The Blacklist: Why Fans Love Tracking Red’s Hair (or Lack Of It)

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The blacklist season 9 delivered more skin, albeit scalp, of James Spader than we’ve seen since Accident (1996). The #Spaderverse (a term coined by @BumblyBee8) on Twitter soon became embroiled in a season-long situation with Red’s hair. Every Friday at #TheBlacklist live tweet watch party (8 p.m. ET), Red’s hair is closely watched. A recent Twitter poll revealed that the #1 reason to keep watching the show is “To find out who Red is”. Tied for second among the top reasons fans watch: “The Blacklist Cases” and “FOLLOW RED’S HAIR.”

Last Friday’s episode “Caelum Bank” brought fans to the brink of some kind of apocalyptic madness. Red’s need for revenge and his hair have grown together over twenty episodes, but he couldn’t come close to any answers about who killed Liz, set up Harold, ordered hits on crucial people and used his own money to do everything. In a season of stories marked by oddities, confusion and quirky red, the fandom’s obsession with physical details of James Spader has offered a rich tapestry of irreverent delights. how many fingers go in james mouth when he eats an orange in a certain gif? What is the exact number of shirt buttons he cannot undo?? How long will Red’s hair be?

A Robert California strong (Office) and WN Bilbo (lincoln) the bugle call is what we hear from the #Spaderverse. And if that’s not enough, daily tweets appear from people who see The blacklist for the first time and binge-watching. Everyone is getting into following James Spader’s locks and even doing a little reminiscence tweet to compare the hair:

One thing about The blacklist that fans and new binge-watchers quickly learn: everything in the series means something… or nothing at all. This is the case of Red’s capillary speech. Either the fans are having fun or Red’s hair means something. Or both! Her hair definitely meant something in the pilot episode. Who can forget Red’s wild mane in his juxtaposed mugshot as he took off his hat, revealed his sweet buzz cut and knelt on that federal seal to surrender to the FBI? A fugitive on the run, sleeping in caves and warm beds belonging to others: Red and his hair must be ready to fly at the fall of a felt pen, so our favorite fugitive sported a nimble, nimble buzz for the last eight seasons.

Every week over those twenty episodes, we’ve seen Red’s hair grow back, bit by bit, until he’s long passed the buzz and is moving into uncharted hair territory. He was nearly unrecognizable in Season 9 Episode 1 “The Skinner” when Harold Cooper was drugged by a bartender at the Esquina Monserrate Bar. Unconscious, Cooper was then transported to the Cuban hideout of Red and the Xiu sisters. The egg ritual and the way the witch/Red lover, Mierce, holds her sage staff like a heavy sword was super creepy. There were no scattered heads or half-naked corpses hanging from the trees as we saw in Colonel Kurtz’s Cambodian estate in Revelation nowbut more than just hair challenges us to compare Red with the hapless Kurtz.

The blacklist season 9 and Revelation now both depict the end of an iconic dynasty and the demise of its dynamic and dangerous leader. We meet Red after two years in hiding and he has changed in appearance and mind. When Martin Sheen’s Captain Willard finally meets Colonel Kurtz, the first symbol invoked is water. Kurtz begins baptizing his bald head with water from a basin. In “The Skinner”, the first invitation Red offers Harold is a water ritual – a tap glass of his own type of basin, probably Waterford crystal rather than Cambodian stone. And it was water once again that solved the mystery and finally pushed Red from utter uncertainty to action in “Caelum Bank.”

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