‘The Blacklist’ Creator on N-13 Mystery, Fall-Finale Murder That Will ‘Redefine Everything’

“This is a seismic shift in our story,” Jon Bokenkamp tells TheWrap

The Blacklist - Season 8
Photo by: Will Hart/NBC

(Warning: This post contains spoilers for Friday’s “The Blacklist.”)

“The Blacklist” went to the darkest place its been thus far with tonight’s episode, aptly titled “Katarina Rostova: Conclusion,” as it featured the demise of Katarina Rostova (Laila Robins). The death of Elizabeth Keen’s (Megan Boone) mother came in the final moments of the episode at the hands of Raymond Reddington (James Spader).

Red was worried Katarina knew too much about N-13 — whether or not that is actually Red’s identity has yet to be confirmed — and the archives after pulling information out of a dying Dom (played by Ron Raines, following the death of actor Brian Dennehy) earlier in the hour. And so he murdered Katarina right in front of Liz, who got to the scene too late to prevent Red from doing the one thing she had demanded him not to do, despite the fact Red knew this act could be the final nail in the coffin of their relationship.

With “The Blacklist” going on hiatus until Jan. 22, TheWrap caught up with series creator and executive producer Jon Bokenkamp to get answers to some of our burning questions about the fall finale and where we’ll find Liz and Red when the NBC drama returns.

TheWrap: Liz begged Red not to kill her mother, Katarina, and he did it anyway. What made him decide it was worth losing Liz — since it seems clear she won’t forgive him — to do this? And what is he going to do now after having killed both Katarina and Heidegger (Michael Pemberton)?
Jon Bokenkamp: Not only did Liz beg Red not to kill her mother — she INSISTED he not kill her! Liz was very clear. She drew a line in the sand, and Red stepped right over it. With that said, in defense of Reddington, he felt he had no choice but to kill Katarina. The moment that Dom “told her everything,” Red knew what he had to do. Can Liz forgive him? I don’t know. This is a seismic shift in our story. It’s going to redefine everything.

On the Liz side, what does she do now? We leave her completely alone, crying and in shock. I can’t imagine what her next move will be from here.
How Liz handles this moment is going to define her. On one hand, she’s an FBI agent and we should expect her to do the right thing. On the other hand, she’s spent seven years learning from Reddington. The big question to me is: How much of Reddington’s darkness has rubbed off on her? How strong is that pull? How far will she sink and can she rise above this? These are all really juicy questions that we immediately explore.

Dom’s death was hard to watch, and I have even more complicated feelings about it because of what we learned beforehand — which I still don’t fully understand. He was obviously, at first, confusing Katarina with Lena, his late wife. Will we learn more about Lena and why Dom said Katarina had the archive? And is Red actually N-13, or is there something more that was going on there when he told Katarina that Red also had the archive?
Well, just to be clear, Dom mentioned his wife in those final hours, but it was the younger version of his daughter, Katarina (played by Lotte Verbeek), that he was speaking with when he was in that fog. Present-day Katarina was using that emotional fever-dream to pull answers out of a very weak and dying man. We have no plans to explore Lena — at the moment — but the real meat and potatoes lie with N-13. Is Katarina right? Is Red N-13, this notorious Russian spy? If so, what is his endgame? Is he using our task force for some other agenda? Will they find out about it? Tonight’s episode introduced us to some very important questions.

We got just a little bit of Liz/Ressler time in this episode, but what can you tease about where things are headed for them when we come back?
It’s interesting, after seven years I think that one of the most important people in Liz’s life is Ressler (Diego Klattenhoff). They really do care about each other — and, after all they’ve been through as partners, how could they not? That relationship is evolving and will continue to evolve this season. I don’t want to give anything away, but that relationship — it’s going to get… complicated very fast.

“The Blacklist” will return with a new episode Friday,  Jan. 22 at 8/7c on NBC.


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