Welcome -- all you millions of new Super Bowl viewers -- to “The Blacklist” and welcome back all you loyal fans. The hit NBC drama was back after the big game with the return of a man more cool and calculated than Tom Brady engineering a fourth quarter comeback: Raymond “Red” Reddington (James Spader). After the fall finale revealed Red had a mysterious relationship with Liz’s (Megan Boone) double-agent, estranged husband Tom (Ryan Eggold), fans had been waiting for months to see how it would all play out in episode 9, “Luther Braxton.”

The new episode began with a news report revealing Red had been captured and arrested in Hong Kong by the CIA. Back in the U.S. though, Liz and the FBI were scrambling to figure just where the organization was holding its prized asset. Plus, the CIA did not seem to have any plans to treat Red very hospitably -- cough, torture, cough -- or release him to FBI anytime soon. Red told the CIA another one of its prisoners, Luther Braxton (Ron Perlman), is planning to escape.

The CIA went to Agent Cooper (Harry Lenix) and the FBI to try and figure out the connection between Red and Braxton. Meanwhile, Braxton, making good on Red’s promise, escaped with the help of some goons and took control of the holding facility. The FBI sent a helicopter to get Red out of there, but for some reason he was intent on sticking around.

The FBI helicopter arrived anyway and in a scuffle with Braxton’s goons Ressler (Diego Klattenhoff) and Samar (Mozhan Marno)) were taken hostage. Liz, on the other hand, managed to avoid capture and find Red. Red told Liz Braxton was trying to find “The Fulcrum,” an intelligence packet that would prove the existence of an illegal CIA operation. Braxton hoped to use the packet for blackmail. Red wanted Liz to get out of the prison, but she insisted on staying until Ressler and Samar were safe.

Red and Liz, along with some allies of Red’s within the prison, met in the warden’s office and hatched a plan for Liz to crawl through an air duct into the boiler room to trigger an explosion that could knock out the server room, which Braxton was using as his headquarters to control the prison.

Braxton noticed a breach in the warden’s office and called the phone in the room where he ended up talking to Red. It became clear the two had a shared history in Belgrade.

Next, Braxton went to the room where he was holding the hostages, including Ressler and Samar, and started killing off hostages to get Cooper to give up a CIA code that would allow him to gain access to the Fulcrum. After Braxton threatens to hang Samar, Cooper relinquished the code.

Meanwhile, Liz got into the boiler room and let Red and his men in to take out the server room. However, little did they know they were running short on time. The CIA head, panicking over giving up the Fulcrum codes to Braxton, planned to bomb the prison to eliminate the threat, killing everyone inside, including Red, Liz, Ressler and Samar.

Red then confessed to Liz the reason he did not want her there was because Braxton would need her to get the Fulcrum. Before he could explain why, though, Braxton and his men barged into the boiler room and began shooting. Liz managed to blow up the server room before Braxton’s men took her away leaving Red unconscious on the ground.

When Red woke up, he went on a shotgun-fueled rampage, storming his way through Braxton’s men into the prison. Soon Red and Liz had Braxton held at gunpoint with the CIA missiles only 30 seconds from impact. However, Braxton, realizing who Liz really was, started talking about a connection between the fire that killed her father and the Fulcrum. The reveal shocked Liz as Red began telling her to shoot Braxton.

However, fans will have to wait for “Part 2” later this week -- at the show’s new regular time on Thursdays at 9 p.m. EST -- because the episode ended right there. “The Blacklist” -- and it’s trademark cliffhangers -- are back.

What did you think of “Luther Braxton Pt. 1?” Tweet your thoughts to @Ja9GarofaloTV