Who is Ilya Koslov on The Blacklist?

Who is Ilya Koslov on The Blacklist?

Chris Chalker, Managing Editor

One of the latest episodes of the long-running NBC crime thriller The Blacklist, titled “Rassvet”, served at the 19th episode of the series’ sixth season and  dropped numerous bombs of knowledge on the audience as FBI profiler Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone) came face to face with her grandfather, Dominic “Dom” Wilkinson (Brian Dennehy) as she attempted to uncover the truth of who Raymond “Red” Reddington (James Spader) really is, a primary selling point of Season 6 as well as the series overall. The truth, or apparent truth about Red, which Dom told his granddaughter involves a man named Ilya Koslov (Gabriel Mann). What exactly did we find out? Let’s get right into it.


Major spoilers ahead, do not read unless you are caught in The Blacklist or do not mind spoilers! You have been warned!


After the revelation last season that Raymond Reddington was dead and has been dead all along, Liz teams up with her sister to uncover the truth about who Reddington really is and it all seemed to come to a head here. Dom revealed that Reddington is a man named Ilya Koslov. Ilya are on the run after the real Reddington died in the fire and he and Katarina were unable to save him so they are forced to avoid the fallout from that, but they must also avoid Anton Velov and the Cabal, both of which are hunting them. Ilya is a former lover of Katarina’s and he ends up saving her life and Dom’s by killing people who invade their home and are preparing to kill them. Knowing they are pressed for options, Ilya believes the best idea is for him to see Dr. Hans Koehler and get plastic surgery to look like Red, then siphon his bank accounts so he and Katarina can use the funds within them to run away and stay hidden. Dom and Katarina’s mother are forced to part ways from Ilya and Katarina as well. Everything seems to tie together nicely… until Liz confronts Red with the truth at a restuarant in Hong Kong, to which he appears very unamused at the revelation of his “true identity” as Ilya. Red later talks to Dom and tells him to retell the story “word for word”. It’s an ending that raises numerous questions, but perhaps the most important one aside from “who is James Spader’s Raymond Reddington?” is “who is Ilya Koslov?”


Based on the ending, there is more to Dom’s story than meets the eye and perhaps the most glaring evidence of this is how Red speaks to Dom after Liz talks to him in Hong Kong. If the story about Ilya is true and Reddington is truly Ilya Koslov, then why does Red need to know what Dom said “word for word”? Wouldn’t Red know the truth and what Dom would have said to Liz? As with all twists in the show, it is almost guaranteed that we have not heard the full story and we are merely along for the ride, so a bit of skepticism is essentially a requirement. There are several theories and ideas as to who Red and Ilya truly are, so let’s dive into these theories.


One theory, which is gaining attention across social media due to the dying theory of “Redarina” (Raymond Reddington being Katarina Rostova), suggests that Ilya Koslov did do what Dom said he did in the story. He adopted Reddington’s identity and siphoned the bank accounts, hoping to keep Katarina safe, but he is not the Reddington that we see today. Dom told Liz what he believed was true because he either doesn’t know the full story or he did it deliberately to make Red and Katarina look positive in Liz’s eyes when that is not the case. Much like Liz did in Season 3, the real Raymond Reddington faked his death and then pursued Katarina and Ilya. After discovering that Ilya assumed his identity, Red killed him. Ilya’s remains were then put in the duffle bag that Mr. Kaplan (Susan Blommaert) unearthed at the end of Season 4. The intention behind burying Ilya’s remains was that if Ilya has surgery to look exactly like Red, then he may have also had his DNA altered to match Red or the DNA test in the bag of bones was fake. Regardless, this theory suggests that Ilya was murdered and his remains were put in the bag along with the DNA test so that in the event that Red could not escape a pursuer, he simply has to unearth the bag and fake his death. Mr. Kaplan unearthed the bag to prevent this and bring the truth to light as well as to derail Red’s contingency plan. Infamously quoted for these theories, Mr. Kaplan apologizes to Katarina Rostova (Lotte Verbeek) before unearthing the bag and having watched “Rassvet”, it stands to reason that she could be apologizing for dragging Ilya’s name through the mud by doing this. Additionally, there is the line by Dembe Zuma (Hisham Tawfiq) from a while back that Liz may never forgive Red “for what he did to Katarina”, which could equate that Red went after her and Ilya, killed Ilya and spared Katarina but killed the only person she could rely on before hiding her away from Liz, their daughter, and forcing her to remain in hiding with no one to accompany her in the purgatory of nothingness she finds herself in due to betraying The Cabal and her home country. Reddington would also be himself, not an imposter like we have been led to believe. This seems as though it could be the line of thought with the show currently thanks to the constant twists and turns this season but the end of the season is in sight and kit would appear as though some answers about Reddington’s identity are too. Do you believe the theory that Red is not an imposter after all and that Ilya Koslov was the person who was in the bag of bones from season five? Only time will tell if this theory is true, so stay tuned for those answers!