[SPOILERS for those not caught up on The Blacklist season 3 ahead]
NBC drama The Blacklist suffered a ratings slide last season, when the show shifted from a Monday to a Thursday primetime slot. The bad news included a full point drop on average in the coveted 18-49 advertising demo, and it hasn't recovered in season 3.
The good news is that The Blacklist does fairly well on a night with lower ratings for NBC overall, and the delayed-viewing numbers double the targeted demo total. Fans are still interested in catching up with the character Raymond "Red" Reddington (James Spader), a fugitive on the FBI's most-wanted list who turned himself in to help the agency locate other major criminals. His ulterior motives included getting close to young agent Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone), though his true relationship to her parents and tragic past hasn't yet been fully revealed.
We now know there will be plenty of episodes to unravel more of the mysteries surrounding Red. As Variety reports, The Blacklist has been renewed by NBC for Season 4. The news was relayed by show creator Jon Bokenkamp, somewhat offhandedly in an interview podcast entitled The Blacklist Exposed:
"We knew about that a while ago, it’s one of those things that's hard to keep quiet. But yes, we're renewed through the fourth season."
The plot has shifted drastically this season, with Red helping Liz live the fugitive life after she killed a Cabal member and was framed for killing an innocent senator. The two have been pursued with varying degrees of enthusiasm by Keen's former colleagues, who have gradually begun to turn on one another. The fall finale episode "Kings of the Highway" ended with Samar (Mozhan Marnò) fired, ex-boss Harold Cooper (Harry Lennix) and wife Charlene (Valarie Pettiford) on the run with Liz's ex Tom (Ryan Eggold), and Deputy Attorney General Reven Wright (Adriane Lenox) dead.
When season 3 of The Blacklist returns next year, we'll also find out what happens to Keen now that she's been captured by Agent Ressler (Diego Klattenhoff). In the podcast interview, Bokenkamp reminded viewers that our heroine killed a man in cold blood, and her journey to the dark side "may just be getting started." He promised the return of Samar, as well as a possible surprise visit from a season 1 character.
Red's master plans will also continue to unfold, which is the main reason fans tune in to The Blacklist. Whatever else is going wrong on the less-than-perfect series, Spader's character charms viewers each week from the very first word of those great, often sinister non sequitur stories he tells before doing something amazing. The show has excelled by putting Red and Liz together for so much of the plot this season, in Red's world. Hopefully the latest twist in their drama won't keep them apart for very long.
The Blacklist returns to NBC on Thursday, January 7th, 2016 at 9/8c.