When Megan Boone, who portrayed FBI profiler Elizabeth Keen on The Blacklist for eight seasons, decided to depart with no plans to return, the showrunners did what they always do in such situations: they killed the character. However, they also guaranteed that it would be the key that leads into Season 9. Keen was assassinated by a Townsend operative, but was he acting alone, or was someone else in charge of the narrative? That was the premise of Season 9. Devastated by the loss of Liz, whom he hoped would take over his criminal empire, Reddington had fled for two years, leaving his attorney, Marvin Gerard, to handle proceedings in his absence.
Viewers may recall that Red’s choice to hand up his ‘company’ to Liz was predicated on the fact that he was gravely ill and perhaps dying. Nonetheless, two years later, he returns with newfound vitality and no sign of any life-threatening health problems, which he owes to the treatment he receives from Mierce Xiu (Karina Arroyave), a spiritual healer who also happens to be a romantic interest. Red’s single-minded determination to solve Liz’s murder, on the other hand, does not bode well for their relationship or the task force’s functioning. The Blacklist was not awful in its early years, despite its ridiculous concept of the FBI’s most wanted criminal becoming an informant while continuing to conduct all of his evil dealings. It’s fascinating how most procedural dramas invariably have a top law enforcement agency requesting outside assistance (from writers, psychics, zombies, etc.). At least, in this case, Raymond Reddington is a master crook who knows the inner workings of others like him. What bothers me is that, after all these years, no one has caught wind of the fact that many people are now in jail or dead because he snitched on them.
Following the events of the season 9 finale, this is about to change. Stranger still, Dembe (Hisham Tawfiq), Reddington’s longtime right-hand man, became an FBI special agent while his former employer was overseas. Is it that simple to join the FBI?
The impunity with which Reddington proceeded to operate after reaching this arrangement in which he would supply the FBI with a list of dangerous criminals appeared acceptable only on the strength of James Spader’s portrayal of him. Unfortunately, the novelty began to wear off a few years ago, when the showrunners extended the ‘Who is Reddington’ storyline indefinitely and have yet to provide dedicated followers with a satisfactory explanation.
Season 9 made matters worse. Red is no longer in pain, has reclaimed control of his business, and spends an entire year (stretched across 22 episodes) pursuing whoever killed Liz. The final reveal was, to say the least, disappointing, and it appeared as though the writers were grasping at straws with the ‘Could it be Mr. Kaplan?’ aspect. It’s time to put this program on the shelf before it truly goes to the dogs. Some of the cast members realized this quite some time ago. Mozhan Marno (Samar Navabi) was the first to leave, followed by Meghan, and now we learn that Amir Arison (Aram Mojtabi) and Laura Sohn (Alina Park) have also left the show. Spader, Henry Lennix (Deputy Director Harold Cooper), Diego Klattenhof (Special agent Donald Ressler), and Tawfiq remain from the first group to pick up the pieces. The Blacklist has been renewed for a tenth season, so there will be parts. Despite my doubts, I think I’ll go back to see Reddington face his new adversaries. People like me are all the showrunners require.