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THE BLACKLIST: Is Liz Really Dead?

By on April 15, 2016
Megan Boone as Liz Keen on NBC's The Blacklist

Pictured: Megan Boone as Liz Keen -- (Photo by: Virginia Sherwood/NBC)

Ok, we really need to talk about last night’s episode of The Blacklist. (Spoilers ahead if you’re not caught up.)

The most pressing question on our collective minds right now is Liz. Is she really dead? While the conclusion to last night’s 2-part “Mr Solomon” arc would have us believe Liz (Megan Boone) died after giving birth to a baby girl, leaving Tom (Ryan Eggold) as a single parent with a massive ax to grind, we’re not so eager to jump on that particular thought train just yet.

Yes, we appreciate that theory pretty much flies in the face of Eggold’s recent statement to TVLine, where we note he praised (past tense) his time working alongside co-star Boone.

“I was as shocked as I think the fans are! I have loved working with Megan, especially as we explored the complicated dynamic in Liz and Tom’s relationship,” the actor said in a statement. “I’m incredibly curious to see how this deep cut affects Tom’s understanding of the world and what this means for the future of their daughter.”

We also acknowledge Liz is not the first casualty of the season, and she probably won’t be the last. Last week Sleepy Hollow fans were outraged to see series star Nicole Beharie written off the series as her character Abbie Mills bit the dust in the season (and let’s face it, probably series) finale. Other genre shows like the CW’s Arrow and The 100 have similarly offed major characters in recent weeks.

However, while genre shows like Sleepy Hollow, Arrow and others have a standard get out of jail free card that allows dead characters to be resurrected from their graves (meaning that just about any character death can be taken with a pinch of salt, provided the actor in question is still under contract), any death on a primetime drama like The Blacklist would have to be a) a fake out or b) permanent.

As Megan Boone’s real life pregnancy has impacted the show (necessitating the Tom/pregnancy story-line this season), it also stands to reason the actress will need time out from filming. Person of Interest’s Sarah Shahi similarly took time after giving birth to twins, resulting in a multi-episode “Is Shaw really dead?” story arc that will only finally be resolved when the show returns to CBS shortly. (And fyi, no, she’s not dead.)

Remember, it’s not the first time the show has faked Liz’s death. A previous Solomon-themed episode “Arioch Cain” saw Red orchestrate a fake out after someone placed a bounty on Liz’s head. James Spader’s Red is one of the most consistently written characters on TV. His enmity towards Tom is likewise a consistent thing, with recent episodes seeing Red pleading with Liz not to make life-plans with the retired master criminal. Could Red be cold enough to separate Liz and Tom in such a cruel manner? You bet he would.

We’ve also got a ‘history repeating itself’ theory that probably won’t much appeal to Lizzington shippers (who hold our hope for a romantic involvement between Liz and Red), but may strike a chord with those who view Red as a father, or at least a father figure, to Liz.

While we may never know the full story of the connection between Liz and Red until the series finale (which we sincerely hope will be titled “Raymond Reddington”), we know that Red was very close to both of Liz’s parents (or may even have been one of Liz’s parents), and that following an altercation at their house, there was a shooting, followed by a fire. Red, bearing the scars from that fire, in all likelihood rescued Liz and placed her with a surrogate father he knew would care for her and preserve her anonymity. Red has proven that through great acts of violence, and at great personal cost, he is willing to just about anything to keep those he loves safe. With Rostova circling, it doesn’t seem like we’re going too far out on a limb to suggest he would do the same now for Liz and her baby — who might one day seek out her own mother.

This theory seems, at least on the surface to be backed up by the latest promo trailer for next week’s “The Artax Network” in which Red laments that last time (when forced to choose between the mother and the child) he chose the child. This seems like a pretty solid reference to young Liz. By choosing the mother this time (Liz again) is Red also choosing to entrust her baby to Tom? Is this a repeating scenario in which Red can only keep one life safe?

And finally, and perhaps most obviously, we must acknowledge that it’s that time of the year. Yes, we’re talking about May Sweeps, a sort of April Fool’s month for TV writers everywhere. Just in case you’re unfamiliar with the term, Sweeps happen periodically during the year (usually in February, May, July and November) when Nielsen, the audience measurement people, attempt to determine who is watching what by providing homes with a paper-based questionnaire on their viewing habits. The results provide a basis for program scheduling and advertising decisions for local television stations, cable systems, and advertisers.

It stands to reason therefore that Sweeps are a good time to introduce jaw-dropping cliffhangers, deaths, resurrections, hook-ups, break-ups, alien invasions and other extra juicy developments that will persuade people to tune in during the run up to this important (to advertisers and Networks) time. Wondering about all those deaths and revelations on TV recently? Don’t get mad. Blame the time of the year.

Could Liz’s death be Sweeps, real life pregnancy and story-demand related? We’re thinking yes.

Does this mean we’ll see her again? Almost definitely.

The Blacklist continues Thursdays on NBC.

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