The Blacklist boss on Red's decision to finally tell the truth and what comes next
Warning: This article contains spoilers for Friday's episode of The Blacklist, "Godwin Page."
"This is the Blacklist."
Raymond Reddington has always been a secretive figure, but his war with Elizabeth Keen has gone on for too long, and he's finally ready to give her answers. At the end of the latest episode of The Blacklist, Red (James Spader) brought the former Agent Keen (Megan Boone) to Latvia to get the truth about her mother, the Sikorsky Archive, and the fire that changed Liz's life as a child. In the closing moments, he said he'd brought her to the Blacklist itself.
Liz has been burned before by Red's promises of the truth, but this time is different. "[Red] is in a place where he knows that the only way he can protect Liz is by telling her everything, and he has every intention of doing that," executive producer Jon Bokenkamp tells EW. "The answers that were suggested by Reddington in tonight's episode are an appetizer for what's to come."
Below, Bokenkamp talks about finally getting the truth out of Red and teases the next episode of The Blacklist, which will be full of revelations.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: We're meeting the Blacklist. How will what's next shape Red and Liz's dynamic, which has basically been destroyed this season?
JON BOKENKAMP: When he says, "This is the Blacklist," that is conceptual — they're not going to go in and find a list of names. That's the promise the next episode. They are entering, I would almost think of it as a brick-and-mortar operation of Reddington's that we've never seen before. He's a guy who has money and resources and intelligence, and it's all sort of a mystery. This space that we're entering is as tangible of a hold as we can get on Reddington.
Red's intent is to play fair with her and to tell her the story, "to tell her everything," I believe are the words that he says. He has taken her halfway across the world to this very secretive front operation that is basically a distribution outfit. We're going to get go into this, I will call it almost operation center, to see sort of the inner workings of his empire. Beyond the inner workings of the empire, we have the promise of Red telling Liz everything.
Red says Katarina was not "framed or killed" when talking to Liz. What does this mean for what we know about Katarina Rostova?
It means that we don't know the whole story. Red has often been very protective about his relationship and history with Katarina, and with his really his relationship about many people in his life, including Dom. What is his relationship with them both? Those are the sorts of things I know we'll [address] in the next episode.
Are we really in danger of losing the task force? How worried should we be?
Now, that story may take a little bit of pause because this next episode really focuses on Liz hearing the story, so Ressler and the condition he's in, this burn notice that has been issued for Liz, and the rest of the task force, we'll come back to. They're all in a very precarious position, and it's very real. Liz has become an incredible liability to the agency she used to work for. When Panabaker came in to deliver that news, it was done with a heavy heart because it's very real. We don't dive back into that story in the next episode, but we have two very big episodes to come, and a lot of story to unpack.
With the task force in danger, Liz's new status, and the organization Red teases at the end of the episode, is there a new path being created for the story away from the FBI?
That's a legitimate question. This season for some reason has been more serialized, and it wasn't really intentional. It's become one long story, but that's a byproduct of what we're heading toward and where the series is going. It's fair to say that we are coming to a close of a story on this series. It's not necessarily the close of the series, but we are resolving a sprawling story that we'e been telling for eight years, and we're going to have a real understanding of why this man came into Elizabeth Keen's life, why she's in danger, why Katarina did what she did.
Next week's episode is another one that isn't your typical episode of The Blacklist. What can you share about what's next?
The promise of the next episode, which we are incredibly excited about, is to really walk through, almost as a document, eight years of mythology. We're going back to the night of the fire, we're going back to Cape May, we're going back to pivotal moments that have defined why Raymond Reddington came into Elizabeth Keen's life, and we've never really done this before. For diehard fans, and for casual viewers, it's going to be a really eye-opening, enlightening, and satisfying episode. It is titled "Nachalo," which is the Russian word for "the beginning." We really are going back to the beginning to hear the story be told, and it's done in a very artful and yet surreal and unusual way that really is not like anything we've ever done.
How excited do you guys get about doing these special episodes?
I love this sort of off-pattern episodes. The show has always been a strange hybrid of a standalone procedural and serialized, deep mythology. I've loved the stories like when we go back in "Brothers" with Ressler and his brother, or Cooper's story, or "Ruin," which was with Liz, or "Cape May." Those are sort of standalone character pieces.
This next episode, what's so special about it is it's really a story about the mythology, and we've never done that before. This is really a deep dive into all the little loose ends, all these different characters who know each other in different ways. How do they come together? How do they tie together? This one was super-satisfying to write because there's such a long arc of mythology that we've worked very hard to try to stay true to. To be able to give the audience some answers is really exciting.
It's also a very different episode because it's largely in black-and-white. It's visually a really interesting episode. A dear friend of mine was the director of the episode, Kurt Kuenne, who's made a number of great documentaries, including one lot of people might know called Dear Zachary. He's such a good documentary filmmaker, and this episode is sort of a document. It's the evidence of what has been happening over the years. This one is a very special one.
What can you tease about what's next as we head toward the end of the season?
These last two episodes, which in a weird way are kind of a companion piece, are incredibly surprising. It's really hard after eight years to find new surprises, and I think these next two episodes have some of the biggest surprises we've had in eight years.
The Blacklist returns Wednesday, June 16, at 10 p.m. ET/PT on NBC.
James Spader is Raymond "Red" Reddington, a mastermind criminal who teams up with the FBI.