You can't knock The Blacklist for trying.
While all viewers would identify Red (James Spader) and Liz's (Megan Boone) race to procure the bag of bones as the primary story of this fifth season, the second most prominent story has arguably been the relationship between Aram (Amir Arison) and Samar (Mozhan Marno). The will they has turned into a won't they in recent weeks, only for Samar to be kidnapped at the end of last week's Village-esque cult episode. This week's penultimate effort, "Lawrence Dane Devlin," continued that kidnapping story, pushing it to the forefront as a dramatic climax to the turbulence in the relationship.
Or one last attempt to delay any resolution related to the bag of bones — whichever you prefer.
This episode, like much of the show's exploration of Aram and Samar, was totally fine. The rush to find Samar with the titular kidnapper (a go-to hired goon for last week's Blacklister, Nicholas T. Moore), forced Amir to bend the rules of legality in a way he usually doesn't. The late-episode sequence, with a drowning Samar calling Amir to inform him that she would have said yes had he asked her to marry him, was stirring and well performed by Arison and Marno — particularly given that the conversation took place over the phone.
On one hand, because The Blacklist never fully invested in these characters beyond their supporting, task-oriented roles in weekly investigations it's difficult to muster much of a response to these events, or their relationship overall. Arison and Marno have been good in their roles since joining the show. They were good here. But if Samar had actually drowned — and not ended up in a hospital bed — would the weekly experience of The Blacklist change all that much? That's a reflection on the show, not the performers.
On the other hand, at least the show followed through with the storyline. This deep into a run, supporting characters should be more integral to the proceedings. Cooper (Harry Lennix) has been a non-element this season. Ressler's (Diego Klattenhoff) moderate turn toward the dark side stalled out after the mid-season time jump and it feels like he's barely said anything in weeks. Nevertheless, it's tough to start paying service to supporting players like this without it coming off a little undercooked. In that respect, it was all fine!
In the context of the end of the season, Samar's kidnapping surely enabled the writers to drag out the meaningful duffle bag-related drama just a little bit longer. Red came up empty handed in his sojourn to Costa Rica, only to be quickly met by Liz. If there's one positive development with this storyline, it's how persistent Liz has been in reminding her father of his broken promises and general assholery.
If there's a second positive development, it's that there's only one more episode in the season and The Blacklist has, hopefully, run out of time. Next week, someone is going to touch that duffle bag — and what a journey it's been to get there.
The Blacklist airs Wednesdays at 8/7c on NBC.