"Ian Garvey: Conclusion" was a perfect Blacklist kind of conclusion.
After the previous episode revealed Garvey's (Jonny Coyne) long-term protection of Reddington's (James Spader) other daughter, it appeared as if The Blacklist was heading in a compelling new direction. The events of this episode suggest that potential is still possible, but all promising developments on this show must be couched in faux reveals and frustrating stalling tactics.
In a vacuum, this was a delightful hour of television. It's a scientific fact that any episode of television featuring a guest spot from John Noble is as such. Beyond that, the episode enabled Noble to do what he's grown accustomed to doing so well on television since Fringe, and that's perform as a wacky genius type.
Here, Noble starred as a key ally of Reddington who could craft immaculate masks of someone's face to make it appear that they are in two places at once, or committing crimes in which they had no tangible involvement. Of course, Red and Dembe (Hisham Tawfiq) utilized his skills to mimic Garvey in the field, attempting to pressure him into giving up the bones or else face significant heat for seemingly murdering a political figure from a foreign nation in broad daylight.
Every bit of this plot — with Noble's character gleefully explaining his process and a kidnapped Garvey realizing how easily Red painted him into a corner — worked wonderfully, and struck a weirdly fun tone in what has been a heightened storyline.
Meanwhile, Liz's (Megan Boone) attempt to convince her newfound half-sister to support the cause and deliver Garvey or any key intel was similarly strong, if not quite as fun. The contrast between Red and Liz's methods was on full display, a nice button on what has been an extensive macro storyline about how these two people approach the same things differently — or increasingly, in the same fashion.
The conclusion, however. Oh, that conclusion. Everyone converged in one location. Garvey attempted to reassure his surrogate daughter that he was doing the right, moral thing, until Liz showed up seeking answers and justice. Of course, only then did Red and Dembe arrive threatening to put Garvey down if he uttered a single article — let alone a word — about the bones, Jennifer or anything that Liz could use to move forward with her life.
In that sequence, The Blacklist again pointed toward a more fully realized conflict between Red and Liz, with the latter explicitly stating that she couldn't take the former's half-truths and stalled answers any longer — especially when it came to her husband's death. They've had this conversation before, but there was Liz, begrudgingly threatening to shoot her own father to let the man who killed her husband tell his story.
Along the way Jennifer made the subtext very obvious: Liz is more like Red than she wants to admit, as evidenced by her actions in this episode and in that moment. It was really strong and dramatic television with good performances from all involved.
And then people started shooting, with Red taking a few hits and Garvey being critically wounded. Within a few moments, the episode was concluding, in an ER hallway, with Garvey seemingly dead on a gurney. Liz learned nothing. Her husband, as of now, died for nothing. The revenge, and even the intel she sought, won't come from the man who killed her husband.
Yet again, what Red wanted, he got. There's something to be said for delayed gratification as part of a way to get to a much deeper or interesting place. I'm willing to buy that argument with Season 5 of The Blacklist — that something better is coming at the conclusion of the season, something that truly pays off what we've went through with this silly bag of bones.
But evidence is not exactly on the show's side. This is what The Blacklist does. Great moments happen. Great episodes can happen. But it always comes back to whatever needs to happen to keep Liz in the dark for as long as possible. She has a sister now, one who might really need her in the future, and that's fertile ground for great storytelling. That doesn't quite forgive yet another "conclusion" that comes with a protracted tease and an unceremonious end.
The Blacklist airs Wednesdays at 8/7c on NBC.