The Blacklist recap: There's a new boss in town
Red may be in over his head when it comes to finding the mastermind behind Liz's death and Cooper's blackmail. It seems like this person is always two steps ahead of Red, leaving the infamous criminal (and viewers) even more perplexed. Who could this person be? Have we met this person before? Is this an entirely new character that we will be dealing with?
I've come to accept that the series will never truly answer anything and leave us with even more questions, but at least there was a cool heist scene. In order to get closer to finding Liz's killer, the team must infiltrate a secured underground safety facility that was created by criminals, for criminals. This is where we meet the next Blacklister. Let's begin.
Helen Maghi (No. 172)
Red (James Spader) and Weecha (Diany Rodriguez) sneak into Reginald Cole's office and find a special key to Mount Bastian, a secret, impregnable underground storage facility for notorious criminals. The secret to who is behind all of this could lie in the vault. Of course, Red knows this because he has his own vault there.
Red visits the creator and engineer of the facility, Helen Maghi (Anna Khaja), who is in hiding after a cargo arms deal gone wrong. Red proposes a deal: he will get the FBI off her back if she gets him to the key's vault.
Meanwhile, Cooper (Harry Lennix) is awaiting his arraignment for the murder and cover-up of his wife's ex-lover Doug Koster. Charlene (Valarie Pettiford) isn't facing charges, but Cooper and poor Lew (Danny Mastrogiorgio) must face the consequences for their actions. Cooper pleads "not guilty," but cannot afford the bail set for him. Red pays the bail, allowing Cooper to return home, but he is no longer allowed to work with the Task Force. Instead, Aram (Amir Amison) is promoted to Cooper's job. The tech genius is uneasy with his new role, but promises to do whatever it takes to find the people behind Cooper's blackmail and Liz's death.
Red visits the Task Force to present them with Blacklister Helen, but asks that they help her instead of catching her. The team looks into her case and finds that Helen wasn't just a consultant for the cargo theft, but the person behind the whole thing to arm seperatist and extremist forces in the war-torn country of Kazban. Aram tells Red about Helen's role in the gun trade deal and is hesitant in working with a terrorist. Knowing the FBI won't get off Helen's back, Red brokers a new deal to Helen, who reiterates her role as only a consultant to the arms deal, about giving her a new identity and life anywhere she wants. She accepts his offer and breaks down what needs to be done to get into the mysterious vault.
Red and Dembe (Hisham Tawfiq), who is already in the system as Red's longtime bodyguard, visit Red's storage unit until they are given the okay to leave the vault. Park (Laura Sohn) and Ressler (Diego Klattenhoff) pretend to be Mount Basian guards to shut off the water valve, which causes the entire system to reboot, giving Red six minutes to go in and out. In the mystery vault, Red finds a collection of DVDs that he created for Liz with instructions on how to run his empire, but the problem is — these were supposedly locked up in a safe far away with the only people who had access to it being Red and Liz.
As Red leaves the facility, he thanks Helen for her help and tells her to prepare for her new life. But it seems like Aram has other plans. Using mobile tracking technology, Aram is able to locate Helen and has her arrested. This enrages Red, who warns Aram that he cannot work with him if he keeps doing things like this. Red made a promise to Helen that she would not see a jail cell, but Aram refuses to budge and even rejects working with Red. This is a whole new side of Aram we've never seen before, and I like it.
The Joint Terrorism Task Force agents arrive to take Helen to their facility. Just when we thought our team had won, we find out that those agents really work for Red. As Red waits for Helen to arrive, he finds out the truth in Helen's part of the arms trade. She actually orchestrated the entire arms deal, which means she lied to him. Red confronts her about it. She reveals the truth: her son was brutally murdered by the Kazban regime and this was her revenge. After an intense exchange (I was a little thrown by Spader's sullen performance), Red allows Helen to live and provides her with the new life she was promised. I honestly thought he was going to have her killed for her deceit, but maybe he does still have a little bit of humanity left in him. We definitely need Mierce back in his life.
Cooper plans on taking a deal to serve two years for conspiracy as long as he does not need to testify against Lew. Unfortunately for Cooper, Lew decided to testify against him. It makes sense as Lew did all those things to protect his friend — even if Cooper didn't ask him to. Cooper should have fought harder for him. Now, he's facing five years in jail. He decides to tell Agnes about his situation and how he must accept the consequences of his actions — which means he will be separated from her for a little while, leaving her completely heartbroken.
Red, who is willing to do anything for Agnes to have a stable home, blackmails Panabaker (Deirdre Lovejoy) into postponing Cooper's hearing, giving him time to solve the mystery of who set him up. This also means that Cooper gets to be at home with Charlene and Agnes. The Task Force is relieved even more determined to find the culprit behind it all. But they may have to do it without Red.
The enigmatic criminal tells Cooper that he will no longer work with the Task Force after Aram's stunt with Helen. Cooper convinces Red to consider otherwise since they both need each other and Aram is new to the job. I do hope we see more of Aram's aggressive side as the new boss of the task force. Red needs to get a taste of his own medicine. Who better to do it than the sweet and virtuous Aram?
All in all, we are still nowhere close to finding Liz's killer and Cooper's blackmailer. The mystery keeps growing wider and wider as we find out more clues. Who else could have had access to the DVDs? Who could be as powerful as Raymond Reddington? One thing is for sure, they only have one month to solve this case before Cooper has to speak for his crimes. They better get to it.
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James Spader is Raymond "Red" Reddington, a mastermind criminal who teams up with the FBI.