THE BLACKLIST: Children & Parents Take Center Stage in “Lady Ambrosia”
By Kai Greenwell
Last night’s episode of The Blacklist wandered into fairytale territory when Red presents the team with the case of dead children reappearing. He tells them that he thinks it is the work of a real life Lady Ambrosia, who steals away children while promising them eternal youth.
Things finally go Liz’s way as she meets a couple about adopting her baby who aren’t frightened away by her past. Both Tom and Red encourage her to keep the baby. They mean well but put a dampener on her good news.
The team close in Lady Ambrosia’s operation but not before Reddington and Dembe extract a child from the grounds. Reddington returns the child to her ex-KGB mother in return for a file of Liz’s mother.
After celebrating a job gone well, Tom and the team he worked with are betrayed and left for dead by his old associate. He escapes despite his injuries and blacks out while trying to patch himself up, last seen being wheeled into an emergency room.Liz’s chat with the potential adopters was a refreshing breakaway from how depressing her story has been these last few weeks. Red and Tom both would like her to keep the baby, but instead of layering that positive moment with drama, her time with the autistic boy showed her that she is very capable of forming a bond with a child and others see that too. It didn’t do anything to reassure her that she could protect a child however.
Red’s protective meddling finally got too much for Liz when her abysmal cooking skills caused gun toting Not Kurt Russell to bust into the apartment. While that would have probably been enough to set her off, the autistic child scared by a gun wielding stranger really kicked the argument into overdrive. While he didn’t have a rebuttal for Liz, later on Red’s protective services saved her life when she found herself on the wrong side of a gun, undoubtedly reassuring him that he is once again correct.
With that in mind it was good to see Cooper question Red’s motives and acknowledging that he is aware there is always an ulterior motive at play. It was a shame that the rest of the supporting cast didn’t get much screen time this week as with only two episodes left, the camera will likely focus its attention on Red and Liz.
Red’s grim reveal regarding the fate of Liz’s mother was rather harrowing, although as he reads his file on her and remarks how things keep getting worse, you’ve got to wonder how.
Tom’s betrayal did seem slightly inevitable, he just has a terrible track record of getting anything done without getting seriously in over his head. Typically, being in a public hospital is bad for characters, probably leading to either the man he robbed finding him, or the Major finding out he’s alive sooner than Tom would have wished. Tom’s chapters either need to take a step into the less predictable or double down on their current path and provide some satisfying action sequences akin to those seen earlier this season.
Think of the children
Lady Ambrosia was a bizarre concept. A woman who steals away disabled children to give them a happy life, until they turn 12 and then feeds them to carnivorous butterflies. The concept was fittingly disturbing enough for The Blacklist, but this episode’s theme of children was too in your face and the actual workings of her operation were underdeveloped and therefore seemed far too simple to have evaded capture by, or at least the attention of law enforcement.
Beginning with the fairy tale conversation at the start of the episode, there were very few moments where the focus wasn’t on children, often too obviously paralleling Liz’s situation or seeming to be written just so Ressler can stick his foot in his mouth by loudly decreeing he’d never give his non-existent children up for adoption.
While most of the blacklisters either are or own a MacGuffin that Red needs to further his plans of global domino — I mean taking down the Cabal — this whole set up was so he could get a file from someone. There may have been similarly thin reasons for a case of the week before, but when combined with the in-your-faceness of children this week, the set up seemed
With the season quickly drawing to an end, this episode’s aim seems to have been to dramatically increase our attachment to Liz’s child. The easiest way for a show to make an audience care about a character is through developing them and their relationship with others via dialogue. It’s easy to see then why shows struggle to make us feel as strongly about babies in the same way as characters that have spent years on the screen. While this episode was a little smothering with the theme of children, it should work well as a prologue to the last two episodes and make us feel that Liz’s baby is more than a plot device.
The Blacklist continues Thursdays on NBC.