WARNING SPOILER ALERT
Long-time fans of the NBC series “The Blacklist,” realize that the show-runners are never afraid of “shaking the snow-globe,” to entertain the viewers. As expected, the show enters it’s Winter hiatus, with a radically altered dynamic, which is nothing new for long-time fans. We’ve witnessed an FBI profiler named Elizabeth Keen, discover her entire life was based on lies in the show’s first season. We then watched her on the lam, after killing the United States Attorney Tom Connelly, after he threatened her and her friends, during season three. Last year we witnessed a feud to the death between Raymond Reddington, and the woman he once called his better-half, Kate Kaplan.
Although season five started off on a lighter note, with Raymond reduced to living in a motor court and wearing borrowed clothes, we felt a sense of trepidation from the closing moments of the season premiere. The image that left fans of the show unsettled, revolved around Tom Keen lying on a floor bloodied, as Raymond and Dembe burst through a door with guns drawn. Unsure if the scene was a premonition, or a flash-forward, provided plenty of fodder for speculation and conversation.
The lighthearted feeling of the season’s first few episodes, dissipated a while back. Raymond’s fortunes have drastically improved from when he need Elizabeth to provide a ride for him to track down a guy wanted by a bounty hunter. His new ventures have replenished his coffers, and he’s back to wearing designer suits, flying on his private jet, and living once again in luxury.
However he’s been on a mission all year to recover a valise that’s vitally important to him. The suitcase contains a skeleton, a gift from beyond the grave courtesy of Mr. Kaplan, to further complicate his life. She left it in the care of Tom Keen, with instruction for him to reveal the contents to Elizabeth. That skeleton ended up massively complicating Tom’s life, costing him the life of Tom and Lizzie’s friend Nik Korpal, and two other people he got involved in trying to identify the bones. We left Tom last week with his life endangered, captured by the sinister Ian Garvey, who also possess the valise, and vowed to stop at nothing to contact Raymond.
Series creator Jon Bokenkamp, promised viewers an emotional episode as the show goes into its hiatus, and this hour lived up to that promise. It took fans into the final scene unsure of what they just witnessed, and then hit us collectively in the gut with a powerful one-two punch, that left this viewer reeling. If you’ve yet to watch the episode, this is your final warning to watch the episode before reading further.
I’ve watched every episode of “The Blacklist,” and recapped every episode since the start of season two, but I don’t remember any episode that contained a warning upfront cautioning viewer discretion. Perhaps because of the violence contained in this hour or because it aired in the 8:00 pm hour in the East, as this was one of the most violent chapters of the series.. It also featured lots of disturbing images throughout the hour.
Historically, the cold opens that kick off the episode feature ancillary characters, some of whom are never seen for the remainder of the episode. The episode entitled “Ian Garvey (No. 13)” broke from that formula, as we see Lizzie on her phone attempting to reach Tom. Although she’s attempting to keep things light, she’s clearly worried about his safety. Harold asks her what’s wrong and she tells him Tom’s missing.
The scene shifts to the place that Ian Garvey’s imprisoned Tom, we see the corpses of Pete McGee, and Lena Mercer. Keen crawls over to Mercer, whispers he’s sorry and closes her eyelids, as he fingers the dog-tags around her neck. Garvey enters the building and Tom says that she didn’t know anything, and either did McGee. Garvey responds that Pete had the bones and Lena was looking for him so they knew too much.
He then tells Tom that what ever he thinks are inside the valise, it’s better. He then bemoans the fact that McGee had accessed CODIS, and says that curiosity killed those two cats, but they provided him with a gift that keeps on giving. He says that Raymond’s power’s legendary, and with the valise he now controls that power.
He tells Tom that he’s going to arrange a meeting with Reddington, and in case he’s changed his mind he’s going to show what Keen’s in store for. He then has two of his goons put Lena’s body into a wood-chipper, her blood and guts spurt all over Tom’s face.
We return from the credits to see Crespin in the woods looking through binoculars. He’s on the phone with Raymond, as Reddington and Dembe head to his location in their car. He says that he sees five hostiles possibly more, and has yet to see Tom, but he says things don’t look good. Red says they’re 20 minutes out and will call for an update in ten minutes.
Seconds later Raymond’s phone rings again, and Tom’s on the other end. He says that he’s got the package and he’s fine, he givers Raymond an address of a motel and a room number. Raymond responds that he’s a half hour away. Garvey takes three of his goons with him to drive to the hotel, and tells the rest of them to keep an eye on Tom and the valise. He tells them if Keen gives them any trouble, to take him out. Tom says he held up his end of the bargain, now he should get set free. Garvey responds with a blow to Keen’s jaw, knocking he and the chair he’s tied to, to the floor. As Tom falls he sees the remains of Lena’s dog-tags and starts using it to cut his binds.
Samar informs Lizzie that she’s issued a BOLO alert (Be On The Look Out for.) She then asks Liz if Tom might be involved in something Lizzie’s unaware of? Keen responds that just might be the case, and she calls Raymond. Reddington says he just spoke with her twenty minutes before, and he’s checking on a lead about Nik’s death. She asks if Tom’s involved and he responds he’s not certain, but will call her back when he gets more information.
Tom asks his captors if he could sit-up, and one of the guys responds knock yourself out. Keen says he needs a hand as he’s tied to a chair. The guy helps get Tom and the chair upright, then sarcastically asks if he can do anything else? Tom says he could give Keen his gun, and the guy laughs and says that’s never going to happen. Tom then stands up and cracks the guy over the head with his chair and grabs his gun. Keen overcomes all his captors and grabs the valise and hightails it into the woods.
With Garvey’s men on his tail, it appears he’ll soon be captured once again, but suddenly Raymond’s car pulls up and Reddington opens the back door and shouts for Keen to get in, Tom hesitates for a bit, and he gets shot in the back, but it’s just a flesh wound. He gets into the car and Raymond says I told you to stay away from that damn suitcase.
Aram finds out that Tom’s car got towed from the parking lot of Pete’s motel. Lizzie and Donald head down to the place, and when the manager fails to cooperate they break down the door. They see the room’s trashed, and Lizzie’s certain that Tom’s hurt. She tries to call his cellphone from the room, and they hear it ring, she finds it under some debris in the room.
Dembe drives the car as far as it will take them, but it suffered major damage from the gunfire, and breaks down yards away from a farm-house. Dembe tells Raymond and Tom to sit tight as he’ll explore the house. While Zuma checks out the property, we see a flashback in black and white, as Keen’s former boss the Major gives him a new assignment.
The Major tells Tom that a very wealthy client wants to hire Tom for an open-ended project, keeping an eye on a young woman named Elizabeth Milhoan. Tom sees her dossier and says she’s cute, the Major tells her the client’s stressed that Tom not get romantically involved with her. He says that Tom’s role’s to be a friend of a friend, and nothing more.
Dembe returns to the car and informs the house is empty, Raymond says they’ll use it to clean up and to get first aid, and then they’ll leave. While Raymond stitches Tom up in the kitchen, Dembe heads into the garage and finds a car under a tarp. He tries starting the car but the engine fails to turn over, so he lifts the hood and starts tinkering.
Aram discovers the report on the incident caused by Lena and Tom at the convenience store, as it matches the area and the timeline of Tom’s disappearance. Ressler and Keen head to the store and speak with a State Trooper, who says they identified the woman as Lena Mercer, but don’t have an identity for her male companion. Told that the man had been in the back room checking out surveillance footage, they head back to view the footage. They somehow realize that Tom checked out the footage on McGee, and they realize they’re likely right as they see the key from Pete’s motel.
We view another of Tom’s flashback’s, this time a few months after the previous memory. The Major says that the client’s incensed that Keen’s gotten involved with the mark. Tom spits back at him that her name’s Elizabeth. The Major responds “I don’t care if she’s Queen Elizabeth and screwing her makes you King. You’ve got to break this off, or you’ll get killed.”
Aram gets a report about the crime scene containing the corpse of Pete McGee, who they’ve identified as the owner of the car at the convenience store. Liz and Donald head to the scene, but there’s no sign of Tom at the crime scene. Aram tells Liz that McGee was a suspect in the murder of Nik Kroll, as he called him two hours before Nik got murdered, and he’d been MIA ever since. Liz theorizes that Tom got involved to find Nik’s murderer.
While Raymond’s stitching up Tom, he says to Keen that Tom’s always perceived Red’s relationship with Elizabeth as a zero sum game. If something’s good for Raymond’s it’s automatically bad for Lizzie, and he believes the opposite as well. He asks Tom what if finding out the identity of the skeleton, won’t provide Lizzie with happiness and closure, but just the opposite. Tom responds it won’t because Raymond’s trying to keep Lizzie in the dark.
Garvey and his men find the farmhouse, Raymond tells Tom they stayed too long. The men enter the house and search the premises, but find nothing. Garvey tells them to search the property. Raymond and Tom are hiding above the ceiling in the kitchen, while Dembe’s hidden on the floorboards of the car. They might have gone undetected, but Tom’s blood drips through the ceiling’s air vent and hits one of the thugs in the face. He shoots up into the ceiling, but Reddington takes him out with a shotgun blast.
Hearing the gunfire, Dembe starts up the car and runs over the guy inspecting the garage. Raymond get hit in the forehead with the butt of a rifle, but he takes the man out with a shotgun blast. Injured, he drops the shotgun and pulls out his pistol, and he takes out another guy before running out of the house. Tom stays behind to make two improvised Molotov Cocktails, from some large bottles of whiskey and some cloth. He guns down another of Garvey’s men before he leaves the house.
The guy Zuma ran over grabs his shotgun and blows out the car’s back window. Zuma slams the vehicle into reverse and backs over the man, taking him out. Dembe and Reddington takeout another couple of men outside the house. Garvey’s gang’s now down to just Garvey and his red-bearded henchman. Tom lights the cloth on fire, and puts one in each of their two vehicles which soon start blazing. They drive off with Raymond in pain, and Tom grinning like a six year-old.
We rejoin the trio at a gas station. While Dembe fills the tank, Tom says that Raymond’s got to trust him by now. He says that the father-in-law hating the son-in-law’s a tired cliché and it’s time they put a stake in it. He .then says to Raymond, you go first, who do the bones belong to, and flashes a smile
Raymond sits silently for a moment, then he tells Keen that he was in the Andes mountains, when he heard that Tom and Lizzie were engaged. Raymond was acting as a negotiator between the Colombian government, and the FARC rebels. whom he’d previously done business with. When he resolved the situation peacefully, he headed back on his 2,300 mile trek to the States, intent on killing Tom.
He arrived on their wedding day and attended the service. He said once he saw the incandescent glow on Elizabeth’s face, he realized he couldn’t kill Tom. We see a flashback of their wedding day, once again in black and white. He said he’s a violent man, a terrible, violent man. However the way Elizabeth looked at Tom, the way she loves Tom, he’s powerless against that.
Tom smiles and says Raymond’s not going to reveal the identity of the bones, and then asks or are you. Raymond looks at Tom and says he’ll say this for him, he’s always had Elizabeth’s best interests at heart. When Tom betrayed him and joined forces with Berlin, and when he helped fake Lizzie’s death he’d been trying to keep Liz safe. Tom says he appreciates Red telling him that and then grabs his knapsack and says he’d better change.
While Tom heads to the station’s restroom to change, Raymond realizes Dembe’s unhappy with him. Raymond smiles and says what, I’m making peace, you always want me to make peace. Dembe looks at him disapprovingly, and says that Raymond’s lying to Tom and Elizabeth, and as long as he lies, there can’t be peace. For some reason Dembe’s words make Reddington check the suitcase, and they find it’s filled with guns. They check inside the station’s office and realize he took off.
Tom heads to Penn Station and he’s about to take train to Baltimore, when he opens up the envelope marked DNA results. He looks at it and does a double-take, then his face becomes ashen and grim. He walks over to a bank of payphones and calls Lizzie. He tells her he’s fine but he needs to talk to her alone., He tells her to head home and not tell anybody what she’s doing. Liz tells Tom he’s scaring her, he just repeats meet him at home and hangs up.
Unable to contact Lizzie, Raymond calls Aram to find out her location. Aram responds that he’s searching for her as well. She left Ressler at the crime scene without saying anything and she’s turned off her cellphone and her GPS. He says that he was able to track the last call she received, it came from a payphone at Penn Station.
Tom’s lifted another passenger’s suitcase and he dresses in the owner’s clothes. He finds a pair of glasses that look like the pair he wore in season one, but leaves them on the bathroom floor. As he walks out he hears he’s being paged to pick up a red courtesy phone. He picks up the phone to hear Raymond telling him he’s making a terrible mistake. Tom responds that he’s not backing down, that he now knows the truth and slams down the phone. This time Reddington’s face looks grim and ashen.
Lizzie arrives at their apartment and sees Tom sitting in a chair and she starts babbling about how worried she’s been. She comes around to his front, and sees he’s bleeding and knocked out. She pulls her weapon, but Garvey’s men overtake her from behind. Garvey smiles at her and says you must be the wife, what’s your name darling? She responds with a right to Garvey’s jaw, knocking him to the floor.
He orders his thugs to put her in a chair and calls her a spitfire. One of the goons emerges from Agnes’ room with the knapsack. Garvey then says to Tom, that he like to think he’s the kind of guy that could just tell Tom to walk away and Tom would adhere to his wishes. However he says that he know Tom’s never will stop so he’s got to stop him, he then tells Liz he’s sorry and stab’s Keen twice in the abdomen. Liz screams and somebody knocks her in the back of her head, opening a deep gash. She falls to the floor and tries to stay alert.
Garvey then attempts to revive Tom, and tells him he needs him to contact Reddington again. Tom says he won’t and Garvey says then how about another session with the blade and stabs him again, then he sticks the blade into a piece of their furniture. He says they got what they came for, and grabs the knapsack. He tells his goons to finish them off and clean up the bodies.
Speaking of clichés, the goons break the rule of Criminology 101, taking out their victims as quickly as possible. Instead one of the thugs says let’s have some fun, and they put one of Tom and Lizzie’s records on the turntable, Southern Cross from CSN. As the song plays the goon who put the record on starts dancing and decides to suffocate Lizzie with some plastic wrap. Tom comes to and grabs the knife and starts to valiantly fight off the thugs.
He buys them enough time for Dembe ands Raymond to make it to the apartment, they force open the door wielding their guns. They quickly take out the thugs, and then check on Tom and Lizzie. Dembe says Tom’s lost an awful lot of blood. Raymond tells Dembe to call Cooper and tell them they’re heading to the hospital. Zuma says they’ll never make it in time, Raymond says to make the call.
Samar gets on the radio and asks for policemen to close off all roads between the apartment and the hospital, as they’ve got an agent down and it’s a life or death situation. Dembe carries Tom to the car while Raymond assists Lizzie to the vehicle. Tom looks at Liz and tells her she’s beautiful. She’s floating in and out of consciousness and she asks Tom to promise he’ll tell Agnes all about her.
Tom replies he won’t have to and then begs Lizzie to stay with him. He says he’d die without her. Raymond asks Dembe how long until they reach the hospital and Dembe responds in less than two minutes. Tom hears that and says we’re almost there, please hang on. The two are rushed into the hospital but Raymond and Dembe stay in the car. Harold sees Raymond in the car when he enters the hospital.
Both are in critical condition, they insert a breathing tube down Lizzie’s throat, and prepare to drill into her skull. Tom flat-lines on the table, and the doctors attempt to bring him back with the paddles. The camera pans over to the members of the Task-Force, and we see the concern on their faces as the scene fades to black.
The next image we see, is Raymond sitting next to a comatose Lizzie, who still has the breathing tube down her throat. Raymond’s reading her some poetry, he reads aloud Invictus, composed by William Ernest Hensley.
“Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.”
When Raymond finishes the poem, we hear a beep from Elizabeth’s life support system and she opens her eyes, and taps Reddington on his head. His eyes become big as pancakes and he grabs her hand and kisses it, saying that Agnes will be so excited. Elizabeth motions for a pen and paper and she writes out her first question how long?
Raymond tells her she’s been unconscious for almost a year, actually ten months. She then writes out Tom? We see Harold looking at Tom’s corpse at the mortuary. Raymond says to her that Tom’s dead, and Lizzie starts sobbing uncontrollably.
The Series Returns from Winter Hiatus, on January 3, 2018, on NBC.