'The Blacklist' Season 9 Episode 3 Recap, 'The SPK'

In The Blacklist Season 9 Episode 3, the task force learns of a new criminal group of religious extremists. Raymond “Red” Reddington (James Spader) reunites with a blacklister to help the task force solve the case. Aram (Amir Arison) has to make a difficult decision about his professional life.

[Spoiler warning: This article contains spoilers for The Blacklist Season 9 Episode 3.]

Red helps the FBI track down a group of religious extremists

The episode opens in Prato Cathedral, Italy with a group of religious extremists stealing a belt worn by the Virgin Mary. They kill a security guard in the process. Red tells Harold Cooper (Harry Lennix) that this group is known as the Supremo Priori Knighthood (SPK), a criminal group that steals and auctions off religious artifacts. Cooper briefs the task force and they head out to investigate.

Alina Park (Laura Sohn) and Donald Ressler (Diego Klattenhoff) confront a man suspected of wiring money to the criminals. The man ends up lighting himself on fire in an attempt to escape. In the hospital, his wife reveals to Ressler and Park that the SPK is a cult that her husband became tangled up in.

A familiar face returns in ‘The Blacklist’ Season 9 Episode 3

Red attends an auction and bids $5 million on the belt to arrange a meeting with the leader of the SPK. The leader is revealed to be a man named Giovanni, aka Robert Vesco (Stacey Keach). Vesco is Red’s former mentor who stole quite a bit of money from him. Red meets Vesco for a talk. Vesco explains that he conned the group into criminal activity, making them believe that he burns the artifacts as an offering at the altar. In the meantime, the SPK plot to blow up a church with IEDs.

Ressler and Dembe (Hisham Tawfiq) find the SPK’s hidden meeting spot. There they learn of the group’s plans to plant bombs and steal the head of John the Baptist. Aram enters the church to attempt to jam the signal to the explosives. Red convinces Vesco to talk the SPK down from setting off the bombs, but that plan quickly fails. Dembe helps Aram get close enough to dismantle the IEDs while Red reveals the truth about Vesco to the SPK. Weecha reveals her impressive skills with a gun and takes out the SPK members, saving Vesco’s life.

The task force’s loyalties are put to the test

Throughout the episode, Ressler questions Dembe’s loyalty to the FBI. In the end, Dembe confronts Vesco and Red. He places Vesco under arrest, telling Red his loyalty is constantly under question. Ressler seems to be dealing with addiction issues again. Park tells him that she knows he tried to fake his drug test and to clean up his act.

Aram gets an investor for his company but ends up selling his share to his partner to stay with the FBI. Cooper finally agrees to let Red see Agnes (Sami Bray), with his supervision. The pair meet for the first time in two years. Agnes remembers that the last time she saw Red was the day before her mother died.

New episodes of The Blacklist premiere Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.

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