You touched on answering the paternity question, in regards to the Liz and Red relationship, as being a “weight lifted” on the show. Why did it take until the season four finale for it to be fully resolved? Did you want to close that loop earlier?
It felt like it was time to move on, I’ll be honest, and yet, at the same time, acknowledge that there’s a larger mystery at the center of the show. There is still the question of what does Raymond Reddington want? Why is he here? The suitcase that Mr. Kaplan had dug up and that Red is trying to hide from Elizabeth represents a larger mystery. The show is still built around this core mythology and secrets, but at the same time, they’re able to set aside something that was a very important question and will change in ways who these people are, specifically Liz. It did just feel like it was time to move on from that and that we had more story to tell that we needed to drive into.
Speaking more specifically to the suitcase you alluded to, which has skeletal remains, what can you tease about how that factors into season five?
In terms of the serialized story that we’re continuing to tell, the human remains that are in that old suitcase that was buried under a tree on a farm are very much the catalyst that push us forward in season five. Those remains represent a secret that put Tom and Liz and Reddington in a very precarious place. There’s still a very odd family dynamic happening here. Tom has never had an abundance of warmth for Reddington and Reddington feels the same way. He would be just fine if Tom Keen were gone, but Elizabeth stands in the way of that. There is a great story that we’re going to start unraveling that hearkens back to things that happened in the first season, where Tom found himself keeping a few secrets, where Reddington became mistrustful of Tom and where Liz was put in a very awkward place between these two men in her life. That suitcase represents a great storyline that we’re going to unpack, pun not intended.
With Tom returning to the Blacklist fold after the Redemption spinoff didn’t pan out, how are you reintegrating him into the world again?
Tom left the show to pursue his own questions surrounding his own family, and yes, that show did not ultimately work out. He is doing what he would do as a character, which is coming home, and he’s thrilled to be home. It is an opportunity for us to organically bring Tom back into the series and continue to tell a story that was left unfinished last season when he left, about the relationship between him, Elizabeth Keen and Raymond Reddington. We will be putting to rest some of the larger questions that were lingering in the spinoff, so there are Easter eggs there for fans of Redemption.