The Blacklist season 4 episode 17 review: Mr. Kaplan’s fantastic origin

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As we went into The Blacklist season 4 episode 17, it was already pretty darn clear that we were in for something special. We don’t know how you say anything otherwise about an installment that took us back to the story of one Katarina Rostova, and also, the origins of one Mr. Kaplan. In the first hour, we learned her real name; now, we learned a whole lot more.

In the beginning of this episode (which was, by the way, fantastic), we learned a little bit more about how Mr. Kaplan first came under the employ of Katarina, the complicated relationship that they had, and the time Kate took caring for Liz. It was clear that there was some affection between Kate and a very young Masha, too young for the present-day Liz Keen to really even remember. It was also clear that Reddington’s affair with Katarina is one of the reasons for all of the chaos that unfolded, with Reddington thinking the child may be his.

One of the other things that was very interesting about the episode was learning where the name “Kaplan” came from — a woman in Anna Kaplan who she had a relationship with in the aftermath of what happened with Katarina. This relationship warned our heart greatly, but then our heart was completely crushed when we saw how the relationship ended — Anna was gunned down, leaving Kaplan once again on her own with everything taken away from her.

It was from here that Reddington really started to enter the picture. Kate already knew — and hated — Reddington at the time, but the proposition that he had for her was too great for her to pass up on. This marked an opportunity for her to watch after a young Elizabeth who she cared about — she made it clear at the time that she would always choose Liz over Red, which is why she made the decision that she did helping Liz fake her own death last season. (Hooray to the show for really paying off some old story threads here, and giving us a further sense of their magnitude.)

One other thing worth noting here is that over the course of the episode, we received even more insight on Kate’s metal plate, which allowed her to survive that shot from Reddington. The attention to detail from the writers tonight (and all season, for that matter) was top-notch in making sure that everything makes sense, and that the road leading to Kate’s almost-death was perfectly paved.

Back to the present

“Requiem” was a stellar journey of a character’s growth. We went all the way back to the early days of Masha to the present, where we saw Mr. Kaplan doing her best to evade capture from Reddington. At the end of the episode, the two had their first phone conversation since he tried to murder her. Within this conversation, Mr. Kaplan conceded that she had put Reddington’s needs ahead of Liz’s over the years far too much — she’d went away from her mission of protecting Liz to serving Red’s needs, being his partner-in-crime.

Mr. Kaplan doesn’t seem all that interested in trying to kill Reddington; specifically, she wants to destroy him instead. She knows where the bodies are buried (literally, per the cliffhanger), and she has nothing else to lose now that she thinks that he is not operating with Liz’s best interest at heart anymore. Consider this a mere beginning.


We really can’t say it enough how well-written and acted this episode was. It’s easily the best episode of the season, and it did a great job both establishing who “Kate Kaplan” is and why she wants to destroy Reddington now even beyond just revenge. This is a foundation to what may be the best arc that we’ve seen on the show since the very first season. Grade: A.

(Photo: NBC.)

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