Did ‘The Blacklist’ Actually Reveal Red’s Identity in the Finale?
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for The Blacklist Season 8 Finale, “Konets.”]
Just how much was left up in the air at the end of Megan Boone’s final episode as Liz Keen on the NBC drama? Maybe not as much as it seemed.
After the finale, which might have killed off Liz and revealed Raymond “Red” Reddington’s (James Spader) identity in the same scene, we have to wonder just what creator Jon Bokenkamp meant when he told TV Insider “it’s very much the ending of a story we’ve been telling for eight years.” Is it the ending just in terms of Liz’s story or also when it comes to questioning who exactly Red is? We’re thinking it’s possibly both.
First, a quick recap: Red came up with a plan to ensure Liz would be seen as the criminal she needed to in order to protect her. She’d take over the blacklist — after killing him. (He is, after all, dying already.) Only then would he allow her to read a letter from her mother that would tell her who he is. But when it came time for her to pull the trigger, she couldn’t. Vandyke (Lukas Hassel), however, could, shooting her in the chest. It sure looked like a fatal wound (but you never know). Cue Liz’s memories of everyone in her life, including flashes of her mom Katarina kissing her on the head as a baby as Red did the same thing.
And with that, we’re left wondering two things at the end of the finale: Will Liz survive, and is Red now confirmed to be Katarina? That transition as Liz (possibly) died wasn’t the only major hint to the latter. Earlier in the episode, Red suggested, “Maybe you were born to this, out of a lie, the daughter of a spy, genetically predisposed to deception and danger.” He also said he knew Liz’s mother “better than anyone.” And he insisted she couldn’t know who he really is before she took his life because “if you knew beforehand, you’d never agree to kill me.”
All signs point to a very strong (familial) connection between the two. He would know Liz’s mother better than anyone if that’s who he really is. He’d know that Liz wouldn’t even entertain the thought of shooting him if that’s the case, too. It’s why the contents of that letter remain a mystery (one we hope is solved in Season 9).
With Boone’s exit, it would only make sense that the big mystery of who Red is is closed because it wouldn’t land the same way if the truth (a different one) comes out after she’s gone (whether Liz is dead or just off-screen). Just consider how big that question was in her final episode. Imagine how it would come across if it’s revealed he’s someone else important to her…without seeing how she reacts.
Besides, The Blacklist can continue to play with that mystery a bit since it has yet to be confirmed onscreen. We could, however, perhaps see that happen with Red mentioning to Dembe (Hisham Tawfiq) something about her at least figuring out the truth before she died (if she does) next season. It could still be left up in the air if he’s Liz’s mom (by not saying it explicitly onscreen) without removing just how tied to her that reveal is.
Without confirmation from anyone from The Blacklist, all we can do is hope to get answers sooner rather than later.
The Blacklist, Season 9, Fall 2021, NBC