The Blacklist, NBC’s only show starring James Spader to run for 9 seasons and counting, delivered one hell of a penultimate episode last Friday night.
Technically, there are two more episodes left in the rest of The Blacklist Season 9. But they are a two-parter, “Marvin Gerard Conclusion Part 1 & 2”, following Blacklist tradition, and justifying my use of penultimate. Usually, though this isn’t a perfect rule, fans are blessed with two two-parters throughout the season, generally one at the middle and one at the end.
That won’t be news to a seasoned Blacklist initiate, but to those unfamiliar with the show, come take a walk with me. The Blacklist is really an enigma of television entertainment. The show stars James Spader as Raymond Reddington, an incredibly smooth, intelligent, loving, powerful, dangerous, charismatic, deadly, tender man who runs a global criminal enterprise. They call him the Concierge of Crime, and he has been raking in the ratings since before he was Ultron in the MCU.
THE BLACKLIST: WHAT IS A BLACKLIST ANYWAYS?
The name of the TV series is derived from a list Reddington possesses, “The Blacklist” if you will. He works through that list with a special, secret FBI task force, operating undercover alongside the feds in order to take down the worst criminals on earth, the ones the US government aren’t even aware of. Sounds badass, right? It is. Undoubtedly, it is incredibly badass. And I haven’t even begun to discuss the supporting characters, the funktastic heist sequences, or the moving deaths and reunions.
The Blacklist airs on NBC, with each season running for approximately 20-22 episodes on average. Currently, the crime show airs at 8PM EST on Fridays. “Marvin Gerard Part I” airs at that time on May 20, 2022. Every week, shortly before the episode ends, instead of a tease of the next episode, NBC replays the same clip of Reddington saying “We need answers,”knowing damn well there are no answers to be found.
As is usually the case. The Blacklist drags you around through a never-ending series of mysteries that take you to unexpected, informational places, but never to a place of true “answers”. That’s the way it’s always been. It’s a frustrating, thrilling experience with no end in sight, and I don’t see myself getting off the ride anytime soon. The most recent episode, “Caelum Bank” took season 9 to new heights, and actually provided us with some answers, and I do stress some. There is still so much we do not know.
THE BLACKLIST OFFICIAL SPOILER WARNING
…And that’s where the spoiler brakes come on. If you’re interested in watching The Blacklist, but wish to avoid key details about the events of the ninth season, turn away now. Seriously, you’ll thank me later.
*** Spoilers for The Blacklist Season 9, Episode 20, “Caelum Bank” ***
In The Blacklist Season 9, Episode 20, “Caelum Bank”, Raymond Reddington’s journey to learn the truth about the murder of Elizabeth Keen, (his adoptive daughter-of-sorts and heir to his empire) lead him to someone close. The show takes Raymond to an angry, violent place, and he begins to act recklessly. The show whips you around, convincing you that the enemy is one person, before violently yanking the rug out from underneath you.
The true villain of this episode, and the entirety of Season 9 of The Blacklist is Marvin Gerard, Reddington’s lawyer and one of his oldest friends. After Elizabeth Keen was killed at the end of Season 8, Reddington fled, leading his empire behind. It was Gerard who took over the criminal kingdom in his absence, and he has secretly orchestrated a number of schemes against Red and the FBI Task Force in order to push Red away from pursuing Elizabeth Keen’s death any further. It seems like all hope is lost for Gerard’s life as he tells Red the truth, before revealing that he has a sniper on one of Reddington’s closest allies.
THE BLACKLIST: REDDINGTON’S GREATEST ENEMY IS CLOSER THAN EXPECTED
Marvin Gerard escapes, setting the stage for what could be one of the greatest two-parters the show has ever seen. Hell, it could be one of the best finales in Blacklist history (especially if it gives us a helping of “answers”, but don’t count on anything of the sort). The ninth season marked the departure of longtime showrunner Jon Bokenkamp and the rise of Blacklist veteran John Esienderath as showrunner.
Though season 9 has had some standout episodes along the way, it’s largely failed to capture the magic of seasons past. The absence of keen, restructuring of the task force, and terrible episode release schedule haven’t helped, but one has to wonder if the change in showrunners might be causing the perceived quality dip. At least, that was how I felt before “Caelum Bank” absolutely blew my socks off.
“Marvin Gerard Parts I & II” have an uphill battle to fight, but with Raymond Reddington working at full force, and an opponent as personal and iconic as Marvin Gerard, they just might pull this thing off.