A series of mysterious conundrums weaved carefully in a loom with the sole purpose of keeping interests sky high while feeding the belly of the beast with more mysterious answers to said conundrums. It is very easy to fall in love with Blacklist.
In no way was the show "simplistic". From the very start, we are thrown in quicksand made of contradictions. A fugitive at top of the most wanted list who has been on the run for 20 years suddenly pops out of nowhere and surrenders himself. His demand is simple. He will reveal the darkest corners of the crime world that the greatest intelligence agencies have no knowledge of. But only if he is allowed to communicate all the information through Elizabeth Keen.
Why has the most wanted person in the world suddenly surrendered after 20 years? What connection does he have with Elizabeth Keen? Why demand Elizabeth Keen especially when it is her first day on duty? What are these secrets Raymond "Red" Reddington speaks of? Why doesn't the world know anything of these secrets?
If we start listing strong female characters featured in Hollywood, then Elizabeth Keen should totally make the list. The 2013 show was very ahead of its time. Somehow, the show that is now its 9th season and has well over 20 episodes every season has kept me strapped to it. Do you realize how interesting the show has to be to keep someone interested for such a long time? Especially when almost all the shows I watch on Netflix and Apple TV barely make it to more than 12 episodes per season!
I strongly believe that the secret sauce is in the direction of the series. The pace at which the underlying story rolls out makes it difficult to cut ties with the show. The urge to skip to the end to learn about all the secrets seems so unsavory because it is the tinier details of the story that not only make it cohesive but also satisfying.
There is a sort of highs and lows alternating throughout every season. One season you may find yourself completely infatuated by the Halo hovering over Raymond "Red" Reddington's head, and the next season you wish he never existed. The same goes for Elizabeth Keen. One season you love her keen nature and passion to find the truth, the other season you hate how desperate and uncalculated she seems.
Raymond "Red" Reddington is a character that forces contradicting emotions. The acting by James Spader is in very colloquial terms: INSANE. His demeanor screams "Most wanted fugitive successfully on the run for 20 years". The confidence that shines through his acting totally justifies the character's abilities and sharp wit that has kept him both hidden and ahead of the authorities. His way of speaking resonates with his calmness, accurate nature, and overall smartness. His body language represents both his carefree nature as well as his awareness. James totally nailed playing the Reddington character. He brought the character to life.
Even if the show debuted in 2013, it still has a very big stack to show off at the table when it comes to weaving real-life stories with fiction. It also has a very well-balanced diverse cast and a strong leading female character. The show has been consistent in its style and storytelling. And I still feel it has a seat on the table with the newer big boys.
Even if every new episode has a new "bad guy" to strike off the blacklist, there is the constant underlying story of Red and Elizabeth to uncover. The fact that Red has so much trouble simply spilling the beans only adds to the mystery. It becomes more and more likely that Raymond "Red" Reddington maybe Elizabeth Keen's biological father. But contrary to the growing belief, Red clearly denies the possibility to Keen herself.
The theories become a compounding annoyance. On one hand, there is Elizabeth's back story of losing her mother at an early age and her father fleeing the same day. Red also disappears on that very same day from the face of the earth. Red also has a very vast knowledge about Elizabeth even though they haven't ever met and also knows very small and intimate details about Keen's childhood. It only points to one direction, and it's the wrong direction. So, WHO IS REDDINGTON TO KEEN?
The story of this duo is so exciting to keep up with. As the blacklist shortens, Elizabeth uncovers more and more about her relationship with Red. Even though Red wants Elizabeth to know everything, he starts protecting her from finding the truth. To the point that they turn into blood sworn enemies who are after each others' necks. It is a very interesting way of presenting and growing a story.
Eventually, we do learn about the truth. As soon as Elizabeth reaches close to factual conclusions, Red himself takes Elizabeth to the epicenter of all the secrets. A whole world of information war, diplomatic corruption, power play, the underworld empire, everything is laid out on the feet of Elizabeth by Reddington to inherit it all. Yes, INHERIT. Raymond "Red" Reddington is Elizabeth Keen's biological parent, but not her father.
WHAT A TWIST!
I never saw that coming. It was incredible. Worth watching the entire show. So intense, so clever, so powerful. What a show! And then the final episode comes about. The final episode of season 8. A perfect ending. It couldn't have gotten better than that. The show had already announced that season 8 would be the end of it all. And it honestly should have ended there. With a magical moment between Elizabeth and Reddington. In their most fragile moment. But it didn't end there, did it?
I am one of many fans of the show. It had so much good about it. Even the music used in the show has gotten some high praise. So why did they push a season 9?
First of all, without Elizabeth or the secrets of Reddington, the show feels completely hollow. There is nothing to wait for at the end of the line. We know about Elizabeth and Red, what else is there to enjoy? And after waiting for so many months for the new episodes to roll out, we get a show that has lost its meaning, lost its sense of direction, lost everything special about it, and is no longer enjoyable. It seems like the cow named "Blacklist" would scream "ENOUGH!" right about now.