The Blacklist bosses on Liz's 'dark' decision and that big choice in the season finale
Elizabeth Keen made some huge decisions on 'The Blacklist' season 7 finale.
Liz picked a side.
During The Blacklist’s partially-animated season finale, Agent Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone) picked her superspy mother, Katarina Rostova (Laila Robins), over her criminal mastermind non-father Raymond Reddington (James Spader).
After Reddington gives the task force a case that’ll help him find her mother, Liz decides to clue her mom in and betray Red. The hour also clues Agent Keen on the mysterious illness that Red has been hiding, another thing he won’t tell her the truth about. She’s had enough lies and half-truths, so she’s picking Team Katarina.
We spoke to executive producers Jon Bokenkamp and John Eisendrath about Liz’s choices, Reddington’s illness, and what it means moving forward.
Elizabeth chooses her mother’s side in this fight, but can she trust Katarina? What can you share about the state of their partnership after the finale?
Eisendrath: Liz understands that Katarina is a very dangerous spy and someone who is not the most trustworthy person. However, in the final episode, she did something that genuinely moved Liz and I think motivated her to align herself with Katarina in a very real way. She in some way sacrificed herself for Liz by giving Red information that allows him to track her down. The reason she did it was because she wanted to protect Liz. Katarina didn't want Red to know that Liz had betrayed him for her and that is a very maternal thing to do and it is something that I think more than any other thing that had happened prior convinced Liz to put her eggs in Katarina’s basket.
Bokenkamp: I would just add to that Katarina also put herself. In an incredibly vulnerable place by saving Reddington when he collapses, from whatever happened to him. Katarina didn’t know what would come from that, she actually saved the person that is trying to kill her.
Also, Katarina has come back from her sort of walkabout with new information about Reddington that she can provide to Liz. We heard whispers tonight of The Sikorsky Archive, which will come back, is incredibly important and is part of the deep mythology that goes back to the beginning of the show.
How does her allegiance to Katarina impact the task force? They love her but have a deal, one that gets results, with Reddington.
Bokenkamp: I think we're going to have to wait and see because Reddington doesn't know that Liz has made this choice and the task force doesn't know that she's made this choice. This is a pivot that no one's aware of, so how that plays out and what the fallout from that might be is all yet to come.
Eisendrath: So the task force, I think John's right, doesn't really know what she's going to do, and ultimately, I think the answer to whether the task force with support Liz or not based on her allegiance to Katarina is they care about Liz more than they care about the task force.
There’s been a shift in Liz and Ressler’s (Diego Klattenhoff) dynamic this season, they’ve gotten closer. How has that relationship grown and what that looks like moving forward?
Eisendrath: Ressler and Liz have gone through an incredible amount together and have been there for each other, both when she has gone through incredible hardships with Tom and more recently when she basically saved the day when he got in a difficult situation because of his brother. More than ever, they are at a place where they're going to lean on each other and as Liz is distancing herself from Red by siding with Katarina, she will find that he has an important stabilizing effect on her life.
Reddington’s illness is a seed that was planted some time ago. Why was now the right time to bring it back into play and what can you tease about what’s to come pertaining to his unknown ailment?
Bokenkamp: That ailment, which has been lurking in the background, as we saw in the finale, is very real and very present, whether Reddington wants to acknowledge that or not. It seems that he's trying to wish it away, but everyone else in his life is really worried for him. Reddington's ailment is something that is not going away. It's a story that we’re going to be opening up and leaning into and learning more about when we get into season eight.
Liz is embracing her darkness in an attempt to get to the truth, which begs the question: how dark is she about to get?
Eisendrath: We talked for years about the sort of consequences to Liz, of what she is enduring on the series, and her introspective questioning about if Red is a part of her life and Katarina is her mother, what darkness has she inherited? We've gotten pretty close to some dark places and she's done some dark things, like killing the Attorney-General early on. This is more of a kind of a Rubicon moment where she crosses over. She's prepared emotionally at the end of this season more than at any other time. Before she would look at the darkness in front of her and fear that if she went there it would be a mistake. Now she looks at it more as an opportunity than an obstacle.
Bokenkamp: I'll just point out, that's probably one of the things that has pulled her closer to Ressler. When you look at him as such a noble sort of guy who's wanting to do the right thing, I think she maybe looks to him in contrast to what she can feel is happening within herself.
You used the animation to create the epic ending with Liz standing on a rooftop that gave us real superhero vibes. Talk to me about that final scene.
Bokenkamp: We wanted a moment to visually represent where she was going. She's in a very powerful place, the whole world is in front of her and she's resolved. The ending of that episode is almost more of a beginning. What we were going for, was some sort of emotion or feeling at the end of the episode she knew that she had to embrace what she feels is her destiny and that’s what propels us forward going into Season 8.
The finale opens and closes with Liz talking to Dom, played by the late Brian Dennehy. What was working with him like and is there anything you’d like to share about him?
Eisendrath: It required a great deal of presence and someone who was very formidable to play the part of Dom. We were incredibly lucky to get someone who had both an incredible amount of presence and was very formidable in Brian Dennehy because he had to play against James Spader, not just in scenes with him, but he had to play a character who pushed back against him and who Raymond Reddington could not push over and dominate. Brian was perfect for that part because he was able to stand up and go toe to toe with Spader in a way that elevated the show and elevated their scenes together.
The Blacklist will return for season 8 on NBC.