Previously in The Blacklist #3
Red and Sebastian Royce continue their stroll down memory lane. After Venice, much to Royce’s chagrin, they work as hired muscle for thugs in various countries. To Red, they’re not ready to lead—this is proven when they’re in Thailand. They kidnapped the minister’s nephew; precipitating his murder and almost getting killed in the process. Royce has always been about games and luck. But Red gives in; he goes along with Royce’s plans for world domination.
Their exploits have made them famous; all they need is one last hurrah. With a little help from a classified FBI document, a plan is put in motion. Hanging out in Prague, dressed like Crockett and Tubbs, making a name for themselves. It was ’94, not ’84; what’s up with these outfits?
Royce’s plan, setting up the FBI for a big fall—and blaming it on COINTELPRO, will not only exact revenge on those who betrayed him, but also increase his and Red’s clout. Red doesn’t trust Royce or that the plan will work–his doubts make Royce call him out on his reticence.
On a train zipping through Switzerland, the plan is finalized. The FBI agents aboard are set to sabotage an Italian senator. What they don’t know is, Royce has a bomb with US military practically written all over it. As Red asserts, it will look like an assassination gone bad; and take the lives of a lot of innocents. It doesn’t seem to sit well with Red, but Royce only cares about their legendary status. The FBI is waiting with their guns at the ready and the game is afoot. To Royce, the FBI lying in wait makes no sense and his calculation are never wrong. Running through the train, Red makes a dash for a secret compartment he had built, in case the plan went south. Instead of joining him, Royce takes his chances against the agents. He’s shot and stumbles through a window, though he manages to hang on and climb to the top of the train.
Red makes his way to the top of the train, to talk him down, but Royce goes for the detonator. Red tries to tell him he tipped off the FBI, but Royce stops him and offers up one more bet, and jumps from the train. Turns out the ignition device had been disabled…Royce had never intended to blow up the train.
At the post office, the team is intent on going through with Liz’s crazy plan to send a Red look-alike to meet Royce’s new assassin, John X. Mr. X is a mysterious figure they’ve all heard of but didn’t believe existed. Ressler agrees to wear Red’s trench and hat and Dembe sets up the meet at JFK.
As everyone gets into place, Aram digs into Royce’s background and finds out he used to FBI. They didn’t know sooner because the FBI scrubbed his existence.
Having shot Royce, Red demands he call off the assassin. Royce insists he can’t and instead, pulls up a live feed of the meet at JFK. Ressler can seriously pass for Red in that get up, so of course John X can’t tell the difference. Royce remarks that Red woud have a better chance of calling it off, since he’s tapped into the FBI’s frequency. Just in time, he tells Ressler to duck and he misses getting his head blown clean off.
The Blacklist #4
This issue was not good at all. Meh would be an understatement. There’s even a panel that has the phrase “rat-a-tat-tat-tat”.
I don’t get Royce’s motivation or why this would pull Red away from helping the team find Blacklisters. Both Royce and Red were betrayed by those they trusted (the FBI? The CIA?), and that’s what links them. Why come after Red now? It’s clear Royce’s end game is to see Red suffer in some way, I just don’t care about it.. Red didn’t even have a quintessential Red line. It’s an interesting backstory, but I’m not seeing how all of this ties into the show.
The only thing that stands out in this issue, is how much Ressler looks like Red. Even in the variant cover; he could pass for his son. Wouldn’t it be awesome it that’s the big reveal for the end of this season? He’s Ressler’s long, lost dad and has been using Liz to get close to him. I can dream.