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Things You Forgot Happened In The Pilot Episode Of The Blacklist

When NBC crime drama The Blacklist premiered in 2013, fans had no idea they would get to enjoy unravelling the mystery of Raymond Reddington (James Spader) for 8 seasons — and an ill-fated Blacklist spinoff to boot. It's been a wild ride for the intelligent criminal and the focus of his attention — FBI profiler-turned-special-agent Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone) — dealing with secrets from their respective pasts, with Reddington showing moments of genuine care when he's not focused on his manipulative mission.

The premiere episode is packed with several shockers. Within the first five minutes, Reddington enters an FBI building, falls to his knees, and surrenders. As a security guard types in his name, images of wanted posters pop up, given that Reddington is one of the most wanted criminals in the world, and he's evaded capture for several years. Once agents start questioning him, Reddington says he'll only speak to Keen, but no one in the room knows who she is. Now that the series is so deep into its run, fans may have forgotten some shocking things that took place early on. Here are a few important moments to refresh your memory about the pilot episode of The Blacklist.

Liz and her husband want to adopt

That's right, there in the very first episode, we get to see Liz and her husband Tom (Ryan Eggold) talking about bringing a little one into their happy family. Liz first appears next to Tom, a happy, healthy couple, getting ready for their days. He's a school teacher, and she's running behind for her first day on the job as an FBI profiler. They briefly talk about an important adoption meeting they have later in the day, and their eyes light up a little over the possibility of getting a baby. But, Liz is unaware of what awaits her outside. Reddington's demand to talk only with her has prompted quite the federal entourage to descend on their house. 

Once Liz is fully immersed in the high-stakes events of her first day at the FBI, the adoption meeting is a no-go. She promises Tom that having a family is still a priority, and assures him she's still on board to adopt. In later seasons Liz and Tom welcome a baby, but she dies while giving birth. In the season 3 finale, fans were happy to find out Liz had actually faked her death to get away from Reddington. But, this deception came at the cost of  hurting the FBI team that's become her family. Talking to Entertainment Weekly in 2016, Megan Boone reflected on this consequence, saying, "Unfortunately, hurting the ones she loved was the only way to get out."

Liz is surprised at home

Very early on, Liz's work problems follow her home. After experiencing a crazy first day, during which she was almost killed and she lost a kidnap victim, Liz just wants to go home to her husband. When she enters her home she's greeted with pink decorations, and a sign announcing the adoption of their new baby girl. Liz is overjoyed. She sees Tom sitting at the dining room table, and runs to him. She wants to celebrate with a glass of champagne, but when she gets to the table she's shocked by another surprise. 

That's because Tom is tied up and bloodied; his mouth has been duct taped and he's been badly beaten. They're joined by the terrorist Liz had been hunting; he wants Liz to give up some vital information about the general he's after, but it's her first day on the job and she doesn't have anything to share. He stabs Tom in his thigh and stomach to make her talk, before fleeing out the front door.

Reddington makes a deal

The first episode set the main premise of the show. Reddington finally lets the feds know the deeper reasons behind turning himself in and, in the process, reveals the meaning of the show's title. Reddington doesn't just want to hand criminals over to the FBI, he's willing to hand over a very special list — the Blacklist, featuring the worst of the worst that the government doesn't even know exists — in exchange for immunity and several requests. Reddington can deliver them, and the FBI desperately want them, so the deal is a go. 

The end of the pilot sets the tone for the rest of the season and the intense ride viewers will go on. In a 2019 interview with Hari Sreenivasan (via PBS), Spader described Reddington as confident, funny, and disturbing, among other things. "I wanted a character that was enigmatic enough to me, that I would still be surprised by him over time." He later talked to the Amanpour & Co. host about his initial thoughts on Reddington, saying, "Anything you learn about him just poses more questions, and so I knew that this was a character that would have a certain amount of staying power." 

Tom's real identity is revealed

Believe it or not, Red clued Liz in on Tom's shady background from the jump. Throughout the episode, Reddington dropped clues to Liz that he knows more about her than she thinks. He mentions her late mother, and the career criminal father that abandoned her. As Liz works to find the kidnapped little girl, Reddington helps her pinpoint the exact location, then sends an expert to diffuse a bomb. He seems to care about Liz, and wants to build her trust in him. 

Towards the end of the episode, Reddington tells Liz that Tom isn't who she thinks he is. She loves her husband, and doesn't want to believe Reddington, but his earnest support prompts her to dig deeper. Under a floorboard at their home, Liz finds a box full of cash and passports of Tom's different identities, but eventually buys into the lie that they were planted there to disrupt their lives. In the middle of season 2 it's revealed that Tom has had past dealings with Reddington, dealings that put Liz in a very compromising position. When asked by The Hollywood Reporter about the fate of Liz and Tom's relationship, Boone said "I'm adamantly against Tom and Liz being together," she reflected. "I just think it would be really bad for all of womankind."