Warning: This story contains major spoilers from the season finale of The Blacklist. Read at your own risk.
After four seasons of wondering, The Blacklist season finale confirmed what — lets be honest — most fans have suspected from the beginning about Raymond Reddingtons (James Spader) relation to Liz Keen (Megan Boone): Hes her father!
During the finale, Cooper (Harry Lennix) decided to settle the debate once and for all by using a blood sample locked up in evidence from a mission decades prior that Red worked before turning into a criminal mastermind. The blood test confirmed that Raymond Reddington is, in fact, Lizs father, but is the man weve come to know over the last four seasons actually Raymond Reddington?
“Liz has learned that Red is her father, and yet there is a much bigger secret that is out there that presents a real problem,” EP Jon Bokenkamp tells EW, referring to the bones Mr. Kaplan (Susan Blommaert) unearthed that are now en route to Liz, much to Reds chagrin.
Odds are the bones belong to Lizs presumed-dead mother Katarina (Lotte Verbeek), but Bokenkamp doesnt balk at the suggestion they could belong to, say, the real Red, and that this Red is someone else entirely. “This imposter theory is one thats alive among our fan base,” Bokenkamp says. After all, the DNA results proving Reds parentage come from a decades-old sample that is not necessarily from the man we know now. Whats really going on here? Bokenkamp teases whats in store for season 5. (Read our postmortem with Megan Boone.)
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Red has been revealed as Lizs father. Has this been the plan from the beginning?
JON BOKENKAMP: Yes, it has been. Exactly where that would fall, we werent always certain, but it became clear this season as we were arcing out the stories that this point in the mythology of the timeline was the right moment.
This show is full of secrets, so its always difficult to talk about the storylines without giving away answers. We unpacked another big one tonight — this suitcase and its contents — its all connected and its all difficult to talk about. I always feel its probably best to let the episodes speak best for themselves.
Isnt this the obvious answer the fans have been expecting from the beginning? Why confirm what everyone has basically said since season 1?
Because it is part of the truth, but not the entire [thing]. There is a larger reason for him entering her life, a bigger secret that is also revealed in this episode, so while it is part of the story, it is not the entire story.
That bigger secret involves, in part, some bones that were dug up by Mr. Kaplan, and that Elizabeth Keen is unaware of, and that Red is desperate to keep Liz from finding. That bag of bones represents a much larger story that is the ultimate hook of the show. So yes, the paternal issue is something that perhaps one might have expected, but in hindsight, when we look back on the entire series, it will make sense in a way that perhaps it doesnt now. All I can really say is, it is a piece of a much larger puzzle.
Tom has the suitcase. Can you talk about whether hell struggle with the decision to give Liz the suitcase?
Oh, yeah, Im confident Tom will struggle. He has no idea what hes gotten into. That suitcase is packed full of nothing but problems for Reddington.
Given that the tree is marked with the letter K, are we to believe they are Katarinas bones?
Thats a good road to go down. That seems like a logical explanation. Katarina was never seen again, so yes, thats a good theory probably.
That could also be a good theory. I love the way you look at this. Look, they could be anyone, right? But theyre going to be a problem, a real problem, if Liz finds out about them. These bones are a key to unlocking everything, and Red is not ready for that yet.
I think so. Thats why we anchored that so far in the past that the DNA of Raymond Reddington from this bloody shirt all these years ago gives us that answer. So yes, I think we should trust that.
Ultimately you are saying Red is her father, so will Liz be operating under the news that she is Reds daughter next season?
Yes, Liz learned that Raymond Reddington is her father and yet theres a much bigger secret that is out there that presents a real problem.
Hes incredibly conflicted, because theres this enormous emotional bombshell, and yet, at the same time, he has always withheld partial truths. Hes withholding the biggest secret from Liz, so not only is there a lot of conflicted emotional things happening between he and Elizabeth Keen, theres always this much larger secret that has him entirely on his heels, terrified, and presents a problem in a way that hes never dealt with before. Kaplan was his most trusted confidante, knew deep truths. Even now, her death presents a catastrophic problem. I think hes terrified. By the way, the other thing thats interesting is, he has been reduced to rubble. His empire has been ripped apart, hes left with nothing. Weve seen him destroy all of his aliases, hes living in a dumpy motel, so he won the war, but it has really shifted who he is in a way that is going to be fun looking ahead at how he handles this, and what he does in terms of moving forward.
How will this change Liz going into next season now knowing who Red is to her?
I dont entirely know, but I would expect to see her explore that. Shes recognized that the devil is her father, and shes had incredible windows into that in the past, including murdering the attorney general and going on the run and being a criminal. So I would expect her to explore that darker side that is in her blood.
The team doesnt know anything about it yet. Cooper knows about it, but as far as the rest of the team, it hasnt been revealed. I think theyd all react in very different ways. Theyve also all got their own problems — or good situations. Aram and Samar have acknowledged something between them with the kiss, Ressler is left a blacklister to basically clean up the mess of Laurel Hitchins death, so hes not in a good place, and Cooper is the one who knows the secret. I think theyll all react in different ways and itll be incredibly complex. Itll be a great pull for our people to try to rally together. Remember, Julian Gale is still out there with his investigation of the task force. He was thwarted by Reddington and the investigation was stopped, but hes still out there and hes still a loose end. Thats going to be a good story.
Theres been a theory that the person we see as Red is not actually her father, but Lizs mother. Is this still a possibility considering the twist that you have in store for us?
That makes me smile. Look, it is one of the theories that Ive obviously heard. There is a big camp that [believes the] Raymond Reddington imposter theory, that Red is not who he says he is. I mean, I cant deny that that all still adds up and is one of the theories that makes sense. Its out there, its cool, Id love to have you walk me through the whole thing. But this imposter theory is one thats alive among our fan base. This season, we have really motored ahead. Each season, weve given real concrete pieces of this puzzle, and this season is no exception. Some episodes were heavy in that mythology than others. The Mr. Kaplan episode was certainly an episode that had a lot of big moves in it. This last episode has some big moves. Again, theyre all pieces of this puzzle that is slowly coming together to paint one large picture. But its a blast seeing it come together, and its also a lot of fun to read comments and threads and tweets and see the theories, because theres a lot of them, and theyre really a blast to read.
I love Brian Dennehy, so its hard to resist bringing him in. Hes a great actor and were lucky to have him on the show. He definitely is part of the landscape and occupies an important space. You see that play out on screen. All these answers, what ends up airing is far better than answering these questions than I am because thats whats really canon for the show. He is somebody who obviously does not like Reddington. They have a fraught relationship. Hes hurt. He was told that Elizabeth Keen was dead, and found out she faked her death — Red didnt even tell Dom until this season that Liz is actually alive, so this guy is living with all kinds of baggage. Hes an important character in the mythology.
Is Mr. Kaplan actually dead? And can you talk about the reason why she went over the bridge?
I love how far shes willing to go for Liz, that she was willing to die for what she believed in and that was part of her plan, that her death would effectively trigger a death switch that would unravel Reddington. Even with her dead, her plan is marching forward. That was the most compelling thing, that she was willing to die to carry out the promise that she had made all these years ago to keep Liz safe. And so is she really dead? I think so. It would be hard to bring her back, but with that said, I love Susan Blommaert so much. Its like when Alan Alda died, it broke my heart. We blew up Alan Alda, who is a TV legend. Sometimes you have to listen to the show and where it wants to go. That was a really hard death in the show, and this one as well. If we were smart enough to find a way to bring her back that felt real, fantastic, but I think her tombstone has been written.
Circling back to the task force, Laurel Hitchin dies right after closing the investigation. Will that raise some red flags?
That depends on how her death is handled. Well see how well Mr. Prescott gets rid of her body. Reven Wright just disappeared; nobody else knows shes actually dead, so well have to see how well her disappearance/death is swept under the rug. But Im sure there will be questions raised. Even Julian Gale would probably be very curious to know what happened to the woman who just shut him down.
Even with the investigation closed, with the news out there, will the task force be disbanded?
The news is out there in a closed grand jury investigation, which is containable. I dont think it was out there as in, Liz murdered the attorney general and is a fugitive. Its not that out there to the public. Its contained within the intelligence community that was confusing this investigation. The bigger problem is that Reddington has really no resources. Baz was killed, Mr. Kaplan is gone. Its basically he and Dembe, and hes starting over, in a way. Thats the bigger problem for the task force is, the man that its built around is reduced to rubble.
What kind of danger does this put Liz in as Reds organization is all but non-existent now? Will we see Red rebuilding next year?
Thats the thing Im most excited about really, looking ahead, is the show has always been dark in its own odd way and dangerous and high-staked, but were spring-boarding forward in the fifth season in a way where Red is stripped down to nothing and is forced to rebuild. Does Liz join him in that rebuilding? What does that look like? The only thing I know for sure about it is its going to be a hell of a lot of fun because he has nothing left to lose. We almost want to step back in terms of who the character was and how much joy he takes in his life and how he moves and operates. He built a criminal empire once and I think watching him go out and try to scratch and put back together some sort of criminal business is going to be a really fun ride that weve never gone on. Hes got to rebuild his team, which means populating it with new people. Hes not just taking down blacklisters because they stand in his way. I would imagine that he might go after people that could help him reboot his empire. Its been one of the things that we talk about in the room is just having a lot of fun with the character and it almost feels like an opportunity for us to reboot the tone in a way that can be a lot of fun.
Red has an escape plan with that island. Will that come back into play next season?
Well, I hadnt thought about it until now, but yeah, thats a great idea! Red in a crisp white suit. Drinks in coconuts with umbrellas. Bottle episode on the island!
The Blacklist season 6 seemingly revealed the truth, revealing that yes, Raymond Reddington IS Liz’s father — but the man Liz knows isn’t Reddington.
Born in Moscow, Russia (Soviet Union) as Masha Rostova, Elizabeth Keen, at the age of 4, was involved in a traumatic incident in which she shot and killed her father, the real Raymond Reddington, to stop him from attacking her mother, Katarina Rostova, then she moved to Nebraska and was raised by Sam Milhoan.
She had been with the FBI for 6 years and was head of the mobile emergency psych unit in New York. In “Pilot”, she was asked to profile herself by Harold Cooper and revealed that her subordinates in New York called her “sir” and thought her to be a “bitch”. She is also revealed to have a degree in forensic psychology and graduated from Quantico a month before the series begins. Raymond Reddington reveals that she had highlights before the start of the series, and may have resided temporarily in Baltimore.
At about the same time she joined the FBI, she met Tom Keen and later married him, taking his surname.
It is later revealed in “Sutton Ross” that the real Raymond Reddington is her father, not the imposter who took his place 30 years ago and is currently known as Red. In “Rassvet”, Liz learns from her grandfather, who was located with Donald Resslers help, that the man she shot the night of the fire was in fact the real Raymond Reddington while her mothers lover Ilya Koslov took on Reddingtons identity to protect Katarina. However, Katarinas fate continues to remain unknown as Lizs grandfather has not heard from her in 28 years.
Liz was engaged to Nik Korpal. She was married to Tom Keen. In the final season when Elizabeth Keen appeared she was in a romantic relationship with Donald Ressler. They had been close friends and confidents for years, often risking their lives, lying, and covering up for each other before their relationship became romantic and Liz risked prison to save him.
Elizabeth is a young Caucasian woman, standing at around 5’7” tall, weighing approximately 119 pounds, and having a slim build. She has blue eyes, light golden brown hair, and a very noticeable burn scar on her right hand.
She dyes her hair blonde, because she resembles her mother, who has blonde hair and later she asks for asylum at the Russian embassy as an FSB agent.
Along with Red, Liz is involved in an operation to rescue Marvin Gerard disguised as a hostage situation. During the hostage situation she breaks several ribs of a customer after he tried to take her gun. She sees how people see her as guilty and hate her, and asks Red how he stands it.
She is added onto a website called “Wanted Dead Not Alive”.
Ressler finally captures Liz at the end of the episode.
She is taken into FBI custody, shortly afterwards The Director informs Ressler about a possible impending attack on US soil, and they will need to bring Liz to an undisclosed place for questioning since she is a Russian agent. Since Aram changed the code, the Director resorts to filling the box with nitrogen, forcing him to open to the door. But the Directors plan failed anyways, because a lady appears explaining that the judge upheld the original ruling and Liz is not going anywhere.
Liz is exonerated after Red kidnaps the Director and threatens to have him charged with war crimes.
Although Liz was exonerated, she has difficulty adapting. She found herself unable to rent any apartments and she was badly beaten by an unnamed man outside a grocery store. She is not permitted to own any weapons, because her concealed carry permit was permanently revoked. At the hospital she is told that she is pregnant.
Elizabeth decides to move up her wedding with Tom. In the middle of her wedding, Reddington tells her that someone hired Mathias to abduct her and that they are coming. She escapes with Tom and drives away.
Liz gets injured after getting into car crash as effort to escape Mathias. She gives birth to her baby but dies due to complications.
Harold Cooper speaks at Elizabeths funeral. He says “We know exactly where she is.”
Who is Elizabeth Keen’s mother and father?
Who is the man pretending to be Raymond Reddington?
Who is the father of Elizabeth Keen baby?
Is Alexander Kirk Elizabeth’s father?