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[Spoiler] Almost Died—and [Spoiler] Actually Did—in That Shocking Blacklist Finale
Fans will need tissues on hand to watch this emotional end.
After a decade on air, The Blacklist has come to an end with an explosive two-hour series finale.
Yes, Raymond Reddington (James Spader)'s story has concluded — and what a satisfying departure it was. The series finale promised white-knuckled action, and it delivered with every twist and turn. There were tears, laughs, and endless passion sewn into every scene.
The Blacklist series finale recap — with spoilers
Relive every shocking scene and jaw-dropping moment, below, in our full The Blacklist series finale recap.
The Blacklist Season 10, Episode 21 recap
At the top of the penultimate episode, the Task Force is looking at their most tricky Blacklister case yet: That of their longtime colleague, Red. He's on the run after shutting down the Task Force to protect the agents, and Congressman Hudson (Toby Leonard Moore) and his FBI right-hand, Agent Nixon (Derrick Williams), know that with every passing second, he's slipping away.
The Task Force agents also know Red is impossible to catch — most of all Dembe (Hisham Tawfiq), who spent years at Red's side as his bodyguard. The action kicks off with Dembe being approached by a mysterious man who hands him a phone. It's Red, who ribs Dembe for warning him of the FBI's pursuit. Dembe tells him he'll be fine because no one knows he made the call.
For context: Red blew up a plane to fake his own death just a few days prior thanks to the help of Dembe, who called Red and told him to get the hell out of dodge. Red tells Dembe to not throw away his future to protect him. Red reminds him that he's wiped his slate clean by joining the FBI and he shouldn't jeopardize that new life. Dembe reminds Red that they have no choice but to arrest him and that he intends to do so.
Not that the Task Force is happy about this. Everyone from newcomer Siya Malik (Anya Banerjee) to seasoned agents, like Cooper (Harry Lennix), are dreading the moment they catch Red. The agents have come to care for him over the years. So despite their risk of arrest, they're still slightly rooting for him.
Dembe and the Task Force begrudgingly search for Red
Dembe tells the FBI to throw away whatever playbook they're using to find Red. Dembe warns them that Red will employ several escape routes, don clever disguises, and leverage his countless connections to wiggle himself out of any situation.
Dembe's point is proven when the FBI spots Red's vehicle — followed by a separate car elsewhere with identical plates. And another. And another. All with the same plates. Red is misdirecting the feds by swarming the city with identical vehicles! The FBI compiles a list of Red's possible locations, and as they leave to check those out, Dembe knows they are wrong. He has a hunch based on Red's former hideouts and fondness for a home-cooked meal.
Red's runaway tour lands him on the doorstep of Paula Carter, his tracer and the mother of Glen Carter (the late Clark Middleton). Red and Paula fondly reminisce about Glen's life while he takes refuge — at one point spotting his own mugshot in the paper. Red makes a few calls: one to his real estate agent, Andrea, to take a safe house off the market; and one to someone else to check in on a... firetruck?
Red flees the city in a fiery getaway
Just as Dembe and Siya show up to Paula's for Red, he's gone. She tells them every detail she can about his visit, notably the phone call with Andrea.
Cut to Andrea, who's picking up the key from the safe house she found and carrying a large gasoline container. Siya and Dembe race to the house to intercept Red, but as they roll up, they're stumped to find the safe house on fire.
"Why would he go through all the trouble of securing a safe house just to burn it down?" Hudson asks over the phone.
Red knows the one vehicle that always gets a rapid right of way: a firetruck. Dembe frantically alerts the team to intercept any firetrucks heading out of their location just as Red's bootleg crew of disguised firefighters whisks him away in the truck.
Hudson knows the Task Force is loyal to Red
Hudson and Nixon start thinking one of the agents has worked with Red to help him escape. And their suspicions are proven correct once they trace a call made from the HQ to the airstrip Red fled from in Episode 20 (the fake plane crash). Video surveillance shows Dembe sneaking an FBI agent's phone away and returning it after using the bathroom — confirmation that he tipped Red off. In the middle of chatting with the coast guard, Dembe is suddenly arrested.
Dembe knows what he did, so he doesn't fight the arrest. Meanwhile, Red hops off a boat to join his lover/bodyguard Weecha (Diany Rodriquez). While traveling together, Weecha informs Red that Dembe has been arrested, which rattles him. Besides Agnes Keen (Sami Bray), Red cares about Dembe more than anyone in the world and doesn't want him to go down for his actions.
Hudson insists on joining Nixon and the FBI as they transport Dembe to HQ for further questions. Ressler (Diego Klattenhoff) demands to join them for the interrogation, too, to ensure no foul play is involved. The car ride between Ressler, Dembe, and the FBI agents is awkward and uneventful until their car is T-boned in the middle of the highway.
Red's devotion to Dembe leads to a tragic death
Red arrives in a black van and pulls Dembe from the wreckage. Despite Red's insistence, Dembe tells Red that he isn't going with him as an infuriated Hudson grabs an FBI agent's gun. Hudson points it at Dembe, prompting Red's men to draw their firearms. Ressler snaps out of it and exits the vehicle, encouraging Red's men to back down.
A shaky-handed Hudson fires his gun. Dembe falls after Hudson's bullet strikes him in the neck. Without missing a beat, Red shoots Hudson dead and shoots Ressler three times in the bulletproof vest. Red grabs Dembe and throws him in his getaway as Ressler begins to recover.
The Blacklist Season 10, Episode 22 recap
Red rushes a dying Dembe into a nursing home, the closest thing to a hospital near the crash. Dembe is losing a lot of blood fast, so Red tells the nurse he needs a transfusion immediately. The home doesn't have that much blood on standby, so Red quickly volunteers, knowing they're a blood match. Red frantically tells the nurse to "hook them up now," and she reluctantly agrees.
Red saves Dembe after he almost dies
Ressler briefs the Task Force about the fallout of Dembe's arrest. Everyone is devastated, but Nixon is infuriated. Cooper tells Nixon to keep his cool, but Nixon's paranoia is firing off on all cylinders. Nixon tells Cooper he's now coming for all the Task Force agents, despite Ressler and other FBI witnesses vouching for Dembe's attempts at diffusing the situation.
Siya and Herbie get a lead on Dembe's location at a nursing home, but Nixon is starting to not trust their intel. Cooper and Ressler head to the nursing home and find Dembe in the middle of surgery. The nurses tell him that Dembe barely survived and gives details about the man who brought him in. The nurse explains she has no idea who he is or where he's going, but she hopes he's resting.
The nurse explains that despite Red being a viable candidate for Dembe's blood transfusion, he shouldn't be a donor in a direct transfer. She reveals that Red was displaying worrisome symptoms like shortness of breath and lack of oxygenation. Remember when Red was terminally ill a few seasons ago on The Blacklist? It seems as though Red's sacrificial move has endangered his own health. Despite the nurse telling Red that he needed to go to the hospital, he refused and continued with his travel plans.
The FBI has no intentions of a clean arrest
Red isn't doing well, and neither is the Task Force's investigation. Nixon openly criticizes Red for his role in Hudson's death; knowing Siya and Herbie can hear him, he confesses that he has no intention of using handcuffs to bring Red down. Nixon intends to kill Red just like Red killed Hudson.
If you think that's bonkers to admit openly, you're not alone; Herbie is also flabbergasted by the shocking remark. Herbie realizes this race to find Red has evolved from a deliverance of justice to a sinister manhunt. Knowing the authorities have no plan that includes Red surviving this, Herbie jumps ship. She urges Siya to consider her role in the search for Red, too.
We see Red asleep and being cared for by a woman we later learn is named Angela. Red wakes up to realize he's slept for a very long time. While talking with Angela, Red attempts to smell some nearby orange blossoms, which causes him to cough up blood. As Red stares at his tissue with frustration, Angela suggests he sleeps more. Red shrugs this off and explains he's going for a walk into town.
Red finds respite in stunning Spain
Red has fled to Spain to hide in the small village of Carmono, located a few hours from Seville. We see Red explore the lively markets with silent appreciation, admiring a few watermelons. Red is moving slowly, unsteadily, and without the vigor he historically carries. Red sadly admits to the vendor that he's interested in purchasing watermelons but doesn't have the strength to bring them home, so he sets up a delivery.
Back at the villa, Red calls Agnes, hoping to leave her a voicemail but happy to hear her pick up. Agnes complains of boy problems at school, prompting Red to dish some advice. It's a touching moment where we can tell Red feels homesick.
"Pinky, you're being such a mom," Agnes teases.
"Yeah," Red admits. "I suppose I can't help it."
After exploring Red's NYC hideout and believing nothing was removed, Siya realizes something very important was taken: his recovered horns of the Miura bull Islero, who killed the famed Spanish bullfighter Manolete.
Siya recalls Red's detailed account of the bullfighter: "a man who found it easier to risk his life than live his life without risk." The Task Force deduces Red has likely taken the horns to return them to their birthplace. Ressler promptly hops on a plane to Spain.
Ressler arrives at Red's villa. While cooking, a jovial Red calls to catch up with Dembe and check in on him, acting as if they aren't in the middle of his international manhunt. Dembe thanks Red for saving his life, but Red dismisses the thanks. Red can't even keep track of every time Dembe and Red have saved each other, so it's no big deal.
Meanwhile, Ressler is downstairs, seemingly at Red's doorstep, chatting with Angela. Angela hesitantly allows him to search the villa as Dembe asks Red about his condition. Just as that conversation gets awkward for Red, he pretends the call is lost. Ressler enters a kitchen to discover it empty. Bamboozled again!
Angela tells Red that someone visited the villa searching for him, and Red realizes Ressler is making progress. Red asks Angela about how to get to the Miura Ranch, the origin of his cherished bullfighter, and learns it's about an hour north.
Dembe reflects on his beautiful life with Red
Cooper visits Dembe in the hospital with an update. The FBI has decided against filing charges against Dembe for helping Red escape, but he is fired from the FBI. Cooper is frustrated by the result, but Dembe understands. Cooper admits that he never believed the Task Force would end this way, while Dembe reflects on Red's effortless ability to look at endings without fear.
Dembe admits that even when he thought he was dying, he was content with the life he lived thanks to his many adventures alongside Red. Dembe says Red is such an unstoppable force due to his outlook on death, inspired by a poem by Dylan Thomas. He believes that because death is inevitable, it lacks significance.
Dembe has always admired Red's refusal to surrender quietly. His decision to live passionately and focus on the little things in life that are not inevitable, such as love, laughter, and rage, is why he's such a mythic man.
"You'd never imagine this is how it would end," Dembe says through tears. "But our time with him, our time together, it was never about how it ended. It was about the adventure. About life. About Raymond constantly reminding us, showing us, imploring us to rage."
Ressler finds Red
Red tells Angela that he's leaving. Meanwhile, Ressler learns from the merchant that Red is likely hiding at the property hidden behind the villa's main guesthouse (which explains why Ressler missed him earlier). Ressler returns to the villa and Angela fesses up that Red was there but left. Ressler calls the authorities to update them on his progress, jumping in a helicopter to search for Red from the skies.
Red's contemplative walk is interrupted once he crosses paths with a massive bull standing in a field. Red is amazed by the creature, slowly approaching the bull with wonder. Just like the infamous Miuran bull, Islero, the bull facing Red is brimming with rage. Instead of diffusing the situation, Red stands his ground, even as the bull charges at him furiously.
After spotting something strange in a field, Ressler lands the helicopter to find Red's dead body lying in a heap. Shellshocked, Ressler calls Cooper, noticing the bull responsible for the ghastly death grazing nearby.
"Harold, I got him," Ressler struggles out. "I got him."
Ressler notices Red's fedora in the grass nearby and places the iconic hat over Red's head with respect. Raymond Reddington — a man of intense takedowns, lavish monologues, reckless loyalty, and endless zeal for life — died before anyone caught him.
With that, the curtain has closed on The Blacklist. With its end, we bid a heartbreaking farewell to the larger-than-life man who started it all.