The Blacklist Bosses Explain How Red Is Just Like Us

THE BLACKLIST -- "The Front" Episode 205 -- Pictured: James Spader as Red Reddington -- (Photo by: Michael Parmelee/NBC)

On April 21, Blacklist fans watched as James Spader delivered a series defining performance, as Red Reddington mourned the loss of his partner Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone) — who passed away during the birth of her daughter the episode prior. Now, with the grieving period behind them, the entire post office team is on the hunt for a killer... But one question remains: is Liz really dead?

The first piece of evidence that points us in the direction of a big fat "no" is that Liz died during a commercial break. Why would the death of, arguably, the show's main central character (Red is the star, Keen drives the story) be handled so relatively casually?

There's also the dangling questions left by her passing... To this day, we still don't fully understand Red's connection to Liz. Is he her father? Is he something else? We don't fully know why Red entered Liz's life two years ago, and there's no way the show would remove her without answering that central question, first.

Exclusive: get your first look at Famke Janssen on The Blacklist.

But, the biggest evidence supporting the idea Liz's death is a fake out has nothing to do with story at all. This season, Megan Boone's real life pregnancy was written into the show. Because The Blacklist features 22-episode seasons, the birth of her child was eventually going to happen before the end of production, which means Boone was going to need time to go on maternity leave. All of this — the death, the mourning, the coming funeral — it could be merely story justification for Boone to not be on screen while she takes care of her real life newborn.

That last bit certainly has its precedents: shows have written out female characters to provide maternity leave pretty much since the dawn of television. In Season 2 of The X-Files Scully (Gillian Anderson) was abducted by aliens. Mariska Hargitay's Olivia Benson left SVU to go "undercover" with the F.B.I. And just this past season, Jess went on "jury duty" on New Girl, conveniently allowing Zooey Deschanel to go on a maternity leave back in the real world.

Blacklist even provided a good out in the episode: it's possible that Red's co-conspirator Mr. Kaplan (Susan Blommaert) slipped Liz a powerful knockout agent to make Liz appear dead to Red... Though we probably won't know for sure for a while; at least until Boone gets back from maternity leave.