In the shadowy world of crime, espionage, and intrigue, few figures loom as large as Raymond Reddington. With his enigmatic persona, razor-sharp wit, and uncanny ability to navigate the complex web of criminals and law enforcement alike, Reddington has captured the imagination of audiences around the globe.
As the central protagonist of the hit TV series, The Blacklist, his character’s journey is a tapestry of secrets, deceptions and unexpected alliances that keeps viewers on the edge of their seats.
Join us as we embark on a journey in an attempt to decipher the puzzle that is Raymond Reddington and the truth behind his mysterious identity.
Who is Raymond Reddington?
Raymond Reddington is an exceptionally intelligent and motivated fictional individual who exhibits developed sociopathic tendencies. These characteristics seem to stem from PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), as there is no indication that he possessed these traits from birth. Reddington, sly, manipulative, and charming, consistently stays ahead of the curve and is resolute in maintaining an air of mystery around himself.
As he confesses: “I’m a criminal. Criminals are known deceivers. My entire persona is a fabrication.” While this statement holds some truth, its accuracy remains uncertain.
Reddington has a disdain for impolite individuals, an aspect that Agent Ressler highlighted when Reddington permitted a notorious drug dealer to escape due to the dealer’s discourteous behaviour. Ressler observed that Reddington’s motive was rooted in his aversion to rudeness. In response, Reddington nonchalantly noted: “He’s aboard my private jet.”
Reddington does not consider himself a psychopath. From his perspective, his criminal deeds are a direct consequence of the tragic loss of his family. He severed ties with his country and his career, believing they played a role in his family’s demise. Operating by his unique code of ethics, which much of society would likely dispute, he navigates the criminal landscape.
In addition, he is a remarkably ruthless individual who does not flinch at the act of killing and occasionally displays a chilling smirk upon a victim’s demise. His killings are not driven by sadistic pleasure, nor is he an extremist seeking to obliterate all criminality. Instead, he views it as an effective strategy for extracting information, ultimately leading to the demise of those on his blacklist. He rarely exhibits empathy during these killings, often masking his actions with an amiable facade that deceives victims into dropping their guard, enabling him to exploit or eliminate them.
Reddington openly states that he does not feign concern for a victim’s emotions when killing them, he ends their lives without pretence by using methods such as shooting, stabbing and suffocating. He believes that treating victims delicately is disrespectful. When it comes to Elizabeth Keen, he showcases profound compassion and protection, willing to go to extraordinary lengths to ensure her safety. This sense of care extends to the members of his team, whom he treats with courtesy, kindness and concern, particularly those he has known for an extended duration.
Reddington’s reputation is built on his unwavering commitment to his promises, as evidenced by his vow to Katarina to safeguard her daughter—a commitment he dedicated his life to upholding.
Reddington’s appearance is distinctive and meticulously curated to suit various occasions. He possesses tattoos and scars, although these have not been shown on screen but have been referred to. One notable feature is significant burns on his back, as demonstrated in “Berlin: Conclusion.”
Physically, Raymond Reddington is a Caucasian male, standing at 5’10” tall and weighing approximately 190 pounds. He has a medium build and used to have brown hair, but he presently keeps his head shaved, resulting in baldness.
His striking green eyes further contribute to his appearance. His sense of style is highly refined and tailored to each situation. He is often attired in a meticulously fitted three-piece suit that’s of high quality. He pairs this with a tie, often opting for colourful ones, a fedora hat, Italian leather shoes, and his iconic rose-coloured glasses. He consistently adorns a wristwatch as well.
Depending on the event, he may opt for a custom-made tuxedo. To accommodate varying weather conditions, he might wear a blue windbreaker over his suit or an overcoat in colder temperatures. For extreme cold, he has a fur-trimmed parka. However, given his criminal expertise, he is skilled at adapting his attire to suit the context, often adopting nondescript clothing to blend into his surroundings when engaging in criminal activities.
Raymond Reddington origin
Reddington’s true origin and background were one of the central mysteries of the TV series, The Blacklist. While the show provided some information about his past, much of it is shrouded in secrecy and ambiguity. Reddington himself often provides conflicting stories and information about his past, adding to the intrigue and mystery surrounding his character.
Throughout the series, Reddington’s true identity, motivations, and connections to various criminal and intelligence organisations are explored, but definitive answers about his origin have not been revealed. This ambiguity is a deliberate narrative choice made by the creators of the show to keep the audience engaged and guessing.
He is a cunning criminal mastermind who managed to rank at #4 and later #1 on the FBI’s list of the Ten Most Wanted Fugitives. After more than two decades of evading the FBI, he unexpectedly surrenders.
In the episode “Sutton Ross”, it was unveiled that he is not Reddington, but an impostor who assumed his identity for over 30 years. In “Rassvet”, his identity is presented as Ilya Koslov, a childhood friend of Katarina Rostova, with whom he shared a deep bond. However, this identity is later revealed to be false.
The real Raymond Reddington was fatally wounded by Elizabeth Keen during her childhood altercation with her mother and died with the help of Katarina and Ilya. The “Orion Relocation Services” episode then clarifies that he is not Ilya Koslov either. In “Katarina Rostova”, it is disclosed that Katarina does not know the true identity of Reddington and the actual Ilya collaborated with her father, Dominic, to eliminate Katarina and protect Liz.
Subsequently, in “Godwin Page” he is identified as N-13, although he did not steal the Sikorsky Archive.
Reddington graduated with distinction from the United States Naval Academy and was on a path toward becoming an admiral. However, he disappeared during a Christmas visit to his family in 1990. Four years later, he reemerged, engaging in treason by selling classified information.
He constructed an extensive network of contacts involving spies, criminals and various illicit entities, extending to fields like technology, shipping and arms. His influence expanded to the point where he could incite wars, orchestrate regime changes and manipulate global politics. His moniker, “the Concierge of Crime”, reflected his knack for facilitating unlawful transactions. His high-profile status led him to be ranked among the FBI’s Ten Most Wanted Fugitives, prompting his surrender in the “Pilot” episode. A past encounter with Kathryn Nemec revealed that he formed his criminal empire to protect Elizabeth Keen, and his subsequent surrender aimed to directly safeguard her.
Episodes such as “Luther Braxton,” “The Cryptobanker,” and “Mr. Gregory Devry” establish that Reddington’s tenure on the FBI’s list spans around 24-25 years. The task force’s collaboration with Reddington is detailed as spanning 28 months in “Mr. Gregory Devry”.
In “Dr. Hans Koehler”, it is disclosed that he underwent plastic surgery to alter his appearance, adopting the identity of Raymond Reddington. Katarina Rostova’s involvement in arranging this transformation is revealed in the “Marko Jankowics” episode.
Amidst this narrative, Reddington’s involvement in events like the 1991 Kursk bombing, interactions with various individuals like Dembe Zuma, Marvin Gerard and Lucy Brooks, and his dynamic with Elizabeth Keen unfold. Reddington’s connections with criminal figures, alliances, and moments of influence are outlined, as are the events that remain cloaked in uncertainty.
As the plot evolves, the true identities of Raymond Reddington, Ilya Koslov and Katarina Rostova are unveiled, along with Reddington’s motivations for his actions, which revolve around his protective role towards Elizabeth Keen.
At the end of the series, it was discovered that the real identity of Reddington was Katarina Rostova, who was Elizabeth’s biological mother. It was Katarina Rostova who changed her face and her body via surgery to become Raymond Reddington. Katarina Rostova was a former KGB spy and a highly skilled operative involved in espionage and covert operations. In a bid to protect her life, she had to change her identity, which include bodily transformation.
Elizabeth Keen was not able to know the truth she longed for regarding Reddington’s identity, as she was killed by one of Reddington’s many enemies.
What happened to Raymond Reddington?
Reddington eventually died at the end of the series, The Blacklist. At the start of the finale, Reddington was a fugitive who was pursued by Congressman Hudson and his allies within the FBI. Despite some reluctance from Cooper’s team, they were compelled to assist in tracking Red down due to the threat posed by Hudson. Dembe, Reddinton’s old friend and associate, was conflicted between following the law and helping Reddington. Dembe had previously warned Reddington about Hudson’s intentions.
Dembe’s attempt to tip off Reddington led to his arrest when Hudson discovered his involvement. However, Cooper learned that Dembe intended to prevent violence. While being transported to FBI headquarters for questioning, the convoy was suddenly ambushed by Reddington and his men. Reddington was determined to rescue Dembe and their confrontation with Hudson’s team turned deadly.
Amid the chaos, Hudson aimed a gun at Reddington, prompting a tense standoff. Despite Dembe’s efforts to defuse the situation, Hudson fired the gun and shot Dembe in the neck. In response, Reddington shot and killed Hudson, then incapacitated Ressler to ensure he couldn’t pursue them. Red and his team rushed Dembe to safety for urgent medical treatment, with Reddington even donating his blood to save Dembe’s life.
Although Dembe survived, his health was already deteriorating. Reddington fled to Spain for his final days, where he spent time at a local market and had a heartfelt call with Agnes. During a walk, Red-faced a bull and seemingly came to terms with his impending death. This poignant moment marked the culmination of Reddington’s journey, as he reflected on his life and accepted his fate.
Reddington faced a tragic demise as he was fatally struck by a charging bull. The events leading up to this fatal encounter involved a tense standoff between Reddington and the bull. Their eyes locked in a moment of tension before the bull aggressively charged at him.
Although the actual collision was not shown to the audience, the subsequent scene depicted Ressler in a helicopter, locating Reddington’s lifeless body. The scene revealed Reddington’s crumpled and bloodied form lying in a ditch, with the bull nearby.
Ressler then contacted the Task Force to inform them of his discovery, confirming that he had located his former colleague. In a gesture of respect and a final farewell, Ressler placed Reddington’s distinctive hat, which had fallen off during the bull’s attack, on his body. This act served as both a symbol of honour and an official goodbye to the enigmatic character.
Who played Raymond Reddington?
The character “Raymond Reddington” was played by James Spader
James Todd Spader (born February 7, 1960) is an American actor. He is known for often portraying eccentric and morally ambiguous characters. He started his career in critically acclaimed independent films before transitioning into television for which he received numerous awards and acclaim, including three Primetime Emmy Awards, as well as nominations for three Golden Globe Awards and 10 Screen Actors Guild Awards.
Spader’s early career acting involved him starring in films such as Pretty in Pink (1986), Mannequin and Wall Street (both 1987). His breakthrough role came with the Steven Soderbergh drama, Sex, Lies and Videotape (1989), for which he received the Cannes Film Festival Award for “Best Actor”. He then starred in films such as True Colors (1991), Stargate (1994), Crash (1996), and Secretary (2002). Spader took supporting roles in Bob Roberts (1992), Wolf (1994), Lincoln (2012), and The Homesman (2014). He also voiced the role of Ultron in Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015).
His television roles include those of “attorney Alan Shore” in the last season of The Practice (2003–2004) and its spin-off, Boston Legal (2004–2008). His role in the spin-off series earned him three Primetime Emmy Awards for “Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series”.
He is also known for his role as “Robert California” in the sitcom, The Office (2011–2012). Most recently, he starred as “Raymond ‘Red’ Reddington” in the NBC crime series, The Blacklist (2013–2023).