The Blacklist Season 6 Theories and What to Expect Going Forward


Chris Chalker, Managing Editor

The Blacklist, a long running series on NBC was recently confirmed for its seventh season, set to air next year. After airing 12 episodes of its current sixth season, NBC’s crime drama starring James Spader and Megan Boone as criminal mastermind Raymond “Red” Reddington and rookie FBI profiler Elizabeth Keen, respectfully, has reached the mid-season point in which things have changed in a myriad of ways. Across these 14 episodes and the 111 episodes before it, we have grown to love the two aforementioned characters and the ever-changing dynamic between the two of them. Season six promised us an exciting, high stakes cat-and-mouse game between Liz and Red, which has been excellently delivered to us as Liz attempts to uncover the truth about Red after learning that he is an imposter and the real Raymond Reddington is dead while Red faces a new challenge altogether: prison. A show such as this inevitably changes things up, modifies its formula, and delivers emotionally tense and satisfying moments through twists and turns to the narrative. I’m here to discuss these twists and the possible effects of them as I dive into some theories about what is to come in the remaining episodes of The Blacklist.


Theory (No. 1)- Liz’s Search For Truth


Last season, Liz was in search of a duffle bag full of bones. The identity of the bones was a big secret and the duffle bag became a huge part of season five’s plot after Mr. Kaplan (Susan Blommaert) unearthed the bag in the finale of season four and had it picked up by Tom Keen (Ryan Eggold), Liz’s husband. After a group led by US Marshall Ian Garvey intercepted the bag and killed Tom, Liz went out on a quest to avenge her husband’s murder and uncover the truth Reddington wanted to hide that was inside the bag. The truth turned out to be that Raymond Reddington has been dead all along, his skeleton was in the bag, and that an imposter had taken his place. Liz vowed to find out who he is and then destroy him, but since then, he plan has sorta fallen flat.


Liz worked with her half-sister, Jennifer, to search for the truth about the imposter but a few episodes into the season, Liz seemingly gave up in her search for the truth and accepted Reddington for who he is. There may be a deeper reason behind that: Liz may already know the identity of the imposter at this point. This may be far fetched, but in a show like this, maybe it’s not. Liz was interested in getting answers within the first few episodes until Jennifer talked her into betraying Red and getting him arrested so they could look into the truth. Liz commented about how she was ok with just accepting him for who he is, even without knowing the truth. A character like Liz, who staged her own kidnapping and torture in season five to confirm the truth about the bones, is not likely to stop until she knows the truth. This makes it far more likely that she did uncover the truth and kept it from her sister until she could get confirmation of who he is. She’s lied to the task force before, so lying to her sister isn’t a stretch. Furthermore, it was shown that last season, neither sister would trust one another completely.


Liz’s search for the imposter’s identity has seemingly vanished since the end of “Marko Jankowics (No. 58)”, which is the same time in which her sister, the only other person who wouldn’t know who Reddington could be aside from FBI agent Donald Ressler (Diego Klattenhoff), who was roped into helping Liz save her sister from Jankowics. This points to the fact that Liz knows who Red really is and has for some time, but kept up the facade that she didn’t in order to keep her sister occupied while she searched for confirmation.


Further proof that Liz knows and is simply after validation of the imposters identity is the first part of “Bastien Moreau (No. 20)”, a two part episode in which Red is nearly executed. Liz has the opportunity to ask Red who he really is but she chooses not to do so. This strikes me as odd, since she would have wanted to know the truth, especially if Reddington was going to die and she couldn’t get it any other way. Perhaps she was not asking out of respect for him since he was going to die, but it seems far more likely that Liz was willing to accept what she uncovered as the truth rather than confirm it. As she stated a while back, she took a DNA test from when Red turned himself in and she threw it away, scared to learn the truth. This could be another one of those moments where she was afraid to know the truth and therefore she never asked. Regardless, I believe that at this point, Liz already knows or at least has an idea of who the imposter is.


Theory (No. 2)- Reddington’s Identity


Regardless of whether or not Liz actually knows the truth, Reddington’s identity is still a big mystery to us viewers, but this season has shed some light on who he could be and ruled out other possibilities. Particularly, the theory that James Spader’s Raymond Reddington is actually Katarina Rostova seems to be moot thanks to several episodes this season pointing towards other alternatives. While the death of that theory may be a breath of fresh air for some, myself included, it doesn’t give us a definitive answer as just who the imposter really is.


Widespread theory is that Raymond Reddington  actually a twin. Some suggest that twin brothers created Reddington and operated in the criminal underworld using his identity as an alias that both men could assume until one brother died and the one who lived took over the identity permanently. Others believe that the real Raymond Reddington was a bad man while his twin brother was a good man, the naval officer we heard about earlier in the season. Regardless, the rumors about the twin theory seem to be the most accurate at this point, but this isn’t an “Occam’s Razor” style conclusion to be drawing here, there is some potential evidence behind it.


First and foremost, Red has burns on his back and the only event we know he was involved in that could have caused that was the fire that Liz was in when she was a young child. She even has burns like he does, but he went into the fire to save her, so he was burned more severely. Perhaps enough so that he had to go and see Dr. Hans Koehler, the plastic surgeon from the season six premier who alters identities and whom Reddington consulted to undergo his identity change.


We have no context for how long the operation took or what was done, so it is possible that Red only had his appearance minorly altered to look more like his twin and to cover up his burns and evidence of this was mentioned in season one when Red and Liz bluffed a doctor into giving up one of his clients so they could pursue him. Reddington remarks that a man should never give up his clients and then asks if he has told anyone about the work he (Red) had done, point towards his slight identity change.


Furthermore, without the father or uncle connection, Reddington’s interest in Liz becomes much more… suspect and peculiar to put it lightly. He loves her like a daughter, so a blood relation to her seems almost inevitable when the big reveal about Red’s identity is made.


Finally, there was the seed of doubt planted back in “Marko Jankowics (No. 58)” in which Jennifer learned that a Russian woman, most likely Katarina Rostova, had arranged for Reddington to see Koehler. This was the piece of evidence that eliminated the “Redarina” theory altogether. If Katarina wanted to become Red and did, Koehler must be a magician rather than a plastic surgeon. The far more probable conclusion is that Katarina and Red worked together to keep Liz safe but did so at the cost of their of their own personal lives. More on that theory later.


Theory (No. 3)- The Cabal


The Cabal was the organization of corrupt world leaders who attempt to control global events and governments. They served as the primary antagonists of seasons two and three of the series and they appear to be resurfacing this season as well as President Diaz is seemingly attempting to resurrect the organization by taking control and sparking conflict. Reddington used the fulcrum, a device that was hidden away from The Cabal that contained evidence that was enough to warrant reluctance from The Cabal in killing Red. It later turned out to contain critical and damning information that proved the existence of The Cabal and its members. Red leaked the Intel to the presses and many members were arrested or killed themselves.


It appears as though Anna McMahon and President Robert Diaz are intent on restoring The Cabal to its former glory despite Reddington effectively dismantling most of it prior to this point via exposure and the deaths of many key members such as Laurel Hitchin and Peter Kotsiopulos. If McMahon and Diaz do have this goal in mind, then is this why they are conspiring against their own country? Is it all just a ploy to rebuild The Cabal again or is their something more sinister and dastardly afoot? Only time will tell.


Theory (No. 4)- The Truth About Katarina Rostova and Raymond Reddington


Back in “Minister D (No. 99)”, Red faced the death penalty for treason. He was later exonerated by a tape recording of a conversation between Alan Fitch (Alan Alda) and Katarina Rostova (Lotte Verbeek), in which they discussed how Reddington knew about the existence of The Cabal and how he planned to expose them. Fitch ordered Rostova to kill him but instead she sought to discredit Red by framing him for the sinking of a US naval ship, which is the treason charge against him. Fitch agrees and the frame job was successful until the recording exposed the truth. In his testimony, Red gets emotional when discussing Katarina, her daughter, and the past, presenting that he was almost undoubtedly there for what transpired.


This evidence suggests that Reddington may be an imposter but he is still Liz’s father and had a relationship with Katarina. Popular theory suggests that Red is either a twin and the twin in the one who died or that Red is Katarina, but I believe the prior is true and the latter is false. It was revealed a little bit prior to the audio tape discovery that it was Katarina who approached Dr. Hans Koehler about surgery for Reddington, which implies what truly happened.


My theory is that Reddington was a twin and he and his brother operated as criminals, using the moniker of “Raymond Reddington”, the true identity of the twin brother. Spader’s Red became involved romantically with Katarina Rostova and they had a child together, Masha Rostova (the birth name of Elizabeth Keen). Red later uncovered the existence of The Cabal and confronted Katarina. Katarina wanted to leave The Cabal but knew she couldn’t so she and Red formulated a plan that would protect Masha, but do so at the cost of both of their lives, metaphorically of course. Katarina would have to expose Red for treason so she could keep in touch with her superiors and help Red escape while Red would escape. They would work together to overthrow the cabal using the fulcrum when the time was right. Katarina tasked Katheryn Nemec (the real name of Mr. Kaplan) with getting Liz to safety. Katarina’s plan went south when Red was unable to get to her in time. Liz had overheard an argument between her mother and Red’s twin, shooting and killing the latter. The fire started and Red went in to save Liz. After doing so, Liz was left with Mr. Kaplan while Red and Katarina were on the run from The Cabal. The two met in Cape May where they killed operatives from The Cabal and escaped. Katarina would continue to be hunted, so she was not able to get Liz like she and Red had planned. She faked her death by walking into the sea and never being seen again to avoid being hunted the rest of her life, being forced to live in the shadows in hiding instead. Red met Mr. Kaplan and brought Liz to Sam Scott, who would go on to raise her as his adopted daughter. Spader’s Red or Katarina had given Liz the fulcrum, knowing that she would be safe from prying eyes and no one would expect her to have it.


Given some information in the past, like comments about “what Red did to Katarina” and how Liz would react if she uncovered the truth, it is probable that this could change over time, but as of now, the evidence supports it. Dembe Zuma (Hisham Tawfiq) claimed Liz would never forgive Red for what he did to Katarina. What I believe is meant by this is that Red forced the situation above to happen in order to keep Liz safe, but by ruining Katarina’s life and his own to do so.


There’s also the encounter Red had with Alexander Kirk back in season three where Red whispered something to Kirk before Kirk left and let Red go. The most sensical thing would be that Red told Kirk Katarina Rostova is alive and Kirk left to go find her. Kirk also believed he was Liz’s father but it was later proven that he is not, so this leaves it open to the fact that Red could be her father.


Red has denied numerous times that he is Liz’s father and that could be because Raymond Reddington is not the father of Elizabeth Keen, but the imposter, whoever he really is, is in fact her father. He’s not lying because in a manner of speaking, Red is not her father, he was the brother who died in the fire.


Finally, there is the piece of evidence surrounding Mr. Kaplan digging up the grave that contained the bones. She commented “I’m sorry Katarina” before digging into it and uncovering the bones. This obviously was not meant to mean Katarina was the body there, but she is sorry because she failed to protect Liz the way she was supposed to and knows what has to happen: Red and Kaplan lost sight of what happened that caused all of this, so she dug up the body to give Liz the answers she sought for her entire life but also to force Red and Katarina to fulfill their goal from years ago- stopping The Cabal once and for all.


What do you think of these theories? Will they be proven true or false? The answer is inevitably, yes. Stay tuned for more updates on The Blacklist!