The Blacklist interview: Jon Bokenkamp talks 100th episode, Easter eggs, and huge finale cliffhanger

The Blacklist logo any season

Are you ready to see the 100th episode of The Blacklist? The milestone episode entitled “Abraham Stern” is airing on NBC Wednesday night and there is a lot to look forward to from it. For starters, you’re getting a great guest-star in Nathan Lane as Stern. Beyond that, you also have notable callbacks to past episodes, a really fun story that alters the tone, and also a few surprising moments that set up what comes the rest of the season.

As a means of setting this episode up, who better to turn to than executive producer Jon Bokenkamp! In the second part of our interview series with the show creator we talk the impetus behind casting Lane, some of the ways in which the show plays into Blacklist history, and also a finale that will leave everyone on the edge of their seat.

CarterMatt – One of the things that is exciting about this 100th episode is getting Nathan Lane on board. How did that come around?

Jon Bokenkamp – We’re always trying to find casting that is a little bit different that is fun and surprises. We’ve loved Nathan Lane for a long time. We were just looking for a way to bring him into the show and to find a character that would be fitting.

With this being the 100th episode, it’s a little bit bigger and crazier and such a good excuse to have a great actor at the center of the show going toe-to-toe with Spader and the rest of the cast. We were just huge fans, so when he said ‘yes’ we were ecstatic and actually had an opportunity to write the character for him. We knew that he was going to be able to do it — this wasn’t one of those things where he came in at the last minute and read the script twenty minutes before we started shooting. We were able to write with his voice in mind, and I hope that comes across.

What can you say about this character Abraham Stern that he is playing?

He’s devoted his entire life to crime and chasing a sort of ghost story, a treasure. This is an episode that is almost a heist episode in a way, and Red finds himself one of the primary targets in this heist. It’s fun — there’s great music, great performances, and although it does have some of the darker elements that the show is known for, this is a big, fun episode that I think people are going to find really enjoyable.

With that, there are a few Easter eggs for hardcore fans of the show, especially with Liz and the arc that she’s on. She finds herself in a position where she finds herself a little more like a Blacklister than she would prefer[to be]. She’s in a really sticky situation and the way she solves that situation will be a nice callback for fans of the show.

With this being such a huge milestone, have you been able to look back and reflect on everything that led to the show getting to this point?

I don’t know that I have much perspective. It seems as though it’s happened so fast. It’s a crazy show to write and produce — we are constantly just trying to get the scripts together and produce the episodes in time. There hasn’t been a lot of time for reflection, although it sounds amazing. 100 episodes, I do recognize that this is a rare accomplishment these days.

We’re aware of the honor, but at the same time we have a lot more story to tell. We’re trying to push things and continue to tell the series in a compelling way. It’s been great, and yet there’s much more work to do.

Are you thinking in terms of additional milestones? Do you want to get to episode #150 or #200?

We never really think in terms of episode amounts. It’s really more about the story and where we are in the story.

Each year, we sort of want to map out where we are in the series. We’re trying not to move things too quickly, but at the same time we want to keep people on their toes and continue to turn the pages of this story. Tom dying was an example of that. That’s something that we always knew we would arrive at, but we weren’t sure when. This felt like the right time. It pushes our story forward in a really interesting way.

In terms of where we go, I think [fellow EP John] Eisendrath has mentioned this before — I think we have a cliffhanger at the end of this season that will rival any that we’ve had before. I’m really excited about it.

Your thoughts

What do you want to see in terms of The Blacklist 100th episode, or the finale that is going to be coming up a little bit later in the spring? Share now in the comments.

(Photo: NBC.)

Love TV? Be sure to like Matt & Jess on Facebook for more updates!