"There is nowhere in this world where I cannot reach you, Red. Your day is here, and it will end with your screams."
On Monday's episode of The Blacklist (10/9c, NBC), Red (James Spader) finds that he's the one being hunted when Blacklist criminal Anslo Garrick (Ritchie Coster) infiltrates the black site. "Anslo Garrick is a man who makes a living extracting people out of very difficult locations," executive producer John Eisendrath tells TVGuide.com. "He has a very personal relationship with Red, exceeding any of the Blacklisters we've seen so far. They were colleagues, they've worked together." Creator Jon Bokenkamp adds, "That went sideways when Red put a bullet in the guy's head. It put a crimp in things."
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The episode is the first of a two-parter that will also introduce guest star Alan Alda, who plays a man named Crowley from Red's past. "Alan Alda's character gives us a very small window into the much larger picture, the forces that may be lining up against Red," Bokenkamp says. Eisendrath explains, "We will learn the reasons why [Garrick attacks] now have to do with ... the larger players out in the world who Red is up against and have to do with Red's longer-term objectives."
Meanwhile, we find it difficult to believe that the concierge of crime will just sit back and allow himself to be killed. "That is in in part why this is a two-parter," Eisendrath says. "We want to explore the invasion and the incursion into the black site, but then what will happen at the back end of that story may give Red the opportunity to fight back."
Check out the rest of our interview with Bokenkamp and Eisendrath for more about The Blacklist's ongoing mysteries:
Did Sam (William Sadler), Liz's adoptive dad, know that Red was going to kill him? It seemed like he had prepped for it because he thanked Red after having that goodbye phone call with Liz (Megan Boone).
Jon Bokenkamp: I don't want to dodge the question, but those are the kinds of things that make it interesting, to be able to have a conversation about that after the fact: Was it a mercy killing because this guy was sick? Or did Red have an agenda and murder this man, somebody he obviously cared a lot about? So that's the sort of a grey area that to me is fun to sort of swim in. We certainly have our answers for it, but I think to answer for the audience is not quite as fun. I won't say it won't ever be answered, but I don't think it's one of the burning questions
John Eisendrath: One of the things we are pleased with is that we feel we haven't left the audience dangling too much. We've given, we feel like, concrete answers. Like when we reveal the relationship between Red and Liz's adoptive father. We show that Red killed her adoptive father. We answer certain questions, like, "Oh my God, he knows him!" and ask others like, "Oh my God, why did he kill him?"
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How soon will at least one of the main mysteries be revealed? Is Red actually the father of Liz? And what is up with her husband Tom (Ryan Eggold)?
Eisendrath: A lot of the back half of the season will be about answering questions about Tom. Who is he? Ultimately, helping to answer the question: Is he good or is he bad? Always giving the audience concrete answers, but hopefully opening up other ones. Also, the back half of the season will be a lot about Tom and Liz. And then also the question about whether or not Red is Liz's father is one that we will be giving concrete answers to even as we may leave the ultimate answer for later.
We understand why you may not reveal to the audience if Red is Liz's dad or not yet, but we find it hard to believe that none of the characters on the show don't suspect it. Why hasn't anyone done a DNA test?
Bokenkamp: [Laughs] That seems to be something that viewers have a much larger appetite for than our lead character Liz because she has the truth that she's grown up with, and I think that would seem like an absurd question that this guy would be her father. But at the same time, the truths that she's grown up with are slowly starting to crumble. I think there's a point where maybe that will be something that they will confront. But I think that at this moment, that's just a question that Liz is starting to grapple with.
Eisendrath: There's probably a great deal of fear and anxiety about the answer maybe being "yes." Oh my God! Would you want Darth Vader to be your father? And on the other hand, Sam was, for all intents and purposes, her father. So maybe she would feel like she would dishonor his memory if she reached out to try and identify someone else as her biological father. For all the reasons that make up someone as a good parent, that's what he was. So I think for the audience, we totally understand it. But for Liz, it feels like a much more complicated and emotionally weighted question that would naturally put obstacles in front of her picking hairs off his comb and rushing to get a DNA test.
What about the other characters? We could see Cooper (Harry Lenix) or Ressler (Diego Klattenhoff) trying to find out without Liz knowing.
Eisendrath: That is so mean!
Bokenkamp: [Laughs] It's a tough world.
Can you speak to the central theme of protecting children? There was that first episode with the kidnapped daughter, then Frederick Barnes, and of course Red and Liz.
Bokenkamp: I think it's important to the show. One of the central struggles in Liz's life is work vs. home. I think that's something really relatable. I think that is true for really anybody in our show, even Red. What did he sacrifice? What has he lost for who he's become? Same thing with Liz: What is she willing to sacrifice or give up regarding a husband or a family and how does she cope with that balance of work and home? Home being more than just kids, but yeah, so I think that's at the core of the show.
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Are Tom and Liz still going through with the adoption process?
Bokenkamp: Yes it's still in play. It's a story line that we have to come back to, and we will return to that and address that. It is one of those story lines that has been unanswered thus far.
And just curious about what happened to their dog? We haven't seen him in a while.
Eisendrath: Ask production.
Bokenkamp: He is alive and well. Hudson makes occasional appearances. When Apple Man and his team broke into Liz and Tom's house, they actually shot and tranquilized the dog and stuck him in a closet, and we thought that was a little mean to the dog, so we took that part out. We love Hudson.
Speaking of Apple Man, we've seen him and that other man he talks to. Are there only two in that surveillance room spying on Tom and Liz?
Eisendrath: In the near future, you will learn much more about them: Who they work for, why they're there. That will be one of those questions that we're not going to leave the audience dangling about.
Was having him eat an apple given to the character specifically to give something to identify him by?
Bokenkamp: Yes, it was something because we don't really see his face much, if at all. So it's just a way to recognize him. He is the healthiest criminal in the show.
How much of it is a coincidence that Liz's scar resembles the carving on Tom's box and that other box we saw?
Eisendrath: We leave that to the audience's imagination for the moment.
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How soon will we find out about the woman seen on the Violent Criminal Apprehension Progam? Is there any connection to the woman we saw in the Stewmaker photo?
Bokenkamp: Oh yes, the woman in the ViCAP program, Lucy Brooks. There were a couple names listed on the screenshot there. Again, that's one of those things that I think are left better unanswered. She is making an appearance soon. That is one of those things that is also sort of a story that is ramping up, the story of this woman.
Did Red save Dembe (Hisham Tawfiq) from the Eberhardt cartel?
Bokenkamp: Wow, look at you!
Eisendrath: Nice! Yeah we liked that he had that scar, and there was the scar that Floriana (Isabella Rosselini) gave people. No one had ever asked us that before.
Bokenkamp: That is something within the mythology of the show that we've talked about in terms of why Dembe has an allegiance to Red. In that second episode, we reveal that he had the scar. So yes, he was part of the cartel and yes, Red had helped facilitate his escape.
Is there a similar story coming up for Red's other helper, Luli Zheng (Deborah S. Craig), to explain her loyalty to him?
Bokenkamp: Thereare some really deep and exciting stories coming up with Luli that are going to be great between Red and Luli. But as far as their backstory, we don't have anything quite as specific as Dembe and Red.
What's the best, but off-base, theory you've heard about this show?
Bokenkamp: Well, one soap opera[-like] one that I read that was pretty juicy was that Liz was not Red's daughter, but that Tom was his son. But that is wrong.
Eisendrath: For this year anyway. We reserve the right to change anything.
What are some of the strongest reactions to the show you've gotten?
Eisendrath: People do come up and ask you questions. And apparently, the actors tell us that they get questions when they're just walking around in New York. To Megan Boone, people will say, "Is he your father?" Or people will say to Ryan Eggold, "Are you good or bad?"
Bokenkamp: Yeah Ryan Eggold is getting put through the wringer. As much as he is the most charming, sweet, handsome guy you can find, people hate this guy. It's crazy.
Do you know how many criminals are on the Blacklist? The highest number I've seen so far is for the Stewmaker, No. 161.
Eisendrath: However many episodes we get, that is the exact number of people on the Blacklist.
Do you think Red is Liz's dad? What is Tom's story? Share your theories below!
The Blacklist airs Mondays at 10/9c on NBC.