A traumatised and injured boy with unusual marks on his face is found lying on the floor of a supermarket. He’s identified as Ethan, who has autism, and has been missing for four years. Needless to say, Red has an interest: he wants information from a woman called Vasila Patinka, and the only way she’ll release it is if Red can do the impossible: i.e. return her missing-presumed-dead deaf daughter to her. So, very much not by coincidence, he alerts Liz and the Task Force to a woman (nicknamed Lady Ambrosia, apparently after a fairytale which is new to me, maybe an American thing, or maybe the writers made it up) who abducts children with special needs. The Similar MO database reveals a link with other missing kids, and that the children were, in a sense, unwanted: one of their parents had tried to give them up for adoption. (There is, of course, a connection to Liz’s ongoing arc, in which she is trying to find a couple who want to adopt the child of the woman who shot the Attorney-General.)
From what we see of Lady Ambrosia and her unusual domestic arrangements – involving her own special-needs son, some face-painting, and bucketloads of carnivorous butterflies – she’s creepy as all hell, even if the episode as a whole is nothing remarkable. The thing is, though, it actually felt like a proper Blacklist. OK, you could argue that Lady Ambrosia herself wasn’t particularly Blacklisty, although the show moved away from the original concept of top-secret-international-megacriminals a long time ago. But we had the interrogator guy with the respirator (and, joyously, a llama); we had Glen, the DMV guy; we had Red trying to find a good home for Alistair Pitt’s adorable Pomeranians; and we had a bonkers but wonderful cameo from Leslie Jones, apparently prompted by her IRL love for the show and the Spader.
Meantime Tom prepares for life in the spinoff – I say again, big mistake – by getting another kiss from Gina just before she shoots him and leaves him for dead. And Red, somewhat surprisingly in an episode which is otherwise fairly low-stakes, drip-feeds a little more of Liz’s background. What with that and the Rostova file he was so determined to get his hands on, it’s starting to feel as if we’re building up to some major revelations at the end of the season.