Lizzie is going to have to tap into her dark, criminal side on The Blacklist this season.
When the drama returns Thursday (9/8c, NBC), FBI profiler Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone) is now wanted by the FBI after the mysterious organization known as the Cabal framed her for several murders last season. In order to stay free long enough to clear her name, Liz will have to act like the criminal everyone thinks she is.
"She did not do many of the things she's accused of doing, but she did shoot the Attorney General, so she's wrestling about how could she be the kind of person who would've shot that man basically in cold blood,"creator Jon Bokenkamp tells TVGuide.com. "One thing we are going to see are glimpses of a criminal past that we've hinted at before... and how that sort of thinking may be useful in some of these desperate situations."
Fortunately, she won't be alone. The concierge of crime, Raymond "Red" Reddington (James Spader), has always had an inexplicable soft spot for her. "They are in many ways closer than they've ever been," executive producer John Eisendrath says. "Now he is trying to do everything he can to ... find evidence that would exonerate her. So, he is in many ways her guardian angel still. But they don't always agree on what the right course of action is on the fugitive quest that they're on. There will be disagreements and friction in terms of choices, sometimes life or death choices, that are being made along the way."
Here's what else you can expect for our favorite characters on The Blacklist this season:
Liz Keen: Agent Keen may have to channel her dark side, but her hair is going light. The sneak peek pictures and promos don't lie; Liz will dye her hair blonde in order to evade the FBI. In her desperation, she'll also turn to a surprising source for help that even Red advises her not to trust. Plus: You haven't heard the last of her Russian name, Masha Rostova.
Raymond Reddington: Get ready to learn a lot more about the mysterious Red, now that he'll call on all of his shady resources and contacts to help Liz. "We want to see what's Red's evacuation plan? How does he operate?" Bokenkamp says. "When he calls someone and says, 'I need to travel,' and they get into a little silver van and drive off, what happens? How does that work? So, she is going to step behind the curtain and see Raymond Reddington in a different way and who he knows and how he moves in the shadows." That also means we'll see some of Red's pals return, including Dembe (Hisham Tawfiq), Mr. Kaplan (Susan Blommaert) and even Glen (Clark Middleton).
Donald Ressler (Diego Klattenhoff): Well, this is awkward. Ressler is now the head of the Counterterrorism Division and hunting Liz, his former partner. "He was suspicious from the beginning, and now, all of those questions that he had have come into a sharper focus," Bokenkamp says. "He wants answers. Unlike Reddington, he doesn't want to go about it breaking the laws, he wants to go about it the right way. So, he's put into an incredibly difficult situation where, yeah, he's supposed to bring in his partner and someone he feels betrayed him."
Harold Cooper (Harry Lennix): Cooper is no longer the head of the Counterterrorism Division since he was there when Liz shot Tom Connelly (Reed Birney), the Attorney General. "[He] was under suspicion for whatever participation he might have had in either helping or allowing Liz to shoot the Attorney General of the United States," Bokenkamp explains. "That shadow still hangs over Cooper. We hope and feel like we found a way that allows him to help in the quest to exonerate Liz but doesn't put him back in charge while he's doing it, which could potentially lead to great conflict between himself and Ressler."
Tom Keen (Ryan Eggold): Last we saw Liz's erstwhile fake husband, he had sailed off into the sunset, seeking a life of his own after working undercover for years on end. "Tom last season was cleared of all of his crimes. The judge exonerated him and he was set free, and now Liz is a fugitive," Bokenkamp says. "In a strange way, they've completely flipped roles. She is now the criminal, and he is innocent." Like Red, Tom is one of the men who has betrayed Liz the most. And yet, he will be someone who will stand by her side, at least metaphorically, after learning of her predicament. He could also team up with Ressler. "In their own unique ways, their feelings for Liz, their desires to help Liz would naturally bring them into conflict," Eisendrath says. "We're going to allow the two of them to really be in the same universe and play scenes together."
Aram (Amir Arison): The computer specialist will be as instrumental as ever, but he will feel very reluctant to turn on Liz, someone he still implicitly trusts. This could cause conflict in the FBI.
Samar (Mozhan Marno): The former Mossad agent is fully dedicated to the FBI and its manhunt, but a face from the past will dredge up horrifying memories. We'll also learn more about her family... and an old flame!
Blacklisters: "Red has a unique perspective on everything. In his effort to exonerate Liz Keen, he is going to be going after our best and most colorful Blacklisters yet," Eisendrath says. "He manages to do that, stay on the run and involve the FBI." Bokenkamp adds, "The manhunt is international, so we will be going to different countries."
The Cabal: That organization will be still in play this year, with the Director (David Strathairn) moving out from the shadows and aggressively hunting Liz. He'll face a little resistance, however, from someone he knows.
Mr. Solomon (Edi Gathegi): As previously reported, the Twilight co-star will play a dangerous new foe for Liz and Red. He's casually ruthless, especially when it comes to hurting people close to them.
The Blacklist returns on Thursday at 9/8c on NBC.