Well Prodigies, the end has arrived. After a season of twists and turns as the titular prodigal son, Malcolm came to terms with his father’s legacy and fought to save his family, and it all came down to the last five minutes of the season finale. The episode was a thrill ride with massive reveals about Sophie, Eve, and Nicholas Endicott. But the center of the episode was the twist that, in hindsight, makes perfect sense. And yet, no one (read: me) saw this one coming. With MVP level performances from Michael Sheen, Halston Sage, Tom Payne, and Anna Eilinsfeld (Sophie), the explosive season finale makes the best possible case for a second season while wrapping up the main mysteries of season one.
We open the episode in yet another Malcolm nightmare, with Malcolm in a prison jumpsuit opposite his father. Martin chastises Malcolm for leaving DNA on Eddie’s body, saying that cleaning up after yourself is, “the first rule of killing … and kindergarten.” Malcolm wakes up screaming in a holding cell, with his terrified cell mate having witnessed his nightmare. Dani and JT arrive, telling Malcolm he posted bail. He insists he’s innocent, but Dani and JT seem skeptical since Malcolm’s DNA was found under Eddie’s fingernails and that’s pretty hard to fake. Just then, Jessica arrives with an army of lawyers. She tells Malcolm to stop talking to the police and that he’s going home with her as a condition of his bail. She also wryly remarks that he’s “grounded.” Back in Claremont, Martin wakes up to find his door open, Mr. David gone, and his phone ringing. Sensing a trap, he picks up. It’s Nicholas Endicott, and Martin tries to persuade him that he didn’t break their agreement when he told Malcolm about Endicott’s misdeeds. But Endicott isn’t buying it, and says he will destroy Martin’s life. He’s also called in a tip about Martin “trying to escape,” and the police swarm in as Martin realizes he was set up.
At the Whitly mansion, Jessica is less than impressed with Malcolm’s newest predicament. Endicott texts her, not knowing that Jessica knows he’s after them, telling her that he can help Malcolm and that they should discuss it over dinner. The thought repulses her, but Ainsley correctly says that this information could help them. Malcolm, meanwhile, wants to be on the case. He pulls out a kit that will allow him to take off his ankle monitor and Jessica is upset he would risk his freedom, saying “There will be no escaping from this home!” Just then, Gil arrives, and the three scramble to hide both Malcolm and his escape kit. Gil talks with Jessica, asking her how she’s doing and saying he’ll do what he can to clear Malcolm’s name. He is suspicious that Malcolm isn’t there, and Jessica quips that “Malcolm is in his room sulking. It’s like the ’90s all over again.” Gil leaves to work the case, and when Jessica looks for Malcolm he is gone, having slipped out while Gil was distracted.
At Edrisa’s lab, the team is going over the autopsy. It seems Eddie was smothered with a pillow, an emotional kill. The profile points to Malcolm, though Edrisa tries in vain to argue it doesn’t (“I mean, where’s the pizzazz in a pillow?!”). Dani seems resigned to Malcolm’s guilt, but Gil steps between them, saying they need to work all the angles like they would in any other case. Gil, JT, and Dani leave, and Malcolm emerges from his hiding place in Edrisa’s office, having heard it all. Edrisa expresses her confidence in him, and Malcolm tells her he has a new angle. The lab that processed the DNA evidence from Eddie’s fingernails is owned by (you guessed it) Nicholas Endicott. They likely faked the results to frame Malcolm. He needs to go see “The Devil” (Sterling), Martin’s lawyer who also works for Endicott. Edrisa tells him he can’t die, and the two hug in an adorable moment for Maldrisa fans.
Malcolm heads to see Sterling, who is shocked to see Malcolm since he’s technically supposed to be under house arrest. Malcolm begs for Sterling to tell him what he knows about Endicott and the lab. Sterling tells Malcolm that Endicott did frame him. But he also reveals that Sophie is the key to the whole thing. When she left Endicott, she took files with her – files that could get Nicholas put away for good. She told Martin about these files, which is how he blackmailed Endicott. Just as he tells Malcolm this, Sterling is shot by an unknown assassin. As he bleeds out, he whispers to Malcolm “your father is the only one who can end this” and dies in Malcolm’s arms. It seems Nicholas is aware that Malcolm is poking around – and once again, all roads lead back to Martin Whitly.
Malcolm rushes home, covered in blood. Jessica is understandably freaked out, but Malcolm quickly reassures her by yelling “It’s not my blood, Sterling was shot – NOT BY ME,” as he rushes to clean his clothes off. He borrows a sweater and sits on the couch as Gil, Dani, and JT arrive.
He and Ainsley innocently pretend Malcolm was sitting there all day as the suspicious team asks if he knows anything about Sterling. Malcolm feigns shock, and Gil looks at Malcolm like a disappointed father whose son just snuck out of the house. But Malcolm decides to try a different tactic to rejoin the team: he tells them that he did leave so they have to arrest him and bring him in. At the precinct, Malcolm shares what he discovered about the lab. But JT reminds Malcolm that he is still the last person to see Eddie alive. Malcolm has an epiphany: what if Eddie was already dead when Malcolm went to see him? He never got close enough to the bed to get a good look at him (Gil: “You’re a graduate of Quantico, you can’t tell if somebody’s DEAD?”) and Eddie could have been dead for a while. This opens up the suspect list to doctors, nurses, orderlies, and more – any one of them could have been on Endicott’s payroll.
Taking Sterling’s advice to track down Martin, Ainsley and Malcolm go to see him in prison, where he is now in with the general population after his “escape attempt.” Martin is on edge as he talks to them after finding out earlier that there is a bounty on his head from Endicott. They ask him about the files, and Martin reveals that it was all a bluff. He and Sophie never actually had any proof of Endicott’s lies; they just told Endicott she did. They have nothing to hold over his head now. He’s panicking in an uncharacteristic way, and he tells them that the only way to end this is to kill Endicott. Ainsley tells Martin that he is the Surgeon and the smartest one in this prison. He’ll have to get himself out of this like he has so many times before.
Malcolm arrives back at his apartment to find Gil waiting for him. Gil tells Malcolm that they plan to file charges tonight and that Malcolm needs to run. He’ll call him when it’s safe to come back. Malcolm asks Gil to look out for Jessica, and Gil says he will. As Malcolm gets ready to run, he listens to the voicemail Eve left him again. But this time, he notices the sounds of a dog and bird in the background. He has Dani trace the location of the call, and when she gives it to him he leaves to go there. But why is this important now?
Meanwhile, Jessica took Nicholas up on his offer of dinner to get intel she can use to help Malcolm. He wines and dines her as she plays along, acting like she’s still in love with him. But she’s recording the entire conversation on her phone. Gil figures out where she’s gone, and being protective, he heads to the Endicott residence. When he arrives, Nicholas excuses himself to talk to Gil while Jessica secretly follows him.
Gil claims he needs to talk to Jessica about Malcolm’s case, but Endicott says he’ll have to wait until after dinner. When Gil protests, Nicholas’ assistant stabs him and leaves him for dead. Jessica gasps in shock and rushes back to the dinner table. Nicholas returns, unaware Jessica witnessed the whole thing, and she hits him over the head and escapes. Nicholas’ assistant has Gil in the trunk of his car, but then Jessica hits them as she tries to escape the house. She helps Gil into her car and drives to the hospital.
Malcolm reaches the location of the call: a veterinary practice. When he enters, the vet asks how she can help him. It’s Sophie. It seems Eve managed to find her sister after all. Malcolm introduces himself, and Sophie is stunned. He stifles a sob and says “the girl in the box.” Sophie does the same before saying “the boy in the basement.” This reunion was played perfectly by Tom Payne and Anna Eilinsfeld. You can feel years of hurt and despair as both are forced to confront their pasts. Then, Malcolm drops a bombshell: he knows Sophie killed Eddie. Sophie admits that she did, angry that he murdered Eve. They had only four days together before he killed Eve, and she felt robbed. Malcolm explains that he is the suspect and if he doesn’t turn her in, he’ll be charged with murder. But then he looks her in the eye and says “some cases aren’t meant to be solved.” He can’t make up for what The Surgeon did to her, but he can take the fall so she can live her life.
When he returns, he goes straight to the hospital where Gil is having emergency surgery. Now that Jessica can testify she saw Nicholas stab Gil, the NYPD has enough to go after Nicholas and Malcolm is in the clear (for now.) Dani, angry, says she wants to be the one to kick down his door as she and JT leave to serve Nicholas with the warrant. But then Malcolm gets a text from Ainsley: “come home. NOW.”
He rushes back to the Whitly mansion to find Nicholas holding Ainsley hostage. Nicholas calls a “family meeting,” and Malcolm loses it. He says they have enough to take him down, and Nicholas just laughs. He owns the system, and there’s nothing the Whitlys can do. In prison, Martin successfully stops a hit on him by causing complete chaos, leading to a massive prison fight.
We cut back to the Whitlys, where Malcolm has pulled a gun on Nicholas. Nicholas taunts him, saying that he has too much of his mother in him to kill Endicott. And then… the unthinkable happens.
Ainsley, the well adjusted Whitly. Ainsley, the one who never seemed affected by Martin. Ainsley, who doesn’t have nightmares that require her to go to sleep sedated. Ainsley, the good girl who never gave her mother any trouble. Ainsley Whitly… slits Nicholas Endicott’s throat mid-taunt. As he bleeds out, she stabs him seven times, enraged, as Malcolm helplessly watches. Covered in blood and in a trance, Ainsley surveys the gory scene and looks at Malcolm. Waking from her dreamlike state, she simply says, “what just happened?”
Does anyone have the answer? pic.twitter.com/4rLcKOMgZn
— Prodigal Son (@prodigalsonfox) April 28, 2020
Just then, Malcolm gets a call: it’s Martin. He’s found a phone amidst the chaos at the prison. He tells Malcolm he took Ainsley’s advice, and in shock, Malcolm says Ainsley took his. As Martin realizes what Ainsley has done, a massive smile spreads across his face. “My… GIRL,” he says proudly as the camera pans away, showing Ainsley and Malcolm standing face to face amid the bloody crime scene.
And that, Prodigies, is the end of season one of Prodigal Son. I don’t know about you all, but my heart is still pounding. The episode did an incredible job of wrapping up the season while setting up new storylines for season two. All I can say is thank you to the cast and crew for a great first season, and I hope we will be hearing about a season two renewal as soon as possible.
Interested in rewatching the season? Prodigal Son Season 1 is available on Hulu and FOX Now.