The Blacklist (S06E14) “The Osterman Umbrella Company”

When The Blacklist gives us a Blacklister in the top 10, you know it will be important. The Osterman Umbrella company were Number 6 on Red’s Blacklist. And after this episode, it was clear why.

But first, something is going on with Red (James Spader). Sipping on a healthy green shake at the top of the episode while Dembe (Hisham Tawfiq) was on the phone to Spalding Stark (David Wilson Barnes). Remember him? The Pharmacist from earlier in the season. The one Dembe needed 5 minutes with alone.  The phone call was about a clinical trial, and later in the episode, Red took medication (the first installment from Mr Stark). Reddington is sick.

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But of course, he would not let on to any of that when Liz (Megan Boone) came calling. He gave her the rundown on the Osterman Umbrella Company. When an agency such as the KGB, CIA, MI6, etc, need to dispose of an agent, they don’t do it themselves. That’s not exactly good for morale. Instead, they hire the Osterman Umbrella Company, who have never sold an umbrella in their existence. Their job – exterminate operatives who have become a liability.

Samar (Mozhan Marno) and Aram (Amir Arison) headed to a cabin in the woods  in the Allegheny Mountains, Pennsylvania. After her resignation from both the FBI and Mossad, Aram wanted some time away from everything. Three days, two nights, very little cell reception, and just the two of them. Perfect romantic getaway. But this is The Blacklist. No one is ever perfectly happy for long.

Liz gives the task force the case, outlining previous hits Osterman have carried out. They eliminated agents who turned traitor. Reddington has it on good authority that their next target is in the US. With little to go on, Cooper (Harry Lennix) reaches out to a contact at the CIA. But the man is tight lipped. He has heard nothing of an Osterman hit on an American. Cooper speaks to CIA Agent Hobbs (K. Todd Freeman) but the man will not spill what he clearly knows.  A frustrated Cooper gets nowhere.

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Enter Red, Brimley’s (Teddy Coluca) boa constrictor named Betsy, and a terrified Hobbs, and Red got what he needed. Not the name of their target, but an address of where the ‘token’ will be. Armed with the location, Liz and Ressler (Diego Klattenhoff) intercept it. The file reveals the name of the agent targeted for execution. Samar Navabi. Frantic, the task force call Aram, but there is no cell service where he is. Desperate to contact them, they keep trying Aram and Samar, to no avail.

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The hit is already underway. At the resort, Aram gets a call from the office, so he steps out. An assassin then enters their cabin, pretending to be a stranded skier. Samar wasn’t born yesterday though, and knows something is very wrong. A fight ensues between them. The assassin wears a ring that has a poison barb on it, but it backfires. Samar gets the upper hand, and the assassin dies, injected with her own poison.

While at the office, Aram’s cell phone lights up with multiple texts and missed calls. The task force trying to contact him. When Liz gets through with news on who the hit is on, Aram runs for Samar. As he returns to their cabin to find the dead assassin and a wounded Samar, she grabs him and they flee. Osterman will keep sending assassins until she is dead. But why? Unable to fathom why the Mossad want her dead, Aram reveals what he told Levi about her brain damage.

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Red has not been idle, and his next target is Levi Shur. And when he finds Levi, Red gets the information he needed. The hit is on Samar, and Levi will not stop it. He explains to Red about Samar’s vascular dementia, and that both Samar and Levi knew the stakes. While Samar was not a traitor now, no one could say that would still be the case in a few years. As Samar’s conditioned worsened, she might let things slip and the Mossad could not have that. With confirmation, Red takes Levi. Once at his own location, he suffocates Levi, killing him.

After picking up her ‘go bag’ from a music conservatory, and stopping off to patch her gunshot wound, Samar and Aram are on the run. Unable to understand how the Mossad are tracking them so quickly, Aram remembers the business card Levi gave him. In between the two layers of card is a tracking device. At that moment they are run off the road,  and as two assassins fire, their car is riddled with bullets. As the police arrive, Samar and Aram have already fled into the woods. Aram is determined to stay with Samar, while she is just as determined to head out on her own for his protection. But she promised to meet him in three hours. As they separated, I knew she was never going to keep that promise.

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At the designated location three hours later, Aram said goodbye to Cooper, Liz and Ressler. Armed with new identities  for himself and Samar, and a travel plan, they waited for Samar. But Red arrived, letting them know there had been a change of plans. Samar wasn’t coming. With a new identify supplied by Red, she was gone. He handed Aram a phone, telling him Samar was waiting on his call. And in tears, Aram begged Samar to let him come with her, for them to be together. They were both crying. So was I. Seriously, I never expected it to be that sad.

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Samar was leaving him, in order to keep Aram safe. Aram, desperate for her to come back, hung up and turned to Red. Aram let rip at Red, punching him in the face, telling Red he would never forgive him for what he’d done. Woah! No one punches Red in the face! Yet Red understood, and didn’t do anything. And on the plane, sobbing, Samar closed the window blind and then she was gone.

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Back at the post office, Aram sat alone, desolate. Ressler came and sat beside him, and wordlessly put his hand on Aram’s shoulder in understanding and comfort.

FINAL THOUGHTS

What a sad episode! I admit, I’ve never been a huge fan of Samar and Aram’s relationship. To me, it always felt like Samar didn’t need anyone, and Aram was always 5 steps behind her, naive and adoring. And their communication was almost non-existent. She kept her symptoms to herself forever, not telling Aram. Nor did he notice a lot of things about her. But even so, this was sad to see them separate and her leave. I didn’t expect to cry over it, and it wasn’t Aram’s tears, but Samar’s that got to me. So strong, and so capable, she was sobbing at leaving him.

Kudos to Mozhan Marno, for her portrayal of Samar for 5 years. She confirmed right after the episode that it had been her last.  The show will go on, but there will always be that little hole now where Samar used to be. I’m sure Mozhan will have plenty of work after her stint on the show, and I wish her the best.

Next week has a desperate Aram blackmailing Reddington. He needs the location he sent Samar to, and stop at nothing to get it. But I’m more interested in what’s wrong with Red. One of the promo pics has him holding an injection and now I’m sure it’s to inject himself.

The Blacklist airs at 9/8c on Fridays on NBC.

Images courtesy NBC Virginia Sherwood | Sony/NBC | 2019 NBC Universal Media, LLC