(Warning: This story contains spoilers for Friday’s fall finale of “The Blacklist,” titled “Katarina Rostova.”)
“The Blacklist” fans have known for a little while now that Raymond “Red” Reddington (James Spader) isn’t actually Raymond “Red” Reddington, but Ilya Koslov. And if you had finally come to terms with that shocking reveal within the mythology of the NBC drama, then Friday’s fall finale probably broke your brain, seeing as we met the real (and unconscious) Ilya Koslov — and so did Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone).
And that big identity reveal was actually the second Liz went through during the hour, as the top of the episode opened with a serious chat between her and Katarina Rostova (Laila Robins), her friendly next door neighbor who she just found out is actually her super-spy mom. Once she kinda made her peace with Katarina’s abandonment and lying, that’s when she found out about Red’s lie, as Katarina showed Liz the real Ilya is currently lying in a coma in a hospital bed in her apartment.
Then the episode ended with Red thinking he tracked down and killed Katarina, only for her to contact Liz and reveal she had faked her death and would continue to search for the answers that would help her escape the Townsend Directive — including the truth about Red’s identity. And it looks like Liz is going to keep her mother’s survival a secret and side with her, at least for the time being. But why?
“The short answer is that Liz knows that there are truths out there that Red has withheld from her,” executive producer John Eisendrath told TheWrap. “In fact, the main piece of Katarina’s argument, why Liz should trust her and not Red, is when she brings Liz in to see Ilya in her apartment and to prove to her that Red has been not honest with her about his true identity. And Liz wants answers, not only about that question, but about whatever it is that Katarina has been looking for all year. And I think by the end of the episode, though she does not trust her mother implicitly, she does believe that the answers that she is looking for — that Red clearly remains unwilling to give her — are more likely to come if she helps her mother. So it’s as much out of self interest that Liz helps Katarina as it is out of love for her mother.”
“That reveal that Ilya Koslov is lying in Katarina’s apartment was a big part of Liz’s turn against Red,” creator/executive producer Jon Bokenkamp added. “She’s been led to believe by Dom, and sort of by Red, that Red is Ilya Koslov. And Red never corrected her on that.”
Bokenkamp tells us you shouldn’t hold your breath if you’re hoping for an answer about Red’s identity anytime soon, seeing as “The Blacklist’s” seventh season won’t be back from hiatus until March — and because they don’t plan on revealing his identity quickly.
“The truth that Katarina is after, the truth that she believes can save her and call off the Townsend Directive, is connected to his identity and connected to who he really is,” Bokenkamp says. “And if she can unlock this, she can unlock a truth that is at the core of the mythology of the show. So are we going to answer it immediately? Absolutely not. Is it on the front burner and something that is driving everything that is happening? Absolutely.”
Eisendrath added: “I think it’s safe to say you’ll get an answer as to who Raymond Reddington is whenever NBC tells us we will be ending the series.”
Here’s what Bokenkamp would tell us about where the show picks up in the spring: “Because of where we leave off — because Reddington believes that Katarina is dead and it appears to him the genie is back in the bottle and we can go on about business — the dynamic of the show shifts just a little bit. It becomes a little bit lighter, a little bit more fun. We have a great two-parter when we come back in March and we’re gonna have a ton of fun. But boiling underneath all that is this Katarina-Liz relationship that is still growing and is going to take us to some uncharted territory in the show.”
If you’re nervous about that relationship, Bokenkamp says he thinks you “should trust Katarina.”
“I think we have seen in her sort of an emotional resonance or emotional truth, a level of which she’s invested in this — she’s not just a straight-up bad guy,” he said. “She’s obviously pained and tortured by what’s happening and wants justice. And I think sometimes people forget that Reddington is a criminal. He’s a murder. He’s a bad guy. As much as he’s protected Liz and had her best interest at heart, he is still, you know, one of the most wanted men in the world.”
“So we put it in context of who Katarina is and what she’s looking for. I think her intent is right and she wants answers and justice and it’s an interesting, if not potentially dangerous, relationship for Liz to connect to. But I think we can trust her, as much as we can trust anybody on the show.”
“The Blacklist” Season 7 returns in March on NBC.