It’s as if the writers of Prodigal Son read my wish list for the show this week. First, we finally get some information about the girl in the box (albeit from Martin’s skewed perspective). Next, Ana Gasteyer guest stars and elevates every scene she appears in. And best of all, we get an Edrisa-centric episode! That’s right Prodigies, this week our favorite pathologist is out of the lab and in the spotlight. Read on to find out what happens as Martin Whitly finds himself at “Death’s Door” …
After the shocking climax to last week’s episode, Martin is in a coma. Malcolm watches him from outside the hospital room as Dani approaches. She asks how Malcolm is holding up, and he notes he just found out he is his father’s health care proxy and power of attorney. Dani comments that she wonders what Martin could be dreaming about, but Malcolm states that people in comas do not have dreams, just vivid hallucinations. We cut to Martin’s dream world, where he is walking through the park on a sunny day as the song “Lovely Day” by Bill Withers plays (an excellent music cue that will be used several times as we see Martin’s hallucinations). He comes upon a young female jogger who has twisted her ankle and leans down to help. As he does so, we see her bracelet. It’s the girl in the box, and Martin, charming as ever, invites her back to his home to rest and make a phone call. She takes him up on the offer, and we find ourselves back in the real world.
Gil is talking about the situation with Jessica and Ainsley. Jessica insists that she was the one who stabbed Martin, and Gil notes that she needs a lawyer. Malcolm arrives and asks to speak to his mother privately (well, as privately as discussing legal liability in the middle of the NYPD can be). Jessica wants to take the fall for Malcolm, noting that there’s been little she’s been able to protect him from in the past. She wants to spare him this pain. Just then, Malcolm gets called to a case and welcomes the distraction. As he leaves, Jessica gets a mysterious call from a contact she’s named “The Devil” which she silences.
At the crime scene, the team takes a look at the body, which is professionally embalmed and made up to look like the victim was still alive. Malcolm gleefully notes that they are likely looking for a necrophiliac, which provokes a more disgusted reaction from JT and Gil. Malcolm explains that not all necrophiliacs want sexual contact with the corpse. In this situation, it seems the murderer had a close relationship with the victim in life and wanted to preserve that in death.
Jessica gets another call from “The Devil”, who turns out to be Sterling, a high price lawyer. He represented Martin at his original trial and is the reason he avoided the death penalty (hence Jessica’s hatred of him). Sterling has heard about Jessica’s legal situation and wants to represent her, which she does not agree with. Sterling has a piece of information that Jessica doesn’t, however. The Carousel Killer is refusing to corroborate her story that he blackmailed her into stabbing Martin, so if Martin dies Jessica is facing a first-degree murder charge.
Meanwhile, the team heads to Edrisa’s lab where she confirms that only someone with professional skill in embalming could have successfully done such a good job with the body. The victim, Kevin, also happens to be in the funeral business, which would mean any one of his colleagues could have done this. Gil thinks this will make finding the suspect easy since there’s only so many people with the skill set needed in the city, but Edrisa realizes there’s a convention of funeral directors in town (of course there is). She used to be a member of the society hosting the convention and could get them in. Edrisa is delighted to be a part of actively pursuing leads (and of course getting some time with Malcolm while attending a convention that seems made for her interests).
We return to Martin’s hallucination, where the girl in the box arrives at Martin’s home. He offers her a drink but she declines, simply wanting to use the telephone. As she goes to do so, he attacks her from behind, holding a chloroform soaked rag to her face. She struggles, but is ultimately subdued. Unfortunately for Martin, Jessica arrives home at this moment. He manages to hide the girl just before Jessica enters, oblivious. She was scheduled to go to the Hamptons, but decided against it at the last minute. We get an affectionate scene between the two that is a great window into how their relationship was before Martin’s murders were discovered (or at least how Martin remembers their relationship).
At the mortuary convention, Dani and Malcolm pair up. He’s having a hard time being here while also worrying about his father. Dani tells him he’s not the only one experiencing difficulties. Her father died when she was sixteen, and she points out that the brand of coffin they used for him is on display here. She’s teary but says she shared this with him because he wanted to be friends. Malcolm doesn’t know how to respond, and Dani walks off.
Malcolm finds himself talking with Tilda, an old colleague of Kevin’s played by the always hilarious Ana Gasteyer. Tilda at first seems unaffected by the news of Kevin’s death, explaining that in this business you largely become desensitized to death. But when Malcolm tells her Kevin was expertly embalmed, she turns white as a sheet. She notes their relationship was a sexual one as well as a business one, but she insists she had nothing to do with it. She suggests they speak to Dev, the other partner in the business. Gil and Malcolm talk to Dev, who is demonstrating makeup techniques when they approach. As they question him, Edrisa manages to knock over an entire rack of foundation. Dev seems nervous, but like Tilda says he doesn’t know who targeted Kevin and why.
Sterling shows up at Jessica’s home at Ainsley’s request. Ainsley is worried about the case and wants to make sure Jessica is well represented. Sterling chats with Jessica, who is reluctant to hire him at first but is seemingly persuaded as their conversation goes on. But then Jessica calls Eve, the lawyer who Malcolm briefly but disastrously dated earlier in the season. She wants good representation, but she wants it to be with someone she trusts. Eve agrees to be Jessica’s lawyer if she ends up needing one. Meanwhile, Edrisa has discovered that the foundation used on Kevin is the same foundation Dev uses, and they move to arrest him. But when they break into his apartment, Dev appears to be dead.
They rush to the body, where they establish that Dev still has a pulse. Edrisa identifies the poison used and says that it would start the embalming process before the victim even died. Malcolm asks Edrisa if she knows the antidote and she freezes, scared to do something wrong. Malcolm tries calming her, telling her that she went to medical school and is more than capable of doing this. She’s not confident in herself, noting that there’s a reason she works as a pathologist and not with patients. But time is running out for Dev, and she realizes she has to step up. She remembers that ethanol should reverse the toxic effect and injects it directly into his veins, saving his life.
Back in Martin’s dreams, something is wrong. He opens the box in the basement, but the girl isn’t inside. He goes upstairs, where she is on the phone talking to someone. This isn’t how it played out in real life, and it throws him off his game. She turns on him, stabbing him multiple times with a knife. The girl is angry, wanting revenge for what he did to her and his other victims. She tells him she is going to kill his family, starting with “the boy,” which unnerves Martin.
Jessica and Ainsley sit in the hallway at the hospital. Jessica tells Ainsley she decided to go with Eve, which makes Ainsley happy. She says she never really wanted Jessica to choose Sterling, but thought it would push her mother to find representation that would make her happy if she pushed for Sterling. Jessica notes that this is slightly diabolical, but is grateful for the intervention. She asks Ainsley if she’d genuinely be sad if Martin died. Ainsley hesitates before saying that she didn’t want him to die “like this.” Jessica says she’s terrified that if Martin dies he will come back to haunt her forever, which is news to Ainsley.
In the interrogation room, Malcolm and Gil are asking Tilda about what happened. Malcolm notes that he doesn’t think she killed Kevin but believes she knows who did. Tilda admits that there was a silent partner in the business, Leanne. She “failed her psych eval but was so damn good at embalming” that they hired her to work unlicensed and off the books. There was a fire at the facility that she accidentally caused while working late one night that devastated the business. All the other partners moved on, but she couldn’t.
— Prodigal Son (@prodigalsonfox) February 18, 2020
Malcolm calls Edrisa to check on her, but she’s oddly stiff on the phone and doesn’t want to talk to Malcolm, which the entire team thinks is strange enough to require a physical check in. When Malcolm arrives, he finds Leanne holding Edrisa at gunpoint. She wants Kevin’s body back. Malcolm attempts to appease her, telling her they’ll go get the body, but Edrisa resists. She says, “these aren’t just dead bodies. They’re people who share their final moments with me. It’s the ultimate privilege to be their last witness, and I won’t let anyone dishonor that.” It’s moving and shows Edrisa’s passion for her work.
Malcolm tries reasoning with Leanne, and she tells him that her mother died when she was six years old. She was left with the body for twelve hours before anyone found them. She just wants to hold onto Kevin now. Edrisa, seizing the opportunity, hits Leanne over the head with a metal tray. She drops the gun and Malcolm immediately recovers it. The rest of the team arrives and asks if they are okay, with Edrisa smugly saying “we’re good here, I handled it.” Malcolm tells Dani he’s sorry for his reaction earlier and thanks her for telling him about her father.
In Martin’s nightmare, the girl is holding young Malcolm hostage. She asks why he put her in a box and why he killed his other victims. Martin cannot provide a satisfactory answer, but then realizes that this is his nightmare and he’s in control. We get a sinister reminder of how threatening Martin can be as he takes over the dream, grabbing the knife. He says his family needs him as he wakes up in the hospital with Malcolm by his side.
Prodigal Son airs Mondays at 9 p.m. ET on Fox, with new episodes resuming March 16. Older episodes are available to binge on Hulu.