While I enjoyed the Prodigal Son season premiere last week, it left me wondering where the season was really intending to go. Malcolm was unraveling, trapped in a love-hate relationship with his dad, but that’s pretty much par for the course. Ainsley and Jessica had unresolved emotional issues, but that also was true to form. The pilot didn’t set up a season-long mystery, like that of the Girl in the Box. Or even like a new, unnamed serial killer. So while I enjoyed it, I didn’t feel there was much to speculate about. And speculation is half the fun.
Well, while this week’s episode didn’t exactly give me something to sink my teeth into, it set up some plots that are ripe for speculation. So let’s get down to it.
Love in the First Degree
Yes, the major focus of the show is on Malcom’s baggage-laden relationship with his dad. And his antics at work. It’s also true that shipping isn’t a huge part of the show, but the main ship of the series is almost undoubtedly Malcolm/Dani. However, it’s worth discussing the on-again-off-again flirtation between Gil and Jessica.
Jessica is a woman who has issues. And a somewhat alarming addiction to pills and maybe even alcohol. But there’s still something refreshing about seeing this particular relationship play out. Maybe because the actors are a little older. It’s rare for shows to depict women over the age of 30 as viable love interests in their own right.
Of course, Jessica is damaged. Maybe everyone is right. Maybe she’s cursed. But as broken as she is, she has a good heart. She truly cares about her family, and I think she honestly loves Gil. With her past, it’s understandable that she would be afraid. She would naturally worry that she would cause Gil to be hurt once more. Still…as interested as I am in this love story, and as excited as I am to see the main love story on a show being (at least for now) between more mature characters, I do hope the writers remember that these are two adults. Jessica is damaged. That’s entirely valid. But her love story with Gil can’t be written the way TV usually treats ships between two twenty-year-olds. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but it does have to respect the fact that the characters are a little older. A little wiser. And a little more mature.
I also am dying to get a scene of Jessica in one of Gil’s turtlenecks. It’s a scene I didn’t realize I needed until now. But now I need it.
Girl Without a Memory
So far, the season’s biggest questions revolve around Ainsley. Last season ended with her committing murder and Malcolm promising to take care of it. Now we know that he took care of it by disposing of the body and covering up her crime. (Having a serial killer on speed dial does apparently have its perks.) We also know she doesn’t have a memory of the act.
I expected that she wouldn’t necessarily remember that she had committed murder. But I did think she would know she had been the one to do it. However, Malcolm apparently didn’t just cover up the murder; he lied to Ainsley about it, as well. So what does Ainsley think happened that night? Does she know she committed murder, or does she think her brother did it?
I’m curious to know where this particular plot is going. I’m also desperate to see Jessica let in on events. I have no doubt that the show will eventually loop her into that plot. But my favorite Jessica may be Jessica gearing up to defend her family. So I don’t know when it will happen, but I am here for it.
Watching His Back
I expressed my concerns last week that the plot about J.T. dealing with racism within the workplace would be a one- or two-off event. It isn’t unusual for shows to give a nod to real-world events. It also isn’t unusual for this nod to last for the span of a couple episodes at most, only to be completely swept under the rug after, as though it never happened.
It’s too early in the season to say how long this plot will last or how deeply it will impact the show as a whole. However, there are promising signs that this isn’t a one-and-done. I’m rooting for J.T. to come out on top, of course, but I reserve the right to continue hoping the show treads carefully and treats this very important topic with the respect and honesty it deserves.
How Are You So Bad At This?
I might be slammed for this, but I have often found the Mystery of the Week to be one of the less interesting aspects of the show. Yes, it’s a vital framework that really helps the series function from one week to the next. But I rarely look forward to the next week’s episode because of the murder mysteries.
So while I’ve enjoyed the murder mysteries the last couple of weeks, this isn’t why I watch that show. That said, there’s one thing this week that I feel bears discussion.
Malcolm. Sweetie. Your father was a serial killer. You’ve dealt with how many murderers over the course of the show? Why are you still taking your eyes off murderers? Particularly when you can’t escape? This is really Don’t Be Murdered 101. When trapped in a room with a serial killer…make sure you know where they are at all times.
Which brings us to the part of the episode that we’ll be speculating about for days. After the resolution of the Mystery of the Week, Malcolm and Martin have one of their Dysfunctional Chats. Martin wants to be (to the extent he can) a loving father. Malcolm wants him out of his life. It’s totally understandable. If I found out one of my family members was a serial killer, they’d be off the Christmas card list. I don’t care who they are.
But there’s a point at which they can’t keep having the same conversations without it becoming a bit…stale. And I’ll be honest. I was getting worried that the show was veering in that direction during their chat this episode. It just felt like a conversation we’ve seen a dozen times before.
So it was a pleasant surprise when the show changed course after this conversation. Martin has decided he needs to break out of prison. And getting help to do it. Martin’s undoubtedly smart enough to pull it off, so I have no doubt this plot will come to fruition at some point this season.
The Surgeon being on the loose once more? All right, show. You’ve got my attention. What’s next?
Prodigal Son airs Tuesdays at 9/8c on Fox.