In a surprising move, The Blacklist Season 2 Episode 1, shoved Ray Reddington to the side a little bit.
James Spader's beloved character was still central to the plot, of course, but two different women really stepped to the forefront on the opening fall installment.
We open with Red in the back of a Jeep that’s flying through Cameroon. He’s been seized there by a war lord named Yabbari (spelling?), who is displeased with Red crossing his turf.
But Red offers Yabbari $3 million in exchange for the names of the bounty hunters that Berlin has hired to tail him and, with the assistance of a few Hellfire missiles, our quasi hero learns of the moniker “Lord Baltimore,” a genius data tracker.
Red promptly burns the money he promised the war lord and his associates... and we're off on an adventure!
Red tells Liz (residing in a motel, for now) that Lord Baltimore is their best (only?) hope for tracking down Berlin.
The task force gets into this lead and we meet Krysten Ritter as Rowan Mills, a data engineer at a major analytics firm. She recently had a quarter of a million dollars appear and disappear from her IRA account.
Mills seems innocent at first, but she then gets a threatening phone call warning her NOT to speak to the FBI again. From there, Mills enlists Liz and her unit to trace the call.
It came from... inside an apartment leased to her name?!?
According to Mills, she has a long-lost sister named Nora, who reportedly had died in an accident years ago. However, she clearly seems to be alive, using Rowan’s identity to get her own apartment.
Mills and her mother both confirm that Nora was once molested by her uncle, forcing her to lead a much darker childhood than her sibling.
Let’s switch gears: we then learn that Lord Baltimore is NOT hunting down Red. He’s instead after a woman who fits a certain set of criteria.
Cue the debut of Mary-Louise Parker! She’s on board as Naomi Hyland, Red’s ex-wife and the believed target of Baltimore.
Things then get a tad confusing at Rowan’s apartment when a man named Marcus shows up and plays a record for her. But we then see why: it triggers something… Rowan recalls who she is… she goes to Naomi’s residence and she guns down most of the guests there.
Yep, say hello to Lord Baltimore.
It’s soon revealed that Rowan is actually Nora Mills, who murdered her sister years ago in order to claim her sibling’s less tragic identity.
At a rundown apartment building nearby, Berlin uncovers Naomi’s face and scares the heck out of us with a "Hello, Mrs. Reddington.”
He mounts her and snaps a Polaroid and, although Red and Dembe are aware of Naomi’s location, all that remains at the apartment by the time they arrive is Berlin’s pocket watch - now contains the most recent picture of Naomi. FREAKY!
Later, a package arrives for Red at the hotel where he's staying. He calls Berlin upon seeing its contents and Berlin vows to send Naomi back to Red... piece by piece, just as Red did with Berlin’s daughter.
The premiere final shot? Naomi’s severed finger, sitting in an elegant gift box. Yikes. That's quite a way to kick off a season, huh?
Did you catch every clue along the way? Go watch The Blacklist online via TV Fanatic and sound off here: What did you think?