The Blacklist debate: Should there be a young Reddington prequel?

The Blacklist logoWe are approaching The Blacklist season 7 on NBC, and at this point, it feels pretty clear that we’re closer to the end of this show then we are the beginning. With that in mind, isn’t it time to think of other ways to expand this universe? Is there a good spin-off idea to pursue?

As most of you out there know, The Blacklist already did try a spin-off show in The Blacklist: Redemption starring Ryan Eggold, and it didn’t quite work out. What’s the reason for that? It may be that the premise of it was just a little bit too obtuse for what The Blacklist is, or it may just be because it did not include the one character who really is iconic to this world: Mr. Raymond Reddington. He’s the signature face of the show! He is the person the majority of people out there are watching for.

It’s with that in mind that we’re starting to think that maybe the best way to extend this franchise’s life after it ends is going back into the past, as opposed to moving into the future.

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Now, we know what you’re going to immediately think on the other side of this: Do we really need to do a prequel? There are so many examples of prequels out there, after all, that are downright annoying and irritating. Not everyone wants to go and watch an origin story of something when instead, they can move forward it to the future and see other possibilities that are worthy of exploration.

Yet, The Blacklist is actually one of the few shows that could pull it off, and the idea of a young Raymond Reddington spin-off actually feels pretty compelling. When you go back and watch old episodes, which we have been doing plenty of lately as a part of our YouTube re-watch this summer, you hear him constantly regale people with stories of past encounters and adventures and interesting people that he met. Wouldn’t it be nice to actually see some of these people? Wouldn’t it be nice to know sort of how Raymond Reddington actually built this empire over time?

Obviously, there’s one issue with doing a young Raymond Reddington spin-off. Is it possible that he is embellishing a lot of the stories that we have heard from him over the years? Absolutely it is. This is a guy with so much bravado and bluster that you could certainly say that he is almost a criminal version of Albert Finney’s character from Big Fish. Maybe some of the events he speaks of actually happened, but he’s adding an extra dose of drama for the sake of making it a great story. In that sense, maybe a Raymond Reddington prequel wouldn’t be as exciting.

However, if all the stories are true, wouldn’t this be one of the most awesome prequels ever? Think about the idea of watching a young Reddington character travel the world, meet quirky people, interact with a younger Dembe, and actually reenact some of the events we have heard about on The Blacklist proper over the years. There’s still so much opportunity and richness here that it just feels like a mistake to not consider the idea. Sure, we would already know how a lot of the story would end, but it would be fascinating to tie together a lot of loose ends and answer some questions about this man that we have had for quite some time.

What’s another drawback? Beyond just the basic idea of having a prequel where you already know a lot of the answers, it would probably be finding someone who was as brilliant as James Spader is as Reddington in the present. You obviously couldn’t cast Spader all over again, so you would have to find an actor who really captures the essence of Raymond Reddington without feeling like an imitation of what James has done for so many years. Because you already have Gabriel Mann playing Ilya Koslov, it’s hard to say whether or not you could use him again …  unless of course, you buy into the idea that Ilya actually still is Raymond Reddington and was him the entire time. (We don’t believe that.) There are some interesting actors out there — take Dan Stevens of Downton Abbey and Legion fame. With Legion ending, wouldn’t he be open for some other potential series work? (He, like Spader, has blue eyes.)

As of right now, there aren’t any Blacklist spin-off or prequel ideas in the works, but maybe that will change as we approach the series’ endgame, regardless of if that is in season 7 or a season 8 or even 9 after the fact. Until NBC announces it, we’re not making any assumptions one way or another.

For more discussion on The Blacklist and its endgame…

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Now, we want to hear from all of you. What do you think about the idea of a Blacklist prequel series, and would you be interested in watching? Let us know in the comments. (Photo: NBC.)

This article was written by Jessica Carter and you can follow her on Twitter here.

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