Virginia Sherwood/NBC
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TV Show
S3 E12
January 29, 2016 at 06:51 AM EST

In advance of tonight’s episode, Blacklist creator and executive producer Jon Bokenkamp advised fans: “Get ready…. Tonight is gonna be a strange one.”

Strange, indeed — Mr. Bokenkamp was not messing around. And not just because there were a bunch of bald guys flinging Adamantium at clowns, though that was concerning. The Blacklist has done creepy cults, and it’s done creepy religious stuff, and despite bringing a surprisingly fresh twist to the return of those two themes tonight, that wasn’t the strangest part. No, it was that this episode made the personal stuff as enthralling as — let’s see, how did Red put it? — “someone [reorganizing] a 15th century cult to hunt and kill pedophiles.”

My response to last week’s reveal that Lizzie was pregnant with Tom’s baby was pretty simple: “Hey, here’s an idea: What if we just didn’t?” Writing a pregnancy into Everybody Loves Raymond or whatever is one thing, but adding an infant into the mix on a show like this just because the actor is pregnant in real life is…less than logical. So, that this episode managed to loop the pregnancy into some major character development for Lizzie was a pleasant surprise. We’ll have to wait and see what the follow through on that phone call in the final scene is, but for now, it signifies a major shift in Liz’s acceptance of the world around her.

Lizzie has been a guest in her own life for a long time, pretty much since Red came into her life. No matter her commitment to working on the Task Force or fighting the Cabal while road tripping, she’s always seemed to have the idea that at a certain point, things would go back to normal. Last week, she expressed that she thought that point may be with the “defeat” of the Cabal and her exoneration. Luckily, realist Red was around to remind her that, like, everyone in the world wants her dead, not just the Director. While I take no joy in the decision Liz has been tasked with in finding out she’s pregnant, I very much appreciated the conflict and what it revealed about the life that Lizzie is choosing to lead, not just the one that’s been forced upon her.


Thank goodness then that amidst all that emotional turmoil — and the deadly religious zealots, we’ll get to them! — this was a particularly humorous episode of The Blacklist, starting with Liz’s “BABY” pro/con list. CONS: Everything in life; Reddington; No friends; No family; Don’t know anyone with kids; Don’t really take care of myself. PROS: My baby; Family; Chance for a normal life; “Tom??” Speak of the devil: Tom’s at the door, and he’s ready to be overbearing! He says they’re moving to Boston because he got a teaching job there (countdown to the return of the Warby Parkers), and he thinks it’s time for them to start a new life together. The writers think it’s time for Liz to leave the apartment and Tom to discover that pro/con list.

Liz had to get to the Post Office, you see, because the opening scene featured a birthday clown being run off the road, captured, and taken back to some sort of underground dungeon where he had molten lead flung at him, then forcibly poured down his throat by a bunch of completely hairless men. And people say clowns are creepy!

Turns out, an associate of Red’s, Edward Westson, was murdered in a similar fashion, which until this point had remained a mystery. Aram says the lead on the clown’s body they found was likely distributed by a medieval device “subtly called a lead sprinkler.” It was used by a vigilante group called the Holy Vehm, directed by an archbishop in the 15th century to weed out heresy and witchcraft. And while all of that is really interesting, everyone seems more concerned that Lizzie is back to work so soon after being attacked in a parking lot (gah, so many vigilantes on this show). Red — about a subtly as a lead sprinkler — tells Cooper it won’t be necessary for the FBI to find the man who attacked Liz.

For Red is a man of action…and also a man of, uh, extreme observation. Liz admits to him that she’s pregnant, to which Red responds that he’s known that for some time. The look on Megan Boone’s face says, “Oh god, he’s been stealing my urine,” but luckily his response to how is ever-so-slightly less creepy than that: “Everything: your body; your skin; the look in your eyes; different tastes for different foods; nausea; distracted; moody.” But in addition to the subtle, he also states the obvious: “I know you want to believe that our work is done, but it’s not. The addition of a child will make that infinitely more difficult.”

NEXT: These are their confessions (murder, lots of murder)

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James Spader returns as Raymond ‘Red’ Reddington, a mastermind criminal who teams up with the FBI.
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