The Blacklist “Ruslan Denisov” Review (Season 2, Episode 11)

The Blacklist - Season 2

The action on The Blacklist takes place in Uzbekistan with hooded men forcing their way into a church service, holding the priest at knife point with the “bad guy” pulling a satellite phone out of a drawer behind the pulpit. He accuses the priest of being far more than just a man of the cloth; and sure enough he seems to be just that when he makes a coded call to someone. As it turns out, he is actually a CIA agent named Burke (guest star Arian Moayed) working undercover in that country – against all laws put in place for decades.

Back in the States, two cops are meeting with the wife of the harbor master, who ended up losing his life on that old ship where Liz Keen (series lead Megan Boone) had been holding her former husband Tom. The late man’s wife has reported him missing and metro PD Detective Martin Wilcox (guest star Michael Kostroff) is investigating.

At the FBI compound, Liz is meeting with Aram (series regular Arim Arison), showing him the item she found inside her old stuffed bunny, telling him that he is the only person she can trust to look into what it could be.

It is at that point when Red (series lead James Spader) walks into her office with their latest case, looking into the kidnapping of the priest (sans CIA agent) by an associate of his, who is in charge of a rogue group fighting to free Uzbekistan: Ruslan Denisov (guest star Faran Tahir). Denisov is a very dangerous man, though, according to Red because he has become an “abduction mogul”, holding people for very high ransoms “far above the market standard”. And since he has taken a CIA agent captive, that agency will do “anything they can to keep” the situation “quiet”.

This situation, of course, means that Liz and Ressler (series regular Diego Klattenhoff) are heading to Uzbekistan to negotiate with Denisov to get Burke released. That doesn’t work out as planned because the head of the country’s military – Commander Kushan (guest star Shaun Toub) – tells the two agents they are only to help: they cannot conduct any negotiations. He runs a tight ship, in other words, and he isn’t going to let them do much of anything.

Much to the agents’ surprise when they arrive at the hotel where they will be staying, Red is already there with Dembe (recurring guest star Hisham Tawfiq), speaking to some well-dressed men for whom he will not identify to Liz when she asks about them. [One of those men will play a key role in the outcome of this case – more on that shortly.]

As Liz and Ressler head to their respective rooms, though, the elevator is halted, the lights go out and they are grabbed by hooded men and taken to the compound where Burke and all of Denisov’s other hostage are being held.

Thankfully, Denisov has no intention of harming the agents or holding them captive; rather he wanted them to understand why he took Burke. There was an oil pipeline placed in the country back in 1992 that is leaking, causing major health problems for his countrymen. The company behind the pipeline – Anneca Oil – according to Denisov – knows that the pipeline is the cause of the health issue, but they will do nothing to correct it. Denisov claims Burke was taken as a means to an end, to get the oil company to admit fault; and who will be negotiating Burke’s release: none other than Red himself. [You can just smell the ulterior motive coming right?]

In short, Burke is aware of a former military cabinet member named Leonid Javin (Olek Krupa), who is seen as nothing more than a crazy old man and religious zealot, who allowed Anneca Oil to build the pipeline that is causing the massive health issues. The goal now is to get Javin and make him talk. Red and Denisov make that happen, in of all places a church: first in the confessional and then using the holy water font [not a pleasant sight to see a man water boarded, so to speak, in church!]

With Javin in hand, Red, Liz and Ressler meet with a representative of Anneca Oil – Dean Walker (guest star Jonathan Walker) – who is told by Red and Javin that a pipeline was originally placed in Uzbekistan back in 1988 well before it was ever approved. The installation caused a multitude of deaths, which were covered up by Javin, until the new pipeline could be installed in 1992. While the second pipeline was better than the first, all these years later it is still causing the same massive health issues and death to the people of that country. Walker tells Red and the agents there is no way that Javin – or anyone else – can prove any of that UNTIL (you knew that was coming, didn’t you?) Red shares that Javin kept copies of all the records of that massive 1988 oil pipeline failure. Anneca Oil is given 24 hours to clean up and move on or they will go to the press with the proof.

Needless to say, Anneca Oil – having no other choice – announces their withdrawal of the pipeline; but soon after a national report is out that a new company will be moving in, putting a supposed brand new pipeline in the country. Remember that well-dressed man for whom Red was meeting with earlier? He’s the head of that new country. It’s supposedly a win-win situation for the people of Uzbekistan, Denisov – once he serves some prison time for his crime – and, of course, Red.

Oh, and what about that box that Aram was looking into for Liz? It’s some kind of data tech-recording device form the 1980’s-early 1990’s, but Aram has no idea how to works. Dun, dun, dun for Liz who needs to know exactly what that box contains.

Worse yet for Liz is that Samoan (recurring guest star Dante Nero) was brought in for questioning about the missing harbor master by Detective Wilcox and when grilled about being seen at that abandoned ship, Samoan gives up the location of the dead man’s body and it would seem that he is going to spill the beans on what else he knows about Liz to the detective. To say that Liz Keen is going to have a very rocky road ahead of her is an understatement.

If you watched tonight’s episode of ‘The Blacklist” what did you think of Red’s forward thinking efforts where that pipeline was concerned? What do you think is contained in that little box that even Aram can’t figure out? And, just what is going to happen to Liz now that the harbor master’s body has been found? Pleas share your thoughts in our comments section below.

The next new episode of the second season of ‘The Blacklist’ will air on Thursday, February 19 at 9/8c on NBC.