[Spoiler alert: The following contains details about the latest episode of The Blacklist. Read at your own risk.]
The Blacklist‘s two-part Season 6 premiere had twist on twist on twist. Hot off the reveal that the man we know as Raymond Reddington (James Spader) is an impostor and not Elizabeth Keen’s (Megan Boone) real father, we jumped right into a new Blacklist reality where Liz and her half-sister Jennifer (Fiona Dourif) are working together to find out who Red really is. In Friday’s second episode, Liz made a big play, secretly tipping off the NYPD and getting Red arrested. Now Red’s in federal custody with an ambitious State’s Attorney building a case against him. The task force can’t help him because their agreement is secret. Red’s in one of the toughest predicaments he’s ever been in. And he knows someone betrayed him.
Meanwhile, with Red out of the way, Liz and Jennifer are free to pursue their investigation into him. But there are going to be consequences. Liz doesn’t feel good about what she’s done to the man who’s protected her and helped the FBI capture dozens of dangerous criminals. Is she making the wrong choice? And what will happen to her when (it’s not really an ‘if’) Red finds out she’s the one who betrayed him?
TV Guide talked to creator Jon Bokenkamp about what’s coming up for Liz and Red, as well as in the rest of Season 6 as a whole.
Why did Liz turn Red in really? Was it really to get him out of the way while she tries to investigate him, or was it out of her own sense of betrayal from finding out he’s not really her father and for his role in Tom’s death, or does she have another motive that we don’t know about yet?
Bokenkamp: I think that it would be hard to sort of remove the emotional baggage that Elizabeth Keen is carrying into making this decision. Obviously it’s a bold move. But what she voices that I think is important is that Red is a character that we have come to know is a step ahead. He has resources in the darkest corners where you would never expect, and he will find out. She wants to stay ahead of him. She wants to continue to be in the driver’s seat. And I think taking this proactive measure to sideline him is a way to isolate the problem, maintain control and continue to unlock this riddle while he’s sidelined. And it was a decision that she and Jennifer made together, and these are two women who are coming at this from very different perspectives. They share a father, but they have different mothers. They’re sisters who have very different lives, and yet they’re brought together through this very strange betrayal that has led to another betrayal, which is sidelining Reddington by putting him in prison.
How will having his freedom taken away change Red? This is kind of the most vulnerable we’ve ever seen him.
Bokenkamp: Talk about firsts. Red in prison. Seeing him sort of stripped of his superpowers and put into prison is definitely a new dynamic and tests his abilities. It changes everything. It changes his relationship with the FBI, it changes his relationship with Elizabeth. The FBI can’t acknowledge that he’s working with them. That would expose him and expose them. So he’s sort of cut off from everyone who’s been supporting him. It’s going to be really fun to watch Reddington navigate the federal prison system.
If there’s anyone who can continue to operate while in supermax prison, it’s Red Reddington.
Bokenkamp: Reddington probably sees it as a quiet retreat. A time for some silence, a time to read, maybe meditate. He probably doesn’t like the food. I think Reddington probably embraces this new chapter with open arms because it’s something new and different, and he loves new and different.
So are we going to see Liz’s stepfather Constantin Rostov (Ulrich Thomsen) this season? I feel like he would know the truth about what happened that night in Delaware.
Bokenkamp: Constantin Rostov very well may know a truth or truths about that night. There are a number of people who I think could probably fill in the blanks, and we’re going to revisit some characters we’ve seen before, both within the mythology and within Red’s world, and we’re going to meet some new characters, too. By virtue of him going on this journey, this legal battle, this sort of prison story, it introduces us to a whole new landscape of really great characters and great actors playing some really fun roles.
How did shooting at the UN come about?
Bokenkamp: Hahaha, well, we didn’t actually shoot at the UN.
[Laughs] You fooled me!
Bokenkamp: We had hoped to shoot at the UN, and we had an invitation that sadly was revoked. I think through some of our storytelling, it might not have been, ultimately, at the end of the day, a perfect match. So we scrambled to find some locations and some visual effects. That’s just a great example of our New York crew pulling off these miracles. And Spader giving a speech to an empty General Assembly, I think it’s probably one of the greatest speeches that’s been given in the fake General Assembly hall filled with VFX.
What can you say about what’s coming up with Samar (Mozhan Marno), who might be having some memory problems?
Bokenkamp: We have a really great story with Samar and Aram that’s a love story that is very uniquely Blacklist. It’s again new territory for our show. And it’s going to be told in a very surprising way that I think will be — I should say no more. But I think we have a really great story for Samar and Aram. And really all of our guest cast. We have really small, personal, emotional stories that have a really significant impact on our Blacklist universe. But stories that I think are ultimately going to be very relatable and emotional at the end of the day.
The Blacklist airs Fridays at 9/8c on NBC.