Will Hart/NBC
Natalie Abrams
January 16, 2018 AT 03:52 PM EST

After five seasons of twists, turns, and more blacklisters than we can count, The Blacklist will hit 100 episodes on Wednesday.

The NBC thriller debuted back in 2013 with a simple premise: Former U.S. Naval officer-turned-high-profile criminal Raymond Reddington (James Spader) surrenders to the FBI, offering up a list of the most dangerous criminals in the world on the condition that he only works with rookie FBI profiler Liz Keen (Megan Boone). While the concept remains intact, the show has certainly evolved over the last five seasons — and so, too, has the reward of hitting this landmark.

“It means a very different thing now than what it used to mean,” Spader tells EW of hitting 100 episodes. “It used to mean that 100 episodes is a very important figure because it was when a television series was sold into syndication in a 100-episode package. That now happens much earlier than 100 episodes. So, now it’s just a sense of achievement, I guess.”

In truth, Spader says, the achievement is in making it halfway through another season. “I’m very pleased with this particular episode, not because of what number it is, but it just is a very fun story,” he says. “My great friend Andrew McCarthy is directing it, and Nathan Lane, another friend, is guest-starring with us, and I just happen to like the episode. Our seasons have their hills and valleys in terms of emotion and story. We have some episodes that are very dark and very intense and dramatic, and there are other ones that are lighter and fun. Here we are, we’re in the 11th episode, we’re halfway through the season, and this episode is just that: It’s got a lot of fun to be had in it.”

The hour finds Red going up against blacklister Abraham Stern (Lane), both of whom are on a treasure hunt the latter believes is his birthright — Stern’s own father was a criminal, an echo of the show’s core dynamic between Red and Liz. (Check out photos here.) But Liz will take a dark path during the hour, using what she’s learned from past blacklisters to handle a very, ahem, precarious situation. It’s a wild departure from the Liz Keen viewers first met in the pilot — and an evolution her portrayer has also undergone.

“I went into an experience as one person, and I’m finding I’ll probably come out a very different person,” Boone says. “I went from an actress who was not well-known and who nobody recognized or knew my name, and that changed overnight. The landscape of television has changed so much since I started the show. So, it’s been quite an adventure in many ways.”

“Four and a half years have already gone by, and I feel like this has been such a uniquely gigantic experience that I’ve changed as a result,” Boone continues. “For me, personally, that’s what it feels like, and for me as a member of a group of people who accomplished this together, it’s the most I’ve ever accomplished with a team of people, and so I’m so grateful to the cast and crew on a day like [this], to have this family that has developed.”

The Blacklist’s 100th episode airs Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.

Additional reporting by Chancellor Agard

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