ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The Blacklist - Answers: Red Is Not Lizzy's Father...Yet

Updated on November 9, 2014

Changing Information

Comment threads and online discussion groups are filled with strong opinions about the back stories of the characters of TV's The Blacklist.They are fun to read, but incense some posters to madness. I see a lot of jumping to conclusions, a snapshot of the need for more logical skills among us - like following a sequence, ordering events chronologically when out of order, cause and effect - and using intuition and logic together, often illustrated by Patrick Jane and Sherlock Holmes (all the several current Sherlocks).

The Blacklist, NBC captivating crime drama is a police procedural with a soap opera backstory sure to be copied by the daytime soaps in the future.

The draw of the story is that viewers attempt to connect the dots of the parallel lives of Red Reddington (James Spader) and Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone). The writers leave out some facts and change the nature of the Red-Lizzy relationship occasionally so that the dots cannot be connected.

Huge crevasses open up between dots and we need either a tight rope or mountain climbing equipment in order to continue deciphering the relationship between these co-stars of The Blacklist.



Fans of this crime drama are called CRACKLISTERS from their obsession with the show. Watch for increasing numbers of them to gather at Comic Cons and Sci-Fi conventions in 2014 & 2015.

My Critic's Rating for The Blacklist

5 stars for The Blacklist, starring James Spader and Megan Boone

The "Hook" - Reinforcement Schedules

In order to "hook" a person with some activity, psychologists can set up a reinforcement pattern called variable-interval intermittent reinforcement.

This name means that the subject never confidently knows when the next reinforcement (in this case, presentation of a sure fact) will happen.

Considering that we are talking about am interesting TV show among nights of drivel, I see no harm in it. However, we do have a skeleton of information on which to build a case.

Discovering Information Can Be Dangerous

Huge crevasses open up between dots we need to connect.
Huge crevasses open up between dots we need to connect. | Source


James Spader admits (see first link at bottom of this page) to having Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder or at least to believing that he has it. One might think of his Reddington character as a a dark and dangerous Adrian Monk.

Strong Characters and Reinforcement

Because I have enjoyed James Spader's acting in Sex, Lies, and Video Tape, The Practice, and especially in Boston Legal, I was eager to see his work as the Concierge of Crime, Raymond "Red" Reddington. I have not been disappointed.

In this Blacklist role as Red, Spader is a criminal success, a monster, a grieving father and husband, but also quite funny. Red's devotion to protecting Lizzy Keen is palpable. His determination to extract answers is superhuman and the questioned usually have only one chance. This is a character that will keep me watching the show, even though many viewers are more interested in the real nature of the relationship between Red and Lizzy - clues to which are spotty and placed at odd intervals.

Whereas soap operas often string out events without a story climax at the end of a broadcasting week to ensure that viewers return on Monday, shows like The Blacklist (whether producers know it or not) use reinforcements that "hook" the viewer into weekly attendance. And many of us want to be hooked. A modern reference or this tactic is found in

  • Miltenberger, R. (2008). Behaviour Modification. Belmont, CA. Wadsworth Publishing.

A quote from this work follows:

The schedule of reinforcement for a particular behaviour specifies whether every response is followed by reinforcement or whether only some responses are followed by reinforcement.

Fans of this crime drama are called CRACKLISTERS, indicating their obsession with the show.

Trailer for the Pilot Episode

The Blacklist Panel at Comic-Con 2013

The Blacklist - Pilot Show

Sources of Information

Solving the puzzle of Red-Lizzy is muddied by media rumors and inaccurate or partial and non-contextual information slipped into interviews. None of this red-herring strewing is canon, but it makes for fun, watching people arguing over it.

The sources of accurate information (canon) in this TV series are the actual episodes to date and a Blacklist Wiki website called Raymond Reddington. Accurate, that s, until the writers change their minds, but that keeps the excitement going.

So far, we have this evidence:

  • Elizabeth Keen's first and last original names are as yet unknown - Sam, her adoptive father, renamed her, husband Tom Keen was not Tom Keen and now both men are dead (no more answers from them). She was born in 1983 and is 30-year-old graduate of the FBI Academy on the USMC base at Quantico VA in 2013. Megan Boone's digital birth date is used as Lizzy's ID number and seen in several places, so 1) it is the birth date of Lizzy or 2) we are meant to believe that it is. The writers have not yet decided which of #1 or #2 it will be (see Exec. Producer John Eisendrath's interview concerning writers changing things at What fun!
  • Red's wife's and daughter's names are as yet unknown, but his daughter was born in either 1980 or 1979, dying in an assassination with her mother at home during December 1990. She lived to be only 9 or 10. How do we know this? --
  • In Episode 16, we see that every year on the anniversary date of one of his daughter's ballet performances, Red hires adult ballerinas, renting an entire theater to watch them, particularly a solo that his daughter danced in Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake in 1987. He carries the folded paper program from that date, clearly printed in 1987 and shown in a close-up. A flashback of the girl dancing on stage shows her physical development to be that of a 7- or 8-year-old. In 1987, Liz was only 4.
  • The year 1987 is also important for Liz as the her home caught fire and a man rescued her, taking her to her new adoptive dad, Sam. Because Red reveals burn scars across his back in the 2014 finale, we have a clue that he is the man that rescued Lizzy. This might change as the TV series writers develop the ongoing story. Occasionally, Lizzy experiences flashbacks of the fire and a man carrying her out of it, but she cannot remember all of the details. She keeps the partially charred soft bunny rabbit toy she held that night.
  • The Raymond Reddington site tells us that Red completed the Naval Academy curriculum and was in process of grooming for an Admiralty. He returned home at Christmastime, 1990, to find a blood filled house. He stated that blood was everywhere, but his wife and daughter were missing. He told Diane Fowler (Jane Alexander), Head of the Criminal Division of DOJ, who declares she knows what happened, that he would give anything to know the details. Even so, he murders her for attempting to have him killed - after stating that if she knows, then others know as well.
  • In 1990, Reddington disappeared to enter the underworld of global crime, gaining control of high level criminals until 2013, when he began leading the FBI to the worst criminals in the world. From 1990 to 2013 means 23 years of criminal history. In 2013, Red repurchased the house he owned in 1990 and demolished it with a bomb.


In 2014, Red plans to keep making money from criminals, while he turns them in to the FBI. His other goal is to protect Liz Keen.

The top ranking criminals apparently want Liz dead more than they want Reddington dead. He says in the Episode 22 finale that if she knew her father's identity, she would be in too great a danger. In addition, Liz can help Red learn what happened to his own family and who tried to destroy his own leverage in the world of crime. Further, Red is becoming emotionally attached to Liz, always unhappy during the times she refused to interact with him.

Episode 22 ended with the criminal Berlin looking at a locket picture of his daughter, with Red in another place, looking at a copy of the same photo. Speculation is filling the Internet about this coincidence and we may find out more about it in Season Two - after the writers decide what it means.

Conclusions, unless additional information negates them.

  • Overall tentative conclusions, barring any opposing facts from the show's writers in the future:
    • In 2013, Elizabeth Keen was 30 years old.
    • In 2013, Red's daughter would be 33-34 years old, but she died in 1990, unless she turns up living (body was never found). This may be a regular show theme, because "Tom Keen's" body has disappeared twice.
    • Red's house did not burn, his family died in 1990, and he demolished that house in 2013.
    • Lizzy's house burned in 1987; Sam adopted her that night, except for the paperwork, at Red's request.
    • Lizzy can help Red find out what happened to his family, but he also has an emotional tie to her.

Who is Red to Lizzy?

  • Red could still be Liz's father, because the writers might adjust and connect up all the facts to prove it. As the evidence stands today, he is not.
  • Berlin could be Liz's father -- Berlin and Red seem to have a long history.
  • Red might have known Liz's father; a criminal had the father's house set afire, Red was there, and he saved Liz. Other possibilities: The father might have been a young criminal (young Berlin), a politician (Red works with/against politicians and officials like Diane Fowler and Alan Fitch [Alan Alda]), a brother or other relative to Red, or someone else.


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)