Because of its intricate twists and turns, The Blacklist lends itself to a ton of fan theories. Long before the person known as Raymond Reddington was revealed to be an imposter, some viewers already guessed that was the case. Their belief being that Red was/is Liz’s mom, Katarina.
The door for potential confirmation was wide open in Season 6. The Blacklist’s producers recently revealed if they knew about the 'Red is Katarina' theory. They also answered if they chose to drop clues that it could be true, before revealing Katarina in the Season 6 finale. Series creator Jon Bokenkamp told TVLine:
I love reading all of the fan stuff, the theories and what’s on Twitter. I take great joy in knowing the answer and seeing all the theories that are out there. In the writers’ room, our script coordinator, Sam — for a long time — has put up The Strangest Thing You Can Find About The Blacklist [on the board] every day, just the theories that are out there. That’s one of the things that’s so fun about the show. Whatever your theory or whatever your camp is, you can probably turn the story a few degrees and make your theory make sense. So yes, that is one that we have heard, and I know it’s out there. There are a lot of them, far more unusual than that. [Laughs]
This is why it never gets boring to theorize about it. I like what Jon Bokenkamp is saying about how the subtlest shift in approaching The Blacklist can make a theory work. That is why it requires a lot of objectivity to examine the show for answers.
A lot of time, desire can cloud judgment. Yours truly has had first-hand experience with that and The Blacklist. As for whether fans’ theories in any way impact how the show is written, Blacklist producer John Eisendrath said:
I would say, as someone who does not look very much at what people say online about the show — your question was if we’re telling the story in response in any way to what the theories are, and I honestly think the answer is no. We had an idea of what the story was from the beginning, and we haven’t really veered from it at all. That’s part of why, every year, we’ve been able to give genuine, legitimate answers that the audience has been able to enjoy. Not kind of vague suggestions — real, concrete footholds for the audience that has allowed them to feel like we’re not stalling, we’re not giving them lies or half-truths. That’s part of what’s engaged them in the question of his real identity.
The Blacklist has had an endgame in mind since the beginning, and they are sticking to it. So, whoever Red turns out to be, he is still whoever he was initially planned to be. Something that makes going through old episodes for clues a worthwhile endeavor.
The Blacklist’s creator revealed whether what they read online impacts the future of the storyline. Jon Bokenkamp said:
The storytelling is never reactive to what we see online. The theories never really drive anything.
Did Katarina herself get plastic surgery just to alter her appearance a bit to avoid detection? Everyone trying to hurt her knew her face. She did go from being a redhead in the '90s to a blonde now. It would make sense for both Katarina and Ilya to go under the knife. Flashbacks-or-it-didn’t-happen is sort of my approach right now.
What the producers shared about the impact of online speculation is good news. If you have correctly guessed plots about The Blacklist, it does not sound like the show is going to change things to counter it. That is something that I think has alarmed fans in general.
The advent of social media opens the door to a large number of guesses, which leaves the heightened potential for a correct theory to catch on. Meaning it is a tougher world to shock fans. My current Blacklist theory board is a relatively blank slate. The mystery of who Red is and what Katarina wants is all one big question mark. Season 7, please get here soon!
The Blacklist returns with its seventh season this fall on NBC. In the meantime, you can binge previous seasons on Netflix, along with a lot of recent premieres.