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The Blacklist series review: James Spader-led show goes from bad to worse and ends on a lame note

10 years and 10 seasons later, do we finally know who Raymond Reddington really is? Does the law finally catch up with the most-wanted fugitive?

The Blacklist series review: James Spader-led show goes from bad to worse and ends on a lame note
James Spader as Raymond Reddington on the show

Last Updated: 02.35 PM, Feb 26, 2024


Story: When the criminals that Raymond Reddington helped put away realize that he’s in cahoots with the FBI, they try to get the proof they need to out him to the criminal underworld. Can Reddington overcome this threat? How will this affect his ‘relationship’ with the taskforce?


Review: After investing 10 years on The Blacklist, on James Spader, the Reddington task force - all in the hope that the mystery about Raymond Reddington would be a mind-blowing reveal - and getting THIS damp squib 2-hour finale, for which they even went to Spain, saying that I am disappointed would be an understatement. I am still shaking my head in disbelief that the two-hour The Blacklist series finale, which had Raymond Reddington as the last name on the Blacklist, gave us absolutely no answers and instead focused on letting him bow out on his own terms.

But then, come to think of it, The Blacklist had overstayed its welcome a long time ago. It began as a show about one of the FBI’s most-wanted fugitives surrendering and striking a deal that ensured his ‘freedom’. All he had to do was feed a new task force information on a set of hardened criminals. He had one condition – that he’d only work with one particular agent – a rookie FBI profiler called Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone).

If you’ve seen enough procedural dramas involving an outsider helping law enforcement agencies to bring a criminal to task, you’d know that the key is to keep it simple. The Blacklist, though, was not content doing that – so the showrunners threw in a bunch of mysteries, starting with Reddington’s obsession with Keen. Her backstory – as the daughter of a KGB operative Katarina Rostova with an American spy called Raymond Reddington – led to new lines of narrative, about the latter. Turns out, the real Raymond Reddington was but a pile of bones that the ‘imposter’ had tucked away in a suitcase. So, who is this Reddington, really?

James Spader as Raymond Reddington
James Spader as Raymond Reddington

That was the question that fans of the show were hoping would get a definitive answer on the series finale. The show has hinted at the possibility of Katarina being Reddington (facial reconstruction and gender reassignment included), but never spelt it out. It’s a theory that some fans consider the most plausible after the events of season 8, while others believe that a story that Reddington tells about how he almost joined the Navy in an earlier season is the key to debunk this. Either which way, the truth is something we will never get, because the identity of Raymond Reddington was never on the agenda of the taskforce when ‘he’ became the last name on the blacklist. His taskforce was tasked with capturing him, but would he allow that?

Considering that it all began with Reddington’s clause that he’d only work with Keen, her death, which happened because she went from being an FBI agent to wanted fugitive, should have been curtains for the show. But no, it got two more seasons – one for Reddington to find the people responsible for Keen’s death, and another for the people he’d sent to jail to try and take him out, before he began to dismantle his enterprise to walk off into the sunset.

Over the years the show lost some series regulars, like Mozhan Marno, who played special agent Samar Navabi, in season 6, and then Megan Boone left at the end of season 8, followed by Amir Arison (Agent Aram Mojtabai) and Laura Sohn (Agent Alina Park) after season 9. The introduction of a new face, agent Siya Malik (the daughter of slain task force member Mira Malik), in the final season, did little for the show, but to allow the showrunners to throw in a diversion as she sought answers about her background. She was adopted, you see.

So, why did I stick on over the years and continue to watch The Blacklist? Honestly, leading man James Spader was the only draw at the onset. But over time, even he became tedious to watch. I guess, in the end, I just wanted a final word on the identity of Raymond Reddington and now, all I feel is cheated.

Verdict: An underwhelming and rather strange end to a series that began with promise. After over 200 episodes, the showrunners decided to leave audiences with a ‘Go figure’. And that is annoying!


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