Emmy Hopefuls: Why The Blacklist’s James Spader deserves so much more

Third EstateHere’s something appalling to think about for this fine Friday — somehow, James Spader has yet to receive an Emmy nomination for The BlacklistHow in the world does that happen? It feels like almost the product of an elaborate Raymond Reddington heist, where someone infiltrated where the votes were stored and eliminated them from existence.

The reality though, is this — we’re in an era where there is more TV than ever before, one where there are so many different programming options and networks that it’s increasingly hard for a major network TV star to get a significant slice of credit. Spader’s been atop the awards-show mountain before for both The Practice and Boston Legal, but we don’t think that he should be hit with an “he’s already won before” argument for a show that he hasn’t won for yet.

Video discussion about The Blacklist: As we think about his Emmy candidacy this year, let’s examine closer a number of the iconic moments worth considering. You can check out some more video discussion on The Blacklist below — to get even more scoop, remember to subscribe to CarterMatt on YouTube and also take a look at our series playlist. We have new videos about the show up every Friday night (hey that’s tonight!) so don’t miss out.

The reason why Spader remains an Emmy hopeful (and a perfect person for this CarterMatt article series) is because his work as Reddington is exemplary. There’s an element of composure there, but there’s also rage. There’s also pain. This is a man constituted of so many emotions, but also subtlety and secrets. There are times Reddington gives you so little that when he does, it is almost akin to the opening of the floodgates. Everything comes out and you just wonder how we’ve never seen Spader with a trophy in hand for this role.

The United Nations speech – It was in so many ways over-the-top and humorous, but there was also an underlying seriousness to the moment as we got almost a rare window into Reddington’s views on human advancement. It was a speech that he needed to be in utter command for, given that there was so much that needed to be extracted from it. This was Spader chewing the scenery and delivering every line with the perfect punch.

The hunt for the traitor – If you want to see a fine example of Reddington at his most angry and dangerous, just look at what happened to poor Smokey or some of the other members of his criminal organization. It’s fun to at times drift into this world where you see Reddington as this increasingly-good character with friendships and a big heart … but then you remember that he’s a murderer, and a crime boss. Spader is so fantastic at drawing you in with this character that, even for just a minute, you tend to forget how dangerous he can really be.

His near-death conversation with Liz – Go back and watch the scene with Spader and Megan Boone where she could have asked him about his identity before the attempt to inject him, but didn’t. That’s a fantastic example of some of the back-and-forth that these two characters have, but also James’ own ability to be reflective and vulnerable while also still subtle. He leaves just enough on the table to force Liz into asking that question, but he also plays Reddington so warmly that she doesn’t feel the need to even raise it.

The heartbreak over Dembe – As he watched Hisham Tawfiq’s character walk away this past week, you could see the hurt in his eyes and sense a rare quiver in his oft-confident voice. Spader had to tap into something different here — an understanding of what it means for his character to be loyal to love someone else. He put a part of his heart on the line for both Dembe and Liz, and for the former to reject that, feeling as though this world was too out of control, was devastating to him. You could sense a real feeling of loss from Reddington in the moments that followed, and it’s enough to make you wonder how the character will try to mask that moving forward. We know that Reddington loves his masks, right? Dembe was one of the few who allowed him to actually take one off, and not having that break from the lies could eventually break him further.

We could offer up so many more examples of Spader’s nuance, his understanding of making every word and facial expression worth it. We never thought that a icon like him would be either underappreciated or ignored, but here we are at this particular moment, six seasons into an iconic show, wondering how this oversight ever happened in the first place. Maybe this is the year it changes, but we’re also fearful of getting our hopes too sky-high. We don’t want to consider the Emmys our own personal Dembe and then they depart.

For more news on The Blacklist…

Check out our personal piece all about who could be #1 on the Blacklist! Meanwhile, let us know in the comments if you think that Spader is worthy of an Emmy. (Photo: NBC.)

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