James Spader’s “Red” won’t be pulling the strings, that’s for sure, when NBC’s The Blacklist: Redemption premieres at 10 PM Thursday, February 23.

While The Blacklist is “a cop show in many ways, this is a spy show,” EP John Eisendrath said about the series’ latest spin.

Redemption follows Ryan Eggold’s operative character Tom Keen as he begins to learn facets about his past, specifically his mother, military intelligence op Susan Hargrave (Famke Janssen), who lost him when he was a toddler.


Essentially, the 15th episode of The Blacklist feeds right into Redemption as NBC will devote a two-hour block to the franchise. “Tom Keen walks from one episode into the next,” says Eisendrath. Redemption will run for eight episodes, then The Blacklist will return. In the future, should there be additional episodes of Redemption, then, yes, there’s a possibility that Red might surface on the spinoff, the creators said. But for now, it was important to establish this story’s footing.

“This is the biggest mission of Keen’s life,” EP Jon Bokenkamp said. “He doesn’t know who his family was; he ‘died’ when he was very young.”

On Redemption, Hargrave also is unaware that Keen is her son. “She’s a complex woman who lost her son at a young age and it informs every part of her being,” Janssen said.

Added Eisendrath: “The telling of the story has an odd, weird dynamic between a parent and a child. It’s very different from the story of who Red is; there’s a more relatable relationship for viewers here.”

When the creators were hatching The Blacklist, they intended for Keen to be killed off, but the writers found him to be a dynamic character and continued to write for him.

One big question: How does Redemption fold in Keen’s baby and his relationship with Liz?

Teased Eggold: “He never had a family life or intimate relationship. This love is important to him, and it’s not going to go away lightly. So we’ll see the struggle of his balancing a work life with espionage abroad and a home life.”