(NBC) — The current season of NBC’s “The Blacklist” made a two-year time jump following the events of last season and has spent time filling in what happened to the characters in between.

Thursday, the focus turns to Dembe, Red Reddington’s right-hand man.

Fans of “The Blacklist” aren’t used to seeing the character Dembe smile very often but Hisham Tawfiq him lights up talking about tonight’s episode.

“Wow, this, this episode was probably the most fun I’ve had in nine seasons,” said Tawfiq.

Last season ended with the death of Elizabeth Keen, an event that sent Red Reddington into a spiral, and this episode traces the eventual fallout between the longtime friends.

“What did Dembe do to kind of push Red really to the edge as far as our friendship,” said Tawfiq.

Part of the personal friction stems from Dembe joining the FBI and the task force, which echoed real-life for Tawfiq.

“I was a firefighter for 20 years and a lot of the conversations that black men as a firefighter would have, are the same kind of conversations as a black man in law enforcement, that, that kind of parallel in a way,” said Tawfiq.

But there’s also a tangent emotionally for Dembe in the episode.

“There were times where the director would be like, no tears, no tears,” said Tawfiq. “Just challenged me in ways that I love to be challenged as an actor.”

As “The Blacklist” continues to grow.

Tawfiq spent 20 years as a New York City firefighter and studied acting in his off time before landing his role on “The Blacklist.”

The show airs Thursday at 8 p.m., followed by new episodes of “Law and Order: SVU” and “Organized Crime.”