The Blacklist Season 7 premiere: Katarina Rostova hires an illusionist, Red is in trouble

Katarina Rostova and Reddington in The Blacklist
Katarina Rostova (Laila Robins) and Reddington (James Spader) in The Blacklist Season 7. Pic credit: NBC

The premiere episode of The Blacklist Season 7 (titled Louis T. Steinhil) picked up where the Season 6 finale left off, on a cliffhanger after Katarina Rostova kidnapped Raymond “Red” Reddington.

In the Season 6 finale, Red (James Spader) lost consciousness after he was stabbed with a syringe by Rostova (Laila Robins). In the Season 7 premiere, Red regained consciousnesses and a nurse told him he was in a hospital in Paris. A doctor also told him he was recovering from an emergency spinal surgery after being rescued by the police from a gang that nearly beat him to death.

A man who introduced himself as Rene Oban, Chief Inspector of the DGSI (a French spy agency), later interviewed Red. Oban told Red that he’d been hunting him and Rostova for years. Now that he has caught Red, he won’t release him to the Americans until he shares everything he knows about Rostova, including where she is and the identity of the people who want to kill her.

But Red wouldn’t talk. Instead, he recited a phone number and demanded that Oban call the number. He claimed it was the number of his lawyer Marvin Gerard.

Oban finally called the number and Harold Cooper (Harry Lennix) answered the call. Cooper told Oban that the FBI had arrested Gerard and that they wanted Red extradited back to the U.S.  Oban later arranged for Cooper to meet a man who claimed he was representing the French authorities, but it turned out that the man was not an agent of the French government.

We also learned that Red was not really lying paralyzed in a hospital in Paris but in a hideout in Annapolis, Maryland, that was disguised as a hospital. Red was actually being held by people working with Rostova to orchestrate an “illusion” as part of efforts to extract information from Red. While the man who posed as the French detective Oban was interviewing Red, Rostova was watching on a TV monitor.

Oban was actually Louis T. Steinhil, an anagram for the “The Illusionist.”

After Cooper talked to Oban, Liz (Megan Boone) admitted to Aram (Amir Arison) and Cooper (Harry Lennix) that she turned Red in to the police.

Liz had earlier admitted the same to Red in The Blacklist Season 6, Episode 18 (titled The Brockton College Killer), after caving in to pressure from Dembe (Hisham Tawfiq). Red was deeply pained to learn the truth that the ordeal of his arrest and trial was due to Liz’s betrayal.

Liz also told Aram and Cooper that the man they knew as Reddington was actually a former KGB agent named Ilya Koslov and that the real Reddington died in 1991.

As Aram later recounted, the real Raymond Reddington was Liz’s father. And after he died, Liz’s mother, Katarina Rostova, put her in foster care and then escaped from the “KGB, FBI, and the Cabal” with the help of an old friend named Ilya Koslov. Koslov later assumed Red’s identity to gain access to Red’s millions.

Red eventually escaped from the fake hospital, but Rostova and her goons recaptured him. In the closing scene of the episode, we see Red chained up in a warehouse. Rostova then walked in, looking more sinister and menacing than ever.

“I went to great lengths to pretend to hurt you. We’re past that now, Raymond. This is very real,” she said. “I can assure you, before we’re finished, you’re going to tell me everything that I want to know.”

She then forced the nurse who helped Red escape from the fake hospital to draw blood from his jugular.

It is clear from the closing scene that Red is in serious trouble.

Meanwhile, Liz and her team discovered that Red wasn’t in the custody of the French authorities and that someone else was holding him. They found that the man who met Cooper and posed as a representative of the French government was actually working for the illusionist Steinhil.

They located the fake hospital in Annapolis, arrested and interviewed the staff. Liz concluded from the information they got that it was his mother Rostova who was holding Red.

A question that remains to be answered is the nature of the information that Rostova wants to get from Red.

In an interview with The Wrap, show creator Jon Bokenkamp explained that Rostova is holding Red to extract information that goes “to the very heart of the Blacklist and everything we’ve been building toward over the life of the series.”

The Blacklist airs Fridays at 8/7c on NBC.

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