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Warning: spoilers ahead for the Season 5 finale of The Blacklist, called "Sutton Ross."
The Blacklist never holds back when it comes to ending finales on incredible cliffhangers, and "Sutton Ross" dropped a bombshell that will undoubtedly have fans buzzing indefinitely. The episode saw Red's desperate mission to recover the duffel bag with its mysterious bones grow even more desperate, and Liz's life was seemingly in real danger for most of the hour. Taken hostage, beaten, and tortured, Liz paid a price for Red's focus on that duffel bag... or so it appeared. The end of the episode revealed that Liz made a deal with her "captors" and her half-sister to get a win over on Red and solve the mystery of the duffel bag bones without him any the wiser. The answer to the question of whose bones were in the bag is one that few of us could have possibly predicted: the bones belong to none other than Raymond Reddington.
Yes, the mysterious bones in the duffel bag that has been passed around The Blacklist for a while now belong to Raymond Reddington, but not the Raymond Reddington fans thought we knew for the past five years. As it turns out, the real Raymond Reddington died 30 years ago, and the man we've thought was Red was an imposter all along. James Spader has not been playing the genuine Raymond Reddington, although I'm sure we'll be referring to his character as "Red" for the foreseeable future. Liz's discovery that the real Reddington is the dead man whose bones were in the bag means she realized that her real father is dead and another man has been attempting to fill that role for her, which... is creepy.
To emphasize the point that Red has been trying to keep his secret for the entire run of the series, "Sutton Ross" featured a flashback montage of all the characters who have died trying to expose Red's secret and how they died/were killed. Despite all the death and destruction, Red was not able to destroy the secret before it got out. While he did get his hands on the bones and burnt them at the end of the episode, it wasn't before a DNA test was conducted on the bones that proved them to belong to the real Raymond Reddington. Thanks to her deal with Ross and reunion with her half-sister, Liz was able to see the DNA results for herself.
In case you're wondering when the Blacklist team came up with the idea to reveal that Red isn't actually Red, executive producer Jon Bokenkamp had this to say about how long the plan has been in the works in a chat with EW:
Yeah, this is something that we've talked about from the inception of the show. It is part of the underlying mythology that we've slowly been unraveling. I think there are a number of episodes that we can go back and sort of map and chart how we got here. Hopefully that is proof of concept to the audience that this is not something we're just winging, and that we're on a very specific path, and this is a well-earned reveal.
The Reddington bombshell sets the stage for an intense Season 6. In a conversation with a vision of Tom (in a surprise appearance from Ryan Eggold) at his grave, Liz reveals her secret: Red doesn't know that she knows about the bones. She told Tom that she intends to figure out who he is, why he came into her life, why he's spent the last three decades pretending to be Raymond Reddington, why he led to Tom's death, and what it will take to destroy him. Sign me up for Season 6!
The very good news is that NBC finally announced the fate of The Blacklist. Deadline reports that the show was officially renewed for a sixth season, which should have fans everywhere breathing a sigh of relief after the craziness of the Season 5 finale. NBC certainly built the suspense for fans who had been promised a gigantic cliffhanger in the series finale; now that we've seen the finale, we can probably all agree that a cancellation would have been downright tragic. No details are currently available about when exactly The Blacklist will be back on the airwaves, but it will be back.