Having aired six seasons thus far on NBC, and already renewed for a seventh, The Blacklist has kept viewers enthralled with constant twists, turns, and OMG moments. Just when you think you have the story figured out, the next episode throws a curveball, leaving you scratching your head once again.
Raymond “Red” Reddington is a career criminal who turns himself in to the FBI, and volunteers to help them catch some of the most dangerous criminals in the world. This isn’t out of the goodness of his heart. He has an agenda, and that’s to also build up his own criminal empire in the process. Imprison the most wanted man in America, or use him to capture hundreds of other criminals, preventing deaths, disasters, and ongoing crime rings? Just when the FBI questions their turning a blind eye to Red’s criminal ways, he leads them to another “blacklister,” proving his worth.
Meanwhile, Red seems to have other motives as well, including keeping an eye on agent Elizabeth Keen. What’s his relation to her, and why does he care so much to protect her? The answers are still up in the air, though every season, we get closer. Either way, Red remains one of the most charismatic, cunning, and downright entertaining characters on television. But as much as we hate to love him, we also love to hate him sometimes.
Here are five things we love, and five things we don’t, about the man known as the Concierge of Crime.
10 He Will Do Anything to Protect Liz (Love)
Regardless of his choice of “profession” and his penchant for murder, Red will do just about anything, and stop at nothing, to protect Liz. While the reasons are still unknown, as the series progresses, we get a little bit closer to the truth. And the reason doesn’t really matter. To be the kind of man he is and still be so loving, caring, protective, and forgiving of someone says a lot about his character, and what he’s hiding behind that rough exterior.
9 He Killed Mr. Kaplan! (Don’t Love)
We understand why Red doesn’t tolerate betrayal, but is his secret so important to protect that it’s worth killing one of his oldest and closest confidants? Mr. Kaplan was an integral member of Red’s team. And while she started to question his motives and behaviours, surely she fell into the category of someone who he could try to reason with. Technically Red didn’t kill Mr. Kaplan, as she (yes, she) survived his execution-style gunshot to the head. But she jumped to her own death to avoid the certainty of him finishing the deed.
8 He is Fiercely Loyal to Dembe (Love)
One of the most compelling relationships on the series is that of Red and Dembe. As Red’s loyal right-hand-man, even when Dembe started to question things and went against Red to do what he thought was right for Liz, Red still forgave him.
The pain in Red’s eyes when he lost Dembe was one of the realest moments for the character who often hides his emotions. It’s a different relationship than he has with Liz, and one that clearly means a lot to Red. And that is one of the few things that truly humanizes him.
7 He Often Shows No Mercy (Don’t Love)
Red is a reasonable man, sometimes. But when he feels betrayed, or meets an enemy, he shows no mercy. He has a team of people ready to torture, maim, and kill you if you cross him. And he’s not afraid to do the dirty work himself, either. Sure, this is part of the “job” he holds as a career criminal. But we know Red has a heart, and we’d love for him to show it just a little every now and then for characters like Smokey Putnum. Smokey started using Red’s resources to smuggle drugs when he thought Red was facing almost certain death in the electric chair. Did you really need to throw him out of an airplane window, Red? Sure, you’re not into drug running, but he did think you were about to die, so cut the guy some slack! Everyone deserves a second chance.
6 He is Cunning, Smart, and Well-Connected (Love)
The most impressive thing about Red is just how well he has built his empire. No matter what part of the world you’re in, what tiny hut in an unknown country you might be visiting, he knows someone there. No matter what job you need to have done, whether it’s cleaning up a crime scene or laundering money, he has a guy. He has his finger on the pulse of everything going on in the criminal underworld, with his hand in every major deal as well. Nothing gets past him, and his ability to keep so many trusting (or maybe also fearful) people on his payroll is something at which to marvel. He’s smart and cunning – he’d have to be in order to manipulate law enforcement to do your dirty work, after all!
5 He Often Does Things That Are Almost Completely Self-Serving (Don’t Love)
While Red paints the picture that he’s helping the FBI take down some of the biggest criminals in the world, many of whom they don’t know about, he’s often simply pointing them in the direction of someone who he wants to take down or locate because that person is getting in his way, or has information he needs. Sure, we totally get it. He’s killing two birds with one stone.
And he is, in fact, helping take out criminals. But once, just once, we’d love to see Red help them on completely selfless terms.
4 He Is Chocked Full of Useful Facts and Stories (Love)
From foreign cuisines to art, small unknown towns in the tiniest of countries, historical events, and antiques, Red has acquired a massive repository of facts that make him able to spout off the oddest and more random of details on just about anything. It might be a story about his time in Minsk, or that wonderful ancient tradition that a statue reminds him of. He’s been everywhere and studied everything. He’s well-read and highly cultured, which makes him a fascinating conversationalist with an endless number of entertaining stories to tell.
3 He’s Greedy and Power-Hungry (Don’t Love)
We get it. We’ve seen Breaking Bad. Once you get a taste of power, it’s hard to let it go. Red doesn’t want to be a criminal mastermind, he wants to be the criminal mastermind. And while what he has built is impressive (although the bodies he’s racked up in the process isn’t), Red seems to have more than he could possibly ever need and wants for nothing. Perhaps it’s hard for someone like him to “retire.” But he seems hell-bent on not only revenge, but also having more and more power.
2 Whoever He Is/Was, He Sincerely Loved Katarina (Love)
The latest season sheds some light on who Red really is (or maybe not? The show likes to throw curveballs.) Regardless, whoever he is, it’s clear that he has a genuine love for and sense of duty towards Liz’s mother Katarina. It seems that his affection for and desire to protect Liz is all in the name of Katarina, and the relationship he had with her in the past, whatever the nature. (If you believe the latest theory, he was a childhood best friend who was madly in love with her.) Red is tough on the inside, but if you’re on his short list of VIPs, he will go to the ends of the earth for you.
1 He Refuses to Tell Liz The Truth (Don’t Love)
We get that the entire premise of the series is that Red has a massive secret he’s hiding from Liz that pertains to why he feels the need to protect her and has something to do with his true identity. But come on. What is so incredibly important that he can’t trust Liz with the information? She’s proven herself time and time again to be someone Red can trust. So while it might require that the series go in another direction, we think it’s about time he spills the beans.