As The Blacklist nears the Season 8 finale, the most pressing questions may come from behind the scenes, following the news that Megan Boone will be leaving the series after season 8.
But there’s an on-screen mystery that needs to be resolved since the NBC drama debuted in 2013: Who really is Raymond Reddington? We know the real Red died 30 years ago by Liz’s hand, and the story that KGB officer Ilya Koslov later assumed Red’s identity turned out to be just that. – a story.
Wednesday’s episode, however, was about to reveal the real, serious, not really dudes-this time around answer to the question of Red’s true personality, and unless the show intentionally expands. the wrong direction of all the mistakes, so the answer was basically given to us without being explicitly said out loud: Red could very well be Katarina Rostova, Liz’s biological mother, who presumably went under the knife to turn into l man who has been protecting and / or terrorizing Liz for the past eight years.
It seems a little silly to say (or type) out loud, but this theory has prevailed among Blacklist fans since the series began, and clues have been dropped in the past that suggest its accuracy. But the penultimate episode of Season 8 affirmed more than ever that Red was truly Katarina, even though those suspicions were never confirmed.
During the hour, Red brings Liz to a building in Latvia from which her vast intelligence empire operates, buzzing with employees as they print, annotate, scan, shred and analyze stacks and stacks of documents. As Red explains to Liz, the building is a hub for information from 17 outposts around the world – information that is summarized and sent to Reddington, which he then uses to make all of his business decisions. (Liz will apparently inherit this operation, but she claims to have no interest.)
But just as Red starts telling Liz some of the truths she’s been looking for, Liz begins to hear a second female voice. All the activity around her in the Latvian building seems to freeze. The red disappears. The image changes to black and white. And Liz turns to see a younger version of her mother, Katarina (played once again by Lotte Verbeek), embarking on a long story of her own spy career, the circumstances that led Katarina to leave Liz behind. in Sam’s care, and all that she did to protect Liz for years.
Throughout the story, she is joined by Liz’s visions of the real Raymond Reddington (i.e. Liz’s biological father), as well as current versions of Katarina, Dom, and Ilya, all of which add more details to the story of young Katarina and try to unravel some of the lies Liz has been telling in recent years. Among the revelations and clues:
* On the night of the fire, when Liz was a child, Liz returned to the burning beach house to retrieve her stuffed bunny. Young Katarina shares that she followed Liz into the house, “but we turned around. The flames spread quickly, the smoke,” she says, to which Liz responds, “You were burnt.” ‘We were both, “Katarina says. (And, as we saw at the very end of Season 1, Red has burn scars on his back.)
* Katarina was the one who erased Liz’s memory, as the night of the fire was deeply traumatic for Liz on many levels.
* When Katarina mentions how she and Ilya concocted a plan to get their hands on Reddington’s $ 40 million, Liz says she’s heard this story from Dom before. Ilya retorts that Dom lied to Liz about who assumed Red’s identity, but he was telling the truth when he said that Ilya presented Red as a traitor to his country. But Ilya didn’t have surgery to pretend to be Reddington; he simply dressed in red and pretended to be him for a few days to cheat the banks, which gave Katarina “enough time for me to realize how precious a new Reddington could be.” Hmm …
* Today’s Katarina (the always excellent Laila Robins) shows up to drop this bombshell on Liz: she’s not Liz’s real mother! She was simply an agent named Tatiana Petrova, who was enlisted by Ilya to pose as Katarina Rostova in Belgrade all those years ago. If Katarina’s real enemies, both the KGB and the Cabal, witnessed the death of who they thought was Katarina (but really was Tatiana), then it stood to reason that the KGB and Cabal would cease. finally to drive Katarina away.
But Tatiana did not die in that car explosion in Belgrade: her husband did, and Tatiana was forced into hiding. She says she was grateful to (the fake) Reddington for funding and protecting her for all these years, but stalked him once she realized he was hiding the real Katarina. And when Dom finally told Tatiana where the real Katarina was, she was going to share that information with Townsend, but Red killed her before she could. (Phew. Always with me? I’m not sure I’m always with me, honestly.)
* Young Katarina says she’s made a lot of mistakes in her life, but giving up on Liz wasn’t one of them. “I could never do that,” she said. Instead, Katarina created a new version of Raymond Reddington, who could protect Liz and watch over her. And when Ivan Stepanov – who was Katarina’s manager during his spy years – gave New, Fake Reddington these 13 information packets that could be used for blackmail and influence, those packets spawned a network of world intelligence – The Blacklist! – created for the sole purpose of protecting Liz.
Despite all the clues that Katarina was the one who took on Red’s identity 30 years ago, Liz still believes someone else has fully become Red, while Katarina lives in hiding somewhere. And as she begs Katarina to tell her who became Reddington, the visions vanish: Townsend and his men have reached Red’s Latvian nest, and Liz is shot in the abdomen amid all the gunfire. Townsend notes that Red’s intelligence empire is a pretty impressive operation, but “it’s nothing compared to your commitment – the decision to live like Raymond Reddington, to give up your life to live like somebody else. ‘other. I can’t imagine loving someone enough to do this!
Before Townsend can make a move, however, Liz grabs a gun that has fallen to the ground and shoots Townsend in the leg with it, giving him and Red and Dembe enough time to get to the underground bunker of the building. While Dembe heals Liz’s injury, Red speaks to Townsend over the facility’s intercom, telling him that he regrets what happened to Townsend’s family. Red says he was young and drunk with power when he first obtained the Sikorsky Archives, and while he didn’t actually kill Townsend’s loved ones, he was ultimately responsible for their deaths, and Red sorry. But shortly after apologizing, Red informs Townsend that the building they are currently in is outfitted with chlorine trifluoride, a highly flammable gas.
“What are you going to do?” Townsend asks, as his impending doom seems to draw upon him. “Destroy all your information? The source of your power? “The source of my power is right here,” Red replies, referring to Liz. “It won’t be destroyed – certainly not by people like you.” And with that, Red pushes a button, and upstairs, Townsend and his men all set alight.
What do you think, Blacklist fans: Does the series finally reveal that Red is Katarina? Or do you expect next week’s finale to unveil a brand new character who has assumed Red’s identity for all these years? And with Boone’s exit approaching, will Liz fall victim to that gunshot wound or will she meet a completely different fate? Drop your theories below!