The Blacklist postmortem: What's next for Liz?
Warning: This story contains major spoilers from Thursday’s episode of The Blacklist. Read at your own risk!
Liz Keen is finally free! After half a season on the run, The Blacklist’s now former FBI Agent Liz Keen (Megan Boone) was exonerated thanks to stalwart criminal Raymond Reddington (James Spader).
During the hour, Red unfurled his long-awaited plan to target the Cabal in such a damaging way that would force them to abandon the Director (David Strathairn) and clear Liz’s name. Red basically assembles the Avengers of his underground criminal empire to abduct the Director and turn him over to the Venezuelan government to be charged for war crimes at The Hague.
Though the Cabal makes one last play to kill Keen, they’re forced to wave the white flag, especially with Karakurt (Andrew Divoff) in custody for her crimes. The good news is that the Director is finally killed, but the bad news is that Keen must plead guilty to involuntary manslaughter in the case of the attorney general, leading to some devastating consequences.
“She’s no longer an FBI agent,” executive producer Jon Bokenkamp tells EW. “Her badge has been taken away. The best thing they can call her is a consultant. She’s almost more like Reddington than she was before. Even though she’s cleared of these crimes that she was framed for — and Reddington was able to configure a plan to have the Cabal back down for the assassination of the attorney general, who was a bad guy — the fallout has driven a real wedge within the team, how they work, and who they are. Everything has become a little bit more gray. There’s a real weight that she carries for everything she’s gone through and continues to go through.”
And just because she’s a free woman, that doesn’t mean her life will go back to normal. “In the coming episodes, one of the biggest struggles that she faces is that of a convict,” Bokenkamp says. “She’s not necessarily respected by a lot of law enforcement. She’s probably incredibly respected by some criminals.”
Despite Laurel Hitchin (Christine Lahti) announcing on the news that the Cabal is real and had framed Liz, the American people aren’t immediately swayed to believe she’s innocent. “Just walking through daily life trying to get an apartment, trying to go grocery shopping, she’s confronted with the specter of who she is in her daily life,” Bokenkamp says. “That certainly plays into the run of episodes that’s coming, how she carries herself, thinks about herself and makes choices. That is very much apart of who she’s become. Even though her name has technically been cleared, or that storyline has been buttoned up, the fallout from that does continue.”
That said, the Cabal is still a presence — Red did mysteriously meet with Laurel in the closing moments of the episode, after all — but “in a different way,” Bokenkamp says. “One of the things that Red alludes to in episode 11 is that the fight with the Cabal is the tip of the iceberg. It’s part of a much larger puzzle. To think that defeating that organization, or pushing pause on that organization, is the end game would be foolish. His plan is much larger, and the dangers that they face are much larger than Liz has really understood to date.”
The Blacklist airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET on NBC.