As part of our #NerdsRewatchProdigal event this past Tuesday, our writers were struck by how many things we noticed re-watching the first episode of Prodigal Son, from acting choices to set design and moments between characters that are even more significant now that we’ve seen the full season. Here are just a few of the things we thought about while re-watching the pilot episode!
1. No Other Actor Could Have Played Malcolm
When Prodigal Son was first announced, it was Finn Jones (Loras Tyrell on Game of Thrones, Iron Fist) who was cast in the lead role of Malcolm. But after creative differences, he left after the first table read and was replaced by the Malcolm we know and love, Tom Payne. The pilot illustrates just how perfect Payne is in the role, from the electric opening sequence where we see just how good Malcolm is as a profiler to his final standoff when he saves Dani. The frantic look in his eyes as he profiles the killer while admitting his connection to The Surgeon in the final scene is devastating and Emmy-worthy. I can’t imagine anyone else in the role, and re-watching the episode again made me realize how lucky we are that fate stepped in and gave Tom Payne the opportunity to create this character.
2. How Bold They Were In the First Episode
Throughout Prodigal Son, there have been some bold choices made, including that plot-twist of a season finale. With this being a crime show, you have to expect something big or “out there” to happen every once in a while. And in only the first episode, we got that. In the pilot, Malcolm and the others had found Nico, who was taken by the suspect and handcuffed to a chair. But there was a bomb that would be going off very soon. They had to think quickly. With no other option, they (read: Malcolm) decide to chop off Nico’s hand in order to save his life. But, they also had some ice and a cooler so it was essentially no big deal (at least according to Malcolm). Malcolm is also seen running past police to make sure the hand is taken to the hospital. It was a moment that, although shocking for viewers, was a comedic moment as well (“I gotta give them a hand!”). It shows that even in the pilot, writers weren’t afraid to go big to draw in more viewers, and it works. Re-watching the pilot I was reminded how this show thinks outside of the box and breaks away from typical crime or drama shows and how well it does.
3. Gil and Malcolm’s History
Gil and Malcolm have had a complicated past. Gil was the officer that came to the Whitly home to investigate Martin for his crimes, and young Malcolm saved Gil from The Surgeon. Gil gave Malcolm hard candy and that was the start of a beautiful relationship. Gil has been the father that Malcolm never had and has protected him for as long as he can remember. Malcolm has even adopted eating candy as an adult, giving him a sense of security. Gil trusts Malcolm and defends him to the rest of the team. They have been saving each other for a long time and it’s only just the beginning of their story.
4. Malcolm and Dani’s Friendship
While Malcolm and Dani may have just met each other fairly recently, there’s one scene in the first episode that makes it clear that they’d wind up friends. When Malcolm falls asleep at the station, unrestrained, and starts to have a nightmare, Dani is the first to hear him. His nightmare sends him on a sprint, knocking her down with him. While the officers draw their weapons, Dani urges them to stand down knowing Malcolm is just asleep, while simultaneously trying to wake him up. When he does, he clings to her, clearly shaken and scared. Right away you can tell that Dani cares about him, and Malcolm trusts her.
He loves murder. She’s Picasso with formaldehyde. It’s a match made in the morgue. From the first moment Malcolm and Edrisa meet one another the chemistry between the two is undeniable. She’s adorably awkward around him and he seems to adore her all the more for it. Malcolm doesn’t shut her down but is kind and they instantly hit it off! Tom Payne and Keiko Agena play off one another perfectly, and even in that very first scene, we knew this relationship would be something special. Whether or not this ship actually sails in future seasons or not, it’s a relationship that develops beautifully over the season and their first meeting is made all the more special by knowing what is to come!
6. Jessica, Not Your Typical Mother
From the pilot episode, when we are introduced to Jessica, she is the overprotective type, suggesting that Malcolm gives up the morose murder lifestyle. And what kind of mom with an unlimited trust fund would Jessica be if she didn’t have the housekeeper clean and sanitize her son’s restraints since he can’t sleep? Additionally, she provides him with a variety of “practically over the counter” medications or tea laced with “love” (and/or sedatives). She is the mom who wants nothing but the best for her son, and is especially relieved at news of his termination from the FBI. Even when she doesn’t take the news of him being a profiler for the NYPD well, Jessica is soft when it comes to her children: except when it comes to their father.
What other moments did we miss from the pilot? Let us know in the comments, and be sure to watch with us next week using the hashtag #NerdsRewatchProdigal!