The Blacklist episode, Olivia Olson, provided closure on the Samar (Mozhan Marno) story. The task force also uncovered more dirt on Anna McMahon (Jennifer Ferrin), their new boss.
Aram was in a hurt and desperate place at the top of the episode. He blamed Red (James Spader) for taking Samar away from him, and had found the perfect leverage. Red took something precious from him, so he took something precious from Red. $60 million, to be exact. Aram had Red’s bank account information from their heist in Luxembourg (remember, when Aram dropped the key fob in the toilet), and that was his leverage. After leaving farewell notes for Liz (Megan Boone), Ressler (Diego Klattenhoff) and Cooper (Harry Lennix), Aram put his plan into action. He would only give Red’s money back to him if Red took him to Samar. Simple enough. And Red obliged. After all, $60 million is nothing to sneer at, even for Reddington.
But while Red and Aram were on the plane, Liz called Red, needing help on their case. Red knew exactly how to handle Aram, and would not share what the task force needed. Aram was itching to find out, but as Red told him, he was now out. It was no longer his problem. And you could see the cogs turning in Aram’s mind. He wanted it to be his problem. But he couldn’t have the task force if he was going to be with Samar. He would have to disappear. No contact with anyone he knew and loved. Ever again.
Red is a master at handling people. He was both patient and firm, getting his point across. And yet, he never once told Aram what to do. He let the pieces fall into place in Aram’s mind. As Red talked to him, Aram slowly realized that this was the only way. The Mossad would track him to discover Samar’s whereabouts, and had already done so, after they bugged his apartment. Samar was well aware this was the only way to keep them both alive. As the realization hit Aram, Red then let him help the task force from his jet.
But something was up with Red. At the beginning of the episode, he was still taking Spalding’s medication, and also injected himself. What is wrong with him? Diabetes? Too simple. He wouldn’t need the Pharmacist for that common ailment. I wondered if it might be Parkinsons, since a fundraiser took place during the episode for that disease. Whatever it is, Red did not look well on the plane. Perhaps because he was consuming alcohol on top of his new meds? I’m worried about him!
The task force, meanwhile, had a case involving a blacklister who oversaw business mergers among criminals. Olivia Olson (Joanna Christie). And why had Red given them this case? Guess who one of Olson’s ‘customers’ was? Anna McMahon. Delicacy was the name of the game. How did the task force investigate their new boss, without letting their new boss know they were onto her? Simple. They would not mention McMahon to Olson. They would not let on they knew of a connection. That is, until Red walked into a video conference with Olson, and openly asked about McMahon. An angry Cooper lost it with Red, needing to know why he would have undermined them in such a fashion. I love it when Cooper is angry with Red. Always great scenes.
Anna McMahon paid a very hasty visit to the Post Office, alerted to the fact they were investing Olson. Watching her squirm under Red’s gaze was great. Cooper played it cool. He can openly lie when he needs to. But it turned out, (was there any doubt?) that Red knew exactly what he was doing. Met with resistance at every turn, Ressler and Liz followed the trail that lead them to Olson. They needed Aram’s help with the cyber side of things. Cue Liz’s call to Red, to discover Aram was with him.
As Olson sought to discredit a woman’s construction company, the task force closed in. A well timed explosion in a high rise building during a fundraiser dinner had the task force scrambling. As the dust cleared, the task force lost Olson, but obtained her client files. And this was where Cooper shone in this episode. Facing McMahon, he never let on that he knew why Red had given them this case. As far as McMahon knew, her liaison with Olson was still secret.
Cooper handed McMahon the files, and never let on he had first kept a copy of all of them. And when McMahon then farmed them all back out to be investigated, one was missing. That was the file McMahon was involved in. Titled ‘The Third Estate’, Red told Cooper that it was to do with the 1%. The elite folks, above the 99% rest of us. They are the blacklister in two weeks. So the task force kept McMahon in the dark, despite her new rules of sending more case paperwork than ever before. Investigating their own boss is a dangerous tightrope, but so far the task force are doing a great job. I need to see McMahon taken down. She’s dirty. (And why does she look so much like Katarina Rostova? Seriously, is that just a casting coincidence, or something else?)
During the case, Ressler and Liz discussed the fact that Reddington is an imposter. Liz, still reeling from the fact her investigation into Red’s past had him 30 seconds from a lethal injection, has backed off. Way off. It’s as if Liz is terrified to rock that boat anymore, (for the time being, at least). There was a mistake in her dialog though. She did not grow up thinking Katarina Rostova a traitor who had betrayed her father. She had no prior knowledge of Katarina or Reddington until 5 years ago. Ressler can’t let it go though. Unable to understand Liz’s 180 degree shift, he must find out who Reddington was. He hunted the man for years.
At the end of the episode, Ressler spoke to the former case agent on Katarina Rostova. Aram returned to the Post Office, right as Liz was reading his farewell letter. Yeah, about that… I can only assume he quickly retrieved the letters written for Ressler and Cooper! Aram is back, and we can assume he will now put all his focus on the task force. But he’s not as naive as he once was. On returning to his apartment, he spoke to the Mossad through their bugs. He will never lead them to Samar. Samar is gone. Really gone.
This was a good episode, and transitioned the way from Samar’s story to the McMahon take down episodes to come. I am sure that will be the focus from now until the end of Season 6. She is likely the new ‘big bad’. And perhaps her boss, President Diaz (Benito Martinez) gets his comeuppance also. Red taking down the president seems perfectly doable in his world.
From the promos, it appeared it would be all about Red and Aram, when in fact it was a well balanced episode. About half Red and Aram, and half the task force and blacklister. Those are always the best. The task force are not robots, and these cases affect them. Liz has gone to a safe place, not looking into Red anymore. She needs to distance herself from what she did to Red. The man obviously cares for her, and she him and she can’t do anything to hurt him at this time.
Ressler also cannot let the new information he has on Red sit there. He must look into it, for his own needs. I don’t believe Ressler is doing any of this to ‘bring Red down’. He just needs to know who they have been dealing with for the past 5-6 years. And if in doing so he can provide Liz the answers, then that is the win/win he’s interested in.
Aram, of course, will now deal with his heartache over Samar, and plow into this work. Cooper, the ever reliable boss, holds everything together as they look into McMahon. Red is alive after escaping the death penalty, but is apparently facing a health crisis. It all makes these characters believable. We care about them. I’m looking forward to where we go from here.
The Blacklist airs at 9/8c on Fridays on NBC.
Images courtesy NBC Zach Dilgard | Sony/NBC | 2019 NBC Universal Media, LLC