Last season, The Blacklist ended with many unresolved questions and introduced several new mysteries to be unraveled in season 2. This summer, I sat down with the show’s executive producer, John Eisendrath, to find out the scoop on whether the truth about Liz and Red’s relationship will be revealed, the mystery about Berlin, his daughter and the Stewmaker, and Tom’s disappearance.
Read on for edited excerpts from our conversation and then tune in for The Blacklist Season 2 premiere, “Lord Baltimore,” on Monday, September 22.
Will questions about Red’s burns and his relationship with Liz be definitively answered in season 2? Or will you be giving out crumbs throughout the season?
You know, it’s funny. In episode 9 last year, she said to him on the phone, “Are you my father?” And, he was like, “No.” When we were debating in the writing of that, should he do that, oh, my God, he’s answering and people will be like, “That’s it.” And we left it in.
And, the minute that episode aired, anyone I talked to said, “Oh, he’s lying. That can’t possibly be the truth.” So the question of whether we’re going to answer something definitively, I think everybody’s smart enough who watches the show to know the answer’s no. I do think it’s our obligation to give concrete answers like we did there. And if we’re going to give concrete reversals like the burn scars, we do owe answers to what does that mean. Fire and what’s the bear? Did they come from somewhere else? Or how do we respond to that?
So we will be dealing with it, but I’m curious what you think because we are in our own universe just trying to write the show and we’re guessing sometimes. Are people tired of hearing about father-daughter questions? Do they want to hear about other things? Should we avoid it for a while? We don’t know sometimes. We’ll answer some. We’re dealing with it. I just don’t know if it will satisfy.
There seems to be two sets of fans. Those who 100% believe that Red is her father and then those who believe if you follow the clues, he’s definitely not her father.
I love that. I think that hopefully we have a few tricks up our sleeves this year that will keep the debate going. And the trick is to keep the debate going while letting the characters be honest. It can’t just be Red crassly manipulating Liz’s feelings about who her father is because that would be hateful. We will hopefully keeping the debate going.
Liz is in the FBI and when Red was brought in, there would likely have been a DNA test done that would have resolved the question almost immediately. Have you thought about addressing that in the series?
We have. We have thought about addressing that both last year and in the upcoming episodes. We do know that’s a question that would naturally come up. One answer that we have rationalized for not doing it yet is that maybe deep down, Liz doesn’t want to know. That may not be an excuse for not talking about it on the show and I think we do this year owe a discussion about well why not just get a DNA test.
I do think that this year part of the season will be about Liz trying to wrestle with the emotional weight of, “If the devil is my father, what does that make me? Who am I? Am I someone who is destined to be the devil’s disciple? Am I more bad than good?”
The character of Berlin was introduced at the end of last season, then you have the Stewmaker, the picture and the locket too. For season 2 will that be a thread that carries out throughout the season? How does that story fit in?
Berlin is very much a portion of the first part of the season. What happens in that adversarial battle will get resolved over the course of the first half of the season with I hope some surprising reversals of what it means. The picture in the locket is essential to the outcome of their relationship. …
We do feel an obligation to give concrete answers. That picture, what it means and who it is we definitely feel an obligation to be very clear fairly early in the season and then surprise people shortly thereafter.
Tom appeared to be dead and then disappeared. Is Tom gone?
What I would say about it is that we definitely have to resolve Tom. It is clearly unresolved. He wasn’t there at the end and so where the hell did he go? We definitely have to answer where he went. At the same time, we want to allow Liz to explore what it means to be 30 and have your marriage destroyed and all your hopes and dreams gone and having to start over. What I love about the show is that it’s not a straight up procedural. Her character needs to be able to heal. The first 8 [episodes] has to be about her being able to finally look forward emotionally.
The Blacklist Season 2 premieres Monday, September 22 at 10pm on NBC.
(Image courtesy of NBC.)