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The Blacklist - Double Episode - Review



Wow, these episodes. One balances comedy and sadness well, and one is just tragic. I'm going on to focus on the fun part of "Vesco", since anything that happens to Samar in this episode is prelude.

6.13 - "Robert Vesco" Blacklister No. 9
Written by Kelli Johnson and Michael Perri
Directed by Adam T. Weisinger
Reviewed by KathM

Part One: A Caper is Afoot!

Red is out and alive and he’s all about fun. Aside from the Task Force everyone was at his “welcome home” party. He’s in his element: keeping on the waiters to make sure his guest’s glasses never run dry (“I don’t care if they’re drinking milk,”), schmoozing around the large venue. There are some old faces we haven’t seen in a long time: Aida Turturro returns as Heddie Hawkins, the delightful accountant and embezzler, Glen, eating all the jumbo shrimp and continuing to apologize to Red for inadvertently screwing up his Jury voir dire. If Red needs anything, he should just let Glen know. As if we didn’t know that already. And Teddy! Teddy is there, y’all! We haven’t seen him in so long and there he is schlepping his oxygen tank around, shouting at Red that he can’t hear anything. The only thing that would have delighted me more is if he’d brought his chinchillas.

The Blacklister in this case is Robert Vesco, who is an actual person. In this episode he’s the con man who taught Red how to con, then conned Red out of everything he had. And why does Red think Vesco is alive? He heard something about it in prison. Also, Vesco has always said that one day he’d find the De La Cruz, a gold-laden ship thought to have sunk off the Florida coast in the 1700's. When he found it, he’d disappear. Red encourages the team to look at the body he had Dembe bring back from Cuba and see if it’s Vesco. It isn’t.

Let the games begin.

Red follows the team and stops Vesco from being arrested by Liz and Ressler as they chase him through his surprisingly shabby Nova Scotia neighborhood. Red wants his money back, and we all know that people who owe Red money will most likely die, whether they pay it back or not. But while he doesn’t have the money Vesco has an idea of how to get it: let’s find the De La Cruz! Red will then have all of the money Red wants, and with more than ample interest.

This is really where our caper begins: in order to show Red where he knows the gold is located Vesco takes them to the Library of Congress, where I once wanted to work, and go through documents and maps until Vesco can confirm his answer.

The De La Cruz didn’t sink near Florida and, for some reason, is located under a woman’s dressing room in the Old French Opera House in New Orleans. Which is now covered by a new French Opera House. Vesco is worried that they won’t be able to get a team together in time to get the gold before the Opera House closes for a month for repairs. Oh, Robert. It’s been a long time since Paraguay, and the student now surpasses his teacher. Red has the people and the equipment and hey, let's just get this taken care of tomorrow night during the show. All Vesco needs to do is follow the music to Figaro’s aria from The Barber of Seville. Red’s ideas, while creative, nearly always succeed.

I loved this episode because Red was having fun, which was something that has been missing from the show of late (and late, and late…). He’s got a caper going and its part National Treasure and part Ocean’s 11 and he’s doing it all with the man who taught him to be stealthy. When all is said and done Red and Vesco sit alone, drinking in a café, the FBI two steps behind them and a truckload of gold sitting in a warehouse. Red lets someone on the phone know that they’ll be leaving tomorrow, then gives Vesco a big hug (a real hug, I think) and offers to drop him off and meet him at the airport in the morning.

If you don’t know what happens next, you’ve never seen a caper movie.

The best part was the end of their part of the episode, when it’s confirmed that Vesco has stolen the pirate’s booty. Really, did you doubt it? And when they’re standing in the empty warehouse that was supposed to hold the gold-laden truck and Red is laughing in disbelief and Liz is laughing with joy that the con man has been conned. Red even wants a picture to commemorate his being duped twice by the same person. I think he tipped his hand then, and everyone but Dembe doesn’t seem to have a clue.

I doubt that Red was surprised at all; he had no intention of turning over anything to the FBI (especially money) and made sure that Vesco had time to get away with all the booty he could want. Vesco knew where the van was, and Red let him hear a telephone call where Red said that it would be there overnight. Red even put the keys to said warehouse in his pocket so that when he hugged Vesco he could easily steal them. You can tell that Red still cares about him, even after Paraguay. In the end, you don’t get the feeling that Red isn’t going to kill Vesco, either. I just hope Vesco remembers to pick up his cat before he heads off into the golden sunset.

Part 2: Prelude to a Tragedy

Samar is getting ready to leave the FBI and Mossad for an unknown future. She and Aram talk about that future before going into work for her last case with the team. She tells him that they can’t have children with her illness, he tells her they can talk about it later. She tries to push him away, but he won’t let her. You just know at some point it’ll end in tears.

At Mossad HQ she takes the required Exit Interview polygraph, where she lies about the “do you have any disease?” question and says she’s pregnant instead of suffering from vascular dementia. They tell her she’s passed, but it turns out she hasn’t. Not good.

She spends most of the day clearing out her office in the Post Office and chatting with Aram. She keeps telling him that she can’t ever have children due to the disease (she isn’t infertile, she just feels it’s unsafe). Aram keeps telling he doesn’t care. She pushes, he pushes back. She gives back the ring, he gets her to take it back.

Oh, and when he’s at the local coffee shop, Aram happens to run into Levi. He tells Aram that Samar failed the polygraph test, and expresses concern that there’s something really wrong with her. He manipulates Aram into telling Levi what’s really wrong with Samar, and then Levi congratulates him on his pending fatherhood. Samar sorts the pregnancy lie out with Aram and is not happy about Levi knowing what’s wrong with her.

As Samar and Aram toast their future in a restaurant, you just know the next episode won’t be a happy one. Couples don’t end well on The Blacklist.

6.14 - "The Osterman Umbrella Company" Blacklister No. 6
Written by Sean Hennen and Kelli Johnson
Directed by Bill Roe

I have been trying to write about this for a couple of days.
I watched it, and I felt sad.
I watched it again, and I felt mad and sad.
So, let’s go with sad.

The Osterman Umbrella is a third-party provider of assassins. They have no loyalty or scruples. You get in touch with them, then play them, then provide the information on the target. The murders usually happen on foreign soil, so they aren’t really known to the FBI, but Red found out that their next target is on American soil. Which everyone takes to mean the target is American. Unless you’ve watched the last part of the previous episode.

Harold manages to find a way to get in touch with someone who works with the company via an old friend, and quietly confronts the Osterman operator on a park bench. No worries, the operator tells Harold, there are currently no American “tokens” on the board. Harold? Think, Harold. Who else might it be?

The man won’t tell the FBI, so they turn him over to Red so he can have a go. And Red brings Teddy into the picture. Teddy! Now appearing live with his rolling oxygen tank and his chinchillas. But even the threat of being eaten alive by a very hungry python doesn’t phase the Osterman Operator, he won't divulge the name of the "token". However, he does give up an address. When Ressler and Liz get to the location the assassin is gone but the name of the “token” has been left behind.

Samar Navabi

Did you doubt it?

The gang tries to get in touch with Samar and Aram, but he has taken her on a surprise weekend out of town. Aram declares the weekend tech-free and shuts off their phones once they arrive at the cabin. This is just going to be about them and fun and love and cuddling.

And assassins, even if they don’t know it.

While Aram is distracted by a call from the front desk saying that there’s a problem with his credit card Samar confronts and kills the assassin, who was posing as a woman whose snow item of choice had died and needed to use their phone. Oldest trick in the book.

Samar now knows that Osterman is after her and tells Aram that they need to run for their lives. Also, Red and Harold now know that the Umbrella Company is after Samar due to her eventual dementia, which could prove to be a security risk as the disease progressed.

The next several scenes feature Samar and Aram running around getting what they’ll need on the run initially while Red and Harold yell at different Mossad contacts to get them to call off the hit on Samar. Aram apologizes endlessly because he was the one who told Levi about her illness; he was hoping that Mossad would leave her alone for good. Poor, naïve man. Upon hearing that Aram had given the information to Levi, and that Levi had given them a card if Aram ever wanted to “talk”, they tear it open and found a tracker inside. This is why the Umbrella Company was able to find them so easily. When Samar tells Aram that they need to split up for a time so he can get Harold to help them get safely out of the country, you know what’s coming. And it’s so sad.

At some point Red smothers Levi to death, but I can’t remember when. I just recall being in favor of it and wishing he’d utilized the python. A slow death was what Levi deserved.

When the gang meets up at the Post Office with Aram and everyone is hugging and teary and you just know this is the beginning of the end of the episode emotionally. Harold has everything set up for them to get out of the country and they’re all waiting for Samar to get there so they can say goodbye to her.

But Samar didn’t show. Red does, and he’s holding a cell phone. He explains to Aram that she isn’t coming and hands him the phone. With Red’s help Samar has borrowed his plane to start her own journey, and Aram won’t be coming along.

This tiny scene is so emotionally fraught I cried the whole time. She says she wants him to be happy: he says there is no happy without her. Who will take care of her? Aram cries. Samar tells him that no matter what, she will never let the memory of him slip away from her, then hangs up the phone and sobs as the plane takes her away. Tears.

And just like that, Sweet!Aram becomes Dark!Aram. Reddington helped Samar to leave. To leave him. After everything Aram and the others have done for him, Red takes away Aram’s Love. He punches Reddington in the face and tells him, “I will never forgive you for this,”. And I believe him. So, if anyone is looking for half of a heartbroken couple who wants to bring down Raymond Reddington, just ask. I’m sure our computer whiz has some ideas he’d like to share.

This story was extremely well written but it’s the actors who bring the episode to life. We saw a little of the beginning of their romance but missed the entire “middle” due to the time jump when Liz was in a coma. But in watching the “end” you feel like they’ve been together a long time and adore one another. Like this relationship could last. They’re very different, but it works for them. Until it doesn’t.

I am angry at Aram for his naivete. How could he think she’d take him with her? She’d done nothing but try and push him away; if she tried to do that when they were in a situation where they had access to medical treatment and a support system why did he think she’d do now that she was being hunted? He has a right to be sad, to be angry and devastated and vent. But part of me feels that somewhere, deep down, he knew he’d be left behind.

One high point in the show is that we do get to see Samar kick ass one last time. It’s a good memory for us to have.

See you next week, everyone.

Question for the Audience:

Does anyone know what Red is suffering from? He’s in obvious pain throughout both episodes, pops some pills in the Osterman episode and is looking into medical trials.



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