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The Blacklist Laila Robins Katarina Rostova Megan Boone Elizabeth Keen NBC

The Blacklist went out with an animated bang with its Season 7 finale, and the journey to getting it on screen was an eventful one. If you have checked out the videos documenting how it all came together, you have some insight into the process. Did you know that The Blacklist’s finale could have been weirder, though?

Yes, before The Blacklist surprised fans with the news of its innovative solution to providing them with a finale despite unfinished filming, they considered an alternate path. The drama’s creative powers have opened up about the brainstorm that brought the animated conclusion into existence. During the show’s 2020 [email protected] panel, executive producer John Eisendrath said:

We were a little less than halfway done with the 19th episode. And so, when we thought, ‘Well what could we do with it?’, part of it was motivated by the reality that the episode prior was not an episode that we thought was going to give us a good end point for the season. So we thought, ‘Well, is there anything we could do that could provide us with that?’ The episode we had filmed half of did have a really good end point. So that motivated us to start thinking about whether there was anything we could do to help that episode find its way to air. Jon and I did go through various permutations. Should we just have the cast do the read-through for it? Do we do kind of a radio murder mystery hour where the audience is looking at a radio for an hour just listening to the cast do a read through of the scenes that hadn’t been filmed yet?

Looking at a radio for 40+ minutes would have been an adjustment. The Blacklist usually dazzles with a lot of motion. Everything is on the go, including the kinetic energy of the Task Force and Red’s storylines. To have visual stagnation would have been a difficult hurdle for the crime drama. Hence, their animated solution working so brilliantly.

The Blacklist going the animated route even helped out another show that did not get a big episode wrapped in live-action. So, how did The Blacklist team end up deciding to animate the portions of the Season 7 finale that could not be filmed due to the coronavirus shutdown? John Eisendrath had this to say:

We had done comic books at the outset of the series. We thought, well, the show is sort of a graphic novel in some ways, should we just do a comic book, still photos that were animated to cover the scenes that hadn’t been filmed. Ultimately, we thought, if we’re gonna do that, why don’t we try animating it?

Animating the finale is exactly what The Blacklist ended up doing thanks to Proof Inc. and Jason Statham’s likeness. And you thought Statham only saved the day in the movies! Thanks to his likeness and the hard work of The Blacklist and VFX team, the show got an explosive season-ender to catapult the action into Season 8.

It took The Blacklist’s creator Jon Bokenkamp and executive producer John Eisendrath working through everything to arrive at the animated conclusion, and their brainstorming paid off. While many fans (including myself) would be open to seeing the show go the animation route again, it may be a while yet.

Megan Boone has clarified that when she reprises her role as Liz, she and the rest of The Blacklist’s cast will be on-screen in live-action mode. So, if anything ever happens between Liz and Ressler next season, as has been discussed, Boone and her co-star Diego Klattenhoff will not be animated.

In the end, The Blacklist’s creators took a problematic idea and turned it into an incredibly excellent one. What else do they have coming up for fans? Hopefully, some concrete answers as to what in the heck is going on with Red and his health. It is time for a cure! Quick, someone animate one for me, please.

The Blacklist will return as one of this fall’s premieres when Season 8 begins on Friday, November 13 at 8 p.m. ET on NBC. For now, check out past live-action seasons on Netflix, along with lots of 2020 arrivals.

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