Every week, NBC’s The Blacklist goes after one of the numbers on a lethal-villain menu offered by dubious collaborator Red Reddington (James Spader). Now two of the criminals on Red’s blacklist are getting their own show.
The Blacklist: Redemption stars Famke Janssen and Edi Gathegi as Susan “Scottie” Hargrave and Matias Solomon. Tom Keen (Ryan Eggold) from The Blacklist joins them. Keen found out that Scottie is his long-lost mother, but hasn’t told her yet (long story).
Scottie and her husband ran Halcyon Aegis, a government contractor, while Mr. Solomon was an agent of The Cabal, who turned on him. Solomon then organized a kidnapping attempt on Liz Keen (Megan Boone), but got away himself. The premiere of The Blacklist: Redemption will be the first time either character appears since the end of season 3.
Jansen spoke with Rotten Tomatoes in person and Gathegi by phone during a break in production. Here are 10 ways they said The Blacklist: Redemption turns their characters into new heroes.
When Mr. Solomon last appeared on The Blacklist, he was wounded and escaping. When Scottie last appeared, she offered Tom a job at Halcyon Aegis. And at the beginning of Blacklist: Redemption, she recruits Mr. Solomon.
“Scottie Hargrave does a prison break that sets the beginning of the relationship between Mr. Solomon and Scottie Hargrave,” Gathegi said. “She runs this covert independent military operation that does this dirty work that the government can’t be involved with. It’s a natural sidestep for Solomon to go from The Cabal, which is a shady government organization who now wants him dead, to seamlessly go into another organization that is not a government organization, but they do fun, cool, and exciting missions.”
Their mission now: To do bad deeds for the greater good.
If most people go on the run with a gunshot wound, life would be tough for them. Gathegi said Mr. Solomon has been cool, although Blacklist: Redemption doesn’t actually say where he’s been.
“Who knows where he’s been, but he’s definitely been recovering,” Gathegi said. “He was probably having a great time with a long overdue vacation. We don’t really touch on where he’s been. I think we just pick up immediately after the aftermath.”
Toughing it out through a gunshot wound is heroic, right?
Since Janssen played the very memorable villain Xenia Onatopp in Goldeneye, Bond fans may be excited to see her on a spy show. Just don’t expect another Onatopp.
“I play a very different character,” Janssen said. “In the Bond movie, I play a Russian assassin. Here I play an American woman who’s in charge of a company that solves problems the government doesn’t want to touch so it’s entirely different.
“She’s a multi-layered character,” she continued. “She’s definitely completely heartbroken about the loss of her child. Her four-year-old disappeared, and this is one of the driving forces in her life, finding out what happened to him and hoping there’s a chance that he’s not dead, and he’s alive somewhere.”
Mr. Solomon spearheaded the kidnapping operation that led to Liz Keen’s supposed death. That might make Halcyon Aegis an awkward workplace for Tom and Solomon, but maybe it’s all good now since Liz is actually still alive.
“I think it’s the elephant in the room,” Gathegi said. “You have to watch to hear if anything specific is brought up, but it’s definitely an elephant in the room, because it was a major driving force for Solomon’s presence on The Blacklist. I think everyone knows that Liz is alive.”
Getting these two to work together might actually be Scottie’s triumph, however.
Scottie was limited to a few speeches on The Blacklist and a refrain of “Rubber baby buggy bumpers.” But that’s changed dramatically on Redemption. Jansen marveled at the amount of dialogue she has on the new series and revealed how she learns it.
“Study very hard,” Jansen said. “No weekends — any day that I have off, I study.”
Solomon was on more Blacklist episodes than Scottie, but often barking orders into a cell phone. Now he’s a central character.
“I’m in more scenes,” Gathegi said. “I’m doing what I did on The Blacklist, but instead of a couple of days spread out over the course of the season, I’m working all the time. That’s the difference, but I still feel like I’m Mr. Solomon, and I’m getting to play on this new show.”
The Blacklist has a fair share of shootouts and car chases, but Gathegi reports that there’s even more action on Redemption.
“We got to repel, which is always fun,” Gathegi said. “I think the goal is for Redemption to be bigger and badder than The Blacklist. It’s pretty ambitious, because we’re shooting these episodes in a set number of days, and they’re not too many days. Hopefully, they pull it off. Hopefully, it looks like a high-octane mini-movie.”
Halcyon Aegis goes on different missions every week, and they’re allowed to smile.
“I think it’s a very different show,” Jansen said. “Obviously you have a few of the recognizable faces on it but as a show, it’s less dark. It’s a little lighter, more fun, more of a Mission: Impossible vibe.”
Mr. Solomon, in particular, enjoys his role as an action hero.
“Where Solomon was a cold-blooded assassin on The Blacklist, on Redemption, it’s definitely a lighter tone,” Gathegi said. “He’s going about his missions almost tongue in cheek.”
The Blacklist: Redemption is a globetrotting show. The resources of Halycon Aegis and the needs of the missions will take the team far. Like The Blacklist, however, Redemption’s production never really leaves New York.
“We’ve got our home offices in New York, and we’re part of the largest owned private training and military facility in the country, so our resources are endless,” Gathegi said. “We can transport ourselves to wherever we need to go to complete our tasks. We’ll take a plane there. We’ll do boots on the ground there.
“It’s up to the locations department and all the producers, each director to successfully convince the audience that we are in that location that the episode takes place in,” he said. “And they’ve got wonderful Hollywood tricks to pull that off.”
So Redemption’s production staff are the the real heroes on that point.
Tom may have a beef with Solomon, but Scottie has nothing against him. They’re both just professionals doing their jobs, and now they’re on the same team.
“There’s no animosity between her and anybody, other than maybe the people they encounter when they go on a mission,” Jansen said.
Solomon, too, has no problem working with other blacklisters, other agents, or anybody.
“Solomon gets along with everybody,” Gathegi said. “Solomon’s unflappable. If he has enemies, they’re probably business related. I think he looks at the glass as half full. He can justify working with anyone.”
“We’re doing bad for good, so it’s Suicide Squad for TV,” Gathegi said. “With that, I don’t know if you can go all the way bad and still keep your audience and still be likable. Mr. Solomon is doing good, whereas on The Blacklist he was just trying to do bad.”
The Blacklist: Redemption premieres Thursday, February 23 after The Blacklist on NBC.