The Blacklist (S05E18) "Zarak Mosadek"

It was a case of The Blacklist meets Ocean’s 11 in the episode “Zarak Mosadek”, with a fun caper in Paris for the team. We’ve seen capers such as this before, where Reddington and co pull off a heist or kidnapping, as in the 100th episode, and The Director back in Season 3. This episode was a blast, as promised by the creator, Jon Bokenkamp. He was right; it was a fast-paced load of fun with Red at his hilarious best.

With last week’s Nash Drug Syndicate ledger in hand, Reddington has that leverage over Ian Garvey (Jonny Coyne) that he’s been after all season. By throwing a well-aimed spanner in Garvey’s drug supply, Garvey was off his game, faced with a backlash from his own organisation because of a detained shipment at the port by the DEA. What Garvey doesn’t yet realize is that Reddington now has information on Garvey’s head honcho drug supplier in Afghanistan.

But in a rather fortuitous stroke of luck, our drug supplier, the titular Zarak Mosadek (Bernard White), is heading to Paris. Red relays all of this to Liz in a deserted movie theatre while lounging back and offering to share his popcorn with her. What a gentleman. After Liz briefs the task force, the team get to step away from the Post Office for a while and travel to Paris so that Red can have a little chat with the drug dealer. But Ressler and Samar arrive on Reddington’s private jet minus Liz, much to Red’s consternation.

Liz has other things on her mind and needs Aram’s help while Red is out the way.  That help turns out to be getting information out of Internal Affairs, after they have cleared Ian Garvey of any wrongdoing, despite Liz’s accusations. She can’t have that and ropes in a reluctant Aram, who pulls off his role, faking a bicycle accident in front of our IA guy’s car. With Aram playing decoy, Liz hacks the IA guy’s laptop in the back of his car, and copies all info on Ian Garvey to her thumb drive.

Back at the Post Office, Liz and Aram pour over all the files, but come up empty handed. Garvey looks as squeaky clean as IA think he is. Until Liz wonders why Garvey drives 50 miles away every Friday lunch time to Pete’s Tavern, famous for their hot wings. Are the wings THAT good? Time to find out what our Mr Garvey finds so interesting up there.

zarak1 - The Blacklist (S05E18) "Zarak Mosadek"Meanwhile, across the Atlantic in Paris, Red’s having a good time while Ressler and Samar are feeling rather bored and stood up in the hotel. Red’s been busy getting intel regarding the security detail surround their target Zarak Mosadek, while Dembe raids the kitchen and makes up a lovely cheese platter, complete with walnuts. Oh, to have a Dembe. Armed with the intel he needs, Reddington makes it back to the hotel and fills in Ressler and Samar on his little plan. And it’s a doozy – and a lot of fun.

Watching James Spader deliver his lines in this segment was a joy. Reddington was like a kid in a candy store, relaying his plan, while Ressler and Samar were not as excited. Small points like ‘blowing the elevator with explosives’ and ‘kidnapping an Afghan Drug Lord’ didn’t sound all that fun to them. But with Reddington as the ring leader, what could go wrong, right? Right?

Back in Baltimore, Aram and Liz are sitting in the car outside Pete’s Tavern, when Liz’s hunch pays off, and in walks Garvey. As they watch, nothing happens. He doesn’t order food. Not even those famous hot wings that Aram would fancy right about then. Garvey just sits and drinks a beer, then after 45 minutes, gets up to leave. He didn’t meet anyone. There HAS to be more to this than meets the eye. And there is, because as soon as he steps out of the tavern, Garvey talks with one of the tavern staff, and it’s very obvious he knows her, embracing her head in his hands.

Is she the reason he travels 50 miles a week? Snapping photos, Liz keeps her eye on the woman, while Aram checks his laptop for the tavern staff. She is Lillian Roth (Fiona Dourif), an unassuming tavern worker. Now Liz is curious. Who is this woman, and what is she to Ian Garvey?

Across the Atlantic, our merry band of men (and one woman) are all in place to kidnap Zarak Mosadek from his hotel. They also have help, from a ‘spry young fellow’ of about 80 years old, in Jean-Phillipe (Pierre Epstein), an old Frenchman smitten with Samar. This old guy was awesome! The plan is simple. Blow the elevator cables. When it crashes to the basement – assuming everyone survives, a mere technicality according to Reddington – they then kidnap Mosadek.

But wouldn’t you know it, those pesky Greeks who sold Jean-Phillipe the explosives sold him a bad batch. The elevator car comes to a screeching halt on the 3rd Floor, not the basement as planned, hanging by one cable. But our trusty team are on it. With Ressler’s help, Dembe frees Mosadek and his two unconscious henchmen. He then whisks Mosadek away to safety for that little chat with Reddington just before the elevator crashes to the basement.

zarak2 - The Blacklist (S05E18) "Zarak Mosadek"And it’s here that Reddington gets a surprise, and that doesn’t happen very often. He is completely unaware that the Taliban kidnapped Mosadek’s son, and that is why he’s in Paris, to pay the ransom of $10 million in diamonds.  And Reddington just impeded that deal. Ever one to make the best of any situation and think on his feet, Red doesn’t miss a beat and comes up with a new plan. We get your boy back, and you repay me by cutting off Garvey’s drug supply. Seems like a reasonable trade, in Reddington’s world.

There’s just one tiny problem. When Ressler calls Cooper to fill him in, Cooper needs to discuss it with Cynthia Panabaker (Deirdre Lovejoy). And in a brilliant double speak scene, she tells Cooper ‘no way’, and confirms – while denying it – that Mosadek is in fact an informant for the US Military. The US can’t waltz in and save the boy and blow Mosadek’s cover and viability. The boy is on his own. But when have rules ever stopped Reddington? And we know Cooper knows that.

The plan to rescue the boy is on, and the ransom exchange is to take place in a cemetery.  Which kinda isn’t the place an anxious father would want to find his boy, right? With Ressler and Samar following at a distance, keeping tabs on Mosadek, they lose sight of him. He appears to have vanished. Or did he? Ressler finds a mausoleum that Mosadek must have gone into, and a hatch leading down into the catacombs below.

The Taliban have Mosadek’s son, Mateen, hostage. Once Mosadek hands over the $10 million in diamonds, he expects to have his boy returned. But the Taliban have other ideas. See, they’ve cottoned on to the fact Mosadek is working with the US, and they are not happy about it. So unhappy, in fact, that despite receiving the ransom, they are holding a gun to his son’s head. Enter Ressler and Samar, and a lot of shots fired in the catacombs, but to no avail. Ressler saves the boys life, but the leader of the Taliban group runs with the boy and Mosadek.

Reddington hasn’t been idle while Ressler and Samar are in the catacombs. He knows where the tunnels come out, and it’s a lovely stained glass windowed church. And in another hilarious scene, Red plays the flustered official, trying to get everyone to evacuate the church due to a gas leak. The furnace in the basement is giving off fumes, he insists, but the church administrator lady informs Red they don’t have a basement. Red switches tack but still keeps on getting people out.

But he’s not fast enough, as the Taliban leader, Mateen and Mosadek appear. Gunshots fill the air again, this time in that beautiful church as people dive for cover. As the Taliban leader holds a gun to the boy’s head again, Ressler appears from the catacombs and shoots her dead, saving the boy – again. That poor lad will be scarred for life. With the melee under control, Reddington assures everyone the gas leak problem is under control. Then retrieves the $10 million in diamonds from the dead Taliban leader and gives them to the church official to cover the damages. Oh, Red, you have a heart of gold. Red’s end of the bargain met and the boy saved, Mosadek agrees to make things difficult for Garvey. He cuts Garvey’s supply and visits him in person. Mission accomplished.

zarak3 - The Blacklist (S05E18) "Zarak Mosadek"
Meanwhile, Liz is outside Pete’s Tavern as the mystery woman is locking up for the night. Wheedling her way in with a story of a lost handbag, Liz confronts Lillian Roth. She tells Lillian she’s an FBI agent, and needs information on Ian Garvey.  Liz convinces this Lillian to accompany her back to her crime scene apartment, then shows her the evidence wall. The woman is tight lipped as Liz goes over the case against Garvey, unconvinced. When Liz lets Lillian tell her side of the story, she speaks of a different Garvey than the one we know. She talks of him being there for her, like a father, looking out for her.

He’s the US Marshall who took her into Witness Protection, gave her a new identity, and he has watched over her for years. At this reveal, alarm bells ring. Way back in Season 2, Reddington’s wife Naomi and her daughter Jennifer, were in Witness Protection. Lillian tells Liz that Ian Garvey has been hiding her and protecting her from her real father – one Raymond Reddington. Cue shocked Liz. Have we found Jennifer Reddington?

This was a FUN episode, with a shocker at the end. To be honest, I wasn’t shocked, because I had read Jennifer would make her appearance. So it was kinda obvious that this mystery woman of Garvey’s has to be Jennifer. But to most of the audience, it came as a big shock. Things just got VERY interesting. But what is the connection to Jennifer (assuming it is her) and the bones that Garvey has? We have a few more episodes this season to find that answer.

The Paris Caper (that could have been the title) was a barrel of laughs throughout and Red’s enthusiasm during it was infectious. It was great to laugh so much during the episode. The locations for Paris were on the Upper West Side of NY, and it played its part well in setting the scenes.

We get a week off next week, and then we return on April 25th with episode 519, “Ian Garvey: Conclusion”. Will Red kill Garvey after he retrieves his duffel bag of bones? Will Liz save him to pay for his crimes and rot in jail? How will Jennifer feel toward Reddington with either of these scenarios? We’ll know in two weeks!

The Blacklist airs on NBC at 8/7c on Wednesdays.
Images courtesy NBC.