"The Blacklist" is back — what a treat! In 2015, fans had to wait until February for NBC's big Super Bowl push to see Red back in action after the Season 2 winter finale. Thankfully, that is not the case this year. Season 3 was back Thursday with episode 9, "The Director," just a little over a month since Ressler (Diego Klattenhoff) slapped those handcuffs on Liz (Megan Boone) in the December winter finale.
As episode 9 begins, Ressler is determined to get Liz to trial, but with her location now public knowledge, the Cabal has other plans. The corrupt CIA director (David Straithairn) wants to kill Liz before she has the chance to explain herself.
On a special directive from the White House, Liz is being ushered to a special, closed trial where the Cabal will not be able to manipulate her hearing. That does not sit well with the director, but he is confident he can silence her first.
"Three hours to make one woman disappear? We have toppled entire governments in less time."
The director shows up at FBI headquarters with a bogus excuse that because of a suspected Russian terrorist attack, he has to take Liz in for questioning. Ressler has locked Liz in that lucky glass containment box that fans will remember from Red's famous last wish speech. Luckily, Aram (Amir Arison) has changed the password so the director can not get inside. Unfortunately, once Ressler heads out to help Tom (Ryan Eggold) with Karakurt (Andrew Divollo) — he accidently tipped off the Cabal to the location of Cooper's (Harry Lennix) cabin — the director uses some unconventional methods to get to Liz, namely pumping nitrogen into the box so that she can not breathe. Aram can only watch helpless as Liz slowly dies in front of him.
Aram is waiting on Red (James Spader) and Tom now. Thankfully, Red (James Spader) has a plan. He contacts the now unemployed Samar (Mozhan Marno) to help stage a drug bust so he can steal his "special package" back from FBI evidence. He uses that to bribe the Venezuelan diplomat to do him a favor. Fans did not get to see what Red has planned in this episode, but they do get to see what it costs him — the ability to basically print unlimited currency.
Meanwhile, Ressler shows up at Cooper's cabin — Cooper and his wife had left before they knew Karakurt was not safe — and finds Tom and the all important Russian assassin just before Mr. Solomon (Edi Gathegi) shows up with a death squad of Cabal gunmen. After a storm of gunfire, Ressler, Tom, and Karakurt, who has convinced Tom to give him a gun, play dead, then spring a trap on the Cabal baddies. They kill all of them, but Mr. Solomon, who gets the jump on Tom. Luckily, Cooper shows up just in time to knock the hired killer out save the day!
Back at FBI headquarters, Aram watches as Liz goes unconscious. Unable to wait another second, he gives the director the password to the containment box. However, just as the director and his men are walking Liz away to her certain death, Aram pulls a gun on the director. He is in tears, desperate to save his friend. Liz, not wanting to get Aram killed along with her convinces him to lower his weapon. Fortunately, just as he does, the U.S. district attorney shows up and spoils the director's plans! She chastises him for disobeying the chain of command and puts Liz in the custody of ... Ressler! The FBI agent has just returned with Mr. Solomon in handcuffs. It looks like Liz might get her day in court after all.
The episode ends with a bit of an odd scene as Red has Aram meet him in a cemetery that night over an open grave. He explains that he wanted to stand over the grave to remind himself what it feels like to lose someone he loves, something he believes he would have had to go through with Liz if not for Aram's actions — sadly, the fact that the scene played like Red was about to execute Aram just made everything weird.
Elsewhere, Ressler frees Dembe (Hisham Tawfiq), who gets to exchange a bragging look with the smug, now-in-prison Mr. Solomon and Tom still has Karakurt in his possession. As Red says, there is only one thing left to do — "It's time to take down the Cabal."
"The Director: Conclusion" airs Thursday, Jan. 14 at 8 p.m. EST on NBC.