‘The Blacklist’ 5×04 Review: ‘The Endling’

Last night’s new episode of The Blacklist “The Endling” was probably the most disturbing installment of the fifth season yet. It opened with the completely unnecessary and cruel murder of a race horse and his trainer in a barn fire. I guess this scene was meant to establish how evil “The Endling” was as a blacklister, but in my opinion there are a lot of other ways you can show this. They also left nothing to the imagination as they showed the horse screaming up until the last minute as the flames overtook him. After years of watching The Blacklist almost nothing phases me anymore, but I draw the line at animal cruelty.

For me it also lessened the effect of “The Endling” as a villain, as after this scene I had no sympathy for her or her desperation to save her son. My dislike of her only grew as a she was willing to murder a number of other people just so her son could get the blood he needed for his medical procedure. Her son’s situation was tragic, but taking other’s lives is never acceptable no matter what the cost. I was waiting for Red to kill her the entire episode, as she deserved everything that was coming to her. Throughout “The Endling” I just kept thinking of one of Jake Peralta’s most famous lines from Brooklyn Nine Nine: “Cool motive, still murder.” I feel like this sentiment actually fits a lot of the blacklisters that the task force has encountered in the show, but it’s never been as obvious to me as it was this week.

The episode ended with “The Endling” sacrificing herself for he son, as she was the only one who had the blood type that he needed (after the task force rescued all the other donors she was planning to murder of course). Red wanted “The Endling” taken down, so he gave her the choice to take her own life and save her son’s in the process. Lately I’ve been questioning Red’s actions, but I completely agreed with him this time. It was a fitting punishment for all of the crimes she had committed.

This lead to a wonderful scene between Cooper and Liz, as Cooper finally mustered up the courage to put Liz in her place and call her out on lying to her partners. Before Samar and Ressler arrived at the crime scene, Liz helped Red cover up the fact that they had allowed the mother to sacrifice herself. When Ressler asked what had happened, Liz lied and said that the mother had escaped. Cooper knew that she had been in on Red’s plan, and let her know that lying to the task force was completely unacceptable:

I’m watching you Elizabeth.

This scene was incredibly satisfying for me, as I’ve been waiting forever for someone to finally tell Liz that her moral decision making and behavior has gone haywire. As Cooper said:

You don’t get to decide who lives and who dies.

Even thought I agree with what Red did in this case, and what Liz allowed him to do, lying to Ressler, and Samar, people who are supposed to be able to trust her with their lives, is a line that she should never cross. Liz has been taking advantage of the task force for a while, and I hope Cooper is finally on his way to making that come to an end.

There was also one tragic death in “The Endling” that of Doctor Nik. After Tom had gotten him involved in identifying the bones in the suitcase, the bad karma following it finally caught up with them, as Nik was murdered by an unknown assassin. The running theory right now is that they had been close to identifying who the bones belonged to, and someone involved wanted to stop them. I actually don’t think that Red was the one who had Nik killed as that isn’t his style.

I honestly blame Tom for almost all of this, as he was the one who got Doctor Nik involved, and the one who stole and duplicated Liz’s FBI badge so they could get FBI clearance to identify the bones. Wanting to find out who the bones belonged to is one thing, but dragging people into a clearly dangerous situation with him and stealing Liz’s badge is on a whole other level. Some of the blame lies at Liz’s feet as well, as she was largely the reason that Nik ever got involved with Red in the first place. For being the so called “protagonists” of the show, they sure have a lot of blood on their hands.

I was also disappointed that Ressler wasn’t in the episode more, as it seemed like he would be from the photos that were released before “The Endling” aired. Hopefully next week, they get back on track with addressing his story line with Henry Prescott, and giving him more screen time again.

Next week’s episode “Ilyas Sirkov” looks to be another intense blacklister episode, as someone is setting off powerful bombs, and the trailer implies the death of someone close to Liz. It could be her discovery of Nik’s death, but I doubt it. If it’s Ressler, I may be done with The Blacklist forever.

Take a look at the trailer for “Ilyas Sirkov” below, and I’ll see you all back here next week!

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

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