The logical assumption would be that a new NBC series called “The Blacklist: Redemption” would be connected very closely to the network’s current series, “The Blacklist.” Not only does it have a similar name, and is taking over the same Thursday night time slot, but it also features a character from “The Blacklist.”
The team behind the show stresses there’s a big difference. Executive producer John Eisendrath is adamant that “Redemption” stands on its own because it is a world independent of “The Blacklist.” The intent of the first eight episodes is to prove that point.
“We feel that it’s very important to establish that world and to establish the dynamics of these characters,” Eisendrath says.
Basically, what that means is that viewers should not expect the mysterious and manipulative Raymond “Red” Reddington – played with great joie de vivre by James Spader – to be prowling around the new show like he does on “The Blacklist.” Eisendrath does hint that if another batch of episodes of “Blacklist: Redemption” is ordered, Red’s influence could be shown.
For now, the new spinoff series starts with a routine trip to New York for ex-operative Tom Keen (Ryan Eggold), where he’s recruited by Scottie Hargrave (Famke Janssen), the head of an international security firm, to help rescue a kidnapped CIA agent. Fans of “The Blacklist” will remember Janssen’s character from a two-episode arc during the third season of “The Blacklist.”
During the mission, Keen discovers evidence of a conspiracy within his own family. It will give him a chance to dig into his heritage, a story thread that has been pulled on “The Blacklist” for a while.
It’s interesting that Keen is such a central figure of the new series. The character was suppose to die in the first season of “The Blacklist” but the creators of the show were convinced keeping him around would create some strong story possibilities. Those stories have included him and his wife, Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone), becoming new parents.
Being a new dad has created story ideas for “The Blacklist,” but gave the executive producers of “Blacklist: Redemption” a major hurdle. They had to figure out a way for a man who has shown so much devotion to his wife and child to go off on a long mission that takes him away from them.
Eisendrath says: “The answer is he’s always going to be part of ‘The Blacklist’ family. So how that works, in what way depends on variables that are, at the moment, out of our control. What do we know about the spinoff? Will we have more than the eight episodes? But he is not leaving ‘The Blacklist.’ ”
Eggold is happy he will be able to live in both worlds because he likes how his character has found the family life he has never known. It has been revealed on “The Blacklist” that Keen was orphaned and raised to be a good killer.
“I think this love with Liz is important to him. So it’s not going to go away lightly. But I think the struggle of balancing the sort of work life, which in this case is espionage abroad in foreign territories, and that home life of having an intimate relationship with someone – especially when you have a child and also, becoming a father when he never really had a father – is also something interesting,” Eggold says.
The Blacklist: Redemption
- 10 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 23, KSEE (Channel 24.1)