Things Are Not Always As They Seem…Or Are They?

One of the curses of being an author (yes, there’s more than one) is that very few books, movies or TV shows hold any real surprises for us. We can usually unravel a plot quickly and know what’s coming before it happens.

Then there are plots like the one of TV’s new series, The Blacklist, a show so well-written and plotted that it challenges the most experienced plotters.

In the series, Raymond “Red” Reddington is a wanted man who’s been on the run for the past twenty years–but suddenly turns up at the FBI’s offices to surrender himself. He has, he says, a blacklist comprised of the names of the world’s most dangerous criminals. He knows how to find them. He will share his knowledge, but only to one person–rookie agent Elizabeth Keen, who has no idea why he’s chosen her. She doesn’t know Reddington and has no connection to him that she’s aware of. Yet he seems to know everything about her. 

At the beginning of the series, it’s revealed that Reddington was a genius, an intelligence officer with a promising future, married with a young daughter. When last heard from, he was on his was home on Christmas Eve….twenty years ago. That night, he dropped off the radar. In a recent episode, he talked about that night. He said he had been so anxious to get home, he ran out of gas.  He left his car, full of gifts, and started walking. When he got home, he recalled only that there was blood everywhere.

In another episode, another piece of the puzzle: Red visits Lizzie’s adopted father, Sam. Sam is in the hospital. He’s dying. The two men obviously know each other. Red tells Sam he’s seen Lizzie and praises Sam for the way he’s raised her. Sam says he has to tell Lizzie the truth, but Red won’t allow it.

This week’s episode included another revelation: Lizzie’s husband, Tom, married her two years earlier because that was his “assignment.” One has to wonder why there would be interest in a rookie agent who had not yet joined the group known as the Post Office…unless she has a connection someone wants.

I have my own theory about Red Reddington, about who he is, his connection to Lizzie and what the Blacklist is really all about. I’ll tell you what I suspect, and we’ll see, as the show continues, how much I get right….

I believe Lizzie is Red’s daughter, in spite of the fact that it’s so obvious and the show’s promos have repeatedly told us that on The Blacklist, nothing is as it seems.  When Lizzie asked, he didn’t deny it. He told her only that it was complicated. If I’m correct in my theory, he can’t tell her he’s her father, because to do so would put her at even more risk than she is now.

I think that his wife was murdered and his daughter critically injured by someone who was out to get Red himself. Lizzie was so traumatized that she can’t remember what happened. Red left her in Sam’s care and went rogue to find the killer. His search let him from one criminal connection to the other–the criminals who now occupy the Blacklist. He wants to bring them down, one by one, until he gets all of them. He’s returned to the US–and surrendered himself–because he wants to stay close to Lizzie, to protect her. He’s told her he’ll always protect her.

Red Reddington does not act like a hardened criminal. In more than one episode, he’s acted with compassion for others. He even put himself on the line to save the lives of two colleagues. He allowed himself to be taken prisoner to protect Lizzie. How far will he go in the future to protect her…and bring down all of those on his Blacklist?

Time will tell….