcontractors. Picture if you will a cooler version of Halliburton, with a sultry and savvy woman running the operation. Halcyon Aegis undertakes tasks that the Government can’t publicly acknowledge, such as negotiating with foreign thugs to get American hostages released.

That just happens to be exactly what the corporation’s leader Susan “Scottie” Hargrave’s in the midst of when we join her in Indonesia. She’s there to negotiate a deal with a kidnapper named Karokaro whose demanding a million dollar deposit into his bit-coin account or he’ll kill his hostages. Scottie then gives Karokaro the routing number to make a deposit in her bit-coin account and she’s demanding three million.

We then see perhaps one of the reasons that Raymond Reddington’s never liked Hargrave, because she shares his talent for sharing anecdotes and verbal manipulation. She informs Karokaro that she’s already rescued the hostages and advises him to call his men to verify her story. While he’s making the call she tells the thug that she suffered a traumatic event years ago that she hasn’t recovered from. She normally leaves these type of meetings to staff members, but she’s doing this for therapeutic reasons.

We hear somebody on the other end of the kidnapper’s cell-phone talking rapidly and sounding distressed even though it’s in a foreign tongue. Scottie says her Indonesian’s rusty but the man on the other end likely just informed Karokaro that not only did she rescue the hostages, she kidnapped the thug’s brother in the operation. He asks her if she’ll accept cash.

This is our introduction to the Spinoff series that NBC has added to this fall’s schedule and called “The Blacklist: Redemption,” starring Famke Janssen in the role of Hargrave. Scottie was telling the truth about the traumatic event she went through (more on that later) and we immediately notice some of her eccentricities. She carries around some sort of seashell necklace, clutching it in her hand like rosary-beads. She’s also got a penchant for saying “Rubber Baby Buggy Bumpers,” almost like a mantra.

The phrase “Rubber Baby Buggy Bumpers,” is a tongue-twister and a vocal exercise to help improve one’s diction. It might also be a phrase that a mother and her three-year-old son might share as a private joke. We’re never told the meaning of the phrase, but we’re aware that Scottie seems to get comfort from saying it in tense situations.

Joining Ms. Janssen in the new series are three familiar faces for Blacklist fans as Ryan Eggold  reprises his character of Tom Keen. Tom enters this episode wanting Hargrave dead in revenge for Lizzie’s “death,” he ends up becoming part of Scottie’s team so they can trap the man who hired Hargrave to abduct Liz, Alexander Kirk. Keen ends up working with Matias Solomon (Edi Gathegi) and Nez Rowan (Tawny Cypress) who both were involved in the attempted abduction of Liz.

Keen’s brought into the dynamic via Raymond, who informs Tom that Hargrave’s merely a sub-contractor hired by Alexander Kirk. Reddington has a meeting with Keen and the members of the Task-Force and gives them the lowdown on Kirk. Kirk’s actually an alias for an oligarch who struck it rich after the Soviet Union collapsed, by purchasing mining operations for just pennies on the dollar. Raymond explained that Kirk went off the grid in 2002, when he rubbed somebody wrong at the Kremlin.

Reddington tells them that Kirk’s survives due to politicians and leaders protection around the globe, in return for the one kind of gift everybody likes, money. We also see that Kirk’s suffering from some medical condition when he receives a blood-transfusion in his office. He then tells Cooper and the rest of the Task-Force that he proposes they work with Hargrave and Halcyon Aegis to capture Kirk and Harold expresses reservations. Raymond then tells them that the three American hostages that were held in Jakarta, are back home because Halcyon Aegis did what the US Government considers illegal.

Tom’s first meeting face-to-face with Hargrave isn’t exactly smooth as he walks into Agnes’ room at the hospital and finds her in the arms of Scottie, whose rocking back and forth whispering “Rubber Baby Buggy Bumpers.” Tom demands his daughter telling Hargrave she’s the only thing he cares about. After a snippy back and forth, Keen says that he’ll work with her to bring Kirk to justice. She sighs looking at Agnes and says that losing a child is absolutely the worst tragedy one can go through. She tells Tom she hopes he never has to experience that pain, then tells him Solomon will pick him up in ten-minutes.

Tom and Solomon take a private plane to the Halcyon Aegis facility and Matias informs Keen that the corporation deals in two types of cases. There are the escapades the American public’s aware of such as helping with security to fortify US troops in military conflicts, that they refer to as the black and white situations. Then there are the “gray-areas,” cases that are legally questionable but morally justifiable.

The Task-Force’s in the conference room when Tom and Solomon arrive and as soon as Ressler sees Matias he says he thought he could do this but he can’t and starts to get out of his chair. Navabi then sees Nez Rowan and starts to go after her, but Tom intercedes telling Samar if he can do this she can as well. Scottie enters the conference room acting like a teacher dealing with a rowdy junior-high class and tells them they’ve got work to do.

We switch to another meeting as Kirk meets with some European cohorts and a man makes some statement about Kirk’s protection in French. He responds in English that he doesn’t require any protection once the American Presidential election takes place he’ll be untouchable. His assistant walks into the office and whispers in Kirk’s ear that the child’s been located. The oligarch responds he wants the matter taken care of that day, of course that child’s Agnes.

Scottie tells those in attendance that the only way to get Kirk is through his bank account. Normally their target doesn’t deposit any money in the US, however he’s put together a Super-Pac for Senator Robert Diaz’s Presidential campaign and she believes there could be over $300 million in that fund. Hargrave then tells them that Solomon, Keen and Brown will rob the bank, but they won’t be able to access what’s in the account. Instead Ressler and Navabi will investigate the robbery and actually take the contents of the account at that point.

Harold responds that the FBI stops bank robberies, they don’t commit them. Scottie calls Cooper out on his sanctimonious attitude saying that they have a long-term working relationship with one of the most wanted criminals on the planet. She reminds them that during the three years they’ve worked together Raymond’s empire’s gotten larger, the Task-Force agrees to work with them.

Just before Nez pulls up in front of the bank in an SUV, one of the bank officer’s having a meeting with one of the bank’s customers. Zack Loescher needs to go to his car to get the paperwork the bank officer needs to see and tells his little girl Sadie to wait for him and he’d be back soon. Of course Solomon and Keen enter the bank just after Loescher leaves.

Matias and Tom have bandanas covering the lower half of their faces and are each packing shotguns. Matias gets everyone’s full attention when he fires a couple of rounds into the ceiling. He then goes up to a female employee and tells her to open the vault and though she’s terrified she refuses. So Solomon grabs the guy that met with Loescher and another woman from the bank took his chair to comfort Sadie.

Keen hears Sadie’s crying and he bends down to make eye-contact with her and tells her everything’s fine and she’ll be okay. No good intentions go unpunished, when Tom bends down to comfort the girl an off-duty cop pulls his weapon and tells Tom to drop his gun. His heroism was mighty impressive, but not really well thought out, Matias tells the cop to put his gun down and the two start screaming at each other, then Solomon shoots him. Tom takes a look at the cop and tells him that it’s only a flesh wound and he’ll be fine.

Unfortunately our worst fears for Sadie come to fruition as she got struck in the abdomen from a stray-bullet. Keen insists that they take her to a hospital or get her to an ambulance, as they leave the bank Zack tells them that Sadie’s his little girl. Tom grabs him by the arm and the four of them enter the SUV.

We get introduced to Operator 6-3, who seems to serve as dispatcher and coordinator for Halcyon Aegis. She informs them that an ambulance is heading towards the bank and then lets them know that it’s on the other side of the street. Tom channels Gene Hackman in the “French Connection” and somehow gets the SUV to the side of the road and they cut off the ambulance and get Sadie and Zack into the medical vehicle. After they’re safely inside the ambulance, they press the button on a remote and the SUV they used for the robbery explodes.

Keen heads for the hospital to see Agnes and he walks into a crime scene and his daughter’s gone. He then flies to Hargrave’s house as Susan’s holding a campaign financing dinner for Senator Diaz. After she’s done introducing the candidate to his audience she sees Tom’s standing at the door of the room the dinner’s taking place in. She gets one of her aides to tell Tom that she believes he’ll be more comfortable in her office.

Scottie storms into her office and starts ripping Keen a new one for coming to her home uninvited and for arriving at such an inopportune time. Tom takes the wind out of Hargrave’s sails when he wraps his hand around Scottie’s throat and asks where his daughter’s at. Suddenly there’s a knock on the office door and one of Scottie’s house-staff’s standing on the other side with Agnes safe and sound in her arms.

Susan tells Tom that she got wind that Kirk ordered a team to kidnap Agnes, so in a preemptive move she took her first. She informs him that Agnes’ receiving the best in medical care. Hargrave also lets Keen know that Sadie Loescher is in good condition after she arranged for a top surgeon to remove the bullet fragments from her abdomen. She’s resting comfortably in Mount Sinai Hospital.

Although Navabi was able to get the team to the halfway point of accessing the PAC fund account after the robbery, however the bank’s security system requires a retina scan of one Peter Pruitt treasurer of the PAC fund in order to enter the account. Pruitt’s attending a Big Eight Summit meeting in Berlin at the Turkish Embassy, one of Tom’s aliases is a criminal wanted by the Turkish Government. So by using that identity when he arrives in Germany he’s immediately apprehended and taken to the Turkish Embassy for extradition proceedings.

Keen of course overcomes his captors and escapes from the holding room and then disguises himself as a waiter serving champagne at the Summit soiree. Tom plays the old switcheroo on Pruitt’s cigarettes, substituting a pack with poison for Pruitt’s regular smokes. Pruitt lights up a square and seconds later he’s choking and lying on the floor. Nez and Solomon disguised as paramedics carry Pruitt to their ambulance on a stretcher, Tom jumps into the ambulance and the three make their get away.

I got the impression that if there will be a character from the original series who becomes a conduit between the two shows, Aram Mojtabai will fill that role. Sharing FBI information with Halcyon Aegis could be the connection between the two series and Aram seems to have found instant chemistry with his counterpart at Hargrave’s operation.

Dumond might become the breakout character in the new series, if you’re familiar with the CBS series Scorpion, picture a combination of Sylvester and Toby. He loves using nicknames; calling Aram “Cheesecake” and referring to Tom as “Sweet Cheeks.” Mojtabai’s become a favorite character on the original show because he’s the odd-duck, but he’s made a place for himself in the macho, testosterone world he lives in. Dumont could fill that same niche at Halcyon Aegis and I took an instant liking to the character portrayed by Adrian Martinez.

Turns out that Keen added a bit too much poison to Pruitt’s smokes and they can’t get a retina scan because his pupils were too small. Aram told Tom they needed a drug that optometrists use to dilate pupils and Solomon and Keen broke into a pharmacy where they found the liquid. However that’s when Matias pushed his luck too far.

Solomon says to Keen that he blames Tom for putting them in their current situation and Keen says if Matias hadn’t attacked his wedding they’d be somewhere else at that moment. Solomon concedes the point but then says to Tom that they both know Liz is in a better place right now. Keen grabs his pistol and shoots Matias in the abdomen telling him this is for Liz as Solomon falls to the floor.

Tom jumps into the ambulance and tells Brown to drive, when she asks where Matias’ at Keen responds just drive. Now Keen finds himself in a race against the clock as the president of Key Atlantic Bank realizes they’ve got Pruitt and he’s about to lockdown the account. The retina scan’s accepted and they get granted access to the account a heartbeat before the executive could lock them out. We watch as Halcyon Aegis and the Task Force break into cheers when they get into the account. Hargrave walks into the hallway and makes a call on her cell and says “Reddington, it’s time.”

Senator Robert Diaz walks into his home a very agitated man talking on the cell and saying he realizes Kirk got attacked by the same people who stole his money. He’s surprised to see Scottie sitting in his living-room and she asks if he had a bad day. Diaz asks her if she knows where his money’s at and Hargrave says of course she does as she took it. Diaz’s incredulous saying that Susan contributed 50 grand to his campaign, she smiles and tells Diaz you have to give to get. That’s when we’re aware Raymond’s also in the home.

Reddington tells Diaz that their move wasn’t personal and he’s ignorant about Diaz’s position on any issue. Diaz says he’s calling the cops and Raymond advises against it, telling him he’d be far better off calling Kirk. We then switch to Kirk’s office as his assistant tells him that Diaz is on the phone. Kirk picks up the phone and tells the Senator it’s an honor, but he hears Raymond’s voice instead. Reddington tells him that he’s got his money and his Senator.

Kirk responds by saying that he should have pulled the trigger that time he had a pistol in Raymond’s mouth in that house by the shore. He then says that Red’s got his money and his Senator but he doesn’t have Kirk and hangs up. Raymond tells Diaz if he wants his money back he’s going to temporarily suspend his campaign and subpoena Kirk to testify in front of the subcommittee that Diaz chairs. Diaz says he won’t be a party to murder and Raymond replies he will if he wants to become President. Diaz does as instructed.

The Task-Force arrives to the church for Agnes’ Christening and Keen tells them that they are the closest thing he and Liz had to family. Granted a dysfunctional family that’s tried to kill each other, but a family nonetheless and he says he knows Liz would have wanted them all to be God-Parents. While the ceremony takes place Tom looks up and sees Raymond standing in the doorway. However when he looks again Reddington’s gone.

After the Christening Tom decides that Scottie should die and he’s going to kill her. He walks into Hargrave’s home and when told she’s not there he says he’ll wait and walks into her office and then calls Raymond. Red tells him that he can’t kill Hargrave and Keen replies they no longer need her as they’ve got Kirk on the way to Washington.

Reddington then says that if Tom kills Susan he’ll never find out the unanswered questions about his childhood. Tom’s birth name’s Christopher Hargrave and he’s the son of Howard and Scottie Hargrave and got kidnapped at the age of three. He tells Tom that if he keeps his true identity from Hargrave he’ll be able to get the information from her to fill in the missing pieces of his life.

Tom’s holding a framed photo of Howard, Susan and Christopher when Scottie walks into her office and she smiles sadly as she starts to talk about her perfect boy. The picture got taken the last day they were all together, the shell necklace that she carries was around her son’s neck in the picture. Once again the beach plays into our saga, they had a wonderful day on the beach building sand-castles.

That night she and Howard drank too much and got into a huge argument. When they awoke the next morning her son was missing. She says that not a day has gone by in the last 28-years that she walks into a room without hoping her son’s in there. She then asks she hopes he didn’t show up to try to kill her again and Tom says that’s exactly why he came, but for his daughter’s sake he’s changed his mind. Once again Matias survives as the authorities investigating the break-in find a pool of Solomon’s blood but he had taken off.

As he starts to leave the office Scottie says you’re hired and Tom’s dumbfounded. She then tries to entice him rubbing Tom’s arm and saying they could do beautiful things together. Thankfully Tom doesn’t have a Oedipal fixation and he left after saying he’s sorry about her son.

The new series looks quite promising and hopefully we shall have some crossover between the two shows on an occasional basis, although Amir Arison could conceivably become a semi-regular on the new show. Matias Solomon will of course be back in top-form and in a few years the incident will just be a memory of how close the two of them have become.

Keep in mind the phrase that Matias used to describe the gray-area “Cases that are legally questionable but morally justifiable.” That’s likely to be the “sweet-spot” for this team and the kind of missions that they concentrate on. Frankly, I could have done without the family ties, but it’s not a deal-breaker for this viewer. Does this mean that eventually we’ll meet Howard and find out why he and Scottie haven’t shared the same bed in four years?

I’ve already expressed my theory about Alexander Kirk, so there’s no need to rehash it here. However one question that did arise from this episode, does Tom actually know that Lizzie’s alive? I’d originally thought that Keen was in the loop when Kate Kaplan suggest they fake Liz’s death, however what would be his motivation to kill Scottie if that’s the case? We’ll find out this Thursday in what should be yet another exciting season-finale for this incredible series.

The Blacklist: The Director Moves Up The Timetable

Photo: Courtesy Of NBC
Photo: Courtesy Of NBC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

The planet is in imminent danger, a secret cabal that’s been behind some of the most mind-bending, clandestine operations over the last few years, has decided to take their game to the next level. An attack of cataclysmic proportions, is set to occur in the next couple of weeks. The members of the secret organization, include prominent leaders of the United States, among them the National Security Director and the newly confirmed United States Attorney General. This week’s episode of the NBC series “The Blacklist,” set the table for the upcoming conflict, showing that enemies are everywhere and that even the people aiming to stop the attack, have some serious trust issues among themselves.

The action begins late at night, as two Asian men, cut through a chain-link fence into a cemetery and start digging up a body, buried just hours earlier. Their efforts get interrupted by a police officer, who demands that the bald man drop his shovel. His partner surprises the cop and the first man overpowers the officer. When the man turns around, we see that the back of his head’s severely scarred. The man makes sure the cop won’t identify them, as he kills him with the shovel.

We head to a room in a facility, when another Asian man greets the bald man as Mr. Liao and asks him what’s inside the body bag, perched on a counter. Liao opens the bag, revealing the corpse of a young woman whom he identifies as 24-year-old Marjorie Lin, unmarried and studying for her PhD, when she died of a heart-attack. The other man asks Liao how much he wants and he’s told the body will cost him 37 thousand dollars, the man says he’ll take her and leaves the room. Liao strokes the woman’s forehead and tells her she’ll soon be beautiful.

FBI Agent Liz Keen’s with her ex-husband Tom in the building he’s hiding out in, she shows him the picture on her phone of the photograph of herself with a little girl, being hugged by a woman, whose face has faded away from time and sunlight. She tells Tom that she believes the woman in the picture’s her mother, Keen asks if Reddington’s her father, she says her father died in a fire when she was four. However, she says Reddington was there when the fire broke out and she thinks her mother may have been there too.

Reddington and Dembe visit his newest ally, former CIA Agent Leonard Caul, who wrote the code for the Fulcrum and showed Liz the file in the previous episode, which Liz then showed to the Director, stopping the hit that would have taken out Red seconds later. Caul tells Raymond that he’s about to produce hard copies of the file, Red asks how accurate the information still is after 25-years.

The former CIA operative, says most of the same players are still members of the cabal, then he says that the Director’s planning a huge attack in 2017. Reddington responds that the attack will take place within the next few weeks, now that the Director realizes they’ve got the Fulcrum.

Red then says that their best bet’s trying to extract information from Kenneth Jasper, the member of the board who promised Raymond his support in the vote, then double-crossed him. He says Jasper’s in hiding as Raymond promised to cut out his tongue, he suggests to Caul that they make it appear that Jasper died in an explosion on his yacht. Then Kenneth will have to appear in public to keep his assets solvent.

Red then meets with Lizzie and shows her the news story about the theft of Marjorie Lin’s corpse. He says that Liao’s also been involved in setting up two bombings in Southeast Asia in the last five-years for the cartel. When she tells the Task-Force about him, they soon discover that he’s been involved in the theft of seven other young Asian women’s bodies.

Task-Force Director Harold Cooper gets another visit from his old friend Tom Connolly, who tells him he’s getting sworn in as Attorney General the next day. He then tells Cooper that the media’s aware that Reddington got shot and it seems like he’s clueless about the situation. So to make it appear that Connolly was in the loop, he wants Harold to manufacture a false classified document and leak it to the press. Cooper’s rolled over for Connolly on lesser issues, but he blanches at this request.

Lizzie heads back to Red’s second story flat, that Dembe sent her to last week to get the interface and the key for the Fulcrum. Although Dembe told Keen she must never reveal to Reddington, he realized that she was the one that got the equipment for Leonard Caul to activate the blackmail file. She starts looking on the shelves for something specific and she quickly finds what she was searching for, the surveillance camera that Red monitors the apartment on. Once she locates it on the face of a table clock, she starts talking to Reddington, until he calls her on her cellphone and tells her that he’ll tell her about the picture of her as a child.

Raymond tells Lizzie that the picture’s of her and her mother, who was a KGB Agent named Katerina Rustova and he says that Liz’s father was also an Intelligence Agent. However he refuses to tell her the name of her father, or the circumstances of him dying in the fire. She asks Red if he fell in love with her mother and killed her father to get him out-of-the-way, he just stares at her with his face like stone.

Harold meets wife his wife Charlene in their car and he tells her that Tom Connolly’s leveraging his life, so that Harold will manufacture and leak the phony document. Charlene responds that classified documents get leaked all the time and if his remaining in the medical-trial depends on him doing it, she believes he must. He looks at her sadly and tells her you know that I can’t.

As Raymond predicted, Jasper takes to the airwaves to prove that he’s very much alive and Red’s men have located the television studio he’s interviewing from. They’ll follow him back to the place he’s staying and Red and Dembe will attempt to get him to reveal what the Director’s planning.

Liz trying to track down Mr. Liao gets a tip he did some work on the corpses at a clinic and goes to check out what she might find. She’s taken aback when she discovers two life-sized mannequins, made of paper of two very specific women. She soon becomes aware of the ancient Chinese tradition of providing ghost-brides for men who died before they got married.

One of the dolls is that of Marjorie Lin, but they realize that the other doll is of a woman that Liao intends to kidnap and kill, then send her body back to China. This woman was betrothed to a man named Quon Zhang back in China, but instead of marrying her intended, she fled the country and moved to the DC Metro area. Quon Zhang, humiliated committed suicide, her move dishonored her family and Mr. Liao got hired to kill her and send her back to China, to get buried alongside the man she was to marry.

Red and Dembe infiltrate where Jasper’s staying and they take him back to Red’s. Raymond tells Kenneth that he realizes that he’s the Director’s closest adviser and he’s aware that he’s in the loop on the Director’s upcoming attack. After trying to get by on bluster, Jasper says that Reddington hasn’t a clue about loyalty, as he’s only out for himself. Thinking it’s time to change tactics, he calls Samar Navabi and tells her she has the exact skill-set he’s looking for.

Raymond introduces Navabi to Jasper and tells him that she worked for Mossad for many years and she’s quite proficient in the art of extracting information, via torture. Samar injects Kenneth’s jaw with Novocaine and Red reveals that Navabi’s about to pull out his teeth one by one, until he tells them what they want to know. He then says that dental procedures leave him squeamish, so he’d return when Jasper’s ready to talk. Navabi then tells Jasper that she’s working for the Director and she’s going to break him out. She  cuts his leather bonds, then shoots Dembe when he sees them leaving.

Kenneth says he knew they must have a contact on the inside, but Navabi says she’s not on the inside any longer. She spent nine-months getting accepted by the Task-Force and this move blew her cover. She tells Jasper she’s taking him to see the Director and he starts to panic, telling Samar that she has to vouch for him that he didn’t give up any information to Red. She says she’s not going to say that, he was there before she arrived. She finds out what Jasper knows about the operation, then she takes him back to Raymond, Dembe who wore a bullet-proof vest stands there smiling.

Mr. Liao knocks out the young woman in her house, then evades the police by driving the woman’s car through her garage door. However Ressler takes him on head-on with a FBI SUV, stopping him just before he left the driveway. When he’s questioned at the Task-Force headquarters, he tells the agents that they believe that ghost-brides are just part of a foolish ancient ceremony. However without the ghost-brides, single men aren’t appeased and cause bad luck for their families.

Liao’s asked about him smuggling a weapon into the States in the next couple of weeks for the cabal, he smiles and says the Bureau’s bad luck’s already beginning. He says that he wasn’t hired to bring a weapon in to the country, he got hired to deposit a Russian operative in the States and the man’s already in the country.

Cooper goes to see Tom Connolly just before he’s to get sworn in as the nation’s new Attorney General and he tells Tom he’s out. He says he’s done with games that if Connolly wants to get him kicked out of the medical-trials so be-it, but he won’t leak any false document. Tom then smiles and tells Harold he just doesn’t get it. Connolly wasn’t manipulating Cooper, it’s the Director and they now own him, as Charlene signed off on leaking the phony document. He tells Harold that time will reveal why the Director wants Cooper involved.

The Director’s Chief Of Staff tells his boss that Security flagged a package, but he thinks that he should see it. Just then the Director’s phone rings and he picks it up. Red’s on the other end, saying Jasper couldn’t hold his tongue, so Raymond sent it to him. Just then the director opens the small box in his hand, containing Kenneth Jasper’s severed tongue.

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