Prodigies, we learned a valuable lesson this week: Malcolm’s profile is always right. And also that you should throw some lights on while searching for a dangerous murderer. This week, Malcolm pursues a sadist while Ainsley pursues the truth about her father. Are either of the Whitly siblings successful?
We open with Ainsley’s visit to her father. She tries to remain distant and aloof, but Martin is overjoyed and it seems to throw her off balance. He says doing an interview might be exploitative, and then the greatest exchange in the whole episode occurs:
Martin: That seems a little exploitative…then again, I’ve been exploiting others my whole life.
Ainsley: As a serial killer?
Martin: No, as a white man. We’re terrible.
Slow clap for Michael Sheen and the writers of Prodigal Son, everyone. When Ainsley says he wouldn’t have final control over the interview, he hesitates. Ainsley starts to lose her cool, saying she needs to know why and how he killed 23 people. Martin moves towards her menacingly, telling her that there’s another question he can tell she desperately needs answered. But, he wonders, is she brave enough to ask it?
We cut to Malcolm in a used car lot, pursuing the car from the photo he found of him as a child with his father. As a salesman tries to sell him on the car, Malcolm notes that it isn’t the right one, which leads to a funny exchange when the salesman realizes why Malcolm is seeking this car.
Ainsley is in bed with boyfriend (and cameraman) Jin. He notes that she’s been off since she asked her dad for the interview. Ainsley’s phone is blowing up with texts from her mother, and she jokes that he’ll need to save her from her mother and The Surgeon.
Malcolm is in his therapist’s office as she tries to talk him through the memories that have been resurfacing. She thinks it’s a bad thing that he’s started to remember these memories, that he could regress to his broken childhood self if he digs too deep. She says the first sign would be hallucinations that felt real to him. Thus far, Malcolm has had awareness that his hallucinations are not real. Gabrielle cautions him to be careful.
Gil and Malcolm approach the latest crime scene. Gavin Parker has been stabbed over a hundred times in a park. Malcolm notes that this is a case of overkill, which suggests rage. The way the man fell and broke his angle before dying showed that it’s an opportunistic murder by a sadist. Malcolm and Gil head out and speak to his wife, who is obsessively cleaning and not especially upset. She explains that they were getting a divorce. She also appears to be overly concerned about her son Isaac, and Malcolm goes out to talk to him. He finds himself relating to Isaac, who is a little older than Malcolm was when Martin was arrested. They discuss their fathers while Isaac feeds his rabbits, and Malcolm promises him that everything will be all right. Isaac mentions that his mother didn’t need his father and talks about Jake, his mother’s trainer (and potential romantic partner). Malcolm tells him they will figure out what happened.
At dinner that night, Ainsley tells Malcolm and Jessica about her plan to interview The Surgeon. Both are in shock and for once are in agreement that this is a bad idea. She also reveals that she saw him last week. Jessica forbids Ainsley from seeing Martin, but Ainsley retorts that she can’t just make a declaration like that. Ainsley leaves, saying that she’d hoped they could have a civil conversation about this. Both Jessica and Malcolm marvel at the fact that they agree on this. Malcolm asks his mother about the mysterious photo. Jessica doesn’t recognize the car, but recalls that the week the photo was taken, she and Ainsley were away. Martin loved to camp, so the setting makes sense to her. Jessica leaves to call a car, and Malcolm hallucinates his father standing there. Martin says that they will have a “guy’s weekend” and that “Mother doesn’t have to know” (which was said so creepily by Michael Sheen that actual chills went up my spine). To break out of the hallucination, Malcolm sets his jacket on fire (admittedly not one of his best ideas).
Back in prison, Martin is participating in a therapy group about signs of aggression and brings up Ainsley’s request. He says he’s torn: the interview would give him a chance to spend “quality time” with Ainsley, but he feels that the public wouldn’t understand him. Another inmate Tevin encourages him to do it, but loses it and is dragged away screaming by guards. Martin quips, “Tell me if I’m wrong, but I think that was Tevin’s sign of aggression”.
Malcolm has come up with a profile for the killer, and asks Dani for a favor while they wait for Gil. He wants her to run the plates on the car in the photo. She agrees, and Malcolm launches into the profile. Dani notes that Crystal often abused Gavin. Malcolm believes Crystal has a Jocasta complex, which is the mother-son version of an Oedipal complex. Dani also brings up Jake, who has a history of prior assaults and attempted murder. Malcolm has an idea to see if Jake is a sadist or not.
Malcolm goes to Jake’s gym, pretending to be an interested new member. They spar, with Malcolm egging Jake on to the point where it seems like Malcolm is in genuine danger. But just then, Malcolm smiles as he notes that Jake’s pleasure in Malcolm’s pain makes him a sadist. He also points out Gil, waiting in the background.
Meanwhile, Dani and JT are following Crystal as she runs to the crime scene. Dani sees Crystal looking for something and looks away to call JT. When she looks back, she’s lost sight of Crystal. As Jake explains that Gavin was suing for full custody of Isaac, Crystal comes behind Dani and puts her in a choke-hold. Just in time, Dani pulls out mace and sprays Crystal as JT comes running. He’s found a bloody sweatshirt – what Crystal was trying to find.
Malcolm is not convinced Crystal is the killer. Gil thinks that Isaac’s age and similarity to Malcolm is messing with Malcolm’s head, but Malcolm disagrees. Gil, wanting to prove that Crystal was the killer, goes into the interrogation room and obtains a confession from Crystal. But Malcolm remains unconvinced (and anyone who’s seen an episode of any other crime show might also have a different theory at this point). He feels guilty about telling Isaac that everything would be fine. Gil reassures him that he did nothing wrong.
Ainsley and Jin are kissing as Jessica enters, surprising them since Ainsley thought she took her mother’s only key. She informs Ainsley that she called in a favor at the network and that her interview is off. Ainsley is angry, saying that everything she knows about Martin is colored in Jessica’s resentment. Jessica wryly states, “Well, that and all the people he killed”. We flash to the day Ainsley talked to Martin, and it’s revealed that she asked him whether he loved them or if it was all an act. This gives Martin an opening, and he waxes poetic about his dreams of being with her and the family. It’s unclear if Ainsley is playing along to encourage Martin, or if she really does feel sympathy for him. In the present, Jessica sadly tells Ainsley that she understands why Ainsley is confused. She expected to meet a monster and instead met a loving father. Ainsley informs her mother that the executive she called for the favor is on his way out, and that this interview is happening whether Jessica likes it or not.
Malcolm is with his therapist discussing the case. He wonders how he could have been wrong about the profile, and she notes that his connection with Isaac meant that he needed to see the best in him, when normally a profiler sees the worst. This makes Malcolm realize the truth: Isaac is the sadist and killed his father. He goes to the house, checking on the rabbits Isaac was tending to. He sees a freshly filled hole and digs, then takes the contents to the NYPD office. He rushes into the interrogation room, stopping Crystal from signing the confession. He realizes that the sweatshirt was Isaac’s. Malcolm tells Crystal that she knew Isaac was different and tried to protect him. He pulls out the item from the bag: it’s a dead rabbit. Crystal breaks down, saying that Isaac was diagnosed with conduct disorder as a child. Malcolm notes that that is a precursor to sadism later on. Crystal reveals that Gavin saw Isaac kill the rabbit and told him he would be taking him to a psychiatric facility, which led to Isaac losing control and killing him. Malcolm asks who is with Isaac now. Back at the house, Jake informs Isaac that there’s no way they will be trick-or-treating and that he needs to pack his things for the social worker. This upsets Isaac, and he stares at some kitchen knives as the camera cuts to black.
Malcolm frantically calls Jake and finally gets him on the line. While he’s on the phone, Malcolm hears Jake scream and drop the phone. Isaac picks up, and Malcolm tries to calm him down. Isaac hangs up and Gil and Malcolm rush to the scene with a SWAT unit. Malcolm enters alone, hoping to calm Isaac while Gil and Dani tend to Jake. He goes upstairs trying to find Isaac and talk him down. I’d like to note that no one turns on a single light in the house while trying to find this kid. Maybe turning the lights on would be a good idea before confronting the creepy sadist child with an affinity for knives.
Malcolm finds Isaac still holding the knife, in tears. Malcolm reasons with Isaac, telling him that he understands, that he wants to help him get better. He shares that after Martin was arrested, he shut down for months. But now, he’s better, thanks to his friends and doctors. This seems to move Isaac, and he hands Malcolm the knife.
Back at the office, Malcolm says that Isaac has been admitted to a psychiatric facility and that he has added himself to Isaac’s visitor list. He wonders aloud if he could ever have turned into a kid like him after all that he went through. Gil says he never would have let that happen. Dani goes to Malcolm with the information for the vehicle that he was looking for. Being Malcolm, he goes directly to the impound lot in the dark to look for it despite the fact that he’s been suffering destabilizing breaks with reality lately. When he finds the car and shines a blacklight inside, it lights up the world’s most disgusting trunk as the screen cuts to black.
What did you think of this week’s episode, Prodigies? Let us know in the comments!
Prodigal Son airs Mondays at 9 p.m. ET on Fox. Past episodes can be found on Hulu (and it’s a great Halloween binge watch.)