"The Blacklist" Pilot (TV Episode 2013) - Plot Summary Poster

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  • Ex-government agent and one of the FBI's Most Wanted fugitives, Raymond "Red" Reddington (James Spader) mysteriously turns himself in to the FBI and offers to give up everyone he has ever worked with including a long-thought-dead terrorist but under one condition - he'll only talk to newly-minted female FBI profiler, Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone) with whom he seemingly has no connection. For Liz, it's going to be one hell of a first day on the job and what follows is a twisting series of events as the race to stop a terrorist begins.



The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • "The Blacklist" - "Pilot" - Sept. 23, 2013

    In the pilot for this new NBC thriller we meet the main players in our story.

    First up is Elizabeth Keen. She is a newly-minted FBI agent about to tackle her first day on the job. She is married to Tom Keen. They are in the midst of the adoption process and even though it's her first day on the job they had planned to have a meeting with the agency that day.

    Next up is Raymond "Red" Reddington an ex-government agent turned mercenary-for-hire and one of the FBI's Most Wanted fugitives, He mysteriously returns and turns himself into the FBI and offers to give up everyone he has ever worked with including a long-thought-dead terrorist but under one condition, he'll only talk to Elizabeth Keen.

    Reddington meets with the FBI assistant director Harold Cooper and case agent Donald Ressler. They have him locked in a box and outfitted with a tracking device. We learn that Reddington was a formidable cat who graduated top of his class at the Naval Academy and was being groomed for admiral. But in 1990, he was supposed to come home to see his wife and daughter for Christmas and disappeared. Suddenly, classified documents he had access to began showing up all over the world. He has no country or agenda, his only allegiance is to the highest bidder. He's known as the "concierge of crime.

    Reddington gives them information on the many events that one terrorist named Ranko Zamani was involved in. He's a Serbian national. Reddington says both he and the FBI want this man and so there interests are aligned and this is why he is here. He's listed as dead but Reddington knows he's alive and has entered the U.S. and has a plan. He says he will help them find Zamani but he will speak only with Elizabeth Keen.

    As Keen is set to head in for her first day of work as a profiler, cars and copters and Ressler show up to take her to Reddington. (She has no idea what their connection is. But it seems pretty clear that Reddington must be her father.)

    She meets with Cooper and he asks her to profile herself for them. She says she has been with the Bureau for 4 years and worked in New York. He doesn't want her resume, but her profile. She says her colleagues call her "sir," and think she is a bitch. She says like most kids who raised themselves she can be narcissistic, withdrawn, and disconnected. She has a deep yearning to understand and relate to the criminal mind. She's board certified in forensic psychology but thinks she can rewrite her history by having kids of her own. She thinks Reddington was waiting for her becasue she's new and thinks she can be easily manipulated but clearly he doesn't know her.

    They go to see Reddington at a black ops site known as the Post Office, thanks to its location--in an old post office.

    She meets with Reddington, who smiles and laughs when he sees her. He makes note of her appearance and how she's changed it. She asks about Zamani. She asks why her since there's nothing special about her. He says he thinks she's very special. He explains Zamani's plot to abduct the daughter of a U.S. general and the elaborate plan of diversion and that he'll be out of the country quickly and they'll need to move fast to save the girl. He knows this because he's the one who got him into the country. She wonders if she should believe him. He says no since criminals are notorious liars but if anyone who can give him a second chance it's her, whose father a career criminal and her mother who died in weakness and shame. He says he's going to make her famous and calls her Lizzie.

    She holds her own but later freaks out with Cooper and Ressler and wonders how he knows these things about her. Her professional opinion is the girl is going to get taken. She calls Tom and says she can't make the adoption appointment.

    Her professional opinion is correct, the girl ends up being taken right under everyone's noses through a staged car accident and ambush. Elizabeth is in the car with the little girl Beth when it happens and as she's taken away she promises she will find her. They descend with Beth into boats below the bridge and take off.

    Elizabeth goes back to Reddington who says he knows nothing more than about the plot. Reddington says he will trade information with her. He asks personal questions about her--like how she got a scar on her hand (from a fire)-- and then he tells her to look at the situation differently, that she need to look at it like a criminal would.

    He goes with her and looks a the wall of evidence they've amassed on Zamani. They tell him to look for a different guy, a Russian chemist/mercenary and a German banker whose most likely moving the money. They deduce that another Zamani event/attack is imminent somewhere in D.C. for revenge against the general's family since the general bombed Zamani's village and killed his family. He tells them how to find the chemist and he wants something in return: freedom from restraint and a suite in a 4 star hotel. They give it to him.

    They find the chemist and think they found him before he built the bomb. Elizabeth heads home to clear her head only to discover that her husband has been bound and gagged and tortured. Zamani is in her house with a gun. He says to do what he says or he'll shoot her husband. (Incidentally, they were approved for the adoption. It's a girl.) Zamani says he was done with the chemist so they saved him payment. Zamani asks what else she knows about his plan. She says they've speculated about a bomb but that is all. Zamani stabs Tom in the thigh. He tells her Reddington has been talking about her for years. He tells her she has a choice, to stop him now and save many Americans or save only her husband, who he stabs again. She calls 911 and chooses Tom.

    She sits by Tom in the hospital and then heads back to Reddington and asks if he sent Zamani to her house. Reddington asks what he said. She tells him but is more upset that Tom is dying. Reddington says Tom doesn't matter. She stabs him in the neck, hitting his carotid, if she lets go he'll die so he better give her some info on Zamani. He says if he dies she'll never learn the truth about her husband. She says he knows nothing about her husband and pulls the pen out.

    She goes to his hotel room the next day to question Red again. He's gone. He winds up at the Washington monument where he meets Zamani. They trace his tracker. Red asks how it went with the husband. Zamani said he did as he asked. Zamani justifies his actions about attaching a bomb to the general's daughter and how it will be his legacy.

    Reddington calls Liz and she realizes that he's going to bomb the D.C.Zoo. Liz heads to the zoo while Ressler chases down Reddington, who turns out to be Zamani, he transferred the tracker. Zamani leaps to his death.

    Liz spots the little girl Beth and uncovers the bomb on her body. She has two and a half minutes to defuse it. Reddington calls her and says his "friend" is on the way to defuse the bomb. He does and then he runs off with it. Reddington arrives and says to consider it a souvenir for the guy who saved her life, even though it's a chemical weapon. The FBI arrives and grabs Reddington. Red says to Liz, "we're going to make a great team."

    They debrief Red and he says he has more names to give them from what he calls "The Blacklist"-- full of politicians, mobsters, hackers, and spies-- and that they should keep working together to work through the list. He says Zamani was a small fish on his list and he's Ahab if they want his whales they follow his rules: he never sleeps in the same place for more than two nights, they give him a better embedded tracker, he wants a security detail, he says he gets immunity and he speaks only with Liz.

    The FBI investigates Liz's house. After the CSU leave she tries to scrub the blood out of the carpet and discovers a secret cubbyhole under the floorboards. It is full of money, guns, and a half dozen fake passports. She realizes it may be her that knows nothing about her husband.

    Liz goes to visit Red in custody. He says she discovered something curious about her husband. She simply stares at him.

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