“Q&A” is one of the most action packed episodes of season one of Prodigal Son. We get a character driven episode that moves the plot forward in a major way by introducing one of our main villains: the Junkyard Killer. Ainsley shows off her talent for reporting, though she crosses several lines to get the footage she needs. You can read our original recap here, and read on to see what we noticed during this week’s #NerdsRewatchProdigal.
Introduction to The Junkyard Killer
Another mystery has taken over our poor Malcolm’s mind. At the end of the last episode and the beginning of this one, Malcolm discovers a van in a junkyard that connects to an old picture of his father and him on a camping trip. This mystery seems to be unfolding but as more answers come to light, so do the questions. For example, not only does Malcolm find the van, but at the same junkyard, several bodies are discovered. It seems they have another serial killer on their hands who was active around the time “The Surgeon” was. Edrisa, our favorite resident Medical Examiner, discovers a pocketknife that sends Malcolm into a flashback of epic proportions that requires a visit from his father. Furthermore, it turns out that Martin had a mentee during his glory days and this person may be connected to the killer the team is currently trying to find. You thought that was it? Hardly. To end the episode with thriller-like suspense, in the boarded-up basement of the Whitly home, there is a ringing telephone. The phone hasn’t rung for close to 20 years so Malcolm breaks down the wall and answers the phone to hear the voice of none other than “The Junkyard Killer.” This storyline becomes huge for this show and fans are constantly on the edge of their seat. In our rewatch, it was entertaining to see this all start to make its debut and there is more where that came from.
Malcolm and Ainsley’s Dynamic
Although we’ve already seen a little bit of the sibling duo that is Malcolm and Ainsley, this episode really delves into it in a way that is pure Whitly/Bright. As Ainsley is in the middle of interviewing Martin, Malcolm shows up, despite him promising he wouldn’t. Malcolm tells her about the serial killer he’s trying to catch and how he thinks he’s connected to their father. Ainsley agrees to let Malcolm talk to Martin, telling him that their father is just twisting everything she’s saying, driving her crazy. Malcolm understands, even welcoming her to his world. Ainsley lets Malcolm get some answers from Martin, telling him that she’s staying, cameras off. After getting nowhere, Ainsley talks to Malcolm alone, thinking they should team-up. She has an idea on how to get Martin on the defensive. Ainsley resumes the interview, bringing up another one of Martin’s victims: Malcolm Whitly. She talks about the trauma Malcolm has suffered and how Martin is a terrible father, which upsets Martin, yelling at Ainsley that he was a good father. They managed to get it all on camera and Martin realizes they had a plan. Malcolm and Ainsley used their trauma, or rather, Malcolm’s trauma, to get Martin to crack. The way they teamed up to get back at their father, finally, shows that what they went through motivates them. Martin Whitly is no longer their father but just a stranger who will forever have them traumatized.
Ainsley and Martin Are More Alike Than Different
With the end of the season in mind, it’s hard not to see the many ways Ainsley is daddy’s little girl in this episode. From her single minded devotion to getting the story (not caring who gets hurt) to her willingness to use Malcolm’s trauma for her own gain, Ainsley proves herself to be just as ruthless as her father in many ways. This is illustrated best when she shows that she can manipulate emotions like Martin. She pokes at Martin’s one insecurity: his treatment of Malcolm. It’s the first time we’ve seen Martin lose control of a situation when he’s usually the one causing others to break. Like father, like daughter.
A Lesson in Angles
We’ve mentioned before that Prodigal Son takes a different approach to television than most crime shows. One of those ways is in the way the show is filmed, and this episode featured many close-ups that allow fans to really feel every emotion along with each character. Every actor is so good at portraying emotion in these high stakes and extremely stressful episodes. Ainsley is calm and determined, Malcolm is wearing his emotions like a badge of honor throughout and we really see the calculating and manipulative ways of Martin shine with those extended close-up shots. “Q&A” also features a few unique shots like the above gif, where we see the exchange of the knife and of power as Malcolm physically hand it over in order to save Jin’s life. The fact that we see this happening over that red line highlights just how serious and dangerous the whole situation is. We don’t just see a smiling Martin, we see the reminders of what he is, a murderer. The fact that it’s partnered with flashes of Ainsley and Mr. David moving Jin’s unconscious body across that line really shows the power exchange that happens in that scene. There are also several shots that carry the same intensity as horror and thriller films like Malcolm creeping down the dark halls with an alarm blaring looking for an out of control killer. Even knowing the outcome on this rewatch, it still made me tense and it highlights just how talented the crew behind this show really is.
There is a lot to unpack in this episode when it comes to the rest of this season. The Junkyard Killer, how they’re connected to Martin, and the knife found in the camping wagon are just some examples of the foreshadowing. All of this culminated when Malcolm is holding a scalpel to perform emergency surgery on Jin, and he has a flashback to his father walking him through what may be the memory Malcolm fears the most. This is also one of the first times Jessica admits that her children will never really be safe because of the man she married – how right she will turn out to be.
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Prodigal Son is available on Hulu and Fox Now. Stay tuned for next week’s rewatch!