Tuesday, September 16, 2014

'The Blacklist' Teases from Executive Producer John Eisendrath

This post contains spoilers.

Executive producer John Eisendrath provided some fun tidbits and general spoilers about the direction of Season 2 in a trio of interviews which I've compiled here:  the Television Critics Association press tour with NBC showrunners in July, an interview with TV Fanatic, also in July, and his interview on Beyond the Blacklist after the Season 1 finale,  Episode 22.  Although the latter dates from May, it provides relevant information.

My favorite of the exec producer's comments is regarding the issue of Red - bad guy or good guy? - a subject that gets tossed around on the Blacklist Support Group periodically.  "He is a bad guy. Tony Soprano was a bad guy, it doesn’t mean they’re not capable of humanity. [Spader would] be the first to say Red has a very clear set of rules and a morality that sets him apart from your average thug, which is totally true. So, yes, he’s a bad guy but I do believe that ultimately this is a redemption story for him and if in the end of the series he could get Liz to love him, that would be amazing." 

Next page:  The Focus of Season 2

The Focus of Season 2

During the press tour, Eisendrath discussed the future direction of the storylines of Red and Liz.

"Last season, I think some of the most successful individual moments were when James Spader's character expressed some remorse or bittersweet memories about his family, or the loss of things that he experienced in the past. This year, we will explore more of his life with his family, what that was like, and bring that into the present and sort of explore relationships with people who he was incredibly close with in the past and who he hasn't been with in a long time. 

"And where Liz is concerned, while their relationship will remain central to the show, she is now single and trying to start her life again after the disaster of her marriage. ... That will be central to the show as well." 

In regard to villains, the show will continue with the current prototype.  "I would say that a lot of our most successful episodes live in a creepy, weird space. The Stewmaker sort of set the [bar]. Jon [Bokenkamp, creator] and I were like ‘oh, yes. I see that’. And so when we have this guy Milton Bobbit, he took his nose off, he was this weird, creepy guy. That’s not a plot thing that The Blacklist has to have but it is, for lack of a better word, a vibe that the show has and I think is most successful in that universe."

Executive Producer John Eisendrath, far right

Liz's Mom 

"Liz came to this show with a point of view about the story of her life ... but the first year made clear that little of what she knew about herself was true. We'll continue to explore the issue with her dad and the way into it this year is for her to say, well, if the part about my dad wasn't true, what was the truth, if any, that I need to learn about my mom." 


It has been confirmed that Tom is alive, which we all knew anyway, but we won't learn much about his whereabouts or condition for a while. The premier episode of Season 2 won't pick up Tom's storyline immediately, as some time will have passed between the end of season 1 and when the show returns with Season 2. 

Cooper's Recovery

"Where Cooper is left for next season [2] is that I think he will be back as the person who is central to the task force, and I think that he plays just an incredibly fundamental role as the glue that sort of holds everybody together."


"I think that the role Alan Alda [Fitch] plays is central to sort of the larger mythology of the series that is ongoing, and that is not answered and finished by the end of Season 1. So he will very much be a part of the show in next year [S2], if not the the coming years as well, as one of the central forces out there in the world who are interacting with, and in some ways, opposed to Reddington."

The Other Players

"I feel like all the other characters will now get more opportunities to come front and center, and for us to learn about Cooper and Ressler and what are the things they have hidden from us in the first year."

This is great news to my ears.  Adding depth to Cooper and Ressler will add a much needed complexity to these characters. As it stands, Cooper is so one dimensional that he is almost unappealing. There's no direct mention of Mr. Kaplan, but we can hope can't we? I think we're all itching for some background into her relationship with Red.

To Be Dad or Not to Be...That is the Question

In Beyond the Blacklist, Eisendrath states, "In the middle of the season [Liz asks Red] point blank, "Are you my father?" and he said no.  I thought that would satisfy everybody but everybody's like, well we don't believe that's the truth.

"All we know about her biological father is that he saved her life that night and he did it by reaching into the fire that was engulfing her. We know that she has a scar, likely from that fire, and we do reveal at the end of that episode [22] that in fact Red is similarly scarred. Viewers can draw whatever conclusions they like from that fact."

However, in comments during the press tour, Eisendrath contradicted himself saying, "I hope it did not answer the question [of whether Red is Liz's father] for the viewers. It tells us there is story yet to come about what the truth is about whether or not he is her father. This season, we're going to take the opportunity to ask and answer that question in ways that will get us closer to the ultimate truth." 

Well, that clears things up not at all.

Blacklister Numbering

Tom was originally slated to have the number one spot! Huh? Well, that confirms it was always intended for Liz's pseudo spouse to be a bad guy. Fortunately, the Powers That Be decided Tom wasn't worthy of being Red's most wanted adversary. Number 8, the "highest" blacklister yet, is Berlin but reportedly 1 through 7 have not been determined yet.  Eisendrath jokes that each year's season finale can countdown to the numero uno baddie. A guaranteed 8 year run?  I'm on board. Find reader theories and thoughts on the BSG Blacklister Numbering Page.

Will Newly Single Liz and Ressler Hook Up?

Natalie Abrams of TV Guide says no.  "Don't hold your breath. The producers want to spend more time getting to know the man before they actually pair him up with Liz." Eisendrath adds, "In doing that, [we'll] put him in emotionally vulnerable places. By putting him in those positions, it will give Liz an opportunity to reach out to him and support him in a way that will deepen their relationship." 

The Television Scheduling of Season 2

After premiering on September 22, NBC will air eight episodes followed by a two month break and then return in the post-Super Bowl slot. The show will then move to Thursday night's for the remainder the season.  

Eisendrath elaborates, "First of all, we are very pleased we got to stay on Mondays for the amount of time we’re staying on. We weren’t certain that was going to happen. Being on and off the air is partially a function of just how long it takes to produce every episode. Last year, where we had more episodes on consecutively…that’s part of the problem of scheduling shows that take 9, 10, sometimes 11 days to do. The air dates get so tight that sometimes you only get seven days from the time you end up finishing filming an episode to the time it airs. So, if you have to that every week, week after week, it becomes very difficult — particularly if there are effects in the show — to have it done. So, that’s part of the reason to have a built-in break. “And I think part of the obstacle we have to face is coming up with a big enough moment at the end of what is in this case our eighth episode to carry people forward. And NBC has made the judgment — and I agree with them — that fans of the show are invested enough to stay with us until we return. And obviously the fact that we get to return on the Super Bowl guarantees that people will be there when we come back.  It gets back to telling the right story, and the momentum in the proper place. And again, we’re trying to imagine our eight episode story that will allow the show to be done in not just a way that we wait until episode eight to have that moment, but it’ll seem organic enough, and will build a reaction enough, that it’ll earn the break in between.”  Sure, the cast and crew need a break so they can continue to produce a quality drama, but we don't have like it!

7 Days and Counting!

1 comment:

C Fergy said...

Nice job Chompstick! I can hardly wait for next Monday! The only thing that keeps me sane is that I am now watching the Outlander Series on STARZ. But I am still missing some Raymond Reddington! LOL!