The Blacklist Review: A Father Revealed

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The Blacklist took the prize for the most incredible episode opening of the season.

It went from a loving, peaceful scene of a father and son tossing a football to a smoking shoe, a scorched body buckled into a seat, and then pieces of a plane falling on them from the sky. The desperate look on the father's face as he carried his son and tried to outrun the crush of an airliner was heartbreaking to watch.

That was just the beginning of the deaths and destruction caused by the radical political group, General Ludd, in The Blacklist Season 1 Episode 8.

There is no shortage of television shows about law enforcement investigating and tracking down criminals. For the most part The Blacklist has been able to differentiate itself from the others by approaching the criminal from a different angle or with a unique crime or motive.

Financial Ruin

The case of General Ludd felt fresh though grounded in political extremist beliefs that hold true in our society. Bradley Holland, a.k.a. Nathaniel Wolff, a.k.a. Arthur Denning, used death, terror, and theft not for the purpose of creating fear in the society, but to hurt corporations and ultimately cause financial ruin.

Justin Kirk was superb as the crazy radical. It was a pleasant surprise to see him in a role so opposite that of Andy Botwin from Weeds. Even when the hedge fund manager was poking at General Ludd and the principles that the group believed in, Holland kept his cool and carried out his destructive plan. The man would die in time.

The FBI wouldn't have been able to capture and stop General Ludd's activities nearly as fast without Red's help, though it came at a cost.

I love The Blacklist and it's definitely one of my favorite shows on television right now, but it does call for some suspension of disbelief while watching. Raymond "Red" Reddington has been an effective asset for the FBI. He's helped solved cases and saved lives, but it comes at a great cost.

Red has killed people under the FBI's purview and he continues his criminal activities without any oversight. The FBI allows him complete freedom of movement and crime, while helping them out as he wants. The FBI is not in control of the arrangement, Red is and that became a problem in this case.

Red wouldn't provide any information on the case unless he got something in return. And, what he wanted was access to a classified FBI database, ViCAP, Violent Criminal Apprehension Program. The FBI should be in control of their arrangement. If Red wants his freedom, he should comply with requests to help with cases. If he won't assist them as requested, they should lock him up.

Mini-rant over. Of course, if that was the set-up the show wouldn't be nearly as compelling. Though, I wish the control in the relationship between Red and the FBI wasn't nearly as lopsided. The FBI should maintain some sort of leverage over Red. And, perhaps, as Liz learns more about him, she will be able to start wielding some control of her own.

The General Ludd case was adequately interesting, but the real platinum of the episode came in the clues about the overarching mysteries regarding Red and Liz. Several previous clues were partially paid off and combined they are beginning to form a clearer picture.

What did we learn? Liz was adopted when she was four by a single man, Sam. He loved her dearly and raised her to be the strong woman that she's become. Sam and Red have known each other for years. Liz knows that she's adopted, but there's more to her past. and Sam wanted to reveal that "truth" to Liz. Red was adamant that she never know and ended Sam's life prematurely to protect the secret.

The connection between Sam and Red wasn't revealed, but they clearly cared about each other. When Red killed Sam, he showed a sadness that he hasn't previously demonstrated. If Sam wasn't already sick and hadn't commented how he wished he had only hours instead of weeks left to live, I'm not sure if Red could have killed his friend. Or, it wouldn't have been as easy a decision.

In The Blacklist season 1 episode 3, Red told Liz that he picked her "Because of your father." And, now that makes a bit more sense at least to viewers. Liz  remains completely in the dark that Red knew her father, visited or killed him. And, she will probably never find out. Or, at least not for a long time.

The trip to the hospital also revealed that Tom doesn't know Red. Or, at least, if we are supposed to take their meeting at face value they don't know each other. That's definitely questionable. Red's comments like, "He will always be there," were creepy. And, even more so if Red was a stranger to Tom. 

While finding out more about Liz's family history was informative, I was more intrigued by Red's search in ViCAP. There's been speculation by some that the girl in the picture he took from the Stewmaker and the vision of the girl in the yard could have been Liz. I don't see how that's possible though.

Since the picture was in the Stewmaker's book, that girl is most likely dead, unless she was rescued at the last moment. If she's alive, why would she be in his trophy book. But, the girl playing in the yard is someone dear to him. She could be the Stewmaker's victim. Or, she could be the girl he looked up in the system. Or, maybe that girl was Liz.

When Red helped the FBI bring down Wujing, Red received six digits as his payment, 042983. Those were the same digits that he entered to gain access to the girl's file. He was biding his time until the perfect moment to force the FBI to give him access to that system. It's just another move in his big plan.

Back in The Blacklist season 1 episode 5, Red said, "I'm betting on the long plan. The future." This was just another example of how much that is true. Does he care about Liz? I believe he does. Is he using her as a pawn in a grander plan? Absolutely. And, each week I'm riveted by the small little morsels that are doled out.

Is the 30-year old woman, 042983, Red's daughter? Is the truth behind Red and Liz's relationship that destructive that it should be kept a secret? And did Tom know who Red was when they chatted at the hospital?


Editor Rating: 4.7 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.3 / 5.0 (92 Votes)

Carla Day is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter and on Google+.


LOVE THIS SHOW!!! What about the guy watching Liz and Tom? Cant wait for next week...


I lean towards thinking the woman is Liz's mother. Thus why he killed the stew maker and why there is a resemblance to Liz. I think the scene in the Doctor's office was telling and it inferred that Red had some level of plastic surgery done to him, as the doctor said "you look good. skin looks tight". I might be assuming a lot, but that's what I got here.


All we got was she was adopted at the age of 4. Red never said i am her father so why are people claiming its confirmed he is her father???


Love this show!! Can't get enough Thank you for giving me something to enjoy other than reality tv.

@ Marsha

The dialogue, "You will always be her father Sam. I can only hope to love her and protect her as you have." is what is making people confident that they've given us our answer. Red is reassuring Sam that he won't try to assume the role of "Father" after Sam's death, and the only way Sam might worry about that is there is a reason Red might try to do that, such as the fact he is her biological father. That said, with this show, who knows?


I'm not sure who Red really is but I tend to think he's protecting her from her mother…just guessing


Did anyone notice that 042983 is Megan Boone's real birthday?


Just watched the scene for a second time. Watch how the cold stare on Tom's face and how swallows real hard when Red says, "Watching through her eyes all those who get close. He'll always be there. She will be fine." And then a knowing but creepy smile followed by words that could be construed as a threat: "I hope you're right." Maybe I am seeing things I want to see and maybe Tom is just a school-teacher, but the background music also added to the creepiness of the scene.


Lots of thoughts in my mind. But the scene between Red and Tom was definitely spooky. Red looked directly in Tom's eyes when he spoke the words that Lizzy's father will always be there for her, protecting her etc. And Tom shifted around uncomfortably in his seat. There was a definite sense of acknowledgement of the words that Red spoke about protecting Lizzy. The writers/directors may not have intended it that way, but that one scene let on a helluva lot of information for me. If this show's taught me anything, it is never to take anything it presents at face value, but I think that scene is meant to be taken at face value. Another great episode of The Blacklist. Except Episode Two, every one of this show's episodes have been rock-solid entertainers, always advancing the story and the characters and always keeping us second guessing as to what each character's true motive is. And though this episode revealed a lot of information, it also turned up a lot more questions. Who was the girl at the end? Who are the people tapping up on Tom and Lizzy? That shower scene was plain creepy IMO. Also, I agree with Carla that the FBI-Red relationship is lopsided. Can you imagine a Top 10 Wanted criminal being given access to the FBI database, by the Assistant Director himself? I cannot. Also, it goes back to what Red said in his last episode. He can disappear any time he wants to. The only reason he is staying around is to protect Lizzy. From what. We don't know yet. They've set up the Red character that way. He's in control of every relationship, every situation he's been in so far. Even when Kean blurted out that she was an FBI agent to the doctor, he regained control and pinned the blame on the poor guy for revealing information. The beauty of this show is that Red is manipulating almost every one else he's come in contact with.

@ Balaji Sivaraman

Excellent assessment..........You should write for this site!


Part of me didn't want Red to be her seemed to obvious. But at the same time he is so protective of her like a Dad it wouldn't feel right if he isn't. I just watched the scene with Tom and Red again....spooky. If Tom is a hit man/spy whatever you want to call him, you would think that he would know that Red is the FBI most wanted. So based on that then Their conversation would be an unwritten acknowledgement of who each other is and hence Toms reaction to Reds speech would be one of not messing with this dude and certain fear about being threatened by him. I have to say that I am seriously addicted to this show....soo good!!!


Gotta say, since they started advertising "The Black List" last summer, it seemed obvious that Red is LIzzie father, so I'm guessing he's not. That would be too easy and something the FBI and Lizzie could have figured out already. Can you say DNA! Red did not kill her Father to keep a secret; Sam kind of requested it and gave the nod when he knew Red was getting ready to do it. Sam had kept their secret all these years, he could have told her when he was on the phone but he didn't. Whatever it is he took it to the grave. Whoever is watching Liz's house is watching her husband not her. Apple guy made that comment about "well we know he doesn't work for Red". Whoever he works for Red must know cause he's trying to protect Lizzie. Btw, did Red set up the FBI, even though they came to him for help. Red seems to be brilliant. He ended up with the plates, he also worked very well with Lizzie getting the name from the plastic surgeon, Red is fast on his feet, when she blew their cover. Lizzie is kind of a pain in the ass.

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The Blacklist Season 1 Episode 8 Quotes

Did you hear me? I said I need his new name. Give it to me or I'll have the Miami Field Office tear your practice apart faster than you can say tummy tuck.


Then you'll just have to find another criminal to talk to Elizabeth Keen and make fun of Ressler.