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Raymond “Red” Reddington has put The Blacklist through a dizzying amount of twists and turns. It is fair to say that the character fans met seven seasons ago is still the same and yet completely different. At least, the context of who James Spader is playing has. The “who” remains a constant wrapped in an ever-enigmatic question.
While the essence of the man remains the same, Red is not who viewers thought he was when they first met him. The Blacklist has explored the various facets of Red on a personal level, and his storytelling has provided a window into who he really might be. Of all the twists in that continually evolving narrative, these were the biggest ones.
Red Hired Tom Keen
What Twist Was Revealed: It turned out that Red hired Tom Keen before The Blacklist began to check in on Liz. For whatever reason, Red took major umbrage with Tom pursuing a genuine romantic relationship with Liz, and the two remained enemies from that point forward. Okay, they did have a few close moments before Tom’s death. Thank goodness for that.
How It Changed Things: Learning this information meant that Red had been keeping tabs on Liz for a while, taking things so far as to hire a guy to shadow her. At that point on The Blacklist, it became clear that Red cared for Liz intensely, so much so that it led me to believe/hope that the next “twist” was real.
Red Is Liz’s Father?
What Was Revealed: All of the signs that Red is Liz’s biological father was there from the beginning. After many seasons of believing that “Raymond Reddington” was Liz’s father, The Blacklist finally confirmed the twist. Like many things, Red let Liz think that he was her father, and the two bonded as much as they ever had.
How It Changed Things: Liz and Red grew a lot closer, especially since Liz felt she was putting the pieces of her biological puzzle in place. It seemed that the mystery of Liz’s paternity had been solved. Well, it had and had not. Barring a twin twist, The Blacklist has seemed to stand behind Raymond Reddington being her dad. However, the next wrinkle meant Red not being Raymond Reddington. Seriously!
Red Was/Is An Imposter
What Was Revealed: An entire season was spent with multiple parties looking for a duffle bag filled with bones. At first, it seemed like they could have belonged to Liz’s mother, Katarina Rostova. Not so fast. The Blacklist revealed that they were actually Raymond Reddington’s, which meant one thing. Red is not Raymond Reddington.
How It Changed Things: The reveal that Red is an imposter launched a mystery that consumed Liz for an entire season until answers seemed to surface. This is not dramatic to say. The reveal changed The Blacklist forever. Raymond Reddington, and thus, Liz’s (apparent) biological father, died in the fire. Hence, Red’s “you killed your father” speech. Some pieces fit, but more are missing.
Red Is Not Ilya Koslov
What Was Revealed: It seemed like The Blacklist had resolved the question of who Red is. An elaborate nearly episode-long flashback seemed to reveal that Red was Ilya Koslov, a.k.a. a good friend of Katarina Rostova who offered to assume Red’s identity to keep him safe. Not exactly. Ilya Koslov is not Red. He is that mysterious friend from Red’s past.
How It Changed Things: If you braced for the possibility that Red was not Ilya Koslov, then you were probably not too shocked by The Blacklist’s twist. By revealing that Red is not Ilya, the show has set viewers almost entirely back to the start. Of course, there have been some clues that have helped. For her part, Katarina seems to have no idea who Red is, so there is that.
Red Lied About Katarina
What Was Revealed: In the Season 6 finale, Red located Katarina with some help from the real Ilya Koslov. He had claimed that Katarina had died when she went into the ocean after Liz killed her dad. Well, that turned out not to be true in a significant way. They reunited after an unclear period and even shared a kiss…before she kidnapped him.
How It Changed Things: The twist revealed that Katarina is alive and that Red had lied to Liz about her mother, almost the whole time. He also continues to lie about who kidnapped him. Liz finally knows the truth: that her mom is undoubtedly alive and Red’s kidnapper. She wants info from him. A lot of it! She later kidnapped Ilya to extract some pertinent memories from him.
Red Has Lied -- A Lot
What Was Revealed: Red has told Liz a lot of stories over the years. Now that viewers know he is capable of lying to Liz, The Blacklist reset what we can all trust about what he says. Katarina indeed hinted that Red’s track with the truth is not exactly stellar, and trust issues will apparently arise for Liz with Red.
How It Changed Things: The twist means that Red is an unreliable narrator. Does this mean that all of the amusing stories he has told through the years are tall tales? Not necessarily. However, it does cast them in a new light. Red has gone along with lies and told confirmed ones. It makes you wonder.
The Blacklist is almost back, and there are sure to be even more surprises in Red’s story. After all, this is the man who goes by Raymond Reddington. Twists are part of the territory. While a lot of mysteries remain in Season 7, the next season should follow suit in supplying some answers.
It has been a journey filled with elaborate and unexpected detours that this viewer could have never imagined all those seasons ago. The Blacklist is far from done exploring the depths of Red’s persona while continuing to maintain his mystique. Find out what twist happens next!