It’s all over for Raymond Reddington (James Spader).
Well, not all over. When NBC’s The Blacklist returns, Red — or rather, whoever’s been posing as Red for 30 years — won’t expose who he is to Liz Keen (Megan Boone), but he will be arrested and put behind bars. The twist comes early in season 6, and according to EP John Eisendrath, has been an arc the writers have wanted to do for a long time.
“We’ve always thought that someday on the show we would like to dramatize Red getting arrested,” he says. “He’s the most wanted man in America, a fugitive who’s managed to elude the authorities for 30 years, so we always thought, just in theory, that it would be a great story to see what happens when he is in fact arrested.”
As seen in the exclusive trailer for the new season above, Red faces consequences for his crimes. Because Liz and the task force must disavow him to protect themselves, he has no way out — for now. “They can’t just go in and say, ‘Hey, guess what, he’s on our team,'” EP Jon Bokenkamp points out. “Red’s sort of left on this island out there trying to fend for himself. Seeing what his life would be like completely turned upside down and how he navigates that system — we just thought that was a really interesting, dark story to tell that we haven’t done yet.”
Though he may seem just as calm and collected as always in the teaser, Red’s “shocked,” Eisendrath teases. “He’ll wonder going forward, ‘How did this happen? Did it happen on accident or with someone who is trying to get me?'”
That’s a discussion he’ll have with Liz, who visits Red in prison. She obviously knows he’s not the real Raymond Reddington, as she learned in the season 5 finale, but she’s also unsure of what her next steps should be. “Not only is she trying desperately to unravel the truth of who this man is and why he entered her life and why he chose her, but she’s also having to try to be present in a very caring way, because he doesn’t know that she knows the truth,” Bokenkamp explains. “It makes for some really interesting and complex situations to put her in. She’s sort of feigning concern for him while still trying to work the mystery and unravel a greater sort of truth.”
Below, EW can share three exclusive photos from the upcoming season:
The Blacklist returns for a two-part, two-night premiere starting Thursday, Jan. 3, at 10 p.m. ET on NBC.