SPOILER ALERT: The story includes details about the Season 8 finale of NBC’s The Blacklist.
There is a saying in Russian, “Не бойся начала, а берегись конца,” which roughly translates as “Don’t be afraid of the beginning but look out for the end.” The Season 8 finale of NBC’s The Blacklist, whose two parts were named “Nachalo” and “Konets”, The Beginning/Начало and The End/Конец in Russian, lived up to that with a promising “Nachalo” and a heartbreaking “Konets,” capped by the death of one of the show’s main characters, Megan Boone’s Elizabeth “Liz” Keen. Tonight’s closer marked the final appearance on the show for Boone who has been the female lead of The Blacklist opposite James Spader for eight seasons.
Megan Boone Reflects On ‘The Blacklist’ Run As She Leaves NBC Series: “What a Dream”
In “Nachalo”, Raymond “Red” Reddington (Spader) took Liz (Boone) to the home base of his spy operation in Latvia to give her answers about her past. Liz got a lot of them but she also inadvertently brought along Neville Townsend (Reg Rogers) who used the tracker he had put on her to follow the duo. Liz was shot in the exchange of fire, while Neville and his crew were killed when Red released a highly flammable gas after locking himself, Liz and Dembe (Hisham Tawfiq) in an underground bunker.
“Konets” starts with the trio emerging from the bunker and Dembe using a fingerprint to confirm that Neville is dead. Liz’s wound is not life-threatening and she quickly recovers while Red’s attention focuses on the power struggle Neville’s death is about to unleash, with a slew of crime lords vying for his throne.
Red visits Harold (Harry Lennix) to hand him the files on the top contenders and to tell him that he is dying and wants to install Liz as his heir because he fears that, as a fugitive, she will be vulnerable and one of their enemies will eventually track her and her daughter Agnes down. Harold is on board, telling Red that he could get Liz immunity as his successor. When Dembe, after the meeting, contends that his medical tests have been showing improvement, Red dismisses his objections, saying that death is just taking a pause but is still inevitable.
Liz’s own plan for her and Agnes is to leave for Europe and disappear. She rejects Red’s idea for her to replace him which involves her executing him to show anyone that she is “a force to be reckoned with.”
In the meeting, Red also shows Liz a letter from her mother which promises to answer the biggest remaining questions: who is the the man who assumed Reddington’s identity, why did he enter Liz life, and why did her mother never reached out to her.
“It’s quite a story full of ambition and hope, love and loss,” Red teases but tells her that she will be able to read the letter “when the time was right,” to which Liz (rightfully) replies, “It’s long past time.” He arranges for her to receive the letter after his death.
Liz visits Harold and Ressler (Diego Klattenhoff), giving Boone nice final scenes with her two other fellow original cast members besides Spader. Harold is for the succession plan, Ressler is against. “You are not a criminal; pretending you are one is not going to keep you safe,” Ressler says.
Liz decides to stick with her original plan but a chance — or not — meeting with the grown-up daughter of General Daniel Ryker whom she saved in Season 1, makes her change her mind.
She and Red, joined by Dembe, Agnes and her nanny, have a stroll through Central Park where Red lays out the plan of how Liz will shoot him in front of his restaurant the next night so the deed is captured by CCTV cameras for the world — and its top criminals — to see.
“Me as your heir, why do they think they will accept it?,” Liz asks.
“You are a criminal,” Red says, which raises another question from Liz. “Is that what I am, or is that what I am because of you?”
Red doesn’t have a definitive answer whether him coming into her life led her to where she is now or whether she was predisposed to become an outlaw by birth but “what I do know is that, whether it’s chance or karma, DNA, faith, or just bad luck, this is who you are now, this is who you’ve become — a criminal, a fugitive — and taking my life is a way forward,” he says.
Liz gets another small clue about Red’s original presence in her life, with him confirming that he took the photo of her as a child with her mother.
“Who was she to you?,” asks Liz.
“I knew her better than anyone,” Red replies.
Liz tries one more time, telling Red that she would kill him but “in exchange, you give me a straight answer why can’t I know who you are until after you are dead.”
Says Red, “Because if you knew who I am you would never agree to kill me.”
The night of the planned killing, Liz makes a sweet good-night call to her daughter, calls Aram (Amir Arison) to ask for forgiveness and parks at the restaurant to wait for Red who broke his strict security protocols by walking to the venue, which could’ve endangered him — and Liz.
As she aims at him, Liz ultimately cannot pull the trigger. “I can’t do it. And I don’t want to,” she says. But suddenly, there is a gunshot. Neville’s henchman Vandyke (Lukas Hassel) does not hesitate and shoots Liz, fulfilling Neville’s mission to make Reddington watch Liz die. Red does but not before killing Vandyke.
As Liz is drifting away, her life flashes before her eyes, bringing back Ryan Eggold’s Tom, with Liz eventually morphing into the image of her mother when she was her age. Red is cradling her, kissing her on her head and cheek, and hopefully whispering into her ear the answers she has been desperately seeking. As for the rest of us, we will have to wait until Season 9.