Keep track of all the overarching questions and in-show answers from NBC’s The Blacklist with our handy guide. Will the show answer every major question it puts out into the wild? Let’s find out.
Note: “Unanswered Questions” are central mythology and/or character-related questions/mysteries spanning more than one episode.
1. Red’s endgame? He surrendered to the FBI to achieve something “personal” that could also jeopardize the deal he made with The Alliance decades ago. We know Red wants to protect his business empire and especially Liz, but what exactly is Red trying to achieve with this grand puzzle of his?
2. Is Red Lizzie’s father? Lizzie outright asks Red the question in “Anslo Garrick: Part 2,” to which he (after a long pause) denies being her father, despite evidence to the contrary. Red’s exact connection to Liz remains the central overarching question.
3. The truth about Red’s family? Lizzie says Red abandoned his family in 1990. However, FBI Director Diane Fowler later infers that something else happened to Red’s family on “that night,” and asks Red whether he wants to know “the truth”. Red tells her that he wants to know “more than anything in the world” but kills her, because “if you know what happened, then somebody else does too.” All of which suggests there’s much more to the story of Red ‘abandoning’ his family than initially meets the eye, and that even he might not know all the facts.
4. Lizzie’s scar? Lizzie has a scar on her right hand running down her wrist. Did she get it from the fire she was in when she was a girl?
5. Who killed Victor at Angel Station? Liz traces Tom’s gun to a top-secret file marked Angel Station, June 23, 2012. When she accidentally allows him to see the date, Tom reminds her this was when they spent the weekend in Boston for his “job interview”. However, the un-redacted case file suggests that during this time Tom killed Russian defector, Victor Forkin. Tom denies everything and corporate terrorist Gina Zanetakos confesses to killing Victor because her employer didn’t want him spilling secrets that would harm his business on the Russian border. While Gina’s story matches up with later revelations concerning her employer, it remains to be seen whether it really was her, or Tom, who RIP’d Victor.
6. Who is the Farmer? Red tells the Stewmaker/Stanley a story about a farmer who turns into a killer after his family is taken from him. Was this analogy about Stanley, or Red? If Red was describing himself, does it also inform his belief that Liz represents his second chance? Can he be redeemed?
7. What Happened In Kuwait..? What “unfortunate incident” involving Cooper happened in Kuwait that Red threatens to reveal?
8. Burn The World Down? Red tells Liz that he understands Frederick Barnes because he was willing to “burn the world down” for someone he loves. Liz thinks Red’s talking about her, but he calls her “presumptuous”. Later, Red literally burns down his old family home after briefly reminiscing about his daughter. Question is, who is lighting Red’s flame?
9. 3 Years? At his old family home, the height marker for Red’s daughter appears to stop at 3 years, possibly making her 26 years old today if we go with 1990 as the year he apparently abandoned his family. What happened to Red’s daughter from the age of 3? Was this the last time Red saw her?
Would this rule Liz out as being Red’s daughter given that the numbers Red was given in “Wujing” match Megan Boone‘s birthday: 04-29-83 (making Liz 30 years old, if she’s the same age as her portrayer)? And how does Lucy Brooks factor into this equation?
10. Trying to Forget? Red buys the house where he raised his family and then blows it up because he spends every day “trying to forget what happened here.” No doubt this is tied to the mystery surrounding his wife and daughter. Question is, what specifically happened in that house; what memories does he wish he could erase?
11. What’s the deal with the scar on Sam’s hand? Is it the same as the scar on Lizzie’s hand/the marking on Tom’s box? Or is it the result of his cancer, or pure coincidence?
12. The Secret? Mr. Fitch tells Red: “we know what you have Red, and we know what will happen to it if you turn up dead,” in reference to the deal he made 20 years ago with The Alliance. They’ve allowed Red to live in exchange for keeping their secret, which raises the question – what is the secret and what are the consequences of the world finding out?
13. The Governance of Mr. Fitch? How does Mr. Fitch’s role as a senior government official factor into the big Secret Red has on the Alliance? It’s worth noting that Fitch tells FBI Director Diane Fowler that her “asset” (aka Red) could be a threat to national security and “the effort to eliminate him was the work of a patriot” (aka Garrick aka The Alliance). Bigger picture clue?
14. Does Liz have a secret criminal background we don’t know about? After agreeing to go on an undercover mission to steal an effigy, Liz dodges the question of having criminal past and later claims to have made up the story about her “Omaha” con job. Yet she displays an array of deceptive tricks. Does Liz have a criminal past that she’s somehow concealed from her employers, or is she just good with her hands – perhaps tying her to Red’s story about his daughter playing the piano on that apparently fateful Christmas day?
15. Was Red’s story about losing his family true? He tells Madeline Pratt a tragic story about coming home late on Christmas day 20 years ago to find that his family had been slaughtered. “All I saw was blood.” He uses the heartbreaking story to manipulate Pratt but doesn’t say whether or not any of it was true. Now, Red did lose his family in seemingly tragic circumstances around 1990, but much like the ‘Farmer’ story, the tale is shrouded in ambiguity.
16. Red’s Effigy Stakes? Red went to a lot of trouble to acquire the effigy from the Syrian Embassy/Madeline Pratt. Is there a deeper reason beyond his love of artifacts?
17. What’s the significance of March 22, 1987? Red sees a vision of a young ballet dancer (presumably his daughter) during the Swan Lake performance. As revealed by the programme, the original performance took place on March 22, 1987 . Was this the last time Red saw his daughter perform?
18. What does Berlin want with Red? Why are they Enemies? Agent Tom reminds Jolene that he’s been embedded in Liz’s life for years and that, despite Berlin’s doubts, he’s done everything asked of him, including marrying her. He also says he could have killed Red when they met at the hospital on the day Sam died, but Jolene reminds him that this wasn’t his mission. We later discover that Berlin’s daughter is be the woman in photo that Red swiped from the Stewmaker’s book of death, which might suggest Berlin’s quest for Red is one of revenge.
19. Why did Red financially support Liz from the shadows? According to Tom, Red not only kept tabs on Liz over the past 20 years, but he supported her financially by funneling money through her adoptive father. For what it’s worth, this is paralleled by Red funding the ballet company to perform Swan Lake as a reminder of his (presumed) daughter’s performance. Hmm..
21. Tom’s ‘Woman’? Who’s the woman in Tom’s real life that Craig/Christopher mentioned? Could it be fellow Berlin agent Gina Zanetakos?
22. Red’s Interest in Bobbit? What does Red want with Bobbit’s client list? Did Bobbit have something to do with the demise/disappearance of Red’s family back in the day?
23. What’s the deal with the ‘Y-pattern’ on Tom’s spy box, the envelope and its resemblance to the scar on Liz’s hand/wrist? Are the markings indeed the same as Lizzie’s scar? If so, does this connect Liz’s backstory (i.e. the fire) with Berlin? Why doesn’t Liz appear to recognize the pattern given its resemblance to her scar?
24. Berlin Wants You!? Tom tells Red’s spy “You don’t choose Berlin, he chooses you.” How does Berlin choose his people? How did he choose Tom?
25. Change of Heart? What did Liz learn about Sam that made her want to save – if not quite forgive – Red?
26. The fire – other burning questions? We know that Liz’s biological father apparently rescued her from the fire, but who started it? If Berlin is Liz’s real father, was the fire an attempt on his life?
27. Is Berlin’s daughter really dead? Or could she somehow be alive, or have lived longer than he was led to believe?
28. Did Red murder Berlin’s daughter? Berlin (in the guise of a “guard”) tells Liz and Ressler that Berlin seeks to avenge his daughter by finding the man responsible for her death. Given that Red is affected by the Stewmaker’s photo of Berlin’s daughter, can we assume that Red was somehow involved in her death? Did he kill her and get the Stewmaker to send her remains to Berlin, or was Red set-up for her murder? Could Red have faked Daughter Berlin’s death to protect her? Could Red be the apparent “dissident” she fell in love with? This question only raises more and more questions.
29. Is Liz Berlin’s daughter/granddaughter, or related to him in some way?
30. Tom – dead or alive? Liz shot him three times and said he was dead – BUT, his body had vanished by the time the FBI rolled in. Could Teflon Tom still be out there …somewhere?
31. Are the scars on Red’s back from the fire? Was he the one who saved Liz? Does this confirm that he’s Liz’s biological father? Was he speaking metaphorically about himself when he assured Liz her father ‘died’ in the fire?
1. What is the Blacklist? A list of spies and criminals that Red has cultivated for over 20 years. (Pilot) Some of the Blacklisters are connected, part of a larger pattern tracing back to Red’s adversary, Berlin. Red uses the Blacklist to survive against his enemy by using FBI resources to protect himself and his interests. (“Berlin”)
2. Why Lizzie? Red tells Lizzie that he chose her “because of your father”. It turns out Lizzie’s adopted father is dying of cancer, implying that 1. this changes things for Red, and 2. Red might be her real father (“Wujing,” General Ludd”) or 3. someone else connected to Red might be her biological father.
3. Who did Tom kill? He’s suspected of killing Russian “tourist” Victor Forkin who was apparently ready to defect to the US. (“The Courier”) However, corporate terrorist Gina Zanetakos later claims to be the killer at the behest of Red. (“Gina Zanetakos”)
4. Angel Station? The place where Tom and Liz spent the weekend in Boston, during which time Russian defector Victor Forkin was killed by 00Tom, or Gina Zanetakos, or someone. (“The Courier”, “Gina Zanetakos”)
5. Are Tom and Red On Different Sides? Yes. Tom works for an entity (Berlin) trying to track Red, while Red has been monitoring Tom ever since he inserted himself into Liz’s life. (“General Ludd”, “Milton Bobbit”)
6. What’s the deal with Lizzie’s parents? Red reveals that Daddy Lizzie was a career criminal who abandoned her, and that her mother died of weakness and shame. It turns out he may have been talking about himself, as it’s revealed that Lizzie was adopted by Sam, a dear friend of Red’s who took her in as a single parent and loved her as his own. (“Pilot,” “General Ludd”)
7. Why is Lizzie so keen to adopt? Because she herself is adopted. (“General Ludd”)
8. How Does Red Know Lizzie’s father? Lizzie’s adopted father Sam is an old friend of Red’s. They both care deeply about Liz and hold a secret about her that Red doesn’t want her to know. (“General Ludd”)
9. 042983? Wujing gives Red an envelope containing these numbers as payment. Red later enters the numbers – which turn out to be a case file – into the Violent Criminal Apprehension Program (ViCAP) where it coughs up details on a 30-year-old woman (born 7-5-1983) named Lucy Brooks. Red is moved upon seeing her. Fun fact: the numbers are also Megan Boone‘s birthday. (“General Ludd”)
10. Agent Ressler’s lost love? While undercover as ‘The Courier,’ Agent Ressler says that he’s “already lost the only thing in this world I’ve ever loved,” and that he has “nothing in this world except this job.” Ressler was referring to his former fiance, Audrey Bidwell, who left him because of his obsession with catching Red. (“Anslo Garrick: Part 1″)
11. The Painting? Red is mesmerized by the painting (which, as noted by Seriable reader Amy, is Rembrandts “The Storm on the Sea of Galilee,” one of the paintings stolen in the Gardner heist of 1990 – around about the time Red disappeared. It depicts the miracle of Jesus calming the storm on the Sea of Galilee). The reason for Red’s captivation is later inferred during a discussion with Ressler. He tells the agent that he’s motivated by the notion of setting sail and ‘standing at the helm of his own destiny’. The painting arguably captures his desire to survive the storm and enjoy another day filled with the pleasures of life (“Anslo Garrick: Part 1″)
12. Who is ‘The Apple Eating Man’? ‘TAEM,’ distinguished by his fondness for apples, installed spy cams in Liz and Tom’s house and secretly surveiled their every domestic move. Turns out he was working for to people Red made a deal with decades ago. (“Anslo Garrick: Part 2″)
13. Red’s Destination? After his meeting with Fitch (and killing Garrick), Red calls Liz to tell her that he’s going away for a while, but he’ll be there if she needs him. Red went on a mission of vengeance to find the people responsible for the incursion at the blacksite, which also led to the death of Luli, whose ashes he scattered at sea. (“The Good Samaritan Killer”)
14. The “Songbird” aka Mole who helped Garrick invade the black site/capture Red? The person responsible was none other than his trusted assistant, Newton Phillips. Newton claims “they” – presumably Mr. Fitch and his colleagues – threatened his family. Red mournfully, yet ruthlessly kills Newton (symbolically, at the spot where he scatters Luli’s ashes), as he did all the people Newton hired to help out with Red’s capture (except the banker, Henry). (“The Good Samaritan Killer”)
15. Who is the Major Mole? After discovering that Newton Phillips helped Garrick invade the FBI blacksite, Red believes he had help from the inside, “someone with far greater access.” The major mole appeared to be Agent Malik after Red’s tech guys found her signature on an shredded security document, however, Malik helps Red weed out the actual mole who turns out to be FBI Director Diane Fowler. She’s aware of Red’s relationship with Fitch and claims to have signed the security directive for his protection, but Red either doesn’t buy it or doesn’t care and kills her. (“The Alchemist,” “The Cyprus Agency”)
16. Who is Lucy Brooks? Red enters the Wujing numbers into the Violent Criminals Apprehension Program, which coughs up details on a 30-year-old woman named Lucy Brooks (aka Jolene) – a spy who has previously encountered Red. She works for the same people as Tom and was assigned to track Red and remind Tom of his duties.
17. Why did Lucy Brooks fake her death? Red sees Lucy’s obituary in the newspaper, which reads: “Lucy Brooks was born in Dayton, Ohio and died June 9, 2013.” Red tells The Cowboy that Lucy faked her death to elude him, seemingly with the aid of The Alchemist. (“The Judge”)
18. What does Lucy Brooks/Jolene want with Tom? Lucy poses as substitute teacher “Jolene Parker” to get close to Tom. It’s revealed that Lucy and Tom work for the same people and she was sent to test his commitment to Liz, and hence the mission. (“The Judge”)
19. Is Tom telling the truth about who he is? Red was right, Tom isn’t who he claims to be. He’s an agent working for the same mysterious entity, “Berlin,” as Lucy/Jolene. His mission was to get close to Liz, seemingly due to Red’s obsession with her. (“The Judge”)
20. Lucy Brooks Age Discrepancy? Lucy (aka Jolene Parker) is recorded as being 30 years old in the ViCAP database but 28 in the obituaries column of the newspaper (born September 22, 1985). This can be explained by the fact that she’s some kind of undercover agent. (“The Judge”)
21. Does the “Y-patterned” box containing fake passports and money belong to Tom or was it planted by Red? Tom confirms the box is his during a heated conversation with Jolene. (“Mako Tanida”)
22. Who does Tom work for? Tom’s a “suspected US double agent” (“The Courier”) who works for an entity called “Berlin”. He was assigned to fall in love with Liz for reasons connected to Red. (“Mako Tanida”)
23. If Gina killed Victor as she claims, how did the gun that apparently killed him get into the box full of Tom-based mythology porn? Tom’s spy status and confirmation that the box does belong to him, suggests that he actually killed Victor and Gina took the hit for him to protect his cover. (“Mako Tanida”)
24. Can Audrey be trusted? Ressler’s ex-fiance is clean. Fate, or Red, brought her back into Ressler’s life before tragedy struck. (“Mako Tanida”)
25. Tom claims to have a job interview in Nebraska and flies out the next day, much to Lizzie’s chagrin. Is the “Nebraska” interview story legit? Most likely not, given the revelation that Tom is a spy. (“Mako Tanida”)
26. Red’s connection with Lucy Brooks? Lucy/Jolene (JoLucy?) is a spy working for “Berlin”. She previously evaded Red by faking her death. Red used certain blacklist cases – The Stewmaker, who faked JoLucy’s death; Wujing, whose numbers revealed JoLucy’s new identity – to track JoLucy with a view to finding out more about who she works for/Tom. (“Mako Tanida”)
27. Red’s Daughter? Red’s daughter was an aspiring ballet dancer who performed Swan Lake years ago at the Le Blanc School of Ballet.
28. Does Tom have ulterior reasons for wanting to take Liz back to Angel Station? Given that he was a spy embedded into Liz’s life to get close to Red, it seems likely that it was a ploy to cover his tracks.
29. What does the key Tom hid under the lamp open? A safety deposit box (#3929) containing incriminating evidence about Red (see below). (“The Pavlovich Brothers”. “The Kingmaker”)
30. What was inside the Envelope that Tom believed would cause Liz to doubt Red? Photos of Red entering and leaving the hospital on the day Sam died, alerting Liz to the fact that Red killed her ‘father’. (“The Kingmaker”)
31. Who Is Red’s Adversary? Newton Phillips asks why Red “wasted” access to classified networks (given to him by the NSA agent) on helping Liz, when he could have used it to make “the world tremble” and finally find their “adversary”. The Kingmaker - a ‘political strategist’ whose actions were hurting Red’s business – is one such enemy, though the actual adversary in question appears to be Berlin, the man Tom works for. (“The Kingmaker”, “Berlin”)
32. What or who is this “Berlin” Tom works for? Berlin is a person and Red’s mysterious adversary. Former Red Army and KGB, the story goes that Berlin sent his enemies to Siberia, but when his daughter fell in love with a dissident he helped her escape the country, and as punishment, he too was sent to Siberia to rot with his enemies. Berlin’s daughter – the woman in the Stewmaker’s book – was apparently killed and sent to him “piece by piece”. He somehow escaped using a knife crafted from her bones. His mission, to hunt for the man responsible for his daughter’s death. (“Berlin”, “Berlin: Conclusion”)
33. Was Newton Tom’s Boston job Interviewer? Given that Newton was The Alliance’s mole and Tom is an agent of Berlin, who appears opposed to The Alliance, it seems that Newton wasn’t the interviewer and Tom was just trying frame Red to prevent his own cover from behind blown (“Berlin: Conclusion”)
34. What did Sam want to tell Lizzie before he died? The name of her real father. (“Berlin: Conclusion”)
35. Why didn’t Red want Sam to tell Lizzie her biological father’s name? He feared that knowing his name would put Liz even further in danger, so he killed Sam both to end his pain and protect Liz. (“Berlin: Conclusion”)
36. Who saved Liz from the fire when she was a girl, and why is it significant? Liz goes through her adopted father’s belongings and discovers a stuffed, scorched rabbit. This triggers haunting memories of a fire from her childhood. Turns out Liz’s biological father rescued her from the fire, which is the last memory she has of him. (“Berlin: Conclusion”). When Sam adopted her, he used a music box to quell her fears. (“Ivan”)
37. Tom’s Nosebleed? Nothing to see here folks, turns out Tom wasn’t spiked by Berlin or anything crazy, he probably just received a bloody nose during an off-screen scuffle with Red’s spy. (“Berlin: Conclusion”)
38. Who is the mysterious man in the hood on the prisoner transport plane? Red’s enemy himself, Berlin. (“Berlin: Conclusion”)
39. Why doesn’t DC Office want Cooper looking into Diane Fowler’s disappearance? Given that Special Agent Walter Gary Martin is later revealed to be in the pocket of Fitch, the order likely came from The Alliance to prevent Cooper connecting Red to Fowler’s disappearance/death, and therefore protect their own guarded interests. (“Berlin: Conclusion”)
39. How did Red know about the music box Liz’s father used to comfort with her after the fire? Red and Sam were friends and Red was involved in Liz’s early life, so he would have known about the box and how it helped soothe Liz’s anxiety.
40. Why doesn’t Red want Liz to know about Jolene? Because Jolene works for Berlin and Red wants to protect Liz from certain truths/dangers.
41. Who is the mysterious woman in the Stewmaker’s photo? Red removes a photo of a young woman from the Stewmaker’s book of victims (#79), concealing it from Liz. The date on the photo (December, 1990) corresponds with the year that Red apparently abandoned his daughter. Turns out the woman is Berlin’s daughter, who he believes was murdered and sent to him “piece by piece” while he was in a Siberian prison. The woman may or may not have been Red’s lover and Lizzie’s mother, but Red is certainly impacted by seeing the photo.
Unanswered Questions: 31
Key Answers: 41
This list will continually evolve throughout the season to ensure accuracy and relevance – check back after each episode for updates, and feel free to share your thoughts/theories below.