Being An Expert On The Blacklist

I have not watched Season 8 of the Blacklist. I mean, did you see how Season 7 of the Blacklist ended? I may, by the time this article goes up, have done so, but if that happens you should view it as a failure of Netflix, a moment where clearly nothing better seized me to do, an attack of boredom so distinct that I exhausted other, better options like Goosebumps 2 or watching Venom again. I mean I did write about it, back in 2018 and 2019. That’s where I had were the article about how the story had seemed to be setting up a twist where Raymond Reddington was secretly a trans dude.

Then they revealed that uh, no, they weren’t going to do that.

At that point, I lost all faith in the storytelling and the ability of these storytellers to plan anything and I thought ‘what a bunch of idiots’ and left it. I did not write a word about Blacklist in all of 2021, because I had simply given up on the show and not watched it. I was done. It was ‘gamer’ to me.

But then I started getting hits.

I started getting a lot of hits.

Like the year I wrote that article, it got a total of 25 views.

In 2020, it got 300 views, which is weird.

In 2021, it got over 1500 views.

And that 25 views, that’s what I think of as, you know, normal. That’s a totally okay number of views on an ordinary article, and this absolutely blew the doors off it. And that meant that eventually, even as someone who tries not to pay too much attention to his stats, I finally noticed that Is Blacklist Queer? was getting attention.

And that led to me looking into why.

See, it seems that this is a thing that Blacklist teased might be the case in Season 8. And I guess, in the interest of protecting people from the ‘twists’ of this ‘story’, I’m going to put down a sigh spoiler warning.

Okay, so Blacklist kicked off with the premise that Raymond Reddington, the most powerful and dangerous criminal in the world, surrenders himself to the FBI on the condition that he be overseen and administered by one, specific, day-one FBI agent, Elizabeth Keene. Elizabeth has no idea why she was presented with this, and then finds herself digging into her own life to work out why the most dangerous man in the world specifically wanted to surrender to her. The ensuing narrative kind of structures itself as a big ongoing mystery about how these two people intersect, and then, interrupts that with a series of hunts for various different weirdo crime wizards.

This ongoing narrative has been, to say the least, fraught, because it’s not really a story that works well if you don’t have any good idea for where it’s going. Like, you can kind of just lay out track in front of you if you want, but doing that requires you to do a lot of things to keep the momentum going, and eventually, if you promise reveal after promising reveal, you’re eventually going to have to let the dog see the rabbit. Which Blacklist has absolutely failed to do.

For eight seasons.

Eventually, we had the development that Red was maybe Elizabeth’s father. Then, no, he couldn’t be her father. Then, no, he wasn’t even Red. Then no, that story may have been technically a fake. And all of this is based on information Red has been keeping in his head to keep things straight. Really, it’d be the kind of thing I ‘should’ be doing for Tricks month, if not for the fact the actual trick it’s demonstrating is the narrative version of ‘your shoes are untied.’ And it constantly builds towards ‘explanations’ that never are, always going ‘not really’ for its own narratives, which I get, they have to do it that way, because they have no idea where they’re going.

Season 8 ends with a confrontation between Red and Elizabeth. This culminates with Elizabeth dying and Red not dying, because the actor who plays Elizabeth is fucking mcdone with this shit. Which, you know, I imagine she’s been done for five years but you can buy a lot of undone with the kind of money Blacklist pays.

I don’t expect it to come up. I don’t expect it to matter. I don’t expect, this ‘twist’ of Raymond Reddington being a trans man who once, gave birth to Elizabeth Keene to ever be important again. if it is, I don’t expect it to be handled well, because this is not a story that has a point, or a plan, or a purpose. It’s just laying out track in front of it.

I thought once it’d be pretty cool to have Raymond Reddington turn out to be a trans dude, because that would be the highest profile trans male character I knew of in fiction and a lot of trans dudes would probably think Red has a good look and is pretty cool. But if you came here looking for me, a somehow Blacklist expert, because I have watched almost all of it but didn’t think it was good, now, after all this, I would have the same reaction I do to Owl House.

Not bad, prestige TV.

Now do it again, and a lot better.

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