The Blacklist star Laura Sohn on the cost of Alina's debt and working with James Spader
Warning: This article contains spoilers for Friday's episode of The Blacklist, "Rakitin"
Raymond Reddington called in Alina Park's debt on The Blacklist this week, and the cost was dire.
Harold Cooper's (Harry Lennix) mission to prove that Red (James Spader) is the Russian operative N13 ended up putting Agent Park (Laura Sohn) in a horrible position. Rakitin (Seth Numrich) kidnapped Harold for getting close to capturing him, so Red gave up his comrade's location, and the task force came to the rescue. To ensure Rakitin wouldn't talk while in the task force's custody, Red called in Alina's debt — which she owed for his help covering up her attack on Mason Dieterle (Tye Alexander) — and she passed the operative-turned-witness a note from Reddington. The blank note turned out to be laced, and Rakitin died, making Agent Park an accomplice to murder.
Making matters even more complicated, Alina discovered that Red's version of "taking care" of the man she beat nearly to death was to give him a new life in another town, a fact he used to force her to help with Rakitin.
We spoke to Sohn about her character's highly complex situation, working with Spader, and much more.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Alina ends up in quite the bind because of Reddington. How worried should we be about her getting caught, especially with Mason being out there?
LAURA SOHN: It's hard to tell because with Red, his actions are so unpredictable, so I'm interested to see how the writers are going to continue to push boundaries in the sense of what the relationship with Red is going to be like. It'll also be interesting to see how things might shift with Dembe as well. And if she's going to be looking for any allies along the way or if she's going to be out there on her own.
Your character has a complicated past, issues that contributed to her being in Red's debt. What was your first impression of Alina, and what have you learned about her as you've played her?
From the beginning, I have been very curious about her past. It was very compelling to see how the writers were able to incorporate all her past trauma to align with where her values stand and why she did what she did out of loyalty to her friend.
What is it like to do scenes where Alina's rage comes out?
Personally, I'm not a very violent person. There's something really fun about pushing boundaries as an actor to unlock that sort of rage. I don't really know where it's channeled from, but the most important thing is realizing how important her loyalty towards her family and friends is. She will do whatever it takes to protect those people, the people she loves around her. That's been something that helps me access a source for that rage instead of from a generic rage that you might feel.
Agent Park joins the task force at an interesting time, with Liz becoming a Blacklister and everyone's personal feelings about the situation. I'm interested in your thoughts about what Alina thinks about Liz and how her view has shifted since they first met?
Alina and Liz's relationship is complicated because she sees similarities with Liz and doesn't like it. When she joined the task force, Alina looked up to Ressler a lot because there was a huge admiration for his character and discipline. He's like a goody-two-shoes, and Alina kind of aligns with that.
With Liz, it was tricky from the beginning because Alina saw so much gray in her actions. Now things are becoming clearer, and she's starting to understand Liz and her actions, which Alina doesn't like because it means her morals are shifting and she's changing while on the task force. Naturally, when you see a personality trait in someone else you may not necessarily like about yourself, it conflicts with whether or not you like the other person.
Each member of the task force has their own unique relationship with Red. What is building that dynamic with James Spader like?
Yeah, with Alina and Red, the dynamic is complex and shifting. Red was just intrigued by Alina at first because she did show her rage in the beginning. I'm just as curious as you are to see where it goes, how it continues to shift. I'm even more curious to see it evolved after this episode, to see how this favor Alina owed will play out.
In the scenes that Alina has had with Red, she has a very strong opinion about Red and his character. She feels a lot of internal conflict, especially being on the FBI task force and having to work with a criminal. It's like her dream job has been jeopardized because she doesn't know what to do with this card she never knew existed has come into play. She's been leaning on Cooper a lot because of that; she relies on the other task force members to justify "doing the right thing."
What has it been like for you to join The Blacklist cast?
It's been cool to see how I am just a small puzzle piece in the grand scheme of The Blacklist. In the beginning, it was very intimidating to come into the cast and trying to understand what my relationship would be as a new member of the task force. It feels very new kid on the block, but I think Alina has helped the team see their opinions and views in a new light because there's a new voice in there. It's been really fun and cool to see.
The Blacklist airs Fridays at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.
James Spader is Raymond "Red" Reddington, a mastermind criminal who teams up with the FBI.