The Blacklist recap: Katararina Rostova
Oh, Elizabeth…sweetie. What are you doing???
Y'know, after last week's episode, I predicted that we wouldn't get more questions answered on last night's Blacklist—only more questions raised, really—because all the reveals would be saved for this week: the fall finale, the final episode before a three-month hiatus, and most importantly, the highest-ranking Blacklister ever. But wouldn't you know it: two memory doctors, two maybe-parents, one kindergartener who basically lives at "Beth's" house, but not an answer in sight regarding Katarina's intentions, Red's true identity, or what secret from the past our dude Ilya has been holding onto so tightly.
What did we get instead of answers? Well, we go one hundred percent confirmation that despite having an extremely traumatic past, littered with lies and altered memories and patricide…Elizabeth Keen is the single most trusting woman to have ever existed on television. I mean, we already knew it, but tonight reached new levels of expedient familial bonding. None of this is to suggest that the episode was a bust, though. Because other than bugging our eyes out at Liz's constantly flip-flopping allegiances, the one thing we got in spades were capital-T-T-T-Twists!
When I first saw Katarina Rostova get gunned down, I simply thought: wow, that was an interesting move on the show's part, and also, I'm kind of glad to be rid of that lady because she gives me the heebie-jeebies. But then—boom! She's aliiiiive; it was all a ruse planned by the woman herself to make Red think she was dead (an idea Dom and Ilya might have considered using a few decades ago instead of actual [alleged] murder, as it were).
So no, we did not get a single answer about who Red is or what Ilya's been hiding all these years, but it's still the rare moment when Raymond Reddington gets the wool pulled over his eyes. And this wool? She's dangerous. And now she's got a partner who suddenly fancies herself a fellow Rostova.
KATARINA ROSTOVA, NO. 3
It was a thrill to see that number three flash across the screen, even if it will take an undisclosed amount of additional episodes to fully reveal why Katarina earns such a high spot on the Blacklist. For now, she kicks things off with those three all-important words: "I'm your mother." Lizzie still has her gun trained on the woman she formerly knew as Maddy Toliver, and now understands to be Katarina Rostova, informing Katarina that a mother doesn't lie to her child. Katarina says she'll tell Liz why she's been secretly living across the hall from her if she'll just put the gun down: "You shot your father, do you really want to shoot your mother too?"
Ah, yes, what a kind and maternal thing to say to your daughter who you're trying to convince that you just want to get to know her! Not to mention, Katarina's good pal Bertie sneaking through the front door, clocking Liz unconscious, dragging her across the hall, and handcuffing her to a pipe. Busy little bee that he is, Bertie then kills the FBI agents who have been stationed outside of Liz's apartment so they won't get suspicious of her not coming out, and Katarina/Maddy takes Agnes over to a friend's house.
At the Post Office, the task force merely thinks Lizzie is not answering her phone and is more concerned with recovering Red's friend. But Red can't find the woman who abducted him anywhere in the Orion Relocation files. Suddenly though, he has the realization that Katarina would know Ilya wouldn't cooperate willingly, and she would need to resort to some extreme means to extract any information from him: Recovered Memory Therapy. But the person Red knows of who can do this—former season 4 Blacklister, Dr. Bogdan Krilov, who as you may or may not recall, tried to get Ressler to murder the National Security Advisor, oops—is currently in the most maximum version of maximum security prison.
So, while Ressler goes to retrieve his former pal Krilov to see if he has a protégé of some kind, Red goes to check on Liz who is still not answering her phone. In her apartment, he finds signs of a struggle, and outside, an empty car and blood where there should have been two FBI agents. The Task Force immediately sets into motion searching for Liz and questioning everyone in her building, which is how Agent Park winds up talking to Katarina and Bertie, who introduce themselves as Maddy Toliver and Gregory Flynn.
Little does Park know that just on the other side of their door are the two people the Task Force is desperately looking for: Elizabeth Keen and Ilya Koslov…
When Liz comes to, Katarina tells her that Bertie knocking her out was not okay, but she can't just let Liz go because she'll stop her from getting the answers she needs. Katarina has already told Liz that she's there because the Townsend Directive has a bounty on her head, and since Dom and Red refused to help her, she had to seek out alternative solutions. Naturally, Liz is open to a conversation with the woman who has her tied to a pole and has been lying to her for months, and also, mysteriously missing for the majority of her life. Also, the woman that kind of mocked her for killing her biological father not 10 minutes ago…
Aaaaanyway, Katarina explained that she moved across the hall from Liz because she needed to use her to find Ilya Koslov, but Liz knows that can't be true. After all, Dom told her that Ilya Koslov assumed Raymond Reddington's identity to protect Katarina, Red confirmed the story, and Liz believed them. "He may not be my father, but this Reddington has watched over me my entire life … if you can't be on his side, I can't be on yours," Liz tells Kat. That sweet sentiment lasts until the exact moment when Katarina takes Liz into the other room and tells her that the man she has tied to a chair, who Liz knows as Red's friend, is the real Ilya Koslov.
With absolutely no evidence to confirm that this man is Ilya, or that what Dom told her isn't true, Liz is all, GASP, if this is Koslov, then who is Reddington?! Honestly, I think I could tell Liz that I—a person who exists in an alternate reality from her—was Ilya Koslov, and she would believe me.
Katarina tells Liz that she was best friends with Ilya until the day he conspired with her father to kill her, but Liz doesn't understand why either of them would do that. Katarina says that Dom thought if the people who have been hunting her saw her die, then "the person he really cared about" would be safe. "I'm a mortal threat to you," Katarina tells Liz. "A mother whose very existence puts her daughter's life at risk." And Liz feels just terrible that her grandfather's desire to protect her 30 years ago (allegedly) almost got her (alleged) mother killed, and successfully killed some random man Katarina (allegedly) loved at the time. And she feels even worse when she realizes that the Townsend Directive picked their hunt for Katarina back up because Liz went looking for her mother, and they followed her trail.
So when Red and Ressler's meeting with Krilov leads to discovering that a man named Bertie Chernov hired Dr. Skovic, the only other memory-meddlin' doctor out there… that leads Aram to realize that he's heard the name Bertie Chernov before… when he was impersonating Frank Bloom and a man handed him a slip of paper that said Bertie Chernov's alias was Gregory Flynn… which leads Agent Park to realize she's heard the name Gregory Flynn before… and suddenly the entire weight of Red and the FBI are surrounding Liz's building looking for Maddy Toliver and Gregory Flynn in connection to abducting Raymond Reddington and Elizabeth Keen…
And Liz is all, Hey let me get you nice folks out of here without discovery by my trusted and beloved co-workers at the FBI. In truly the drop of a fedora, Liz has decided that she trusts that Katarina claims that she merely wants answers, and Liz wants to be the one to help her find them.
Now, I can't blame Liz for finding comfort in someone who says they're looking for answers over someone who's always keeping answers from her. But I can blame her—an FBI agent—for automatically trusting everything this stranger tells her. But Liz is Liz, and trust she does. She calls Cooper and tells him she's fine, she's just been dealing with a childcare issue, then leads Katarina, Bertie, and Dr. Skovic out through an underground exit she knows about. She says they don't have enough time to take Ilya, allowing Red to send in two of his own guys impersonating Agents Ressler and Mojtabai to retrieve Ilya and load him into a fake ambulance, just before the real FBI get there to discover that the woman-they-don't-know-is-Katarina, Bertie, and Dr. Skovic are all gone.
Red, however, just happens to see Katarina driving off in a stolen car per instructions from her loyal daughter Liz. He and Dembe follow her, and once she gets to a deserted road, another SUV comes out of nowhere and nails her car. Two Russian brothers who we've seen throughout the episode talking about Katarina and getting a car prepared for something emerge from their vehicle and shoot Katarina down with an automatic weapon. It's unbelievable, but more in a, wow I can't believe that just happened way than in a, I don't actually believe that's real sort of way—at least to me.
So later, when Liz goes to Dom's bedside to inform him that she knows he lied to her because a woman claiming to be her mother told her so, Red comes in to interrupt and tell her that the woman who abducted him is dead now, it's a truly thrilling shock when Liz's phone rings and it's Katarina on the other end of the line: "Does he think I'm dead?"
But it's also a sort of nauseating shock to see how giddy Liz is to talk to this woman she's only just met, but already seems to trust implicitly. Katarina tells Liz that she bought them time to find the answers they're looking for, but no one can know she's alive. She asks if Liz will be able to keep it a secret. "Of course, I can—I'm a Rostova," Liz replies.
Katarina says that she'll need to disappear for a while, but when the time is right, she'll find her and end this. "I love you, Masha," Katarina says. "Be safe," Liz replies.
A FEW LOOSE ENDS:
Wooooow, Liz and Red are heading into this Blacklist hiatus in a veeery weird place. Liz whispered to unconscious Dom that she can't figure out why they lied to her, but maybe Katarina can: "Maybe she can find out everything you're trying to hide from me." While I've always understood Liz's frustration with being lied to, I cannot understand why she would assume this new woman is being any more truthful than any other mysterious former spy in her life???
And lying to Cooper? Unforgivable! But he figures out that Maddy Toliver was Katarina Rostova on his own anyway, and reminds Liz that no matter her personal feelings on the matter, she has a professional obligation to side with Red. Liz tells him that she's not on Red's side or Katarina's side, she's on the side of the truth. Hey babe, quick problem—you don't know the truth! So you're still gonna have to pick a lane.
In the fake ambulance, Ilya repeats over and over to Red: "I didn't tell her…she doesn't know."
And while all that is definitely intriguing, this episode really belonged to Ressler…
- 1: "Krilov, the wackjob who scrambled my brain like an egg?" "What does that mean" "It means he scrambled my brain like an egg."
- 2: "Aren't you an FBI agent?" "Yes, I am…and I work with Raymond Reddington, so you do the math.
- 3: "He got inside my head…tried to convince me to kill the National Security Advisor." "And now we're going to work with him?" "…it's been a slippery slope."
A slippery slope, indeed. See you back here in the new year!
James Spader is Raymond "Red" Reddington, a mastermind criminal who teams up with the FBI.