What makes Red Reddington nervous?
We’ll find out tonight when The Blacklist Season 1 Episode 9 airs the first hour of a two-part episode built around the character of Anslo Garrick.
The latest name on the blacklist infiltrates the FBI’s site in an attempt to capture Red and fans should prepare to see a different side to the character played so well by James Spader,
In fact, as Executive Producers Jon Bokenkamp and John Eisendrath told me last week, these two episodes are a chance to get a window into not only Red but some of our other characters, one in particular.
What else is coming on the engrossing series? What the relationship between Red and Lizzy really about? Is Red truly a bad guy? When will we find out why Red killed Lizzie’s father? Let’s see what answers we could get...
TV Fanatic: How do you and the writers construct the episodes? Do you start with the mythology stories or do you dive into the case of the week?
John Eisendrath: Well, we definitely map out the longer arcs of characters first, sort of the Liz and Tom and Liz and Red and various mythology, at least signposts we want to get as we move forward and then go back and drop in the case a week and try to find the best way possible to weave the two together and have the case of the week somehow reflect what’s going on in their lives.
TVF: So far he’s been so in control but will we see Red make some missteps? He always seems two steps ahead of our FBI team.
JE: I think it’s not always being about two steps ahead and that there will be times when he should be taken by surprise or someone should maybe get the better of him. I think we’ve done a good job humanizing him in his personal life and in his relationship with Liz. I think we probably could do a better job humanizing him in his professional life, as well.
Jon Bokenkamp: Even the next week/two weeks, is a little bit of what you’re talking about in terms of him being a little more on his heels obviously than he has been at all at any point thus far.
TVF: Well [The Blacklist Season 1 Episode 8], we found out that Red knew Lizzie’s adopted father. How are you guys deciding how much to parcel out with each episode?
JE: Totally by skill. There’s no rule. We are very aware of wanting to give the audience concrete pieces so they don’t have to wait too long and we don’t want them to be frustrated by getting nothing. But we know that too much, too soon, people will burn out on our end and we won’t have much left to tell so we have to be very cautious.
TVF: Will we find out the reason why Red killed Lizzie’s father? We can assume that it’s because he wanted to tell her this secret that we don’t yet, but is there a concrete reason why outside of that?
JB: I think that’s the kind of thing that’s best left to interpretation. [Lizzy’s father] obviously was sick, I mean the guy wanted all of the machines taken out of his room so it indicated that he’d like to go but at the same time there are all the reasons that Red would have to kill him. And so that’s one of those things that I think is more fun to talk about on the sofa afterwards watching. I know what the truth is but I feel like answering [and] giving a specific answer to that almost takes some of the fun out of it.
TVF: James Spader has said in several interviews that Red is a bad guy. Red is not a good person but we see him do good things, like the empathy he shows for Lizzie’s father before, well, he kills him. How do you guys see him?
JE: He’s definitely not a psychopath. He’s not without remorse. He’s not without feeling. So he’s not a bad guy in the way that a Hannibal or someone who is a serial killer without a conscious. And I think part of the answer that we will arc out over time, or the explanation that we will give over time about whether he’s good or bad would be, as we arc out what led him to this path, the just reason that he’s doing unjust things. And I think when you put it in the prism of that, put it in that context, it seems like to us he might ultimately be someone who has the capacity for redemption.
TVF: Have you had a challenge at all trying to keep the show grounded in reality? You definitely have so many worlds you could tap into.
JE: I don’t know if it’s been a challenge so much as just something where we’re constantly sort of asking ourselves because we do want it to be grounded, but at the same time, there is an element of an alternative world sort of baked into this cake of the story and then the idea that they bring in this man to help them hunt down these criminals.
So, it’s difficult because we don’t want it to become too comic book-like but at the same time each one of these villains that we find each week, we sort of want to have their own movie poster like, what is their movie? What is their world that is going to distinguish us from other crime procedurals? And so yeah, it’s something that we’re aware of but we don’t want it to be too pungent.
TVF: What about our supporting cast? Are we going to get more of who Meera is and Ressler and Cooper?
JB: Sure. I think that we just knew that in the beginning, the show needed to sort of revolve around the relationship between Red and Liz. And like anything, over time, given the opportunity…it’s like a family. We will be able to give the other kids in the family their moment. We certainly plan on doing that and have ideas for all of them.
TVF: This next episode – ‘Anslo Garrick’ – is a two-parter so can you talk about that a little bit?
JE: Yeah. It is a two-parter and it’s one of the moments in which Red sort of finds himself on his heels. This is one of the…one of our Blacklisters before, the first time we get to see what worries Red, what are his weaknesses, what is the story from his past that may come back to haunt him. So this is one of those games.
TVF: Will we be getting more pieces of the mythology between Lizzy and Red? Is more of that coming in these next two episodes?
JE: What we’re going to get is we’re going to get a deepening of a greater understanding of Ressler through this episode and his past, a greater understanding of his relationship with Red. It will be sort of a turning point in his relationship with Red. The next episode or two, so much is designed to deepen our understanding of Red, why he’s doing what he’s doing [and] expand in more detail some of the specifics about the world that he has been occupying and the sort of forces, the greater forces out there that he’s combating.
The Blacklist Season 1 Mondays at 10/9c on NBC.
Jim Halterman is the West Coast Editor of TV Fanatic and the owner of JimHalterman.com. Follow him on Twitter.