Was Red on 'The Blacklist' Really Katarina?

The Blacklist Katarina Rostova Lotte Verbeek Raymond Red Reddington James Spader NBC

Who was Raymond Reddington? Almost one year ago, viewers of “The Blacklist” learned they would never know the answer - for certain. This long-time viewer jumped ship ahead of Season 10 jumped ship ahead of Season 10, believing the truth was definitively revealed in Season 8 with Liz’s death. Raymond Reddington was Katarina Rostova, aka Liz’s biological mother. The only presence in her life to never be filled by a stand-in taking the role.

The end of this article could happen in the next few sentences. Why else would Red risk everything to help Liz? Why did he repeatedly forgive Liz’s unforgivable betrayals? Why did Red love Liz and later Agnes with such ease? Why was Red so crestfallen by Liz’s death? The answer hid in plain sight: Red was Katarina.

Was Red Elizabeth Keen’s father?

No. The Red viewers met at the beginning was not Liz’s father. The real Raymond Reddington was, in fact, Liz’s biological father, though.

Was Red really Katarina?

Yes! Please read all the evidence below.

Was Reddington’s true identity ever revealed?

Yes. It was not explicitly stated, and yet all clues, hints, and inferences in Season 8 made it abundantly clear that Red and Katarina were one and the same. If you use Redarina as a “cipher” - the answer to the riddle, see how many questions you can answer.

The closest “The Blacklist” came to revealing Red’s identity was the Season 8 episode where Red shows Liz his secret HQ (“Nachalo”). In it, Red and Katarina dance around the unspoken truth.

Why did “Red” come into Liz’s life?

Red came into her life because of his suspicion that Tom had turned. Red originally hired Tom to watch over Liz, not fall in love with her. Plus, he thought Tom had changed allegiances to Berlin. So, they answered that pretty early on in “The Blacklist.”

How was “Red” connected to Liz?

Red’s connection was that he was her mother, not her father. Note that Red directly denied being Liz’s father. He was not lying. If she had asked, “Are you one of my parents?” maybe she would have gotten the real answer.

The Blacklist Katarina Rostova Lotte Verbeek NBC

What happened on the night of the fire?

The night of the fire is explained in Season 8 Episode 21, “Nachalo.” Katarina was there, saved Liz, and tried to save the real Red, but Ilya held her back. Hence, Red’s back scars.

What happened with the real Red’s family?

The fate of Raymond Reddington’s family was explained when they caught up with that crazy guy, Ian Garvey, who murdered Tom and attempted to kill Liz. Garvey had brainwashed Liz’s sister against Red. The reason “Red” did not care about how Raymond’s daughter felt about Raymond was because he was not her father. He was Liz’s mother, so they had no biological relation.

What did Reddington tell Kirk in Season 4 Episode 8?

Kirk’s reaction to what “Red” whispered to him in “The Blacklist” Season 4 kind of said it all. Ponder Kirk’s extreme response to what he was told. Now imagine Red telling Kirk, “I am Katarina.” It explains the shock on Kirk’s face and his reaction.

What did “Red” do to Katarina?

Katarina became Red. That is what Red “did” to Katarina.

Why did “Red” keep lying to Liz instead of telling her the truth?

Because Liz, Raymond Reddington, and Katarina’s daughter, came at a huge price. Liz would be targeted and leveraged for revenge against both of her parents’ enemies. Look at what happened with Townsend. 

How would Townsend - killing Liz - “even” the score with Red? 

Townsend blamed Red for his family’s death. Red’s friend Ivan whispered something to Townsend, and from then on, Townsend to “even the score” would be for Red to lose Liz. The only way that killing Liz would even the score is that Liz is Red’s daughter. We know that he cannot be her father because the real Red is dead, which means Red is Katarina (Liz’s mother, aka other parent).

Katarina is the Cipher

Using Katarina as the cipher again, think back to all of the scenes where everyone begged Red to tell Liz the truth. Insert Redarina. Does his apprehension make any sense? As Liz learned different things about Katarina, she went from loving her to hating her. What good would it do? The bottom line is Red preferred the version of his life where he was Red.

What was in the canister? 

The truth about Red being Katarina was in the canister. Red wanted to die before Liz learned the truth about Redarina so he would not be alive to deal with the fallout. Dembe ended up beating him to the punch in the Season 8 finale by revealing the truth to Liz before she died.

To Summation

Despite his best efforts, Liz died knowing the truth, and Red was ticked about that because he wanted to be dead when she learned the truth. Instead of Liz looking at him with any of the emotions he might have expected in her final moments, she looked upon him with nothing other than love. Liz knew she had found her mother at long last.

“You were right. I could have never killed you,” were Liz’s last words. Who else would she be saying that to? 


Redarina, as the “cipher” to all of these questions, makes so much sense. I never believed the Redarina theory until Season 7. The evidence is too blatant to ignore. No other answer explains as much. Red has to be related to Liz, and we know he cannot be her father.

“The Blacklist” premiered in 2013. Ten years later, a lot has changed in the entertainment landscape. The Redarina reveal would hit differently today, and “The Blacklist” knew that. Red’s true identity, being Redarina, is the only answer that fits with the show’s silence.

You can find all of the clues for yourself by streaming all seasons of “The Blacklist” on Netflix.