Why The Blacklist's Reddington Twist May Not Mean What We Thought

The Blacklist James Spader Red Reddington
(Image credit: Will Hart/NBC)

Before Tom's death on The Blacklist, he questioned Red about that infamous bag of bones. Red told Tom that the contents of the duffel bag are a "secret, not a lie." That single line may be the most telling clue Red offers about the bones and their implications. As of the end of Season 5, Liz has learned the truth: that the bones belong to Raymond Reddington, but not the alive and well man played by James Spader we've come to know over the past five season. Liz now believes the man she knew as Red to be an imposter, and all signs seemed to point toward this as the truth. But is he really an imposter?

There is a theory that could explain why Current Red may still be The Red. It is complicated in some ways, but also incredibly simple in others. While The Blacklist deals in elaborate conspiracies, it tends to reveal that they are a disguise to a far more straightforward truth. The answer to the question of who Current Red is and why he cares about the bones may not be as labyrinthine as it first appears. In fact, there is evidence that Current Red may still be Red after all. Let's begin with the main point.

Raymond Reddington could be a twin. Current Red and Dead Red being identical twins is the easiest way to make sense of many things. First of all, there is the matter of their physical likeness and the fact Current Red's fingerprints matched the FBI's records. Twins do not have identical fingerprints. Save for a switch, that means Current Red's fingerprints were in the database as Raymond Reddington's at one point in time. How can that be? It is possible both twins portrayed Raymond Reddington. That's right, the classic identical twin switch. So how and why would this have happened?

The theory of a constant switch back and forth between identical brothers suggests that both twins went in together to create the identity known as Raymond Reddington. As demonstrated in Season 5, having a double provides quite a bit of an advantage. The two Reds may have wanted it that way. Because Current Red is also Reddington, the truth about the bag is a secret (there were two of them) and not a lie (Current Red is Raymond Reddington).

The Blacklist Red Liz

(Image credit: Will Hart/NBC)

In this theory, Liz killed the dead Red, whose remains were in the bag burned in the Season 5 finale. In an earlier season, Red tells Liz that she killed her father. While we now know that Liz is biologically related to Raymond Reddington, that does not mean that the man whose remains are in the duffle bag was her actual father. If the twins were constantly switching places, either of them could have fathered Liz. That could explain why Current Red hesitated when Liz asked him if he was her father. He may not know if he or his brother is.

Based on previous episodes of The Blacklist, we can probably assert that the night of the house fire is when the switch happened. Liz killed one of the Reds, making him Dead Red and Current Red assumed the identity of Raymond Reddington full time. The burn scars on Current Red's back confirm that he was the one who saved her that night. According to Red's story, Liz killed her father, and her mom committed suicide a couple of months later, paralyzed by the grief over his loss. Current Red knows that the Red that Liz's mother was mourning was not actually her Red. Thus playing into some of the guilt we see him express when he says he is a bad person.

It is next to impossible for Current Red not to have known Liz's mother before he assumed the identity of Raymond Reddington. In Season 3, when Liz is expecting Agnes and considering giving her up for adoption, Red shares insight into her own mother's surprise pregnancy. The details he shares could only be known by someone who knew her intimately. This seems to eliminate the theory that Current Red is a total stranger who assumed the real Red's identity after he died.

This brings us to Jennifer, who made her debut in the second half of Season 5. So how does Red know in this theory that Jennifer is the daughter of his twin brother and not his? He probably steered clear of Naomi when he and his twin were switching back and forth. It stands to reason his brother did not do the same when it came to Katarina, hence Red's doubts about Liz's paternity.

The Blacklist Red Liz

(Image credit: Will Hart/NBC)

Let's put the pieces we have together. Twin 1 is the father of Jennifer. Twin 2 (Current Red) is probably Liz's biological father but knows it is possible he is not. On the night of the house fire, Twin 1 showed up at the house Twin 2 was at with Liz (then Masha) and her mother, Katarina. For whatever reason, there was some sort of commotion that resulted in Liz shooting Twin 1. Twin 2 saved Liz from the fire and kept his identity a secret. These are dots that could be connected in Season 6.

A constant switch is not necessary to explain why Red was hesitant to answer whether he was Liz's father. He may not have known and assumed Katarina's husband was her father. Current Red could have had a different identity when he was with Katarina and assumed his brother's identity after he was killed, with both brothers leading separate lives until then.

Unanswered questions remain. Why Red would not want to come clean about being a twin is one of the mysteries The Blacklist will have to unravel in Season 6. If there is one thing the writing has taught us, it is that the show is a giant puzzle that works like a magic trick. The key to the illusion is frequently staring viewers right in the face. Is the truth about Red the same? Or is this theory way off?

Find out when The Blacklist returns next January on NBC. For what to watch while you await the answers in Season 6, check out guide to TV's summer premieres. To gain better insight on what to expect this fall, check out CinemaBlend's 2018 network TV rundown.

Britt Lawrence

Like a contented Hallmark movie character, Britt happily lives in the same city she grew up in. Along with movies and television, she is passionate about competitive figure skating. She has been writing about entertainment for 5 years, and as you may suspect, still finds it as entertaining to do as when she began.