‘Prodigal Son’ Season 1, Episode 8 Recap: A Killer “Family Friend”
“You want the wall here, Miss?”
“Was I not clear? I never want to see this room again.”
Maybe you should have told Malcolm that… and stopped paying the phone bill. We saw last week that Malcolm answered the call on Martin’s old phone and found the man from the junkyard on the other end. A man that described himself as an old friend of Martin Whitly, and someone who went on the camping trip we’ve seen flashes of lately. In what can be assumed is an attempt to get the man to open up a bit more, Malcolm begins calling him by one of his names, Paul. He quickly reveals his belief that Malcolm was “delivered” to him, though he isn’t sure why, and he isn’t happy that his – self-described- important work was “interrupted.” It seems that Malcolm had, quite literally, received his warning shot.
We cut to Ainsley, sitting at Jin’s bedside watching interview footage. When he wakes up he catches her attention and asks what she’s working on (his tone of voice indicates a slight annoyance, presumably because she seems more interested in the footage than the fact that he almost died). He says “sorry I ruined it by, you know… getting knifed,” emphasizing those final two words, making his annoyance more obvious. This short but important scene ends with Ainsley saying “it’s a shame we had to stop early, but I think… think it’ll cut together.” Not exactly a lie but it’s certainly not the truth.
We jump back to Malcolm and Jessica at the family home, now filled with NYPD officers, and see an obviously on edge Jessica who offers the detectives hard alcohol. As the room slowly clears, Gil tries to ease her fears by offering to take her to a safe house, or at least have some officers stationed outside the house. While tactfully declining Gils offer, she walks over to the bookcase in the corner of the room, pulls a book off the shelf and opens it, revealing only to herself and us, a small revolver hidden inside. To describe her as stubborn would be a massive understatement.
We regroup at the station with Malcolm, Gil, Dani, and JT combing over evidence. Based on that evidence Malcolm believes Paul to be a mission-oriented killer. He believes Paul’s mission is cleaning up the streets, which makes sense given his victims are addicts. What doesn’t make sense (at least initially) is that the two most recent victims didn’t have any stomach contents. Luckily for us, Malcolm shed some light on the significance of this by revisiting the phone conversation during which Paul emphasized that Malcolm had “interrupted” him. Malcolm “thought he meant his killings in general, but what if he’d already taken someone? What if we missed something?” Malcolm and Gil rush to the junkyard where Malcolm begins to explain his thought process of narrowing down where he believes the next victim is being held. He knows the victim is somewhere at the junkyard because “transport would have been a needless risk,” and that means they’re close. Knowing that, he focuses on the area Paul had been standing when he shot the gun, an area he felt the need to protect. Malcolm walks over to the one area no victims have been found, and digs through the gravel, revealing the hatch on top of a buried Winnebago. He breaks the hatch open and jumps in, because Malcolm knows many things but apparently fear is not one of them. He slowly makes his way through the motor home and finds the victim, Ryan Davis, chained up in a back room.
Upon digging into the victim’s life, Dani discovers that he, along with two other victims, were known to stay at a local church’s homeless shelter, so she and Malcolm go there searching for more information. They meet with Father Leo, who upon learning the fate of the three victims, begins to question his faith. Just before leaving Malcolm’s attention is briefly drawn to a man standing in line to enter the church, though at the moment, nothing else comes of it. Once back at the station, JT enters with a package addressed to Malcolm, which he sits on the table and shifts the focus to the records from St. Edwards (the place they believe Martin and Paul met), at least until the package begins to bleed. Edrisa is quickly called in, and she removes a severed hand from the box. Fortunately for the sake of speed, but unfortunately for the owner of the hand, fingerprint identification is not necessary; it belongs to Father Leo. Paul was watching, he knew they had talked.
As Edrisa and the forensics team are leaving the room Martin’s old phone rings. Malcolm is in control of the conversation until Paul says, “bad things happen when you snoop. Like when you found that girl,” at which point we see Malcolm start to spiral, having flashbacks of the girl in the trunk, as he frantically asks what Paul knows about her. Paul hangs up and Malcolm runs outside for air, but while sitting on the steps he notices a familiar figure from the church standing across the street and follows him when he leaves all the way into a tunnel. Fear is our friend Malcolm, it stops us from doing this like this. Malcolm shouts his name, and Paul darts around a corner with Malcolm right on his heels, but as he pushes through the turnstile, Paul punches him before shoving him between the bars. He asks several iterations of the same question, looking for a specific answer: “Because we’re the same! My dad and I… he- he told me all I know about murder. That’s how I know how you think. I’m my Father’s son.” Paul slides a phone into Malcolm’s pocket and releases him before walking away as Malcolm lands on the floor in pain.
Our next two scenes are short. The first consists of a small conversation between Gil and Malcolm, with the latter admitting that running into the tunnel after Paul was “somewhat ill-advised,” to which Gil responds with my favorite line of the episode, “to run into a dark tunnel alone and let him pop you like bubble wrap? Yeah, I’d say so.” Then we return to Ainsley who remains more focused on the potential story than the man lying in the hospital bed. She gets a call from the network and as she exits the room Jin’s attention is focused on her open laptop on a nearby table. Honestly, when I saw his gaze linger on the computer, knowing his annoyance was probably full blown anger at that point, I thought he was going to delete the interview footage.
Soon enough the phone Paul gave Malcolm buzzes with a text message that instructs him to be at Fort Totten in two hours. This time Malcolm aired on the side of caution and alerted the team to the meeting location. When they arrive the phone buzzes again, this time with a phone call. Unaware that Malcolm is not alone, Paul instructs him to move through the fence and look straight ahead, where we see a dark figure standing at the far end of the fort. The voice on the phone tells Malcolm to keep his distance, but he wants to talk about the girl and the souvenir he kept from her. Paul tells Malcolm to look for a small bag on his right which contains a small gold charm bracelet that Malcolm remembers seeing her wear. Malcolm, suspicious of the figure, throws small rocks at it, but the man doesn’t react and Paul’s voice doesn’t change on the phone as if he doesn’t know something happened. Malcolm runs over to discover the figure is actually Father Leo, bound and gagged to look like a man on the phone. Malcolm quickly mutes the phone and alerts Gil to his discovery. He knows Paul wasn’t nearby, he knows Paul set up this distraction in order to complete his mission: he is going to kill Ryan.
This isn’t Malcolm’s only discovery though; Jin and Ryan are patients at the same hospital, meaning Ainsley is in danger. Just as Malcolm divulges this information to her over the phone, she walks by the hallway that should contain several NYPD officers guarding Ryan’s room… except no one’s there and the hospital is conveniently void of staff and light. Malcolm instructs her to stay in Jin’s room and lock the door, despite the fact that everyone knows when there’s a serial killer lurking about, you go and investigate. She slowly pushes the door to Ryan’s room open and discovers the body of one of the police officers and a bloody Ryan, both deceased. She and Paul also discover each other before Ainsley bolts from the room, down the hall and into a break room, locking the door behind her. The sound of approaching sirens ultimately causes Paul to disappear before he can get into the room. Ainsley heads back to Jin’s room and finds him watching the video of his own surgery. “What is this? You filmed my surgery? This is who you are. I just, don’t think that’s the kind of person I want to be with.” Ouch. I mean she kind of deserved that, but still… ouch.
One of our final moments is a meaningful one, and is probably one of my favorite episodes so far this season. Gil takes the evidence bag containing the charm bracelet out of Malcolm’s hands and informs him cadaver dogs will search the fort for the girl’s body. After Malcolm reiterated that he’s always been told she was a figment of his imagination Gil says, “I’ve been telling you for 20 years she isn’t real, I’m not gonna tell you that tonight. If she’s there, we’ll find her.”
While having a conversation with his mother to check on her, Malcolm receives a phone call from Gil, leaving us with quite the cliffhanger: the FBI is taking over their case. This agent doesn’t seem to be a big fan of Malcolm’s either, which leaves us with several questions: who is this FBI agent? What exactly is her history with Malcolm? How much of a role will Malcolm play moving forward? How many more memories is Malcolm suppressing? Is the girl buried at the fort?
What say you Prodigies? Sound off in the comments and let us know your theories! Prodigal Son returns November 25 at 9/8c on Fox.