One of the big questions since the September premiere of “The Blacklist” has been: Why did Raymond “Red” Reddington (James Spader) turn himself in to the FBI? Was it really to help the feds catch some bad guys, or was it because someone so evil was after Red that he felt he needed additional protection?
On Monday night’s episode, we may get a glimpse at an answer. In it, Anslo Garrick, (guest star Ritchie Coster), a person from Red’s past — a former protégé, infiltrates the FBI black site and tries to capture Red. So when Donald (Diego Klattenhoff) tries to protect Red, is it necessary, or is he misled?
“I think we have worked a really exciting, muscular, energetic two-parter coming up,” executive producer Jon Bokenkamp tells xfinityTV in this exclusive interview about the two-part midseason finale. “It’s unusual in the series so far, but we get to see Red on his heels, and Red as a victim in a sense. So it’s a little bit of a different animal for us next week, but it is an exciting episode.”
In addition to Bokenkamp, executive producer John Eisendrath got on the phone to weigh-in on what we have to look forward to for the mid-season finale, as well as what mysteries will be addressed when the show returns from the holiday break.
I was a little confused when we saw Lizzie’s father in the hospital, because back on the phone call last July, John said that Lizzie’s father left her when she was young. So does that mean her biological father? Also, the way the last episode was written, it still looks as if Red could be her father. You obviously aren’t going to reveal all, but what can you tease?
Eisendrath: In the pilot, Red said to her, “You were abandoned by your father, who was a career criminal,” so that does leave open the possibility that that was the person he was talking about. Clearly, Sam (William Sadler), who Red killed in Episode 107, was a great father-figure to her, so he was referring to someone else. Who that is, when we will meet that person, and what that person’s identity is, you will not learn on this phone call.
But will we learn it this season?
Eisendrath: You will learn more this season, and you will get more of an idea of what the truth is. You will get more truths, but will you get the entire truth this season? Probably not.
Also, my editor and I disagree about something. In that same last episode, when Red sat down next to Lizzie’s husband, Tom (Ryan Eggold), I felt they were strangers. She felt that Tom knew him. So is it supposed to be ambiguous, or is one of us is right?
Bokenkamp: We certainly have our answer to what we believe the truth to be, but, I think, the open-endedness of it — that is what is fun. I hope there is a conversation to be had when the show is over each week about how things are interpreted. That’s the grey area which makes the show fun. We definitely have our playbook of who’s who and how people are connected, but it was purposely left ambiguous as to what that relationship was, or if there even was a relationship.
When Sam said he wished he only had six hours, we sort of knew Red was going to kill him, but was that really what Sam wanted, or was that Red, again, acting in his own best interest?
Bokenkamp: What did you think?
Red acting in his own best interest. No one really wants to die.
Eisendrath: We wanted to leave it slightly open to interpretation and both were correct. We are hoping the audience is wondering what the secret is [that Red told Sam he couldn't reveal]. Also, while I agree with you that no one wants to die, when you are faced with a very painful end-of-life situation, you may make a decision to end your life more quickly.
Bokenkamp: It is like the Tom situation: Do they know each other, or was it a totally random meeting? With the death of Sam: Is it Red’s self interest, or was he doing a favor for a friend? I think the interpretation of those is up to the audience.
Any name guest stars on deck?
Bokenkamp: We have Alan Alda.
Eisendrath: In the Dec. 2 mid-season finale, Alan Alda appears as one of the guest stars that we are very excited about.
Also, just because Tom was cleared by the FBI, in my mind, we still suspect there’s more going on there than he is just a school teacher, who wants to adopt a baby with his wife. Would I be correct in that assumption?
Bokenkamp: The assumption that there is still suspicion on Tom? I don’t know how to answer that. We cleared him by the FBI. The FBI said he was not a part of this crime, so if anyone is suspicious of Tom, I am not sure why that is. Again, things can be interpreted differently, but he has been cleared. Not something we will answer right now. Those questions are what make the show fun.
Red does keep saying there is more to Tom than Liz knows.
Eisendrath: Red is just adamant that Liz’s husband is not who he appears to be. The trick about that is what he said in the pilot: “Everything about me is a lie. Never trust a criminal.” Woven into all his so-called truths, there may be misleads and agendas that are upset, so I think you have to take that with a grain of salt.
What do you have planned for us when “The Blacklist” returns after the holidays?
Eisendrath: I think one of the questions we hope the audience is wondering about is: Is Tom as sweet as he appears, or is he someone Liz should be mistrustful of, and is he bad? We will look into that question more after the winter break.
If he is someone she should mistrust, doesn’t that cast doubt on her ability as a profiler?
Eisendrath: Well, the heart goes where the heart goes. Love is blind. On the off chance that Tom is bad — and we are not saying that he is — love is blind whether someone is good or bad.
What other twists do we have to look forward to?
Eisendrath: There will be lots of twists in the stories that we hope people are excited about: Why did Red pick Liz? Is Tom good or bad? Why did Red become the concierge of crime?
“The Blacklist” midseason finale Part 1 airs on Monday, Nov. 25 at 10/9c, followed on Monday, Dec. 2 with Part 2 on NBC.