The Blacklist Revealed Red's Identity, But His Reaction Made Me Doubt It

The Blacklist Ilya Koslov Gabriel Mann Katarina Rostova Lotte Verbeek NBC

(Image credit: Will Hart / NBC)

Spoilers for the second half of April 26's episode of The Blacklist (“Rassvet”) are discussed below.

The Blacklist took its most substantial step forward yet in the ongoing reveal of Red’s (James Spader) true identity. By episode’s end, Liz (Megan Boone) thought she had finally uncovered the truth. The flashback-centric installment gave the audience a good reason to believe she had. That was, until the final moments.

An almost giddy Liz went to tell Red that she knew everything after talking to her grandfather. That Red was her mother’s dearest and most dependable friend – Ilya Koslov. As such, he was the architect of the plan to take over Raymond Reddington’s identity. He did so to protect her mother and stay one step ahead of her enemies.

Red (Ilya?) took the news without being pleased or relieved at all. I did not expect him to be thrilled, but his reaction bordered on stifled outrage. The moment also hearkened back to the one that Liz and Red had shared many episodes ago. The one where she told him that she knew he was her “dad.” That was far more heartwarming, though.

Back then, Red did not seem angered by Liz’s latest “resolution” regarding the enduring mystery of their connection. This time, things were different. It was uncomfortable. Red was fresh off the wound inflicted by learning that Liz was the one who betrayed him to the police, and its impact on his relationship with Dembe. He was in no mood for her “revelations.”

That part made sense. However, there was more to it than that. Much like Red and Liz being father and daughter, the latest conclusions Liz reached seemed doubtful to hold true in the long-term. Why? Red went to see Liz’s grandfather after she told Red that Dom was her source.

Red told Dom that he needed to tell him everything he shared with Liz and, essentially, spare no detail. Why was he so concerned about what Dom had told her if that was the truth? Does this mean that Dom actually knows the full story? I have a theory, but those have not been doing well in Season 6.

Having thought that Red was Raymond Reddington’s secret identical twin and that he and Liz could still be father and daughter, I’m batting zero. Nevertheless, I will do my best to still theorize after being left a bit adrift by this latest twist. The truth does not feel entirely told. Albeit, some of the pieces fit.

If Red is Ilya, then he has done this all to protect Katarina, whom he loves. If she is still alive, then he has had to stay up countless nights hoping to keep her that away. All the while, trying to keep Liz from leading those watching to her mother’s doorstep.

Has this all been about keeping Liz from her mother? All in an effort to keep her mom safe from the discovery that reuniting with her daughter could bring. That would explain why he has worked to keep it a secret and is so angry about what Liz has learned. It threatens to blow Katarina’s cover entirely. Without realizing it, Liz is jeopardizing her mother’s safety.

Red/maybe-Ilya can handle and forgive Liz for a lot. Putting the woman that he has risked everything for at risk, not so much. That part makes sense. Am I reading too much into it? Part of the fun of The Blacklist is enjoying the ride. Not necessarily getting those all-elusive answers, rather the journey to collecting them.

There were things that The Blacklist did not show, which is curious. If viewers got most of the story, why not show Katarina and Ilya going to the clinic? Katarina holding Ilya’s hand one last time as he prepared to endure unimaginable pain to carry out this plan.

Why not show him waking up a new man? The truth often lies in what The Blacklist does not show viewers. If it is holding something back, there is often a reason. Teasing the episode, The Blacklist’s creator, Jon Bokenkamp told TVLine:

[The two-parter] dives right into that central question of Red’s past and his identity — where he came from, how he came to be, his relationship to Katarina Rostova and beyond. We will be unpacking the biggest answers in our series to date.

That sounds assuring, and as someone who is ready for the truth, I want to believe that viewers got it in “Rassvet.” However, I do not want it to cloud my judgment and accept answers that may have more to them.

Do viewers know everything? If it all happened as straightforward as The Blacklist seemed to present it, then they did. Something tells me there is still more to the story, though. There is a lot about Red being Ilya that makes sense. It fits. The problem is that so many things have throughout the years. Thus, the mystery continues.

Find out else The Blacklist has in store regarding Red’s real identity when new episodes air Fridays at 8 p.m. ET on NBC.

Britt Lawrence

Like a contented Hallmark movie character, Britt happily lives in the same city she grew up in. Along with movies and television, she is passionate about competitive figure skating. She has been writing about entertainment for 5 years, and as you may suspect, still finds it as entertaining to do as when she began.