Last night in the fall finale of The Blacklist “Ian Garvey” we said goodbye to Tom Keen for good. Viewers had an idea that it was coming due to all of the foreshadowing and ominous signals from the first half of the season, but that didn’t make it any less intense or emotional. After a bloody confrontation with Ian Garvey at the Keen’s apartment, Tom and Liz were both taken to the hospital when Red and Dembe came in to save them at the last minute.
Tom had been severely beaten and viciously stabbed in the stomach three times, while Liz had her head cracked nearly wide open. With a cover of Simon and Garfunkel’s “Sound of Silence” by the band “Disturbed” playing, the task force gathered at the hospital to see who would survive. In the end, the doctors were able to save Liz, but Tom had lost too much blood.
Tom’s death in “Ian Garvey” is revealed when Liz wakes up to Red sitting next to her hospital bed reading to her from a book. The biggest shock of that moment…Liz had been in a coma for 10 months. Because she couldn’t talk yet, she asked Red for a piece of paper to write on to ask questions. She wrote one word: “Tom?”. After hesitating for a minute, Red had to be the one to deliver the heartbreaking news, Tom was dead.
The reveal of the time jump at the end of “Ian Garvey” was staggering, as The Blacklist has never done anything like it before. Jon Bokenkamp and John Eisendrath discussed the time jump in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, stating that the events of what happened during those 10 months Liz was in a coma will be unveiled over the course of the second half of the season.
From the few hints we got from the last minutes of the finale, it seems that Red has been taking care of Agnes over the course of those months, and I imagine the rest of the task force has been helping as well. Not to mention that there’s no doubt Ressler has been at Liz’s bedside just as much as Red during these 10 months. Even though it’s not that long of a wait until the show returns on January 3rd, it’s going to feel like an eternity until we get to find out everything that happened while Liz was asleep.
Although Tom’s death is momentous in itself, it also has major implications for the plot of the series, as the results of the DNA test conducted on the bones in the suitcase died with him, and Liz may never know what he found. Tom read the results at the train station and then called Liz, intending to tell her everything when they met back at their apartment, but he never got to tell her as Ian Garvey was waiting for them. If he had just told her on the phone they wouldn’t have had to meet their fate at the apartment, but he didn’t, and now Red may take the secret to his grave.
There are a number of theories floating around to explain who the bones belong to and why Red is so desperate to keep it a secret, but the most popular is “The Imposter Theory”. Fans have come up with the idea that the bones belong to the real Raymond Reddington, who Red killed so he could take his place. This would explain why Red has been so cryptic about his relationship to Liz and her family, but there are a number of things that would have to be explained if this theory was true. Chief among them, why would Red have killed the real Raymond Reddington in the first place?
We may never know the answers to these questions, but one thing is certain, it’s time for Red to tell the truth. Almost every catastrophic event that has taken place in the show has been because of one or another of Red’s secrets. Tom is not blameless for how things turned out in “Ian Garvey” in any way, but he wouldn’t have felt the need to do anything that he did if Red would just open up about his past and who he really is. Dembe more than anyone else has told Red to tell the truth, and he said it again with this statement:
“Until you stop lying, there will be no peace.”
So far Red has ignored these warnings from Dembe, but maybe Tom’s death carries enough weight to push him in the right direction.
Whatever your opinion of Tom Keen may be, some fans loved him, some fans hated him, some fans loved to hate him, there is no question that his death will change the trajectory of the show forever. Like it or not, his life has been entwined with Liz’s since the beginning of the series, and his absence will leave a gaping hole. Liz has gone through major transformations before, but Tom’s death will change her in ways we never could have imagined.
Personally, I was always kind of indifferent to Tom. I never could decide if I liked or disliked him one way or the other. He definitely made a lot of questionable choices and got quite a few people killed, but I will miss Ryan Eggold’s presence on the show. He played Tom beautifully and displayed an enormous amount of acting talent, whether you liked his character or not.
His banter filled scenes with Red were some of the most enjoyable in the series, as they always showed the complete disdain they had for each other, but in a strange way a sort of affection as well. We can only hope that Eggold is on to bigger and better things from here, so thank you Ryan for everything you’ve given to this show from the very first episode, your fans will miss you.
Unfortunately it’s time to settle in for the hiatus, but in the mean time let me know in the comments, how do you feel about Tom’s death? Were you a Tom Keen fan or were you glad to see him go?
The Blacklist returns January 3rd at 8/7c on NBC.