Is Red the Monster Berlin Believes Him to Be?
After everything that happened during this thrilling first season - Red confronting the Stewmaker with seething rage and seeming self-loathing, torture at the hands of Anslo Garrick, Grey's betrayal and so much more - two huge pieces of the puzzle were saved for last. In the final episodes we learn that Berlin's reasons for going after Red have nothing to do with business but an unrelenting personal hatred. The story he told the authorities, in the guise of a guard, about a Russian colonel who was sent parts of his daughter while he was imprisoned, may have been embellished, but Berlin clearly blames Red for her death. I loved the Keyser Soze nod, but some manner-deficient know-it-all was ranting about it and a lot more, apparently not understanding it was an homage and proving only that he had no real understanding of the series. Anyone who has seen the Usual Suspects immediately recognized the way the story was being told. The similarities ended there since Berlin wasn't made up by another character and had nothing to do with killing his own daughter, who was revealed to be the girl from Stanley Cornish's album when he was shown holding a pocket watch with the same photo inside, the same photo Red looked upon with such sadness. Was that loss or guilt, I always wondered?
Watching "The Stewmaker," I first thought that it might be Liz, but she was far younger when she was given to Sam and faking her death years later would make no sense. Then I thought she could be Red's daughter or someone he had failed. Quite a few episodes later, along came the ballerina, who seemed to be of similar age and features, so I thought, yes, the girl in the photo had been Red's child. Now it seems she and the ballerina are different people. There is no doubt now that she is Berlin's daughter rather than Red's. I think I came across a theory many months ago that she could have been Red's wife, but that doesn't seem like a possibility. She would've had to have had a 3-year-old, at least, as seen in "Frederick Barnes," but she looked like a child herself. And both her death and Red's personal tragedy were in December of 1990. Red wouldn't have been bringing home a car full of presents to a family that had just lost their mother, thinking about how they would laugh at his misfortune when he got there.
So why would Red take the picture if she was not someone he lost? Maybe as a reminder of what he had become? Who is she, one of the biggest motivators of the story, to Red? Did he really do to her what Berlin claims? I can't see it with the way he cares about children, at least not intentionally; maybe in a compartmentalized operation where he didn't know the full scope or under extreme duress. But Berlin finding out about Red and enacting revenge within the month would be unnaturally swift action, unless he was tipped off by someone who had Red's worst interests at heart. If I remember correctly, Berlin was tortured with pieces of his daughter over weeks, which would considerably shrink the timeline. Also, if Berlin had gotten revenge before, why would he be after Red again? And if Red had done something so monstrous, or had disguised a kidnapping as a murder and used that to drive Berlin to a depthless rage, he would not be wondering who was systematically trying to take him down. Instead, Berlin would be first on Red's list of enemies to keep an eye out for, but Red had no idea who laid waste to his life or who Berlin is and what he could possibly want now. Maybe Red's family had been the target of someone else, and had he not broken down he probably would have been home and met the same fate.
We also learned from the finale that Red did go into that fire, as we all suspected from those glimpses of a man saving Liz. From the moment he asked about her scar in the first episode, it was clear he knew her. What stranger would be so forward? The show never tried to hide how moved Red is by being close to her. So after a full season of subject changes and sidestepping of the question, once even asked point blank, some jumped at Red's scars as definitive proof that he is Liz's father. On any other show I wouldn't question it. It could be as simple as what many thought from the first moment they met, which is not really simple at all but rather emotionally complex. We only know for sure now that Red saved Liz, and shippers would have an issue if I said otherwise. He was the one who brought her to Sam and asked him to raise her as his own, so we always had an almost certain suspicion. It was wonderful to have it confirmed, to see the evidence he risked his life for a little girl. But we still don't know if that was because of parental instincts or because he set it for some reason before realizing she was inside. Maybe Liz has nothing to do with Berlin's enmity toward Red. Berlin is, after all, not number one on Red's Blacklist. So who is? There are so many questions and so many reasons for thinking he is her father and then also theories that allow for a connection despite not having any relation. I'll savor every episode this year that gets me a step closer to the truth.
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