Natalie Abrams
December 27, 2017 AT 01:00 PM EST

With The Blacklist on the cusp of hitting 100 episodes, Liz Keen now finally in on the secret that Raymond Reddington is her father, and the titular list of criminals seemingly dwindling, how much life does the NBC thriller have left?

Currently in its fifth season, The Blacklist has been a decent performer for the peacock, especially factoring in delayed viewing — with Live +7, the show is currently averaging 8.3 million total viewers and a 1.6 in the 18-49 demographic. The series even spawned the spinoff Redemption (though it was ill-fated) last year. But the fate of The Blacklist hangs in the balance, as NBC has yet to renew the Megan Boone and James Spader-starring drama for a sixth season.

Even so, The Blacklist bosses aren’t looking at season 5 as the end. “We have a great cliffhanger, and a big ending for the season in mind that I think is going to be really compelling,” executive producer Jon Bokenkamp tells EW. “It’s not what we imagine the end of the series to be.”

Virginia Sherwood/NBC

“It’s interesting to not know, and how you write toward that,” Bokenkamp says of penning the final episodes of the season without renewal news. “We’ve decided that we love the characters enough that if, for whatever reason, we didn’t have an opportunity to come back, we just have to find another way to do it, but we’re not going to rush to some ending out of fear that we’re not coming back. We have a story that we’re telling that we really like, and it’s going to take the time it takes to tell it.”

The Blacklist fans should cross their fingers for a renewal, though, because fellow EP John Eisendrath promises this season will go out with a bang. “We’re confident,” he says, “that we have the best cliffhanger at the end of this season that we’ve had in the series.”

The Blacklist returns Wednesday, Jan. 3, at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.

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