I honestly don’t know at this point if this season of Prodigal Son is better than the first, or if after going so long without new content, anything new on television hits differently. Either way, the show seems to be getting better – and more fun – from one week to the next, and I’m living for it.
I confess I had some reservations after the premiere. The first season of the show was so intriguing, with overarching plots like the mystery of the Girl in the Box. True, there are plots that promise to carry through the entire year (like Malcolm protecting his sister from memories of her murder of Nicholas Endicott). But there doesn’t seem to be a complex mystery to be solved, deepening the show’s mythology. I wasn’t sure if this lack of structure would ultimately leave the show somewhat rudderless. However, whatever fears I might have entertained have been quelled, because this season has me hooked.
Murder Hits Close to Home
The Whitlys have to be either the most homicidal or least lucky family in the world. I’m not sure which. But they just can’t seem to distance themselves from murder. Either committing it, witnessing it, covering up for it, or…am I missing something? If I am, I’m sure one of the Whitlys will fill that gap in season 3.
A couple murders hit a little too close to the Whitly home this week. First, there’s the running plot of Ainsley’s murder of Nicholas Endicott and lack of memory of the same. More on that in a moment. But the other murder is this year’s Mystery of the Week. Jerry (the roommate Martin
tried to kill I mean helped earlier this season is doing well enough to be released! Three cheers all around! Except not, because this news inspires a fair amount of animosity, as well as his own untimely death. Poor Jerry. He just wanted some lobster and his favorite cartoons.
It’s the perfect way to pull Martin into one of Malcolm’s cases (particularly since he’s a witness to the death). It also introduces some character dynamics that I never knew I needed but now that I’ve had a taste, I want more. Current Love Interest met Ex as Gil Arroyo faced off against Martin Whitly, and everything about this was pure gold.
The Lieutenant was clearly in his own personal hell. Meanwhile, I couldn’t have had a better time. These two played off each other so darn well. Lou Diamond Phillips is perfect as the long-suffering “mother hen” to Edrisa, whose fangirl nature was kicked up a notch to finally encounter the Surgeon, having to remind her to keep her distance and – oh, yeah – he’s a psychopath who killed 23 people. There’s no doubt at the end of the day, he was throwing back one or three drinks to process his very bad day. Here’s hoping Jessica never gets it into her head to call him “Gilly.”
Meanwhile, Martin was a smug ass, as only Martin can be. And don’t we love him for it? (While remembering that he is a psychopath, so, you know, don’t go overboard, here.) He’s having an interesting day, himself, finally given a possible opportunity to escape while Malcolm is being tased. Maybe Martin could have make it through the locked gate before backup arrived to help his son. Maybe he couldn’t. He ended up missing his chance in favor of saving his son.
Family is Complicated
One of the things that makes this show so interesting is the complicated family dynamics. Malcolm hates his dad – as evidenced during his diatribe at his dad’s group therapy – but he loves him, too. He clearly did idolize his father before discovering the truth about him. Maybe part of him still does. It’s complicated.
Meanwhile, Martin does seem to love his son, as much as he’s able to really love anyone other than himself. But there’s also rage there, if the confrontation between father and son in the cell is any indication. And the fact Martin could switch from rage to charm so quickly is no doubt part of what made him such an effective serial killer. Not to mention such a terrifying person.
And as much as Jessica would love to cut ties with Martin, she can’t quite extricate him from her life fully, either. She has growing suspicions about Malcolm and Ainsley’s cover story to explain the missing carpet (disposed of after the Endicott murder, as it was soaked with blood). Jessica’s no fool, and it would serve the Whitly children well to remember that. Confused and concerned, Jessica turns to Martin for help, so he can tell her their children didn’t do what they absolutely did. This entire exchange was one of my favorites – in an episode packed with rich character interactions. The dynamic between these two is so complex; I can’t wait to see it explored more in future episodes. But, as always, Martin ends the conversation with one of the best lines of the night. “Let’s do this again, next time you suspect our children of arson or grand theft auto.”
Meanwhile, Ainsley probably shouldn’t go poking around in blank spaces in her mind where memories should be, but she can’t seem to help herself. Honestly, this shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who knows her, but Malcolm seems to think he can forestall the inevitable. He allows her to tag along on his case in exchange for her to not poke the mental bear. Or go see their dad to ask his thoughts. She agrees, but of course she doesn’t abide by that agreement for long. I can’t blame her. I understand – and sympathize with – Malcolm’s desire to keep her in the dark, but…she did it, dude. She wants to know what happened, and you can only protect her for so long.
Ainsley goes to see Martin, and though she doesn’t have time to get answers, it’s only a matter of time before she tries again. Malcolm does everything he can to continue to cover up the crime. He even tells Ainsley that the blood on her hands was because she had tried to save Endicott. Meanwhile, Jessica’s putting the pieces together, ultimately coming to the conclusion that Malcolm is to blame. He tries to take the fall, which only leads her to realize the truth: Ainsley killed Nicholas Endicott. And if she ever finds out, which she no doubt will since she’s continuing to dig, Malcolm warns Jessica that they could lose her.
A Matter of Time
And while all this is going down, Martin is still determined to make good his escape. He gets another piece of the puzzle (briefly) this episode when he realizes that he’d be that much closer if he could get his hands on a gold card. He even briefly manages to do so, only to get it confiscated by Malcolm in the end. Still, knowledge is power for Dr. Whitly. It’s only a matter of time before all the pieces fall into place and he makes his escape. And won’t that be interesting?
A couple of final thoughts:
- I kind of loved Malcolm showing off just a little for Dani. He was so pleased with himself!
- Everyone seemed to be ready for a drink this episode. Particularly Malcolm and Gil.
- “Oh no. Not Jerry.” Martin’s delivery of this line made me laugh harder than I reasonably should have.
- Everyone acts like Martin’s got the most brains in the family, but if this episode showed us anything, it’s that you underestimate Jessica at your peril.
- I’ve never related to Martin more than when he was like, “Your theory is great, but in practice, it sounds like it would be hard work, so nah. It wasn’t me.”
- It will never stop being hilarious to me that Martin is constantly shocked to discover the opinion his son has of him. Shocked, I say!
Prodigal Son airs Tuesdays at 9/8c on Fox.