With Liz Keen now in FBI custody, the big Blacklist question of the new year becomes: Can they keep her alive? If the Cabal has their way, the answer is no.
In The Blacklist’s midseason premiere, the task force tries desperately to keep Keen (Megan Boone) from falling victim to the Cabal long enough so she can testify in court. But The Director (David Strathairn), who happens to be the blacklister of this two-part event, is ready and willing to put her down once and for all. Will the Cabal succeed in silencing her? EW caught up with executive producer Jon Bokenkamp to get the scoop:
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What lengths will Ressler (Diego Klattenhoff) go to protect Keen while she’s in custody?
JON BOKENKAMP: Ressler has gone to great lengths through Reven Wright [Adriane Lenox], who he trusts implicitly, who is also now dead. But he has a system in place which he believes will work. He can keep her safe through people who are outside of the Cabal. He’s all about keeping her safe so she can have a fair trial and face the music, which she’s going to have to face. He just wants to make sure she can do that in a fair way.
How is Keen dealing with being in custody? Has she all but given up knowing that the Cabal is never going to let her live?
Yeah, I think she’s at an absolute low point. There’s a glimmer of hope because Reddington [James Spader] is still out there, and she knows he was working on a plan. But the fact that she’s been captured, she’s now in custody and she’s surrounded by people who are not to be trusted is the worst thing that could possibly happen. She’s a dirty cop, in a way. She’s a federal agent who murdered somebody, and that can’t be reflected on well by any of the people who are tasked with keeping her safe and overseeing her, even if they’re not within the Cabal. We see that at the opening of episode 9. We get a sense of how other law enforcement people view her, and what she thinks of herself. She’s really arced into this strange, dark place. It’s a lot more like Reddington than the Elizabeth Keen that we met at the beginning of the series.
What’s the next step in Red’s plan to clear Liz’s name?
Red has one big piece of the puzzle that he’s been working on that he has got to have come together, and it’s got to happen fast. It does involve this briefcase that he and Dembe [Hisham Tawfiq] secured in episode 8, and then lost at the end of the episode when Liz was captured. It’s in federal custody. He has a plan and he’s not about to give up or back down, but his efforts to see that plan through are going to have to be quite large, because the noose is tightening on Liz, and the Director has every intention of not having her get to trial. He wants to see her dead. She’s now in federal custody, which is a bad thing for Reddington and Keen.
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This two-parter is called “The Director.” What are we going to uncover about him?
One thing that’s fun in the next two episodes that we’ve been waiting for a long time to see is having Reddington and the Director really go toe-to-toe. The Director is somebody with enormous resources. He has essentially the CIA behind him. He’s the director of Clandestine Services. He runs CIA agents. He has incredible resources. I don’t want to say he’s not intimidated by Reddington, but he’s not found himself in this position before. He’s going to have to, one-on-one, confront Reddington and it’s a great caper.
What can you tease of what Cooper (Harry Lennix) and Tom (Ryan Eggold) are facing when the show returns?
Cooper and Tom, two very unlikely allies, are together hiding out with the real killer, Karakurt [Andrew Divoff], in a cabin in the woods — a cabin in which Cooper’s wife [Valerie Pettiford] had been having an affair. It’s a little bit complex that way. Tom and Cooper are finding themselves in lockstep trying to free Keen. One of the things we’ve been doing with Cooper and Tom is that Tom is the spy and Cooper is the spy master. They have this crazy plan and they’ve finally gotten Karakurt, they just now need to keep him alive long enough to have him ready when Reddington is ready to enact his plan. The wrinkle there is that Mr. Solomon [Edi Gathegi], an agent of the Cabal, is dead set on stopping them from seeing their plan through.
The Blacklist returns Thursday at 9 p.m. ET on NBC.