About the Show

James Spader brings style, sophistication, and a decidedly sinister vibe to his scenery-devouring turn as Raymond "Red" Reddington, a former U.S. government agent who went to the dark side, ultimately becoming one of the Feds' most wanted. After years on the run, Reddington surrenders himself and strikes a deal to help the agency's counterterrorism task force track down a roster of his felonious colleagues from around the globe, with one enigmatic condition: His point person must be a rookie profiler named Elizabeth Keen. As the pair, joined by Keen's partner, Donald Ressler, and the task force director, Harold Cooper, whittle down Red's list of baddies—often played by A-list guest stars—secrets about his past, as well as his connection to Liz and her husband, Tom, begin to emerge, giving this high-octane action drama from executive producer Jon Bokenkamp an intricate mythology that has only deepened as the body count has risen.

Season 1

After turning himself in to the FBI, master criminal Raymond "Red" Reddington insists on working with Elizabeth Keen, a newbie agent assigned to extract as much intel from him as possible through their interactions. However, as Reddington provides the agency leads on the biological terrorists, assassins, sex traffickers, and psychos he's done business with in the past, Liz begins to realize that he is hiding as much as he is revealing.

Season 2

"No more than a couple months have passed, and things are in disarray," said Golden Globe nominee James Spader during the summer between Seasons 1 and 2. "But the threats [we faced] at the end of Season 1 are still very much a threat and very active. The disarray and collateral effect of everything that happened at the end of Season 1, everybody is having to deal with that." He wasn't kidding. The show returned with Liz toughened by Tom's betrayal, Ressler viewing his partner in a new, possibly romantic light, and Cooper struggling with a medical issue uncovered during his coma.

Best Episodes

Season 1, Episode 4: "The Stewmaker (No. 161)"
In a genuinely creepy outing full of grotesque imagery and scares, Liz falls into the hands of a chemical expert who uses his favorite compounds to dissolve his victims. After her rescue, Keen uncovers a connection between her husband -- now recovered from the brutal hit Red took out on him in the pilot -- and a homicide that was committed with his stolen gun.

Season 1, Episodes 9 and 10: "Anslo Garrick (No. 16)"
An action-packed two-parter with shades of Die Hard finds the team's facility inside an abandoned post office under siege by assassins hired by an ex-contact of Red's (Alan Alda). Trapped inside a bulletproof holding cell with a critically injured Ressler, Red is forced to watch the execution of a loved one as Liz attempts to save the day behind the scenes. Despite her heroics, things go south, resulting in Red's escape from federal custody. Before vanishing, Reddington warns her that Tom is not the person he appears to be.

Season 1, Episode 22: "Berlin (No. 8): Conclusion"
A viral outbreak, a plane crash, and the long-awaited arrival of Red's sickest foe, Berlin (Peter Stormare), fuel the first season's two-part finale, which sees Liz quitting the FBI following a bloody and seemingly fatal showdown with Tom. Along the way, one of her fellow agents is killed in the line of duty, Cooper is left comatose, and it's revealed that Red -- back in federal custody -- is covered in scars. Perhaps he actually is the father Liz thinks died in a fire?

Season 2, Episode 1: "Lord Baltimore (No. 104)"
Still on the loose and determined to make Red pay for the death of his daughter, Berlin targets Reddington's ex-wife, Naomi (Mary-Louise Parker), as the task force hunts for an information broker somehow connected to a psychologically disturbed young woman (Krysten Ritter). Meanwhile, Liz moves to annul her marriage to Tom, whose body disappeared following their season-finale showdown, and Samar, a Mossad agent, makes moves to secure herself a position on the task force for reasons still to be determined.

Season 2, Episode 3: "Dr. James Covington (No. 89)"
Paul Reubens (Pee-wee Herman himself) begins a recurring role as Vargas, an oddly squeamish double agent working for Red, first on a case involving an organ-harvesting ring, then as a pawn in his plan to force his ex-wife and her new husband into a relocation program. Also, viewers learn that Red and Naomi share a daughter named Jennifer, who has been out of his life for years.

Bits and Pieces

  • Diego Klattenhoff played Regina George's prom date, George Oman, in the 2004 movie Mean Girls.
  • Megan Boone wore a long wig during the entire first season to cover up her shorter 'do and to give Keen a more "naïve" look, she admitted in a 2013 interview.
  • Series consultant Brad Garrett is a former FBI agent, not the actor from Everybody Loves Raymond.
  • The Blacklist's New York soundstages are in the same building as Law & Order: SUV's.
  • James Spader does not use email.