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Massive spoilers for the November 20 episode of The Blacklist Season 8 entitled “Katarina Rostova: Conclusion” are discussed below.

The Blacklist took a stunning turn that many might have suspected, as the hour unraveled and the cat-and-mouse game between Red and Katarina climaxed. It turned out the episode’s title, “Katarina Rostova: Conclusion,” would literally mark the “conclusion” of her life. Red decided to kill Liz’s mother in the final minutes of the episode, despite Liz’s desperate pleas. This now sets Liz on the warpath against her mentor, so why did Red do it?

It all came down to that arrogant brag that Katarina made. She claimed to know that Red was N-13, the one who had stolen the Sikorsky Archive. In classic Red fashion, he neither confirmed nor denied the allegation, just as he had done when Liz told Red she “knew” he was Ilya Koslov. The Blacklist executive producer John Eisendrath explained Red's decision, telling TVLine:

What Red absolutely won’t abide is someone he can’t trust knowing certain truths he won’t share[.] Once Dom told Katarina those truths, everything changed. Suddenly, killing her was worth the damage it would do to his relationship with Liz.

Did Dom really divulge anything? The Blacklist promised many answers and provided few, as Katarina failed to tell the head of the Townsend Organization who Red is, despite indicating she knew his identity. If Katarina knew everything, why did she not lead with it? Instead, she said that “Reddington” had stolen the files and was N-13 -- all the while, knowing he is not the real Reddington. Or is he?

I previously theorized that Red actually being Raymond Reddington would be a Blacklist shocker that could explain the imposter situation. Of course, there's more than one imposter situation waiting in the wings. When Dom told Katarina that she did steal the Sikorsky Archive and that Red had stolen it from her, she responded in a bewildered fashion. Whoever this person is, she's dead but, now more than ever, I believe that she wasn't the real Katarina.

Dom was certain Katarina took the files, and that fact that this woman acted like she knew nothing about it was a huge “Red” flag. Then there was Red assuredly telling a dying Dom that Katarina loved him when the-supposed-Katarina clearly did not, and you have to wonder. How could Red be so sure, and why would he be willing to kill Katarina over it? He always spoke about her with such affection.

The relationship The Blacklist had play out was anything but love-filled. Add the fact that “Katarina’s” cocky taunt to Red that Liz thinks of her as her mother -- almost as if hinting she and he knew better -- and I am sold on the theory. Whatever this woman found out from Dom, Red could not trust her with it, and he had to kill her. My current guess is that this was all done to protect the real Katarina.

I'll make my theory a bit clearer. In addition to thinking this woman was an imposter, I also believe she was someone that Red hired to pretend to be Katarina to throw off whoever is looking for her. Dembe’s interaction with Liz only bolsters my belief. Faux Katarina got too big for her britches and decided she needed more, and Red denied her. He'll have to deal with Liz’s anguish, but her real mom is still alive, meaning their relationship will eventually be mended in this regard.

As I previously speculated, there's something terribly amiss with the person that viewers got to know last season and a few episodes into Season 8. Lotte Verbeek was back as Katarina in Dom’s flashback-psychosis, and the woman claiming to be Katarina did not know what she should have about her life. This fuels my belief that Red’s decision was born out of knowing there is a way out of it.

I firmly believe that Red did not kill the real Katarina, or did he? The Blacklist will return with another new episode on Friday, January 22 at 8 p.m. ET on NBC during 2021’s winter/spring schedule. While you wait to see how Red and Liz’s “war” explodes, you can catch up on past seasons of The Blacklist via Netflix’s releases.

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