The Blacklist Natalie Luca (No. 184) Review
The Blacklist: Season 4, Episode 12: Natalie Luca (No. 184) is an emotionally compelling episode that is unfortunately burdened by an ill-advised and over-extended attempt at topicality.
For a show that deals with crime and terrorism, we have not seen much with regards to biological weapons. This is a bit strange considering the very contemporary, very prevalent anxiety that extremists or other bad actors could develop or acquire such weapons and unleash them on an unsuspecting populace. Last night’s show, however, treated us not simply to a deadly bio-weapon that has been let loose, but one that was allowed to elope with a lover.
I’m talking, of course, about the titular Natalie Luca (Elizabeth Lail), an orphan whose immunity to the fatal Luschen’s virus made her optimal for unethical experiments by a shady corporation to weaponize the virus. She manages to escape with Malik Roumain (RJ Brown), who gives her the love she never had even as he directs her to use her “gift” to carry out his personal agenda. He does so right up until his untimely death, which comes as a blessing in disguise as he is finally able to feel the touch of the woman he manipulated but nevertheless loved. It might be hard to feel bad for Roumain, but one can’t help but feel for Natalie as she genuinely cries for the one person who granted her even the appearance of affection.
Regrettably, the program is weighed down by a subplot that comes so out of nowhere that one is baffled as to why it was included. Early in the episode, Samar (Mozhan Marno) informs Aram (Amir Arison) that she has learned that she gets paid less than him even though they do the same work. One can absolutely understand why Samar is upset about this, but not so much how she responded to it. Aram is clearly shocked to learn about this injustice, so for her to act like he is somehow responsible comes across as vindictive and even stupid.
On top of this, if she is sure that it is because she is a woman (the show provides no hint as to why the FBI has decided to pay Samar less than Aram whatsoever, so we are forced to take her assessment at face value), why didn’t she mention it to Liz (Megan Boone), who is also a woman and perhaps could have proven a pattern of sexism if it was learned that she received less pay for the same amount of work as well. On its own, it could have been an annoying but harmless throwaway conversation, but the decision to revisit the matter over the course of the episode notably hurts its watchability.
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