Forget the Patriots vs. the Seahawks. On Super Bowl Sunday, the real match-up will be Red Reddington vs. Luther Braxton.
This year, The Blacklist has landed the coveted post-Super Bowl timeslot to kick off a special two-parter that will continue when the show moves to Thursday nights just a few days later, on Feb. 5 (9/8c, NBC). The post-game berth is prime real estate to introduce new viewers to the series, but even die-hard fans may find their memories a little fuzzy, since The Blacklist hasn't aired a new episode since its fall finale in November. Never fear, TVGuide.com is here to get you up to speed. You bring the beer and chips, we'll provide the primer:
The antihero James Spader shaves his head to play the suave but deadly Red Reddington, a master criminal who surrendered himself to the FBI and offers the bureau his expertise and intel to help capture even more dastardly criminals who comprise the titular Blacklist. He only asks for two things in exchange: immunity from prosecution and ...
The hero ... Liz Keen (Megan Boone). The FBI profiler is baffled as to why Red wants to work exclusively with her, but has built up a reluctant trust over the course of their many cases together. It's still a mystery why Red is so invested in her welfare and knows so much about her past. The prevailing theory is that Red is her dad, and she has shown an increasing amount of ruthlessness lately.
The villain The Super Bowl episode's Blacklister is Luther Braxton, played by the always imposing Ron Perlman. "Luther Braxton is a thief who goes about stealing things through incredibly complex methods," executive producer Jon Bokenkamp said during a recent conference call with reporters. "He sort of disguises his heists in big events, so there may be a massive snowstorm or there might be a political uprising in some corner of the world where he's looking for something. So he's constantly moving amid chaos and creating chaos wherever he goes."
The setting "[Braxton] is a prisoner in a black site prison, which supposedly does not exist," Bokenkamp said. "He's pulled away in an interrogation facility that nobody's supposed to be able to escape from. However, things go awry."
The conflict In a separate interview with TVGuide.com, Bokenkamp added, "Luther Braxton is a character from Red's past. They have a history together. They are anything but friends. That's going to make for a fun dynamic."
The Fulcrum In The Blacklist's fall finale, the government traitor Fitch (Alan Alda) mentioned the mysterious "Fulcrum" and a safe in Russia just before dying. "You will hear about the Fulcrum in the Super Bowl episode. It's front and center, and the very next episode is very much about that," Bokenkamp teases. "Also, it catapults us into the back half of the season, the things that Fitch was talking about in the moments before his death. He said, 'There's a safe on the second floor in Saint Petersburg,' but he didn't get all that information out, and so Red is left with these pieces that he's trying to cobble together ... [he's trying to] figure out [what] Fitch was trying to warn him about. The stakes are definitely up, and Red is very much in the dark about what's happening. There's a bit of a ticking clock that sort of underscores the back half of the season."
The ex-husband The fall finale also left fans hanging with regard to Liz's ex-husband, Tom (Ryan Eggold), whom we learned has been connected to Red all along. "Tom's not in the Super Bowl episode just because of the compressed time frame," Bokenkamp says. "We don't go immediately back to Tom, but he is very much part of the fabric of the show. There are definitely some secrets that Red has been keeping from Liz that I think may bubble to the surface soon."
Check out an exclusive sneak peek from The Blacklist's post-Super Bowl episode, which features Red locked up in chains (?!), below:
The Blacklist returns on Sunday with after the Super Bowl and airs the conclusion of its two-parter in its new Thursday timeslot on Feb. 5 at 9/8c on NBC.