ByKatie Granger, writer at
MP Staff Writer, come to bargain.
Katie Granger

It's been the infuriating central question driving the narrative of The Blacklist from the moment Raymond "Red" Reddington turned himself into the FBI and demanded to speak only to Elizabeth Keen, namely:

Who is Elizabeth Keen?

Liz in the Blacklist pilot S1E01
Liz in the Blacklist pilot S1E01

When we're first introduced to Liz (Meghan Boone) she's running late for work on her first day as an FBI profiler. She's married to the lovely Tom, whom she is about to adopt a child with. She's happy. She's also utterly unaware just how out of control her life is about to spin as Red enters the mix.

Season 2 brought several startling revelations about Liz's life to light:

  • Her real name is Masha Rostova.
  • She was born in Moscow, Russia.
  • Her mother - Katarina Rostova - was a KGB spy (not known if dead or alive)
  • When she was four she shot a man (suggested to be her biological father) to protect her mother. It is unclear if he survived this.
  • A fire in the house followed the shooting, making it less likely that her father survived.
  • Red may or may not have been present for these events.

Who is Raymond Reddington?

24 years prior to the events of the pilot episode Raymond "Red" Reddington was a well thought of officer in the US Navy. He disappeared one Christmas evening whilst travelling home to his wife and daughter, and was unheard of for 4 years. When he remerged it was as the "The Concierge of Crime"; a title that he spent the next 20 years building up to. Well sought after for his ability to arrange black market deals, he's ranked fourth on the FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitives list.

The real question of the series though has always been how it is he knows so much about Liz.

A popular theory is that he is in fact her biological father, but the undercurrent of a romantic relationship between the two has been touted both on-screen and in fan culture, so it's hard to say. There's been teases through the show that they have a familial relationship, most noticeably of all the burn scars on Red's back that hint towards his presence on the night of the fire.

But show creator Jon Bokenkamp has stated that he's not her father, as has Red himself when asked directly by Liz, so that theory is likely out of the window. (Which is a good thing, I think, as it would've been too obvious.)

Season 3

Whilst this mystery is one that probably won't be solved until the show concludes, the recent chatter from The Blacklist Season 3 is that it the new season will further explore Liz and Red's relationship as they're now on the run together.

The narrative is expected to focus on the hunt for the two fugitives, and Bokenkamp has said that the fresh, almost re-boot like feel will really shake things up.

"There's a really strange and powerful dynamic that [Red and Liz] have. Their resources are so incredible, and they complement each other in a really nice way," Bokenkamp

Hopefully this dynamic is something we'll get to see brought to a conclusion sooner rather than later. Overarching narrative mysteries are all very well and good, but if left too long lose ends split and multiply, and the audience loses interest.

Have a theory about Red & Liz? Share it with us in the comments!


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