The Blacklist's Red Appears To Be Sick With Something, But What?

The Blacklist Raymond Red Reddington James Spader NBC
(Image credit: Scott Gries/NBC)

Caution: Spoilers for the latest episode of The Blacklist Season 6 (“Olivia Olson”) are discussed and disclosed below.

A health-related mystery has been hanging in the air for a while now on The Blacklist. Earlier in Season 6, Red wanted a biohacker tracked down. At the end of the episode, Dembe’s one-on-one meeting with “The Pharmacist” revealed that he was working on something for Red. The question has been what and for who?

Following the latest episode, it seems obvious that the “what” is a cure. I initially thought that Samar was who Red was working to heal, so this new theory is a twist. The patient appears to be Red. Making that increasingly apparent is that Red injected himself with something at the very beginning of this week’s episode. Shortly after that, he also took some pills out of a prescription bottle.

Whatever is going on, Red is on a strict medicinal regime. What makes this twist all the more surprising is that this comes right after Red got a physical before his execution. That doctor had given Red a clean bill of health. How could the physician have missed something so significant it requires treatment -- and of this magnitude?

Red is evidently sick with something, or appears to be. Now the question is what and how far will The Blacklist take this health crisis? First off, Red has not told Liz he is sick. That hints he believes he can get cured before having to say anything to her. Is he too hopeful?

Is what he has life-threatening? It is tough to believe that The Blacklist would launch Red from one near-death experience directly into another. Putting him in peril always provides the requisite tension. Having it occur so closely after his almost-execution seems a bit curious.

When it comes to trying to predict what may happen next on The Blacklist, your surest bet is to look everywhere. Like any great magic illusion, the show utilizes a sleight of hand approach. It usually keeps the audience watching in one direction when all of the action is taking place elsewhere.

If The Blacklist wants viewers to believe Red is sick with something, could there be more to it? Could he be testing a cure for someone else before they take it? He has shown no outward symptoms, so this seems plausible. If so, who is he taking the experimental medication to help?

Could it be Liz’s mysterious mother, Katarina Rostova? She did enter the conversation in last night’s episode. That is not an entirely unusual circumstance. She is Liz’s mom, and many of The Blacklist’s underlying mysteries tend to relate back to her. Still, there could be a connection.

If it is Red who is sick and it is life-threatening, how on earth did a doctor miss it in the physical? Has Red been injected with a slow-acting poison or an undetectable virus? Are those involved in the conspiracy behind Red's sickness?

What, if any, symptoms is Red experiencing? Why does he not appear to be presenting with any? If he is asymptomatic, how did he learn he was sick? Did those behind the conspiracy tell them that he is? There are so many questions and hopefully some answers are on their way.

Whatever the case, fans should know sooner rather than later. Not all of The Blacklist’s mysteries are as likely to be resolved anytime soon. Unlike those, Red’s potential sickness cannot be an ongoing situation.

Find out what Red’s mystery illness is when The Blacklist continues with new episodes airing Fridays at 9 p.m. ET on NBC.

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.