Following Red’s self-imposed exile in the wake of Liz’s apparent demise, The Blacklist returns Thursday with her funeral, allowing the team a chance to grieve their fallen colleague.
For those who may have missed it, Liz (Megan Boone) and Tom (Ryan Eggold) got into a car accident while trying to escape Mr. Solomon (Edi Gathegi), compromising their child. The baby was born healthy, but the same could not be said of Liz, who flatlined en route to the hospital. “We’re all deeply affected by it,” Harry Lennix tells EW. “Over the last three years, of course, we’ve all become kind of a family.”
And how that family deals in the wake of tragedy takes center stage. While co-star Diego Klattenhoff says it’s a “big shock to everyone,” the team will all have “different coping mechanisms,” Mozhan Marnò adds. “Ressler and Samar were on the scene, so we feel more responsible for not getting there in time.”
After officiating the couple’s nuptials, Cooper (Lennix) will also have the sad duty of delivering Liz’s eulogy. “I don’t know that he would necessarily want to do either of those two things,” Lennix says. “But he’s aided in these efforts by his true affection for Liz and, to a growing extent, to Tom. She sees him as a kind of father figure — she says as much — and I believe that Cooper sees her as a daughter figure, or as a little sister that he wants to help bring up through the ranks. When she’s snatched from us, it’s deeply felt as losing a member of the family.”
However, not everyone will be in attendance at the service (more funeral photos here). “Dembe [Hisham Tawfiq] doesn’t even come to the funeral for Liz, and neither does Red [James Spader],” Tawfiq reveals. “We can understand Red not going, maybe he’s just so heartbroken, but I thought that Dembe would either try to encourage him to go or, if he gave him his space, then I would go as a representation. But I didn’t go.”
But that could be because Red has one focus: Vengeance. “Everybody on this earth that was responsible, how close or how far away the connection was, even if you picked up the phone or answered it for somebody else calling for her, no matter what part of the equation, you need to be destroyed,” Tawfiq says, noting that Dembe is far from the voice of reason in this situation. “Right now you won’t hear any wise words from me as to why you shouldn’t do it this way. It’s like whatever you think is best, let’s go ahead and do it.”
Suffice it to say, the task force will use any means necessary to get justice for Liz. “Now more than ever, Cooper and his task force will dig in their heels and get to the bottom of who this was and we will punish them to the full extent of the law,” Lennix says.
“This is very personal for everyone, and particularly Cooper really does seem to be steering this ship towards finding and apprehending her killer at any cost and by any method,” Marnò adds. “It is possible there will be some unorthodox methods used to apprehend Solomon and company. There’s a possibility that it will be unlawful.”
Getting justice, however, won’t be an easy feat in the wake of everything that’s happened, particularly for Aram (Amir Arison). “Dealing with grief and trying to work, trying to do your job facing that amount of grief and that amount of feeling like we all failed, was probably the hardest thing I’ve done on the series,” Arison says. “That hunt for justice I think is what keeps Aram, Red, and the team moving forward as opposed to just wallowing in it in a pit of self pity or failure.”
But the question remains how Red’s dynamic with the team is changed now that Liz is no longer around. The one thing they do know is that Red is certainly motivated to get revenge. “It’s a mutual loss,” Lennix says. “If nothing else, we know that Red deeply loves Liz. As much of an unknown quantity as he is, and as questionable as his motives and his methods may be, we know that he loves her. Cooper has the longest relationship with Red outside of presumably Liz. I’ve known him for some time and I know that he’s deeply affected by this.”
As for who is actually responsible for what happened, the culprit may or may not have ties to Famke Janssen’s new character, who you can see in some new photos below:
The Blacklist airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. ET on NBC.