In lieu of my recent appearance on a local TV/movies
podcast, where I defended Lizzington, I started mentally preparing a list of reasons why the romantic pairing is
legitimateand why the father/daughter reading of Spader and Boone’s characters is
Granted, this isn’t to say that there can’t and hasn’t been
some aspects of their relationship that have felt more like a father/daughter, uncle/niece,
teacher/student, mentor/mentee relationship than it does a romantic coupling…
but that doesn’t prevent the relationship from evolving into something romantic
later on, or from Lizzington being the endgame.
Among the bigger reasons I could think of were:
In-show evidence (which we will get into more in a second), including the original pilot script
Comments from the actors, producers, writers,
The types of roles James Spader takes interest
in (ie, romantic leads, not fatherly figures)
Parallels to other couples in
literature/history/pop culture, including but not limited to: Edmond
Dantes/Haydee from The Count of Monte Cristo; Bill/The Bride from Kill Bill;
Hannibal/Clarice from The Silence of the Lambs universe; and real-life Whitey
Bulger, who had at least one long-term relationship with a woman 16 years
While talking with the two guys on the podcast who had seen
the show, they argued that they hadn’t seen any evidence of Red’s romantic love
for Lizor the Lizzington endgame possibility, citing their age gap and Red’s
paternal type relationship with Liz as their reasoning.
I, in turn, mentioned a few scenes on the show where Red
acts less than fatherly, such as when he surrenders himself on bent knee in 1x21, and when he narrates the tango milonga very sexily to Liz in 2x11.
Either they didn’t recall these instances at all, or didn’t
see them as being romantic/sexual.
Thus, long after the podcast recording was over, I started
mentally forming a list of the Top 10 Lizzington moments on the show that
scream romance rather than father/daughter. Like, moments where if my dad or
fatherly figures ever acted like that around me, I’d be freaking the fuck out.
Or, moments where if I were writing a father/daughter pair (whether biological or
honorary), I would completely avoid such moments for the squick factor, etc.
Granted, there are plenty of moments to choose from, but I
wanted to pick big, meaningful moments, rather than just things like Red’s
casual reference to the G-spot in front of Liz, etc.
And, really, each individual entry on this list doesn’t
prove in and of itself that Lizzington will happen, but it’s really more a
combination of all these moments PLUS all the ones I didn’t list (along with all the other stuff I mentioned above). One or two
squicky moments can be waved off, but all of these, and as iconic and important
as they are in the show… yeah, Lizzington is legit.
I tried to pick out single, individual moments, but there
are two exceptions on the list. And, I only went up to the end of S4. I haven’t found any really strong Lizzington moments in S5 thus far, mostly because Liz believes Red is her dad.
And, again, these aren’t my favorite Lizzington moments; rather, the ones that I feel like most “prove” or support the idea of a Lizzington endgame/coupling. Once the series is over, I might do a full list of my favorite moments between Red and Liz.
(It wasn’t until after I’d made this list that I remembered the scene in 4x22 where Liz confronts Red about being her dad and he neither confirms nor denies that he is. Instead, he has this look on his face that I’ve seen on the faces of other TV/movie characters when they’ve been “friend-zoned” or, in Red’s case, “father-zoned.” Eh. Whatever. I’m going with the list as I already wrote it.)
But, now, starting at Number 10 and work our
way up to Number 1:
Fulcrum memory extraction scene in 2x10
I put this
one pretty low on the list, because it’s mostly the cinematography that implies
the lack of personal space and physical closeness between Red and Liz. Like, he
never actually does anything untoward or inappropriate to her, but he
definitely gets super close to her face, and holding her, and some of
the angles on those shots make it look so close between them.
And, granted, I’m
not technically including the fall-out of this sequence, but I absolutely love
the scene after when Liz accuses Red of only being in her life because he’s
using her to find the Fulcrum. Like, all of his attention and affection toward
her has been a manipulation, and as he reaches out to give her a reassuring
touch, she recoils and spits venom at him. And he looks absolutely devastated.
I feel like that scene is one of my favorites in the whole series, but, as far
as the entry on this list goes… the closeness between them in that memory
extraction… it’s low down on the list, but, it deserves a spot.
#9: Waiting for her outside the courthouse in 3x10
Again, this is also pretty low on the list, because – in and of itself – it doesn’t scream Lizzington. Not the actual action of the scene itself. I can imagine plenty of dads or father figures waiting patiently outside courthouses for their daughters.
But, it wasn’t really WHAT happened in the scene, but HOW it happened. The music, the fact that the had the bus move, and he was there behind it… a notable romantic trope. The fact that he was waiting OUTSIDE. My dad would absolutely be right inside the door, wanting to see me as soon as possible. Granted, other dads are different, but the music and the staging with the bus were strong factors for this scene being where it is. The looks on their faces when they embrace; the fact that they don’t say anything… again, low down, but it deserves a spot.
explanation of Tom’s betrayal in 2x19
This is another instance where WHAT is happening in the scene isn’t as important as HOW it’s happening. In this instance: HOW Red explains Tom’s betrayal, how he emphasizes that Tom betrayed him because he wanted a life of intimacy and commitment to Liz… and the look that Spader has on his face when he says it. He’s absolutely shattered. It’s something that’s beyond jealousy, I feel like. It’s this sense of complete heartbreak that, not only did Tom achieve something Red now longs for (intimacy with Liz), but that Liz was happy in that life with Tom, even if it was built on a lie. That Red’s loss was Tom and Liz’s gain.
Granted, I don’t think Red was in love with Liz whenever he found out about Tom’s betrayal. He absolutely cared for her and wanted her to be safe. Hence why he felt he had to turn himself in. But, now that Red has met Liz and presumably fallen in love with her, he completely hates Tom for what he did to both Liz and himself; and I think that his obvious devastation over Liz’s discovery that Red initially hired Tom is more because he feels guilty himself, not because Liz now thinks badly of him (again).
This one is low on the list, but I felt like it deserved a spot because I can’t imagine a father or father-figure speaking to his daughter (figure) the way Red does here. I imagine it’d be more like, “Hey, I may have hired your ex-husband, but he was an asshole and betrayed me to save himself and needle his way into your life.” Not the way Spader delivers it… with that emphasis on Tom’s desire to be intimate and committed to Liz.
#7: The dinner date in 1x02
You know, because if I were a dad and I reunited with my long-lost now-adult daughter after years and years, I’d tell her to get dressed up, because I want to take her out to dinner. And then while we’re on said fancy dinner-date, I’ll bring up out of nowhere, and with little to no need,that if anyone asks she’s MY GIRLFRIEND. Squick indeed.
And for those of you who might be saying/thinking, “Yeah, but THEN, he says she can be his daughter.” To which I reply, “THEN WHY EVEN BRING UP THE GIRLFRIEND THING IN THE FIRST PLACE!!!”
When coupled with everything else that happens in that scene: how he whispers, orders her a drink in French (showing off), asks her to profile him, etc., … what father acts like that while on a dinner date with his daughter? Ew.
#6: The May/September reference in 3x05 (and other Blacklisters’ references to Lizzington)
“Some say it’s a daddy/daughter thing; others swear it’s May/September. I prefer to believe it’s a little of both.” –Matias Solomon
This is one of those entries where I’m going to cheat, because while I think Solomon’s quote is the most pro-Lizzington thing a Blacklister has ever said, he’s not the only one to point out Lizzington. From Anslo Garrick to Luther Braxton to Berlin to that lady in the all-woman thief squad to The Director to Madeline Pratt to that annoying FBI agent in S4c to Naomi Hyland.
Liz is Red’s girlfriend, princess, prima ballerina … someone he chose through fate; someone he cares for as much as he care for his wife; someone who blinds him to his passion; someone with whom Red “still has the touch”; someone Red makes feel like she’s the center of the world; someone whose relationship with Red is described as “still the in honeymoon phase”; someone who charmed Liz.
Again, if you’re writing a father/daughter-type relationship: WHY EVEN FUCKING BRING IT UP IN THE FIRST PLACE!!!!
If you’re just trying to throw red herrings at the audience, why do it in that way? And, if anyone points back to Solomon’s quote and says that it’s both, I say: EXACTLY. Red can definitely have a mentoring relationship with Liz and be overly protective of her, while also still being in love with her.
#5: “My life, My heart” in 3x19
What dad, upon watching his daughter die, would describe her as “a woman… who was my life, my heart”? The fact that Red is talking to his own imagination, or at least to a complete stranger makes me wonder why the hell he would ever phrase it so vaguely – instead of saying something more straight-forward, like, “My daughter was my life. My heart is broken now that she’s dead.”
Also, if Red is her dad, why does he feel like killing himself? Yes, his daughter died, but he still has Agnes. Tom be damned; if Red’s her grandfather, he deserves an opportunity to be in her life. No, Red feeling like the love of his life is gone makes more sense. As much as he wants to be, he has no right to be in Agnes’ life if that’s the case, and Tom (as Agnes’ dad) has every right to tell Red to leave them alone.
#4: Surrendering on bent knee in 1x21
Even IF Red doesn’t know he’s related to Liz, the writers HAVE to know. What idiot writes a bajillion-dollar network show and says, “Fuck it, idk how these peeps are connected! We’ll make it up as we go along!” No, the writers absolutely know what the connection is between Red and Liz, and if they were related, there’s absolutely no way they would ever write a scene where the man GETS DOWN ON HIS KNEES after a super-moving monologue about what Liz means to him and how a kiss from a woman making nearly dying well worth it.
I don’t care if he’s just surrendering himself to the authorities. There’s less dramatic, less trope-y, less romance-hinting ways to do it. The fact that he does it so slowly, so meaningfully, never breaking eye contact with her… fucking hell, what dad does that to his daughter? Or what writers would have an unwitting dad act like that with his daughter? Either Red’s fucked up or the writers are, if they’re really and truly related.
And, even if it’s just an honorary father/daughter thing, the point still stands. I have plenty of fatherly figures in my life, and if any of them looked at me the way Red looks at Liz, gets done on his knees and surrenders (to the authorities) in front of me, I’d definitely be weirded out. Remember, that IN-SHOW, Liz already has a fatherly figure: Cooper. I know other people have pointed this out before, but these two men act very differently for both supposedly being fatherly figures in Liz’s life. By contrast, Red is much physically closer, more intimate and more “romantic” (but not like overtly) and in a way more chivalrous than Cooper would ever be. Could you imagine Cooper getting down on his knees as Red does? No, and that’s a good thing.
#3: Sexy tango narration in 2x11
This is another instance where, if you substitute Cooper into this scene in Red’s place, it becomes immediately weird. James Spader can pull it off because he’s James Spader. He’s drawn to characters who are erotic and sensual and intelligent and romantic; or, if they’re not already, he makes them so, because that’s how he is.
I think that maybe has blinded people to how weird and inappropriate this scene would feel if it was a father/daughter or father-figure and his protege (like, with Cooper and Liz). Imagine Cooper saying the same things to Liz in this scene; describing the tango in the exact same way, with the same tone of voice. It’s no wonder James Spader gets a pass. We’ve come to expect the weird and sensual from Red (like the G-spot reference in 1x03), even though it wouldn’t be accepted in everyday conversation. That’s just the guy Red is.
Or is it more that it’s how Red is around Liz? Yes, Red is plenty weird and sensual and stuff around Samar and other people on the show, but he seemingly cranks it up to 11 around Liz.
Definitely not something a father or fatherly figure should do.
#2: The Ugly Fish and North Star monologues in 2x09
People on Tumblr have brought up before Red’s parallels to Edmond Dantes from The Count of Monte Cristo; it makes sense: Red, our anti-hero of the story, has certain parallels to the classical Byronic hero, which Dantes falls into. You know who else is a classic Byronic hero? Mr. Rochester from “Jane Eyre.”
“Jane Eyre,” for those of you who’ve never read it or seen an adaptation of it, is about a young governess fresh out of school who eventually falls in love with her moody but intelligent employer, Mr. Rochester. He tells Jane, after she saves him from a fire, that he knew she would do him good one day, that she would revive some goodness in him. Later, he refers to her as regenerating him with a vengeance and that she would be his means/instrument of salvation, and that he believes she would help him to live in a higher and purer way.
Now, who else does that sound like?
I get that people believe their kids are their saving graces, their second chances, their fresh starts, etc. Hell, one of the reasons The Bride leaves Bill in “Kill Bill” is so she can make a fresh start with their child. But, the way Red words these little speeches, the meaning behind them, how he gazes at her with complete adoration, how frequently he tells Liz that he sees his “second chance” and saving grace, etc. … it seems a little overkill for a parent to do. A simple “I wanted to make a fresh start with you” or whatever would be just fine.
The strong parallels between Red and Byronic heroes like Edmond Dantes and Mr. Rochester – both of whom end up with women who are much younger than them… young enough to be their biological daughters – absolutely make me roll my eyes any time people say that Red’s love for Liz is fatherly, and only fatherly.
Plus, with the North Star scene, that song that plays over the scene also doesn’t exactly scream “platonic” or “familial,” now does it?
I really want anyone who believes Red is Liz’s dad to watch any adaptation of Jane Eyre, or at least the scene where she saves him from the fire, and then rewatch one or both of these TBL scenes, and notice the similarities and parallels. Y’all. It’s like ridiculous how romantic these scenes are.
#1: The sexy dream (“What do you really want?”) in
Because, you know, when I have dreams about my dad or my fatherly figure withholding secrets from me, I imagine him in my hotel room while I’m somewhat scantily dressed and laying on the bed, standing over me and asking in a husky voice, “What do you really want?” This gives us a hint very early in the show that maybe Liz doesn’t see Red as quite so fatherly as some believe. All his little hints and sensual comments… all the lip-staring and meaningful looks between them… Liz’s “I feel possessive of him” and similar comments… all comes to a head here (at least at this point in the show). Already, Liz subconsciously, if nothing else, realizes Red’s love for her is not quite platonic and that he’s a very sensual man who – while he would definitely give his life for hers without a second thought – also sees her as a man sees a woman, not as a friend sees a friend (or honorary father sees an honorary daughter).
Now, I realize that might be unfair, as Liz can’t consciously control her dreams. But the writers can and do. Why write that scene like that? Why stage it in that exact way, with Liz holding onto the headboard of the bed, with Red standing over her? Why have those exact camera movements, with Red coming toward Liz’s bed, and the shot moving down to her legs and then up to her head? Him standing where he was would’ve been just fine, but, no, he comes closer to her while she looks up at him a little bit taken aback.
Also, notice how there’s no wide-shot in that whole sequence with Red standing over Liz’s bed? It’s a panning or moving shot. It’s almost like lingering on this image of Red standing next to Liz’s bed while she’s scantily dressed and asking her what she really wants would be … gasp, sensual! Or I guess even more overtly sensual.
Again, if it’s just the writers trying to throw us off… there are plenty of other ways to do that … there are plenty of other ways to write this scene without any kind of squick factor … if all you wanted was a dream where Liz imagines Red killing Tom to protect his secrets from Liz, then why write it and then SHOOT it as they did? Everything we see and hear on-screen is intentional.
Watching The Blacklist Season 5? Try Blacklist Bingo!
I’ve decided that if I’m going to continue enduring this bane of my TV-watching existence, I might as well have a little fun with it.
Because playing a straight drinking game might give me liver damage and/or leave me too hungover to function at work the next day, I’ve decided to turn the BINGO into a drinking game. My plan: take a sip of beer/cider/mixed drink every time I fill a single slot. Then, take a shot anytime I hit a BINGO.
“Lately, I find the truth has become so elusive, often imaginary. But, in the end, it’s all that we’re left with, isn’t it? What is real, what you can taste and touch and feel. The words that pass between us as we look each other in the eye are all we have to hold onto. The truth.I hold it dear.”
When the show comes back in January, here are some things I imagine will have happened during the 10-month time skip or will happen in the first few episodes back:
Red is raising Agnes. He is Liz’s “dad” and has the time and resources to raise her, with the help of the Task Force and Dembe. (Scottie would also have a pretty good claim as Agnes’ paternal grandmother, but I imagine that the Task Force doesn’t have her contact info, and while Red does, he probably wants to be involved in Agnes’ life without having to share her with Scottie.) I imagine the whole Task Force crew, especially Cooper and Aram, have been making regular visits to check in on Agnes.
Everyone has been checking in on Liz, but none more so than Red. He’s been there at least once a day for a few hours, reading and talking to her.
Red, in addition to raising Agnes and checking in on Liz, has also been rebuilding his empire. While he hasn’t succeeded in tracking down Ian Garvey yet, he has done well in building his capital, resources and contacts back up, to the point where he’s wearing one of his regular suits again when Liz wakes up at the end of 5x08.
Since Liz has been in a coma, Aram has been Red’s go-between for the Task Force. Aram, in S5a, expressed his desire to become a field agent, and he and Red have worked well together in the past. In Liz’s absence, he has a chance to step up and serve as the Task Force’s third field agent. I could also see Red giving cases to Samar or Ressler, since he’s worked with both of them before as well, but Aram seems to be the logical choice.
Aram and Samar are either engaged, married or living together. Seeing Tom die and Liz in a coma has motivated them to cherish each other even more so and they realize now that life is short, so they’ve decided to spend the rest of it together.
Ressler is either off the Task Force or under review or demoted… something like that. It’s been a few episodes since we saw anything about his weird side-plot involving that cleaner guy who was blackmailing him after Laurel Hitchen’s death, so I imagine there’s been some kind of fall-out on that front since Liz has been in a coma. Liz won’t feel comfortable coming back to the Task Force without him, forcing him to rejoin the team and/or get his act together.
Cooper is still Cooper, but, he’s obviously been seriously affected by Liz’s coma and Tom’s death. Like I said above, if Red’s been raising Agnes, Cooper will definitely have been checking on Agnes and make sure Red was doing right by her and not having her around a bunch of criminal stuff, that she’s safe, etc.
Liz is going to have some ridiculous PT and rehab to do before she can come back to the Task Force even part-time, let alone full-time. She might have some brain damage, and her muscles have atrophied severely. I bet that the whole first episode back – which is reportedly a “Cape May”-type episode for Liz – will be focused on her recovery efforts. (If any of you have ever seen “Avatar: The Legend of Korra,” I imagine this will be similar to 4x02 “Korra Alone.”) We might see a time lapse of a few weeks or months over the course of the episode, so that way, the TBL timeline can be caught up to January 2018. (Because, realistically, it should’ve been about February 2017 when Liz and Tom were taken to the hospital.) I also wouldn’t be surprised if she had PTSD, and her recovery takes longer than that first episode back (5x09). I just think that the first episode back will focus almost completely on her recovery, and she’ll slowly integrate back into the Task Force as S5b progresses.
Those are my predictions. Thoughts? Critiques? Predictions of your own?
Along with @reddybear56, I too believe in the Impostor!Red theory more than ever, thanks to last night’s finale. This is the only way to reconcile the inconsistencies that Raymond Reddington is Liz’s dad but our Red is not, and has never lied to her.
I think more stuff in S4 only further confirmed this.
(To clarify, when I say ‘Raymond Reddington,’ I mean Liz’s biological father who died the Night of the Fire; and ‘our Red’ means James Spader’s character who was introduced to us in the pilot episode.)
Operating under the assumptions (as TPTB said multiple times) that Red never lies to Liz and that the Liz-Paternity question was answered in last night’s episode, this can only mean that our Red is an impostor.
Unless the DNA test was tampered with, or the sample from the shirt belonged to someone else, that’s the only way both of the aforementioned ‘assumptions,’ which TPTB have confirmed, can be true.
If I may, @eaglechica19, summarize your original theory just so I can write it out, streamlined, in front of me. Perhaps this will help other people too. Really, I think a lot of confirmation for the theory came from S4c.
(Again: Raymond Reddington = character before the Night of the Fire; and our Red = James Spader’s character)
According to Kaplan’s memories and Katarina’s diary, Katarina had an affair with an American named Raymond Reddington
In Kaplan’s flashbacks, we see Katarina having sex with Raymond Reddington in a car (or at least, that’s who she tells us it is), and we get a quick glimpse of him; he appears to be played by a different actor and not James Spader. However, when Kaplan meets “Raymond Reddington” later in the shadows – which, chronologically, was maybe a year after the Night of the Fire – he IS played by James Spader
Again, in Kaplan’s flashbacks, we find out that Raymond Reddington believes Liz/Masha is his kid and abducts her, forcing Katarina to follow him to America, leading to the famous Night of the Fire
In Liz’s flashbacks in 2x10, we hear her mother arguing with “Raymond” about Liz/Masha and the Fulcrum
Thanks to Liz’s memories and Red’s scars, we know that our Red was there the Night of the Fire; Red’s conversation with Ghost!Katarina confirms that he chose to save Masha rather than Katarina, confirming that, at the very least, he was in their lives at this point in time
In the S2 finale, Liz remembers shooting and killing her father when he and her mother argued the Night of the Fire; Red confirms that her father is dead and, per TPTB, Red does not lie to Liz
Based on all this evidence, we know FOR SURE of four people who were there the night of the fire: Liz’s biological father, who is Raymond Reddington according to the DNA test; Katarina; Liz/Masha; and our Red. Liz’s father died from the gunshot wound and his body was likely still in the house when it burned down.
Kirk is like super-convinced that “Raymond Reddington” had a thing with/for Katarina; once Kirk finds out he himself is not Liz’s/Masha’s father, he automatically wonders whether “Raymond Reddington” is
The real Raymond Reddington being Liz/Masha’s dead father, yet our Red being alive only makes sense under the Impostor!Red theory
Again, all props to @eaglechica19 for her very hard work on this theory, and all the additions she’s made in these past few episodes.
Unless the writers have lied to us, or have changed their minds, this is the only thing that makes sense.