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September 27, 2017 at 11:51 PM EDT

Help yourself to the pretzels and the cheeses, because just like at the Terrace Vista Motor Lodge, we are all family here in The Blacklist recaps. And, yes, I will throw quarters at you if asked.

The Blacklist has returned for its 5th season, and finally, the paternal cat is out of the convoluted, hole-riddled, sphinx-guarded parentage-bag…and everything is surprisingly chummy post-reveal! Yes, Red was absent from the majority of Elizabeth’s life until she was 30, at which point he reentered it, bringing with him a world of pain, lies, and semi-frequent homicide. And yes, he repeatedly lied to her about not being her father, whether it be through omission, going along with the idea that someone else was her father, or just straight up being like, Girl I am not your dad, stop asking!

But that’s all over now. Science says Raymond Reddington is Liz’s dad and she’s ready to get a “LIL’ RED” vanity plate, cross-stitch a new Christmas stocking for the mantle, and make this non-traditional family official.

And you know what? Protagonists’ emotional well-being be damned, Red and Liz working together was a Good! Time! The jokes were flowing like motel bathtub wine, the general narrative theme of early season 5 was revealed to be a kind of Reddington’s Eleven situation, and now, rather than being surprised that she’s been purposefully kept out of the loop for an entire episode’s mission, Liz seems downright tickled by it. And I get it. Watching James Spader shoot a bunch of people to the tune of some slowed-down ’70s folk song and good old-fashioned bloodlust is fun; watching James Spader actually have fun is…well, more fun.

It was probably worth spending an entire season decimating Raymond Reddington’s criminal empire just to hear Spader’s insane delivery of, “Come, dip your TOES in.” Liz does not, in fact, dip her toes into the body-temperature waters of Red’s motel pool, but the season 5 premiere does see her dive headfirst into the idea that her professional relationship with Red can expand to fit the casual reveal that he is her biological father. She insists, “Knowing who my father is at this point isn’t going to change who I am.” But we’ve been watching The Blacklist for five seasons now, and we’re not as idealistic as naive, hopeful Lizzie. We know that within this father/daughter duo…it’s only Papa Red who will never truly change.


You know it’s going to be a fun, mostly non-painful episode of The Blacklist when the name of the Blacklister sounds like it could be a bar in Brooklyn. You also know it when Red wears a baseball cap instead of a fedora (which has a similar feeling to when Ron wears his red shirt on Parks and Rec, but I really hope does not signify the same thing).

Within the first five minutes of the season 5 premiere, Red has pretended to be a valet, stolen a beautiful convertible, evaded police in a car chase, sold that stolen convertible, and used the cash to pay off his extended stay at the Terrace Vista Motor Lodge. That’s where Liz finds him when Cooper sends her to inquire if he has a Blacklister for them. See, Coops is a little worried that the complete, total, and meticulous destruction of Red’s criminal empire at the hands of Mr. Kaplan (RIP, queen) means that Red might not have the inside hookup anymore . And the thing is, the Task Force’s jobs and Red’s continued freedom — and if we’re going to get meta here, the concept of this show — kind of ride on the idea that Raymond Reddington can deliver the world’s worst criminals to the FBI.

Coming into season 5, however, Red is broke and without contacts or alliances…and he’s also never seemed happier. Liz tells Red that those things, nor the fact that she now knows he’s her father, doesn’t change the fact that she needs a case. To which Red responds: “Then I suppose I’ll need my pants!” (Next: Talk carnie to me)

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James Spader returns as Raymond ‘Red’ Reddington, a mastermind criminal who teams up with the FBI.
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