In crafting the 100th episode of “The Blacklist,” executive producers Jon Bokenkamp and John Eisendrath knew that they wanted Nathan Lane to play the role of blacklister No. 100 — Abraham Stern — a cunning manipulator who has devoted his life (and the lives of many innocents) to recovering the fortune that is his birthright. In the episode, Red (James Spader) encounters Stern when he goes on the hunt for a legendary treasure.
“It’s a big, super fun, heist episode,” says Bokenkamp. “And it’s incredible to see Nathan and James go head-to-head.”
While Eisendrath adds that they put “some special sauce” in this episode, due to its milestone status, he says the team also wanted to ensure it would please the devoted fans by matching the usual tone and providing a walk down memory lane.
“We didn’t want to be terribly self referential, but we do have a storyline that very explicitly references an episode that aired early in the run of series,” Eisendrath says, noting that Liz (Megan Boone) will study the methods of one of “The Blacklist’s” most dangerous criminals during the course of the episode.
Two of Bokenkamp’s favorite episodes are season one’s “The Stewmaker” and “Milton Bobbit,” as is Eisendrath’s favorite episode, “Anslo Garrick.”
“Those episodes set the tone for everything that was to come after,” Eisendrath says.
Creating such memorable stories and characters is what still most excites both Bokenkamp and Eisendrath, even after additional successes that have included high ratings, reaching the 100- episode mark, and getting a chance at a spinoff (2017’s “The Blacklist: Redemption”).
“All the other stuff is a symptom of the underlying things that are the most gratifying to us,” Eisendrath says. “We were excited and happy to try to do a spinoff, and we liked it, but what its cancellation made us realize [was] just how lucky we are to have the success we have with ‘The Blacklist.’”