When Will The Blacklist Give Answers About Red’s Illness? The Showrunner Weighs In

The Blacklist Hisham Tawfiq Dembe Zuma James Spader Raymond Red Reddington NBC

(Image credit: Will Hart / NBC)

The Blacklist came to a close in stunning animated/live-action fashion, and it left viewers with a lot to consider. Among the startling events that rocked the crime drama's viewers was Red’s deteriorating health, which is doesn't seem to be getting any better. In the Season 7 finale, Red completely collapsed at one point and Katarina rode to the rescue at Liz’s behest to save him.

The Blacklist’s executive producers revealed that Katarina coming to Red’s aid ultimately played a vital role in the Season 7 finale’s outcome. Unsurprisingly, the result of that move is Liz siding with her mother over an ailing Red in midst of the pair’s battle. Considering that Red is in such a dire state, it makes you wonder what that means for his future in Season 8.

Well, The Blacklist’s creator has provided some much-needed insight. It turns out Season 8 could put the sickness storyline front and center when it kicks off. No wonder, James Spader is pumped. Of course, one would hope his excitement means that Red will ultimately pull through. Asked about Red’s illness, Jon Bokenkamp told EW:

That ailment, which has been lurking in the background, as we saw in the finale, is very real and very present, whether Reddington wants to acknowledge that or not. It seems that he's trying to wish it away, but everyone else in his life is really worried for him. Reddington's ailment is something that is not going away. It's a story that we’re going to be opening up and leaning into and learning more about when we get into season eight.

I am ready for some closure on this one. Red’s illness came into the picture not too long after he was nearly executed, thanks to Liz’s actions. I am ready for Red to wade into an uncertain future in which he's pretty comfortable in his health. However, the distraction it's caused has provided The Blacklist with a reasonable explanation for Red not being able to outmaneuver Katarina yet.

Dembe has shown real concern for Red, while Liz has demonstrated some interest in her ailing father. However, siding with her mother in her battle against Red sort of circumvents that. I cannot imagine the stress of Liz’s disloyalty hasn't had an impact on Red's condition. Red doesn't even know that Liz has fundamentally threatened his life if he gets in her and Katarina’s way.

So far, fans and Liz have not learned what on earth Red is sick with, and the mystery has persisted for some time. The plot point emerged all the way back in Season 6 with the episode centered on “The Pharmacist.” In between then and the Season 7 finale, The Blacklist has had the story fade in and out.

In regard to what's actually killing him, answers have been few and far between. Ahead of the recent finale, it seemed like fans were about to get some info before Ressler’s big episode.

Now that The Blacklist has confirmed the storyline will continue into Season 8, I am hopeful a resolution can be reached. Despite the palatable suspense, Red should come out of whatever this is alive, right? He is the star of the show, after all. That said, what lies ahead for Liz in the event that she acts (thinking Red will die) and he ends up surviving is another issue.

In other words, Liz might think because Red is dying, she can do things in the name of her mother and get away with them because Red will not be around to punish her. If Red survives his illness and her betrayal, he will be in a position to sort that out as The Blacklist continues.

The Blacklist is between seasons now, but it will eventually return for Season 8 on NBC sometime after this summer’s premieres. Until that time arrives, you can keep yourself busy with clues surrounding Red’s health via past seasons of the crime drama on Netflix, along with lots of 2020 arrivals.

Britt Lawrence

Like a contented Hallmark movie character, Britt happily lives in the same city she grew up in. Along with movies and television, she is passionate about competitive figure skating. She has been writing about entertainment for 5 years, and as you may suspect, still finds it as entertaining to do as when she began.