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Warning: This story contains major spoilers from Thursday’s episode of The Blacklist. Read at your own risk.
The Blacklist may have revealed who has betrayed Red — but can that reveal actually be trusted?
The Blacklist headed into its long hiatus — so The Blacklist: Redemption can air in its timeslot — with the supposed reveal that Red’s (James Spader) quiet and unsuspecting bodyman Dembe (Hisham Tawfiq) is the one tearing Red’s organization apart piece by piece. But after seasons of red herrings, and a woman scorned still on the loose, is it wrong to question what viewers saw on Thursday night? No, which is why EW turned to executive producer Jon Bokenkamp to get some clarity:
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: It looks like Dembe is to blame — at least that’s what you’re showing us. Should we trust that?
JON BOKENKAMP: Yeah. I mean, look, at the end of [Thursday’s] episode, it is revealed that Dembe has attempted to kill Red. And, again, Dembe is one of the only people who would have this kind of information — such intimate details about how Reddington moves, how he does his business. And it was established that Dembe, after he told Elizabeth Keen that Red had murdered Mr. Kaplan, was not happy with it. He made very clear to Reddington that he thought it was a mistake and that Kate was a friend and part of their family, essentially. It does make sense why he would be so upset. As we can see from Reddington, he is absolutely shocked and devastated by this. But yes, as we come back, Dembe is who our entire team is hunting.
Is there more to what we’re seeing, though?
Yeah. What’s fun is that we pick up weeks later. It’s almost real time. It takes eight weeks for Reddington, in the time that we’re down, to hunt Dembe before he gets his big lead that brings him back in episode 16. And that is where he puts Dembe in the line of sight and lays out for the task force why he’s so incredibly dangerous. Only somebody so close to him could hurt him in such a significant way. So, yes, the episode is very much about Red hunting Dembe down and ending this war.
How is this going to ultimately affect Red moving forward?
He’s been dealing with a number of hits. Mr. Kaplan is somebody who told him in the second episode this season that he has to change. He’s watching his empire crumble and I think he’s having to step back and reassess what he’s doing, why he’s doing it, how long he can survive, how many hits his business can take. I think he is very reflective and stepping back and taking stock in what he’s become. As we move into the back half of the season when we come back, one of the things that’s a big question is, “Who’s part of that?” It’s not just Reddington — it’s our task force, it was Mr. Kaplan, it was Dembe, it was Liz and Cooper, and the whole team has been enabling him. So whatever blood has been spilled, to a certain extent, is on their hands as well. That’s something that, not only Reddington, but the entire task force is really struggling with as things are in such fractured place.
The Blacklist returns on Thursday, April 20 with a two-hour episode.