The Blacklist interview: EPs tease big reveals, huge episodes, Glen tribute

The Blacklist

On Friday, November 13th on NBC, the wait is finally over — The Blacklist season 8 is premiering and we will be diving into the latest epic chapter of Raymond Reddington.

Going into this season, there is one clear thing to know: The world is not what it once was. At the end of the finale this past spring, Elizabeth Keen made the decision to side with her mother Katarina Rostova in pursuit of answers. She’s asked Reddington for these answers for years, and he’s resisted over and over. This sets the stage for one of the most dramatic showdowns in the series’ history, and based on what executive producers Jon Bokenkamp and John Eisendrath told us in a new interview, things aren’t going to get any better for the two characters in the near future.

For more discussion on this interview, watch our brand new video at the bottom of this article! Make sure you subscribe to Matt & Jess on YouTube so  you don’t miss any of our videos on The Blacklist this season and then also view our show playlist.

CarterMatt – Season 7 ended in such a bold way, but I know that it was far from the original finale you and the team had planned. Are the first few episodes of season 8 meant to reflect how season 7 would have ended before the shutdown, or were there changes made over the summer?

Jon Bokenkamp: The first three episodes are actually what we had imagined creatively for our season seven finale. Obviously, because of the pandemic, we had to shelve those stories, but we were able to revisit them with season eight. The upside is that we’re starting this season in a really strong place. We’ve got big moves, big story turns, big pay off — the launching point of season eight is really dynamic and sets the tone for what comes next in a way that we typically don’t have the luxury to do. And trust me, it’s big!

John Eisendrath: Yes. The first few episodes of season eight are the culmination of the story that was originally going to end season seven. While that was unfortunate for season seven, it gives season eight a fantastic start!

We heard a great deal about the Sikorsky Archive at the end of last season, whether it be Ilya’s obsessions of it or the ties it has to the central mythology. How critical will that be to the start of this season?

Jon Bokenkamp: Well, I think it’s fair to say that the Sikorsky Archive is tethered to the core mythology of the show. It’s taken us eight years to get to this place and the Archive — what it means, why it was created, who has died to protect it — all of that comes to a head this season.

John Eisendrath: The Archive is central to unlocking the mythology of the show. Figuring out what it is will be a central quest for several characters this coming year.

Liz seems to have made the decision to side with Katarina in her pursuit of answers, ones Reddington has not given her. How does Liz making this choice change the Liz – Reddington dynamic in the early going?

Jon Bokenkamp: Let’s keep in mind that Liz has searched for answers for seven years now, and she feels she’s gotten nowhere with Reddington. Now, with her mother in the picture, she has discovered a partner in crime, so to speak. Both of these women have had their lives upended by Reddington, and both are ultimately searching for answers to the same core questions. By siding with her mother, the dynamic between Red and Liz is obviously going to shift, but I think that’s okay. One of the things I’m most proud of is that our show is not static. It lives and breathes and evolves, and that shift is going to be significant this year. We’re entering a territory that is unlike anything we’ve done before. These are uncharted waters.

John Eisendrath: It has an immediate impact. Liz will not be deterred in her quest for answers; Red doesn’t want her to, so they will be at odds immediately.

One of the things I really enjoyed about season 7 is that it felt like each character had their own spotlight — “Kuwait” and “Brothers” stand out in particular. Are there plans to do something similar this time?

Jon Bokenkamp: Well, first off, I’m glad you liked those departure episodes. They’re fun to do and it’s always great to explore each of our characters in different ways. This season, we are doing some very unique episodes — but not like you might think. We’re playing with time in a different way this season and, yes, some episodes will spotlight some characters more than others, but in a very present and urgent way.

The loss of Clark Middleton still hurts; Glen was one of my favorite recurring characters. Are there plans in the works to honor him or that character?

Jon Bokenkamp: Yes. 100%. Glen was not only a singular character on the show, but Clark was a singular actor on our show, and he had become a true friend. I would hang out with Clark in LA or Chicago or New York during press trips and on set, and he had such wonderful enthusiasm for film and for life. He was a total film geek and talking about movies with him would never get old. After he passed, we’d already written an episode for Glen and we realized we would need to abandon that story. That left us with a decision to make: do we acknowledge this character’s passing or just not hear from him anymore and pretend that he was off doing his thing? It felt odd to just abandon Glen and not see him again, so we decided to deal with his character’s passing on the show. I’m really excited about that episode, which will be 806 — I hope it encapsulates the same fun, frustrating and unusual aspects of Glen while honoring Clark. We already miss him dearly.

John Eisendrath: Yes! We loved Clark off the show, and what he did as Glen on the show. We will recognize his passing on the show and, in doing so, we’ll hopefully honor his character and his person.

This is probably the question I hear about the most from diehard fans — given his own history with Katarina, is there any chance of an Alexander Kirk return this season?

Jon Bokenkamp: Alexander Kirk. Hmmm. If he were coming back, you wouldn’t want me to tell you, right? I plead the fifth.

John Eisendrath: Gotta wait and see!

Finally, what makes season 8 stand out to you amidst all of the rest? What do you think viewers will take away from it?

Jon Bokenkamp: Each season, we peel back the onion, revealing more and more of the truth — but this season we’re diving straight into the deep end of the pool and going to landing on the very real, concrete answers that fans have been waiting for.

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