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Ok, didn't have time to write this last night, as I huddled in front of the screen, sleep-deprived and sugar high after a long, long day of work and pen-and-paper RPGing. That's my excuse.

What this means in terms of the review is of course that I'm over the first, flaily, squee-filled moments of my after-show reactions - also, that I'm desperately trying to remember details only hazily captured in my manic state last night. But I'll give it a go. ;)

So - Red is back. And by back, I do of course mean front and center, where he belongs.

Because face it - this is why we tune in, week after week; to watch James Spader do that thing that he does so well - and then there's some supporting cast as well.

In terms of plot, this was a decent episode - we got a blast from the past for Red, a fancy caper for him and Lizzie, and some delightfully unsubstantiated back story on both of them that leaves us fans salivating for more while still scratching our heads (and tearing our hair while we scream "WHAT IS THE TRUTH?!?" to the Universe).

Let's not mention the Whining Boy Wonder that is Tom, because he's such a DRAG and I can't be bothered to ruin my morning thinking about him.

Seriously - why hasn't Lizzie walked away yet?

I guess it's easier to stick with what you (think you) know...

Madeline Pratt, this weeks number, appears to have been quite close - both in the biblical sense and in a more serious fashion - with Reddington in the past, until he stood her up.

Not a good choice.

Because Madeline - like Red, I believe - knows how to carry a grudge.

A long, convoluted con-slash-heist with Egyptian artifacts, foreign spies, embassy parties WITH DANCING (be still my beating heart) and a lot of misdirection ends up with Madeline in possession of everybody's favourite McGuffin and the blame placed on Red.

In a shocking move, Red and Madeline are apparently kidnapped by forces unknown, looking to acquire the list of six super double-agents, or nukes, or codes to the kiddielock on the computer - so sorry, didn't really focus on this so much as the fact that Red was all broken up (or down) and TALKING ABOUT WHAT HAPPENED THE NIGHT HE DISAPPEARED/TO HIS FAMILY.

Yes, I went all capital. I'd do it again, too.

Because that was just so heart wrenching and sad and emotional and convincing that I was leaking feels all over the place.

Good thing there's good sound dampening between the flats here...

And then it was ALL A TRICK, played by Red to get the McGuffin from Madeline!

Or was it?

By now, the fan speculations about Red's disappearance, his family and his past in general has gone down a lot of different roads, but the story he told in this episode DOES jive with a lot of the favourite theories out there, so I'm going to accept it as POTENTIAL truth, with a BIG helping of salt and a lot of caveats.

Even if it was only partially true, there is little doubt in my mind that the EMOTIONS were real, that he was digging down into the pain he feels at the loss of his loved ones.

Seeing him perfectly cool and put together just a few moments later was a bit of a kick in the gut - he's so good at putting on that mask, so professional and so unlikely to lose his cool; can we ever hope to know the man behind the mask, or will we forever be second-guessing the poker face of the "Concierge of Crime"?

Compared to his story, Lizzie's story about her youthful brush with a life of crime didn't have quite the same ring of truth to it - but then she's had a lot less practice than Red.

But I still believe it had some basis in fact, although a lot of the details may have been altered.

Part of me can't help but wonder if the real story wasn't actually darker than the one we heard - did she really just "kiss" the guard to distraction before taking off?
Maybe she compromised herself further - maybe she hurt the guard.

Who knows?

I'm thinking Red does...

It still raises a lot of questions, though - especially the unbelievably sloppy dialogue between Ressler and her, where he asks how come she doesn't have a criminal record; did she never commit a crime, or was she never caught?

And she answered "Yes" - and he lets it go.


There's an underlying assumption that her "criminal father" taught her the tricks of the trade - but seriously, she was supposedly adopted by Sam (who is generally believed to NOT be a criminal) at age FOUR.

I don't know about Lizzie at age four - but at that age, my son was more concerned with Lego and learning to dress himself than learning sleight-of-hand and con-techniques...

Wherever they came from, Lizzie's suddenly revealed pickpocketing skills are IMPRESSIVE and COOL, but they raise a LOT more questions about what sort of upbringing she had, and if Sam actually DID swoop in to rescue her at such a tender age.

If he actually adopted her a lot later, it would make MUCH more sense in the face of statements such as "I raised myself".

All in all, this was a nice, solid episode with some lovely, emotional moments from Red and a fair bit of "teasing" from Lizzie - I'm still waiting for something to rival Anslo Garrick for kickass storytelling, but I'm quite happy with this.

Special mentions:
- Red playing the flamboyantly gay-ish PA to the hilt.
- Lizzie pickpocketing Madeline's phone during the "interview"-process.
- Red asserting his power over Cooper and the FBI - and Cooper venting all his worries about Diane's disappearance to Malik - who has a pretty good idea of what went down...
- Mysterious Agent McScary threatening Cooper to Back The Hell Down - was it just me, or did his phrasing and mannerisms remind you a lot of Red himself?
Did they attend the same "finishing school of scary BAMFs"...?
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