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The truth of the duffel bag is finally out, and it's ready to wreak some havoc

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May 17, 2018 at 01:38 AM EDT


I’m sure we’ve all waffled in our suspicions about exactly whose bones might be in that that duffel bag. Admittedly, I’m not much of a Blacklist theorizer because I like for the series to surprise me — what if it was Mr. Vargas in that bag or something? I don’t want to dig so deep that I spoil that Mr. Vargas reveal! But even I had considered, and ultimately landed on the Imposter Theory. What secret would Raymond Reddington want to hide so badly that he’d risk everything except Lizzie’s life to protect it?

That he’s not actually Raymond Reddington, of course. That the man we’ve been watching for five seasons; who’s gotten out of so many spots by being Raymond Reddington; who’s gotten into so many spots by being Raymond Reddington; who’s gotten access to the FBI and to countless other criminals and to Special Agent Elizabeth Keen/Li’l Masha Rostova is, in fact, and imposter. The entirety of season 5 has been spent chasing Red’s duffel bag (remember the suitcase?! those were the days…), and at some point, it started feeling inevitable: The only justifiable and satisfying answer to its contents would have to be Raymond Reddington’s bones.

Though the details of How, Why, When, and Where I can’t begin to imagine, the who of it all became fairly unavoidable about the time we made it halfway through the season with Red — Fred? let’s workshop how we’re gonna handle that at a later date — still fighting tooth and nail to keep the secret Liz was begging him to reveal. The best thing this finale does is take the unavoidability of these obvious ends and subvert their means. Yes, we know the bag contained the bones of the biological Raymond Reddington, and we know Lizzie knows the bag contained the bones of the biological Raymond Reddington, but we also know that Red doesn’t know that Lizzie knows the bag contained the biological bones of Raymond Reddington.

Is not only a runaround of Friends-ian proportions, but an intriguing setup for season 6 of The Blacklist, a numeric landmark that will officially push the series into the “long-running” category (even if it also pushes it to Fridays). A procedural could happily truck on forever rolling out Blacklisters in cults and bioterrorist Blacklisters and body-stewing Blacklisters, without ever running out of ideas. But to keep the serialized element of this show going, it takes a major tweaks. And revealing that Raymond Reddington isn’t actually Raymond Reddington, and that Elizabeth Keen his maybe-fake-daughter will now be secretly trying to take him down with the help of her maybe-real-sister…well, them’s some major tweaks.

Sure, I have my concerns about this direction because, in the past, Elizabeth Keen has almost always been at her best when she’s teamed up with, not against, Raymond Reddington. But my gratitude for finally receiving some answers — no matter how they’re contradicted in the future — and my excitement for this new direction overrides those concerns. So

Much like this episode, now that the beans (er, bones) have been spilled, let’s spend a lot of time and some snazzy beats rewinding it all to better understand exactly how this rollercoaster went down.


As you’ll recall from last week, both Red and Liz tracked down footage of who Ian Garvey delivered the bag o’ bones to in Costa Rica: Max Birmingham. Both Red and now Liz know that Max Birmingham is in fact an alias for Sutton Ross, a former hijacker or Research & Development strategies for countries and big companies, and the rocker of one helluva receding mullet. We know that because in the opening sequence, we see Ross strolling like a badass into Veritable Robotics with a team of people wearing FBI jackets who are definitely not FBI agent behind him. By way of a lot of confidence, a little force, and a fake warrant, Sutton’s team manages to take one of the employee’s away in handcuffs, as well as every file in the guy’s office. But when the company’s lawyer chases them outside, he finds that they’ve left the man and all the files behind, appearing to take nothing.

In fact, it was all a distraction for Ross to get inside the corridor of the man’s office and take something else entirely without being noticed: three hard drives from the research lab of Robby Desai who’s bene working on an exoskeleton-manned-robot that could be worth a lot of money in the wrong hands. Aram is happy for a distraction from the hospital where he’s been watching over Samar and annoying the doctors with his personal research. Plus he’s a huge fan of Desai’s — he follows him on Instagram. From looking at the backup drives, he sees that nothing could be done with the research inside of them without the man behind it, and from Desai’s Instagram he knows that very man is taking his children to see a play at this very moment, and that Ross is likely on his way there to abduct him. (Recap continues on next page)

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