This episode was billed as the Blacklist Face Off between Reddington and Ian Garvey (Jonny Coyne) and it certainly was that. But more to the point, it was a face off between Reddington and Liz Keen, which was far more dramatic.
Our episode starts with last week’s Blacklister, Zarak Mosadek (Bernard White) meeting with Red and their plan to stop Garvey’s little drug operation until he hands over that darn duffel bag full of the as yet, unidentified bones. It’s a simple strategy, with Zarak complying with his end of the deal after Reddington saved his son in Paris. Or so Red thinks, until that double crossing Mosadek calls Ian Garvey, and they’ve hatched their own little plan to do away with Reddington at the upcoming meeting. They obviously didn’t get the memo that double crossing Reddington rarely ends well.
We find Liz with her new house guest, the long lost half-sister, Jennifer (Fiona Dourif), who is still pouty when it comes to hearing that Ian Garvey murdered Liz’s husband. As Jennifer prepares to leave Liz’s apartment, Liz attaches a small bug and tracking device to Jennifer’s jacket, before Liz then trots off to meet with Reddington. And what follows is the scene where I almost stood up and applauded Red. He told Liz in no uncertain terms that the duffel bag and its contents was his business, not Liz’s, despite how entitled she feels. That just because Tom died over it, this is still none of Liz’s business, no matter how hurt she may feel. Go Red! But of course, it fell on deaf ears…
At the post office, Aram and Samar have kinda split up. All because of that non-proposal ring that Aram gave her a couple of weeks back. Here’s a thought, Aram and Samar – just talk about things instead of hiding true feelings and giving rings and house keys back. But I know that makes for more ‘drama’. But I digress. With the tracking device on Jennifer, Aram is able to listen in when Jennifer meets with Garvey. And of course, Garvey spills the beans on what his plan will be when he meets with Red, alerting the task force that Reddington will be walking into a death trap. Liz doesn’t divulge her source on the tracking device and information, keeping Jennifer her little secret for now. While Red is curious who the source is, he is rather touched at Harold’s concern over his well being, but still intends to meet with Garvey. Because Red has a little plan of his own – that he conveniently ‘forgets’ to share with Harold and the task force – and it’s a doozy.
The game is afoot, and Red meets with Raleigh Sinclair (John Noble) – remember him? The Blacklister who can produce a perfect doppelganger of anyone and put someone in two places at once. We knew when Red kept him out of jail he had a future use for Sinclair. Despite his initial reservations that he only has 16 hours, and not a year to pull this off, Sinclair is soon on board and like a kid with a new toy. And in a masterful scene, Red and Sinclair lay out the plan involving having a double at the meeting with Garvey. And who should be chosen to become the double, but our mail man Anthony (Lenny Venito), looking decidedly nervous about the entire deal. And who can blame him? Red needs a double to take a bullet at the meeting. So Anthony prepares as best he can, walking the walk and talking the talk to get into his role.
With the meeting set, the task force stake out the meeting site at a dusty cement works. With eyes on Red, as well as a ton of well placed snipers from both sides – Reddington’s and Garvey’s – Red arrives, or so the task force think, but we know Red’s got a double in play. At the all clear from Zarak Mosadek, Ian Garvey comes in, complete with the duffel bag. Everything appears to be going to plan, until that sneaky Garvey pulls a gun on Reddington. The task force move to protect Reddington, but Red is a mile in front of them. In a surprise turn, ‘Garvey’ turns and shoots Mosadek, killing him, before ‘Garvey’ makes his getaway. And it was brilliant. Anthony the mailman was not impersonating Reddington, but Garvey! I loved it! So now the real Garvey has just been seen confessing to Tom’s and Detective Singleton’s murders, and then shooting Zarak Mosadek. Brilliant maneuver! Reddington killed one and framed the other in one fell swoop. But – he doesn’t have his duffel bag of bones, since the duffel bag at the meeting was full of firewood.
In a great flashback, we then see how Reddington and Sinclair pulled it off. Red had kidnapped Garvey, sent him off to sleep with a well placed needle in the neck, and then proceeded to make a plaster cast of his face to stick on Anthony. It worked like a charm, and now all they need is the real Garvey to take them to the duffel bag of bones, and mission accomplished, secrets remain secret and everyone’s happy. But while driving Garvey to where he has the bones, (and discussing mint and lavender scalp care products) Garvey manages to overpower Dembe and cause their vehicle to crash. As Red comes to, Garvey has escaped their clutches. Red is not a happy camper.
But Liz knows where Garvey will be heading, and she’s right. Garvey shows up at Jennifer’s bar, on the run and looking bloody, very disheveled and with cracked eye glasses. I actually felt a little sorry for Garvey. But only a little. Jennifer needs him to tell her what’s going on, and all he’ll say is that he has so much to tell her, but another time. But he does admit that everything she has believed for the last 30 years has been a lie. She has spent a lifetime hiding for no reason. At this point, everyone in the viewing audience was screaming at Garvey to TELL HER NOW. But he needed to leave before the police arrived. Seriously, you need to be on blood pressure meds to watch this show.
Liz listens in, unseen, until she can’t stand it a second longer and approaches Garvey, gun in hand, to arrest him. And I really wanted Liz to get her man. I really wanted her to finally get some answers that we ALL have been waiting to hear. But the only news that is tossed around is that Jennifer lets on that Liz is Reddington’s daughter, much to Garvey’s surprise. Holding Garvey at gunpoint, Liz demands answers. But Reddington arrives, and all those unspoken answers go out the proverbial window when he assures Garvey he will shoot him if he so much as utters a syllable. But Liz needs this truth (we all do!) and she’s at the end of her rope. If Red is going to shoot Garvey for speaking, she will shoot Red. And as Liz aims her gun at Reddington, tears in her eyes, I felt for her so much. She didn’t want to have to shoot Red. She feels a lot for him, and yet, she desperately needs Red’s secret uncovered.
Jennifer has other ideas though, and jumps in front of Garvey, preventing anyone shooting her surrogate father. And any sympathy I had momentarily felt for Garvey dissipated in an instant when, hidden by Jennifer, he started to pull a gun from his pocket. In a heartbreaking scene, Jennifer implores Reddington to look at her and understand who she is. That young girl who waited on Christmas Eve 1990 and was devastated when her good and kind daddy never came home. Reddington finally realizes the young woman is Jennifer. And for her sake, he doesn’t shoot Garvey, but sends Dembe in to take him.
But Garvey has other plans, and produces the hidden gun and shoots Reddington in the shoulder. As Red drops, Dembe fires, intent on protecting Reddington with his life. As Dembe’s bullets rip into Garvey’s chest, they are joined by Liz’s bullets. Yes, despite needing answers from Garvey, Liz didn’t hesitate a second when she saw Red shot, and turned to shoot the perpetrator. As Garvey hits the deck, amid screams from Jennifer, Dembe manages to get Red out of there, while Liz drops to Garvey’s side, ordering him not to die before he tells her what he knows. You kinda, shoulda thought of that before you shot him, Liz. As the place erupts in police, ambulance and Ressler and Samar arriving, Garvey is near death. And in a scene reminiscent of the drive to the hospital with Tom, Liz and Jennifer watch as Garvey’s life slips away. He took his secrets to the grave with him, just like Tom did. And standing together in the hospital corridor as Garvey is wheeled away, Liz stands beside her half-sister, Jennifer. And in that moment, you wonder what these two women will do to seek the answers they both need from Reddington.
This was a great episode. Fast paced, with lots of twists and turns, and a great magicians trick. Kudos to Megan Boone for that end scene and stand off with Reddington. It was beautifully done. But ultimately, this episode was also frustrating. When are we EVER going to get some answers? I feel Liz’s pain on this one. I know The Blacklist is renowned for never giving out much in the big picture, but this season seems even more so than usual. We’re still no closer to knowing whose bones they are than when Mr Kaplan dug them up back in episode 422! A year ago!
With only three more episodes left in Season 5, we need some answers. Creator Jon Bokenkamp has promised we will learn the identity of the bones this season. Odds are high in the Blacklist fandom that the bones are the ‘real’ Raymond Reddington. And Garvey’s admission to Jennifer tonight adds fuel to that fire, that she’s spent 30 years hiding when she didn’t need to. Because the man she was hidden from, the real Reddington, is dead? That remains to be seen.
Various impostor theories abound, and all have some merit. Given what we’ve seen, it wouldn’t be out of the question that the bones DNA will come back as one Raymond Reddington in the final seconds of season 5. In fact, I’m expecting that, opening up a whole new can of worms in (the as yet unannounced) Season 6. Bokenkamp also promised the cliffhanger to end all cliffhangers this season, so yeah, I’m confidently hedging my bets on the bones being ‘a’ Raymond Reddington. Which will be a let down, if that is the case, because the fans figured it out a year ago. Three more weeks and we’ll know!
The Blacklist airs on NBC at 8/7c on Wednesdays.
Images courtesy NBC.