'The Blacklist' Renewed For Season 10: Can It Go On Without Liz?

The Blacklist Elizabeth Liz Keen Megan Boone NBC
Will Hart / NBC

Can “The Blacklist” continue without Liz in the long term? She is the counterbalance that formed the foundation of the crime thriller. Following her death, the show has marched into headwinds without Liz for action, Dembe as Red’s conscience, and Glen’s mother for laughs. I will say it. I was growing more and more concerned for the show’s future as a Season 10 renewal continued to elude the veteran drama.

Last Tuesday (February 22), James Spader announced that “The Blacklist” had been renewed for Season 10 while on “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.” If you want to hear the news from Spader himself, you can check out the clip below and then continue reading about the future of the series and Liz afterward: 

The Elephant In the Room

Season 10 is officially a go, and so are some strong feelings about the stalwart show and its future. Without Meghan Boone’s Liz and series creator Jon Bokenkamp as the showrunner, “The Blacklist” feels like a shell of itself in Season 10. Where are the elaborate mysteries? The magical illusions that kept fans glued to their seats? 

Sadly, those fantastical flourishes have been mostly absent, and “The Blacklist” does not seem to be working to restore its usual rhythm either. Instead, it has struggled to keep Liz’s memory alive, going down a peculiar and somewhat delayed path in doing so in Season 9. Time will tell how Season 10 follows.

The Strange Route

“The Blacklist” got a lot done with its final episode before the dramatic 2022 Winter Olympics caused its hiatus. Season 9 explained why Dembe went from Red’s right-hand to an FBI agent, and it cleared Dembe of any guilt in Liz’s death. The notion that Dembe was ever to blame required Stretch Armstrong to do the math to make it work. While that angle got resolved, another took its place.

Never one to leave without a tease, “The Blacklist” continued to hint there is more to Liz’s demise. The search for answers could comprise the next leg of Season 9. Meanwhile, this fan is ready to have Red’s real identity confirmed (the hints continue to make it quite obvious) and have Liz’s presence on the show restored in some capacity. It feels like the only way to make Season 10 feel necessary or relevant in continuing the story.

How to Bring Liz Back

There are a lot of possibilities for how to manufacture a Liz return in Season 10. It could be time to reveal that Liz is really alive and recast. Or bring someone in whose aura is very similar to that of Liz. Perhaps, a mystery woman with no memory of her past disrupts Red’s life much the way he did Liz’s at the start of the series. 

Red could wonder if she is really Liz or an imposter. A topic he knows all too well. Red could be suspicious of her yet so excited to be in the ambiance of Liz he loses sight of the possibility she is a fraud. Dembe could warn him as the Task Force feverishly investigates her. Could she be trying to infiltrate Red’s business on the orders of an unknown puppet master?

Perhaps, she has a change of heart and genuinely comes to care for Red. Maybe “new Liz” questions why she is assigned to get close to Red, to begin with, and learns there really is some sort of connection between them. Meanwhile, “The Blacklist” has all of this new identity drama to tease viewers with in Season 10. Whatever the case, I want a new Liz. (Maybe she goes Beth instead of Liz?)

Why It Needs To Happen

Regardless of how it happens, I think something along these lines needs to happen for “The Blacklist” to purposefully undertake another season. I will continue to support and campaign for scene-stealers -- Julie Gonzalo or Merritt Patterson -- to fill the void left by Liz’s painful absence via a recast. It is urgent because “The Blacklist” is losing serious momentum without Liz.

So far, Season 9 has proven that “The Blacklist” is a two-hander. It needs Red and Liz. They cannot operate separately. Of course, the show could have softened this disruption with a longer time jump. Agnes could have been a teenager looking for answers like her mother when Season 9 started, thus letting her up to take up Liz’s mantle. Not aging Agnes beyond 10 feels like a wasted opportunity.

Agnes = Liz 2.0?

At the outset of Season 9, a natural move would have been to have a teenage Agnes rebelliously working to find out why her mother died while also investigating the mystery her mother died shortly after learning the answers to. “The Blacklist” can still attempt this path by zooming forward again for Season 10.

Thankfully, NBC moving the show back to Friday nights after it had clawed its way back to Thursdays was not a foreboding sign after all. In contrast, a Season 10 renewal hints that NBC is hopeful for some story on the horizon. The series is trying to touch on Liz’s mythos again, which is positive. Sadly, though, the latest “The Blacklist” twist feels like a plot to distract from the show’s agony of existing without Liz.

Final Thoughts

Megan Boone and Boone’s electrifying and empathetic portrayal of Liz helped make “The Blacklist” what it is today. I am ready for Liz or someone like her to return the balance she brought to the series. Without her, the show is off-kilter and spiraling. Unfortunately, unlike her disappearance from the screen in Season 8, there is no episode-to-episode hope she will return. 

Do not get me wrong. I love “The Blacklist” and will always root for it to succeed, and all of this is said by someone who wants to see it hit new highs. That said, Liz was one of the driving forces behind its creative success, and it is time to salvage that piece. 

Find out if Season 9 does when it returns on Friday, February 25 at 8 p.m. ET on NBC. Season 10 should premiere sometime this fall.