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. Why does Reddington need Elizabeth Keen, exactly? He says that he chose her because of her father, but what specifically does he want from her? What can Lizzie give him that another fresh-faced FBI profiler can’t?
2. What is Red’s endgame? He’s prepared to barter his list to work with the FBI to achieve something, something “personal” that could also jeopardize the deal he made with Mr. Fitch’s people decades ago, but what is the source of his motivation?
3. Is Red Lizzie’s father? Lizzie outright asks him the question in “Anslo Garrick: Part 2,” to which he (after a long pause) denies being her father. Is telling the truth or is he lying to protect Liz or even himself?
4. The truth about Red’s family? Lizzie claims Red abandoned his family in 1990. However, FBI Dir. Diane Fowler claims to know what really happened to Red’s family on “that night” and asks whether he wants to know “the truth”. Red does, “more than anything in the world,” but kills her for being the mole and 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. It seems they may have been taken from him in some shape or form, and he doesn’t know exactly what happened. But what did happen to them?
5. Lizzie’s scar? The intrepid profiler has a scar on her right hand running down her wrist. It’s later revealed that Lizzie was in a fire when she was a girl. Upon seeing her old stuffed rabbit that was scorched by the fire, she looks at her scar, possibly suggesting that she received the scar in the fire. Is this the case? If not, how did she get the scar?
6. What’s the deal with the ‘Y-shaped’ pattern on Tom’s spy box resembling Lizzie’s scar? Is there a connection between the pattern and Lizzie’s scar, or is it just a coincidence?
7. 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. Corporate terrorist Gina Zanetakos admits to being hired to kill Victor because her employer didn’t want him spilling secrets that would harm his business on the Russian border. Her employer? Reddington. But wait, Red denies everything – so what actually happened? Who actually killed Victor, and at whose behest?
8. Angel Station: Part II? Does Tom have ulterior reasons for wanting to take Liz back to Angel Station?
9. 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 the latter, does it tie into his belief that Liz represents his second chance? Can he be redeemed?
10. Who is the mysterious young woman in the photo? Red removes a photo of a young woman from the Stewmaker’s book of victims, before handing the book over Liz. The date on her photo (December, 1990) corresponds with the year Red apparently abandoned his daughter. Who is she? Why didn’t Red want Liz to see the picture? Was she related to Red, Liz – or both?
11. Red’s Adversary? Red’s assistant, Newton Phillips, questions why Red “wasted” access to classified networks (given to him by the NSA agent) on helping Liz, when he could have instead used it to make “the world tremble” and finally find their “adversary”. Interesting! Who is Red’s mysterious adversary, and why has Red seemingly yet to identify them?
12. What Happened In Kuwait..? What “unfortunate incident” involving Cooper happened in Kuwait that Red threatens to reveal?
13. 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 he’s talking about her, but Red says she’s being “presumptuous”. We later see Red ‘burn down’ his old family home after briefly reminiscing about his daughter. Question is, who is driving Red’s motivation – Liz or his daughter? (assuming they’re not one in the same)
14. 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 factor in 1990 as the time he apparently abandoned her. 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?
15. Trying to Forget? Red buys and then blows up the house where he raised his family, because he spends every day “trying to forget what happened here.” No doubt this is tied to the mystery surrounding his wife and, perhaps especially, his daughter. Question is, what specifically happened in that house; what memories does he want to forget?
16. What Did Sam Want to Tell Lizzie? Lizzie’s adopted father wanted to tell her the truth before he died of cancer.
17. Why Didn’t Red Want Sam to tell Lizzie the Truth? Red regretfully kills Sam, seemingly to prevent him from telling Lizzie ‘the truth,’ and possibly to protect him from a slower, more painful death. Why did Red go to such lengths protect their secret?
18. What’s the deal with the scar on Sam’s hand? Is it the same as the scar on Lizzie’s hand and Tom’s box, or the result of his cancer?
19. The Fire? Liz goes through her adopted father’s belongings and discovers a stuffed bunny rabbit with scorch marks. This triggers haunting memories of a fire from her childhood, which brings her to tears. Her father later comforted her with the music box (“Ivan”), but what’s the significance of this event? Who started the fire? How did Liz escape the fire? Is this how she got the scar on her hand?
20. 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 people Fitch represents. They’ve allowed Red to live in exchange for keeping their secret, which raises the question – what secret don’t they want Red to expose?
21. Was Newton the Interviewer? Tom claimed that Red’s assistant, Newton, was his interviewer for the Boston job interview. At the time it seemed as though Tom was trying to deflect suspicion from himself onto Red (which might still be the case). But with Newton later revealed as the mole who helped Garrick capture Red on behalf of Fitch, are we to believe that Newton was indeed the interviewer? If so, would this tie Tom to Fitch, exonerate him – or neither?
22. The Governance of Mr. Fitch? Turns out Mr. Fitch is a high-ranking government official. We know the people he represents don’t want Red letting their big secret out, but how does his role as a senior member of government factor into things? 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 Fitch and his people). Bigger picture clue?
23. 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 “Omaha.” Yet she displays an array of deceptive tricks during and after the mission. Does she have a criminal past but didn’t get caught, or is she just good with her hands – perhaps linking her to Red’s story about his daughter playing the piano on that apparently fateful Christmas day?
24. Was Red’s story about losing his family true? He tells Madeline Pratt a story from 20 years ago about coming home late one Christmas day to find that his family had been slaughtered. “All I saw was blood.” He uses the tragic story to manipulate Pratt but doesn’t say whether or not any of it was true. We know that ‘lost’ his family in seemingly tragic circumstances around 1990, but like the ‘Farmer’ story, it seems this tale could be about Red himself or a riff on what really happened. We wait to find out how much of it is true.
25. Red’s Effigy Stakes? We know that he likes artifacts, but he went to a lot of trouble to acquire the effigy from the Syrian Embassy/Madeline Pratt, but it’s not explained why.
26. Why doesn’t the DC Office want Cooper looking into Diane Fowler’s disappearance? What’s their deal? Can we assume Mr. Fitch is behind the desist order delivered by Special Agent Walter Gary Martin? If so, why? To prevent Cooper confirming that Red was behind Fowler’s disappearance? To protect the group’s own interests?
27. What’s the significance of the date March 22, 1987? During the Swan Lake performance, Red sees a vision of a young ballet dancer (presumably his daughter). As revealed by the programme, the original performance took place on March 22, 1987 . Was this the last time Red saw his daughter perform?
28. Berlin? Tom’s employers – but who or what are they exactly?
29. What does ‘Berlin’ want with Red? Agent Tom reminds Jolene that he’s been on the Lizzie case for years and that, despite Berlin’s doubts, he’s done everything they’ve asked, including marrying her. He also says he could have killed Red when they met at the hospital, but Jolene reminds him that this wasn’t his mission. So, exactly what is Berlin’s endgame in relation to Reddington?
30. Why did Red support Liz financially without her knowledge? According to Agent 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 Sam. This is paralleled by Red funding the ballet company to perform Swan Lake as a reminder of his (presumed) daughter’s performance.
31. Why doesn’t Red want Liz to know about Jolene? Is he afraid it will compromise him or their relationship somehow? Why the secrecy?
33. How did Red know about the music box that Lizzie’s father used to comfort her after the fire? Is this yet more evidence that he’s her father, or something else?
34. Tom’s key? What does it open?
35. Tom’s ‘Woman’? Who’s the woman in Tom’s real life Craig/Christopher mentioned? Girlfriend/partner?
36. 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 his family back in the day?
1. What is the Blacklist? A list of spies and criminals that Red has cultivated for over 20 years. (Pilot)
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”)
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 of some sort who was tasked with getting close to Liz. He works for the same people as Lucy/Jolene. (“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 box containing fake passports and money belong to Tom or was it planted by Red? Tom confirms that the box is his during a heated conversation with Jolene. (“Mako Tanida”)
22. Who is Tom working for? The un-redacted Angel Station case implies that Tom is a “suspected US double agent” (“The Courier”). It’s later confirmed that Tom was assigned to fall in love with Liz (“The Judge”) and works for “Berlin,” which is presumably a group or codename. (“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. What’s the exact nature of Red’s connection with Lucy Brooks? Lucy/Jolene (Let’s call her JoLucy) is a spy working for “Berlin,” who 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 exposing more intel on 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.
Unanswered Questions: 36
Key Answers: 27
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.