Will Hart/NBC
TV Show
S3 E14
February 12, 2016 at 06:41 AM EST

“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…


…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…

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