Dembe Zuma and Raymond Reddington argue about their broken bond in The Blacklist sneak peek
It's time to find out why Dembe Zuma (Hisham Tawfiq) joined the FBI.
Since NBC's The Blacklist jumped forward two years, one of the biggest questions is how Raymond Reddington's (James Spader) right-hand man became an FBI agent, and viewers are about to get their answer.
In "Boukman Baptiste," Red's lieutenants are targeted in a series of attacks, which puts Dembe in danger. These dire circumstances compel him to revisit what led him to become an FBI agent after Elizabeth Keen's (Megan Boone) death.
EW has your first look at the Dembe-centric hour. In the clip, Agent Zuma storms into Harold Cooper's (Harry Lennix) office to ask if Reddington knew Dembe would face a man who wants him dead. The ensuing argument sheds some light on how Elizabeth's death impacted them, both individually and in their partnership.
"Red and Dembe's relationship reaches a new low as Red blames Dembe for Liz's death and Dembe blames Red for the tragic incident that resulted in Dembe leaving Red to become an FBI agent," The Blacklist executive producer John Eisendrath tells EW.
For Tawfiq, the hour is the highlight of working on The Blacklist. Not only he is proud of the work he is given, but also the conversations viewers will see on the episode.
"I don't think I've ever been this excited about watching an episode of anything in my life because I really poured a lot of my heart and soul into this one," he says.
Dembe first appeared on The Blacklist in season 1 as Reddington's confidant. A man of few words, he was a capable — and, at times, lethal — right hand to the master criminal. Throughout the series, he became a close friend to Liz and built ties with the task force members. When the show returned for season 9, the complexities of his dynamic with the FBI were gone. He was no longer Red's bodyguard, but Agent Zuma of the FBI. The actor is having a blast with his character's new gig.
"It's a lot more complex, even though I do miss being with Red and I'm sure the fans do," Tawfiq says. "I love getting to do new things, Dembe having new responsibilities, and interacting with different characters, so I'm extremely excited about it."
When Reddington reunited with the task force members, his fractured relationship with Dembe was a massive shift for the series. Apart from a few disagreements, the pair have gone to extreme lengths for one another because of their close bond and long-lasting friendship. The only thing more shocking than Dembe becoming an agent is their dissolved partnership.
The Blacklist has been revisiting the past to reveal what happened to the task force members. A recent episode explored how Donald Ressler handled the loss of Elizabeth Keen. Season 9 has slowly been revealing what happened to each character after they lost Liz.
The Blacklist airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.
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James Spader is Raymond "Red" Reddington, a mastermind criminal who teams up with the FBI.