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YMMV / The Blacklist

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  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
  • Anti-Climax Boss:
    • An in-universe example. Reddington has been on the FBI's Most Wanted list for decades, yet at the beginning of the series he surrenders to them without a fight even as a dozen heavily-armed police converge on his position. No doubt they were flabbergasted. In "Anslo Garrick", it's revealed that Red is this to Ressler personally as well, since he spent years unsuccessfully hunting him, even ending a relationship in the process, only for him to allow the FBI to arrest him on his own terms.
    • The Director falls under this as well, unsurprisingly. Despite the fact that he's been the audience figurehead of the Cabal and the primary mastermind, he isn't the type to get his hands dirty, and once the Cabal cuts their ties with him Reddington callously tosses him off a plane.
  • Awesome Music: The ending theme post-Pilot episodes composed by Dave Porter.
    • The use of Johnny Cash's "The Man Comes Around" to underscore Red's Roaring Rampage of Revenge in "The Good Samaritan Killer".
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    • "La Grange" is used when Reddington's child soldier abductors take out a pursuing Humvee in the forests of Cameroon.
    • "You Were Born" is used in the end of "The Front" while Reddington watches an old film reel of his family, which gave him the inspiration to track down his missing daughter.
    • X Ambassadors' The Heist, played to a montage of cases in "The Major".
    • Season 3 opening with The Doors Peace Frog
    • The Season 1 finale uses Pearl Jam's "Just Breathe" and the Season 2 finale uses Elton John's "RocketMan" as its ending themes.
    • Disturbed's cover of "The Sound of Silence" sets the scene for the climax of "Ian Garvey".
  • Base-Breaking Character: Liz Keen and her actress Megan Boone is the major one among fans. A strong, sensitive character or an incredibly incompetent, hysterical weak fool who only gets by courtesy of Reddington? As for Megan Boone, a significant portion of the fanbase consider her inexperienced, wooden and hopelessly out-matched by the more experienced James Spader while some believe she is settling into the role.
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  • Broken Base: Liz's death in "Mr. Solomon" sparked a debate among fans of the show, especially since she was pregnant at the time. Some mention that the writers "killed" her in order to save her for a future arc. Others mention that she (in-universe) faked her death in anticipation of warnings given to her by Red. Rumors started on the internet that Liz may return for the fourth season and the fact that she faked her death was confirmed in the finale.
  • Complete Monster: The Blacklist contains the most dangerous criminals to ever appear on the face of the earth, but there are still a few that manage to stand out above the rest:
    • Floriana Campo, from season 1's "The Freelancer (No. 145)", is one of the worst, despite not even being on the list. She acts as a human rights activist by day, fighting against the Everhardt Cartel, but by night actually runs said cartel, which is one of the largest slave trading cartels in the world. As the leader of the cartel, she has hundreds if not thousands of men, women, and children kidnapped, has her insignia branded on their back, and sells them to her wealthy clients either as sex slaves or as manual labor. Through these methods, she has ruined the lives of many, just so she could make her own life luxurious. When her husband gets too close to discovering the truth, she murders him in cold blood. She has proven to be so vile, even Reddington despises her.
    • Owen Mallory, formerly Michael Shaw, from season 1's "The Cyprus Agency (No. 64)", is No. 64 on the list. He runs a supposed adoption agency called the Cyprus Agency. Initially believing that the Agency kidnaps children just to sell them towards the wealthy, when FBI task force led by Elizabeth Keen delves into the agency's darkest secrets they find out the truth is far worse. Instead of kidnapping children, the agency kidnaps women all over the world regardless of age and puts them into comas, where Owen himself would rape them so they can produce children, even injecting sedatives to prolong the comas and the process. He has done this to many women, and if some of the women die he simply has his employees dispose of them. He also isn't very good to his employees either, as such when he has his employee kidnap a college girl and said employee makes a mistake, Mallory callously shoots him. When Elizabeth finally catches him she sees how many women he kept in comas and raped, which is in the dozens, and those are just the women still alive. When she asks him why he did all this, he says that as a child in the adoption system he felt that he wasn't perfect, and by kidnapping all these women to rape, they could make his children, thus "ensuring his legacy" and making it so he won't feel that way anymore.
  • Critical Research Failure:
    • The LHD vehicles seen in "Alexander Kirk".
    • The episode "Esteban" shows that the setting was in Cuba, but pay attention to the background and you'll see modern vehicles like Hondas and Fords driving by, something that Cuba doesn't have due to years of sanctions.
    • The existence of a ruling Montenegrin Royal Family. Montenegro is a democratic republic, and has only been a kingdom for 8 measly years in its entire history (before, it has been a prince-bishopric first and then, from 1858 to 1910, a principality).
    • When Tom gets his makeover to pose as a German neo-Nazi, he gets a bunch of appriopriate tattoos, including a pretty famous slogan that would best be translated as "Germany to/for the Germans"... except that it was translated quite literally to "Deutschland für Die (sic) Deutschen". Which - apart from the grammar mistake - would look pretty suspicious since the actual slogan is "Deutschland den Deutschen" (accusative case).
    • The German license plate seen in the following episode is even more egregious. While actual plates look like this: [1-3 city code letters] [DMV badge] [2 random letters] [2-4 random numbers], in that order. For Dresden (where this part of the episode takes place), a possible license plate would look like this: DD:PS 814. What we get in the series is DD 17:36F9. Ouch.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • Dembe, Red's bodyguard, may be the quiet one, but he has a loyal fanbase.
    • Mr. Kaplan has her fans too.
    • Matthias Solomon, the Cabal's gleefully sadistic pet sociopath, was so well-received that he not only survived both Tom Keene and Red, he got top billing in the spin-off series, Blacklist: Redemption.
    • Baz as well due to his badass tactics in helping Reddington and the task force out. Many were shocked to see him shot by Kaplan. The producers confirmed that Bazzel Baz won't come back next season.
  • Epileptic Trees: The rather bizarre theory that spawned on Tumblr that Tom Keen and Donald Ressler are actually each other. The theory goes that Tom has a secret ear piece that he uses to communicate with Ressler, and that many of his lines are actually Ressler talking. According to the people who created/believe the theory, this makes Agnes Keen Ressler's daughter instead of Tom's and Liz is actually married to Ressler. There is little to no evidence in the series to support any of this, and the theory is quite widely disputed by other fans on the Internet.
  • Evil Is Cool: Red.
  • Fanfic Fuel: Of what happened to Reddington after he went underground, when did he meet some of the blacklisters like Zamani and why did he make the Blacklist.
  • He's Just Hiding!: After the death of Liz, this became a fairly frequent reaction. The large number of unresolved plotlines relating to her is probably a rather large part of the reason, as is the fact that she's already faked her death once before, as is the fact that killing her off puts this show nearly in Game of Thrones-level Anyone Can Die territory. However, with an entire episode focussing on Reddington's highly OOC grief over her death, it's seeming less likely.
  • He Really Can Act: Elizabeth Lail wasn't too known for her acting. But watch her play the tragic antihero Natalie Luca and you'll see Elizabeth Lail is talented despite being only 24 years old.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: A meta example. In "General Ludd", William Sadler plays a dying man who's confined to a hospital bed. Then, on the Elementary episode "Blood Is Thicker", which was broadcast three days later, Sadler played... a dying man who's confined to a hospital bed.note 
  • Idiot Plot: In the Mr Solomon two-parter the titular Psycho for Hire is hired to kidnap a heavily pregnant Elizabeth Keene alive and unharmed, yet he goes about this by bringing along a team of heavily armed mercenaries and engages her and the rest of the cast in gunfights and car chases, nearly killing the baby and (seemingly) even actually killing Liz. At no point is it brought up that it would have been smarter and safer simply to grab her after she has delivered her child, especially since nobody even knew she was a target until the end of that first episode.
  • Jerkass Woobie: Mark Hastings (the "pardoned" victim) in "The Judge." Sure, he corruptly railroaded an innocent man, and his own captor is a sympathetic Anti-Villain; but still, his utterly broken state now is extremely hard to watch, especially whenever his innocent family (who have spent over a decade worried about him) are around. Thankfully, his final shot shows him gradually getting better.
  • Just Here for Godzilla: James Spader's performance as Raymond Reddington is widely touted by fans and critics as a major highlight and one of the only things holding the show together.
  • Magnificent Bastard: Raymond "Red" Reddington starts the show by turning himself over to the FBI to assist them in taking down a supposedly-dead terrorist, who is just the first out of many in the eponymous Blacklist. He follows that up by constantly manipulating the Feds and criminals to pursue his own agendas. Raymond goes against the worst criminals in the world, constantly outplaying them and leading them to ruin while working towards his own master plan, using others as bait or pawns in his schemes. In one famous incident, he outwits human trafficker Floriana Campo and leaves her poisoned out of his revulsion towards her business, but not before destroying her good name and watching her beg for her life. Despite his ruthlessness, Raymond truly respects those who work for him and cares greatly about series heroine and FBI agent Elizabeth. A man with nerves of steel, Reddington rarely ever loses his temper or composure, frequently playing cop and criminal for his own mysterious ends.
  • Memetic Mutation: In the forums, someone who's seen the show will quote Reddington's lines.
  • Narm Charm: The show runs on it. Campy super villains, not so stellar special effects, the FBI are a bunch of blundering pawns and the main protagonist is a charismatic, wealthy, well dressed Affably Evil Anti-Hero who is almost constantly successful at manipulating American law enforcement into doing what he wants.
  • Older Than They Think: In "Eli Matchett" The idea that a corporation letting out a virus to wipe out crop only to miraculously save the world with a crop that is immune to the virus was done in an episode of Leverage.
  • Paranoia Fuel:
    • In "Dr. Linus Creel", Keen and Ressler track down a creepy Psycho Psychologist who goes about deliberately sabotaging people's entire lives as part of sick experiment. And the creepiest part is, it's all funded by The Government. It doesn't help that many people believe the idea that The Government caused the spike in mass shootings as a way to justify their stronger laws on gun control.
    • The whole situation with Lord Baltimore is something that could theoretically happen to anyone under the right circumstances. You could very well be a Split Personality being used as a cover by a criminal-for-hire and you would have no way of knowing. Have fun with that idea.
    • The assassination method used by Karakurt when he uses his hands to transmit a fatal virus.
    • The reveal on Reddington when it's revealed that the Reddington from season 1 is not the real person, but a fake.
  • Plot Armor: Crap on a spatula, if Liz didn't have this she'd be dead. Picking up the Idiot Ball and being Too Dumb to Live are practically character traits for her.
  • Portmanteau Couple Name: So many.
    • Lizzy + Red = Lizzington
    • Keen + Ressler = Keenler
    • Ressler + Red = Resslington
    • Dembe + Red = Dembington
    • Samar + Aram = Saram
  • The Scrappy:
    • Tom and Elizabeth Keen along with the FBI task-force. A portion of the fan-base immensely dislikes the plots regarding the Keen's domestic troubles having claimed that they are a side-show which distracts from the main plot featuring Reddington. As for the FBI task-force criticism was directed at how some of the characters were under-used or boring in comparison to Red. Agent Ressler in particular gets this due to his Jerkass tendencies. Megan Boone's performance as Liz Keen is a massive sticking point. A significant portion of the fan-base believes she's a inexperienced, wooden actor who does not match the formidable James Spader during their scenes together while the other section disagrees and thinks she needs more time to settle into the role.
    • Madeleine Pratt. A whole lot of Character Shilling leading to a whole lot of Informed Ability. The show tries to show her as a Chessmaster above almost all others, but everything shown on screen is disappointing and not as impressive as the show seems to think it is. She's also the first Blacklister to get away at the end of the episode, despite an embarassingly weak showing.
  • Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped: Basically the case in "The Mombassa Cartel" which is at times comes close to being a PSA about the illegal poaching and animal trading industry.
  • Special Effect Failure: Any time there's Stuff Blowing Up (and since this is an crime action-drama, that happens quite a lot), the CGI is painfully bad. Case in point: the plane bombing at the start of "General Ludd."
    • Three words: Megan Boone's wig. It was subject to much mockery during the first season (including one poll on whether it should have its own credit) and was ditched after the season two opener when Boone was able to switch to her own hair.
  • Spoiled by the Format: Somewhat averted with this show's use of two-parters with a single Blacklist Name - despite the Antagonist Title, the show avoids using "Part 1" and "Part 2" to differentiate multi-parters, which are instead titled normally for the first episode (eg: "[Insert Name] ([Insert #]); after the episode ends on a cliffhanger however, the 2nd part uses "Conclusion" in place of the number. This enabled the show to surprise people when "Anslo Garrick" took two episodes to resolve (despite being a Mid Season Finale, it was still something that hadn't been done before on the show), and would help the writers if, in the future, they pulled another two-parter for a villain at an unexpected time in any future season).
  • Strangled by the Red String: Samar and Ressler hook up at the end of "Zal Bin Hasaan" with little build-up. This was seen as a bizarre move by audiences, because of both romantic undertones she already had with characters who weren't him, especially Aram.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character: Some people felt like this in relation to Anslo Garrick, who was quite an interesting and fearsome antagonist killed way too early. Subverted, however, with Berlin (the first blacklist name who was still loose after his Antagonist Title episode ended), and also with Fitch, in hindsight - he dies in his title episode, but we didn't know he was on the Blacklist - thus, his Arc got some decent mileage and development, building it up until its intended conclusion.
    • One episode featured beloved character actor William Sadler as Liz's adoptive father, but he died in that same episode. There is always the possibility of flashback though.
    • Reddington's associate Grey was killed off midway through Season 1 after a revelation that he was (unwillingly) serving as The Mole to Red's enemies
  • Unintentionally Sympathetic: Stewmaker. Despite being a hired corpse-dissolver for various criminals, he still doesn't kill any of said victims himself — and even when he eventually does attack someone (Liz) directly, at least there's still no real indication that he's going to actually dissolve her antemortem. Therefore, some fans can't help but agree with Liz's You Monster! reaction to Red ultimately dissolving Stewmaker alive in his own acid, which is supposed to come off as a Kick the Son of a Bitch moment instead. It also doesn't hurt that Stewmaker is genuinely Affably Evil, has an Obliviously Evil mindset regarding his reputation on the Blacklist, and literally invokes Pet the Dog toward his — well — dog.
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic: Liz. Sure she gets dragged into a world which she has no experience in surviving but portions of the fan-base loathe her due to her perceived incompetence, emotional nature which causes her major mistakes and the fact she constantly gets played for a fool by Reddington despite attempts to play up her status and skills can be rather grating to some viewers. Also, her seemingly constant reliance on a male character to function whether on the job or in her personal life has made the portion of the fan-base which dislikes her consider her a weak character.


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