Did Dembe Poison Red? What’s Coming up for ‘The Blacklist’?

The Blacklist - Hisham Tawfiq
Will Hart/NBC
Hisham Tawfiq as Dembe Zuma in The Blacklist

Say it ain’t so! In The Blacklist’s winter finale, all signs pointed to Dembe Zuma (Hisham Tawfiq) as the culprit who poisoned Raymond “Red” Reddington (James Spader), his murky, mercurial boss. This two-parter finds Red, Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone) and her FBI task force hunting to bring the guilty party to justice.

But is Dembe the one? “Dembe knows Red’s deepest secrets,” teases executive producer Jon Bokenkamp. “Who better to betray Reddington than someone who is so close to him?”

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Red Reddington's life is slipping away after being poisoned by a 'Lister' known as the Apothecary on Thursday night's episode of NBC's 'The Blacklist.'

Fans of the show know Dembe has been indebted to his mentor ever since Red rescued him from a human trafficking cartel as a child. “But he’s starting to question the decisions Red has been making,” Tawfiq notes. What most has Dembe bent out of shape: Red’s attempt to kill crime-scene cleaner Mr. Kaplan (Susan Blommaert)—a good friend of Dembe’s—for perceived disloyalty. “A lot will be revealed about Dembe and Red’s relationship and where it goes from there,” Tawfiq promises. “Red’s capable of anything. Would he eliminate Dembe? Or will he look at his own actions? Either of those choices is possible for this man.”

We’ll also see a lot more backstory on Red in the last few episodes of the season, Bokenkamp promises. “We’re going to go back to that day Reddington surrendered himself,” he says. “We’ll see what happened before the series started.”

And look for the setup to major bombshells regarding the mysterious relationship between Red and Liz, the heart of the series. “There will be big fallout from [what happens],” Bokenkamp previews. “It will force Reddington, who’s a criminal with many deaths on his watch, to confront the truth about who he is and perhaps finally tell Elizabeth the deep truths that are at the core mythology of the show. This is the engine for everything that is to come.”

The Blacklist, Thursday, April 20, 9/8c, NBC