There's only a few days to go now until the Season 3 premiere of NBC's award winning show The Blacklist, and this season may be the most highly anticipated of them all given the cliffhanger we were left on at the end of the last season.
Season 2 left us with Raymond "Red" Reddington (James Spader) and Elizabeth "Liz" Keen (Megan Boone) on the run from those they used to call their allies - the FBI Blacklist task force. Season 3 will pick up right after the cliffhanger we were left on, with Red and Liz trying to escape Washington D.C. before the FBI, led by friend-turned-foe Agent Ressler (Diego Klattenhoff), catch up to them.
We've already learned a lot about the new season, from the new villain arriving in the form of Edi Gathegi to Liz's new hairdo in the trailer. Show-runner Jon Bokenkamp keeps dropping hints here and there, and there seems to be something particularly interesting about the relationship Gathegi's new villain has with another of the regular cast members...
Perhaps best known for his role as Darwin in [X-Men: First Class](tag:3567490), Gathegi will be playing the mysterious Mr. Solomon - a 'cleaner' and hired hand for the Cabal. EW reports that his character will be "unassuming and soft-spoken on the surface, with a hidden (and terrifying) capacity for violence, Mr. Solomon is a monster in gentleman’s clothing."
He will make his first appearance in the premiere episode of Season 3, The Troll Hunter, scheduled to air October 1st 2015. As the episode picks up with the FBI perusing Liz for the murder of Tom Connolly, it looks like the Cabal are going to send someone after her too in the form of the soft-spoken Mr. Solomon.
"The Cabal is more desperate and therefore more dangerous and frankly bringing in more lethal people to handle the situation. [Mr. Solomon] is a fixer for The Cabal and he’s ruthless. He’s really good at making things personal."
According to Bokenkamp, the comment about "making things personal" pertains to Red's favourite bodyguard - Dembe Zuma (Hisham Tawfiq)
Dembe is first introduced as one half of Red's security detail alongside Luli Zeng (Deborah S Craig) in the second episode of Season 1. He's usually seen alongside Red and it was generally assumed that he was just his bodyguard, though they do seem to share a close relationship.
However in Season 2 Dembe's origins are revealed; the youngest son of a Sudanese farmer (Samwel Zuma), when Dembe was six years old his father reported some low-ranking operatives of the Mombasa Cartel to the authorities. The Cartel killed Dembe's father, mother, and siblings as punishment and sold the young Dembe to human traffickers.
Eight years later, when he was fourteen, Reddington found him half-dead and chained to a pipe in the basement of a brothel in Nairobi. He rescued him, facilited his return to health and put him through school. Dembe now has a Bachelor's degree in English Literature, can speak four languages fluently and six others well enough. As a result the two of them have a close, familial relationship and Dembe demonstrates unflinching loyalty towards Red.
"[In Season 3] we’re actually going to realise Dembe’s not this lone wolf, that he has family outside the surrogate father that is Red."
The "family" tease is cryptic, especially as Bokenkamp refers to Red as a "surrogate father", could Mr. Solomon and Dembe be blood relations of a kind? Whilst Dembe's nuclear family are all supposed to be dead, they could be connected by the secondary branch of a family tree.
Then again there's no reason "family" would necessarily have to refer to a blood relation, as Dembe considers Red a father figure despite not being connected by blood. And the two actors, Tawfiq and Gathegi, don't look particularly alike either. It could be that Mr. Solomon, whoever he turns out to be, could've been involved in the Cartel too - though judging by his age he may also have been a child of trafficking who somehow ended up joining the ranks of the Cabal.
As usual The Blacklist likes to keep us guessing, so we'll just have to wait a few more days until Mr. Solomon debuts in the first episode this Thursday.