Virginia Sherwood/NBC
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TV Show
S3 E16
February 28, 2016 at 10:52 PM EST

Did that just happen? Did… Did Red just lie to Lizzie?

Now, I’ll be honest, as much as I enjoy the twists, turns, and trickery of the Blacklist mythology, there’s one thing I’ve never really been able to get behind: the “Red doesn’t lie to Lizzie” theory. Okay, it’s not just a theory; Red has said it repeatedly on the show, the writers have said it, series creator Jon Bokenkamp has confirmed it… Hell, I’m pretty sure he’s said it directly to me in an interview or two. The things is, I watch this show, and I hear Red lie to Lizzie all the time…

But the thing about that is, Red and I have pretty principles (or at least I like to think so), and I imagine that extends to the definition of a lie. Whereas I see deliberately misleading someone away from the truth as equal to lying, I think Red merely sees it as adjacent to lying. In Red’s head, where all the dangerous secrets are stored, Red does not “lie” to Lizzie.

And then came this episode, where we heard Red tell Lizzie directly that her mother committed suicide in 1990, when just last week we heard him demand, “Where’s Rostova?” Of course, there’s always the possibility that he was talking about a different, non-Katarina Rostova. But there’s also the chance that Red’s ledger or rules and regulations are changing. Because I don’t know if Red is officially lying to Lizzie about her mother now; but I do know that something is changing.

Red is losing control of his own carefully crafted narrative because he’s not the only one making the rules anymore. First someone (seemingly Rostova) laughed in his face with that gravestone painting; then Anton Velov got around his spy system to give Lizzie the cutest little picture you ever did see… Red’s world is cracking, and someone is holding the hammer. It seems very possible that Red isn’t so much lying to Lizzie as he is simply uninformed. And wouldn’t that be an interesting new twist: Raymond Reddington not knowing something.

And he’s not the only one with a one impenetrable system of secrets being torn apart from the inside…


Okay, and we’ll get to the Caretaker because Reg E. Cathey waits for no man, but first, we have to do it — we have to talk about Tom. And Lizzie…and how Lizzie finds Red lying to her about her mother unforgivable but seems to be pretty comfortable entering into a marriage with someone who failed to mention to her for the better part of a decade that he was part of a teenage sociopath spy club and, oh yeah, employed as her husband by a guy who’s been secretly keeping tabs on her for her whole life, including the parts of her life she can’t remember.

And I know she’s cool with this because Lizzie starts the episode by getting down on one knee and accepting Tom’s lingering marriage proposal. In theory, that was a pretty adorable move; in execution, this marriage feels so, so, so doomed. Red said it best last week: He’s not Liz’s Tom problem — Tom is Liz’s Tom problem. I would estimate Tom lied about what a “pharmacy messenger” was delivering to him only 10 seconds after Liz had committed herself to finding something borrowed and something blue. Yes, he brought him a couple of Percocet, but he also brought him a gun to go threaten Gina Zanetakos.

But Liz had to be on her way because there’s been an ever-so-minor breach of national security: You see, there’s this fellow called the Caretaker who’s a third-generation secret keeper. He’s entrusted with the major secrets of presidents, criminals, entire governments, with each secret coming along with one condition that could trigger its release. For example, if a Chinese-American businessman helps the U.S. State Department kill a Chinese government official, he puts this secret in the hands of the Caretaker, and if he mysteriously winds up dead, seemingly because the U.S. wanted to terminate their loose end, the Caretaker releases the secret. It’s a pretty solid safety precaution if you’re the type of person who dabbles in espionage.

NEXT: Exactly which things are unforgivable?

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James Spader returns as Raymond ‘Red’ Reddington, a mastermind criminal who teams up with the FBI.
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