The blacklist EPs break up Liz and Ressler’s essential premiere second as to why it’s going to transform “troublesome to navigate”.
The following post contains spoilers for The black listSeason eight premiere.
That faint smoke smell you smell after watching the blacklist return? It’s all these Bridges Liz Keen burned in the first episode of the eighth season.
After a shortened season seven, a semi-animated finale, and an extra long hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic, The Blacklist returned to NBC on Friday, bringing Liz’s renewed determination to get real responses from Reddington. In doing so, Liz not only doubled the new alliance with her mother Katarina Rostova, but also betrayed Red and the FBI task force, perhaps worse than in the past.
At the beginning of the premiere on Friday, Katarina announced to Liz that she was looking for answers about the Sikorsky archive and a KGB mole under the pseudonym N13. Katarina was previously (and wrongly) accused of being N13, but she suspects it could somehow be Dom, Red, or even both. But to get the answers she wants, Katarina had to leave Dom alone, and she devised a plan to kidnap Dom – now awake from his coma – while he was being moved to a new facility. (Dom, previously played by the late Brian Dennehy, has been re-cast with Guiding Light alum Ron Raines.)
Despite initial concerns, Liz ultimately helped ease Dom’s abduction by completely blinding both Red and the task force. Dembe reminded an abandoned Red that Liz’s betrayal was always an option – “Yeah, I know,” Red replied. “And I’ll let it happen anyway.” – while the task force was required to start a manhunt for Liz, who is now on the run. She did have a brief rendezvous with Ressler before answering, however, and the two shared their first kiss (!) Before Liz suddenly escaped and Ressler’s own gun pointed at him as she walked away.
TVLine spoke to executive producers Jon Bokenkamp and John Eisendrath about the premiere, including the long-awaited smooch, the decision to re-cast Dom, and where the task force is going from here now that Liz is in the wind.
TVLINE | I’ll admit, after Brian Dennehy’s death, I assumed Dom wouldn’t survive his coma and the character wouldn’t be on the show anymore. But now, after watching this episode, Dom seems more integral than ever. Was a rewrite the only logical option?
DEMAND | It is always difficult to make such a decision. It is incredibly sad that people we know, who we work with and who we admire have passed away. In this case, on the one hand [Dennehy] is irreplaceable, on the other hand the story was in a place where [Dom] was absolutely instrumental in it. He is the central point of the story. He knows a truth that everyone wants to find out. Although it was a difficult decision, we felt it was necessary and we hope people will understand.
TVLINE | We’d known since last season’s finale that Liz Red would betray after she sided with her mother – but her betrayal of the entire task force was more unexpected. Why did she blow up all of her relationships so thoroughly?
BOKENKAMP | The members of the task force are her friends. We don’t get into these characters’ personal lives much so they feel like family and it’s betrayal. It’s a tough choice for them, but it’s a binary one. I don’t think she has the ability to go against Reddington with the task force. She feels that the pressure is too hard for them to be in line with it, and Katarina would argue that they are being lied to just as much as Liz is being fooled. Difficult as this choice is, it really has no choice but to push back in the toughest possible way. The consequences of this with all members – everyone has a perspective on it. It will be interesting to see how everyone reacts, how they feel about it, and what this betrayal is doing to the task force – how they stick together or not with this decision they made.
TVLINE | And this isn’t the first time she’s become a villain either. She shot Tom Connolly, she faked her own death, and on several occasions the task force gave her the benefit of the doubt and got her back into the group. Will any of the task force members find it difficult to forgive Liz afterward?
DEMAND | Most of the task force members blame Reddington for what happened to Liz. Before he came into her life, she had a perfect life. She had a life where she was innocent and kind and enthusiastic and loved everything in her life and then this mysterious man comes in. And those people who were suspicious of her – who is she, what is her connection to Reddington, what isn’t She didn’t tell us – they hugged her very carefully. You have seen over these years how someone who is only trying to learn the truth has been denied the truth over the years, suffered for it and faced incredible hardship. The people who know her best are ready to give her not only the benefit of the doubt, but also empathy and support.
That said, it’s an incredibly difficult position for her. You have an immunity agreement with exactly the person who [Liz] is determined to do whatever it must to find out the truth and they are law enforcement officers and they are breaking the law. It feels like a situation where, instead of saying, “Enough, we’re done with you”, they are caught up in this very human tragedy.
TVLINE | How do you interpret the kiss Liz and Ressler shared? It’s hard to read Liz’s motivations in this scene. Is the kiss real? A scam? A little of both?
DEMAND | In the beginning, Ressler was the most suspicious of Liz. He was most certain that she had an agenda that kept her away from them, and over the years he has been the one closest to her to watch the pain she went through – with Tom he was at first didn’t like intense but came around and obviously with red. I think there is something real. The authenticity comes from all the years they have been together. It comes from their mutual understanding that they are at the end of a long journey – because this desire from Liz to know the truth can lead to places that bring them to the end of their journey – and whenever two people have that unspoken feeling for each other [and] Realize that this is where they are. That latent feeling comes out. I think it’s okay for the audience to want to read that there’s a lot of pent-up affection and emotion popping up right now.
BOKENKAMP | I agree it’s real, but I also think it’s betrayal, right? What makes betrayal so terrible.
DEMAND | Oh yes, right now.
BOKENKAMP | At that moment she picks up his gun, it is her way to escape and make sure he doesn’t pick it up. I think it’s real, but it’s betrayal too. That’s what makes it so complex and potentially difficult to navigate.
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