Yes, You Must Watch The Blacklist With Me!

James Spader as criminal Red Reddington and Megan Boone as Elizabeth Keen in NBC's The BlacklistBack in September, I wrote about five new crime TV shows  that I was excited to watch. Of those five: Ironsides was cancelled, Dracula was a disappointment (although I am still watching it) and I like Almost Human, but we haven’t seen much of it yet. There are only two shows of the original five that are absolute DVR Keepers: The Blacklist and Brooklyn Nine-Nine. (This post is about The Blacklist, so you’ll just have to set your DVR for Brooklyn Nine-Nine and prepare to laugh really, really hard. You can watch full eposodes of The Blacklist online at NBC, too.)

So, why do I love The Blacklist? Let me count the ways and in the process tell you everything you need to know—without spoilers—to get you up to speed. (I like to do these countdowns in reverse order for maximum dramatic impact.)

Number 5 – The characters:

Red Reddingon, played by James Spader. Red is a Whitey Bulger-esque bad guy who turns himself in to help turn in other bad guys. Red mockingly calls his own super-bad guy list, The Blacklist. And that’s where the show gets its name. Red is a man who gets what he wants even when he turns himself in. He will only cooperate if he gets to work with….

Lizzie and Tom KeenElizabeth Keen played by Megan Boone, also known as Lizzie by Red. Elizabeth is literally on her first day of work as a super-secret badass special agent profiler when super-criminal and bad guy, Red, turns himself in and asks for her. She has no idea why… but she has her suspicions. Everything is suspect in her life, even her husband…

Tom Keen, played by Ryan Eggold. Red conveniently tells Elizabeth that her husband is more than he seems. Elizabeth doesn’t believe him, or does she?  One person who is quick to check out any irregularity in Elizabeth’s life is her work partner…

Donald Ressler played by Diego Klattenhoff. Donald is your typical follow-the-rules, there is no-grey-in-my-world, lawman. We have no idea what he is really thinking behind that square jaw, only the overt rule following that he shows us.

Number 4 – The plots are fresh: I can’t get into too much detail about this one without spoilers, but I can’t guess the show's ending most of the time. I do know that both Lizzie and Red will be safe, but other than that, I’m not sure. I like it that I don’t guess the end and I like it even more since the endings make sense.

Diego Klattenhoff as FBI Special Agent Donald Ressler

Number 3 – There are lots of unanswered questions every single week: The show's writers do this really well. Not only do we have single show plots, we have overarching plots that span shows. Why does Red want to work with Lizzie? Why does Red tell Lizzie bad things about her husband? Why doesn’t Donald trust his co-worker? The questions go on and on.

Number 2 – No one in this show really trusts anyone: Lizzie’s agent partner, Donald, doesn’t trust Red Reddington, Lizzie, or her husband. Elizabeth alternately trusts people and then doesn’t trust the same people the following week. It varies by episode. Red trusts his staff and for some reason appears to trust Lizzie. Tom is a kindergarten teacher and supposedly trusts everyone but then again, he might be evil.  

Number 1 – James Spader: James Spader. James Spader. Did I mention that I like James Spader? He brings elegant humor and command to this role. Red isn’t cardboard. He’s a funny bad guy who gets what he wants. And he has ulterior motives that we cannot begin to comprehend. But I want to find out what’s going on in his head. No one could pull off this character like James Spader and make us forget that he’s an actor while he is doing it.

So that’s my countdown of why you should not only watch The Blacklist, but also love it as I do. Some episodes are better than others. And I’m pretty sure at least one person that we think is good is really, really bad because that’s part of the fun, but that shouldn’t stop you from embracing the show. Now you know what you need to know to start watching The Blacklist, and here's a promo for tonight's episode.

But why miss any of the greatness? Start with the very first episode and savor it like a perfectly cooked steak with potatoes au gratin on the side and an excellent glass of cab. That’s what Red Reddington would do. Enjoy!


Deborah Lacy likes speakeasies, yellow heirloom tomatoes, and crime fiction. She also blogs over on Mystery Playground. You can find her on Twitter @quippy.

Read all posts by Deborah Lacy on Criminal Element.


  1. Terrie Farley Moran

    With you on number one–I love James Spader. I watched the first four episodes and things were so bloody and so gory that I stopped watching. I do miss James Spader, though. If they’d lighten up the gruesome I might come back but it is unlikely.

  2. KateH

    I started out really liking this show but will probably stop watching it. Spader is terrific, of course, but Elizabeth doesn’t seem very bright–she can’t seem to solve anything without Red’s help–and the supporting cast is so one-dimensional. And what is up with the bad wig?

    Brooklyn Nine-Nine gets better every week, however! Really hope it does not fall victim to the Andre Braugher curse.

  3. Mary Saputo

    I’m still not a fan. I DO like Megan Boone but – now don’t kill me – I don’t like James Spader in the Red role. For me, it’s another one of those – if they take it off I won’t miss it – shows.

  4. Horomnizon

    It’s all about Spader…I actually don’t care much for Elizabeth or Megan Boone’s portrayal. Usually she just annoys me, especially if Spader isn’t also in the scene. Now if she would ditch Tom in favor of Ressler…

    Spader keeps me coming back. I loved him in Boston Legal and I love him here. He is perfect at playing the guy who knows he knows more than everyone else in the room.

    True, it is a bit gory. The unique storylines, though, get me past that easily. And, yes, the overarching stories keep me coming back. Just when I think “OK, I have that figured out,” they add in another piece that takes it another direction. The show is something different, which is rare these days. I just wish it wasn’t on opposite Castle.

  5. Donna Shaw

    I am so hooked on this show. I was a huge fan of “24” and was hoping another show would come along that had the same appeal for me. I never would have guessed that James Spader could play a part like this one. Hurrah!!!!!!

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