Spoilers ahead for Episodes 15 and 16 of The Blacklist Season 10 on NBC.
The Blacklist has officially made its big move from Sunday nights to Thursday nights, where the hit drama will continue airing new episodes until the super-sized series finale. Fans were in for a treat in the first Thursday broadcast, as NBC delivered not one but two episodes. The first – called “The Hat Trick” – involved Red getting sneaky while searching for answers, while the second – called “Blair Foster No. 39” – delivered a surprisingly sweet scene with Red and Dembe ahead of a big twist at the end. “Blair Foster No. 39” director Saray Guidetti spoke with CinemaBlend to break down what happened!
Red And Dembe's "Beautiful Moment" Together
Between politicians looking for transparency and a complicated case (with a little blackmail before the end), the task force was in a sticky situation. It did, however, result in a sweet scene between Red (James Spader) and Dembe (Hisham Tawfiq). Even though Dembe visited Red for work reasons, they chatted as old friends who had gone through a lot together before one of them became an FBI agent and the other stayed in a life of crime.
Saray Guidetti, who came to The Blacklist as part of NBCUniversal’s Female Forward program that gives directors the opportunity to helm a TV episode after shadowing in the same season, shared with CinemaBlend that she watched every episode of the show to prepare before stepping behind the camera for “Blair Foster No. 39.” She opened up about her approach to Red and Dembe’s scene with Spader and Tawfiq:
Both of them are just wonderful people. Obviously it's been ten seasons... but they haven't been together in a while now that Dembe works with the team. It was really awesome just to have that memory, and I did chat with them and with the writer, because I was like, 'What does this mean? What is this story?' Really it's just more of the reminiscing and missing each other. I feel like for James’ character, with Red, he really is having and cherishing all these moments with everyone that he loves, and I really wanted to emphasize that because it's the final season. Who knows what's going to happen at the very end?
Red also took a little time to bond with Manny Soto (played by David Zayas after a dangerous turn on CBS’ FBI) in Cuba, but there are few characters on The Blacklist with nearly as much history as Red and Dembe. Saray Guidetti elaborated on why she wanted to emphasize the personal moments between these complicated characters, saying:
All of those [moments], I really just wanted to take my time with and allow the characters to take their time with, but they're all pros and can hit that moment, just the laughs and recalling. It just feels so real. When I was in rehearsal, I was just like the audience. There were a couple of times where I'm in rehearsal, just mesmerized, and I'm like, 'Oh, yeah, cut! Let's shoot it!' [laughs] You get just wrapped into it. Those two together, I can watch all day.
The earlier seasons before the time jump that honored Liz Keen and turned Dembe into an FBI agent actually involved a lot of Red and Dembe together. Given that the director took the time to watch every episode and read every script available to her, I asked if getting to showcase Red and Dembe’s bond was particularly fun for her:
For sure, because you're excited about this new storyline, but you're bummed to not have them together. When I did get the script, I was like, 'Oh, awesome! I get one scene with them, and it's just gonna be a very beautiful moment.’ I knew that I wanted them to be not across from each other, [but] being right next to each other. I think that was important, because you're not just talking business. You're actually hanging out with your friend and stepping into what it used to be. 'Can you help me out with this guy? Who is this guy? I think we know him from back then.' It was nice to see.
Whether or not The Blacklist has more beautiful moments of Red and Dembe together before the end remains to be seen, but Dembe has clearly been concerned about his old friend and how he’s been giving away so many of his valuable possessions. Of course, both of them and the task force might have bigger problems to worry about in light of Blair Foster (Francie Swift) and Congressman Hudson (Toby Leonard Moore).
Blair Foster Causing Problems That Were "Hard To Watch"
Cooper (Harry Lennix) was facing a kind of jeopardy that didn’t involve bullets flying or terrorist threats, but the task force possibly being exposed and shut down. Congressman Hudson recruited the help of Senator Dorf (Wayne Duvall) in trying to shine light on what the task force usually gets to do in the shadows, and Senator Panabaker (Deirdre Lovejoy) couldn’t stop the situation from going before a judge.
Ultimately, it was thanks to the judge’s ruling and Blair Foster having dirt on Dorf that the task force was protected, but the story isn’t over. Blair called Hudson at the end of the hour, and the final credits rolled without a reveal of whether the congressman would work with her. Saray Guidetti opened up about the cliffhanger with Blair Foster:
When I read this, I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is such an amazing, complicated character.' You want to love her and respect her. Immediately I was like, 'Oh, this is a fixer. It's kind of like Olivia Pope in a way.' I really wanted someone who can portray that power, but also that feminine quality, as well as you don't really know how to read her. [laughs] She can be very sweet and you think that she's on your side, but then she might not be. That was also an exciting part that I was able to have in my script.
The director established that she didn’t know what would happen next when she directed the episode (including the final scene), but fans of Scandal can surely understand why Guidetti’s mind jumped to Kerry Washington’s Olivia Pope! Guidetti went on to share that Francie Swift as Blair had a “similar quality that James Spader has,” in that she could “talk forever and you want to listen and you’re engaged and you want to know what she’s thinking.”
Saray Guidetti also shared why she loved how the case of the week led to the introduction of this new character:
Really love the introduction of Hudson and Dorf in [Episode 13 of Season 10] and was thrilled that the storyline carried into my episode. Hudson, played by Toby Leonard Moore, who is wonderful in this role, plays this do-gooder boy scout Congressman, who wants to do everything by the book and hold the task force accountable. It's a huge threat to Cooper and the task force. So in this episode, tension and stakes are high and it pushes Cooper to demand that he get a new case, something substantial, from Red. And I love that this new case that leads to Blair Foster, proves to be substantial enough by bringing down Senator Dorf, the big threat against the task force.
Would anybody have ever caught Blair Foster if Red hadn’t given Cooper something for the task force to investigate? Red’s motivations are often pretty murky, but going after Blair did ultimately result in the task force getting a reprieve when she gave up her dirt on the senator in time to stop his press conference from naming names. She doesn’t seem to have anything on Hudson, but will that change? Saray Guidetti shared her thoughts, based on what happened in her episode:
Everyone on this show has something to hide and in this case Blair uses that, those secrets she holds as a fixer, to her advantage. Senator Dorf's resignation and the introduction of Blair Foster really will test Hudson. I don't know what will come next but when Blair calls him, you have to wonder if he will cross the line, go against what I think at the core he believes in… Accountability, justice and transparency. He, at this point that we know, has no dark secrets. He's like I said by the book, but how badly does he want to bring the task force down? Will he meet Blair?
Will Hudson have to make a decision between what he truly believes and the means to an end of taking down the task force, with Blair willing to go on the offensive for what she described as a "mutually beneficial relationship" together? Only time will tell on that front, but even Red had to admit in the first episode on June 1 that Hudson was a good man. The director explained that Hudson getting the news about Dorf was “hard to watch,” saying:
There's a part of me, as an audience that sees him going to the dark side especially having seen him go from being a pushover at the start, somewhat of a puppy dog, to getting in Panabaker's face with ‘we will get answers.’ And that frustration with Dorf - ‘who got to you?’ It's heartbreaking to see him come apart... And it was hard to watch when we were shooting it because in a way, even though this show is about the task force and you are always rooting for the task force, there's part of us that admires Hudson, just like Cooper and Panabaker say. Hudson represents the good in everyone. But sometimes the good doesn't get you results and can be a threat in this show. I can't wait to see what happens next!
I think it’s safe to say that Saray Guidetti isn’t alone in wanting to see what happens next as soon as possible, after what went down in “Blair Foster No. 39” and how it ended! Fans with a Peacock Premium subscription will be able to rewatch as soon as it arrives on the streaming service.
Episodes will continue airing in The Blacklist’s new time slot of Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET on NBC up until the two-hour series finale on July 13. For some more viewing options before and after the end of the series, be sure to check out our 2023 TV premiere schedule!