We left The Blacklist last season with a non-stop thrill of a two-part finale that killed off Meera, almost killed Harold and maybe did away with Tom (doubtful). Red is back trying to hunt down the elusive villain Berlin before he can dispatch revenge with the delivery of one body part after another.

This week’s season 2 premiere, “Lord Baltimore,” shows that The Blacklist is setting us up for a Red/Berlin showdown cloaked in a flash of heart-stopping action, red herrings and jaw-dropping moments that actually make us happy it is a Monday.

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Red’s Hunt for Berlin Goes Black Ops

“Lord Baltimore” begins with ZZ Top’s “La Grange” blaring, machine guns blasting and Red bound in the back of a Jeep, perhaps in a war-torn African country. “Typically, I steer clear of dictators who employ boy soldiers,” Red announces to a smug-looking war lord. He offers the dictator money for the name of a Berlin-bought bounty hunter. The bad guy laughs, not taking Red’s offer seriously. Planes start dropping hell-fire missiles and the name “Lord Baltimore” slips out of the despot’s mouth. Just the intel Red needs to start a Berlin hunt.

Liz is on the case, discovering Baltimore’s a high tech skip tracer, a cyberspace genius. “If we find Lord Baltimore, he may point us to Berlin,” she tells her crew. They question a data-mining badass, Rowan, who says she’s innocent and definitely no Lord. Later, we see the cute techie getting a call from Siri saying to quit talking to the FBI. In the very next scene, she’s of course talking to the Feds. They grill her about a Baltimore connection. She drops the bomb that her dead twin sister, Nora, must be alive. What?  

Red visits Harold and compliments him on his shea butter soft skin. More importantly, he asks when the big guy’s getting back to work. Never, says his former boss. He needs family time. Red encourages with “There’s no shame in being a cripple. I know about the diagnosis. Let’s get the job done.” Way to add the pep in pep talk, Red. How can Harold say “no” to that pitch? 

The Blacklist is non-stop action in this week’s premiere, not pausing for a breath or to give us a second to contemplate the plausibility of all the shenanigans. Case in point: Red is swiped in broad daylight from deep within a building with the help of a hovering helicopter. He’s being held by a sexy Assad lady who ends up giving him up without a fight when replacement Harold demands it. An unnecessary scene? We would say yes if it weren’t for the hilarious banter revealing that it was Red’s love of Zenya ties that led to his capture. Who knew fashion could be the downfall of Red? Once free, it’s back on the Berlin trail.

Good Twin, Bad Twin

Rowan is still being questioned, never wavering in her declaration of innocence. Ressler questions her mother and friends of the family who all say Nora was the bad seed while Rowan was the happy one.

Liz discovers that Lord Baltimore wasn’t tasked with finding Red, instead he’s looking for a woman. Naomi Highland, says Red, that’s who he’s after. “She was my wife.”

The twisty twin turn continues when Marcus, Berlin’s messenger, shows up at Rowan’s and plays her a record — you know, those circular vinyl things. Rowan is struggling, looking pained. A calm finally washes over her and Nora’s (?) back asking, “How long was I gone?”

Nancy (think Weeds) — I mean Naomi — is having a dinner party with friends when US Marshals show up to take her away. Naomi tells her story to Liz of a Red abandonment. A few minutes later, a barrage of bad guys comes in to take Naomi away while tasering Liz and crew. Our girl recovers in time to stumble outside and apprehend Nora. “I found Lord Baltimore.”

Rowan is Nora, Nora is Rowan — we’re more confused. Liz explains it’s all part of her dissociative identity disorder. Okay, got it. She needs to find Rowan/Nora’s trigger and gets it out of messenger Marcus. Liz plays the album and accuses Nora of killing Rowan. The twin denies it but eventually switches back to Nora. She gives up the Naomi location, but when Liz gets there, Red’s ex-wife is gone and only one person survived. She calls Red and the nearly dead guy delivers a message: an address.

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A Berlin Payback

It’s shocking and unsettling when Reddington does not have the upper hand. The final moments in “Lord Baltimore” give Berlin the night, although we suspect the battle has just begun. Naomi is begging for her life while Berlin snaps a Polaroid. Scrapbook for Red, perhaps? In the next scene, we see Red showing up and Naomi gone, with Berlin’s pocket watch remaining.

Meanwhile, Liz gets her marriage dissolved, like it never happened. Strangely enough, she’s keeping the Keen surname, explaining that was never Tom’s name. We also see Ressler popping pills, Harold looking sad at home alone and Liz eyeballing that wig in the reflection of a window. By episode’s end, she chops that mop off, Harold shows up back at work and Red receives a present. It’s a new phone! Berlin is on the other end saying he’s going to send Naomi to him … piece by piece by piece. There’s a finger in the package to show he’s going all Emily Thorne and looking for the ultimate revenge.

NBC promises the war is just beginning, and with this week’s entry into season 2, we believe them. So are you ready to hunker down and go to battle with Red and Liz? Do you think Naomi is a goner or will Red sweep in for the save? Most important, when will we revisit the Red-might-be-Liz’s-daddy mystery? The Blacklist fun will have to wait as we wait for next Monday to finally arrive. 

The Blacklist airs Mondays at 10pm on NBC.

(Image courtesy of NBC)

Lisa Casas

Contributing Writer, BuddyTV