ByD.C. Fenoff, writer at Creators.co
I write books, I make badly timed jokes, and Debbie Harry is my pretend girlfriend. Twitter: OaODCFenoff
D.C. Fenoff

Some shows, like The Blacklist, start off so strong that they set up relentlessly high expectations. For an audience, things can gradually become more timid as a series settles into its overall main plot and ratings begin to decline. We, as fans, can generally accept that kind of thing. However, for networks like #NBC when it comes to ratings, it's an entirely different story, and such, unfortunately, is the case for The Blacklist. Especially given how much effort and time has been put in to the show's current story arc.

The Blacklist has been on a steady decline in the ratings since the first season. And while it's expected for most freshmen seasons to dip as they find their balance, #TheBlacklist took further declines as the show progressed into Seasons 2, 3, and 4. What began as a show in the near 13 million viewer range has plummeted to just barely keeping hold at a steady 6.

So, what went wrong here? Can the show still be saved? And most importantly, should it?

**Warning: Potential Spoilers For Seasons 3-4 of 'The Blacklist' Ahead**

Where It All Started To Go So Wrong

Elizabeth Keen (supposedly) perished near the season 3 finale
Elizabeth Keen (supposedly) perished near the season 3 finale

Nearing the end of the third season, we viewers were left in shock after the unexpected death of Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone). This tragic yet fairly unbelievable event didn't last long as it was only a few short episodes later that Liz was revealed to have been alive the entire time, preparing for a peaceful life with Tom and Agnes and without Reddington.

  • Problem: Liz hasn't totally been embraced by the show's fan base yet. As a fan of the series myself, I totally understand that feeling. It took quite some time for her to grow on me and I'm usually immediately drawn to female leads.
  • Problem: Killing her off so soon in the series. The emotional connection to the fans just wasn't there yet. We didn't feel bad that Liz died. Partly because of how distantly we felt about her, but also because not many of us truly believed she was actually dead in the first place. Thus, we ultimately felt cheated by the series later on.
  • Problem: Rushed story line. This sort of arc in a TV series is something we save for much later on. Near the end, if you will. Taking place so early on in the show, it's not without merit to say hardly anybody bought the cheap illusion that was the Season 3 cliffhanger.

'The Blacklist' Spin-Off Can Save The Original

Ryan Eggold and Famke Janssen's characters clash on the set of 'The Blacklist'
Ryan Eggold and Famke Janssen's characters clash on the set of 'The Blacklist'

It was announced shortly after the conclusion of the third season that NBC had greenlit a spin-off for the series titled #TheBlacklistRedemption. The new series is set to star Ryan Eggold reprising his role as Tom Keen. Blacklister Susan "Scottie" Hargrave, played by Famke Janssen, will also be returning for the new series.

It should be noted that it's a rare point in TV history that a show and its spin-off can peacefully coexist. But it's definitely not impossible. NBC of all networks knows that. With their endless barrage of Law and Order and Chicago series, they've done exceptionally well in the spin-off category.

NBC is certainly banking on this Redemption to be just as, if not more so, successful than its predecessor, and by doing so, hopefully revitalize the dying interest in the original series. If it can't save the home show, perhaps it will at least take its place. In either situation, it's really a win-win for the network.

Last But Not Least, Should The Series Continue?

Let's not forget the show is headed into what will likely become another unbearable cliffhanger of an ending for Season 4. And even though the show is settling in lower percentile of ratings than what it premiered with, it's still not doing horribly enough for NBC to give it the hook. At least, not just yet.

Five seasons on television is nothing to be ashamed of. Most shows don't make it past one. James Spader has done an immaculate job of bringing this once in a lifetime character to the screen and he should be damned proud of what he and the rest of the cast and crew behind The Blacklist have accomplished in just a few seasons.

Though the series will probably get a renewal at the end of this current season, James Spader and the rest of the creative team better start taking a long look at the direction their series is headed come Season 5. They must decide what's truly best for the show moving forward, whether it means to further explore the story or to set it up for a brilliant and breathtaking end. They'd better do it fast because, without a doubt, NBC is beginning to do the exact same thing. And their answer may not be the one Spader and crew are all too entirely ready to hear.

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