'The Blacklist' Bosses on Katarina's Move: 'The Fox Is Definitely in the Hen House'
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Season 7, Episode 2 of The Blacklist, "Louis T. Steinhil: Conclusion."]
Katarina Rostova (Laila Robins) has moved in next door to Liz and her daughter, and that can only mean one thing: trouble. And that's after a standoff between her and her men and Red and his side left Dom (Brian Dennehy) in critical condition.
Here, executive producers John Eisendrath and Jon Bokenkamp break down the events of the latest episode and tease the trouble yet to come.
How worried should we be about Katarina moving in next door to Liz, especially after Liz's concerns earlier in the episode about bringing Agnes home?
John Eisendrath: Hopefully the audience will be extraordinarily worried for Liz because we've spent seven years building up how diabolical Katarina Rostova is and the first two episodes of this year dramatizing the lengths to which she will go to get the information she is looking for, which are extraordinary. She is now sitting right across the hall from Liz and her daughter. It's a position that we love having on our show, where the fox is definitely in the hen house.
Jon Bokenkamp: It's a unique situation on the show where the audience is a step ahead of both Liz and Red. They're in on the secret on who this woman is and what her agenda is, and yet Red and Liz have no knowledge of that yet.
Should we be reading into the fact that Liz is looking for a nanny and here's this new person in her life?
Bokenkamp: I think that would be a concern.
How does having Katarina around and very much a focus, even though Liz doesn't know who is living next door to her now, change Liz and Red's relationship? There was a bit of tension at the end of the episode.
Eisendrath: Going forward from Episode 2, Liz is going to be asking herself, did she make the right decision to bring Agnes home? She made the decision thinking that it was a good time because all the dangers she had faced in years past had ended and she could now bring Agnes home free of any fears that her connection to Reddington was going to lead to any jeopardy to her daughter.
All of a sudden, now, she realizes not only does her connection to Red still haunt her and potentially cause danger for her daughter, but Red points out, and I think this is what you meant by the tension, that it's Liz's fault for going out and doing the one thing Red asked her not to do, which was look for Katarina Rostova. By looking for Katarina Rostova in Season 6, he is basically telling her, that has resulted in the danger that she now faces from this organization called the Townsend Directive that is looking for Katarina and will do anything and hurt anyone who stands in their way.
What will we see from Katarina and her agenda in the next few episodes?
Bokenkamp: Liz sort of conjured Katarina, who has been a specter in the show for so long, and she still is a very mysterious character. As we get to know her in the coming weeks, this is a woman who was a spy. She faked her death. She's been on the run from the KGB and the Americans and the Cabal, and she's a very, very smart woman and very capable. How that manifests itself, we'll have to wait and see. She's certainly not presenting that way to Liz. She's presenting as the nice lady next door, but make no mistake, she's a very formidable Big Bad.
And let's talk about the push and pull between Katarina and Red that we've seen so far this season. How much will that continue moving forward?
Eisendrath: This season is going to be the closest we've ever come to having a family drama on The Blacklist because you're going to have Liz, the adult child, caught between her two figurative parents, Katarina and Red, so the tension is really going to be ratcheted up because Katarina is going to do her best to cause Liz to be put into a position where she's going to have to pick between her parents.
What kind of character did you want to create with Louis T. Steinhil and what's coming up next with him?
Bokenkamp: We were trying to do our version of a magician, a con man, somebody who pulls off elaborate heists. As we saw in this last episode, once we thought the con was over, the con was only beginning. We thought it would be fun to construct a Blacklister who really is a master manipulator.
Finding Steinhil is going to be Red's prime objective when we come into next week's episode. He knows if he can find Steinhil, he may have a chance of tracking down Katarina.
Let's talk about Frankie and her dynamic with Red. So much of what transpired with the two and what she showed him of herself was an illusion, but she appears to be sticking around, so what's next with the two of them?
Eisendrath: She is a bit of a shapeshifter, and it is going to be part of the fun of her performance on the show for the audience to try to figure out if she is trustworthy or not because as you say, she initially came into the show working, if not directly for Katarina, then working for someone, the Illusionist, Steinhil, who had a contract with Katarina.
What we like is that there will be an open question about whether or not she can be trusted and part of Red's agenda with her over the course of the next several episodes is to try and decide for himself how much — or if at all — he can trust her.
What are Dom's chances of survival and survival without lasting consequences?
Bokenkamp: We love Brian Dennehy, and it's always so great to have him on the show and yes, he is in dire straits. He is clinging to life and what's interesting is in Dom lies a lot of answers. Dom is one of the people at the core mythology of the show, Katarina's father and Liz's grandfather, and he has answers, yet he is out there parked in this lumberyard clinging to life. We're not finished telling his story.
After Liz filled those in the dark in on a few things in the premiere, does the team dynamic change at all moving forward?
Eisendrath: Red always has some surprises in store or secrets he keeps or private things he is not willing to let everyone in on, so even though it appears as the season begins that everyone is on an even footing, that will not prove to be the case in the not-too-distant future.
Bokenkamp: Now that everyone knows about his identity, Cooper really is going to be the one who is confronted with what to do with that information. Can he continue forward with the task force, working with somebody who is essentially a Russian operative? How does he handle that?
In the weeks coming up, we are going to lean into a story with Cooper. We talked years ago, in the pilot, about an incident that happened between Raymond Reddington and Harold Cooper, and we may dig up that story and use it to bring this to a head in terms of Cooper's choice that he has to make about the task force and where to go with it and the secrets Red may know about Cooper.
The Blacklist, Fridays, 8/7c, NBC