Three’s a trend — that’s the saying, right? Following Aram- and Harold-heavy episodes the last two weeks, The Blacklist gave Ressler (Diego Klattenhoff) a turn at the center of the action, sort of. “Norman Devane” had more business to handle than the previous two efforts, but it still provided a solid exploration of Ressler’s shifting perspective of Reddington (James Spader).
Even more than Harold (Harry Lennix), Ressler has functioned as the straight man of the task force. He’s long been positioned as a logical thinker who isn’t as thrilled with the FBI’s partnership with Reddington. But the last few seasons have demonstrated Ressler’s willingness to break the rules (and the law) when necessary, including covering up murders and covering for Liz’s (Megan Boone) attempted coup against Red in Season 6. Now, more than ever, it’s complicated with our boy Donald.
Though “Devane” didn’t push this envelope too far, it saw Ressler stand up to, but eventually protect, Reddington after yet another Blacklister was taken down. It was a classic Blacklist premise: Reddington put the task force on the titular Devane (played with wonderful creepiness by I Am The Night‘s Jefferson Mays) mostly so he could extract information from the criminal. While Devane appeared to be poisoning children with huge doses of cancers and skin-eating bacterias, Reddington was, of course, only concerned about his past (perhaps recent past) connection to Katarina (Laila Robins).
Enter Ressler. While attempting to save Devane’s life from a horrible bacteria, Ressler was intercepted by a gun-toting Reddington. Rather than back down, Ressler inserted himself into the extraction, forcing Reddington to, at least partially, reveal his interest in Devane, who of course Reddington murdered when he was no longer of use. Ressler also had the chance to peek at Reddington’s medical file but elected not to do so.
In a previous era, Ressler may have succumbed to Reddington’s threats and never made his way to the makeshift lab in the first place. He certainly wouldn’t be OK with Reddington executing a man after he had no more informational utility. And he probably would have jumped headfirst into a debate about Reddington’s mysterious health ailments and how they’re unfairly dictating task force caseload and protocol. Not now, however. This version of Ressler was simultaneously more assertive and more strategic. Like Harold, Ressler has been impacted by Reddington’s criminal methodology. But he’s also working Reddington a little, playing the supportive role regarding Reddington’s health issues. He’s learned from the best.
Meanwhile, Aram’s dating life got even more complicated. After the team convinced him to reach out to Elodie (Elizabeth Bogush), the married woman he hooked up with two episodes back, the duo made their way to…a wedding? That they crashed? That just so happened to be the wedding of the Stranger’s (Brett Cullen) goddaughter? OK, then. Either Aram just experienced an unbelievable coincidence or Elodie is working for nefarious forces trying to disrupt Reddington’s search for intel on Katarina. Given that this is The Blacklist, heavy money is on the latter. Poor Aram.
The Blacklist has done a nice job of slowly moving forward with a number of plotlines this season. Between Reddington’s illness, everything related to Katarina, and now Aram’s potentially malicious new partner, it’s all bound to come to a head, probably with heavy gunfire exchanged.
The Blacklist airs Fridays at 8/7c on NBC.