Only Weeks Away From the Return of The Blacklist

Chris Chalker, Managing Editor

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Since its run in 2013 started, five seasons of The Blacklist have aired, and each one has proved to be unique and different from the last in its own ways. In the series’ pilot episode, criminal mastermind Raymond “Red” Reddington (James Spader) turned himself into the FBI and agreed to speak only with Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone), a rookie profiler who was starting her job on that very same day. After the death of Ranko Zamani, a terrorist who had planned an attack on the US, Reddington agreed to give the FBI a list of criminals he had compiled over the last few decades. By seasons end, we were typically given some kind of interesting piece to the Blacklist puzzle, one that Reddington said in Season 1, “They’re just pieces to a very large puzzle and until they are all present, it won’t go together.” Perhaps the most intriguing twist was season five of the NBC crime-drama, which ended with a bang and a shocking, game-changing cliffhanger that will certainly shake things up going forward.

The series will be back for season six on January 4th, and before it airs, it’s time to sit down and examine the pieces to the puzzle that we were given through the past five seasons and their respective cliffhangers. Additionally, we will explore different fan theories about the major reveal at the end of season five.

Season 1 Cliffhanger- Burns

After taking down a fake Berlin, the death of agent Meera Malik (Parminder Nagra), and the apparent death of Tom Keen (Ryan Eggold), Reddington is seen examining a wound he had and removes his shirt, revealing burns on his back. This heavily implied that Reddington is Keen’s father because Liz was involved in a deadly fire when we was four years old and from which, she has a burn on her wrist. The series has confirmed that Reddington was present during the fire.

Season 2 Cliffhanger- Suppressed Memories

In Season 2, while trying to take down an Organization of corrupt world leaders known as The Cabal, Liz and Red find themselves in a bit of a predicament after Liz kills attorney general Thomas Connolly in front of witnesses. The death of Connolly has set of a chain of events that led to Liz being among the most wanted fugitives and her being on the run with Reddington. After shooting Connolly, Liz remembers a memory that was once suppressed. According to the exchange between Liz and Red, Liz shot and killed her father before the fire. This adds further mystery to the parental question the show has continued to keep us all interested in.

Season 3 Cliffhanger- Another Life

After faking her death, with help from Mr. Kaplan (Susan Blommaert), to get away from Reddington as well as the destruction and danger he causes, Liz Keen runs away to Cuba with Tom and their child, Agnes. However, they are abducted by Alexander Kirk, whose real name is Constantin Rostov. Kirk claims to be the father of Masha Rostova, which was revealed to be Liz’s birth name some time before. This reveal made fans question whether or not Reddington is her father or if Kirk was telling the truth.

Season 4 Cliffhanger- Paternity Test

The season four finale of the series answered a question that we have been asking since the series began: is Raymond Reddington the father of Elizabeth Keen? The answer was given to us after Assistant Director of the FBI Harold Cooper (Harry Lennix) ran a DNA test on a bloody shirt from evidence thirty years ago. The results were placed in an envelope and given to Liz and upon opening it, she discovered the truth: Raymond Reddington is her father. It seemed as though the paternal cat was out of the bag as Reddington acknowledged this as the truth, but more was to come with that reveal.

Season 5 Cliffhanger- Bag of Bones

After a season-long quest for the truth about a bag of bones and the identity of the bones, Liz finally got the answers she was looking for. The answer which cost her husband, Tom, and her nanny, Mr. Kaplan, among many others, their lives. And that answer is that Raymond Reddington, the man we have been watching for the last five years is an imposter and the bones in the bag belong to the real Raymond Reddington and he has been lying to Liz all along. This reveal has provided many different questions such as: who is this man if he is not Raymond Reddington? Why did he choose to pose as Reddington? Why did he embed himself in Liz’s life? Is he still her father? We aren’t too sure and rumors have run rampant since the reveal about what the truth could really be, which brings us to the second topic of discussion: Who exactly is James Spader’s Raymond Reddington?

It’s time to sift through the evidence and dissect these various theories.

Fake Red is Liz’s Father

A widespread theory is that “fake Red” is not the real Raymond Reddington, but that doesn’t change anything because according to this theory, he is still the father of Elizabeth Keen. The evidence to back this up is in how he treats her and how he has acted towards her for the last five years. Some fans are convinced that fake Red has to be her father because no one would show Liz the amount of care, love, and affection that he does without that paternal connection.

Fake Red is Liz’s Uncle

This theory buys into one of two beliefs: either the “real Red” had a brother of some sort or Katarina Rostova, Liz’s mother, did. In either case, “real Red” dies and the brother took over the role of her father to protect her from the truth about her parents, using Raymond Reddington as an alias on which to build a criminal empire. This theory also explains the aforementioned care and affection fake Red shows Liz is that of a loving uncle looking out for his niece.

Fake Red is Katarina Rostova

While I personally believe this is crazy and very unlikely, the show has proven time and time again that they are ready and willing to throw in shocking twists and surprise the audience and what better way to do that then with a very shocking twist that Liz has been dealing with a parental problem, just not that of her father, but instead her mother. Again, this theory seems to be outlandish and is unlikely to happen, but anything is possible.


Similar to the brother theory mentioned earlier, another widespread theory is the “twin theory”, which has many believing that Raymond Reddington is not one person but two, twins who adopted the name and used it to start a criminal empire. One of them died and his remains are the ones in the bag. This would either have Reddington as Liz’s uncle or her actual father, with the show determining which path it would want to go down.


As was mentioned early on in the series, Reddington did some work at the Naval Academy, graduating at the top of his class and being groomed as an admiral before he disappeared. This theory has someone who worked with Reddington assume his identity and agree to look after his daughter, Liz, or rather Masha, after his death. The theory explains Reddington’s sudden disappearance and reappearance but has some plot holes to it such as the affection Reddington shows Keen.

Fake or Inaccurate DNA Results

Another theory has us believe that the DNA test that confirmed Reddington was the skeleton in the bag was actually a fake, essentially undoing the twist ending in itself, but this could have been part of Kaplan’s plan in season four all along. Kaplan unearthed the bones in order to “give Liz the truth”, but maybe she wasn’t trying to do that at all. Instead, she was going to create a wedge between Red and Liz by faking a DNA report.

The other theory here suggests that the DNA results from season four’s finale were inaccurate in a sense. The DNA taken was that of the Reddington we have come to know, not the “real Red” from 30 years ago, meaning he is her father and the “real Red” is not.

Well, there you have it. What will happen with the latest twist in the series? How will things play out between Red and Liz in season six? Who do you think Raymond Reddington really is? Stay tuned to find out!

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