In last week's midseason premiere of The Blacklist, Liz Keene (Megan Boone) took a mournful sojourn to Alaska that went south after some mafia goons showed up at the wrong place at the wrong time and she slaughtered them with extreme prejudice. She went home with the taste of blood in her mouth and a desire to get revenge on Tom's (Ryan Eggold) killers. She's a changed version of herself now that she's with a darkness inside of her that has previously only been hinted at, as creator and executive producer Jon Bokenkamp and executive producer John Eisendrath tell TV Guide.
As Season 5 progresses, she and Red (James Spader) will work together to find Tom's killers, but she'll also find out some upsetting stuff about Red's role in his death and the secrets her father and her husband were keeping from her. And it will all culminate in the reveal of whose bones are in that suitcase, which in turn will reveal more about Red than anything previously seen on The Blacklist.
Bokenkamp and Eisendrath previewed what's in store for the rest of Season 5 on the set of the series' hundredth episode, which will air Jan. 17th.
[Tom's death is] going to send the show in a new direction. What can you tell us about what's coming up?
John Eisendrath: In general, we left with the tragic death of Tom, and the question of who killed him and what is in that suitcase and who is in that suitcase are going to frame the rest of the season. We are going to answer both questions in the balance of the back half of the season. Who is it that killed Tom, why that person got involved in the hunt for that suitcase, and what — or rather who — that skeleton is, all will be questions that we hope everyone is hoping we answer, [and that they're] anxious and excited to get the answers. And we will be giving people the answers.
How will the loss of Tom affect Liz and her relationship with Red?
Eisendrath: It will deeply impact her. She had loved him deeply, accepted many of his flaws and had come to terms with the fact that he was not forthcoming in their relationship as often as he should be. But she will discover — the audience is, as we leave Episode 8, way ahead of Liz. They've watched what Tom has been up to. They know that he's been interacting with Red. Liz is going to catch up during the course of the back half of the season, and that is going to be very emotional for her, both learning that Tom was engaged in yet another secret quest, after all the other secret quests that he had kept from her that she had thought were in their past. And then, to discover that Red is involved — again, the audience knows this. The audience saw Red and Tom together. The audience is, I hope, again, excited about how Liz is going to move on when she catches up. Yes, it's going to deeply affect her relationship with Red, when she realizes that all of the events that led up to Tom's death have, once again, to do almost entirely with secrets that Red is keeping from her.
Jon Bokenkamp: I think she's also grappling — when we come back, we're finding a character who started as a first day on the job FBI agent, squeaky clean with a husband and a dog. And now, she's lost her husband. She's a single mom. She's working hand in hand with the most wanted criminal in America and is his daughter. And so what she's feeling moving forward and how she deals with the death of Tom I think is going to be really telling, and something she's really grappling with. Because she knows that within her is sort of the same DNA of Reddington. Some of those dark tendencies. She murdered the attorney general a couple years ago. And so this is a person who knows she has a capacity to do things that cross lines. I think she really is sort of self-aware of that and trying to hold herself together and stay above the fray when we come back. That struggle, I think, is going to be a compelling part of the back half of the season.
Do we find out what Red's been up to in the intervening year?
Eisendrath: We do. He talks about efforts he has undertaken to both care for Liz's child and to finding out the truth about what happened to Tom.
Bokenkamp: And rebuild his empire and make lots and lots of money. He's not living in the Days Inn anymore.
Will we see any characters coming back?
Bokenkamp: We will. We will see, for example, Dom, played by Brian Dennehy.
Eisendrath: We're going to bring back Red's coterie. We see Clark Middleton. The usual suspects will return.
Where are the members of the task force when we pick up with them?
Eisendrath:We will address some forward momentum in where they are. We have some dangling questions. For instance, Ressler (Diego Klattenhoff) continues, as we leave the fall finale, to live under the shadow of this man Prescott, who he called in to help him clean up the death of the national security advisor Laurel Hitchin (Christine Lahti). So that is a thread that we pick up on, as we do with the relationship between Samar (Mozhan Marno) and Aram (Amir Arison). It's progressing as we come back.
I imagine that they're a little more serious now that a year has passed?
Bokenkamp: Yeah, that's safe to say.
Anything else you can tease about the back half of the season?
Eisendrath: We are fairly confident and believe that the cliffhanger of this season is the most revelatory one regarding Red that we have had the entire series.
Is that tied back to what you said about the suitcase revelation?
Bokenkamp: Yep. It's gonna be fun.
The Blacklist airs Wednesdays at 8/7c on NBC.