Not because the show’s antagonist, the titular Lady Ambrosia (Celia Weston), is particularly frightening however. The motherly murderess might be a little unhinged, but for the majority of the episode she is devoted to the outcast children she has taken in over the years. Of course, it helps that she has her husband Noah (Mark Blum) and disabled son Theo (Gabriel Ebert) to do the dirty work of “convincing” parents to give up their unfortunate offspring for the mad matriarch to raise. They also are useful when each child’s thirteenth birthday rolls around, assisting Lady Ambrosia in knocking the child in question out with gas before dumping the unconscious youth down a well on the family’s property. The idea is to preserve the child’s innocence, if not the child itself, but the spectacle entertains the other children, who cheer when a flock of butterflies leave the well en masse after the little body thuds upon reaching the bottom of the hole.
It’s chilling to think, as Agent Elizabeth Keen (Megan Boone) and her FBI colleagues note several times in the episode, that this state of affairs had been going on for quite sometime. Indeed, the first time we see the interior of Lady Ambrosia’s well, we see bones and remains alongside the still-preserved hand of her most recent victim, leaving no room for speculation about the child’s fate. Equally chilling is the possibility that Ambrosia’s deranged scheme would have continued unimpeded had not one of her charges, an autistic boy named Ethan (Hays Wellford), managed to escape. His return comes as a shock to the FBI since it had previously concluded that he had died after going missing, but not nearly as big of a shock as Agent Donald Ressler’s (Diego Klattenhoff) discovery that his parents, in spite of their affectations of joy at being reunited with their son, had paid Noah to take Ethan off their hands.
Knowing the international scale that Raymond Reddington (James Spader) operates on, one couldn’t be blamed for thinking he would have no interest in something as localized as a batty old woman and her spineless son and husband kidnapping children before throwing them down a well. Nothing could be further from the truth, as it turns out. Not only does Reddington have a vested interest in taking down Lady Ambrosia (the “vested interest” being the daughter of a former colleague whom he is trying to squeeze sensitive information out of), but he is also deeply disgusted by her behavior. Reddington may be a criminal, but he is a rational criminal: he only commits evil acts because it advances his agenda in tangible ways. Ambrosia’s acts, on the other hand, are nothing more than a guilt-ridden mother trying to make up for past sins by committing present ones. Not even the Concierge of Crime can abide such purposeless transgressions, so he has no choice but to stop Ambrosia. It is this interplay between Reddington and his underworld adversaries that makes The Blacklist such a strong program.
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