NBC’s “The Blacklist” has a strange connection with my childhood. 

“The Blacklist” is shot in New York City, and has an active presence in Greenwich Village. I have walked past the caravan of trailers that are brought in and the blocked off streets numerous times. I know people who have run into James Spader, who plays one of the lead characters on the show. I’ve even seen James Spader is his iconic fedora. And if you’re wondering, James Spader in person is exactly who you think he is. 

Not only did I literally grow up around “The Blacklist.” I have watched it since it premiered in 2013. “The Blacklist” might not be every 12-year-old’s pick, but it was mine. My mom would preview the episodes and watch them with me after homework and dinner was done. I love “The Blacklist,” and while I cannot always watch it concurrently with its seasons, I always catch up. 

Another fun fact: CT Editor-in-Chief Hailie Higgins was an extra for an episode of “The Blacklist.” All roads lead to James Spader. 

“The Blacklist” is a crime thriller about the extravagant and mysterious Raymond Reddington, a criminal mastermind. Reddington unexpectedly turns himself in to the FBI. He says he will give them his “blacklist,” his list of the secret criminal underworld, on one condition: Reddington will only speak to and work with FBI Agent Elizabeth Keen, played by Megan Boone. Agent Keen doesn’t know who Reddington is, but she has a mysterious past as well. It can be guessed within 30 minutes of the first episode that Reddington is connected.

While the show runs on a monster of the week theme, the prevailing question of the series is, is Raymond Reddington the father of Elizabeth Keen?

Every answer in this show comes with a bucket full of questions. Its seven seasons are going on eight and I still feel like I haven’t learned anything. Reddington’s secrets have secrets, and it drives Agent Keen up the wall in her search for answers.

While the guessing game of Reddington’s past is fun, the criminals are what really make this show. The world-building this show has done in Raymond Reddington’s criminal empire is the most entertaining factor. The montages are the secret sauce in this sandwich of James Spader galore, where you get to see how the crimes get pulled off. The engineering of the capers is the best part, paired with a side of the character of these criminals. 

The show would not work without James Spader. Elizabeth Keen is a fun character from time to time because you get to see how she spirals down into the darkness with the influence of Reddington, but James Spader takes the cake. Spader’s control and the depth he gives to Reddington is the foundation of this show. Without Spader, there is no “Blacklist.” 

The other characters are great, too, but the building blocks of the show are Keen and Reddington. Their relationship is its heart. After seven seasons, Keen is not the same woman that she was in the pilot. And Reddington still has more secrets to share. There’s still enough gas in the tank to keep this boat running. Would we be at this point if Reddington just sat down and told the truth to Keen for once? No, but where’s the Hollywood fun in that? 

“The Blacklist” still has more names to cross off the list, more blood to spill, and more answers to share. There are seven years worth of twists and turns in this show that make it such a treat to binge. “The Blacklist” season eight will be coming out soon, and catching up might be the perfect way to wind down after this round of midterms. 

 



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