‘Prodigal Son’ Season 1, Episode 2 Recap: “The Annihilator”

Courtesy of Fox


Courtesy of Fox

Another week, another crazy murder to be solved by Malcolm Bright, America’s favorite prodigal son. This week, Malcolm deals with a family annihilator while coping with the realization that his nightmares about his father may be based in truth — a truth he has suppressed all these years.

Much like the pilot episode, we open on Malcolm’s flashing nightmare of finding a woman in a box in his father’s rec room. Malcolm startles awake, then starts on his extensive morning routine designed to calm him. Malcolm is obviously not well, having even more flashes of his father’s arrest. Gil reassures a young Malcolm that while all his other information was correct, they have not found the woman in the box.

Back in the present, Malcolm joins his mother, Jessica, and Ainsley for breakfast. Ainsley is called away to report on a quadruple homicide, which piques Malcolm’s interest. Jessica expresses her concern at Malcolm’s exhaustion and nightmares, wondering aloud if there is anything causing them. Malcolm brushes her off, not wanting to admit that he has seen his father. She is not easily mollified, but Malcolm changes the subject, revealing that his recent nightmares are new scenes he has not seen before. He wonders if maybe they are repressed memories from that time. His mother is angry that he is bringing up “the girl in the box” again, and seems eager for him to accept that she never existed. The NYPD never found any trace of her, and Malcolm’s mother would rather him just forget it and move on. Gil texts Malcolm about the quadruple homicide, interrupting the moment. Malcolm, like Ainsley, rushes off to the scene, and Jessica is left alone.

Malcolm meets Gil at the crime scene, a swanky apartment in Manhattan. Dani and JT are already there. Malcolm is under strict orders to leave the scene alone, which he ignores almost immediately. The victims are all related, seated around their table. Malcolm gets too close to the father’s body, and Edrisa quickly stops him. Her defensive tone is immediately dropped when she sees that it is Malcolm, who complemented her handiwork the last time they met. Like before, she seems infatuated, and the two have an easy chemistry. She snaps out of her reverie to give the details about the victims: they were definitely poisoned. Malcolm realizes that the patriarch Aristos was targeted, and the killer forced him to watch the rest of the family die. Based on this, Malcolm believes they are dealing with a classic family annihilator. His phone buzzes with a call from an unknown number. When he picks up, it’s his father on the line. Martin is watching Ainsley report on the homicide on the news, and he wants to help Malcolm. Malcolm’s tremors begin as his oblivious father prattles on about how excited he is that Malcolm is on the case. Malcolm flatly refuses the help and hangs up, frustrating Martin.

Meanwhile, a snake slithers away from the father’s body, and onto Edrisa, who panics. Malcolm just happens to be an expert on different snake species, having had snakes as pets as a child. He calmly talks to Edrisa, who hangs on his every word despite the danger. He is able to get the snake away from her, and she collapses into his arms.

The team heads back to the NYPD offices, where they find out that the family was poisoned with metoprolol, stopping their hearts. JT and Malcolm finally have it out, since JT has been uncomfortable with Malcolm’s past from the beginning. JT asks the question that’s been on his mind: “Was it weird?” Malcolm responds, “Having a serial killer for a father? Yeah, it was super weird. Good talk” as he moves on.

Malcolm theorizes that this is a family annihilator, and that the killer must be another member of the family. He continues to get increasingly unhinged calls from his father, but ignores them.

The team finds another son, Liam. When they track him down, they find that he is an illegal rare animal dealer, which appears to explain the rare snake from the crime scene. They pursue him, and Malcolm is bitten by one of the snakes. He is taken away by an ambulance. Back at the office, Gil is meeting with the suspect’s lawyer, a friend of the family. The man apparently had a close relationship with Aristos and expresses that he is grieving too. He offers his help, and shakes Gil’s hand.

When Malcolm wakes up, he is in the hospital. The nurse is startled that Malcolm is awake due to the strong sedatives they used on him. Malcolm panics, because if he can’t wake himself up from his nightmares, he feels like he can’t escape. They sedate him. The next morning, Ainsley visits him, since she is his emergency contact. She is surprised to find him awake and completely put together, since he was on such strong drugs. He retorts that he takes fentanyl in his morning coffee, a dark joke that Ainsley doesn’t appreciate. Malcolm’s phone buzzes; it’s Martin again. Ainsley can’t believe Malcolm is still talking to their father after everything that’s happened. Malcolm reveals that he thinks his father holds the key to understanding the resurfacing memories, and he needs to know the truth.

Malcolm returns to his father’s cell. Martin is less jovial than he was the last time we saw him, obviously annoyed that his son has ignored him. He quickly gets over his mood when he begins discussing the case. He equates the killer with extreme love of his family, which gets the gears turning in Malcolm’s head. He asks why Martin never killed his family, to which Martin responds that he didn’t kill for love. Malcolm, flustered, goes to leave, but his father’s statement causes him to realize Liam didn’t love his estranged family enough to kill them. Martin is delighted watching his son work the case in his mind. As an aside: Michael Sheen really nails his performance in this episode. His adorable “Oh my goodness, are we solving the crime right now?!” as Malcolm comes to his realizations makes the scene, showing the two very different sides of the character.

Malcolm rushes to share the new insight with the team, but Liam has committed suicide. The NYPD is eager to close the case, especially since the suicide fits the family annihilator pattern. But Malcolm begs Gil for the chance to prove there’s an illegitimate child out there who is responsible. Gil can only give him a few hours, and Malcolm and Dani rush to meet with the lawyer to see what he knows about mysterious payments to an unknown person found in Aristos’ accounts.

When the two arrive, the lawyer is grilling for his wife and two kids. He dismisses the payments, but Malcolm notices that the man seems nervous. He realizes that the lawyer is the perfect age to be Aristos’ illegitimate son. Dani, wary, places her hand on her gun as Malcolm gets the lawyer to reveal that he is, in fact, the missing son. The lawyer tells his story; he sought out Aristos and began working for him, not revealing their connection. After years of service, he got the courage to tell Aristos the truth, but Aristos shunned him and sent him away. After this betrayal, the lawyer plotted his revenge. Malcolm questions why the lawyer is telling them this, but then the horrible truth becomes clear: the lawyer has poisoned his family’s food like the crime scene. They all collapse as Dani and Malcolm look on, horrified.

Dani rushes to one of the children as Malcolm remembers that the antidote for metoprolol is atropine. Dani has some in a med kit in the car. They inject the children and the wife, reviving them just in time. Malcolm goes to the lawyer, who begs to be allowed to die since that’s what he wanted all along. Malcolm says “I know,” then injects the man with the antidote.

Malcolm and Gil sit and drink, celebrating a case solved. The scene cements the father/son bond between the two, punctuated by Gil’s concern at Malcolm’s continued involvement in murder investigations.

Malcolm turns to leave, but realizes that the combination of alcohol and the drugs in his system from earlier don’t mix well. Dani takes him home, and as she gets him into bed, they share a bonding moment. It’s a sweet scene, and it shows that Dani understands Malcolm’s struggle to be normal.

Malcolm has a vivid nightmare, again reliving the scene of the woman in the box. This time, however, Malcolm’s father calms him as he drips what appears to be chloroform onto a cloth. His mother also appears for the first time in these flashbacks, thinking Malcolm is simply sleeping after accidentally sleepwalking into his father’s study. Malcolm then remembers struggling as his father drugs him, and he wakes up in a panic.

Malcolm goes back to his father, demanding answers. At first, Martin tries to placate Malcolm, but when his questions get more insistent and specific, Martin shows his menacing side. He says, “Be careful Malcolm. Perhaps it’s better if you don’t [remember].” This affects Malcolm as he contemplates the idea that months could have passed during this “missing time” where his father continued killing.

The episode ends as the prison guard escorting Malcolm calls an unknown number, reporting that Malcolm has just left. The caller turns out to be Jessica, who is enraged to learn that Malcolm is still seeing his father. But why does his mother have the guard on speed dial? Does Jessica know more than she’s telling about the “missing time”? All questions that will have to wait until next week’s episode.

Prodigal Son airs Mondays at 9 pm ET on Fox.


Written by

I am a nursing student and dedicated fangirl from Boston! When I'm not at work, I'm rewatching old favorites like Supernatural and Lost or discovering my new obsessions (too many to count!). I'm a huge Disney fan and my happy place is the Happiest Place on Earth! When not fangirling, I can be found reading, writing and listening to a true crime podcast. You can find me on Twitter @juleswritesblog for more nerdy nonsense and occasionally rants.

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