Seeing Ghosts

26 Apr

There are two kinds of ghosts: real ones and the made-up kind. The latter are either the phony ones you see at Halloween, or the ones you see (or can’t see) on tv and at the movies– dramatic re-creations based on a screenwriter’s script or a popular novel.  But how accurate are their depictions of the unseen? People learn from television, for better or for worse.

"Red Reddington"

“Red Reddington”

Consider the most recent episode of Blacklist, an NBC television series about the FBI, spies, master criminals, and a main character by the name of Raymond “Red” Reddington (played by James Spader). Red is a rogue ex-spy who unofficially consults with the FBI about uber-bad guys on the loose. My wife and I don’t watch that much tv, but this is one series we have followed for its excellent writing, in this case by Daniel Knauf.

Last week’s episode (Cape May) threw dedicated fans into a tizzy, showing how a ghost as a character can be misunderstood. Apparently no one understood this one. I think I did. The episode presented a paranormal experience for the main character, something totally out of character for the series. But you can decide for yourself if any ghosts appeared. I suggest watching the episode for important subtleties and clues that appear as the story unfolds. If you can’t, stay with me anyway. This should be fun.

SPOILER ALERT!  Don’t read any further if you intend to see the show first. That will be far more interesting then a written description. But if you haven’t been watching it from week to week, you still should know some background: Red’s friend in the FBI (Liz) died in the previous show, someone he had been looking after since she was a little girl when he rescued her from dangerous circumstances. The identity of her presumed dead father is unknown, as is the status of her mother, an accused Russian spy.

That’s really all you need to know, but watch the whole thing if possible. Then come back here and we’ll talk . . .

 DISCLAIMER: to over-simplify, paranormal investigators look for clues and evidence of something unusual in an allegedly “haunted” location. Then they try to “debunk” whatever strange things are discovered in order to explain them by normal circumstances. If they can’t and the phenomenon remains unexplained, it may very well be paranormal. Investigating the paranormal requires the same sensibilities as any kind of investigator, but the process is still very much an art and not a science, despite fancy hardware and claims to the contrary. In spite of confidence in their findings, they can still be dead wrong.

The opening scenes of the Cape May episode show Red Reddington still traumatized by Liz’s death and recovering in an opium parlor run by an old Chinese woman. As he leaves, she reminds him to take his gun, but he gives it back to her.  1st clue: guns don’t work in past-life environments. He then hires a car to take him to Cape May, New Jersey– 200 miles away. We don’t know why, or if he knows why. 2nd clue: Red is mysteriously drawn to this location, which he did visit once a long time ago.

Once he arrives, he visits a diner for breakfast where he spies a woman sitting in a nearby booth. He watches her get up and leave, only to see a man enter who is apparently looking for her. 3rd clue: the man picks up a shiny new pay phone and inserts a quarter to call someone. Where’s his cell phone?  Why is a pay phone even there? They’ve virtually disappeared from public places.

I can go on and on with the various clues, but it would be more fun for the viewers to find them on their own. Suffice it to say that Red was experiencing a residual haunting in the diner, which continues right through his arrival at an abandoned shoreside inn. There he sees the same woman on the beach, whom he watches trying to kill herself by walking into the ocean. He saves her, transforming the residual haunting into an interactive one as he talks to the person he saves.

Residual hauntings are like playbacks of events that occurred in the past, where the witness cannot interact with whom or what he sees. The twist the writer inserted into the story at this point was his ability to start interacting with the woman. Red had stepped back into the past, enabling himself to be part of it as it replayed its sad story. Such interactive encounters are also called intelligent hauntings.

Mysterious Woman

Mysterious Woman

The storyline continues with many additional clues that support the theory of this residual haunting flipping back and forth into an interactive one. Red is caught up in the playback of the events that were responsible for all of his troubles, including the recent death of his beloved Liz. The challenging question one can raise here is, “if Red participated in the events of the past, did he also change the future by his actions there?” This is the classic time travel dilemma, but I’ll leave the implications of that to the writer who probably has his own ideas about it.

I could go on for pages pointing out all the clues within the narrative. But I’ll leap to my own conclusions instead. Scanning through the hundreds of comments on various Blacklist fan sites, it appears no one “got it.” Instead, viewers thought Red was having a dream, hallucinations, having a breakdown, or was simply remembering past events. No. Hallucinations are irrational perceptions produced by a short-circuiting brain as the result of drugs or psychosis. Memories recalled can be vivid, but do not play out in interactive detail. Dreams, whether induced by opiates or just deep sleep, are controlled by the sub-conscious, and are for the most part illogical. Red’s experience as a still rational person was vivid, logical, and interactive.


Red’s Discovery of the Mysterious Bracelet

The mysterious woman was depicted as a ghost who really did kill herself in the past. She drew Red back to Cape May to explain her actions when she was alive, and also to help Red deal with his own guilt, which was slowly killing him. Such is the nature of paranormal events . . . supernatural interventions with a purpose.


For those of you really into this, learn more . . .


Copyright 2016, Paul Hill
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12 Responses to “Seeing Ghosts”

  1. Ron D. November 17, 2016 at 3:03 pm #

    So…trying to decipher your theory…do you think it was a past life experience…or “this life” hallucination? Also..What the HELL is with that necklace, does Red actually have it or not? Been nagging at me. lol..

    Liked by 1 person

    • Paul Hill November 17, 2016 at 9:59 pm #

      Actually it was both…a past life experience being re-lived in “this life,’ but not as an hallucination. More an interactive re-living facilitated by the ghost of Liz’s mother on Red. He went back to the past and she to her future with both still in the present. Such is the nature of ghostly visitations–ghosts are timeless. BTW, I posted a freeze-frame photo of the mysterious bracelet at the bottom of this post.


    • Paul Hill November 17, 2016 at 10:01 pm #

      Forgot to mention…the bracelet. Yes, he really found it, having been buried on the beach years ago. I would imagine Red still has it as a tangible artifact of his (their) past. Wouldn’t be surprised if it turned up again in a future episode.


  2. ghostbusterbev April 27, 2016 at 11:32 am #

    Paul, you are very observant, likely your paranormal investigative work has something to do with that, or perhaps it was this quality that drew you to P.I. work. The series you describe appeals to me however I don’t have access to television, so I will look for it at the local library where I borrow DVD’s. Great review btw…I always learn something from your vast knowledge of the various terms associated with the paranormal. For example, “residual” and “intelligent” hauntings.

    Reading about the character stepping into the past reminds me of an experience I once had during a group past life regression. When the woman beside me, whom I had met previously but didn’t know well, began to share her experience, I realized we had shared the same past life. I won’t go into detail here as it is a long story, however reliving/recalling this past life with her explained why there was tension between us in this lifetime. Sometime after this, this woman and I were brought together again under very different circumstances, during which time we were able to balance out the karma we had created in the previous life. After that “episode” I never saw the woman again.


    • Paul Hill April 27, 2016 at 4:08 pm #

      Bev, thanks. I haven’t covered half the clues in the episode! I highly recommend you do what you can to see it. I do have a link in the post to the streaming broadcast of the show. If you have a good hi-spd internet connection, you should be able to get it. Here’s the line from the post:

      SPOILER ALERT! Don’t read any further if you intend to see the show first.

      The live link is “the show” in that line in the post.

      Past life regressions are very interesting to me; Sylvia Brown was very much into those. The Blacklist story touches on that theme also. Or was it just a haunting? Question: why do we have innate tensions with certain people? Is it really due to conflict in a past life?

      Liked by 1 person

  3. ruouthere13 April 27, 2016 at 9:08 am #

    Paul I like that show but seemed to have missed it. I’ll try and catch it and will share my paranormal thoughts with you

    Sent from my iPhone



    • Paul Hill April 27, 2016 at 9:17 am #

      Louise, yes I’m anxious to get your opinion! Don’t send them telepathically though…LOL


  4. Gatekeeper April 26, 2016 at 10:24 pm #

    I love the series.


    • Paul Hill April 26, 2016 at 10:55 pm #

      Ain’t it the best? This ep was to my knowledge the first time they ventured into the realm of the paranormal. Daniel Knoph (sp?) the writer has written and produced paranormal themes before outside of Blacklist, which to me confirms my theory.


  5. kerberos616 April 26, 2016 at 2:39 pm #

    Reblogged this on Kerberos616.


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