The Blacklist recap: Lady Ambrosia
“How can I get there?” asked Dorothy. “You must walk. It is a long journey through a country that is sometimes dark and terrible. However, I will use all the magic arts I know to keep you from harm.” She came close to Dorothy and kissed her gently on the forehead. “When you get to Oz, do not be afraid of him, but tell your story, and ask him to help you. Goodbye, my dear.”
That’s the Wizard of Oz passage we hear Liz reading aloud to her unborn child in the final scene of Thursday night’s episode. Indeed, she has certainly been walking a lengthy, sometimes often dark and terrible journey since we met her in season 1. There is no question that Liz is Dorothy in this little metaphor — that’s probably why it’s her favorite “fairy tale”…
But when I listened to Liz read that (slightly abridged) passage, I naturally put Red into the Oz role, what, with the omnipotence and the general criminality of Oz’s whole “Wizard” shtick. But when I listened again, I realized he could just as easily be the Good Witch of the North to Lizzie’s Dorothy, using all of his powers to keep her from harm. Red himself claims to be a fairy godmother in this folklore-centric episode, and we certainly know he’s a gentle forehead kisser.
It remains to be seen just what role Red plays in Liz’s story — her salvation or her destruction — but you guys, I feel like tonight’s episode subtly cemented one monumental thing that he is not: Liz’s father. Crucify me in the comments if you must (no, don’t!), but much more than the time he flat out told Lizzie he wasn’t her father, his somewhat more detailed account of the way her mother and father left her life tonight felt much more convincing. I was holding onto a few theories, mostly involving wordplay, that he could still be her father, but I do believe “I’m not sure I shouldn’t have raised you myself… I don’t want you looking back with that kind of regret” is what’s brought me over to believing that Liz truly did shoot her real father the night of the fire; that Red is something else entirely.
And it’s funny to have something that felt so revelatory in what was otherwise a pretty understated installment (understated for The Blacklist, that is — there were still two car explosions, one upper-thigh bullet removed with tweezers, and one suicide by butterfly). I was actually kind of dreading tonight’s episode after watching the preview last week. We’ve seen creepy cults from Blacklist. In abundance, we have seen creepy cults, so I wasn’t particularly looking forward to a creepy cult of kidnapped children. But ultimately, this episode had a few more laughs than normal. We didn’t spend too much time with the City of Lost Kids, and what time we did spend was semi-sparing with the sickly stuff.
Except, of course, for…
LADY AMBROSIA, NO. 77
…that first scene where a woman found bloody footprints in a grocery store that led to a young boy ferociously getting down on a bag of marshmallows in the candy aisle. Reddington brings the case of the recovered missing child to Liz and tells her that he believes the myth of Lady Ambrosia to be real: a woman in the woods, “neither purely evil nor purely good” (a big theme this episode) who collects unwanted children and promises them eternal youth. The Post Office team quickly traces the markings on the boy, Ethan, to those of three other recovered children with special needs, all previously assumed not missing, but dead.
NEXT: Like the Lost Boys from Hook, but way less fun…
While Ressler and Liz go to see Ethan in the hospital, Aram finds out that six months before Ethan “died,” his parents had tried to give him up for adoption. In fact, all of the children who had turned up with finger painted markings after being declared deceased had been children with special needs whose parents considered giving them up for adoption.
Cue the lady in the woods (a perfectly cast Celia Weston) leading a bunch of precious children in panchos, flower crowns, and face paint to a well to “celebrate” Matthew: On this day it’s Matthew’s day / He’ll be safe and always play / today’s the day he learns to fly / he’ll be so happy in the sky. Okay, I take back what I said about this episode not being creepy — it’s definitely creepy, just sparingly so. We see an older man drop what at first looks like a tree trunk into the well, but a zoom in later reveals a hand coming out of the bundle. The children are told this is how Matthew turns into a butterfly, as evidenced by the many butterflies that fly out of the well when he’s dropped.
While the Post Office makes a connection between the found children and a man who works at an adoption agency named Noah, Red utilizes his own connections: Glen the DMV man is back! Red needs help finding Vasila Patinka, and he promises Glen two beautiful blondes if he delivers her address. And, you guys, my wildest Blacklist dreams came true when those two blondes ended up being Alistair Pitt’s two precious Pomeranians from last week. Glen tries to act mad, but who could resist Marilyn and Monroe. Plus, his intel leads Red to Vasila; she seems to teach at a school for the deaf, and though she doesn’t want to give Red the information he’s come to her for, she says the only way she would do so is if he could give her daughter back to her, something she thinks is impossible…
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It seems that the children who have ended up in Lady Ambrosia’s care by way of Noah (the man from the adoption agency, and also her husband) are all children whose parents considered giving them up for adoption but there wasn’t mutual parental consent — one parent didn’t want to give their child up, so the one that did took drastic measures. This story line might be a little on the nose for what Lizzie is currently going through (what are the odds), but it does tie all of tonight’s story lines together nicely:
Liz has finally found a lovely couple who want to adopt her child and are open to her continuing to be a part of the child’s life. Tom, on the other hand, is taking different measure to provide for their child’s future: He’s finished the mission with Gina Zanetakos. She asks him twice in the getaway van if he’ll go to Zurich with her. He says he can’t; she kisses him on the mouth, gets out of the van to open the back doors for Tom and the rest of her crew to get out, and two men gun them all down. I really thought for a second that Tom was dead — he was definitely shot! But he makes it out of the van and into the home of some poor DC resident who just had their Grey Goose and nicest pair of tweezers hijacked so that Tom could remove a bullet from his leg. He does so successfully, but when the young boy who lives there opens the bathroom door to find a bloodied lunatic standing in his shower, Tom passes out.
NEXT: Leggo my Eggo fire ball…
The “maybe not ready to be a parent” analogies aren’t limited to Tom though. Liz somehow ends up being the one in charge of Ethan while his parents are being questioned, but as soon as she gets him back to her apartment, she nearly burns the whole place down trying to cook a frozen waffle on the stove. She gets angry when Boz busts in after hearing the fire alarm, but she’s very thankful he’s there when Noah busts in (he’s figures out where Ethan is and wants to take him back to Lady Ambrosia). Boz makes off with Noah while Lizzie comforts Ethan, who eventually tips the Post Office off to Lady Ambrosia’s location by drawing a carnivorous breed of butterfly all over the bottom of Lizzie’s breakfast table.
Red, using his own tactics — mainly Brimley somehow incorporating a llama named Butterscotch into torturing Noah — also makes his way to Lady Ambrosia just as she’s readying an adorable young girl named Anya for her “celebration.” Red tells her a story of a family whose two sons were in a canoeing accident where the older “golden son” drowned, “while the lesser child survived.” That lesser child, Theo, has been doing all of Lady Ambrosia’s dirty work while she’s told him his whole life that what she does for these children is so that they don’t end up damaged outcasts like he is. Red tells Theo that he’s entitled to as much as anyone else — “happiness, joy, a mother’s love” — and leaves him to deal with his mother on his own. He takes her out to the well of carnivorous butterflies, throws her in, and then jumps in after her. It is… dark.
But the children are all rescued by the FBI, except for Anya, who’s delivered personally by Red to her mother: Vasila Patinka. They cry and sign to each other upon their miraculous reunion and Red is rewarded with what he was looking for from Vasila: a file with a label that reads, “Poctoba – Rostova.”
I don’t know what’s in that file, but this is the conversation we heard between Lizzie and Red about her parents: Struggling with the looming reality of her own decision, Lizzie asks Red how her own mother did it — how she gave her up. He tells her that when the Soviet Union was collapsing, Lizzie’s father took her, and her mother gave up everything to follow after him. Despite everything, she wanted them to be a family, and that’s what they were arguing about the night of the fire, the night that Lizzie shot her father: “The man she loved killed by the child she adored.” Two months later, Katarina Rostova went to a beach, left her cloths on the sand, walked into the ocean, and was never seen again.
Or that’s how Red tells it…
A Few Loose Ends:
The last we see of Tom he’s being wheeled into a hospital — leave your “what you want to happen” vs. “what you think will happen” in the comments!
“You can’t beat a farm girl in great shoes.” Oh, Liz, you’re such a Dorothy.
Leslie Jones of SNL finally made her guest appearance as a DMV patron who thinks she recognizes Red from spin class — also as a representative to all the people out there who find themselves inexplicably attracted to the “kooky little white man” that is James Spader.
Blanket fort! Just never enough blanket forts on TV (or in real life).
I would have loved to have seen more from Maria Dizzia, no stranger to creepy cult stories (Martha Marcy May Marlene — shutter). Ultimately, she gets asphyxiated via plastic bag thanks to poor Theo.
I think the way that neither Lizzie nor Tom consulted the other on either of the drastic things they were doing regarding their child’s future tonight prove that they’re not really the long-haul couple they like to think they are. I’d love for them both to be happy, just maybe not… together. Didn’t Gina seem like a better match?!
“I’m going to take Butterscotch for a walk.”
James Spader is Raymond "Red" Reddington, a mastermind criminal who teams up with the FBI.