Fans might be forgiven for not realizing Prodigal Son episode 2×07 was the winter finale, since episode 6, “Head Case”, was filled with nail-biting tension, that cliffhanger, and a week-long hiatus between episodes. However, “Face Value” wrapped up at least one plot thread while still leaving so many questions to be answered in the back half of the season.
With Sisters Like These…
Man, Malcolm can’t catch a break, can he? Then again, making yourself an accessory after the fact is bound to bring down more than one day. Still, not only does he have a new murder to solve, but he also is trying to help his sister solve the mystery of how she got covered with blood.
In the end, he discovers that it was pig’s blood, and she didn’t murder another person. But this isn’t exactly the sigh of relief that one would wish. Ainsley didn’t accidentally get covered in pig’s blood. She didn’t even slaughter a pig in a fugue state. She “played a trick” on Malcolm intentionally, to teach him a lesson about lying to her.
Now, is it fair to her that he lied to her about her murder? Strictly speaking, probably not. Was it at least understandable why he would? Sure. It at least came from a place of love and a desire to protect her – which is a far cry from Martin’s lies to Malcolm, which stemmed from a place of self-preservation.
As disturbing as her “trick” was, it’s really her lack of remorse that is the most concerning. She not only had no remorse or even a conflicted feeling or two for emotionally torturing her brother, she preyed upon his trauma by (unfairly) comparing his actions to his father’s. If his actions were wrong, there are certainly better ways to address it. Her near-glee at the end, when she assured Malcolm they’d gotten away with murder, was downright chilling. (And, as the cliffhanger suggested, is premature at best.)
Ainsley’s behavior towards her boyfriend in the first season was rather disturbing. But this episode put an end to any question one might have had about whether she really is the least “damaged” of the Whitlys. And, given that Malcolm imagined her following in her father’s footsteps – in education at least – in the previous episode, it seems his subconscious, at least, recognizes that fact.
Of course, Malcolm isn’t alone in dealing with troubling sibling dynamics. “Face Value” introduced us to Jessica’s sister, whose dynamics with the family are less loving and more filled with passive-aggressive stings. And, as it turns out, her motives for returning to the homestead aren’t exactly altruistic. She’s broke, and so she’s agreed to sell a tell-all about the Whitlys’ story. This puts Jessica in the rather unfortunate position of having to sell her own memoire, to at least be in control of the narrative.
Jessica can try atoning for her past, and she can try drowning it out with pills and alcohol. But she can never escape it. I really hope one day she can at least put it behind her.
Ships Stuck at Port
Prodigal Son is the kind of show that’s hard on shippers. Of course, romance isn’t the main focus. It isn’t even regularly a C-Plot, if we’re honest. So whatever shippers there are have to be more or less content with following a path of crumbs. like Hansel and Gretel trying to find their way home.
The midseason finale didn’t leave even many crumbs for shippers – either of Malcolm/Dani or Gil/Jessica. (Fans of Malcolm/Edrisa, assuming they exist, were given only pain.) However, the first half of the season has been less interesting for the ship development than the obvious obstacles in the way.
Both Malcolm and Jessica clearly have feelings for their potential love interests. They also have the same obstacles standing in their way. At first, it was just their past – they come with a lot of baggage. (And, let’s be honest, not everyone would be okay with getting romantically entangled to someone who has to shackle themselves to the bed every night like they’re afraid of turning into a werewolf in the light of the full moon.)
But now they have another issue. They’re both – either directly or after-the-fact – covering up for a murder. Maybe it was a murder of self-defense. Maybe it was justifiable. But the law isn’t necessarily with covering up for a homicide (let alone desecration of a body), regardless of the justifiable nature of the murder in question. Both Gil and Dani are good people – and good cops. Which means either they discover the truth, which realistically would permanently damage these two budding romances. Or Malcolm and Jessica manage to take the truth to their graves, and continue dealing with the guilt that follows.
Either outcome isn’t promising for shippers. Hopefully, the writers can find a way through – assuming they ever intend either ship to sail. But they haven’t made their jobs any easier.
However, it wasn’t the treatment of either Malcolm/Dani or Gil/Jessica that troubled me this episode. It was the treatment of Edrisa in her crush on Malcolm. Now, I’ve made no secret of the fact I love Edrisa. I don’t ship her with Malcolm, and I don’t think that ship will ever sail. But the show has repeatedly touched on her crush, while Malcolm has responded with a sort of mildly amused affection.
Which made the Malcolm/Edrisa scenes this episode all the more painful. And, if I’m being honest, somewhat out of character. While Edrisa’s never been entirely subtle with her crush, she’s also not given a strong indication she ever thought it would go anywhere. Making it somewhat odd that she would jump from Malcolm asking for help (which he’s certainly needed from her before) to a date somewhat inexplicable.
But even if one could wave that away, Malcolm is a profiler. A good one, at that. It seems odd that he wouldn’t realize her misunderstanding straight away. But even if he did, it’s even more unlikely that he would be as casually cruel to her when he realized her misunderstanding. And there’s no way he didn’t realize her misunderstanding when he saw her in the morgue. I’m certainly not saying that Malcolm has to return her feelings. Not by a long shot. But it seems out of character for him to just tell her she looked nice and then leave.
This is one well I hope they never draw from again in terms of plot. Never hint at Edrisa having a crush again. Never make her the butt of the joke in that manner. It wasn’t cute, and it wasn’t funny. It was just cringeworthy. Let Edrisa move on, and just let her and Malcolm continue on as coworkers and friends.
The Doctor in the House
While Martin’s family was dealing with their own issues, the winds blew a little in his favor this week. He was given a reassignment due to “good behavior.” (The standards for good behavior must be astonishingly low, but I digress.) He’s now got a role washing bedpans in the infirmary.
It gives the audience the opportunity to see a little more directly the brilliant surgeon he was before he became The Surgeon. Moments like those provided in this episode – like watching him diagnose a patient from across the room – really help show why Jessica fell in love with him to begin with. We often see the charming veneer covering the homicidal intent, but this combined with the brilliant man behind the murderer would have been a hard combination to resist. It certainly would make it harder for Jessica to see the truth behind the lies. It’s possible that this combination got past his supervising doctor’s defenses just a tad, making her trust him more than any person rightfully should.
But does she trust him? And, if so, where exactly is this plotline going? Looks like we have to wait for April to find out.
Prodigal Son returns Tuesday, April 13 at 9/8c on Fox.