We’ve been played. We’ve been cheated. We’ve been robbed. And the funny thing about is: every part of the fandom has been played, robbed and cheated. You know who you are – the shippers, the theorists, the viewers who have been there for almost a decade, those who really were invested in this show. Lizzingtons, Keenlers, Redarinas, Daddygaters, Agnesgaters – every single part of the fandom feels being played. There’s a simple a reason for that: We HAVE BEEN played.
It’s important for me to state this over and over again, it’s kind of a disclaimer, because when I get into the topic now, it’s necessary for you to keep in mind that I’m very well aware of this fandom is structured, how it worked and how I am definitely aware of the different ships and theories. In case you wonder: I have been a Redarina since season 3. Nooo, please don’t leave the page now, please. Don’t feel offended, either. For me, Redarina has never been a SHIP, it has never been true that I WANTED Red to be Katarina, there were definitely no feelings involved on my part. It’s just, that to me – it seemed most logical that only a mother or a father would go this far to protect their child. Cape May had me wondering early and the reveal that those bones in the suitcase were from RRR sealed it for me. Red couldn’t be anyone but Katarina. I never considered this „truth“ to be argued, it was just MY idea, the only logical answer I could come up with. From the clues, the dialogues, the hints and the plots we were presented through the years – I also DO understand Daddygaters, Agnesgaters, Lizzingtons. Why? Because we all have been played. (disclaimer) (Oh, and I do know that part of the fandom wanted Liz Keen dead; there you go: Congratulations!)
So, I want to take a look at „Konets“, the final episode of season eight, the final episode of Megan Boone as Liz Keen and the final episode of creator and showrunner Jon Bokenkamp.
I still have major problems to organize and sort all the different problems of the episode in my head. So I am going with a list to keep it straight in a way – and from there I am going to refer to prior episodes and plot arcs.
1.) LIZ’S MOOD CHANGES
Yeah, that started early, right? She was like tossing and turning in seasons 1 and 2 already, but when she faked her death with help of Mr. Kaplan – this was the first nail in the coffin. She turned against Red to protect her child for the very first time. They came to terms with each other again (kind of) when he saved her from Alexander Kirk (in a way). After that, those bones suddenly appeared and when Tom and Liz decided to find out what’s going on there and first Mr. Kaplan and then Tom died – she turned against him AGAIN (for the second time) and promised at Tom’s grave to make him suffer for all the lies he told her. Wait for it, yes, wow, Liz made another flip-flop again after she managed to get Red to jail and presented with a death sentence, followed by a weird, yeah, another turn, „I love you“ confession at the most improper time. Eventually, Red got released and until he found out that it was her who brought him to prison in the first place; things went dark again. By then, everything was already a terrible mess and things didn’t exactly get better when fake Katarina Rostova entered the scene. By then, the character of Elizabeth Keen had been slaughtered to death so many times, that there wasn’t even blood left to give. Actually, when I read in short how many time we’ve been through this – it reads like coming directly from a soap opera.
In 19,5 of 22 episodes in season 8 we were made believe that Elizabeth is really ready to take Red down. Yet, whenever she had the chance to kill him, she didn’t. I find it extremely inconsistent by the writers, however, that they went through with the car bomb thing. If you want to tell a story of a grown woman, ready to go to extremes to get answers, then please please do it with consistency and decency towards the character. We never got to know her real thoughts and feelings in this time. They just totally forgot, missed or didn’t care to tell us what is going on in Liz’s head. That said, it feels even weirder that some paranoid hallucination of Mr. Kaplan suddenly appeared at one point of season 8. Why? We never were presented a reason for this, we never got to know what it means. All we knew was that Liz wasn’t capable to kill Red, all her gathering money, intel and staff was worth nothing in the end. The writers told us that Liz is finally determined to end all this, they fed us this narrative 19,5 episodes of 22. We got 1,5/2 episodes of her being confused as fuck, because Red saved her life a few times and promised answers. She still seemed angry at him, hostile, not ready to forgive him – but of course she was still curious about these answers she never got in 8 years.
Entering „Konets“, I eventually was at a complete loss regarding her mood, her character. What was this? No more anger or doubts? He tells her this story in that bunker in Latvia and everything we were led to believe for 19,5 episodes is gone within a few days? Holding hands, spending a day in the park, sharing ice cream, playing with Agnes, just BE, like nothing ever happened? To be honest: This scene pissed me off big time, because I already suspected what was coming. It pissed me off even more, though, because I couldn’t relate to it anymore. I couldn’t feel it. If you know very much from the beginning of a season, that your lead actress is opting out, you can’t tell the rest of the story like THAT. We got eight years of build-up, eight years of carefully told stories, ambiguous dialogue – and all we get to say good-bye is THIS? What was that supposed to even mean? I can even imagine the writers plotting this.
„Nah, when Liz has to die, we GOT to give the fans SOMEthing, some bliss, just to show, everything was fine in the end.“ Spoiler: Everything was not fine in the end.
I get that many people were pissed at Liz for flip-flopping ALL THE TIME. In hindsight, it seems that this was the only plot twist they had in stock for her. Whenever the story didn’t move along well anymore, someone must have said: „Let’s Liz go against Red.“ I totally agree with those who admitted to her DESERVING the answers. She did deserve those answers, she was right to go against him, she was right to be angry – but not like a DOZEN times, over and over again.
So, 08×22 just repeated one of the worst mistakes that The Blacklist has made through the years – the mistake of turning a lead character around to make a plot work. Them walking hand in hand through Central Park? Sorry, I didn’t buy it after she planted a bomb on a car, let part of a hospital explode, hijacked a plane (kind of) and stole money from him. She went to extreme lengths to reveal he is N-13. Of course she would spend a sunny day in the park with him and her child after he saved her life twice or three times even. Not. I don’t think I have ever seen a female lead character on a network tv show that has been dishonored and written to death more than Elizabeth Keen. For the sake of a story that didn’t even work out in the end.
The writers dumbed Liz Keen down whenever they needed it: trusting a complete stranger that moved in next door with her child and her life, believing her when she said „I’m your mother“ without ANY doubt and not even trying to comprehend what Red was REALLY saying in the park when he said „I was there“ and „You wouldn’t kill me if you knew who I am.“ Come on, people. (okay, this is going too much in the Redarina direction, forgive me.)
2.) THE LETTER
Don’t get me even started on the letter/envelope. It’s not so much about what was IN there but how it was presented and the terms it came with: „Kill me and you receive a letter by your mom with the final reveal.“ I have never known Red to be that cruel towards Liz. Given the thought that Red indeed IS Katarina: What mother would make her daughter kill her? What mother wouldn’t even consider a second that said daughter already shot her father? This was a very out of character move for Red, and I want to blame the writers for it, because apparently there were changes done to the script, and I really don’t want to believe that this was the original idea. Red kills people, Red is a criminal, but Red would NEVER torture Liz this way. (Again, only theorizing, but IF Red is Katarina: How selfish can a mother be to finally reveal to her daughter after eight years that she’s been the guy Liz worked with all along, never giving her the time or a chance to really re-unite, to share a life in a way, to talk about all this, to make amends??)
Another plot hole I have spotted: Liz could have easily stolen that envelope. I don’t really get why she didn’t, but maybe I should go back to reading 1.) in this text.
Whatever was in this envelope: It doesn’t matter now, because Liz is supposedly dead, if the writers don’t decide to rectify their mistake and un-do this bs decision to kill her off; which brings me to 3.): continuity.
3.) CONTINUITY/LIZ’S AND RED’S ARC
I can’t really get my head around the reason for killing Liz before she got not only all her answers but also a bit more time with Red. This show is dark, I know that, but the ending is no less like a soap-opera than any other exit they could have plotted for Liz.
Do you remember why you got hooked on the show in the first place? I know that many came for James Spader, stayed for James Spader and this is it. But there also many people out there who came for the story. The seed was planted in the pilot: Who is Red Reddington? Why would he suddenly appear at the FBI and work with federal agents? Why would he only speak to Elizabeth Keen? Who is he to her? What’s his ulterior motive? Why did he enter her life? I was hooked on getting answers to those questions from the very beginning. I have only been in this fandom for two years and right now I am happy that I didn’t spend EIGHT years waiting for answers we would never get – or rather that LIZ would never get. Yes, Jon Bokenkamp always stated that the story is over as soon as Red’s identity has been revealed. But his identity hasn’t been revealed in a CLEAR, DIRECT manner. It just hasn’t. Nobody said the words, nobody answered questions – instead Liz Keen died, probably knowing and figuring who he was, while drawing her very last breath. This doesn’t do the story justice, it just doesn’t. It’s not how you go out as a showrunner.
If any screenwriter or network out there wants my advice: go through with your original story. Don’t waver, don’t hesitate, piss people off, piss parts of the fandom off, but please stay consistent, don’t sacrifice your story or your characters, don’t stretch it out longer than necessary, even if the makes you more money than you ever thought. It’s the STORY, not the business – that’s just my point of view. But we, US, the fandom, we came for the story, not for the money.
So, at the end of season 1 we knew that Red answered Liz’s question if he his her father with a clear NO. At the end of season 2 nothing mattered, because we got the best episodes up to 3.10/3.11 the show ever brought to light (yes, saying this as Redarina, I do). At the end of season 3, another dad had appeared out of the blue and we were confused. At the end of season 4 we knew that the real Raymond Reddington was Liz’s father. By the end of season 5 some suitcase bones proved that RRR was dead. After six years Liz had finally come to terms with him being elusive and seemed to be fine with not knowing. BTW: I might consider this as natural ending to the canon, if I may.
The deception went on and on and on – and we never got ANY answer. To be honest: After Rassvet and Requiem, Nachalo could also only be another story told to Liz by another person trying to deceive her. It probably isn’t – but I am trying to make a case here: the answers are too little, too late, too weak after eight years.
Didn’t we deserve Red and Liz be on good terms for a bit more than a three minute scene in Central Park that didn’t even make sense? They killed all of what was left of their dynamic in seasons 7 and 8 just to give us three minutes in Central Park like what – a band aid?
4.) DEMBE’S WORDS
Yes, there was a burn notice on Liz, but Red didn’t even KNOW that, because Cooper hadn’t told him. I agree that some solution for Liz and Agnes had to come up. I agree that it was a good idea to make her Red’s successor. But why NOW? I got totally confused when Dembe stated that Red’s bloodwork showed improvement and he wasn’t about to die anytime soon. There was no need to rush things like that. Like „Kill me tomorrow, please.“ Why? It would have been much more realistic for him to show her to the details of his empire, to like breaking her in. It didn’t make any sense that way it was presented.
5.) KILLING OFF LIZ KEEN
With Megan Boone leaving the options for Liz’s character were few. I get why they maybe didn’t consider to „transform“ her like Red – to make her a new person with new looks and re-cast Liz Keen. Megan Boone is Liz Keen, always have, always will.
Yet, it would have made much more sense to send her off with Agnes. Hidden, safe. But that would have meant to make Red say out loud who he was… right? And the network just couldn’t handle this, as a season 9 is already announced and confirmed and they would fear people not watching anymore once they knew. I got news for you: I am pretty sure you lost lots of viewers after ending it like you did. So, it probably was a lose-lose situation, which makes me even sadder, because what was there to lose anyway?
And speaking from a female perspective: Any plans to have a new female lead next season? I mean, right now it’s five guys and one woman – who – to be honest – only has like three or four lines here and there.
6.) BEING PLAYED
I guess sooner or later we have to face the fact that we all have been played. EVERY ship, EVERY theory. Lizzingtons were made to believe there was sexual tension and a romantic love between Red and Liz, at least up to 03×11. There are still daddygaters out there as well, in absolute denial regarding the fact that the Real Raymond Reddington has been dead for a long time. Daddygaters, you didn’t get played, you just live in denial, sorry.
The ship they played the cruellest way possible are the Keenlers, tho. „It’s a story that’s been years in the making“ is writer English for „We already knew Megan would be leaving, so this was the last chance to show some sweet Keenler before killing Liz, hahahaha.“ It means you got played.
The Redarina theorists might have gotten their reveal to some level, yes, but it wasn’t clear enough and Liz is dead now. So nothing matters anyway. We got played.
I have been in some discussions on Twitter and Facebook since Thursday, Lizzingtons presenting lots of evidence and proof – and yes, when I read those lines from the show or the notes in the script – it IS there, written down. (I just never saw and felt it, but that doesn’t matter here). It’s there and it means – you got played.
I can’t remember the last time I have witnessed that a tv show fandom has been fucked over by TPTB (sorry, language) in such a disrespectful, despicable way.
I am raging and will be for many more weeks until, of course, I will give season 9 a shot for sure. But I am not fine with this, and I want Elizabeth Keen to be saved. I don’t have to see her again, I just want to know that they came in time to save her and sent her off with Agnes.