The real heroes of The Blacklist don’t get the credit they deserve. The FBI task force team formed when wanted man Raymond “Red” Reddington (James Spader) surrendered to authorities. The deal guaranteed Reddington would receive immunity in exchange for his “blacklist” of underground criminals on one condition: that he’d only speak with new profiler Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone). The season 8 finale revealed Boone’s exit from the series, so where does that leave the task force team?
‘The Blacklist’ task force team came together for a common goal
When The Blacklist first premiered in 2013, there was no Raymond Reddington task force team to speak of. The pilot episode began the series of events from Reddington’s surrender to the formation of a secret task force team. The intent was that they’d become Reddington’s points-of-contact for the duration of their working relationship in the most confidential way.
In the beginning, the team looked a lot different than what it is today. Different faces — such as confirmed mole Meera Malik (Parminder Nagra) — were commonplace until a few episodes in. She appeared in 21 episodes before her character was killed off. Aram Mojtabai (Amir Arison) didn’t debut until season 1 episode 3 and appeared in 170 episodes so far. Donald Ressler (Diego Klattenhoff) and Harold Cooper (Harry Lennix) have worked with the team for 174 episodes with leads Reddington and Keen, while Dembe Zuma (Hisham Tawfiq) appeared in 172 series episodes.
The point of the team only remains relevant as long as Reddington keeps up his end of the deal. Considering all that happened in season 8 between Reddington and Liz, what will become of the task force?
Will the FBI task force disband?
The season 8 finale “Konets” ended with the shocking death of Liz while Reddington and Dembe escaped just before the task force team arrived. However, before things played out the way they did, Cynthia Panabaker (Deirdre Lovejoy) ordered the task force to disband, Liz scrubbed, and Reddington kicked loose.
We now know that Liz was shot and (allegedly) killed which leads to a few key points: Reddington’s motivation for working with the FBI is no longer valid which also means the task force team is unnecessary. If things stand as Panabaker ordered, Ressler, Mojtabai, Cooper, and Alina Park (Laura Sohn), might be in trouble when season 9 returns. Their work helping Reddington could also put their own freedoms on the line.
After working with a most-wanted criminal for years, could the task force team be forced into going on the run as well?
Season 9 opens up new possible storylines
The upcoming season will likely come with a few changes. Since the exit of series creator Jon Bokenkamp (and Boone), the remaining showrunner John Eisendrath could choose to re-brand The Blacklist in some ways. Depending on how writers decide to address Reddington’s true identity, there may also be consequences for Liz’s death — including the termination of the task force team.
This could either lead to each of them working in different sectors of the FBI or moving away from law enforcement altogether. Ressler will likely take Liz’s death the hardest, blaming Reddington and seeking him out for revenge. Or, the team in its entirety could, as stated above, be scrubbed and they’ll all be “on the run.”
The possibilities for season 9 are endless as there are just too many directions writers could go. Regardless, we’ll be ready when the premiere drops on its new night this fall.
The Blacklist returns on Thursday, Oct. 21, on NBC.
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