The Blacklist interview: Jon Bokenkamp on Katarina’s arrival, Ilya, & more

The Blacklist season 7Come Friday night on NBC, the big moment is finally here: The Blacklist season 7 is going to be  premiering on NBC! Not only that, it’s going to be there with one of the most notorious characters in the entire series’ history in Katarina Rostova. What we know about her at present is rather simple: She’s dangerous. She’s been separate from Liz and Reddington’s life for years but now, she has Reddington. The premiere will pick up on that, and then also Elizabeth Keen doing what she can in order to save him from what is, in her mind, an unknown captor.

What better way to preview the premiere episode than with the person who knows this show the best? We spoke to Jon Bokenkamp recently about the decision to bring Katarina in to the present-day timeline (at least, if this really is Katarina), plus also questions over the Ilya Koslov reveal in “Rassvet” and what that means for the timeline.

For more thoughts over this interview, check out our brand new video below! Remember to subscribe to CarterMatt so you don’t miss our weekly videos all about the show (new videos will be posted every Friday at the channel after the episode airs) and then also view our The Blacklist playlist.

CarterMatt – What made this the proper time to give a present-day face to the Katarina Rostova character?

Jon Bokenkamp – The truth is, we really couldn’t hold off any longer. I’ve always said that our show has a specific timeline, a specific ending in mind, and if we didn’t introduce present day Katarina we wouldn’t have been faithful to the story we’re telling. Believe me, this is one of the most talked about characters in the show — so to finally bring her to life is really exciting, and Laila Robins is just fantastic!

While it may not be fair to classify Katarina as yet another Big Bad, what makes her stand out from the Alexander Kirks and Berlins of the world?

Oh, I think it is fair to classify Katarina as a Big Bad. She’s certainly far more dangerous than the others baddies we’ve had, mostly because of her deep, tangled history with Reddington. Keep in mind, this is a woman who could pull at a single thread and unravel everything Reddington’s been working toward in the life of our series. She’s for sure Big and Bad.

Liz is now under the belief that Reddington is Ilya Koslov. Is she in a position where she truly believes this to be the case, or does she just want to because there is comfort in believing in something?

Interesting questions. Dom certainly told her this was the truth. I know some people believe it may have been a half-truth, or maybe even a lie. But I do think Liz believes it. More importantly, I think Liz has come to a place where she believes that Reddington — whoever he used to be — is, in fact, a man who cares deeply about her. He’s a man who would go to the end of the earth to protect her. I think that emotional truth has somehow become more important to Liz than his former identity. I might add that Reddington would tell you who he was doesn’t matter — only who he is now.

With the presumed idea that Reddington is Ilya, are we meant to go back and view so many events from the past through a different lens? I go back a lot to him blowing up the house in season 1, and thinking about that moment as an expression of ‘Ilya’s’ supposed painful past as opposed to Red’s.

The various ways you can look back on the show or specific key scenes, and re-interpret those scenes, is my favorite part of what we’re doing on the show. I’ll give you an example. Liz asked Red, in season one, “are you my father?”. He flat out said “no”. Liz later discovered DNA evidence that proved Raymond Reddington was her father. At the time, the audience was screaming at us saying ‘But that means Red lied! He told her he wasn’t her father!”. Truth is, he didn’t lie. Raymond Reddington is Elizabeth Keen’s father. It’s just that the man who answered that question wasn’t the original Raymond Reddington. Both are true. I’d watch and see what new details emerge this season, because they will influence what you saw in the past.

Related News Be sure to get more intel now on The Blacklist premiere and what to expect

What do you want to see when it comes to The Blacklist season 7?

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