With Raymond Reddington (James Spader) having successfully blackmailed Alexander Kirk’s (Ulrich Thomsen) preferred presidential candidate into opening a fraudulent terrorism investigation into his activities, the FBI task force is hopeful that the man ultimately responsible for Elizabeth Keen’s (Megan Boone) death will be forced to come out of hiding and show himself in order to clear his name. Frustrated by the exiled Russian billionaire’s refusal to defend himself before a Senate subcommittee however, the team allows Red to talk them into a risky plan to frame Kirk for smuggling oil purchased from terrorists into the United States.
The operation is simple but satisfying: Red prevents one of Kirk’s truck drivers from returning to his vehicle by stalling in line at a roadside diner as his men and Tom Keene (Ryan Eggold) frantically fill the vehicle up with the contested crude. Watching it, one can’t help but be reminded of the classic heist from Breaking Bad where Walter White and his cronies force a train carrying gas to halt as they covertly take it’s precious cargo. While it doesn’t quite reach the heights that that incredibly well-crafted scene did, the sequence is engrossing and more than able to stand on it’s own merits.
The episode’s narrative, while fairly straightforward, is one of the most morally confusing – and thus interesting – of the season. Once Kirk overcomes his apprehensions and announces he will go to Washington, the uneasy alliance between Red and the FBI collapses, with the bureau wanting to bring him to justice and the Concierge of Crime refusing to settle for anything less than his death. But as much as they tell themselves that they oppose Red’s course of action, they lift not so much as a finger to stop him. Even Agent Ressler (Diego Klattenhoff), who tracks Red down and pulls a gun on him as he prepares to shoot Kirk from a distance, is convinced that the only way their quarry will be held accountable is if he lets Red kill him. When the by-the-book, even myopic Ressler is sanctioning blatantly illegal activity, you know things are getting pretty serious.
But this is all nothing compared to the revelation made in the last ten minutes of the episode. Refusing to let what happened to Liz happen to her daughter Agnes, Mr. Kaplan (Susan Blommaert) betrays Red and helps Tom leave the country. Setting course for Cuba, Tom and Agnes are reunited with Liz, her death being an elaborate hoax perpetrated by Kaplan and Dr. Korpal (Piter Marek) so she could start a new life without Red in it. The Keens may be more than happy to leave their old life behind, but others – particularly Alexander Kirk – are not willing to let them go so easily. We can’t be sure where it will go from here, but we can look forward to it when The Blacklist returns in the fall.
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