You knew it would be a damn good hour of Prodigal Son when the first minute gifted us a montage of Martin’s morning regimen at Claremont set to Destiny Child’s Survivor.
This show continues to be a gift that keeps on giving, and Prodigal Son Season 2 Episode 4 is another example of that.
From the hilarious first minute to the jaw-dropping last, Prodigal Son knows how to keep us coming back for more.
It’s beyond redundant to point out that Michael Sheen is the absolute GOAT. Every single scene he’s in, you can tell he’s having the time of his life, and thus he pulls you into his orbit and holds you there, utterly transfixed by Martin in all of his glory.
And this hour gave us so much of Martin; you can’t ask for anything more. It was an installment that felt as if it went on forever, beyond the usual hour, and every time it seemed as if it was nearing the conclusion, you’d see there was still ample time remaining for more to unfold.
Oh, yeah. This is a good place for a murder. And when you find you a place, you wanna go back again and again. Like a good restaurant.
The team rushing to solve a case at Claremont was pure genius. It put them in a slightly familiar environment, introduced us to new characters, expanded those we saw before, and it put Martin, Malcolm, and at times Gil in the same room investigating.
It also gave us the first official Malcolm and Edrisa meeting, and it was comedic gold. I’m not saying Edrisa has a new favorite Whitly or anything, since her crush on Malcolm is still very much alive. However, she and Malcolm had an instant connection as two doctors obsessed with their fields and death.
Think about all the fascinating discussions that they could have compared to the others. Edrisa was intrigued by The Surgeon and all of his knowledge, and it already speaks volumes that she had him on speakerphone while she was performing the autopsy.
If you don’t think she saved the number, and those two won’t be having some conversations down the road, then you’re probably mistaken. It’s so classic Edrisa to need reminding that the man she was geeking out with was a serial killer.
Gil: He killed 23 people.
Edrisa: Copy. Copy that.
Martin was a hell of an asset throughout the investigation, whether Malcolm and Gil wanted to admit it or not. But it was hilarious that Jerry was the one who ended up dead since I still believe Martin intended to kill him the first time.
Jerry was bragging way too much about how happy he was about his release and all of his plans. It did seem as if one of the others in the group was responsible for his death.
It was one of the most procedural-like hours of the series. The hour devoted a lot of time to the twists and turns of the investigation, and it introduced enough potential suspects that the killer reveal wasn’t predictable.
You couldn’t have a murder at Claremont without others suspecting Martin at least once, and Rhonda did a great job of shifting blame to Martin when Malcolm questioned her.
Malcolm: Here’s the deal. I’ll let you in on this case if you stop talking about that night and you promise not to see dad.
Ainsley: OK fine.
Malcolm: Hey, Gil.
Gil: There’s been a murder at Claremont your father is a witness.
Martin: Malcolm, Malcolm can’t wait to work with you, my boy!
The therapist, Marsh, was also a solid suspect at first until they cleared things up. Jerry told everyone it was Marsh’s work that saved him rather than Martin’s ECT.
But it wasn’t an insignificant throwaway, since thanks to Marsh, Martin knows about the Golden Key (how Willy Wonka) that unlocks all the doors and grants total access at Claremont versus collecting a bunch of multicolored keycards.
Hell, Martin even had one of those suckers in his hand and could have taken off had he not cared enough about Malcolm to save him from Rhonda. It was a setback for Martin, but something tells me he may actually pull off this escape sooner rather than later.
And when he does, Malcolm won’t be the least bit surprised about it either. He noticed Martin eying the keycard when they were brainstorming about Jerry’s death in Martin’s cell, and he had to practically pry it from the man’s hands when they were in the basement.
Lieutenant Arroyo, Gilly, this isn’t a suicide. I was in therapy with Jerry just a few hours ago. All he could talk about was his impending freedom, and lobster, a man like that does not then go and kill himself does he?
A Martin escape is imminent, and damn if I’m not ready for it. The potential of a father/son cat and mouse game is too good to pass up.
For the most part, the father-son duo worked well together, but they wouldn’t be the Whitlys if they didn’t have some angst along the way. Clearly, Malcolm needs to go back to therapy. The group baited him into baring his soul about his daddy issues with ease.
Malcolm’s outburst had to be cathartic for him. With a group of mentally ill criminals, it’s not surprising that they would wonder why Malcolm called the police on his own father.
Maybe it’s a sign of how he’s barely keeping it together, or perhaps it was a step toward improvement that he opened up about his father, but the scene was one of the best of the hour.
Hector: This is Malcolm? The son you’re always talking about?
Martin: All good. I swear.
Hector: Dude got fired from the FBI, chopped a guy’s hand off. Smashed his own with a hammer.
Friar Pete: He has a thing with hands?
Hector; Bro, he’s crazier than me.
Malcolm: I’m not sure that’s true, Hector. You did gut your mother’s boyfriend with a fire poker.
Malcolm feels like the only way he connected or bonded with his father is if Martin was grooming him to be like him. I love how the show captures the complexities of not only Malcolm’s relationship with Martin but how he perceives him in the past and present.
Sometimes, we hear about Martin, the doting dad, and then others, we get the man whose real interest lay in bringing up a son like him. Any given day, Malcolm doesn’t know how to feel about his childhood with Martin.
But when it comes down to discussing why he called the police on a man who once was his hero, he rationalizes it with Martin’s misdeeds. Malcolm was defensive, and under any circumstances, he shouldn’t have to, given what Martin has done and who he is, but he feels the need to do so anyway.
Malcolm is constantly grappling with feeling as if his father wants him to be the spitting image of him versus his innate fear that he is like his father.
Patient: I couldn’t do that to my dad. You must’ve really hated him.
Malcolm: No, no. I loved him. I always wanted to be around him learn from him I wanted to be just like my dad until I found a girl in the box and realized he was a serial killer
.Friar Pete: That must’ve been really confusing for you as a child.
Malcolm: He destroyed me.
But despite all of Martin’s ways, his love for Malcolm comes through full-force. He was right when he told Malcolm that he could harbor so much resentment and anger toward Malcolm but doesn’t. It’s simmering under the surface based on his explosive outburst, but he doesn’t give into it.
Martin can’t let his son go. He had the perfect chance to escape when Rhonda was zapping the hell out of Malcolm, and he considered it but couldn’t bring himself to do so.
And for all the things that Malcolm feels about his father, he knew Martin would save him if it came down to it and told Rhonda as much. His father is still the hero saving the day, as dads do.
Martin: Let’s focus on the positives, shall we?
Malcolm: There aren’t any. You wanted to turn me into a monster. A monster like you!
What did you make of Martin sizing up Dani? I mean, we knew he wouldn’t do anything to her, but the urge was there, yes? And I commend Malcolm for calling for backup for a change, but why was it taking so long for Dani to do something to Rhonda?
Was she trying to get a visual or a better shot, or what? It seemed like one of those contrived moments for the sake of giving us the Martin/Dani scene more than anything else.
We also got some delicious Ainsley action, and I cannot be more excited about the fact that Jessica knows the truth now. Her kids had their story too straight, and it was more suspicious by the second.
No matter how much Ainsley and Malcolm tried to cover their tracks, it didn’t work. It didn’t help matters that Malcolm lied to both his sister and his mother at once, trying to manage who spoke to whom.
Martin: Try me, Jess. Ask me what you’re too afraid to ask.
Jessica: The night the rug got ruined. It was the night Nicholas Endicott disappeared.
Martin: That’s not a question. Ask the question.
Jessica: I can’t.Martin: Good because it’s ridiculous. Do you really think your children killed him, and what? Wrapped his body in a rug and shipped him to Estonia?
Jessica: Okay, okay. Perhaps I was letting myself get carried away.
Martin: Well, don’t beat yourself up too much. They are my children too after all. Apples don’t fall that far from the tree.
Jessica’s delicious, I might add, conversation with Martin was another case of cat and mouse. Martin loved toying with Jessica. He knew the truth about what happened that night, but he refuted it while also giving her pause.
He loves to play both sides of things for his amusement, and he was a catalyst in Jessica figuring out the truth. I cannot believe she tore the living room apart, searching for signs of Endicott’s murder.
And the fact that it came down to a spot of blood on a book is absurd. Malcolm could’ve pushed back against that, but it’s evident he’s tired of harboring this secret, and carrying it with Martin alone makes the burden harder.
It’s not a surprise that Jessica’s gut instinct was that Malcolm was the one who killed Endicott. Malcolm’s challenges with his father and his identity are rooted in his personal fears, but it doesn’t help matters when people see him that way, too, including his mother.
Jessica: Malcolm, what happened to Nicholas Endicott?
Malcolm: I killed him.
Jessica: you’re lying.
Malcolm: I’m just trying to protect the family. Please believe me.
Jessica: It was Ainsley, wasn’t it? She murdered him. No more lies. Tell me!
Malcolm: She doesn’t know. She doesn’t remember anything. Please you can’t tell her. I don’t … we might lose her.
But she quickly figured out that Malcolm was protecting Ainsley, and Malcolm admitted what many of our fans are suspecting — that there’s more to Ainsley. He’s the most overt choice for mirroring his father. Ainsley is the one everyone sleeps on and never worries about with this.
So much for the “well-adjusted Whitly,” right?
Malcolm thought he was protecting his sister, but he did her a disservice lying and trying to control her. He, better than anyone, should know how memories can drudge up and how awful it is to be in the dark.
He’s a truth-seeker and knows Ainsley is one, so he’s only delaying the inevitable, gaslighting his sister and damaging her in the process.
When you see your victim’s blood for the first time, it’s exhilarating like touching down in OZ for the first time. Everything is suddenly in color.
She doesn’t have anyone to talk to about that night, and Malcolm won’t’ even discuss things with her. Cutting her off from Martin alienates her. Repressing things may be Malcolm’s coping mechanism of choice, but it’s unfair of him to project that on Ainsley.
Everything he did to shelter Ainsley has backfired; he’s driven her deeper into everything instead.
Ainsley’s idea of getting back out there is doing another story on her father. And maybe that’s the pretense for her sitting in his office and reading all of his journals.
But there’s an allure there for Ainsley. Like a moth to a flame, she’s not inclined to fight off the magnetic quality her father has and getting to know him better. She’ll go full-force into it.
Martin: We can always run down a few suspects. Play good cop, bad cop, predatory psychopath.
Gil: We’re not here to discuss case strategy. You’re a witness.
Martin: Why can’t I be a peer? You’ve shown so much affection to my son and my wife. Why no love for the man who actually gave you your career?
I think Malcolm knows that, and it’s why he’s so worried about Ainsley and what it may mean if she does figure things out. He’s scared of a truth where Ainsley is anything like his father.
Jessica is afraid, too. You could see the concern and fear all over her face when Ainsley came into her room after having a bad dream.
Once again, Jessica was sleeping beside a killer, for like, the third time in her life. Honestly, the woman has the worst luck.
The clock is ticking down before Ainsley remembers the truth of what happened, and heaven only knows what will happen when she does — how she’ll react.
Malcolm: Jerry’s release may have triggered abandonment anxiety in his fellow patients. We all experience it when someone gets engaged or promoted instead of us.
Edrisa: Like my friend who kept posting photos of her wedding in the Galapagos. Like, we get it, Carly. You saw some turtles, and you married my high school boyfriend.
And if they’ve found Endicott’s body in Estonia, and there was a drop of blood in the living room, the potential for this house of cards collapsing all around them is strong.
- The person who came up with the scene of Martin’s regimen set to Survivor deserves all the good things. Also, no matter how many times Malcolm swears he isn’t like his dad, they sure do mirror each other often, don’t they?
- Can we get more Edrisa and Martin? They’re superior. You know Edrisa is somewhere bragging about her new friend being the notorious Martin Whitly. Carly and her Galapagos wedding can suck it!
- Michael Sheen is a gosh damn force. He stole the entire hour, hands down. He also had so many quotable moments with fantastic delivery. I mean, “Second, who’s Rhonda?” Superb.
- Based on live-tweets during Prodigal Son Season 2 Episode 3, Frank Harts’ absence was probably due to quarantine as a safety precaution. I wish we got an update on the baby, though.
- Hector finally met the guy Martin forces him to roleplay, and he milked it for everything it was worth.
- Mr. David not only got a line or two in, but he also has jokes. You can’t convince me he wasn’t seconds away from a “White Men Can’t Jump” crack when Martin was shooting hoops.
- When will Jessica and Gil get their sh!t together?! – Please, let Dark Ainsley rise!
Malcolm’s process of elimination to get to Rhonda and Dani being impressed was awesome.
Over to you, Prodigal Son Fanatics. The truth is out. What are your predictions now? Hit the comments below. You can watch Prodigal Son online here via TV Fanatic.
Jasmine Blu is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.