‘The Blacklist’: For Red & Liz, ‘It’s Tiger Vs. Tiger’ in 2021 Return

Megan Boone as Elizabeth Keen - The Blacklist - Season 8 Episode 2
The Blacklist (Will Hart/NBC)

Look out, Red — Liz is coming for you! In the drama’s January 22 return, FBI Special Agent Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone) and criminal mastermind turned FBI asset Raymond “Red” Reddington (James Spader) are on a collision course, and it’s not gonna be pretty.

“By murdering her mother, Reddington has uncaged a darkness in [Liz] she can no longer suppress,” The Blacklist executive producer Jon Bokenkamp says. “It’s going to turn our show on its head and fundamentally change the core relationship.”

How We Got Here

In the two fall episodes, Liz and Reddington betrayed those they loved: To get answers about who Red really is, Liz kidnapped her sick grandfather and took him to her mother, former KGB spy Katarina Rostova (Laila Robins), for questioning — a move that sided her against both her FBI colleagues and Red, her self-declared protector.

As for Red, he was angered already by the old man’s resulting death, so when he learned that Katarina planned to reveal his most dangerous secrets, he shot her — right in front of Liz. 

What Now?

The intense first two returning episodes show us how far Liz and Red will now go to get what they want. Tonight, there’s not even a Blacklister to be pursued — just war.

Megan Boone The Blacklist Season 8 Episode 3 Liz Keen

Sony Pictures Television

The man caught in the middle: Dembe (Hisham Tawfiq, below), Red’s loyal, and ethical, foster son and No. 2. “Up until now, Dembe has tried to persuade Red to do the right thing,” says Tawfiq. “He doesn’t think those words mean anything [to Red] anymore. [Still,] Dembe has the duty of protecting Red, even though he might have driven us over a cliff.”

And while Dembe has also seen Liz as a sister, she took advantage of him in her single-minded quest: “Now there isn’t much conversation to be had.”

Whatever happens next, no one is tiptoeing around. To call it a cat-and-mouse game would be “too cute at this juncture,” Tawfiq says. “It’s tiger versus tiger.”

The Blacklist, Fridays, 8/7c, NBC