The Blacklist Season 7 Episode 17 Review: Brothers

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It only took most of seven seasons, but we finally were given a Donald Ressler origin story.

And the Ressler spotlight on The Blacklist Season 7 Episode 17 took an unexpected twist.

Sure, even though Ressler is the most straightlaced of the Task Force members, he's colored outside the lines.

Past Trauma - The Blacklist

Just ask Laurel Hitchin, who, frankly, had it coming.

But compared to Harold, Samar, Aram, and Liz (especially Liz), he's a really straight arrow. (Alina, while relatively new, has real loose-cannon potential.)

Homeward Bound - The Blacklist Season 7 Episode 17

So learning that young Donny Ressler was a stoner and a drinker was quite a shocker, as was the big secret that he'd been keeping to himself for 25 years.

Granted, in a typical season, you wouldn't be getting a focus on Ressler as the penultimate episode (no offense to him).

It would have been that breather episode before the monthlong sprint to the finish.

But, in these challenging times, you get what you get when you get it and like it.

Brother Trouble - The Blacklist Season 7 Episode 17

As it is, it just interrupted finding why Red collapsed and why Katarina abducted Dembe's imam Sadiq on The Blacklist Season 7 Episode 16.

It was just harder to appreciate this look into Ressler's background when so much was left hanging.

And, frankly, any episode without Red loses points right off the top. That's just how it is.

So let's just appreciate this episode for what it was, not what it could have been. 

Jumping back and forth to check in on Raymond and Dembe and Katarina would have robbed it of any narrative momentum.

Help Arriving - The Blacklist Season 7 Episode 17

There are still two episodes to get all the storylines in some semblance of order, although that's not nearly enough time to do so.

Look at the flip side, though. The Blacklist Season 8 should start with a bang.

The trip to Detroit made clear why Ressler had been ducking his older brother's calls for so long.

Robby was quite a failure in life.

It turned out that quite of bit of that fell on younger brother Donny's shoulders as well.

Working Together - The Blacklist Season 7 Episode 17

It was effective storytelling jumping back and forth between the present and 1995 when the Ressler family tragedy began.

Back in 1995, Robby was the legacy about to follow his father, Bobby, into the police force, while Donny was the screwup that could do little right.

But Bobby's partner, Tommy, changed all that in several ways.

The dirty cop had Bobby killed since he wouldn't accept bribes, and then he spilled the true story of Bobby's death right where Tommy was drinking away his sorrows. What kind of cop doesn't scope out his surroundings?

Face From the Past - The Blacklist Season 7 Episode 17

Of course, Robby didn't believe his goofball brother, and why should he, based on experience?

So Donny bullheadedly broke into Tommy's house to get a confession out of him, carrying his father's service weapon he shouldn't have been able to access so easily.

Then came the moment that changed both their lives: Donny accidentally shot Tommy then called Robby for help.

After that night, Robby gave up the police academy, and Donny resolved to go on the straight and narrow.

That explained a lot about the burden Ressler carries: Not only was he carrying the family's police legacy, but also, he felt he had stolen that path from Robby.

Leading the Way - The Blacklist Season 7 Episode 17

He felt it was his fault that Robby wouldn't leave Detroit and stayed there to take care of their mother.

Truth be told, the adult Robby was as much of a screwup as young Donny, only without being able to blame the ignorance of youth.

It didn't take long for Ressler to be reminded of that.

The retrieval of Tommy's body was the simplest part of their ordeal.

Ressler must have missed the Albanian's thugs tailing them because he wasn't expecting them. How was he to know that Robby was into a loan shark for six figures?

Helping a Friend - The Blacklist Season 7 Episode 17

Everything went to shit right after Ressler thanked Robby for taking care of their mother and watching out for him.

The car and the body got stolen. Robby explained that he had already finished off Tommy.

So Ressler was up against a difficult choice: either steal the file and give up an undercover asset or surrender themselves for the murder.

Ressler did the right thing going to the authorities. At least he was sensible enough to contact the most morally-flexible badge he knew -- Liz.

Soon the Albanian's operation was toast, and he was pointing the finger at the Ressler brothers.

Thankful Embrace - The Blacklist Season 7 Episode 17

But, thanks to Liz, there was no body. And Ressler didn't even have the decency to act surprised.

What was surprising was Liz's explanation that she didn't make the body disappear for him but herself.

The point she made in her soliloquy was undoubtedly true. In the crazy maelstrom that is her life, which only promises to get crazier with Red aware of her duplicity, Ressler is the rock she can hold onto amid that insanity.

Liz isn't always likable, but she was very self-aware at that moment. The platonic embrace at the end was a nice touch as well.

Now let the craziness resume for the remainder of the season.

To recap as season's end nears, watch The Blacklist online.

Were you surprised by Ressler's back story?

Did he deserve a pass for his youthful indiscretion?

Did Liz do the right thing for once?

Comment below.

Brothers Review

Editor Rating: 4.25 / 5.0
  • 4.3 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 3.7 / 5.0 (25 Votes)

Dale McGarrigle is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.

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The Blacklist Season 7 Episode 17 Quotes

You remember Tommy Morgan, don't you, Donny?

Robby [to Ressler]

Robby: I'm sorry. I didn't know.
Ressler: What? That Mom was going to hold a family reunion.