Get ready for a Red Reddington like you've never seen before.
On Season 5 of NBC's The Blacklist, Red (James Spader) is in an unfamiliar position: at the bottom. Over the course of last season, he lost basically his entire fortune as well as all his contacts in a literal battle to the death with his onetime right-hand woman, Mr. Kaplan (Susan Blommaert). RIP Mr. Kaplan.
But in the wake of Mr. Kaplan's death, and the dismantling of his empire, Red is not exactly down and out. In fact, he's doing better than ever.
"He relishes the opportunity to start over," according to creator Jon Bokenkamp. "Reddington's hanging out at the pool having a grand time, deciding what he wants to do next. The task force, on the other hand, is incredibly frustrated by this and wants him to get back to work immediately. But he hasn't had a day off in a long time."
Meanwhile, Tom (Ryan Eggold) has returned from his Blacklist: Redemption hiatus and is en route to Liz (Megan Boone) to deliver a suitcase full of bones — her mother's? — that could prove damning for Red. And Ressler (Diego Klattenhoff) is in a bit of a pickle, having killed Laurel Hitchin (Christine Lahti) by accidentally backhanding her into a wall and, oh yeah, having enlisted a Blacklister's help to avoid going to jail.
A new timeslot. The Blacklist is on the move! This season, you'll be able to catch the show on Wednesdays at 8/7c, as opposed to in its previous timeslot, Thursdays at 10/9c.
Daddy issues. If you thought the discovery that Red is her father would put an end to Liz's identity crisis once and for all, think again. "Her father is essentially the devil," Bokenkamp says. "She's confronting some frightening questions about who she is and what's in her DNA and that fight between good and evil. ... Liz is going to be combating that instinct to perhaps break the rules and fighting a darker side of herself that she knows is probably right under the surface." But in some twisted way, embracing her true nature may make Liz even better at her job. "Is she like Reddington?" Bokenkamp wonders. "He told her early, 'Think like a criminal. It may come easier than you think.'"
A Reddington-Keen reunion. They're getting the band back together! Thanks to that mysterious suitcase, Liz, Tom and Red will reunite in the early part of the season. But in addition to those bones, that suitcase contains a whole lot of trouble, at least as far as Red's concerned. "The contents of that suitcase sort of represent a much larger mystery that Red is trying to wrangle in, and something that he's actually proactively trying to hide," Bokenkamp teases. Will he be able to concoct a way to prevent Tom from making the delivery? "We feel like we're back to a fun, great dynamic between this threesome," Bokenkamp notes. "Red, the uber criminal; Tom, the sort of spy master; and Liz caught in between. There are some really good stories that are going to come out of that over a number of episodes."
A lighter shade of Red. Even with all that drama, this season is much lighter in tone, Bokenkamp says, stemming from Red's aforementioned more carefree attitude as he rebuilds his empire. And he's not the only one who will have a more "fun" storyline this season. The Blacklist will dip its toe into romantic territory, with Samar (Mozhan Marno) and Aram (Amir Arison) finally "embracing their relationship" this season.
What about Redemption? Unfortunately for fans of the short-lived Blacklist spin-off The Blacklist Redemption, the Tom-centric series was canceled by NBC after airing eight episodes, which ended on a huge cliffhanger with the reveal that Tom had been trusting his wrong parent all along. But Redemption fans won't be left hanging for long. "We are trying to figure out how to answer and resolve that [story] in a satisfying way," Bokenkamp says. "You're going to get some resolution to those storylines through Tom's story in The Blacklist."
A new (and bigger) overarching mystery. Now that the confusion of Red's relationship to Liz has been cleared up once and for all (spoiler alert: He is the father!), the series will shift to exploring a different umbrella mystery in relation to Red — one that's a question of why, rather than who. "Why is he here? What is he hiding?" Bokenkamp says. "We've answered this paternity question, but at the same time, we realize that that's not why Red entered her life. ... There is a new mystery that's always been laying there waiting to come out. You're seeing the beginnings of that thread being pulled now. There is something much larger at play here, and it's going to cause Reddington problems. It's going to cause all of them problems."
No time jump. There are so many dangling threads in the Season 4 finale that creators didn't want to "skip over any of the juicy stuff," according to Bokenkamp. So the show basically picks up right where we left off. Of course, that doesn't necessarily mean all of those cliffhanger plotlines will be neatly wrapped up right away...
No endgame in sight. Answers beget more questions on The Blacklist, and that's still the case in Season 5. The father-daughter reveal is, in some ways, just the beginning of a new chapter on the show. "The ultimate answer of why [Red] entered her life, when we know that, I think the show is over. So, we certainly don't have any plans to answer it in the whole immediately," Bokenkamp says. "There will be very concrete, very clear, very surprising reveals this season that will continue to inform us about both Reddington and Liz and the task force. But we're not going to get the final answer until the curtain falls — which hopefully won't be for a long time."
The Blacklist Season 5 premieres Wednesday, Sept. 27 at 8/7c on NBC.