Nerds Rewatch: What We Noticed in ‘Prodigal Son’ Episode 4, “Designer Complicity”

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Image courtesy Fox.

This week, #NerdsRewatchProdigal focused on “Designer Complicity,” the fourth episode of the first season. From stalkers to questionable police procedure to Malcolm and Jessica’s first big fight, this episode has it all. Check out our full recap, and read on for more things we noticed during the rewatch.

Malcolm Bringing ALL the Sass:

Image Courtesy Fox.

We love a sassy Malcolm and in this episode of our rewatch, it came out in full force. The best example is the moment when he tells Axel’s team with the utmost cheekiness, “And Axel is a suspect because he’s acting suspicious.” Throughout the episode, he seemed fed up with all the lies of his family and the suspects surrounding the case. He also brought out the sass to Gil because he wanted the tapes of his mother’s interrogation the night his father was arrested, which Gil declined to provide at first. Honestly, seeing Malcolm become more brazen in his words and actions adds to the comedy relief portions of the series. We definitely hope we see more of sassy Malcolm in season 2.

This Cast Deserves an Emmy:

Image Courtesy Fox.

Anyone who watches Prodigal Son knows that this show is loaded with talent. From the lead actors to supporting cast, the performances in every single episode will blow you away. This is especially true in episode four when Malcolm, after begging Gil, finally watches the video interview of Jessica the night of Martin’s arrest. Tom Payne’s raw emotion during the scene could make a stone statue weep. He holds himself on the brink of a breakdown, and we see the full range of Malcolm’s thoughts without him uttering a word. From his belief that Jessica knew about Martin to his hope that he was wrong, to the very moment he realizes just how wrong he was about her (and how much he owes her an apology). It’s a short moment in the overall episode but it is poignant, it is raw, and it is made all the more painful by Bellamy Young’s phenomenal performance as Jessica. She breaks down during the interview and explains she assumed Martin was having an affair. Her utter heartbreak as she talks about how many lives she might have saved if only she’d known, if only she’d done something. There are many Emmy worthy moments on this show, but this one is exactly what makes the show so special. The actors pour their whole hearts into their performances and it’s the reason the Prodigy fandom was formed even before the season ended.

The Show’s Portrayal of Malcolm’s Therapy

Image Courtesy Fox.

In this episode, we get to see an extended sequence of Malcolm visiting his therapist and talking over the events in his life. Unlike most shows, Prodigal Son shows how having a stable relationship with his therapist has helped Malcolm deal with his mental illness. Therapy isn’t presented as shameful or unhelpful. It’s just a fact of Malcolm’s existence, and the way this scene portrayed his session shows once again that the series takes its obligation to accurately portray mental illness seriously.

Did Jessica know about Martin?

Image Courtesy Fox.

After his (mis)adventures with smelling chloroform shakes loose an old memory, Malcolm is consumed by the question of whether Jessica knew about Martin’s crimes. Was she aware and therefore complicit? Did she scold Malcolm in that recovered memory because she didn’t want him to find out? We have to take a moment to highlight the fantastic writing for this amazing twist in the storyline. We are just as consumed by the idea as Malcolm, and Jessica’s own memory of her fight with Martin certainly makes us think she did know. The writers also keep a great pace with the mystery, both posing and answering it in the same episode rather than drag it out over two or three episodes. Everything about Prodigal Son feels fast-paced and this felt right on par with the amazing writing we’ve seen thus far.

Malcolm the Manipulator?

Image Courtesy Fox.

In searching for Tatiana’s killer at her impromptu memorial, Malcolm and JT come across Roger, a photographer (and stalker) of the victim. While there is no doubt that Roger did “love” Tatiana, he can’t say anything because it would violate his current court order. What lengths will Malcolm go to? He follows Roger later that evening with a photo of a dead Tatiana, trying to convince him to talk, only to have the tactic fail and watch our stalking photographer be run over by a car. While Roger is brought in to the ER, the EMTs tell Bright that he will be okay and has just a couple of broken ribs. Malcolm, however, convinces Roger that he is going to die and the only thing that he can do now is to do what is right by Tatiana by releasing his photos. Thanks to this manipulation the police are able to break the case and go a different direction. We however see through this tool one of the first times that Malcolm does indeed have traits of his serial-killer father (despite the hilarity of the moment).

Malcolm’s Bad Choices Tally: 4.5

We’re also starting a new feature of our rewatch, which we’ve come to realize is necessary due to Malcolm’s refusal to take even basic safety measures. We’ll be noting how many times per episode Malcolm puts himself into unnecessary danger and/or injuries himself. This episode’s count? 4.5. The half credit comes from Malcolm using his already injured hand to bang on a window – not a full new injury, but a silly move nonetheless.

Prodigal Son is available on Hulu and Fox Now. Tune in next week for episode five!

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By Jules
I am a nurse and dedicated nerd from Boston, MA. When I'm not at work, I'm rewatching old favorites like Supernatural or discovering my new obsessions (too many to count!). When not fangirling, I can be found reading, writing, or listening to a true crime podcast. You can find me on Twitter @juleswritesblog for more nerdy nonsense.
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