Recap: Lies and Secrets Galore in ‘The Blacklist’ Season 8, Episode 15 “The Russian Knot”


If you missed last week’s recap, check it out here.

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Liz arrives at Townsend’s to meet. As she walks in, she sees four men being suffocated by plastic bags. He talks about Kansas, and how she let Reddington get away. Neville stabs one of the four men who are suffocating and Liz goes to escape, but Neville’s men grab her. One of Neville’s men puts a plastic bag over Liz’s head to begin suffocating her. Neville asks why she let Reddington get away when she had him at gunpoint. Once the bag is taken off her head, she says she has a lead; she can prove Reddington is N-13 and is communicating with the Russians.

Red is bird watching at the park and remembering Anne. Dembe approaches and says that Belsky has reached out, and it’s urgent. Red tells Dembe that Anne has a daughter, and Dembe tells him that he needs to put all this behind him because Belsky has information concerning Liz and Townsend. Dembe also tells Red that Paula Carter (Glen’s mother) reached out and wants to meet. While on the phone with her, Dembe says that Paula used their real names, so she knows who they are.

Red and Dembe meet with Professor Belsky at his classroom. Belsky says his KGB cipher isn’t as relevant today as it used to be, so he was surprised by what he discovered. He hands Reddington a file to look over.

Will Hart/NBC

At Reddington’s restaurant, while Cooper is looking at a picture of a billboard, Red reveals that it’s really a message that Townsend and Liz may be using to communicate with an associate of theirs. He tells Cooper about how during the Cold War, the Soviets were able to crypt and decrypt messages using a cipher machine called “The Russian Knot.” Red says that the only Knot he knows of that still exists is displayed at a war museum in Minsk. Red explains that he was just at the museum in Minsk, to donate a piece of stolen art. Red wants the Task Force to get the piece of art back, and steal the cipher.

Aram briefs the team on The Russian Knot, while also discussing robbing the museum. Meanwhile, Liz, Esi, Ruddiger, and the rest of Liz’s team are working on their plan to steal the cipher. Ruddiger shows Liz his inventions: a drill that uses ultra sonic vibrations to break through rock and a gel that expands to eventually explode. The two teams go back and forth about their respective plans. The Task Force will swap the real cipher with a fake, and loop the security footage, while Liz’s team finds their way in with a woman named Silva Terzian. Liz bumps into Silva at a tea shop, and one of Liz’s guards swipes the woman’s key card for the museum.

The FBI arrive at the museum, as Liz and her team simultaneously arrive; Liz and Ruddiger go through the back entryway as Esi leads them under the Knot. Cooper and the rest of the Task Force approach the museum director, and Cooper tells her that she accepted a stolen painting from Raymond Reddington. He says he could alert INTERPOL but instead asks that her people take his team to watch the security feeds, while he looks at the painting. Meanwhile, Liz and Ruddiger arrive at the spot right under the Knot and start their extraction. One of the museum personnel leads Aram to the security room to look at the feeds and Aram inserts a flash drive into their system.

After a few minutes, Aram, in Russian, asks to use the restroom due to his small bladder (he even coined the term “Peanut”). As Liz disarms the sensors, she peeks around the corner to see Aram leaving the security room. She alerts Esi and Ruddiger, and says that Reddington must be behind their arrival. Aram goes into the restroom and pulls out his laptop to loop footage, as Ressler and Park get in position. Liz rushes back to Ruddiger and gets a rather creepy call from Neville. After Aram successfully looped the footage, Park and Ressler get to the Knot and ask if the sensors are down for the swap; suspiciously, the sensors are already down. Suddenly, the floor under Park and Ressler begins to quake as the floor surrounding the Knot falls below them. Ressler and Park go to look below, and it’s Liz and Ruddiger.

Liz and Ruddiger run with the cipher, but Ruddiger realizes he forgot the badge, so he runs to get it. Park goes after Liz and suddenly, the two bump into one another and Liz drops the cipher. Park and Liz spar, and Park seems to get the upper hand, until Ruddiger hits Park over the head. Ruddiger runs ahead and as Liz goes to get the Knot, Ressler grabs it. She pulls her gun on him and she says she’s dead without the cipher. Ressler says that she needs it for Townsend, but Liz insinuates that Neville doesn’t know she’s there. Esi tells Liz they need to go, and Liz escapes. Aram meets up with Ressler and a wounded Park as Cooper tells the museum director that his Art Theft team will be reaching out to her. The museum director sees the crowd huddled around the room where the cipher was held and goes to investigate, while Ressler arrives to tell Cooper they have “a Liz Keen problem.”

At Paula’s, Paula treats Dembe and Reddington to some treats, when Reddington tells Paula that she knows who they are. Paula apologizes, and when Reddington asks how she found out, she pulls out a manuscript/memoir of sorts that she found under Glen’s bed. Paula tells Red that she’s fallen on some hard times financially and asks if Red will lend her some money, which she insists on paying back. Red tells her it’s a gift, but she says she could press his suit or make him and Dembe meals. To please her, he says for her to think of it as purchasing Glen’s manuscript and for her continued discretion. Paula also told Red that she picked up a job at a cellular company, and Red may require her services.

Back at the museum, Cooper and his team, along with the museum director, look at the damage. Cooper tells the director that Reddington must’ve donated the painting to case the museum to get The Russian Knot. Park brings the Knot in the bag, and the museum director has it taken away. Aram walks past with a bulky bag, and Cooper hopes that the one that was taken with the director was the fake one.

At the Post Office, Cooper and the team call Reddington to let him know that they have the Knot, and the Art Theft team has retrieved the stolen painting. They reveal to him that Liz was there, and Red isn’t surprised. The team is still unsure about Liz’s motives, but Red tells them that all that matters is they have the cipher and he can help them to use it, once he finishes with his current appointment. Red and Dembe are at Paula’s and she was able to sweet talk a friend of hers into getting an address for Emma Foster (Anne’s daughter).

Liz calls Ressler to tell him that Reddington is lying to them; the real reason she wanted the Knot was to decipher messages in the Washington Post that Reddington’s using to communicate with his Russian associate. If she can prove he’s talking to the Russians, she can prove he’s N-13. Ressler talks to Cooper and the rest of the team to discuss whether they should hear Liz out; Cooper makes the final decision and agrees. Ressler tells Cooper that he needs his word on not double-crossing Liz, and Cooper gives his word. After the team splits, Ressler calls Liz to set up the meeting, and Cooper calls a team for surveillance and apprehension.  

Red arrives at Emma Foster’s place and tells her that he is her mother’s lawyer. Unfortunately, Reddington revealed the news that Anne had passed away, so Emma let him in so they could talk.

Ressler arrives at the park to meet Liz, while Cooper and Park are preparing the rest for Liz’s apprehension. Ressler calls Liz and she gives him instructions. As he complies, he turns to see Esi hiding around the corner of a statue. She has him drop his cellphone into the trash and tells him where Liz is. Ressler sits down with Liz at the fountain with the Knot, and they begin deciphering the newspaper message. As they do, Liz tells him her mother left her a storage locker with clues about Reddington, along with more encrypted messages. Liz explains that if they can solve this message, they can solve them all. Ressler enters all the appropriate keys and Cooper orders his team to move in. While the two continue talking, the machine prints a series of numbers, which confuse them both. Suddenly, Liz looks to see that several people are closing in and she takes off, with Ressler running after her and apologizing. Liz calls her people to move in and when Ressler catches up to Liz, it’s not her. More and more women appear in black baseball caps and bright red sweaters, masking Liz as she gets away.

Red tells Emma that her mother had a considerable estate, and that’s how she’s receiving 3 million dollars. Emma asks if Red knew about Anne’s involvement with a wanted fugitive. She tells Red how Anne called her last week, telling Emma that someone may come after her (Anne) and she wanted Emma to go into hiding. Emma wants Red to promise her that none of the money she is getting is from the fugitive, but Red says he can’t promise that and asks her to think about it. Emma asks how Anne died, and Red tells her that it was an accident. She asks if he thinks the fugitive will get what’s coming to him, and Red tells her he thinks so.

Esi and Liz are at the storage unit and they discuss the code. Liz also wonders how Reddington knew that she was going to Minsk because they kept it quiet. After a moment, Esi and Liz realize that Professor Belsky told Reddington. Esi, Liz, and Liz’s bodyguards approach Belsky in his classroom. Belsky said that Reddington made it very clear that if anyone came asking about a code using the Knot, he was to be informed. Belsky showed Red the ads and knew that Liz was the one who had asked about decrypting the messages. Liz tells him that she got the Knot to decrypt the message, but she still can’t read it. Belsky tells her that there are specific keys, and the only person who has the keys is the person who encrypted the message — Reddington.

Will Hart/NBC

Cooper meets with Reddington and Dembe at Red’s restaurant and he brings the Knot. Cooper starts entering keys into the Knot to decrypt the billboard message. The Knot prints a series of numbers and Red says those numbers correspond to letters in the alphabet. At the Post Office, Cooper tells the team that the code was an abandoned warehouse address with a date and time, for a hit most likely, and the step they were missing. The team determines that Reddington was telling the truth, but Ressler isn’t convinced.

Will Hart/NBC

Dembe brings Paula to the restaurant and Red says that he’s offering her employment as a service provider.

Liz calls Ressler and says that the team figured out the billboard message, and now it looks as though Keen was lying. Ressler says he believes her, and to prove that, he tells her the step she was missing. Once she starts to decode the message from the newspaper, it doesn’t make any sense, but she realizes Reddington used the Russian alphabet. She starts decoding again as the Eastern Friend simultaneously decodes a message from the newspaper, a different message. The message he decodes says, “Decoy worked. Situation averted.” The message Liz decodes says, “It’s time. Mobilize assets.”

Will Hart/NBC

Liz and her team arrive at Neville’s. They sit him down in his chair and put a plastic bag over his head. Liz informs him that she has proof now that Reddington is N-13 and she warns him not to threaten her again because although they may be partners, she doesn’t work for him.

Thanks for reading, Blacklisters!

Check out next week’s promo below!

The Blacklist airs Fridays at 8 p.m. EST on NBC.

Kailey has been a writer for Nerds and Beyond since 2018. She received her bachelors degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders in May of 2020. Some of her favorite TV shows are The Blacklist, Supernatural, and Prodigal Son, to name a few. She also loves all things Disney! You can check her out on social media @kaileygross.

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