Over the course of its first two seasons, The Blacklist has proven to be a consistent ratings success for NBC. Thanks in large part to the performance of star James Spader, the show has managed to maintain an audience, even in the face of cancellations for its fellow crime drama/thrillers, such as The Following and Hannibal.
Since it began, The Blacklist has perpetuated an ongoing sense of mystery - and in the recent season 2 finale, one central question was finally answered (or was it?). Now fans of the show have a better idea of what to expect when the show returns for its third season next month (at the time of writing this).
According to TVLine, the show's narrative will be largely focused on the hunt for Liz (Megan Boone) and Red (Spader), resulting in a more serialized approach than the show has traditionally employed to tell its story. In addition to self-contained story elements, the TV show will develop the central relationship between its two leads, according to series creator Jon Bokenkamp (who says the season 3 premiere "feels like a pilot" in its own way). Here is Bokenkamp's take on the Liz/Red dynamic:
"There's a really strange and powerful dynamic that [Red and Liz] have. Their resources are so incredible, and they complement each other in a really nice way."
The Blacklist executive producer John Eisendrath also informed TVLine that when season 3 first gets underway, "we are focused entirely on the present" - meaning, those hoping for more insight into Liz's relationship with Red and their shared history together will have to wait longer for answers. As has been mentioned in articles past, there's fair reason to question whether or not there's more than meets the eye to what the season 2 finale revealed about Liz' history; for the time being, however, the answer provided by that episode will have to suffice.
We've already voiced our issues with the show's tendency to overextend its central mysteries, but the move towards a more serialized - and potentially more cohesive - storytelling approach could bring The Blacklist one step closer to resolving some of those lingering problems (and honing in on the most successful elements the show has to offer). As it stands, some viewers may be growing weary of the "more questions than answers" style the series has relied on thus far.
From an industry standpoint, the timing for a more focused Blacklist season narrative couldn't be better. The Netflix model has certainly changed the way many viewers are now used to consuming their television entertainment. There appears to be far more audience engagement and retention than ever before regarding plot developments - and less patience for episodes that essentially amount to filler - than ever before. Much as shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. benefited from a move to more serialized storytelling, so too does The Blacklist stand to gain from the shift.
The Blacklist returns for season 3 on Thursday, October 1 at 9pm on NBC.