After a three month hiatus, The Blacklist is back! While not the double episode originally promised (thanks COVID-19…) the mid season opener, Victoria Fenberg was a fun episode. When Red (James Spader) has fun, we all do.
After a birthday party for Dembe (Hisham Tawfiq) gets interrupted by a phone call, Red heads to his Ukraine (well stocked) vault of valuables. There he retrieves a 12th century ‘nesting box’, which is the same concept as Russian Dolls. He and five others each obtained one box, and now they have a buyer interested in the entire set. With dollar signs in his eyes, Red is ready to sell, until he discovers that his little gold box is a fake. Since no one had breached his vault, he had originally stolen a fake from the Olympian Gallery. Red is unfazed, and appears more interested in finding the forger of this caliber. After a disagreement with his Ukraine workers, a (not so) hasty getaway on horseback ensues.
So with a little help from friends in the FBI, Red sets his sights on the Olympian Gallery. If the gold box he stole was fake, how many other works of art are not the real deal? Red puts the task force on the trail of the forger, because, well, that will help Red SO much. Discovering a portrait is fake, Red sets a meeting with the buyer of the original. A very confused buyer, at that, when Red cordially invites him to lunch as only Red can. Seafood tower and all. Red was hilarious, whispering conspiratorially with the confused guy!
And armed with the name of the appraiser who sold the painting, Red pays him a little visit. Unfortunately, the guy is taking a bubble bath, but that doesn’t stop Red and Dembe. With a little persuasion from a waffle iron dangled over the water, the man spills the name Red needs. Red even made the man waffles for breakfast.
Meanwhile, Ressler (Diego Klattenhoff) struggles with his conscience, and confesses to Liz (Megan Boone) that he killed her mother. Liz stops him in his tracks – her mother, Katarina Rostova (Laila Robins) is not dead, and faked her death in front of Red. Cue relieved Ressler. He then tells her that Red will likely deny the woman was her mother, and to play dumb on it. But they have work to do tracking down a forger. Aram (Amir Arison) discovers a gas explosion occurred at the gallery. The artwork had to have been swapped out during that incident. But it wasn’t a gas explosion. It was a car explosion beside the gas pipes, making it appear to have been the gas lines.
That led the task force to the owner of that vehicle, one Richard Vitaris (Albert Jones) . Seems his son had died of an opiod drug overdose. Drugs supplied by the Fenberg families drug company – the owners of the stolen works of art. Coincidence? Red thinks not. Vitaris is suing the Fenbergs over the death of his son, when the company failed to inform the public on the addiction their medication causes. And while all of this has been going on, Vitaris has worked with a woman we see stealing a Faberge egg and replacing it with a forgery. Why? To fund his lawsuit against the Fenbergs, using their own artwork to get the money.
The plot thickens when Ressler and Liz warn the Fenbergs they are being targeted by a forger. Turns out the Fenberg’s daughter, Victoria (Gillian Alexy) is the woman who forged the works of art. She is assisting Vitaris in his law suit, while simultaneously robbing her parents. A rather dysfunctional family, to say the least. But Victoria isn’t quite done, needing to swap out one more painting, but the FBI and police are swarming all over the estate. It’s too risky, so she calls it off. But Vitaris doesn’t see him getting out of this deal alive, and gives her the distraction she needs. Posing as an art mover, he runs, keeping Ressler and Liz occupied outside at gunpoint while Victoria does her thing.
And Victoria does steal the final painting, giving the law suit the financial boost it needs to go up against her parents. And all went great, until she visited Vitaris in prison, and Ressler was waiting for her. They checked out everyone on site that day – except her and her parents. He knows Victoria swapped the paintings, but can’t prove it. Red, on the other hand, doesn’t need proof. He’s not interested in the stolen paintings or who benefited. He wants the original gold nesting box – and knowing such a brilliant forger could also come in handy. And when Victoria visits the appraiser, fresh from his bubble bath and eating waffles, Red is still there. All Red needs is the name of the buyer of the real nesting box. And Victoria obliges.
A very happy Red then visits the sweet old lady, fake box in his pocket. And while the lady is getting him a glass of water, Red gets what he came for. He can now sell the real nesting box to the collector, but that is next weeks episode. And Liz did ask him if the woman in Paris was her mother. Red tells her that woman was as fake as the nesting box he owned. Her mother is gone. Liz smiles to herself. Red had denied it just as she and Ressler suspected he would.
In other news, Aram is still blind where Elodie (Elizabeth Bogush) is concerned. But when she spouts names of Blacklisters (names we are sure Aram did not provide) Aram is finally suspicious. Things get even weirder when Elodie’s husband crashes, needing an ambulance, and it’s clear Elodie wouldn’t mind if her husband didn’t make it. When Aram visits to break up with her (you could hear the fandom wide cheer, I swear), he then became more of an blind idiot and doesn’t break up with her. Sigh…
This was a fun return to the show after a 3 month hiatus. Not a great episode. Certainly not an important one as some are, but fun nonetheless. Red’s joy is always infectious. Episode 712 ‘Cornelius Ruck’ was originally scheduled to air as the second of a two parter return. But due to COVID-19 precautions, production shut down last week, causing rescheduling of episodes.
They were half way through 719 when the production halt occurred, so we should see through to 718, and then that will likely be it for Season 7.
The Blacklist airs on Friday at 8/7c on NBC.
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