The Blacklist‘s Season 7 premiere was an elaborate fake-out. Raymond Reddington (James Spader) came to in a Paris hospital, paralyzed and with no memory of what happened after Katarina Rostova (Laila Robins) captured him. A French intelligence officer interrogated him about what he knows about her and the people who are coming after her as part of the mysterious Townsend Directive. Red called the task force to help extract him, but French officials had no record of him, because it turned out the hospital was a set constructed in a warehouse in Annapolis, Red wasn't paralyzed, and the French intelligence officer was actually a master of deception named Louis T. Steinhill who was working with Rostova to find out what Red knows.
Red escaped with the help of a nurse he took hostage named Mila (Natalie Paul), but was quickly recaptured. This time, Rostova dispensed with the illusion, telling him, “I went to great lengths to pretend to hurt you. We're past that now, Raymond.” The needle hooked up to his artery slowly exsanguinating him was very real. “I can assure that before we're finished, you're going to tell me everything I want to know,” she said. She also confirmed with Steinhill that the intel they had on Liz (Megan Boone) was solid, and told him to pass whatever it is along to the “movers.”
Meanwhile, Liz and the task force were no closer to finding Reddington, but Liz and Ressler (Diego Klattenhoff) came clean to the rest of the team about the truth about Reddington's real former identity, and how knowing the truth makes Liz care about Red more, not less. When she thought he was her father, she hated him for abandoning her. But now that she knows he's not, he sees that he took on responsibility he didn't have to. “I was nobody to him,” she told Cooper (Harry Lennix). “The illegitimate daughter of a childhood friend. And he devoted half his life to me. Do you know anyone else who does that? Because I don't.” They know that whoever took him did it because of his connection to Katarina Rostova. But they don't know it was her.
So where does The Blacklist go from here? “In the beginning of this year, I think the main question is why does Katarina want to get back into Reddington's life?” executive producer John Eisendrath told TV Guide. “He's not afraid of Katarina, but he knows that Katarina will stop at nothing to get the truth that he wants to keep secret.”
The stakes are incredibly high, and Red is trying to protect Liz both from Katarina and the people who are after her estranged, former KGB agent mother. So is Liz in more danger than she's even aware of at the end of Episode 1?
“The short answer is yes,” Eisendrath said. “There are people who want to kill Katarina Rostova, and the fact that they know or could find out about Katarina's connection to Liz puts Liz, and Liz's daughter, in danger. And so the answer is yes. Katarina's return not only threatens Red as the season ends and the new season begins, but ultimately could potentially threaten Liz as well.”
Katarina and the criminal mastermind formerly known as Ilya Koslov used to be very close, but something has obviously gone very wrong. The story Dom (Brian Dennehy) told Liz about them last season was mostly true, but there are some things he left out that may explain the current situation.
“We played very fair with the audience to not lay out a bunch of lies,” explained EP Jon Bokenkamp. “I mean, we work very hard to be truthful to the mythology we've stepped out, and when we do these episodes that we dip into the past, we try very hard to be very clear with the audience about what happened.”
“However, it is true that there is probably a little bit of wiggle room in what Elizabeth Keen was told by Dom in Episode 6×19 because it was a story told to her by Dom,” Bokenkamp added. “It was sort of indicated at the end of that episode. Red said ‘What did you tell her? I want to know exactly what you told her.' It doesn't mean the majority of it wasn't true. But is there room for a little bit of a white lie or things to shift just slightly, or for us to not know everything? Probably.”
As is always the case with The Blacklist, more will be revealed.
The Blacklist airs Fridays at 8/7c on NBC.