Dembe Zuma started off as the strong, quiet right-hand man on The Blacklist, and in many ways, that role is still unchanged. This is someone who is pensive, mysterious, and prefers to stay somewhat in the background. Yet, we know so much more about him than we ever thought we would in the early seasons. Hisham Tawfiq has breathed tremendous life in this man, giving him layers, a painful backstory, and a sense of loyalty that was shaken to its core through much of season 6.
After that season (arguably the character’s best) where do we envision Dembe’s story going from here? In this week’s spotlight, we come bearing five questions that the show could answer.
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What is his relationship with Reddington now? Dembe made the decision to leave, and he made the empowered decision to return. It was one of the few occasions where Reddington had no real control over him. Dembe claims that his path led him back to James Spader’s character, but are there new dimensions of the relationship that we see as a result of this? We wonder if Reddington could listen to Dembe more and take into account some of his philosophies. Remember back during season 2 that Dembe didn’t even want to see Reddington kill someone he had a personal vendetta against due to his past! Dembe just has a different speed and there may be more compromises now.
What was Dembe doing during his time away? We understand that he doesn’t always get long storylines, but it would be nice to spend a few minutes in one episode exploring the path that Dembe was on — finding his peace and understanding why he wanted to go back to his longtime friend. Maybe on some level he can’t imagine life without Reddington, as he owes him a great deal of his life. There is a love here, and we don’t think another person can understand Dembe like Reddington and vice-versa.
Can we meet more of Dembe’s family? Remember that Dembe is both a father and a grandfather, though the show doesn’t give you a lot of opportunities to see it. Even just a few more minutes of screen time would be appreciated — these two women plus Reddington are the only people he cares about in the world. How do they drive him to keep doing what he’s doing? What role do they play in understanding world?
What are Dembe’s secrets? Dembe seems to know more about the true Reddington than almost anyone. With that, maybe he can be a conduit to get to know more about the Stranger at the end of season 6 — or about what happened to Katarina. Even if Dembe doesn’t ever spell out some of Reddington’s secrets, maybe he encourages Reddington to do so himself. It’s a role that he has taken on in the past.
What is the relationship between Liz and Dembe now? Liz confiding in Dembe is one of the reasons why the season 6 story spiraled like it did. Will he be a willing participant to further discussions now, or is there a paradigm shift with them just like there is with Dembe and Reddington? Our feeling is that Dembe’s not going to want to be put in the position of middleman anymore; he may keep the secrets he already has, but would prefer to not have anymore stockpiled in his brain. His mind is like a game of Tetris almost filled to the top of the screen; he may not be able to hold any more before it’s Game Over.
Want more The Blacklist spotlights beyond Dembe Zuma?
Then be sure to visit the link here! Also, tell us in the comments what you want for Dembe Zuma on season 7 of the series. (Photo: NBC.)
This article was written by Jessica Carter. Be sure to follow her on Twitter.