In The Blacklist's Season 7 midseason finale, "Katarina Rostova," Elizabeth Keene (Megan Boone) dealt with the emotional fallout from finding out that the nice lady who lived down the hall from her was actually her long-lost mother, former KGB spy Katarina Rostova (Laila Robins), and seemingly posed a danger to her own daughter, Agnes. But she dealt with it in a surprising way, pretty quickly coming around to aligning with her mother against her father figure, Red Reddington (James Spader), and grandfather, Dom Wilkinson (Brian Dennehy), helping her escape from a police raid and Reddington's clutches. Dom and Red were withholding the truth about Red's true identity from Liz, while Katarina was forthright with her about her relationship with Ilya Koslov (Brett Cullen), who Dom told Liz was who Red really was. "I'm not on anyone's side," Liz told Cooper (Harry Lennix). "I'm on the side of the truth. And right now Reddington's hiding that from me, and my mother isn't."
By the end of the episode, Katarina faked her own death at the hands of goons carrying out the Townsend Directive bounty on her, which Reddington witnessed and believed. So Liz and Katarina have a secret, and Katarina is going to keep searching for the truth about who's trying to kill her and why.
TV Guide talked to The Blacklist executive producers Jon Bokenkamp and John Eisendrath about what's coming up in the back half of Season 7, including what's next for Liz and Katarina, the truth about Red and Ilya's mysterious friendship, and the exploration of Agent Park's (Laura Sohn) much-discussed but still unseen backstory in Anchorage.
TV Guide: What can you preview about the back half of the season, in broad strokes?
John Eisendrath: Well, at the end of the midseason finale, Liz has to make a choice. It's basically a life or death situation, and she can either turn her mother over to Reddington, or she can side with her mother and save her mother from Reddington, and she chooses to pick her mother over Reddington. And so the back half of the season begins with this symbolic family drama, with the adult child having picked one side but is working with the other... Red thinks that Katarina is dead, Liz knows she's alive, and Liz is going to help Katarina find the truth she's looking for -- all the while working with Reddington. So you've got a great family triangle, a great dynamic there, and the back half of the season is going to explore that relationship and ultimately bring it to a head where we will get truths that we've been waiting for for a long time, and we will have an ultimate confrontation between Raymond Reddington and Katarina Rostova.
Liz is putting a lot of trust and faith into Katarina, even saying "I'm a Rostova." But is that a wise decision?
Jon Bokenkamp: I think that's the question, right? Like, is that a wise decision? I think it's an interesting one for the audience. Because from the audience's point of view, we get to go on the ride with Liz and Katarina, who are in search of the ultimate truth that can unlock this whole series. And yet, they're going around Reddington, they're going behind his back, which can be a very dangerous thing. So I think it gives us an opportunity to put Liz and Red in a sort of new dynamic. He won't even know about this going into the second half of the season. But it gives us some really great situations and some great drama. Like John says, great family drama in terms of how they're going to navigate these waters and try to get to the truth along the way.
Is it fair to say that Katarina is being more truthful with Liz now than Dom and Red have been? Bokenkamp: Yes. She's incredibly candid. Red, if anything, I don't think he's flat-out lied to her, but obviously there have been times where he has let her believe her version of the truth, like her believing that he was Ilya Koslov, who he is not. There have been times where he has not corrected her, right? Whereas Katarina has made a turn in this fall finale, and has been incredibly candid with Liz, and is doing everything she can to sort of earn her trust. And Liz, in the same way, makes that turn and is able to save Katarina, rather than let her be caught by the police or killed. And I think there is a building trust between those two.
Eisendrath: I think it is true that Katarina has revealed to Liz that Dom and Red have not been completely forthcoming with Liz, but that doesn't necessarily mean that Katarina has been entirely forthcoming with Liz, either. We just don't know yet.
In the back half, will we learn more about who Reddington and Ilya Koslov are to each other? Eisendrath: At some point we will fill in the gaps between what Dom told Liz last year about Ilya, and what we've learned about Ilya this year. Whether we do that toward the end of next year or not is unclear yet.
I'm really enjoying Agent Park and Laura Sohn's performance. Can you talk a little bit about how you conceived of that character, and then what you have planned for her?
Eisendrath: We conceived of her as someone who comes to the task force seeming to be excited to be there, young, chipper, a rookie. But unlike Liz, for instance, who didn't know anything about her dark past when she first started on the series -- it was all being told to her -- Agent Park is the opposite. She has the deep secret that comes out in times that are hopefully unexpected. And we're very excited that in Episode 14 we are going to do an episode that is going to unpack what that secret is and help us to understand who she is in a much more detailed way.
Heading to Anchorage! And Anchorage is probably in upstate New York somewhere.
Eisendrath: We're actually going to Alaska.
Eisendrath: No, we're not.
Bokenkamp: No, I think we're going to Staten Island, probably.
The Blacklist will return in 2020 on NBC.
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