[Warning: This story contains major spoilers from Monday's season finale of The Blacklist. Read at your own risk!]
Red Reddington's past misdeeds have come back to haunt him, but it wasn't the notorious criminal who paid the ultimate price in the season finale of The Blacklist.
With a ragtag cadre of criminals loose in New York City after the prison plane crash-landed, the FBI has no other choice but to let Red (James Spader) escape so he can help track down the mysterious Berlin, the person who has been trying to destroy Red's life piece by piece. But Berlin isn't just going after Red; he also wants to make the entire task force pay. Red's warning comes too late for Meera (Parminder Nagra), whose throat is slit by the same man who puts Cooper (Harry Lennix) in a coma.
Apparently, back in 2010, Red took everything away from a man who claims he's Berlin (Andrew Howard). But Red knows that he's been targeted by his Berlin for much longer than four years. So who is the real Berlin? By process of elimination, the culprit has to be the only remaining person left from the plane, a supposed "guard" whose arm was chopped off in the criminals' bid to escape. The real Berlin, played by Prison Break's Peter Stormare, seeks revenge on Red for allegedly chopping up his daughter into a tiny pieces and then sending them to Berlin while he was in prison.
The finale also provided a few answers about Liz (Megan Boone) ending up in the care of her adoptive father Sam (William Sadler), who Red admits that he killed to keep Liz from learning the true identity of her father. Her imposter husband Tom (Ryan Eggold) reveals that her father is actually still alive before he himself is shot by Liz. It's possible that he's dead, but the police never find his body. The truth is that whoever left Liz in Sam's care after her father perished in that fire had to go on the run because he was in danger. Could Red, who swears to Liz that her father is indeed dead, be the man who left Liz with Sam? Red's back was covered in burn scars, after all! TVGuide.com turned to Blacklist creator Jon Bokenkamp to get the scoop on Season 2:
What came with the decision to kill off Meera?
Jon Bokenkamp: It was a super hard decision. I love all of our cast. It was a bit of a game of roulette in the writers' room in terms of how that was going to fall. In one moment it was more than just Meera. We actually had three people on the block at one point. But an audience gets to know the characters on the show, and we didn't want to start over completely fresh like it was a completely different show, so Cooper gets to move his thumb at the end and hopefully survive. Parminder's been amazing. She's an old pro. She's done television for many years. She's been great on the show, so it's going to be really hard to lose her. Hopefully that will open us up to new possibilities.
I was going to ask how her death changes the dynamic of the group, but there is no group now that the task force was decommissioned. What does that mean for them moving forward?
Bokenkamp: It's going to have to be some sort of shift in the paradigm. The heart of the show is the template that we do week to week and I'd be lying if we didn't hope to get back to that in some way. It's like when Red came in during the second episode and introduced Dembe (Hisham Tawfiq) and Luli (Deborah S. Craig) and that changed the dynamic of what the group was. The task force had to put up with these two criminals. It's that kind of shift. We'll see if that means the show moves physically to somewhere else or if that means we have a new complexion to what the group is. It will definitely have a ripple effect in how we move forward.
Should we assume that Cooper will likely survive?
Bokenkamp: The movement and flicker of life that Ressler (Diego Klattenhoff) saw in that last montage is certainly hope. It's a show that surprises me about how dark it is. But I think that was a hopeful sign for Cooper. Him surviving in any capacity would have a real emotional impact, especially on Ressler, who we leave sitting there alone in the room. He's one of the only people who has survived this. I'd say there's hope, but God knows what might happen over the next few months as we try to figure this out.
We learned that a lot of the Blacklisters ended up being connected. Will you go back to more standalone episodes in Season 2 or does the introduction of Berlin provide an opportunity to go more serialized?
Bokenkamp: I don't think we'll be more serialized. At times, we maybe got a little more serialized than we would've liked. We will always have a Blacklister-of-the-week. The serialized story that we will continue to tell won't be the story of a woman who is living with a husband who is a complete imposter. That story of Tom and Liz and their marriage is over. The framework of the show, to an extent, has shifted. The cases were connected, but not all of them. Red was using the cases to smoke out Berlin, but in the same way that he's using them to identify Berlin, he may have other agendas. I don't want to give the impression that they're all connected just to that.
So will Berlin be the big bad of Season 2? And does that mean Peter Stormare will return in a bigger capacity?
Bokenkamp: Yeah, we hope so. The Berlin-Red story is one that I think is interesting simply because Red is still operating in the dark to an extent, in terms of what he's done to this man and why he's after him. The questions that he asked the character played by Andrew Howard in the end all still remain. He doesn't know exactly what he's done to this man. We see him looking at the photo of the woman at the end of the episode, so I think he has suspicions of who Berlin is, but there are a lot of questions out there. It's going to be fun to get to know Peter Stormare's character and understand their relationship and how they're connected.
Is it safe to assume that Red is the man that killed Berlin's daughter?
Bokenkamp: I don't know that we should assume that. That's what Berlin assumes. That's likely the case, but one of the things that we like doing with our storytelling is giving an answer, but still having another way to approach that answer. There's a story that Berlin believes and one that Red believes, but it may be more complex than that.
Liz has decided to leave with Red. What's her motivation: Because she seeks answers or because there is nothing left for her there?
Bokenkamp: I think it's a little of both. She's in a place where her world has imploded. The world that she knew in the pilot with a husband, a cute apartment, a dog and the first day on the job is gone. She has many questions. She trusts Red to the extent that he's trying to help her, whether he has his own agenda or what his ultimate goal is. She knows there are truths that he has, which was proven by the story of Tom. If he was right about Tom, what else does he know about who she is versus what she believes herself to be? She was given the name Elizabeth by her adoptive father. She became Elizabeth Keen when she married Tom. She's not really Elizabeth or Keen, so her identity and what she wants to become is going to be one of the most exciting things about Season 2.
Tom said that Liz's father is still alive, but Red insists he's dead. Is Red part of a cover up or does Red really think he's dead?
Bokenkamp: What I do not believe is that Red is lying to Liz. The things he's told her about her father he believes to be true and thus are true, but that doesn't necessarily mean those in the writers' room believe them to be true. It's safe to believe that what he told her on the steps was the truth so far as he knows.
Tom appeared to be dead, but then the police didn't find his body. Will he be back next season?
Bokenkamp: I hope so. Honestly, that's one thing that I'm not entirely sure how he will or may or could even weave into her life because it does feel like such a conclusion that this man entered her life, had a role to play and he's now gone. That said, I loved the character and I love Ryan. There's something really compelling about the stories that we've been able to tell with him. I'm hoping we can surprise ourselves with that.
Red is covered in burn scars, so clearly he was in that same fire that apparently claimed the life of Liz's father. Could he be related to her in some other way?
Bokenkamp: It's safe to say that he is connected to her past in some deeply emotional way. Either that, or maybe he was a firefighter in another life. [Laughs] They both have an understanding of [the mythology between them], but don't really have the whole picture. Like Red says at the end of the finale, "You can choose this and confront it or you can hide from it." She's part of the story now and she really doesn't have much of a choice other than to go forward.
What's the best theory you've heard about how Red is connected to Liz?
Bokenkamp: We've heard everything from she's a cyborg to Berlin is her father to Tom is Red's father. It's pretty wild when you go fishing in the comments' section of various websites. It can make for a good night.
Do you know the ultimate answer to that or has it changed as the show has evolved?
Bokenkamp: I definitely have one particular thing in mind and I've shared that with James and [executive producers] John Eisendrath and John Fox. We have a solid landscape that we're working in. That said, James has said before: When you're hoping for something to be on air for years, you really have to be open to change and open to listening to the story. I would be lying if I said we have absolutely everything figured out because that's part of the joy of it.
What did you think of The Blacklist finale? Were you surprised Meera died? How do you think Red is connected to Liz? Hit the comments!
The Blacklist returns to NBC this fall.