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Is The Blacklist Finally Moving On From Mourning Liz In Season 9?

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(Image credit: NBC)

Warning: spoilers ahead for the January 20 episode of The Blacklist, called “Boukman Baptiste.”

The Blacklist wrapped Season 8 on arguably the biggest twist in the show’s history when the departure of Megan Boone was handled by killing off Liz Keen, leaving her to die in Red’s arms with Ressler watching from a distance and Dembe trying to hustle Red away. Even with the two-year time jump between the end of Season 8 and beginning of Season 9, Liz’s death still cast a shadow on the characters, but it’s starting to look like they may be ready to start moving on from mourning her. 

“Boukman Baptiste” split the story between chasing down some bad guys in the present while telling the flashback story of how Dembe went from Red’s #2 in the Season 8 finale to an FBI agent in the Season 9 premiere. It was clear at the beginning that both Red and Dembe himself still blamed Dembe for leading VanDyke to Elizabeth and therefore her death, and Red didn’t even want Dembe contributing to a case when Dembe had expertise on the matter. 

By the end, however, Red reached out to help Dembe, and with the help of Aram, they realized that Dembe isn’t directly responsible for her death no matter how anybody looks at it. Data proved that somebody else led Liz’s killer to her location, and now they can join forces to chase down the person really responsible. Neither Red nor Dembe is 100% innocent in the chain of events that led to her being gunned down, but they can now work together. 

While all of that means that The Blacklist obviously isn’t done with the story of Liz’s death, they were both less emotionally reactive about her death in this episode than before. There is still hurt, sadness, and regret, but they’re moving forward; if Red of all people can start moving forward, then I think it’s a sign that the focus can be on getting justice for Liz (and/or avenging her) rather than stewing in their grief and blaming each other. 

There’s also the point that the rest of the task force absolved Dembe of any blame, even before the data pointed toward somebody else leading Liz’s killer to her. So they're recovering from losing Liz as well. Ressler did fall off the wagon again just last week due to the loss of Liz, but he also took first steps to get himself clean again that involved relying on his growing bond with Park. Everybody may not be moving on entirely, but they’re moving forward, and that could mean fans will be watching less mourning and more action. 

Unfortunately for any fans who are excited by the Red/Dembe reconciliation and the other storylines of Season 9 so far, The Blacklist is heading into a break until after the Olympics. The show will return on February 25 at 8 p.m. ET on NBC, moving back to its previous time slot on Friday nights with the Law & Order revival taking its place on Thursdays. For some viewing options during the weeks before The Blacklist is back in February, check out our 2022 winter and spring premiere schedule.

Laura Hurley
Laura Hurley

Resident of One Chicago, Bachelor Nation, and Cleveland. Has opinions about crossovers, Star Wars, and superheroes. Will not time travel.