Mr. Kaplan (Susan Blommaert) just can't seem to catch a break onThe Blacklist. First, she was shot in the face by Red Reddington (James Spader) as payback for her betrayal. Miraculously, she survived, but her luck didn't extend to meeting a kind-hearted rescuer. No, when we last saw Mr. Kaplan, she was being rather roughly dragged through the woods by a man on a very uncomfortable-looking makeshift stretcher.
So, who is that man, and what does he want with Mr. Kaplan? Is her bad luck just beginning? TVGuide.com turned to Blacklist creator Jon Bokenkamp for answers. Here's what he had to say about Mr. Kaplan's new friend, the clues Liz has discovered about her past, and what's next for Samar and Aram:
TVGuide.com: What can you tell us about the man we see dragging Mr. Kaplan through the woods?
Jon Bokenkamp: Boy, what can I tell you? We're gonna go down the rabbit hole with Mr. Kaplan into a sort of unexpected world, I think. She has been left for dead and has been rescued. That could be good and that could be bad, and maybe full of a couple turns and twists. But what that character will not do is race her to the nearest Good Samaritan hospital and wish her well. It'll be a little more fun than that.
What we don't typically do is slow stuff way down. That is going to be a story that is a little bit of a slow burn for us. It's not going to be completely answered in the next episode or even the one after that. There's a little bit of a slow burn story that we're telling with this character who we just met last week in silhouette and Mr. Kaplan. I think it's going to be rather interesting.
When will she and Red cross paths again?
Bokenkamp: That's interesting. What's unique about this, and we don't often do this, but this is a story that's sort of happening in a vacuum. Red has, for all intents and purposes, killed Mr. Kaplan. And yet she has managed to barely survive. So, we're telling a story that's sort of parallel to the lives of Red and Liz (Megan Boone) and Tom (Ryan Eggold) and Ressler (Diego Klattenhoff) and the task force. We did that a little bit in the first season, where we saw this - we called him the Apple Eating Man, who was watching Tom and Liz. And we had a run of episodes where we didn't know who these people were. Finally, in that case, those stories converged. Here, we may take a different route, or we may end up in a different place. But one of the things that's unique about it, and I think sort of unusual, is that we're just telling a little short story with Mr. Kaplan off on her own, really untethered to Red or Liz or what's going on with Agnes or Alexander Kirk (Ulrich Thomsen). She's sort of in her own bubble off in the wilderness, in her own little movie.
TVGuide.com: It sounds like it will be a while until those stories converge again. How is Mr. Kaplan feeling towards Red at the moment?
Bokenkamp: One thing about Mr. Kaplan - she knows how Red feels, and I think she knows it would probably not be wise to go say, "Hey, I'm alive and well." Or, "alive." I don't know about "well." So we're not in a big rush to play scenes between Red and Mr. Kaplan, if we will. Her condition is super grave. She's been shot in the face, is clinging to life at the moment. I think any stories with her at the moment are really just about survival and staying alive, and that's about it. That's all that's on her plate right now.
Is it fair to say that she has extensive injuries from the shooting?
Bokenkamp: Yes. One of the only things that we really learned last week, other than the fact that she's alive, is that she's tethered to the back of some makeshift gurney and she's not moving a lot. So, yes, really Mr. Kaplan is in a desperate place with a complete stranger.
Will we see Liz find out that Red shot Mr. Kaplan?
Bokenkamp: Red oftentimes is selective with the information that he imparts. He sometimes leaves out pieces of the story. In last week's episode, [Liz] brought it up and he said nothing about it. He totally dodged it. I think he sort of feels like it's none of her business. We may see other people ask about [Mr. Kaplan], but as far as Red is concerned, and really we're concerned, that story is over and existing off on its own. But yes, as this run of episodes moves forward, I think that is obviously a question that is yet unanswered in [Liz's] mind. It's fair to assume that may come up, yeah.
Switching gears to Liz, she's trying to figure out who's telling her the truth about her past - Red or Alexander Kirk. Are the writers dropping "clues" along the way so that viewers could potentially figure this out on their own, or will we be going on the journey along with Liz?
Bokenkamp: I think the audience has all the information that Liz has. I don't know there are clues so much as truths about who these men are to her. They're both telling different sides of the story. Maybe through the lens of history some things are remembered slightly differently. But I think what's interesting about Kirk is that he's coming in with a story that he's incredibly passionate about, and truths that he believes in his soul - even so much that they're turning up in Liz's mind as memories. In our second episode, she's remembering moments with her mother. She's digging up items that clearly were not planted. These are 25-year-old items that were buried. She's found her journal, and read truths that were not fake, that are grounded in the mythology of the show. Again, that's one of the things that makes Kirk so dangerous to Reddington, is that he has real, concrete answers. So, yes, there are answers woven into everything that's happening right now, and I think when you look back on the story ... hopefully the audience will be able to understand that we're playing fair with them and that the truths are being laid out as these episodes progress.
We saw Liz's mother in her memories. Is there any chance Katarina is still alive?
Bokenkamp: Well, they never did find her body. That is true. She, as the story goes, walked off into the water and committed suicide at Cape May, and sort of washed away. But it is true that her body was never found.
Does Tom know more about Liz's background than he's letting on?
Bokenkamp: I don't know. Quite honestly, that hadn't occurred to me. He may. I'm not saying he doesn't. ... but that's not something that we're playing. Really right now, with the two of them, I feel like they really are just struggling to 1) get their baby back, but 2) figure out who they are. They're living in this weird set of an apartment, in a warehouse that's being guarded 24/7 by Reddington's men, and their baby's in the wind. I think they're just sort of in this weird, surreal dream, trying to get grounded in some way. So, yeah, right now I think they're all about getting their baby back. In Thursday's episode, that is going to be something that's going to be a real conflict for them in their relationship. How do they handle this? Tom is an operative. He wants to take action. Liz is a profiler. She's somebody who might want to be a little more careful and let things play out. And that is going to be a real problem for them.
The last time we spoke, you said the writers were just starting to discuss how to launch the spin-off The Blacklist: Redemption. Is there anything more you can share about that?
Bokenkamp: That is something that we're still kind of figuring out. We have a plan. ... I don't know what to say there. I don't have anything quite yet without blowing stuff.
Is it fair to say that seeds have been planted in these first few episodes about the plot that will carry Tom over to Blacklist: Redemption?
Bokenkamp: I think seeds were planted even before that. The draw that is going to have to pull Tom away from this whole world is something that has sort of been woven into the show for some time. It goes back years for him. We have a really compelling story for who Tom is, how he came to be. ... Really, the kernels of the idea that ultimately will take Tom into another world really aren't something that are as immediate as this run of three or five or 10 episodes. They go back much deeper than that.
A possibly related question: Are there any plans to incorporate Scottie (Famke Janssen) into this season of The Blacklist?
Bokenkamp: There's not. We had talked about it and we actually had a story that we were going to do in this episode, in fact, that ultimately didn't feel like it was worthy of her character. We ended up not doing it because it wasn't a big enough story that told us enough about that character. So, we decided to wait. So at the moment, no, we really don't have any plans to bring her in and to have those worlds cross over. They will in time, but not in the immediate future.
A fan on Twitter asked if we'll ever find out who sent Red the mysterious painting in Season 3.
Bokenkamp: That was a warning from, I believe, Alexander Kirk. ... It was a sort of a warning shot from across the bow to Reddington, saying, "I know and I'm coming." I wish there was some deeper mind-bending turn there.
Can we expect more from the Samar (Mozhan Marno) and Aram (Amir Arison) storyline?
Bokenkamp: Yes, very much so. Samar and Aram have a story that is playing out that I think we just hinted at at the end of last week's episode. Aram has had a bit of a secret that he hasn't been telling us, and that is certainly news to Samar and Ressler and everyone, that Amar is making dinner and having dates and having a life outside of the post office that is perhaps quite a bit more interesting than we might have expected. That will have ripple effects, obviously, within the post office and work and whatever that relationship has been between Samar and Aram - that sort of puppy love that he has had that is fantastic, but in fact may be a little bit more deep than that.
Will we see more of the FBI and Team Keen working together?
Bokenkamp: Yeah, for sure. They're going to continue to work together. That doesn't mean that there won't be still some bad blood there. I think Samar specifically is really struggling with how to continue with this task force, when Liz sets the house on fire and expects everyone else to come put it out. She is really struggling with that. Cooper (Harry Lennix) is having to kind of keep the family together and try to keep the train on the tracks. ... We are going to continue to have some significant ripple effects from the fact that Liz faked her death and betrayed the trust of the people who care the most for her.
Is it possible that betrayal might lead to personnel changes?
The Blacklist airs Thursdays at 10/9c on NBC.