Season 9 of The Blacklist kicked off with an action-packed episode on Thursday, Oct. 21, 2021.
Taking place two years after Elizabeth Keen's (Megan Boone) tragic death, the nearly hour-long bonanza gave fans a much-needed update on what Harold Cooper (Harry Lennix), Aram Mojtabai (Amir Arison), and Dembe Zuma (Hisham Tawfiq) have been up to since the tragedy. So, why is Dembe in dire straits? What happened to Raymond 'Red' Reddington's (James Spader) former right-hand man?
So, what happened to Dembe on 'The Blacklist'?
As an undercover FBI agent, Dembe and his partner are now busy trying to bust a top-secret group that's after highly valuable microchips. They successfully set up a meeting with the gang, only for things to take a steep turn mid-conversation. Dembe's trusted partner is shot to death, and the truck stacked with the microchips gets blown up as well. As a result of the explosion, Dembe suffers grave injuries, and he is taken to the hospital.
Several fans headed to Twitter to express the shock felt over the unexpected turn of events.
"Wait, Dembe Zuma is an FBI agent??? I missed The Blacklist," tweeted @Sun_Chaser_KE.
"Hold up, Dembe was undercover FBI, and he's not in reach of Red? What the hell is going on?" tweeted @OvertonSFC.
Cooper, Aram, and Alina come together to search for The Skinner, the head honcho of the microchip-trading criminal gang.
The incident propels several members of the old team, including Cooper, Aram, and Alina (Laura Sohn), to put their new lives on hold and set out on a quest to find the enigmatic leader of the criminal gang, who goes by the name of The Skinner.
As part of the undertaking, the team also has to reach out to Red. It so happens that he knows a thing or two about The Skinner, or, at least, the man who previously held the title.
As Red divulges, The Skinner might be a 700-year-old pirate or a garden variety criminal with a deep-seated interest in burning his enemies alive. (It turns out, this is one of the criminal gang's signature moves.) As Red also explains, The Skinner isn't so much one man, but rather a title that gets handed down from generation to generation.
Donald Ressler (Diego Klattenhoff) becomes the man of the hour by paying an impromptu visit to Red, who is just about to call it curtains and head out to Havana for the sake of protecting his newfound inner peace and harmony.
During the brief conversation, Ressler tells Red that Liz's death is very much on him — before ever-so-nonchalantly dropping a file on Graham Anderson, aka the person who currently holds the title of The Skinner.
Catch new episodes of The Blacklist every Thursday at 8 p.m. EST on NBC.