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+.

Sarah silva

So for weeks people said Ed was Lizzie's dad. I thought it would be way to obvious for him to be her father but he is.
We also so that Tom does not know Red, even though the look that Tom gave Red when he sat down made it look like he knew him.
I wonder who that girl is that Red looked for at the end, it has to be another daughter, the one whose picture he took from the stewmaker?
The show keeps answering some questions but opens up more.
This show delivers week after week and while I too think sometimes there are moments that are unrealistic, it is still a great show.


Ok I am still not sure Red is Lizzie's dad. We just know Lizzie was adopted by Sam when she was four and he took care of her as a single parent. Red still did not say I am her father. It was creepy when he told Tom her father will always be there watching her and protecting her??? Still don't know about Tom because he is not coming off as a spy to me. But who are the people watching him? Still say if he is a spy and Lizzie is FBI why have they not found the bugs/cameras in their house?! Ok girl in stewmaker book had blonde hair girl on vcap had black hair. Girl on vcap did look like Lizzie some?!?!?!?! This is such a good show!


James Spader rocks as Red, and I absolutely love this show!


I truly believe that Red are Liz's father, but woman who he searched for, in my opinion are Liz's mother, Red's girlfriend, 1st wife or something like that. We will see, but I guess I am pretty close to it

Sarah silva
@ Fan

I think that 042983 is a date of birth so it can not be her mother.

@ Mrs alex o'loughlin

4/29/83 is Megan Boone's actual birthday


Well, now, I guess it almost obvious that Red is Liz's father. I can't believe Liz hasn't yet entertained that thought when it comes to why Red is so obsessed with her. Can't figure out who that gal is that Red looked up in VICAP......I agree with the reviewer that the FBI should get a better handle on Red, however, if they did the show would be no where near as good as it is...... Tom did look at Red awfully strange after their conversation. The reviewer forgot to mention the surveilance.........I want to know what that is about. I have to say I think it's Red.

@ Terrie

Your 2nd sentence is why i dont believe for a second its as simple as red is her father. Red is obsessed with her because of her father & she knows she is adopted yet hasnt for 1 second thought oh maybe red is my father lets get a DNA test


How could Tom not recognize Red if Red was the one who interviewed him for that job in Boston? He recognized the photo in a previous episode.

@ Shawn

Red wasn't who Tom identified as the interviewer - it was Red's man servant/assistant "Grey"


I took it as that Red was Liz's father, adopted by Sam, a long time friend of Red's, when Red went rogue. As for the talk between Red and Tom, that was to me at least, Red warning Tom that he is onto him and that her father (AKA Red) would always be in the shadows watching Liz, ensuring she will always be fine. No matter what it takes.

@ Shaerra

so if it was as obvious as that liz knows she is adopted so why hasnt the thought that red could be her father entered her head & got a DNA test

@ Shaerra

I thought that too, especially when Tom did that nervous swallow as Red said her father would always be watching.
Mind, I thought Red was Liz's father in the first episode. Thanks Blacklist for pointing the clues in that direction

@ Shaerra

Shaerra, that is what my brother said when we watched it and it makes perfect sense! I can see it being that for sure.

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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.