Hello there. I'm fairly new to The Blacklist, and I don't ship, but frankly speaking, I don't understand why daddybaiters are so insistent of Red being Liz's father figure after they debunked that he isn't her father in the finale, both on and off the screens? I've read some posts commenting Liz needs a father figure, but I don't think it's true. Sam is her father. She loves him dearly, and I don't think she'd ever want to replace him. Why can't Red be her friend or partner, but a father figure?
I honestly don’t understand it, personally. I think a lot of it comes from people who assumed he was her biological father based on first glance assumptions, and fueled by the opaque, non-committal and at times wildly vacillating writing of the last season and a half. And when it was made clear over and over that they are not related, a lot of people, while accepting that, decided that at least his feelings must be paternal, right?
And yes, he is incredibly protective of her, but he is also incredibly protective of Dembe, and Kate Kaplan. He is fiercely protective of the people he cares about, and I don’t think he has any particular paternal feelings for them… Besides, if he really was trying to offer ~fatherly guidance in her life, feel like he would be way less into her embracing her criminal tendencies, or way less likely to send her after dangerous monsters on his list. Or at least, he would sent her after them with a huge amount of trepidation.
Red has this huge amount of respect for Liz and her abilities. He sees her as a kindred spirit, not a protegee but someone who just completely fascinates him. I don’t think his protectiveness comes from a place of being a mentor or thinking that she has ~so much to learn from him, I think it comes from this incredible knightly devotion – and i get, that this is not the kind of love that people are at all familiar with anymore – where he sees her a precious, and someone to look up to. He feels she just innately deserves his devotion and support, and he gives it, not like a fatherly hand on her head, steering her, but as a kind of supplication.
She is to set all the terms, he offers himself up to her, the only things he holds back are those things that would cause her immeasurable harm but every other resource and part of himself he offers up for her to use however she well.
Not to mention that as father figures go, Red is profoundly unqualified. He’s self destructive, brilliant but impulsive, immature and emotionally stunted, attention starved to the point that he interactions with people are disordered, very much all or nothing. Not to mention that for that kind of mentee/mentor, paternal or avuncular bond to be on the table between Red and Liz, Liz would have had to spend far, far less time thinking he was untrustworthy and fearing he was manipulative.
fundamentally, I don’t feel that Red is in that kind of benign but dominant role of father figure dispensing wisdom. He started by offering up information to prove his value, like some kind of modern, middle aged Scheherezade. But despite the fandom opinion that is kind of withholding figure with so much power over Liz (I respect your alpha male Jareth/Mr. Rochester/Beauty and the Beast fantasy, and I do agree that there are certainly a number of parallels, see my Beauty and the Beast Myths and Red and Liz essay: http://hideous-fish.tumblr.com/post/109389264556/liz-red-and-beauty-and-the-beast-myths-the-new, but at the same time it’s not really an accurate snap shot of their dynamic) I really think that Lizzie is the one who is in the emotionally dominant role.
Liz may feel that she’s been jerked around by Red and to an extent she has, but also to an extent she has also done this to herself (and Red, by extension) in trying to prove that he has some dark, complicated motive instead of the reasons he’s given her (that he thinks she’s great, he thought she was in danger, and he wants her to be happy) because that just can’t be it, right? He’s dangerous everyone says so. And also because she is terrified and angry about how much he adores her and she really did not want to end up caring about him (sorry, Liz i think you’re a little late on that one, though she has actually admitted it which is huge) she has flatly refused to take any of the roles toward Red that he has made clear are open to her. She’s tried a few of them out, muddying the water but has reverted to flat denial multiple times. (though I feel hopeful that she may have finally, finally started to accept her reality and her feelings? At least I feel that that was the statement made by the end of the finale). But, to be clear, I think their power structure is turbulent but I don’t think Red is in that kind of fixed dominant role of “father figure.” And that, much more the ~threat to the perception of the ship~ the idea presents. It’s such a misreading of who Red is and who Liz is and how they interact with each other and with other people around them.
Of course these interesting characters are lumbered with at time truly shitty writing and at times merely mediocre writing, so I can see, sort of, how people who are not very literate in power dynamics and who looked first at the respective ages of the actors and thought ‘well of course, why else would he possibly care so much?’ I can see why they might have gotten there in the first place. I just don’t see how they stuck with that idea as it evolved to a “surrogate” rather than literal and the show (Spader and his acting and rewrites really) revealed a different a different kind of person than they were expecting. So. this has gotten away from me a little, but in summation, I can see where the casual assumption was generated in the first season with so many unknowns but I honestly don’t understand the persistence of the “father figure” relationship theory, and it smacks of agism to me to overlook Red’s actual character in favour of the role his age suggests.
On the other hand, while I do ship them fully romantically and as an attraction based ship, I do think the platonic, Courtly Love aspects of their relationship are so rare and valuable and I would love to see them expanded on in show and in fic. I want to see that just as much as ~traditional romance, if not more. Although not to capitalize on their wonderful chemistry would be a crime, imo ;)