Following The Blacklist season 6 episode 2 on NBC Friday night, there’s a good chance that your jaw is on the floor and for good reason. As it turns out, Reddington is in jail — and Liz Keen put him there! It was a big salvo for her after an intense internal debate as to what to do about this man, who has pretended to be her father knowing full well that he wasn’t the past year. She cares for him, and also recognizes that he’s done valuable work for the FBI. Yet, putting him behind bars was the only way that she could really continue her work, undetected, into finding out the truth about who he is.
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Of course, to go along with this, there’s one other risk now: That Reddington learns that she’s responsible for his imprisonment. It’s a difficult tightrope that she’s walking and she needs to be very careful every step of the way.
In our second part of our interview with showrunner / creator Jon Bokenkamp, he discusses tonight’s big reveal plus that fantastic United Nations scenes and a whole lot more.
CarterMatt – Let me just start with this — did you actually film at the UN, or did your team just do a really good job pretending?
Jon Bokenkamp – I love that you asked that. We went down the road to shoot at the UN, which is of course [where the show films] in New York City and broke story that would involve us shooting there. We had some great conversations with some lovely people to try to make that work but, at the end of the day, I think some of the subject matter and perhaps the perspectives made it somewhat uncomfortable. Unfortunately, our invite was withdrawn.
And so, we scrambled to pull off the best version we could — we did not shoot at the UN, but it’s the work of our New York production crew, who are hands-down the best in the business, to create some of that stuff and use some visual effects and practical sets and location. We weren’t there, but I still think that Spader’s speech at the empty General Assembly was one for the books.
That’s gotta be one of my favorite Spader speeches in a really long time. What was the impetus behind that and the Cary Grant story?
Well, here’s the funny thing — in North by Northwest they were also not allowed to shoot at the UN and Hitchcock stole a shot. There was a little bit of guerilla filmmaking back then that we may have been inspired by.
Once we hit on the idea that we might be going to the UN, we knew that we had to have Spader give a speech. We knew that it wouldn’t be to a room full of people but in the room, breaking the story, there was a whole act where it just read ‘Red gives a UN speech.’ We didn’t know what it would be (laughs), but we knew that he would find his way into that room.
That story came about thanks to James and [executive producer John] Eisendrath bouncing this thing back and forth, writing it and re-writing it. It’s so weird and strange and at the same time it’s poignant and there’s a lovely message that he has — he’s talking about a kinder world and making it a better place! It’s dressed up in a perverted, strange way, but I think his message is ultimately a poignant one.
This obviously leads to the big twist where Liz gets Reddington locked up in jail, and she weighs this decision in a big way. They did just save a lot of lives at the UN, but in the end, this was still the result. Why did you decide to have Reddington behind bars at this point?
It feels like there’s been a real power shift in the show with what she’s learned, what she knows that Reddington doesn’t know she knows. We’re entering new territory where, as our point-of-view character, Liz can start to unravel, at a grassroots level, with what’s going on here. By virtue of what she did last season, we now have the biggest turn of our series. Even though we know Reddington better than we have, we still know nothing about him at all.
She’s in the driver’s seat, and I think that was the thing that was the most interesting to us. We have Elizabeth Keen in a very powerful place, sidelining Reddington, who is not very good at being sidelined. It makes for a very good game of cat-and-mouse as we continue to unravel this story.
How is Reddington going to react to this situation? Is there some sort of magical Batphone that they can call him on so that he can help with Blacklisters?
There might be something very akin to the magical Batphone (laughs). I think an incarcerated version of Reddington is something that feels really organic to the story and as we stumbled upon it, it felt like ‘how have we not arrived here yet? How has this guy not been in prison and we haven’t dramatized that at all?’. Six seasons in, we have a new first — we’re seeing Reddington navigate this sort of system and it strips away his superpowers in terms of the people and resources that he has. It puts him on his heels, but if anyone is going to be put on their heels and embrace it, it would be Reddington.
In a corner of his mind, Reddington is probably fine with where all of this is going and enjoys the solitude of his cell. Maybe he’ll find some time to mediate and read some books; he’ll embrace this new chapter.
We saw some tension between the Task Force [and the officers and attorneys] in New York over Reddington’s capture. Is that something that will continue?
Remember, the Task Force doesn’t even know that 1) Red’s not Red and 2) that Liz is behind his arrest. There are great stories that are going to come out of the Task Force. Every person on the Task Force has a unique and specific perspective about how they feel about the way things are unfolding. We have some great, interpersonal stories this year. We have some small stories that are very personal and are going to be great to watch unfold.
So finally, what’s going to happen with Aram and Samar; is there a wedding this year?
A Blacklist wedding — well, those don’t typically go well (laughs).
No, they don’t.
Those two are so fantastic. I remember when we saw Aram touching Samar’s hand in episode 205. I felt like ‘oh my God, that’s such an unexpected and great relationship.’ We’re entering uncharted waters here — he proposed at the end of the season and she has just come out of this traumatic near-death experience.
We have a beautiful and twisted and surprising love story between Samar and Aram that is going to change the dynamic of the show in a very-big way.
What did you think about the first two episodes of The Blacklist, and the shocking twist at the end of tonight? Share right now in the attached comments. (Photo: NBC.)