‘The Blacklist’ Preview: The Freelancer, Red’s First Blacklister, Is Back (PHOTOS)

The Blacklist
Exclusive

Fans who have been with The Blacklist since its 2013 debut might recognize a familiar character in TV Insider’s exclusive photos of the February 5 episode — The Freelancer (Daniel Sauli).

For those murky about who he is, executive producer Jon Bokenkam reminds us that he’s the assassin who, thanks to the machinations of former Most Wanted Fugitive-turned-FBI-asset Raymond “Red” Reddington (James Spader), “was the first criminal that our task force locked away. He really helped define the dangerous, high-stakes criminals that our show would later explore.”

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The Christopher Meloni-led spinoff premieres as part of a two-hour event.

With Liz, former FBI agent Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone) “heading in a new direction,” Bokenkam adds, “we thought it felt super-organic to return to one of the very first criminals she arrested.” (For those who’ve forgotten, Red used The Freelancer as a decoy, so the master criminal could kill a cartel chief posing as an anti-sex trafficker crusader.)

The original Blacklister’s reappearance is not, of course, just some nostalgic fun.

Will Hart/NBC

“The looming threat of The Freelancer, where’s he been, where he is now and the possibility of his release is a big part of this upcoming episode,” Bokekamp reveals. Could the seriously feuding Red and/or Liz have reason to fear him or plans to use him? In this twisty show, we never know.

Also this week: The FBI Task Force investigates a group of bank robbers with an expertise in stealing from other criminals.

It’s more than former Blacklisters who will visit this season” the producer promises. “We have really exciting characters returning that the fans will love.”

The Blacklist, Fridays, 8/7c, NBC