Things appear to be falling apart for everyone but Townsend.
That’s because everyone else got cocky on The Blacklist Season 8 Episode 16.
I blame Ressler and his government-issued cell phone. That was how Townsend got tuned into what Liz and the Task Force were attempting.
As usual, Liz, the Task Force, and Red were pretending to work together while each pursuing their own agendas. That’s probably why they ended up empty-handed.
Despite the doubts of everyone around him, Townsend was giving Liz the benefit of the doubt. That probably had something to do with her threatening to suffocate him on The Blacklist Season 8 Episode 15 just to prove what a badass she was.
Nicholas Obenrader, a management consultant for criminal organizations, had to be one of the most boring Blacklisters so far (Captain Kidd, the criminal facilitator on the Blacklist Season 8 Episode 11, was right up there as well).
The mark of a bad Blacklister: Obenrader actually got captured by Ressler and Park fairly early on when he killed the runaway accountant. Didn’t he have a hitman to handle that? Or did he just have the one that he had eliminated for fumbling the earlier liquidation of the realty agency?
Raymond actually sicced the Task Force on Obenrader because he had a use for the consultant. It certainly wasn’t so that they could save the exterminated realty firm.
One of these days, Cooper will ask, “What is Reddington’s purpose in giving this Blacklister to us?” But no. Mostly, he settles for getting a bad guy off the street and ignores whatever the benefit is for Red.
This time out, the Task Force got zip to show for their efforts. Instead, they had to set up an elaborate escape for Obenrader so that their connection to Raymond would be muddied.
And all Red needed Obenrader for was to wedge a mole inside of Townsend’s organization.
Reddington set up that whole transition nicely by spilling the beans about Townsend’s heist manager to a thief who owed him a favor. Of course, word got back to Townsend, as Raymond had planned, creating an opening within Neville’s team.
Priya appears to be a worthy addition. As usual, Red made her an offer she couldn’t refuse, and now he had his mole. What was she attempting to put into Townsend’s drink? I don’t think she was trying to murder him, so it was probably something to make him more nuts than usual.
So what is Priya’s role to be? Is she strictly passing on intel, or does she have a specific assignment from Reddington?
Unfortunately, with only a handful of episodes left on The Blacklist Season 8, Priya doesn’t figure to get that well developed this season anyway.
While Priya was getting inducted into Townsend’s organization, Liz was wearing out her welcome. She has a habit of doing that. It’s the fallout from thinking you’re the smartest person in the room when you’re not.
Liz seemed to think she has earned her way back onto the Task Force by offering crumbs to Harold. Harold smartly has limited the flow of information to her.
But that doesn’t work when Ressler keeps shooting off his mouth to Liz. Nothing remains secret as a result and the Task Force, which is always behind Reddington, is now behind Liz as well.
It’s hard not to feel bad for Cooper as his entire team keeps saying more than they should to either Raymond or Liz. Any wonder that they can’t keep up?
The trouble was that Ressler’s request to Liz to pick up Stepanov was overheard by Rocco, who relayed what he learned directly to Townsend.
Liz continued to yack with Ressler, not realizing that she was now on a party line.
Fortunately for Liz, Townsend continued to believe in her or at least believed that she still shared the same goal as him: to end Reddington. That’s why he went against the wishes of his top advisers.
However, he was smart enough to keep her busy bringing in Priya while he sent his own team in Moscow to abduct Stepanov. Liz tried to grab Stepanov by proxy, but Esi was too late.
So, who’s in the best position heading into The Blacklist Season 8 Episode 17, which will center on Stepanov and what he knows about N-13?
Well, not Stepanov, who is in the hands of a man who will kill him as soon as he tells what he knows.
It’s a mixed bag for Red. The man who knows all his secrets is in Townsend’s hands. But he does have a spy in Townsend’s midst, so he may be able to keep informed.
Liz doesn’t yet realize how exposed she is. Then again, if anyone is in a position to free Stepanov, it’s her.
The Task Force doesn’t know much right now and is dependent on Red and Liz to get them involved. Neither of those two has much reason to do so … yet.
And there have to be people in Russia that don’t want Stepanov missing that will take some action.
Maybe this will all get more sorted out in another week.
To follow the tale of N-13, watch The Blacklist online.
Who is in more trouble, Liz or Red?
How can the Task Force help?
What did you think of Obenrader?
Dale McGarrigle is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.