Season Four Episode Thirteen

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Photo by: Will Hart/NBC


We’ve witnessed the once unflappable Raymond Reddington, starting to question everything during the last few months, on the NBC series”The Blacklist.” The self-assured “Concierge Of Crime,” whose instincts seemed flawless, (Apples, everybody likes apples.) morphed into a man watching his empire crumble in front of him. Raymond now evokes comparisons with King Lear, and Tony Montana, like the protagonist in Scarface, he’s making rash and impulsive decisions, that come back to haunt him. Reddington feels his power slipping away, as the aging British monarch did, which eventually drove the King to madness.

Red’s concerns are many, the underworld’s abuzz with talk of his series of defeats. Death’s claimed many valuable members of his operation, including his money-launderer Zach Smoll. Smoll died in the middle of a monetary transaction, costing Reddington 20 million dollars, along with an old friend and trusted associate. Dissension’s reared its head within the Task-Force, as the “Boy-Scout” Agent Donald Ressler’s started to question Team-Red’s mission. Task-Force leader Harold Cooper shows his displeasure with Reddington, in an escalating power war.

The Immediate Threat:

When we last saw Reddington, his world had gotten rocked when Natalie Luca told him that Isabella Stone forced her to kill Zach Smoll. This week’s episode opens with the sound of a car crash and a graphic informing us that we’re in Paris, then we hear the AC/DC recording of “Shake A Leg,” on the soundtrack as we see the victim’s now dead body’s crashed through the windshield and his head’s now on his car’s hood. A man and woman emerge from the vehicle that slammed into the man’s car, the woman smiles and says they got him good.

We soon discover the victim wore a prosthetic leg, as the man reaches into the car and removes it from the corpse. The woman removes a cover on the top of the appendage allows several rolls of bills to hit the pavement, she’s after the bonds also stored within. She then tells her colleague she gets a kick out of their job and they flee the scene.

Turns out the victim was one of Reddington’s couriers and the bonds belonged to Red. We find this out as Raymond meets with an old and trusted associate Stratos Sarantos, during a meeting at a café. Reddington tries spinning it as a momentary setback, but his associate reminds him the loss is one of many recent defeats for Raymond’s operation and people have begun talking.

Reddington displays a forced smile and tells Sarantos that he’s got his eye on three cargo ships in France and wants his associate to evaluate them. He gives Sarantos tickets for Stratos and his wife Corina to Monte Carlo, and tells his old friend to romance his wife and enjoy the gambling. He smiles again and says they’ve been through worse, and then sees Elizabeth Keen arriving for her meeting. Sarantos leaves and thanks Raymond for the free vacation.

Lizzie asks Reddington the identity of the man, and he replies that he head’s Red’s Mediterranean shipping fleet. Keen’s surprised at the revelation that Raymond has shipping operations, but he quickly changes the conversation to inform her he’s got the latest member of the Blacklist for her. The Task-Force’s next target’s the person who engineered the murders of Smoll and the courier, Raymond says he only knows the woman by her alias, Isabella Stone.

Back at the Post Office, Keen explains that Stone’s a character assassin whose latest mission’s to destroy Reddington’s empire. Just at that moment, Ressler gets a call on his cellphone and he’s clearly shaken when he hangs up and rejoins the team. Cooper starts assigning his agents their roles in the case, but Ressler objects to doing more heavy lifting for Reddington. Cooper says he understands his agent’s mindset, but they’re pursuing the case.

Donald and Samar, reach out to a DGSE official, in an effort to get information on the car accident that killed the courier, but the official’s reluctant to cooperate. That’s until Ressler reveals that the victim in the accident was a courier for Reddington, suddenly the man agrees to give them everything they need in order to capture Reddington.

The French send a copy of a surveillance tape from inside a tavern that the courier visited just before the accident. Once again Aram Mojtabai puts the team on the right path, noticing a man keeping tabs on the courier, who then leaves the pub shortly after the courier departs. Using facial recognition software, Mojtabai identifies the man as Chip Murphy, a former NCIS Agent who fell off the grid after leaving his position. He’s got a storage facility in Fredericksburg, Virginia, where Keen and Ressler head to.

The manager of the facility refuses to let Donald and Liz search the storage unit without a warrant, but Keen decides to bend the law and picks the lock of the unit. The unit’s filled with computers and filing cabinets containing information. Lizzie quickly finds a folder with pictures of Smoll, the courier, and Stratos and Corina Sarantos. She immediately calls Raymond and informs him about the file, when she mentions Sarantos’ name, Reddington abruptly says he needs to go and disconnects.

We find ourselves in the Sarantos’ hotel suite in Monte Carlo, Stratos wants to head to the gambling tables, while Corina wants to bask in a hot shower before joining him. Stratos puts on his white dinner jacket and kisses his wife goodbye, pleading with her to hurry as he needs his good luck charm.

Corina starts to get ready for her shower, when she’s startled by two women standing in the suite, one holding a pistol. We recognize one of the women, as Chip Murphy’s partner in the murder of the courier, the other woman’s holding the pistol. Corina begs them not to shoot her, the woman clutching the firearm assures her she’s not getting shot, the gun’s to keep her quiet as her associate strangles her. She then grabs the gown that Corina had planned to wear, telling the corpse she needs to borrow it.

Sarantos finds himself having quite a run at one of the tables, when we see Murphy standing nearby disguised as a waiter. He pours a sedative into Stratos’ drink and then informs his associates. A crowd’s gathered around Sarantos’ table, so it’s too loud for him to understand Raymond when he calls to warn him. Murphy once again communicates to his associates, and the woman carrying the pistol storms into the casino in Corina’s dress and wearing her sunglasses. She then slaps Stratos face and screams she’s had enough of him and Raymond Reddington. Sarantos believing it’s Corina tries to find out what’s wrong, but she starts to walk off with Stratos in pursuit.

They get to the Sarantos suite and Stratos sees his wife’s dead body on the floor, and soon after falls to the floor himself as the sedative takes effect. The woman’s joined by Murphy and her female associate and they call the front desk from the room next door, saying that the couple in the next suite are having a terrible row. The other woman screams in mock-terror as they hang up. They position Stratos’ body right next to Corina’s now wearing the gown, and place his hands around his wife’s neck.

Raymond meets with Cooper and they discuss whether Stratos will give up information on Reddington, Red assures Harold that Sarantos’ loyalty’s not in question. He just doesn’t want his friend to disappear down some black hole, because he refuses to cooperate with French officials. Cooper sends Navabi and Ressler to Monte Carlo to try to bring Sarantos back to the States.

Samar’s excited about the assignment as she’s never been to Monte Carlo, but Donald’s almost comatose. He finally reveals to her that the phone call came from his mother, and his brother’s about to have bypass surgery. He wishes he could be by his brother’s side and he’s angry he’s on a mission for Reddington, instead of with his family. He says to Navabi that it’s like they work for Reddington, and he should sign their checks.

When the agents arrive in Monte Carlo, they find that their efforts to bring back Sarantos to the States, blocked by a French detective named Gautier. Sarantos keeps stating that he got set up but Gautier scoffs at his story, saying that there’s only one means of exit and that witnesses from the next room called security during his fight with his wife. Navabi realizes that the room next door has an adjoining door to the suite and asks for access to the room and the information of the former occupant.

Upon receiving the information, Aram identifies the woman who occupied the hotel room as Charlotte Hart, and finds a connection between her and Chip Murphy. They both worked for a well-known Washington socialite, Judith Pruitt, widow of a former high-powered CEO who got tried and convicted in a pyramid scheme in the nineties. Pruitt believed her husband Gavin was innocent and she was devastated when he was murdered by a fellow convict.

Keen believes that Pruitt’s motivation to destroy reputations centers on revenge for her believing her husband got unjustly convicted. So she goes after guilty individuals, exposing their sins to the planet, despite any collateral damage she causes. Pruitt’s scheduled to attend a function that evening honoring philanthropist Dr.Justin Sperry, head of the Justin Sperry Medical Foundation.

We find Raymond in Monte Carlo, going by the alias of Mr. Bloom and telling two officers that his gray Mercedes got stolen right in front of him. He describes the two car-jackers, saying the white one had a pony-tail and the black one was all bulked up and must drink a lot of muscle-shakes. He annoys the officers with his extended way of giving them the vehicle’s license plate number.

A woman named Joy welcomes the guests to the event honoring Sperry, and informs the audience that they’re donations have assured that they’ll be able to continue helping children around the globe. She then introduces Sperry who comes onto the stage in a motorized wheel-chair. His enthusiasm’s apparent as he asks the audience doesn’t it feel great to help others. The applause gets interrupted as news alerts on guest’s cellphones report that one of Sperry’s medical volunteers just got arrested in Nigeria, charged with trying to smuggle $22 millions in bonds, held by one of Raymond’s shell corporations. Sperry’s informed by Joy, excuses himself and gets wheeled off the stage.

The Task-Force realize that Stone’s behind the effort to discredit Sperry in order to hurt Reddington. Cooper tells Liz to assemble a SWAT Team and get over to the event. Stone’s sitting in the audience and informs her team that Sperry’s been wheeled off the stage and for them to get ready.

The Monte Carlo police arrested Dembe and Baz for stealing Mr. Bloom’s car and Raymond identifies the pair as “Pony-Tail and Muscle-Shake.” The officers ask Red for his passport again to finish up the paperwork, when Raymond socks one of the cops in the jaw, grabbing his pistol and pointing it at the two officers. He then grabs the other gun and instructs the officers to release Dembe and Baz. He’s about to lock them in the same room, when Gautier shows up, and gets locked up with the uniforms.

The trio then go and spring Sarantos from his cell, Stratos tells Red that he knew he’d come. The foursome start to run, but are soon confronted by prison guns with rifles and Sarantos gets shot badly in the back. Dembe tells Raymond they can escape, but Stratos wouldn’t survive. Sarantos tells Reddington to give him a pistol and leave him there. Raymond knows he’s got no choice and kisses his friend and tells him what ever happens he’s got Reddington’s support. The trio run off and we soon hear the sound of a gun and realize Stratos took his own life.

Liz arrives at the event and she’s informed that Sperry went home via the service that transports him and that Judith Pruitt insisted on following them, so Justin wouldn’t be alone. Joy says that Pruitt was the only sympathetic person in the hall, that most people had left the event screaming and cursing.

Pruitt and her team wheel Sperry into his home and he calls for his housekeeper Charlotte, but Judith informs him that Murphy slipped a sedative into Charlotte’s brandy. They’ve wheeled into the room containing an indoor pool and basically give him a choice, he can read a false statement implicating himself and Reddington, or be dropped into the pool strapped into his wheelchair. After initially refusing, Sperry agrees to do it after Pruitt rolls his chair to the edge of the pool.

Raymond contacts Harold and Cooper’s madder than a wet hen, chewing Red a new one for trying to break Sarantos out of jail. Reddington replies he did what he thought was necessary and Harold gets irate, telling Raymond that he lost a friend that he said would do anything for him, due to a rash decision. Reddington tries to change the subject to Isabella Stone and Cooper tells him that Navabi, Ressler and Keen are heading to try to stop her as they speak. Reddington says he needs to speak to her as soon as they take her into custody and then says that wasn’t a request.

Cooper nearly strokes out as he tells Raymond that he’s stood by him as his agents and his superiors have complained. He then basically tells Reddington that he’s gone way past crossing the line, and soon finds himself talking to air as Red hangs up. After Reddington hangs up, Dembe quietly says that perhaps they shouldn’t have gone there. He says that Raymond’s putting himself in more danger every year, every day and that people are dying around him. After a moment of silence Raymond says he doesn’t know how to respond to that.

Sperry starts to read the statement that Pruitt handed him, when the SWAT Team arrive. Pruitt pushes Sperry’s wheelchair into the pool and he sinks to the bottom. Keen gives her weapon to a SWAT Team member and dives into the pool to rescue Sperry. Murphy pulls his gun and gets shot to death, the officers arrest Pruitt and Charlotte Hart, Liz’s able to save Sperry.

Pruitt’s questioned by Ressler and Navabi about who hired her to go after Reddington, but she refuses to cooperate. She says to the agents she’s surprised that they don’t commend her for going after a member of their most wanted list, but the agents stay quiet. Ressler says that she’s facing a life sentence, but she could strike a deal if she’d be willing to tell them something. She smiles and says she could tell them a lot, but she won’t.

Pruitt’s being transported from the Post Office to a prison facility, but the vehicle she’s in gets ambushed and ends up crashing. Reddington’s team extract her from the vehicle bruised and bloody. Raymond says to her that it’s time for the two of them to talk.

The Build Up To Redemption:

I’ve purposely divided this recap into two sections, as the Tom Keen subplot will serve as the introduction to the Blacklist spinoff, that debuts on February 23, while the main series goes on Winter hiatus. Once again the writers have put a Red Herring into the mix, as we find out right after the credits, when Lizzie wakes Tom up, after he fell asleep on the couch.

She tells him that while she was feeding Agnes, she watched the news and saw a report that his father died. They turn on the TV and there’s an anchor giving a report stating that Howard Hargrave died after his private plane crashed. She starts talking about his career and his starting Halcyon Aegis, when Tom shuts off the TV. He gives off a rather blasé attitude, saying he’s not going to pretend to grieve for a man he never knew.

Lizzie’s surprised by his reaction and Tom says that when he met his mother, she offered him a job and he turned her down. He tells Liz that they’re his past and he wants to concentrate on his future, which revolves around her and Agnes. Lizzie counters that he can still have them while searching for answers, he replies the only answer he’s seeking is when he became the old guy that falls asleep on the couch?

Before we proceed, time to reveal the Red Herring to those who are still unaware. Howard Hargrave CAN’T be dead, as he’s scheduled to be a semi-regular character on Redemption. The man pictured is actor Terry O’Quinn and he’s scheduled to appear as Hargrave in some of the upcoming episodes. So unless we’re going to explore science fiction in the spinoff and Hargrave’s a ghost, we’ll find out in the upcoming weeks why Howard faked his death.

Tom starts watching the news reports about Hargrave’s death and his curiosity gets the best of him. He calls up Dembe and tells him that he needs to set up a time for him and Raymond to sit down and talk. Keen comes to visit Reddington as Red’s assembling some sort of mechanical device, which we find out later is a cuckoo clock for Liz and Agnes.

Tom starts asking Raymond for answers about his father, but Reddington says that he knew Howard Hargrave many years ago in a strictly business capacity. (Possibly, yet another Red Herring. How could Raymond possibly know that Tom’s Christopher Hargrave, if he had just a cursory relationship with Hargrave?)  He says he knows that Hargrave struggled against his own inner demons and that he didn’t even trust his own wife, Tom’s birth-mother Scottie Hargrave. Red goes onto say that he knows Scottie and finds her to be an unlikable creep and warns Tom to stay away from her.

Tom goes back to the apartment and starts digging through piles of newspaper clippings, he must have gathered after finding out his true identity last year. We see article after article, about both Howard and Scottie Hargrave and their son Christopher’s disappearance.

After doing some digging, Tom rings the bell of a former police detective Harold Kotchwar. The former cop almost slams his door in Tom’s face, but Keen catches his interest when he brings up the Christopher Hargrave disappearance. Kotchwar says that kid didn’t disappear he got killed, but Tom says that’s impossible as he’s Christopher Hargrave.

In the final scene of the evening. Liz comes home and tells Tom that she thought about what he said and he should leave his past alone. Then she sees the police tapes that he got from Kotchwar. There’s a tape on pause that Tom was watching when Liz came home, it’s the videotaped confession of the man that says he killed Christopher Hargrave.

Photo Courtesy Of ABC

Photo Courtesy Of ABC

Warning: Spoiler Alert

When we left Storybrooke in the mid-season finale, Rumpelstiltskin had been banished by Belle after she discovered that he’d deceived her about his dagger (and also stopped him from killing Hook). Regina had watched Robin Hood walk out of Storybrooke to save Marian’s life. The fairies had been sucked into the Sorcerer’s Amazing Magic-Stealing Dream Hat. The Arendellers had gone back to Arendelle and not a minute too soon. Henry had discovered the Author’s book binding room. Rumpel is skulking around New York City, trying to gather some firepower to do… something that is probably not good.

I’m going to interject here and clarify that, after rewatching 4A during the hiatus, I am officially not a fan of the Frozen storyline. It felt unnecessary and awkward, at best. It never developed into a cohesive narrative about any of the characters. Things happened and people reacted but somehow we wound up with nothing substantive happening to any of the main characters except for Regina, Robin, Rumpel, and Belle getting their hearts broken. The mysteries were too conveniently solved while obvious questions went largely unanswered. Overall, I’d like to put that unpleasantness behind us and move forward with season four, and hopefully villains getting a happy ending won’t end with me getting my heart broken. But, no judgments yet. Let’s say at least it can only go up from here.

Well, maybe not. Tonight’s opening sequence shows The Forbidden Forest, a long time ago, and Ursula tentacle-ing around Maleficent’s castle. Maleficent wasn’t expecting any company, she’s reasonably vexed, and even more so when Cruella de Ville shows up with some very aggro Dobermans. The three women have a bit of an Abbot-and-Costello routine about why they’re all there, but Rumpelstiltskin soon appears to clear things up. He summoned the ladies, he admits. They all may hate each other, but they have something in common. They’re all villains, he explains, and the time has come for the villains to get their happy endings.

So, if this beginning is anything to base the rest of the episode on, maybe things aren’t looking up and Rumpel is embracing his fate as The Dark One. And yeah that seems to be the case. He’s staying at Ursula’s crappy, aquarium-filled Bronx apartment. The two aren’t getting along. Not surprising, really. Ursula is frustrated with their lack of progress and Rumple’s vague promises about happy endings. He rebuffs her—she’s whining because her life is crap. And, as if on cue, the computer in the corner makes a bloop and he informs her that their situation is continuing to improve.

He takes her to a gorgeous mansion on Long Island that’s currently being raided by the FBI. Cruella de Vil is appalled by the “theatrics” of the lawmen as an unattractive, portly man (presumably her very rich and probably criminal husband) is being shoved into the back of a car. Rumpelstiltskin and Ursula waltz into the middle of the scene. Normally you’d think the Feds wouldn’t put up with that, but Robert Carlyle has enough charisma to float right past them, even if he’s walking with a cane.

Cruella and Rumpelstiltskin exchange un-pleasantries, but eventually he convinces her to come along for another shot at happy endings. She opens a garage door to reveal that signature car, which has been illustrated as a Panther Deville in the 101 Dalmatians novel and subsequent animated movies, and is being represented here by a 1980s Zimmer Golden Spirit. Not bad. The Dark One gives directions to Storybrooke, and they’re on their way.

Back in Storybrooke, life is getting on as usual as it usually does. Regina is slowly trying to put her life back together and has been reinstated as mayor. Hook and Emma look happy as coffee-drinking clams. Emma has her badge and her leather coat and is back to work as sheriff, and Hook is working on undoing some of the damage he did while under the thrall of The Dark One. He’s started working on how to get the fairies out of the hat, with an police-style bulletin board set up in the library. Belle is assisting him, going through ancient books of magic, trying to translate them. She’s even sent out certain passages to world-renowned linguists, hoping for some help.

Hook is frustrated with the lack of progress, but Belle remains hopeful. Or, as hopeful as someone with a totally devastated and broken heart can be. She speaks of her relationship with Rumpelstiltskin as a mistake in judgment, trying to put it behind her, but her eyes well up with tears when the words come out. Hook tries to reassure her that, regardless of what Rumpelstiltskin did wrong, he did love Belle very much. Belle agrees, and admits that she hopes that he finds whatever it is he’s been looking for.

Emma meets up with Regina, who is poring over one of the blank books from the Sorcerer’s mansion. Regina is trying to put on a brave face, but it’s clear she’s been devastated by her lost love as well. She’s attempting to have one of her barbed-tongued rapports with Emma, but is stopped short when Emma discovers the picture of Regina and Robin that she tore to shreds in the last episode. Helpless, Regina admits that she can’t help but keep it, even if it’s just a cruel joke.

Before she can go to pieces, the women get a call. One of Belle’s linguistic experts, a professor at Oxford, has panned out, and they now know how to get the fairies out of the hat! They’ll just need Regina’s magic to do it, of course.

The crew heads out into the woods to set up the necessary torch fires and other things one needs when one is attempting to release magical entities from a Magic-Stealing Dream Hat. It’s dramatic, but it works, and with a blast of golden light, the fairies are huddled in a mass in the clearing. Everyone’s so concerned over the fairies they don’t notice the black smoke that seeps from the hat box, roiling along the forest floor before it grows wings, develops glowing red eyes, and wings off into the sky.

That demon has a history, of course. Back in the Forbidden Forest, Rumpelstiltskin is leading Ursula, Maleficent, and Cruella through the catacombs of Bald Mountain. He’s explained that the way to their happy endings happens to be the darkest curse ever created, and it’s being kept there. They make it through the magic booby traps Harry Potter Style, with each witch displaying a certain talent to get through them. Cruella mind-controls some bugs, Maleficent eats some fire, and Ursula’s tentacles snatch the curse from its hiding place.

But there’s just one more thing. The curse is also guarded by a Chernobog—a demon who seeks to destroy the wickedest heart he can find. Rumpelstiltskin explains this as he grabs the curse and peaces out, leaving the witches to fight the demon. They manage, although barely, but their alliance is solidified. In the years subsequent, that demon somehow managed to find its way into the Sorcerer’s Hat, waiting until now to be released.

The Chernobog needs to gather strength, apparently, so it flaps off while the rest of the town gathers at Granny’s to celebrate the return of the fairies. Mother Superior is off in a corner, trying to readjust to life on the outside and looking rather sick about it all. Henry doesn’t seem concerned by this, and he encourages Regina to ask her about the blank books.

Mother Superior recognizes the book, and reveals that, even though the books were in the Sorcerer’s mansion, the Sorcerer isn’t the Author. The Author is a totally different guy. He disappeared a long time ago, and no one’s really sure how or why. They’re trying to figure out a way to find him (he left some clues in his works! Like Henry’s book, perhaps?) when a monstrous scream erupts from outside. Looks like that hellbat has found its strength!

Everyone rushes into the streets (because why wouldn’t you do that when you hear terrible screams?) to find the Chernobog sitting atop the clock tower. He takes off as soon as Regina, Emma, Mary Margaret, David, and Hook emerge from Granny’s. They take cover behind a building in order to construct a plan to deal with this. Well, first, Emma makes a punchy remark about accidentally unleashing a demon while freeing the fairies, but since they’ve all figured out where the beast came from, they decide to make a plan to send it away. They can’t send it back into the hat, though. That’s apparently a one-and-you’re-done kind of deal. Sort of like chicken pox! Belle goes to the library to look for information, Mary Margaret and Hook lead the townspeople to safety, and Emma and Regina hide out in the mayor’s office to try to magic up a plan.

As it so happens, Rumpelstiltskin has arrived at the town line with Ursula and Cruella. Here, he reveals more of his plan. The two witches are to make contact with the Magic Dream Team in Storybrooke and offer their help with whatever problem they may be having. They’ll say they’ve changed their ways, like Regina has, and they’re looking for somewhere to start their second chance. They’ll make note of whatever magic is used to get them across the town line. Once they’re inside and no one is looking, they’ll use that magic to let The Dark One in.

And so it happens that Ursula calls Regina from Rumpel’s cell phone (they say they stole it from him and left him passed out in a bar, because why wouldn’t you?) just as the Chernobog is flapping around the mayor’s office. Ursula relates her own experience with the creature and offers insight into why it’s after Regina (evil heart!) and how to stop it.

Regina and Emma use their new-found knowledge and decide to blast it over the town line into a world without magic, after a quick call to Mary Margaret and David to let them know what they’re up to. The two take off in Emma’s Bug with the beast hot on their tail. There’s a lot of swerve-y driving, a smashed out windshield, and it ends when Emma stops short to throw the demon, which is now crouched on the roof of her car, over the town line and into nothingness.

Regina and Emma are getting ready to use The Snow Queen’s scroll to let Ursula and Cruella in when Mary Margaret and David show up to the scene. They were, um, going to help fight the beast? Or maybe they just wanted to make a very strong case for keeping the two newcomers out of their town. They’re evil and they shouldn’t be trusted.

Predictably, Regina bristles at their misgivings. She understands, of course, that there’s risk involved, but since she turned over a new leaf, Ursula and Cruella deserve a chance, as well. Emma agrees, and they toss the scroll across to Cruella, who grabs it and drives across the line. Regina offers the warmest welcome you can offer someone when you don’t trust them. Cruella responds in kind, swearing that Regina won’t regret her decision.

Later that night, Rumpelstiltskin is waiting at the town line. He’s leaning on his cane, unshaven and rather disheveled looking. He’s very much Rumpelstiltskin here, not The Dark One or Mr. Gold, but the crippled spinner who doesn’t trust the world and yet somehow can’t stop getting his heart broken by it. He’s been waiting a while, it seems, and just as he’s turning to walk away, a scroll drops behind him. Cruella and Ursula haven’t abandoned him! He limps across the town line, immediately straightening and discarding his cane as his magic returns to him.

The witches begin to press him further about his plan. He reveals that he was the “Oxford professor” who led Belle to the incantation to release the Chernobog. He knew Ursula and Cruella would be able to give insight into its defeat, therefore earning the trust of the Storybrookers. Cruella and Ursula are to continue to establish themselves in town as reformed baddies, while he goes to work on the next part of their plan to claim their happy endings. Ursula is unhappy about having to rub elbows so closely with Regina, but Rumpelstiltskin assures her that Regina isn’t the threat she used to be. And, he adds, she’s not even the biggest threat in town. That Chernobog was going after the heart that had the greatest potential for darkness, and that heart belongs to Emma Swan.

But that’ll be elaborated on another time, I’m sure. For now, they need to work on getting Maleficent back, who is only kind of dead, as it turns out.

At Granny’s, Henry is going over the illustrations in his book, looking for a sign of the Author. Emma and Hook admire what a fine young lad he is. Emma can’t help but admit how relieved she is to be surrounded by his positive influence. Between him and her parents, she says, she’s been forced to become much more of an optimist. Speaking of her parents, they were supposed to be there some time ago. Wonder what’s keeping them?

Well, here’s what’s keeping them. They’re having a secret meeting with Cruella and Ursula, at the edge of town, in the rain. The two couples trade witty remarks (apparently witty remarks are Cruella’s specialty), but Mary Margaret will not have anyone’s crap. They’re welcome in Storybrooke as long as they’re no longer evil. And also they must swear to never ever speak of what happened between the four of them in the Enchanted Forest. Especially not to Emma. Because if they do, Mary Margaret, concludes, Regina won’t be one of their worries, because she’ll rip their hearts out herself.

Ah, Soap Opera Fairytales. I’ve missed you. OUAT has set itself up for a truly interesting plot with relevant things happening to the main characters. It’s been too long since that happened. I’m glad to have it back. See you next week!

The Story Continues Next Sunday Night at 8:00 pm on ABC

Photo: Jeff Neuman/Warner Bros. Entertainment

Photo: Jeff Neuman/Warner Bros. Entertainment

Warning: Spoiler Alert

The creator of the CBS series “Person Of Interest,” Jonathan Nolan has shown the ability to keep his show adaptable and ever-evolving, over its four seasons on the air. The series changed it’s focus during the third season from wide-spread corruption in the NYPD, to the growing threat, that an Artificial Intelligence System could become in our society. Nolan’s also showed an amazing use of the medium, brilliantly displayed in the eleventh episode of this season, as “The Machine,” tried plan after plan before settling on what to tell its human operatives.

Shows that strive for quality, tend to err in being overly ambitious, a sin I can easily forgive. Trying to shoot for the star’s preferable than aiming for the lowest common denominator. However I’m afraid what the series did with this week’s episode, entitled M.I.A. as the show attempted to fit far too much information and action into 54-minutes of television time. Unfortunately in doing that, they really didn’t give justice to the individual stories attempting to get told. Attempting to tell a story of a “Too Perfect,” town in upstate New York, looking to take out a Jersey City hit-man in Brooklyn and references to “Schrödinger’s Cat,” was too much to process in one sitting.

Here’s the basics; Harold Finch believes that Samaritan abducted Sameen Shaw in a refrigerator truck, after shooting her at the New York Stock Exchange. That truck wound up in the small upstate New York town of Maple, that’s when the tracking stopped. Reese and Root are up in Maple trying to find Shaw and they soon realize that the seemingly All-American town’s involved with an all too familiar entity.

They arrive on Founder’s Day as Mayor Dowd and a woman named Miss Thompson tell all the residents,  how proud they are presiding over the town’s 212th birthday, then tells everyone to have a good time. A brass band plays on the town square and Root and Reese head to Police headquarters

With nobody else in New York City, Finch imposes upon NYPD Detective Lionel Fusco, to take the next number. The man’s named Albert Weiss, he’s a sales associate at a hardware store in Jersey City, in New York to visit his young niece. Fusco watches him in the park and says the guy’s a beat-up puppy-dog of a man, why would anyone want to hurt him. He soon sees a former number, NYPD Internal Affairs Officer Dani Silva, watching Weiss as well and soon Silva approaches Lionel. She’s no longer with Internal Affairs, she’s now in gang’s division and Weiss appears on two witness lists.

Root and Reese pose as two NYPD homicide detectives, looking for surveillance footage. The Chief comes out and he’s pretty brusque at first, but Root’s flirting warms him right up. She starts going through the footage and finds corrupted images and asks the Chief where are the DVD backups, he says he’ll show them to her if she has dinner with him. He then gets overly frisky, and winds up bound and gagged in a suitcase by Root. Harold tells Reese and Root that he’s located the truck, it’s impounded in Maple.

Fusco starts thinking that instead of the victim, Weiss’ the hit-man that’s made a bunch of witnesses disappear. He checks into the hardware store that Weiss works for and they reported a robbery of a 100-pounds of lye a few years ago. Silva says that could make a lot of bodies disappear.

Root’s driving and Reese starts looking at scenery and she snaps at him to stay focused, he needs to keep his eyes on the road. John looks at her and asks, you really believe she’s alive, don’t you? She asks him if he’s ever heard of “Schrödinger’s Cat,” and gets met with a blank stare in return. The theory poses the following exercise, there’s a box with a cat and a lethal substance inside it, there’s an 80% chance the cat’s dead. However, “Schrödinger’s Cat,” states that until you open the box the cat’s neither alive or dead, it’s both, once the box opens reality sets in.

Fusco and Silva meet at a restaurant and Silva’s dressed to the nines and Weiss’ having dinner a couple of tables away. Finch calls Fusco and says one of the employee’s a gang member and he’s probably Weiss’ target. The man starts to get up and Fusco follows him into the kitchen. Weiss sees the gang member and starts to pick-up a meat pounder when Fusco asks him what he’s doing in there. He says he was looking for the restroom and Lionel arrests him for trespassing and puts the cuffs on him. The suspect then slams his head twice into the metal-counter opening a gash in his head and starts asking Fusco not to hurt him.

Root and Reese find the truck but it’s abandoned, there’s a gurney in there and it looks like an operation took place there, but Reese says it doesn’t look positive. Root tells Harold she wants the Hospital’s Director of Surgery and he texts the address. They burst in to Doctor Victor Haskell’s house and Root starts asking about the surgery he performed and he says he got suspended by the hospital and hadn’t operated for months. He says he did receive a call the other night asking about a brain operation, that didn’t sound positive. They hung up and the number was blocked, Reese asked if he called the police and Haskell responded that if you asks questions in Maple you get into trouble.

Then we find out the real story, Maple was on the verge of bankruptcy, manufacturing had fled overseas and people couldn’t find work. Suddenly a corporation came in and bought the town and brought prosperity to all, they started producing transponders in one of the factories and people went back to work. But then strange things happened, the Mayor “committed suicide” and he was a City Council Member, suddenly had his seat taken and arrested for medical malpractice and lives under house arrest with an ankle alarm. He tells them the person that runs the town’s Miss Thompson and she calls all the shots.

Weiss gets released by the police and Lionel will get suspended is he gets within 100-yards of him. He gets a lead from Finch and hands it off to Silva, it’s a home owned by Weiss under an assumed name. He tells her to show caution, it looks like Weiss took out a Jersey City officer.

Silva heads to the house and breaks in, it looks abandoned then she sees all the packages of lye, a huge tub and a chain saw, bullets  start flying as Weiss caught her down there. The two trade bullets and then we see another shooter as a window’s shot out, Lionel joins Silva downstairs, but Weiss escaped.

Back in Maple tells Reese and Root that the police will immediately start searching for her, but her hopes drop when she sees the chief’s already imprisoned by the pair. She then tells the duo that all she does is follow orders. She said her real name’s Mary Anne Holt, six months ago she worked in a CVS in Pittsburgh had a heart-attack. She woke up in Maple’s hospital with a new pacemaker and they told her this was her second chance in life. Reese still believes she knows more and is about to hand her off to Root, when Harold asks if he can have a try talking with her.

Finch asks her about the former mayor and Dr. Haskell and she responds the blonde haired woman told her some needed to get sacrificed for the common-good. Harold explains to all of them that Samaritan bought this town to study it like an ant-farm. First it made everything wonderful then shook up the ant-farm to watch how the ants reacted.

Root says enough playing and pulls out a surgical drill and tells Thompson that this is what they used on her friend and she’s going to use it on her, when she admits she saw them wheeling a dark-haired woman into one of the factories and she can show them where. Root then drills a hole in Thompson’s hand and says if she lies on this question, the next one will be through her skull. She asks if she was alive and Thompson says yes.

They head into the factory and they find all these tracking devices that Samaritan plans to plant everywhere, on everything and in effect everybody. Then Root sees an implant, they’re planning to put in someone’s head. They ask where Shaw’s at and Thompson points to a sign stating secure area, she says she has no authorization for there and they’re on their own. Reese grabs her and says remember to duck when the shooting starts.

Silva heads back to her apartment goes into her bathroom and closes the door, Weiss appears out of the shadows opens the door and Silva’s standing there, with her gun aimed for his heart, then Fusco shows up with his weapon aimed behind him. Weiss says he never gets caught, pushes Silva in the bathroom and pulls the door shut, knocks down Lionel and has Fusco’s weapon pointed at him when Silva kills him with two to the chest.

Reese and Root take out the guards and see a woman in a hospital bed, with dark hair, her head facing away from them. Root runs over and shouts Sameen, but it’s another woman a secretary at the NYSE, that they were going to put the implant in. They rescue her and then leave.

Root and Reese are back in New York and Finch and Root are together, he tries to get her to accept they may never find out what happened to Shaw. Root looks at a surveillance camera and pleads for “The Machine,” to help and a payphone rings and it’s sending them a message. Sierra, Tango, Opera, Poppa, STOP, “The Machine, ” told them to stop searching. Finch says to Root that maybe it has a plan.

He then says For our own survival, our sanity, we must reconcile ourselves to never knowing the truth. Otherwise our pursuit of this will consume us entirely.

Root says goodbye to Harold  and walks away.

We see Samaritan Administrator Greer and we hear a familiar voice say, if this is the after-life it sucks. Greer chuckles and says rest up Sameen, you’ll need it.

The Story Continues Next Tuesday Night at 10:00 pm on CBS.