The Blacklist fall finale was a mixed bag of action, twists and some familiar tropes. For a Fall finale, it was pretty good, setting up the back half of the season.
It started right where we ended last week, with Liz (Megan Boone) holding the smooth talking Katarina Rostova (Laila Robins) at gunpoint. Holding Agnes’s (Emily and Katherine Kell) bugged doll, Katarina did double duty, talking to Liz as well as Berdy (Peter Bradbury), through the doll mic. Following instructions, Berdy entered Liz’s apartment, then knocked her unconscious. Not exactly the best start to a mother daughter reunion. With Liz bound and gagged, handcuffed to a pipe in Katarina’s apartment, Berdy then killed the two FBI agents outside. You know, those guys watching Liz and keeping her safe, who did such a bang up job.
As Liz came to, Katarina assured her Agnes was safe, and at a sleepover at a friends house. She even let Liz talk to Agnes on the phone. Then the two women talked, as Katarina explained her side of the story, or some of it. When Katarina said she needed Liz’s help to find Ilya Koslov, Liz scoffed. Katarina already kidnapped him (Red) in Paris. But Katarina set her straight on that. Red was not Ilya, and proved it by taking Liz to where Ilya lay in the ‘memory sucking room’.
Recognizing Red’s friend ‘Frank’, Liz realized that Dom had lied to her. If Red was not Ilya Koslov, then who was he? That’s the million dollar question. Liz went from angry to sympathetic to completely on board with her mother in about 2 and a half minutes. Yet she hasn’t believed Red and others many times over the last 7 years. Sigh. Why is she so quick to believe people she just met? Where is that FBI profiler she’s supposed to be?
All of this put Liz squarely on Katarina’s side, even as the task force tried to track her down, since she had stopped answering her phone. The more Liz heard from Katarina, the more she insisted on helping her find the answers they BOTH wanted so badly. So the way to get Liz on your side is just promise her you’ll spill the beans on whatever answers you hear, apparently. The irony is, that when the task force finally got hold of Liz, she LIED to them. Again. It’s fine for Liz to demand the truth from Red, yet she will not give anyone else that courtesy. Every year, I hope the writers will not do that to Liz again, and every year, they disappoint me.
Meanwhile, Red (James Spader) and the task force were still hunting through Orion Relocation Services files, when Red had an epiphany. Katarina would know Ilya would refuse to tell her a thing. She would need help from someone like Bogdan Krilov (Rade Serbedzija) to access Ilya’s memories. That guy who scrambled Ressler’s (Diego Klattenhoff) brain like an egg three seasons ago. It’s always great when they revisit an old Blacklister. Just one problem. Krilov was at the Colorado maximum security prison, so Ressler went to get him. With Krilov in hand, Red persuaded him to help locate who Katarina hired to extract Ilya’s memories. After a hilarious visit to Chinatown, they got his name. Victor Skovic (Michael Cerveris), hired by one Berdy Chernov.
And through a series of coincidences, they finally found out where Katarina was. With the name ‘Berdy’, Aram remembered that note from the wedding. Berdy Chernov, aka Gregory Flynn. The same Gregory Flynn Agent Park (Laura Sohn) had interviewed while at Liz’s apartment, on discovering the two dead FBI agents. Red and Dembe, plus SWAT and the task force, headed for Liz’s apartment building. When they let Liz know what was going on, she lied again, telling them she was at a friends with Agnes. But in fact, she was setting an exit plan into play to get Katarina, Berdy and Dr Skovic out of there. Because Liz is now BFF with Katarina. Herding them into a tunnel under the building, they escaped right under the noses of the police.
While all of this had been going on, Red put a plan of his own into play. Agents Ressler and Mojtabai arrived on scene, only it wasn’t our agents but doubles Red had inserted. The fake agents rushed to Ilya, got him out of the building into a waiting ambulance – driven by Heddie (Aida Turturro). Ilya was safe, just as the REAL agents Ressler and Mojtabai (Amir Arison) arrived on scene. Liz then showed up, all wide eyed and innocent. Ressler asked if her neighbour was the woman who kidnapped Red, and Liz said she was. And her name, he asked. Maddie Tolliver. Liz lied again, refusing to squeal on mommy dearest.
Outside the building, Katarina calmly drove through the police cars, not attracting any attention. But Red saw her, and had Dembe follow at a distance. Away from the city, a black SUV slammed into Katarina’s car, as Red watched in horror. As Katarina crawled out, Red grabbed his gun to help, but Dembe stopped him. He’d be killed too. Katarina limped across the road as two Townsend Directive gunmen shot her down, then dragged off her body. A dumbfounded Red saw it all, then left the scene.
Ressler, meanwhile had rounded up Dr Skovic, then dragged him back to Katarina’s apartment. He had a little job for him. Bogdan Krilov, handcuffed to a chair knew what Ressler had in mind. Krilov had scrambled Ressler’s brain, and he was going to make sure Krilov never did that to anyone again. Skovic apologized to Krilov as he hooked him up to the memory machine. Which is all well and good, but now how will we find out what Krilov did to Liz’s memories four years ago? Yet another dropped plot line.
Later, Liz visited comatose Dom (Brian Dennehy), whispering that she knew he had lied and that she would find out the truth from her mother. Red arrived, then told Liz it was over. Katarina Rostova was dead, gunned down in the street. A shocked and upset Liz walked out. Now she would not hear her mother’s story, and get any truths. Her phone rang, and when she answered, Katarina asked “Did he believe it?” She had faked her own death in front of Red. Stunned, Liz affirmed Red did believe she was dead. Relieved her mother was still alive, now Liz has another secret to keep from everyone, by not letting on that fact. Katarina left then, promising to be in touch when she got more answers.
The Blacklist airs on Friday at 8/7c on NBC. It will return in March 2020.
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