The upcoming Blacklist spin-off The Blacklist: Redemption follows Tom (Ryan Eggold) as he goes to work for a team of mercenaries — elusive criminals from Red's infamous list who try to regain their self-worth after a lifetime of inflicting damage on the world. But don't think this is Blacklist 2.0: executive producer John Eisendrath said this is an entirely different beast at the Television Critics Association winter previews in Pasadena, Calif., Wednesday.

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"Redemption stands on its own," Eisendrath said. "It's independent of Blacklist. Particularly in these eight episodes, it's important to establish that world." Even though there's some overlap and the spin-off shares some of the same DNA, this is a spy show — a sexy espionage thriller — whereas Blacklist is much more of a cop show. "It's an entirely different way of telling a story," he added.

As for now, it's "to be determined" if Red (James Spader) will have any influence in this world. Much of that depends on "if we're lucky enough to have more episodes beyond that eight," Eisendrath said. That said, Tom is not "leaving The Blacklist with a period. It's more of a comma."

Ryan Eggold as Tom Keen, Famke Janssen as Susan "Scottie" Hargrave, The Blacklist: RedemptionRyan Eggold as Tom Keen, Famke Janssen as Susan "Scottie" Hargrave, The Blacklist: Redemption



Of course, Tom was originally supposed to die in the initial conception of the series, but creators said that, after it was pitched, executives suggested he stick around, and that idea stuck. Ryan was so dramatic and undeniable, they said, "it became clear he was a character we could build the show on," Eisendrath said.

The Blacklist: Redemption's Ryan Eggold: Tom's "life is going to change dramatically"

The other big question, naturally, is about that lingering sexual tension between Tom and the leader of the team: his mother, Scottie Hargrave (Famke Janssen) — the only one in that relationship unaware they're mother and son. Famke said that while losing her child informs every part of Scottie's life — the way she performs on her job, her reaction to stress — their "will-they-or-won't-they" heat won't be dissipating any time soon. "We're playing it as if I don't know at the moment he's my son," she said. When will she know for sure? Perhaps Season 4, producers joked.

The Blacklist: Redemption premieres Thursday, Feb. 23 at 10/9c on NBC.