Ressler was front and center in almost every single scene of “The Informant” making it one of my favorite episodes of the season so far. Things finally came to a head with Henry Prescott, as Ressler had to decide whether to keep following his orders, or to face whatever consequences would come from his secret being uncovered. Because Ressler is the type of man who would never do something he felt was morally wrong, he refused to throw a case that the Task Force was working on, putting himself completely at the mercy of Prescott.
This caused Prescott to frame Ressler for another case involving a crooked cop, using a sound bite from his confrontation with Ressler in which Ressler said he would kill him if he couldn’t arrest him, he made it seem like Ressler had threatened to kill a victim of another crime who had been murdered. Ressler was prepared to go to jail once he arrested Prescott, knowing that all of the information Prescott had on him would be exposed in the trial. Fortunately, Ressler won’t be spending any time behind bars thanks to Red.
Without Ressler asking for his help, in “The Informant” Red worked with Ressler to uncover Prescott’s real name so Ressler could arrest him. Prescott was on his way to jail, and in turn Ressler would be as well, but Prescott’s transport vehicle never reached the prison. Red took matters into his own hands and gave Prescott a Game of Thrones esque death and burned Prescott alive in the transport vehicle saying:
“My good friend Donald Ressler sends his regards.”
Red claims that he didn’t kill Prescott for Ressler. He killed him to keep the nature of his relationship with the FBI from being exposed as Prescott knew he was working with the Task Force, but I don’t believe him. Yes, every action Red takes is for his own self-interest, but I think in this case in “The Informant” he genuinely wanted to help Ressler. When Red was destroying all of the evidence Prescott had on his relationship with the FBI, he also destroyed the file Prescott had on Ressler. If he really only cared about protecting himself, he would have just destroyed everything exposing him and left Ressler’s file to be found.
No matter what anyone tries to say, Red and Ressler genuinely care for each other and share a sort of grudging mutual respect. Of course they do hate each other in some ways. They come from completely opposite ends of the spectrum. Ressler a straight laced, by the book, never crossing the line government agent, and Red, the man wanted by every intelligence agency in the world with his own criminal empire. Even before the Task Force, Ressler had dedicated his life to finding and taking down Red, but once The Task Force was created and he was forced to work with him, he discovered that they have more in common than he ever realized. Not to mention they have both saved each other’s lives multiple times.
Ressler even thanked Red for helping him stay out of the darkness after Audrey’s murder. Red was the one who stopped Ressler from doing something he would regret, taking care of Audrey’s killer himself:
Ressler: “I never thanked you for what you did after Audrey died.”
Red: “You were preoccupied.”
Ressler: “I was crazed. And convinced I should kill the man who shot her.
Do you remember what you told me to do?”
Red: “I told you to go home. You didn’t.”
Ressler: “You said that once you cross over, there are things in the darkness that can keep your heart from ever feeling the light again.
I didn’t go home, but I never crossed over.
I never thanked you for that.”
This was a touching scene, and a level of emotion that Ressler rarely shows. He doesn’t like discussing personal issues with anyone, even those he considers friends and family, let alone Red. But he trusted Red enough in this scene that he was willing to be vulnerable, realizing that Red was helping him once again. It demonstrated just how much their relationship has changed since the Task Force was first put together. Not only did Red take care of Prescott for Ressler, he set Ressler on a collision course with “The Informant” on purpose, as a test to see how far Ressler would be willing to go to keep his secret, if he would betray the Task Force just to keep himself safe. Of course Ressler passed the test, and at that point Red knew it was time for him to step in and help.
Red can deny it all he wants, but he only goes out of his way to protect people he cares about, and that is exactly what he did for Ressler in “The Informant”. All while calling Ressler his friend multiple times.
Red wasn’t the only one who had Ressler’s back however. Towards the end of “The Informant” Ressler handed in a signed letter of confession to Cooper, detailing his hand in Laurel Hitchen’s death, and the cover up afterward, but Cooper didn’t accept it:
Cooper: “I don’t accept.”
Ressler: “Why not?” Cooper: “When Prescott’s files came in, I thought maybe your name would be inside. It wasn’t.”
Ressler: “Well, it should have been. What happened with Prescott, the missing file, Reddington did that to protect me.
It’s not right.
I I’m not okay with it.
I think that you deserve truth.”
Cooper: “I know what’s inside this letter.
Maybe not all the details, but I can guess. Like I can guess how sick you’re feeling inside.
I’m not interested in your feelings, Agent Ressler.
I’m not interested in what you want.
None of us are the people that we were before this task force started before Reddington.
So, I’m going to hold on to this letter with the expectation that I’ll find you at your desk first thing tomorrow morning and every morning after that, ready to do your job until the work of this task force is finished.
Then, and only then, will I send this letter through the proper channels.
And I expect you to do the same for me.”
Cooper recognizes that the Task Force has changed all of their lives. Every single one of them has done something that they regret or feel guilty for while working with Red, but the work they did needed to be done. If The Blacklist ends with the Task Force disbanding, we may see some, if not all, of our favorite agents going to prison. At least Cooper and Ressler, who have seen fit to take responsibility for their actions and write signed letters of confession.
So it looks like Ressler’s trouble with Prescott is solved for good and we can all rest easy, at least until something else happens as it is bound to do.
Next week, The Blacklist reaches a special milestone, airing it’s 100th episode. It’s hard to believe we’ve followed these characters for such a long time. Here’s hoping for many more years to come.
Check out the trailer for next week’s episode “Abraham Stern” as Liz follows in the footsteps of one of The Blacklist’s most notorious villains, “The Stewmaker”.
The Blacklist airs Wednesdays at 8/9c on NBC.