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The Blacklist Season 9 returns with another atypical episode. In episode 9, “Boukman Baptiste,” Dembe’s (Hisham Tawfiq) past puts his life in danger. Through a series of flashbacks, fans finally learn what happened between Red and Dembe in the years following Liz’s death.

[Spoiler warning: This article contains spoilers for The Blacklist Season 9 Episode 9, “Boukman Baptiste.”]

'The Blacklist' Season 9 star Hisham Tawfiq, in character as Dembe Zuma, wears
Hisham Tawfiq as Dembe Zuma | Photo by: Will Hart/NBC

Boukman Baptiste targets Dembe in ‘The Blacklist’ Season 9 Episode 9

At the beginning of The Blacklist Season 9 Episode 9, Raymond Reddington discusses Dembe’s betrayal with Marvin Gerard (Fisher Stevens). Gerard believes Red is being ridiculous and informs him they have bigger fish to fry. A strike team has taken out three important members of his organization.

Red asks Cooper (Harry Lennix) for help but doesn’t want it to involve Dembe. In spite of this, Cooper assembles the task force, with Dembe included. The task force discerns that Red’s enemies will be targeting Reginald Lawler (Chris Cardona), a man working for Red in Baltimore. Dembe and Ressler (Diego Klattenhoff) go to save Lawler, who has been taken hostage and Dembe realizes who is targeting Red’s men.

In a flashback, Red is distraught and unable to run his empire in the wake of Liz’s death. Dembe attempts to take over and he organizes a hit on an enemy of Red’s named Boukman Baptiste (Gbenga Akinnagbe). However, Dembe does not know that Baptiste’s son is in the car. Baptiste survives while his son is killed. Now he is out to get Dembe.

Isabella gets caught in the crossfire

In the present day, Baptiste flees the scene while Dembe rescues Lawler. Ressler and Dembe know that he will target Dembe’s daughter Isabella (Danaya Esperanza) but they get there too late to stop him from kidnapping her. Dembe reveals that he and Isabella haven’t been on good terms since he joined the FBI. In a flashback, Dembe tells his daughter about his plans to join the organization. She doesn’t like the idea, citing numerous Black men and women who have been killed by cops.

Dembe calls Baptiste and promises to get him the names of Reddington’s top three lieutenants in exchange for his daughter’s safety. Dembe confronts Red. He admits his guilt for letting his guard down on the night Liz was murdered but states that Red let his guard down too. Dembe also reminds Red that he protected his empire when Red disappeared.

James Spader as Raymond Reddington in The Blacklist Season 9. Red wears a jacket with a white-collared shirt underneath and looks serious.
James Spader as Raymond Reddington in ‘The Blacklist’ Season 9 | Will Hart/NBC

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In another flashback, Dembe discusses joining the FBI with Cooper. He tells Cooper that his daughter believes he will be a traitor to his community if he joins the FBI. Cooper tells Dembe that she isn’t the only one who will see things that way. Still, Cooper tells Dembe, “I think this is precisely the place where people who look like you and me need to be.” He promises to make Dembe an FBI agent before he steps away from the bureau.

Weecha saves the day and Red discovers a new enemy

Dembe finds Gerard and pulls a gun on him, asking for the names of Red’s top three lieutenants so he can save Isabella. Over the phone, Red tells Gerard to give him the names. Dembe then goes to meet Baptiste and save his daughter. However, it doesn’t seem like Baptiste plans on letting Isabella go. Luckily, Weecha (Diany Rodriguez) leads a team to infiltrate Baptiste’s lair and save Dembe and Isabella.

Earlier in the episode, Aram (Amir Arison) plotted everywhere Vandyke went on the day Liz died. He hands the information over to Red, who realizes that Vandyke didn’t follow Dembe or Liz. This leads him to the conclusion that someone must have told Vandyke Liz’s location. Red finally apologizes for abandoning Dembe and informs him that the pair need to work together to figure out who led Vandyke to Liz. At the end of The Blacklist Season 9 Episode 9, Red reads Agnes (Sami Bray) a book while Dembe does the same with Elle at Isabella’s house.