Did the “Real Reddington” Stand Up?

James Spader as Raymond Reddington, The Blacklist on NBC.Why the “Red is an Impostor” Theory is Still In Play


Before I start “Clearing The Red Tape” on the topic of IMPOSTOR RED, let’s begin with a brief breakdown of the evidence I believe supports my infamous “Red is not really Red” theory.


1. “He’s not who you think he is.” – Tom
2. “He’s not who you think he is.” Naomi Highland
3. Impostor Red hints he’s had plastic surgery while paying a visit to Dr. Andrew Dice Clay.
4. Impostor Red tells a story about being a lifeguard when he was younger. He was doing CPR and the person threw up in his mouth. He states he has “never been in a pool since“. He was in the Navy and doesn’t swim?
5. “It must be good to be home, sir.” – Mr. Grey
This is the first line of dialogue in the pilot episode. The FBI building is home to Raymond Reddington?
6. Real Red’s FBI poster states he has no known scars but impostor Red has a back full of them.
7. “It’s a manipulation.” -Naomi Highland
8. In the pilot, Ressler gives a detailed description of the real Red’s criminal history. Ressler claims the real Red is only loyal to the highest bidder, among other things. This does not match what we know about impostor Red in the first 2 seasons.
Remember this? “Loyalty above all else.
9. “Your father is alive.” -Tom
10. Many characters on the show state impostor Red’s appearance had changed. (Example: Naomi Highland noticed a difference in his looks from what she remembered.)
11. Impostor Red has dodged questions about his time in the Navy.
12. Impostor Red has stated many times that it would put Liz in great danger if she were to know the identity of her biological father.
Why? If Liz discovers the identity of her real father, it could compromise the impostor Red’s mission and every bit of leverage he has gained against the cabal. It is possible impostor Reddington has been so immersed in his mission that he lost his sense of true identity long ago.


“A farmer comes home one day to find that
everything that gives meaning to his life is gone.
Crops are burned, animals slaughtered, bodies
and broken pieces of his life strewn about…
Everything that he loved taken from him – his children…
One can only imagine the pit of despair..the hours of
Job-like lamentations…the burden of existence.
He makes a promise to himself in those dark hours…
A life’s work erupts from his knotted mind.
Years go by…His suffering becomes complicated.
One day he stops…the farmer who is no longer a farmer…
sees the wreckage he’s left in his wake. It is now he who burns…
he who slaughters…and he knows in his heart he must pay.”
(Red’s “Parable of the Farmer” speech in Season 1, Episode 4)


13. Naomi Highland never directly refers to impostor Red as her husband. She speaks about Raymond Reddington as if he is not in the room.
14. Naomi Highland implies she made a deal with impostor Red. A deal to never expose him as an impostor and keep Liz a secret?
15. “Everything about me is a lie.” – Impostor Red.
16. Naomi Highland is in the Witness Protection Program. If Impostor Red was a former FBI agent, he could have secured her place in the program.
17. Let’s just assume this theory is what the writers have in mind. Is it possible that some of the things we see Red do, certain people he interacts with, or certain memories ( Ex. Ballet, daughter Jennifer) have absolutely nothing to do with the Lizzie storyline? Have we been collecting all the clues and wasting time trying to connect these things to Liz? If this is the case, have the writers been throwing out reveals that will end up not relating to the main story arc?




I’ve been touting my “Red is not Red” theory since Season 1. The theory has been praised, challenged, hated and everything in between. Time and time again I found myself defending the theory.


That all seemed to change after the promo for Episode 11 hit television screens last week. I thought, “Yes! Finally, some validation. Perhaps I was right all this time!”


BUT, it didn’t turn out that way…or did it?

In episode 11, we are introduced to a man claiming to be the “real” Raymond Reddington. Even though I had high hopes for my theory, the plot was very predictable and I went into the episode already weary that my theory had the potential to go caput. It was all a plan devised by Red for a friend who was terminally ill with cancer and wanted to end his pain. There was no real impostor but rather a fraud, setting up a fraud, to be a fraud…


Most would assume my impostor theory is dead in the water. I say, NOT SO FAST!


The impostor theory is still in play. Here’s why…


Nothing occurred in this episode that could accurately explain or debunk a single piece of evidence that supports the theory. However, it did present very compelling evidence that does support the theory. In fact, the episode contained more evidence that supports the theory and almost none that could debunk it.


Let’s take a closer look at some very interesting dialogue.


LIZ: “He doesn’t even look like him.
RESSLER: “Well, in the five years I hunted Reddington, we had one photo of him. It only had a passing resemblance to the man we’ve been working with.
COOPER: “He disappeared 25 years ago. Could’ve had surgery. Truth is nobody really knows what he might look like today.


Sure, the man we met in this episode turned to be a fraud and only a part of Red’s master plan. However, the facts regarding Red’s appearance presented by the task force are factual. Based on those facts, it could happen. The writers were planting a seed that has the potential to grow into a bombshell reveal further along in the series. This show is masterful at the art of deflection and it was on full display in this week’s installment of The Blacklist.


What’s your take on this? Comment below! If you would like to read the entirety of my “Impostor Theory“, click the link.


Follow along with The Blacklist Fan Site on Facebook and Twitter, and check out Clearing The Red Tape Facebook Group while you wait for the next episode!


  1. Very interesting and i think also since season 1 that Red is an impostor…

  2. I’m in your camp that the Red we know and mostly love is not the original Raymond Reddington. The question then becomes what happened to the real Red, and why did Red 2 take over his persona?

  3. The movie Smokin Aces used the same plot device

  4. why if red 2 is liz mother and red 1 is her father that died?

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