‘The Blacklist’ 5×09 Review: ‘Ruin’

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In last night’s all new Blacklist, “Ruin,” Liz returned with a vengeance, single-handedly dispatching five members of a crime family who dared to attack her at her cabin in the middle of the Alaskan wilderness. In order to mourn Tom properly and to clear her head, Liz decided she needed to leave her work with the Task Force for a while to live on her own in a new place away from all the painful memories.

For me, this is an extremely worn out trope in TV and film in which a character experiences tragedy and decides to shut his or herself off from friends and family. Liz even left Agnes behind with Tom’s mother, Scottie. It’s understandable that she would want a break from taking care of Agnes while she recovers from her own physical injuries and mourns Tom, but leaving for a cabin in the middle of the woods in Alaska? A little over the top. Especially when she has Red, Dembe, Ressler, Aram, Samar, and Cooper as a support network. They all want to help her, and she knows this, but time and time again she has chosen to go off on her own rather than accepting their help and support.

I am glad, however that Liz was only off on her own in “Ruin”, and they didn’t drag it out for a multi-episode arc. The Blacklist has never been a show that thrives when the focus is on one character. The group dynamic between Red, Liz, and the Task Force is what the show really needs in order to shine. I’m hoping that there isn’t too much focus on Liz seeking revenge for Tom’s death, or Red helps her take down his killers quickly, so we can get back to Liz and the Task Force working together with Red.

In “Ruin” we were also given the impression that Liz wouldn’t have come back yet if she hadn’t been forced to by the members of this crime family attacking her. It took the murder of her new dog Kate (extremely unnecessary) and her friend Colin (also extremely unnecessary and awful) for her to snap out of it and realize that her sitting out there by herself wasn’t doing anyone any good. This brings me to another problem I’ve had with The Blacklist recently.

We have come to expect a fair amount of death in the show, that’s just the way it is, but some deaths lately have seemed increasingly unnecessary, violent, and unbelievable. For example in “Ruin” Colin didn’t suspect that the members of this crime family were bad people at all, even though their story was extremely suspicious, and as a park ranger in the area, Colin would have known that the timeline of the story they gave didn’t add up. He and Liz’s dog Kate ended up getting murdered because they went off on their own with one of the members of the crime family to find the wreckage of the group’s plane that didn’t exist, while Liz stayed behind to protect the man from witness protection that the family was after. She would have gone with Colin and Kate to make sure no one got hurt, or Colin would have at least prepared himself for a confrontation.

Don’t get me wrong, it was awesome seeing Liz take out these five criminals one by one and displaying her incredible skills, but it didn’t need to happen in the first place. As we thought, there’s no doubt that Tom’s death is going to have a significant impact on the show and its characters, at least for the near future.

Next week we see Liz starting to go after the men who killed Tom, possibly leading her down a path that will be hard to come back from. Luckily for Liz, Red will do everything he can to make sure she doesn’t do something she won’t be able to live with herself for in the future.

An extremely telling exchange came from Liz and Red’s conversation at the end of “Ruin” after Liz had finally returned from Alaska:

Liz: “I didn’t go looking for trouble. But it found me, and I’m glad it did.”

Red: “What happened?”

Liz: “I killed some men. Doesn’t matter that they were bad, that it was them or me. What matters is that I did it and I was good at it, and I didn’t lose any sleep over it.

Red: ” You will . One of these nights you will. It’s just a matter of when.

Liz: “Maybe. Later. After I’ve crossed the abyss. But from the side I’m on now, all that matters is that I’m healed and I’m back, and I’m coming for Tom’s killers. Like I said, I couldn’t keep my promise. Can you forgive me?

Red: “Yes. Will you be able to forgive yourself?”

Red is speaking from experience. He’s killed countless numbers of people in his life, and we’ve seen that it’s haunting him more and more every day. The same thing is going to happen to Liz if she isn’t careful.

It looks like some of the focus is also turning back to Ressler in “The Informant” next week as he continues to deal with his secret that threatens to send him down in flames. Let’s hope that he can continue to keep himself out of trouble, most likely with Red’s help as it becomes more impossible for him to keep someone from finding out what happened.

Check out the synopsis and the trailer for next week’s episode “The Informant.”

Synopsis:

When Red directs the Task Force to find a Blacklister who sells sensitive information; Ressler finds himself at risk of exposure; Liz plans her next move.

The Blacklist airs Wednesdays at 8/9c on NBC.

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