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All attention was on Red as he was tasked with revealing the answers to some long-simmering questions on The Blacklist. As promised, Red delivered, revealing that the real Raymond Reddington was not a traitor after all. It turns out that Liz’s mom, Katarina Rostova, set Reddington up, framing him as a traitor.
Viewers also learned that the real Raymond Reddington had learned everything about the Cabal, including that Katarina worked for them. While high-ranking Cabal member Alan Fitch told Katarina to kill Reddington, she suggested they impugn his character by framing him as a traitor instead.
The audio of that conversation led to a not guilty verdict for Red on the treason charge. Still, Red remains in prison. What makes all of this super interesting is that whoever Red is, he seemed to immediately suspect that Katarina was the one who set “him” up. He jumped to that conclusion pretty quickly too. You do not make that kind of suggestion without having first-hand knowledge of its truth.
It is not the first time Red has had first-hand details regarding Liz’s mother. This is the first time (as far as I can remember, anyway), that he has spoken of her in a somewhat harsh way. This was not the serene “I love Katarina” take that he usually employs when talking about her. This was something different.
Perhaps he is struggling on some level with love/hate feelings for her. For the better part of six seasons, Red has always spoken pretty affectionately about her. Even as he said that she had framed an innocent man, he not did seem outraged or particularly shocked by what he was saying.
Pointing to their bond, The Blacklist eventually flashed back to a cozy moment in the standalone Red-centric episode, Season 3’s “Cape May.” The scene? The one where she put her hand on his cheek. It is clear that Red may have loved her, just not what she did.
Red did come to Katarina’s defense when Liz was lamenting her mother’s actions to him in his cell. It was a soft one though. He could have let it go, but he always fights for people he cares about, so it was not entirely surprising.
One major thing that is important not to miss is that Red insisted he was innocent of ever betraying the United States. So, whoever he is, he does not believe he ever betrayed the country. Red may be guarded with a lot of things; that said, he is not a liar. If he says he never did that, then it applies to his true identity too. Red is not a traitor.
Again, this points to the theory that Raymond Reddington was an amalgam, a.k.a. a single identity shared by twin brothers. Red is defiant as Raymond Reddington because he is also Raymond Reddington. More on that in a second. There is another crucial reveal The Blacklist pulled the curtain back on.
Learning that Raymond Reddington knew that Katarina was a member of the Cabal is another huge piece of information. It may explain why he took off with Masha/Liz all those years ago in a custody fight that ultimately led to the house fire and death of the “real” Raymond Reddington.
Where Reddington’s motives for taking off with Masha once seemed cruel or malevolent, they seem less so in light of this knowledge. Why would he want his daughter raised by a member of the sinister Cabal? No matter his feelings for Katarina, Liz was in more jeopardy with her than him.
Why should fans suspect that Reddington took Masha after learning about Katarina’s true allegiances? In the two-hour event, The Blacklist revealed that the phone call between Katarina and Alan Finch took place on December 7, 1990. Raymond Reddington “went missing” when he was going home to visit his family for Christmas in 1990. He would have had to have taken Masha during that time period.
That is also when the fire broke out and Liz killed Raymond Reddington. Now to that other major bombshell. Katarina Rostova had made the arrangements for Red’s plastic surgery. While Liz firmly believes that Red went to Dr. Hans Koehler for surgery to change his face, he may not have.
As seen in an earlier season, Red has burn scars on his back, placing him at the house the night of the fire. It stands to reason that he saved Liz from the blaze but not without sustaining some physical repercussions. Liz also has a burn scar on the inside of her wrist. All of this was referenced earlier this season, when Liz and Jennifer went to the site of the fire.
Katarina could have used the plastic surgeon to help Red with his burns, not to change his face. The other option is that Red was a fraternal twin and did not look exactly like his brother, something that got fixed. Red was clearly there that night and sustained injuries. He could have gone under looking slightly like Raymond Reddington and woken up looking just like him.
Either way, the twin theory seems to still be in play. If Red was Raymond Reddington’s identical twin and they shared the same identity, they would know all of each other’s secrets. There is nothing about Raymond Reddington that Red does not seem to know. A stranger, including a well-placed spy, would not be able to know all of that.
Red’s instantly formed assertion that Katarina Rostova framed him is telling. His assertion that he never betrayed the United States is as well. Katarina arranging for the surgery hints that she wanted Raymond Reddington to remain a viable entity for some unknown reason. She could have killed him, but she resisted twice.
As a member of the Cabal, Katarina arranging for the treatment indicates that she, the Cabal, or both wanted Raymond Reddington “alive.” Red took down the Cabal, so if the organization planned to control him, it backfired mightily.
Ressler’s question about why anyone would want to pretend to be Reddington given his credibility problem is one of the episode’s best. It makes no sense, and yet, it may someday make all of it.