Warning: The following contains spoilers from the first two episodes of The Blacklist season 6. Read at your own risk!
Raymond Reddington (James Spader) has finally been captured — but he’s not going to go down without a fight.
At the end of the two-part season 6 premiere of NBC’s The Blacklist, Red tells Liz (Megan Boone) that he’ll stop at nothing to find out who caused his downfall. So clearly, he has no idea Liz is the one who gave him up in the first place — or does he? Executive producers Jon Bokenkamp and John Eisendrath break down this latest twist and tease the drama to come. (Spoiler alert: Red will find out, because he always does.)
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Let’s start with Red. What is he going to be like locked up?
JON BOKENKAMP: Raymond Reddington is a character who embraces the situation, no matter how dangerous or precarious or unusual it may be. He is not one to put his tail between his legs and be afraid. So I think he’ll probably enjoy the silence in some ways, but this is not something he has gone through before. Even if he is somewhat terrified on the inside, he certainly isn’t going to show that to the prison warden or any of his other inmates.
EISENDRATH: He’s obviously shocked. [His capture] happened in the most mundane way — the average cop walks up and identifies who he is. That scene in some ways is the most surprising way to end a 30-year manhunt, so of course he’ll wonder going forward, “How did this happen? And did it happen on accident or did it happen with someone who is trying to get me?”
Obviously, we know it’s the latter, and that the person who betrayed him was Liz. Tell me about writing that twist and choosing Liz to be the culprit.
EISENDRATH: By the end of the episode, the audience knows that Liz turned in Red, and that Red has pledged to identify and kill the person who turned him in. This sets up a season-long ticking clock — with Red gradually getting closer to the truth, and Liz doing whatever she can to hide it. Eventually Red will learn that Liz betrayed him — which will put his pledge to murder his betrayer to the test.
And what about Liz, then? She looks quite torn about throwing Red under the bus, even if Jennifer (Fiona Dourif) approves of what she did. Speaking of which, should she trust Jennifer as much as she does at this stage?
BOKENKAMP: It’s The Blacklist, so I don’t think you can trust anybody. These two women are the only people on Earth who share this circumstance — they both have been lied to or misunderstood where they come from, and they both are hell-bent on getting to the truth. So this idea, of two sisters who come from very different backgrounds thrown into this situation, is I hope good and healthy.
EISENDRATH: One of Liz’s realizations from the very early on in The Blacklist is that it’s possible that she is part of a larger family, one she was totally unaware of. And I feel from Liz’s point of view, there is a desire certainly to have an ally. I think that her desire for that is real and will come out, but ultimately whether the desire to trust Jennifer syncs up with whether she should trust Jennifer, we’ll have to wait and see. She’s hopeful that she has in Jennifer more than just an ally against Red, but a sibling.
Finally, just to wrap up: How much fun was it to write that monologue about Cary Grant and LSD for James?
EISENDRATH: [Laughs] You know what, he’s a guy who pulls from so many different types of source material, so we always want him to have a very unique point of view about wherever he is and whatever he’s doing. We talked about some iconic moments that have happened at the UN, and we thought of North by Northwest and Cary Grant being accused of stabbing a diplomat in the back, and just, in the way that Red thinks, we’ve come to [ask the question], “Where would his mind drift to?” It drifted to what is apparently true about Cary Grant’s LSD trips.
BOKENKAMP: When we were first talking about that and about him being in the UN, I remember we started laughing. We had different versions of [what he would do], but that was a big blank space on the board, knowing that he would be rambling an unusual story. That’s one of the things that I think is really fun about the show: In that sequence, not only are they disarming a bomb, but they’re in the UN and Red is giving this really strange speech. It’s unusual, the tone. I was watching it back as we were doing the sound playback, thinking, “What is happening? This is so weird,” and yet you’re just drawn in by him.
EISENDRATH: I also think, as weird as so much of what he says is, the UN speech is a really good example of how he ultimately believes himself to be very moral and to have a very clear vision of how the world should be. [Laughs] He has a very clear vision of what he thinks right and wrong is, but he just expresses it in very unusual ways.
The Blacklist airs Fridays at 9 p.m. ET on NBC.