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Raymond Reddington's Real Identity On The Blacklist According To Fans

Who is Raymond "Red" Reddington (James Spader) of "The Blacklist," really? A hero or a villain? 

One thing he certainly is — a chameleon. Once a most-wanted criminal, now an FBI informant, he's able to do technically illegal things for the betterment of all mankind by bringing his unusual expertise to every case he's assigned to — and, of course, to protect himself in the wake of the many, many things he's doing wrong during his time on the other side of the law. He doesn't mind lying to Liz Keen (Megan Boone), an FBI profiler who finds herself working with Reddington to eliminate a raft of the world's nastiest criminals — the show's titular Blacklist of villains — to justice. 

As the show progresses, fans falsely come to believe that Reddington is Liz's biological father — only to learn that he has assumed the identity he currently sports, as the actual Red Reddington died years before. So, who is Red, really? 

Currently, his actual identity remains an unsolved mystery on the program. Fans can expect the series to keep that secret close to its vest, at least until it finally concludes. But that's no reason to avoid speculation, which is what fans on a subreddit dedicated to "The Blacklist" are occasionally fond of doing. They think they've figured out what Red's real identity might be, and it pays into such a fan theory that's been so frequently mentioned in the show's online circles, that even series' showrunner has spoken about it.

Fans think the Redarina theory might be true

The results of a poll posted to the subreddit by u/LizIsRedsMother indicates two things — fans are frustrated with the show's lack of answers when it comes to Red's real identity, and many of them think he might be related to Liz — just not in a fatherly way. 400 of the 850 people responding to the website's poll indicate that they think Red was once Katarina Rostova — Liz's biological mother.

While the theory may seem far-fetched to some, "The Blacklist" has made a name for itself making such notions seem quite possible. "We're talking about the Blacklist here, where loads of unrealistic stuff happens. If Red is not Katarina, then who the hell is he? We know for sure than the real Red is dead. Why would Liz not want to kill Red if she read the letter?" said u/BitterDecoction

But other fans disagree with the notion. u/diseville took issue with the poll's results, pointing out the high amount of time Red would have to spend recovering from surgeries combined with the sheer number of plastic surgeons who would subsequently become a part of this top-level secret makes the theory untenable. Many fans, invested in Liz and Red's relationship, would prefer to think that the theory is just a theory and that if it were true, Red would tell Liz instead of lying to her. For example, u/Desdemona1231 admits they can't get around the level of cruelty Red would have to display toward Liz in Season 9 — when the character leaves the show, by which time she's become a trusted friend to him – to make the theory work for them.

The show's creator has not denied the Redarina theory

So: is Red really Katarina Rostova? Believe it or not, Jon Bokenkamp, who created and co-produces "The Blacklist," has responded to the Redarina theory (though, of course, without giving anything away).

During a 2019 TV Line interview with Bokenkamp and co-producer John Eisendrath, Bokenkamp stated that he's well aware of the fact that fans of the show continue to speculate that Red is actually Katrina. "I love reading all of the fan stuff, the theories and what's on Twitter," he admitted. Adding that the show's writing staff tracks the more outrageous fan theories, he nonetheless avoided confirming or denying the notion of Redarina being canon. "Whatever your theory or whatever your camp is, you can probably turn the story a few degrees and make your theory make sense. So yes, that is one that we have heard, and I know it's out there."

Eisendrath was a little more direct, explaining that the show's writing isn't influenced by online theories and that the direction and storyline of "The Blacklist" has been cemented since its inception. "That's part of why, every year, we've been able to give genuine, legitimate answers that the audience has been able to enjoy. Not kind of vague suggestions — real, concrete footholds for the audience that has allowed them to feel like we're not stalling, we're not giving them lies or half-truths," he said. 

Since it's impossible to know whether Red is lying or telling the truth throughout the whole run of "The Blacklist" — now on Season 10, which some fans feel conflicted about — it may take a long time for fans to discover the truth. That may just make Red's coworker's plight all the more relatable to audience members worldwide.