The Blacklist: Knowing Red Is Ilya Has 'Changed A Lot' For Cooper

The Blacklist Harold Cooper Harry Lennix Raymond Red Reddington James Spader NBC

(Image credit: Sony / NBC)

Spoilers for The Blacklist Season 7 episode entitled (“Kuwait”) are discussed below.

Harry Lennix, who plays Harold Cooper, has revealed that Cooper finding out that Red is (supposedly) Ilya Koslov has “changed a lot” for him. In last night’s episode of The Blacklist, Cooper contemplated revealing the truth to Main Justice. After everything that unraveled, Cooper opted to keep Red’s secret. The Task Force is still in action!

Just because Cooper did not reveal the truth about Red being an imposter does not mean it has not affected his dynamic with Red/Ilya. As The Blacklist revisited Cooper’s secret past, it also explored his ever-changing relationship with faux Red. Asked how playing Cooper opposite Reddington has changed since Cooper learned the truth, Harry Lennix told EW:

I think it’s changed a lot. We have the devil we know and the devil that we don’t know. When you thought that you knew this particular person and he isn’t who you thought he was, even though you’ve had a long history with this person, whoever he is, what is the intention of that person? Like, I think we could rely on Reddington to know, at least we believe, that he was operating in his own best interests. But if he is not in fact Reddington, then in whose interest is the operating?

What Harry Lennix points out is arguably the most crucial question that The Blacklist and Cooper are now facing. Everyone thought they knew who they were dealing with in Raymond Reddington, only to learn he is supposedly Ilya Koslov, a total unknown. If Red is not Ilya, the incredibly moral Cooper may have to confront what to do all over again.

As viewers learned last night, the identity that Liz has shared with Cooper and the Task Force may not be accurate. There have always been some missing pieces, and another one fell into place when Katarina seemed to be completely unfamiliar with “Ilya Koslov.” Given what has been shared, she should know exactly who that is.

Meanwhile, Red seemed to confirm his identity as Ilya to Cooper during their trip to Kuwait. In fact, his exchange with Cooper was so compelling it seemed that viewers could almost put the issue to bed. Cue Katarina's reaction, and I am confused all over again amid my reticent willingness to believe that Red is Ilya.

In The Blacklist's latest episode, Cooper inquired as to how Red actually being Ilya could know about the secrets of Kuwait. Red did not give an answer, opting for his “I just know” omnipotence to explain it. He has to know somehow, which brings this viewer back to Harry Lennix’s point.

Since Red is not Raymond Reddington, whose interests is he really working for? According to Dom, Ilya Koslov was a KGB agent. However, when you consider Katarina’s reaction, he may not be one after all. Whoever Red is, he may not be Ilya because, as previously hinted, he may be a figment. Who else is ready for those answers?

For now, The Blacklist has Cooper and Red’s relationship in a good place. I am curious to see how the fallout of Cooper knowing that Red is an imposter will have on their dynamic going forward. Will Cooper keep investigating to learn whose interests Red is really trying to advance? I think that is a safe bet.

Tune in to see how Cooper’s relationship with “Ilya” continues to develop when new episodes of The Blacklist air Fridays, at 8 p.m. ET on NBC, as part of this fall's premieres. You can catch up on Cooper and Red’s dynamic through the years via past seasons of The Blacklist that are streaming on Netflix, along with lots of upcoming content.

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.