The Blacklist and Raymond Reddington (James Spader) are back on their bullsh--.

"Lady Luck" played like a classic Blacklist episode, with Reddington throwing his weight around and a fun, weird Blacklister giving the task force fits. After a run of heavy episodes, this was a welcome respite. This approach worked particularly well because the hour's events were still tethered to recent events, continuing the season's more serialized nature.

Freed from prison and interpersonal issues with Aram (Amir Arison), Reddington turned his attention to the narc inside his criminal network. Reddington continued to obsess over who turned him into the police. The new wrinkle is Dembe's (Hisham Tawfiq) knowledge that the culprit was Liz (Megan Boone). As Reddington got more aggressive and violent in his interrogations of various associates -- including everyone's favorite carny, Smokey -- Dembe did what Dembe does. He stood there quietly, helped with needed and eventually made a wise speech about his best friend's misguided search -- even though he's hiding the truth.

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Reddington's activity here was a needed reminder of what the man is capable of. Though Season 6 has positioned the character in weaker circumstances, Reddington is out of prison now. He's not going to be transformed by his time in prison. The Blacklist is not that kind of show. Might as well uncork some of the man's more villainous tendencies, even as he repeatedly expressed disgust in his network's development of an expansive meth distribution unit. The man has morals after all.

The show likewise needs to challenge Dembe's loyalty. He squirmed and tried to dissuade Reddington from disposing of Smokey but knows that he put himself in this position. He's eventually going to have to choose who he wants to remain loyal to: Reddington or Liz.

James Spader, The Blacklist

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Meanwhile, as the task force battled with the titular Lady Luck -- a woman who preyed on gambling addicts with huge debts to help care for her handicapped husband -- Ressler (Diego Klattenhoff) took up the mantle that Liz has emphatically dropped.

The investigation into the real Reddington screeched to a halt in recent episodes but was always going to return. Ressler's role in it tracks with the show's history given that he was on the Reddington investigation before the task force. It also, as this episode illustrated, generates more tension between Ressler and Liz, at the exact time that they have developed an intimate (if not yet romantic) relationship. It's frustrating that the story has to be Liz passively going along with Ressler's investigation while he lies about continuing to look for the truth, but that kind of deceit-based storytelling is too deeply baked into The Blacklist's DNA.

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Plus, the investigation already revealed new information that's somewhat interesting. Ressler's contact helped him discover the location and identity of Liz's maternal grandmother, who is -- get this -- not dead as previously thought. What a development! At least the story is moving forward.

After this little refresher, the show suddenly has a number of balls in the air. Reddington is closing in on Liz's early-season betrayal. Ressler is closing in on important information about Reddington but keeping it from Liz. Dembe is stuck in the middle. No one is being honest. Surely that'll work out well for them all!

The Blacklist airs Fridays at 9/8c on NBC.



Other Links From TVGuide.com The BlacklistJames SpaderDiego KlattenhoffMegan Boone