Did The Blacklist Just Drop A Huge Clue About Red's Mysterious Illness?

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(Image credit: NBC)

Warning: spoilers ahead for the February 12 episode of The Blacklist Season 8, called "The Wellstone Agency."

The case in this week's episode of The Blacklist sent Aram undercover and delivered a big twist for Park as she crossed a line, but the biggest moment to come out of "The Wellstone Agency" might have come courtesy of a small comment. Reddington and Dembe had spent the episode trying to honor Glen's extensive and weirdly wonderful list of requests for his memorial, including the attendance of Huey Lewis, and the end of the hour saw Red drop what may have been a big clue about his mysterious illness.

Red and Dembe learned that Glen died from West Nile (which is also how actor Clark Middleton passed away in 2020), and Red spent most of the episode rushing around to fulfill Glen's last requests and seemingly trying to avoid the sadness of mourning. After Huey Lewis showed up to attend the potluck shindig thrown in Glen's honor, he called in his favor with Red: he wanted Red to explain what was so special about Glen. Red, Dembe, and Huey Lewis traveled to the Statue of Liberty to scatter Glen's ashes (which they'd stolen) as per his request, and Red tearfully delivered a eulogy in the darkness that ended in a way to seemingly shed some light on his illness:

I wish more people were unafraid like Glen. It's the thing about him I'll miss the most. And I hope it'll be some time before all my memories of him start to fade.

While the entire eulogy packed the kind of emotional punch we don't often see from Red, that final comment is one that might be a clue as to what has been ailing Red for a few seasons now. The Blacklist had already made it apparent that his illness is neurological, and he collapsed at the premature end of Season 7. In fact, the comic book-style animation used to complete the Season 7 finale revealed that he couldn't see or hear Liz after he'd collapsed, and nothing was "making sense."

Now, "The Wellstone Agency" has indicated that this neurological illness is going to slowly but surely begin to cost Red his memories. The Blacklist has played with memories in the past, but Red seems pretty resigned here, although it's possible some of that resignation is more due to saying goodbye to his friend than reflecting on his own fate. Still, The Blacklist executive producer John Eisendrath stated at the beginning of Season 8 that there was every intention to be clear about what Red has suffered from that has impacted and will impact decisions that he's made.

The Blacklist had already delivered some answers and filled in some blanks to this point that Red's mention of memories fading might not be the most mind-blowing twist in Blacklist history, but I for one am taking it as what could be a key clue, and perhaps a sign that The Blacklist is going to start dropping more answers about what's wrong with him. For now, fans will have to continue to wait and hope for more light to be shed, although some grew tired enough of waiting for answers that there's an open letter circulating.

New episodes of The Blacklist will continue airing on Fridays at 8 p.m. ET on NBC. The show has already received a renewal order for Season 9, so that may bode well for Red's survival beyond Season 8, but few things are ever truly guaranteed when it comes to The Blacklist.

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).