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Spoilers: The Ending of 'The Blacklist' Is So Bad!

By Dustin Rowles | TV | July 18, 2023 |

By Dustin Rowles | TV | July 18, 2023 |


Spoilers for the entirety of The Blacklist

After ten seasons, The Blacklist — a show that most people quit watching after two seasons and that lost most of its remaining viewers after Elizabeth Keen’s death in season 8 — is finally over. Red Reddington is dead. He is gored by a bull. Oh, the indignity. Did James Spader piss off the writers or something?

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Let me back up briefly. I don’t really watch The Blacklist, except to check in on it every few seasons to see if the series has finally answered the question about Liz Keen’s relationship to James Spader’s character, Red Reddington. Liz Keen (Megan Boone) was killed off in the season 8 finale, but the episode did not specifically answer the question (more on that later).

In a nutshell, the two-part finale went like this: It seems they must have run out of names on The Blacklist because the Reddington Task Force, which has been working with Reddington for all these years, was tasked by Congressman Hudson (Toby Leonard Moore) with rounding him up and putting him in jail. The Reddington Task Force reluctantly agreed. They worked diligently to track him down, but their heart wasn’t really in it. It’s essentially a two-episode game of cat-and-mouse. After Congressman Hudson tightens the screws on the task force and actually arrests Agent Dembe Zuma (Hisham Tawfiq) — an FBI Agent and Reddington’s foster son — for conspiring to help Reddington evade authorities, Reddington attempts to free Zuma from custody. A standoff ensues. Hudson shoots Zuma in the neck, and Reddington shoots and kills Congressman Hudson, who was an insufferable character anyway.

Zuma survives because Reddington gives him a direct transfusion. Reddington has some bizarre condition where donating blood in a direct transfusion is potentially lethal. He escapes to Spain. He takes a long walk, clearly expecting to die, but instead of dying from his condition, he is confronted by a bull. He stares down the bull. The bull stares him down. The bull charges him, and Reddington is gored.

The End.

The question of Red’s relationship to Liz Keen, the central question of the series for eight seasons, still persists. Apparently, after Keen’s death, however, viewers (or the writers) more or less lost interest in answering that question. There is a long-running theory, however, that Reddington is actually a character named Katarina Rostova, who was Keen’s mother. The theory is that Reddington transitioned.

That is not exactly confirmed in the finale. However, the episode’s director did say that the show had basically resolved that question (purportedly at the end of season 8) but that “there will be an exchange in the final episode that will say it indirectly.” That exchange, presumably, is the one between Red and Agnes Keen, the daughter of Elizabeth and Tom Keen. In that exchange, Agnes says that Reddington is “acting like a mom,” and Reddington responds, “I just can’t help myself.”

It’s not a full acknowledgment, but combined with the director’s message, it certainly seems to suggest that, in the end, Red Reddington was Keen’s mother, all along. I suspect that the series didn’t fully unpack or acknowledge that because it would have meant owning up to a lot of holes in the logic.

So there you have it. Reddington is Keen’s mother, and also, he is dead, having been killed by a bull in Spain in a very Sons of Anarchy-like ending. My apologies to anyone who stuck around all ten seasons for that.