The Blacklist bosses preview next chapter of the Red-and-Liz saga
After siding with her mother, Katarina Rostova (Laila Robins), against Red (James Spader) at the end of the NBC drama's seventh season, Agent Keen (Megan Boone) will be ramping up her quest for answers. In fact, the show's producers originally intended for Keen — and audiences — to get those earlier this year, before the COVID-19 pandemic changed everything. Season 8 picks up "in the immediate aftermath of the season finale," executive producer Jon Bokenkamp tells EW. "The truth is, these next three episodes were our last three episodes of season 7. We've reworked them in a way that they're now the launch of the season."
As a result of Liz choosing Katarina over Red, the FBI agent is in a bind because no one else knows she's aligned with her mother. Red and the task force are in the dark, and what Liz has chosen to do will affect all their lives. "We're going to watch them catch up in real time and see what it does to not only the Red-Liz relationship, but to the relationship of everyone else in the task force," Bokenkamp says.
Ahead of the season 8 premiere (Nov. 13 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on NBC), EW spoke to Bokenkamp and fellow executive producer John Eisendrath to preview this next chapter of Liz's journey.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What can you reveal about the conflict between Reddington and Liz? How much will this change the show?
JOHN EISENDRATH: I don't think we can emphasize enough how great the conflict will be because of Liz's choice. Liz is now on a path that she insists she will stay on until she gets answers. This will put her more at odds with Red than we've ever seen, and it will put the task force between the two of them, forcing them to make decisions about who they're going to support in ways that we've never seen them have to do before. Everyone is going to be forced to make decisions that have to do with this growing conflict.
We discussed how Liz was embracing her darkness to get answers at the end of last season. How dark can we expect Liz to go?
JON BOKENKAMP: That's the ultimate question, right? What is this decision going to do to her? We started out in the pilot with a very young, innocent, and idealistic FBI agent, who was very by-the-book. Throughout the show, she has dipped her toes into the dark waters in a variety of ways. Additionally, she's learned a lot from Reddington. "Think like a criminal" is something he suggested that she do, and she has started to do that and embrace that. One of the big questions is if this darker side of her has always been within her? Is it undeniable, something she can survive, or something she can rise above? It's the ultimate question because in terms of who she is and what this ride will do to her, it will fundamentally change her and the task force and everyone involved.
Katarina had a considerable impact on Liz in season 7. How much of a role will she play this season?
BOKENKAMP: [Katarina] is a linchpin for Liz. The choices for Liz become even more binary this season because of information that Katarina has uncovered. Both Katarina and Liz share a deep, sometimes frustration, sometimes anger, sometimes hatred toward Reddington for the way he entered and uprooted their lives. For Liz to finally have somebody that understands what that's like is pivotal. Her mother and the story that we're telling with her mother will define who Liz becomes as we move forward.
How much will Reddington's mysterious illness play a role in season 8?
EISENDRATH: Red has a zest for life and enthusiasm about living every day to its fullest, and this obviously very impactful illness is something he is going to have to deal with, but on a day-to-day basis he is someone who is as enthusiastic and energetic about living life to the fullest as he has always been.
What else can you share about season 8? What's in store for the other characters?
EISENDRATH: We have some really great stories in each of their individual lives that will further develop who they are, apart from the Red-Liz story. We also are dealing with the fact that they are caught in the middle of the story, and that is going to force them to make decisions that are going to really make their relationships with both Red and Liz more intense. Liz and Ressler, their relationship is going to grow more intense because of the situation. The same is true for Cooper and Aram. We have very intense personal drama that is going to unfold in and around Red and Liz's story.
James Spader is Raymond "Red" Reddington, a mastermind criminal who teams up with the FBI.