A picture's worth a thousand words, but there's only one that really matters here: Rostova
Credit: Virginia Sherwood/NBC
The Blacklist - Season 2

“Where’s Rostova?” Those two words said by Raymond Reddington in tonight’s Blacklist episode basically made everything in the 55 minutes preceding them disappear. My ears started buzzing; my wheels started turning on what the information the next five minutes might hold regarding Elizabeth Keen’s legendary Russian mother.

Did we find out who Rostova was? Did we get to see her, or hear her, or learn why she pulled a fake-Ophelia into the ocean after “the man she loved [was] killed by the child she adored?”

Of course we didn’t, don’t be ridiculous. The season 3 finale is months away, and Lizzie is still waffling between screaming at Red in the streets and then giving him loving cheek-kisses every 30 or so minutes… it’s not time for Mama Rostova to come out to play just yet. But with just those two words we learned — I don’t know — one thousand different things: We learned that Masha Rostova is 100 percent alive. We learned that she’s as big a fan of making a statement as Red. We learned that though he knows she’s alive, Red doesn’t know where Katarina Rostova currently is. And while we can’t be totally sure, it seems that we’ve learned that there might just be someone out there who’s even more omnipotent than Red — two steps ahead of the man that’s always 20 steps ahead.

To quote Red’s final words in last week’s episode: “It just keeps getting worse.”

For fans, that would be referring to the suspense — even though the series has thrown a few huge reveals about Lizzie’s past at us recently, it feels like we’re really no closer to meeting Katarina Rostova or hearing what she can tell us about Red’s connection to her daughter. But for Red, it seems like the opposite could be true — the closer he gets to Rostova, the “worse” things become. Because the most important thing we learned from those two words up top…

Katarina Rostova is no friend of Raymond Reddington’s. In fact, I believe he calls her his “enemy.” I certainly wouldn’t want to be Red’s enemy. But according to a lovely little painting I saw recently, it’s looking like I probably wouldn’t want to be Rostova’s either.


As I said above, the last five minutes of Thursday’s episode make the rest seem a little inconsequential. But still, when you’ve got some Banksy-on-crack out there labeling his homicides as “performance art,” it deserves to be talked about. The episode opens on a tech entrepreneur named Randy unpacking in his new house, when a man sneaks up on him from behind and chokes him to death. He then moves Randy’s body to the couch, plugs earphones into his ears, puts a phone in his hand, and pours him a glass of wine. Frankly, this guy’s “performance art” leaves something to be desired… that seemed like a pretty average murder scene to me, especially when you consider all the fanciful stuff that was going down with those carnivorous butterflies last week.

But no matter, Red tells Liz about the murder and that he thinks it’s connected to a performance artist named Drexel, a man who uses “death as entertainment” as part of an underground protest movement. The Post Office quickly discovers that Drexel was advertising his most recent kill as part of a series on an underground website named Rigby, and that one of the site’s writers named Ramona is set to have an exclusive interview with him soon. Red heads out on a mission to find her while Ressler and Samar head to Randy’s tech start-up to meet his business partner, John Adelson. Adelson doesn’t seem like he’s Drexel, but he does seem nervous. And he doesn’t even know that his every move is being watched by Drexel who’s somehow hacked into the security cameras in his office.

NEXT: I smell a RAT…

But Aram soon figures that out because figuring out things is what Aram does. But he’s a little mystified as to how Drexel has access to the classified NSA technology that he’s using to hack Adelson’s security cameras, as well as a few other types of cameras from his personal computer. Aram says he’s using something called a RAT — a Remote Access Trojan — and the NSA confirms that it’s connected with a highly classified program they’ve developed. That means that someone on the inside leaked it, and that someone is the dude who immediately hits the bricks when he sees Ressler and Navabi walk into the office. Ressler runs after him, and as if to make up for the time he chased down a moving vehicle, he can’t even catch this IT guy on foot before he closes a key-card-operated gate in front of them. But when the guy opens the door behind him — BOOM! — you just got knocked out by Samar Navabi, pal.

If you’ve noticed that Liz is missing from the action, that’s because shortly after they get into the case, she figures out why Tom hasn’t been answering her calls. Her doctor friend Nick, who she called in to save Red’s life in “Leonard Caul,” happens to be on call at the hospital when Tom is brought in and calls Lizzie to let her know that not only is Tom in bad shape, but the police are there to question him if/when he wakes up. After first going to his side, Liz then sets out to find Red and scream at him like a teenager who’s mad at her dad for messing up her first date with a boy.

While I appreciate the sentiment of “No, I am not your ‘Lizzie’ to control to be told what to do!” it’s pretty misguided to think that it’s Red’s fault that Tom nearly got himself killed by his ex-girlfriend during a diamond heist. Of course, Liz didn’t know all those details until Red told her. He also adds on that Tom is reckless and, “He’s not worthy of being your husband, and he sure as hell is not worthy of raising that child” (and I add on a small cheer from my couch).

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So how did Red know about the diamonds? Well, it turns out that Dr. Nick has been under Red’s employment since he paid him that first $500,000. And he doesn’t seem to be too fond of being at the beck and call of a criminal mastermind, telling Liz that he knows what she means when she says she feels trapped by Red’s involvement in her life. But the benefits of being Raymond Reddington’s friend always seem to go hand-in-hand with the entrapments, as evidenced by the police bringing in the guy from the diamond heist who Tom beat up and stole from to have him identify Tom as the robber, only to have the guy say Tom was his employee. Red’s doing of course.

NEXT: The eye of the beholder, and all that…

Yeah, Red is putting out fires all over the place — what’s new? He’s tracked down the Rigby writer, Ramona, and convinced her to reveal Drexel’s identity by threatening her own anonymity (she’s actually Rachel Hobbs, daughter of the patio furniture king of Costa Mesa). Red and Dembe tail her at her arranged meeting with Drexel, and though they briefly lose her, nearly getting her killed by Drexel, who had already spotted Reddington, they get there just in time to save Ramona and get the information Red needs out of Drexel. It seems that “an enemy” of Red’s recently commissioned something from Drexel and Red needs to know how to find that lover of the arts.

And considering the kind of “artwork” we’ve seen Drexel get up to in this episode, the potential of his commission seems like it could be quite sinister. And while it’s certainly that, this piece is a little more subtle than a homicidal home invasion. We see Dembe pull a man out of bed at the address Drexel gave and take him to Red, who asks those two little words: “Where’s Rostova?” The man tells Red that he is simply an art dealer — that a woman called him and told him that a piece she’d acquired was nearly finished and she needed it to be sent to him for pick up… but not pick-up by her. It’s to be picked up by Red…

I’d like to interject with a brief interlude here to explain where Red and Lizzie stand after their blowup over Tom, who’s life as a free man (though technically still not a man with any sort of legal identity) has now officially been saved by Red. The Raymond giveth and the Raymond taketh away, as does Lizzie with her affections. Liz finds Red at the art exhibit he’s been frequenting all episode, the one with a projection of a stormy ocean on one side, and a lightning-filled sky on the other. She asks him why he did that for Tom and he tells her that he knows the things he’s told her about the dangers that lie ahead have unsettled her, “But if I’ve ever given you the impression you won’t survive this, that you or your child aren’t going to have the simple life that I know you long for, I’m sorry. Because you are going to have that, Lizzie.” Moved, Lizzie takes his hand and dives forward to kiss him on the cheek.

But Red isn’t the only one who feels privy to what Lizzie’s future holds. When we get a look at the painting Rostova (seemingly) commissioned from Drexel, it’s a spine-chiller: It’s a life-size, hazy portrait of Liz… standing over a grave labeled REDDINGTON.

A Few Loose Ends:

  • Katarina Rostova: Seemingly as subtle as she is mysterious.
  • A few other things went down in the episode to explain just why Randy and his business partner were targeted by Drexel, but I’ll be honest, this wasn’t my favorite episodic plot, and it wasn’t really that important. Drexel ended up in FBI custody, so no more…
  • “It’s so important to enjoy your work.” Ew.
  • What was with Ressler being a total sexist ass all episode? Are we supposed to hate him as a character now? I’m well on my way.
  • “You can answer me or I can turn that wall behind you into a Jackson Pollock.” What a line!
  • And finally, the other big news in the last five minutes of the episode: “I want to keep the baby — our baby.” Oof… where on earth is this headed??

Episode Recaps

The Blacklist - Season 2
The Blacklist

James Spader is Raymond "Red" Reddington, a mastermind criminal who teams up with the FBI.

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