'The Blacklist' EPs on the Season 6 Finale: 'Red's in a Pickle'
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for the Season 6 finale of The Blacklist, "Robert Diaz."]
The Blacklist solved one mystery — the President set up his wife for assassination! — and began a new one about the woman who's been "a specter" on the show for many years.
Executive producers Jon Bokenkamp and John Eisendrath answer some questions about the season finale and give a tiny peek at the coming season.
Until the very end, the task force — and presumably the audience — thought the mission was to stop the assassination of President Diaz (Benito Martinez) who might have been arranging his own death. No one but the perps had any idea the plot was to assassinate The First Lady, Diaz's wife Miriam (Regina Schneider)!
John Eisendrath: No one knew. What we loved was that the story was like a Rubik's cube. Why would the President want to assassinate himself? It seemed to have no solution. The solution we came up with was a very simple, very personal one, very relatable one.
Hopefully, that is the best kind of answer to a question that seems to be incredibly big and has so many potential consequences nationally, internationally in terms of global affairs. And yet the answer is one that is just between a husband and wife.
Who wanted her husband to confess to accidentally killing a mother and son when drunk driving. At a debate! The plan was well-disguised. Agent Ressler (Diego Klattenhoff) only discovered it after The First Lady was already shot.
Jon Bokenkamp: We thought it was a very clever plan on the part of Diaz and his advisor Anna McMahon (Jennifer Ferrin). What better way to hide a murder than making it appear as an accident in an attempted presidential assassination.
Not only is it a way to cover it up, it would potentially put the president in a place where he's seen as the grieving husband who had just lost his wife and gone through this incredible tragedy. Not only would it be a way to get rid of the woman who's going to expose him but also position himself as a victim and a very sympathetic man.
And you can imagine, people who write shows like ours are constantly trying to figure out what would be the perfect murder and it seems like this is a perfect example of someone who thought, "Oh my god, I've come up with a plan that would be the perfect murder."
The episode came across as a fast-passed political thriller. Was the final gun battle the biggest on the show since the attack on Tom and Liz’s aborted wedding?
Bokenkamp: It was certainly the most expensive. We do our best to horde our resources throughout the year so that in very targeted moments we can give the audience a really big action movie version of The Blacklist. And we think that that is what the final episode delivers on.
Dembe came back just in time to kill McMahon and save Red from a head kill shot. Why did you write Dembe out for several episodes? Did Hisham Tawfiq have another role?
Bokenkamp: No. Like with our other characters gone or killed off, this is for story reasons. Dembe had been Red's conscience for so long and had been very clear-minded about what was right or wrong, and he thought Red's secrets from Elizabeth Keen were wrong. We explored more than ever his discomfort with what Red was doing and he really needed to go on a walkabout. I hope now Dembe's back and saves Red's life that people will be incredibly surprised and excited.
Will the FBI task force change in any way, after its takedown of a corrupt murderous POTUS?
Bokenkamp: I don't think so, because they are so black ops. Their work is done in the shadows both to protect Reddington (James Spader) but to keep the low profile that's part and parcel of who they are.
After the government story concluded, you jumped into a story that deals with the show's canon, so to speak.
Bokenkamp: Katerina Rostova. (The long gone mother of Elizabeth Keen who was a spy.) She has been part of the fabric of our show since the beginning. Somebody we've seen in a younger version in the person of Lotte Verbeek.
Now we see the contemporary Rostova, played by Laila Robbins. After learning she's in Paris, Red goes to Paris to warn her about being in danger and after a few words and kisses, she drugs him and he's carried away in a black car. Who betrayed him?
Bokenkamp: All we know is that we saw that Reddington met with a man who told him Katerina was in Paris and in danger.
Red had met with with a mystery man who informed him that Rostova was in Paris. Red tells the guy he loves him because he trusts him and heads to Paris. That's probably a heads up!
Bokenkamp: Yes. Even though we only had a short scene with Laila, you got a sense of how dangerous, formidable, and mysterious this woman is. All those questions that we have about her is why we have to come back in Season 7 to get answers about this woman and her relationship to Reddington and her daughter Elizabeth Keen.
Will we see Elizabeth unite with her mother after decades next season?
Bokenkamp: We'll have to see. Liz doesn't know that Katerina's alive or Red has been abducted. In fact, nobody on our show has any idea that anything's gone wrong. Red's in a pickle, I would say.
Where was Dembe, his protector?
Eisendrath: That's a good question. We don't even know the answers to that.
Bokenkamp: Whatever makes for the best story.
Eisendrath: Maybe Dembe was taken too.
Should we assume it's Russians? Or we don't know?
Eisendrath: We really don't know. That's what makes it so fun. Letting the story tell us what it should be episode to episode. That's what makes for the best storytellers; we're not rigidly attached to the, it has to be this or that.
Gee, and Red had just told Liz that everything was good with Katerina and her friends, so she brought her toddler Agnes home.
Bokenkamp: Some of the most fun is when Red is caught on his heels. He certainly was caught on his heels at the end of this episode. I don't think he knew that Katerina was a danger to him or to Liz and told Liz to bring Agnes back. I think he misread the situation and he had no idea what he was walking into.
The Blacklist, Season 7, Fall 2019, NBC