Gather round everyone! Settle down, settle down, no pushing! Tonight we’re getting into the Christmas spirit with some good old fashioned caroling (and murder). First up on our list is the apartment down the street on the left, we’ll be kicking off the singing with “Silent Night,” everybody got it? Alright, here we go! 3-2-… “Why didn’t you tell me? The girl in the box. The memories. You have proof. They’re all real.” Hang on, hang on, shhhh! This is much more interesting. Alright, forget the caroling, what do you say we just follow this dude around for a bit?
We follow Malcolm into a fancy hotel with children running around aimlessly and no signs of anything sinister, at least until we get up to one of the rooms. Once there we see two victims, one on the bed and one on the couch with blood everywhere in between. We learn the names of the two, a male, Ian Turner and a female Emily Hayes; Turner was a cop, a chief of detectives to be precise, and followed the tv cop trope of being squeaky-clean, Emily Hayes on the other hand had a prior misdemeanor for prostitution. My crime solving expertise stems from hours of sitting on the couch watching Law & Order and Criminal Minds, so it’s quite clear here, even to me, that something isn’t adding up. This was certainly no murder-suicide and Malcolm agrees, though he makes his point in one of the most Malcolm-esque ways we’ve seen to date: by waving the gun around and pointing the barrel at his own skull, and yes, it was still loaded.
Back at the station, we learn that Turner was the target and Hayes was just a casualty; she was killed quickly while the suspect took their time with Turner (the posing of the body was a clear indicator that more time was taken with Turner than Hayes). This knowledge presents the question, that thankfully Malcolm asked for us, “who hated Turner that much?” Before we could really think up much of an answer, the door swings open and in walks the FBI agent who first appeared two episodes ago. Colette Swanson, a former colleague of Malcolm’s from Washington and certainly not a fan of our favorite profiler. She steals Dani to stay on the Paul Lazar case to fill in gaps in the case file, but Gil limits her availability to a short 24 hours. This lady certainly seems to be high on power and isn’t afraid to flaunt it, but what’s the backstory here?
While drowning in the physical copies of Turner’s case files, Malcolm stumbles upon a picture of the deceased standing next to another man. The interesting part of this is Malcolm’s reaction to it; his hand begins to shake in the way we’ve seen previously when he is reminded of his past. Cue the flashback: we see a young Malcolm, then a flash of the unknown man, followed by a flash of the deceased, then back to young Malcolm as he sits in an interrogation room. The unknown man introduces himself as Detective Shannon and he quickly begins leaning on Malcolm for information about his father’s parting words the night he was arrested. Just as quickly as it began, the flashback ends and we find ourselves sitting with Malcolm and Gil outside Detective Shannon’s rundown abode. As soon as the door opens, Malcolm finds himself staring down the barrel of a revolver. After a not-so gentle talking down from Gil, we make our way into the living space and quickly discover Shannon to be quite the alcoholic who blames Turner for “ruining him.” Malcolm, clearing letting his emotions get the better of him, challenges Shannon, pointing out flaw after flaw to the point that Gil had to step between the two. When Malcolm’s tremble once again reared its ugly head, Shannon seemed to finally realize who was standing before him. “…you hated him so much that you murdered an innocent woman too.” That one line, blew a hole in every theory the NYPD had (and mine too, but what do I know?). Shannon revealed that it didn’t make sense that Turner would be with a hooker, at least not a female hooker; Turner was gay.
We get a quick scene between Dani and Swanson, followed immediately by a scene between Gil and Jessica, both of which raise a question or two. As we enter the room taken over by the FBI, we can hear Swanson asking “do you trust Malcolm Bright, Detective Powell?” This question tips Dani off to Swanson’s intention, she essentially wants an informant because she doesn’t think Bright has been truthful, and though Dani does initially shut Swanson down, she seems to be a bit hesitant. Switching over to Gil, Jessica walks in and begins talking about the girl in the box, and how if they could just find her, they could put Martin away for good (hopefully preventing him from lingering in her life and her children’s lives anymore than he already has). Take note of her choice of words: “if WE can find the girl in the box…,” it looks like inserting ourselves into investigations is a family thing. Gil spends some time attempting to distract her from her newly found mission, even going so far as to seemingly ask her out, mentioning a bottle of bourbon in his desk (a new romance perhaps?), but the scene is cut short when Swanson steps into the office requesting Gil’s presence elsewhere. This leaves Jessica alone in the office with the Lazar case file, which she promptly begins digging through until she sees a picture of the bracelet belonging to the girl in the box.
It being Christmas, the Whitly’s had a family dinner planned, though like most family dinners it doesn’t really go to plan. For starters, as Ainsley arrives at her mother’s house, she is swarmed by numerous reporters waiting by the steps. They shove cameras in her face, asking if she has seen her father since her interview with him, which had gone public the night before, and if Martin was assisting the NYPD. “Any breaking news about my family is mine to report, thank you.” Mic. Drop. Ainsley makes her way into the home, diving right into talk about her interview much to the disappointment of her mother causing a fight to ensue. The focal point of the argument came at the tail-end of the scene after Ainsley accused her mother of playing the victim. Jessica whirled around and stated, “I am not a victim, but there are victims, real ones. How do you think those 23 families feel when they see you on television? And why is the story never about them?” To which Ainsley responds, in part, with “I used the media to direct the narrative.” Does that give an idea of how Jessica will use the image of the bracelet?
The second thing that throws the dinner off-track, is Owen Shannon. As Malcolm is walking down the street, presumably to his mother’s house, Shannon confronts him, causing another quick flashback to the interrogation room where Shannon accuses Malcolm of being his father’s little-helper. In present day, Malcolm explains his situation to Shannon and makes their common link obvious: they both have an obsession about finding the truth of what happened all those years ago. Shannon, visibly more relaxed, states “Turner had a-a place where he kept everything that he didn’t want to release to the official case files. I can take you there.” Of course, the “place” is a storage facility in an unlit alley, at night, with no one else around; what else were you expecting? Upon entering the unit, Malcolm pulls a sheet off a bulletin board covered in crime scene photos that show Turner was investigating The Junkyard Killer; he hadn’t turned his back on Shannon afterall. “Look around. Turner did all of this for you. He was trying to clear your name.” Shannon’s reaction, along with his next words, are heart-breaking; “Damn him…for being my guy. I spent ten years of my life hating him for ruining my career, when all he was trying to do was save me from myself. And now he’s dead.” (Turner and Shannon had been in a relationship). The two men dive into the work strewn about the unit, picking up where Turner left off, quickly narrowing the suspect list down to one name: John Watkins.
They head to the 20 year old address on file and are greeted by a blind, elderly woman, who happens to be the grandmother of John Watkins, aka The Junkyard Killer. Just before she opened the door, Malcolm points out the connection to the FBI’s case while on the phone with Gil, but before Gil can get much of a coherent thought out, Malcolm hangs up. The sweet elderly lady jumps right into grandmother mode and fixes Malcolm and Shannon a nice TV dinner all while happily chatting about her grandson. Malcolm asks,“Were John’s parents around when he was a kid?” “She [his mother] was a sinner. Filthy whore till she died.” Oh my, granny’s got a mouth. While they, reluctantly, consume their barely edible dinner, they continue prying for more information on John’s childhood. Malcolm takes things a bit further, opting to explore the house by asking if he can use the restroom. “‘May’ I use your bathroom. Poor grammar is just a short walk to delinquency,” corrected granny. He made his way up the stairs, easily finding John’s room, mostly barren but still containing several items pointing to a Christian home. The attention-grabber was the wardrobe containing a padlock on its exterior and visible scratch marks on the inside of the door, something Malcolm assumes is from John being locked in as a child.
We shift back, only momentarily, to the station where Gil fills the rest of the team, including Swanson, in on Bright’s new connection. We immediately jump back to the Watkins home, where Malcolm is returning to the table, it is also this seemingly simple action that sets us up for our fall finale cliffhanger. As soon as he sits back down, Matilda launches into another story about her grandson but our focus quickly shifts downward where blood is slowly coating the table: Shannon’s throat has been slit. “John’s here,” Malcolm realizes. It is at this point that I would be making a hasty retreat to the door. As Shannon’s now limp body falls to the floor, grandma’s mask comes off as she exclaims “John, my dear. You forgot one.” Clearly Santa’s reindeer missed their mark this year. Malcolm once again throws his own safety out the window and grabs Shannon’s firearm before heading out the side door, following John’s shadow.
Thankfully, we get a reprieve from the intensity, and return to the Whitly family home, where Jessica is preparing to use the media swarm to her advantage. She steps out the door, holding the image of the bracelet and addresses the reporters; she holds up the image and states, “this bracelet, which is in evidence and under FBI jurisdiction, holds the key to the identity of The Surgeon’s 24th victim. Instead of turning your eyes on my family this Christmas, use this clue to help me uncover the identity of this woman. I hereby offer a reward in the amount of $1 million for information that leads to the truth about the owner of this bracelet, which is engraved with the initials AMS.” While she speaks these last few words, we see Malcolm slowly entering a garage before being attacked from behind and knocked unconscious. We are left with a closing shot of Malcolm being dragged out of the shot as it blurs.
What do you hope to see in the opening scenes upon our return from break?
Prodigal Son airs Mondays at 9 p.m. ET on Fox, with all episodes available on Hulu the day after they air. The show will return on Monday, January 20, 2020.