Nerds Rewatch: What We Noticed In ‘Prodigal Son’ Episode 14

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Image courtesy Fox.

As we inch closer and closer to the final episodes of season 1, Prodigal Son has started giving us subtle hints about what’s to come. When rewatching “Eye of the Needle,” it’s easy to spot small character quirks and hints that gain a much larger meaning when compared to the events of the last few episodes (and certainly the finale). Read on to see what we noticed, and check out our original recap here.

Ainsley vs. Martin

Image Courtesy Fox.

Throughout this episode, Ainsley, while live on air, talks to the Carousel Killer, trying to get more information out of him. While waiting for the killer to call back, though, the station gets a call from another killer: one Martin Whitly, aka The Surgeon. Remaining professional, Ainsley has a talk with her father, having to hold back at points so she doesn’t blow up on him and in front of viewers. Martin, always using his quick wit, shares his insights on the Carousel Killer, what his motives might be, and himself. He talks about how the killer could be connected to one of his “alleged” victims, the performative quality the Carousel Killer has, calling into the station, blackmailing, it’s all a distraction. Before Martin has a chance to answer what the killer really wants, he runs out of phone time and tells Ainsley to feel free to book him on a segment anytime. Ainsley, overwhelmed, tells viewers that was notorious serial Martin Whitly, before going off-air and saying “and embarrassing father.” This little face-off between the two show just how similar their behavior is, as stated below. Ainsley trying to not go overboard and Martin talking like it’s just a normal conversation, trying to manipulate as per usual. Then Malcolm in the background, watching everything happen and possibly seeing for the first time how alike his sister and father really are.

Ainsley’s Subtle Martin-like Behavior

Image Courtesy Fox.

One trait that defines Ainsley is how good she is at her job. As the season has gone on, the writers have been careful to show that she is a great journalist who investigates a story the way Malcolm creates a profile. But in light of the events of the finale, we can also see that Ainsley knows how to manipulate others to get what she wants. Like Martin, she loses it, as she does when the killer refuses to answer a question (and as she does in the finale). Before seeing the finale, this outburst is an understandable reaction from a trained journalist who knows what makes this killer tick. But in hindsight, it seems she has a Martin-like rage inside her. This episode planted subtle hints that maybe Ainsley is a lot more like her father than we thought, from her driven determination to get the story to her anger. While Ainsley feels guilt and certainly has a moral compass her father lacks, she also has his rage and his perfectionism.

Image Courtesy Fox.

Oh Martin. How we hate to love him. Although The Surgeon is a serial killer who tried to kill his own son and more, his one-liners and comments during scenes really highlights how his complex character can be seen in a different light. His quick wit and hilarity make for comedic relief in otherwise intense moments. We can’t help but giggle because the delivery of each line, courtesy of Michael Sheen, showcases his brilliance in playing Martin Whitly. Specifically in this episode, while Malcolm is visiting Martin, Jessica arrives. Malcolm tries to profile his mother and determine her motives. He figures out that she is there to kill Martin. Instead of alerting for help, he simply asks, “Sorry, what’s that now?” The delivery is spot on for his character and his peanut gallery comments in this episode are ones for the books.

Martin, Jessica, Malcolm Dynamic

Image Courtesy Fox.

If there’s one thing we really love (and let’s be honest, there are A LOT of things) about this show it’s the constantly evolving dynamics between the main characters. We see Malcolm and Martin behave one way when they are alone and completely different in this week’s moment with Jessica added to the mix. With Jessica present, Martin is apt to lightening every moment he can and never letting the conversation get too heavy lest his image in her eyes deteriorate (pretty sure that ship has sailed Martin). Only when it’s absolutely necessary, and he has a plan to 1) survive and 2) provoke Malcolm into the act, does he confess to planning to kill Malcolm and throwing himself on the chopping block in the name of saving an innocent. He hopes to look like the hero, the martyr, in front of Jessica and Malcolm in the hopes that they might somehow forgive him for the transgression of almost murdering his son. The way the characters are spaced throughout the scene is also worth noting, each in their own corners of the room until Martin’s confession. Then Jessica moves to Malcolm in a gesture of comfort while Martin is still clear across the room, Malcolm does still have a weapon. Once Martin cooks up his plan, he approaches slowly, making sure Malcolm understands his plan. It’s a fantastic scene from start to finish and gives fans something to think about even after one (or multiple) rewatches.

Jessica’s Guilt

Image Courtesy Fox.

The guilt the Jessica feels over the death of an innocent man by the Carousel Killer is palpable from the beginning of the episode. As the body count continues to mount, Jessica can’t help but feel more responsible. This man is after her and her family, and she does not know why. After pulling a “Malcolm” and defying police orders,  meeting this killer with the $1 million ransom, the man still throws a hostage over the balcony after Jessica dumps the money on the ground as she was instructed. Later, the purse that she “lost” at the carousel is later “recovered.” Our killer had stolen her purse, kidnapped another accomplice connected to Martin, and given clear instructions that Martin Whitly must die, providing an undetectable weapon and all. But, can Jessica really kill Martin Whitly? This episode clearly shows how Jessica continues to be traumatized by Martin’s crimes and her role in them.

Jessica Danger Count: 3

Image Courtesy Fox.

Wait, what? No Malcolm Danger Count? That’s right, folks: for the first time this season, Malcolm did not put himself into danger without backup. Taking his place? Jessica, whose repeated attempts to negotiate with an unhinged hostage taker end in danger moments for everyone. Congratulations to Malcolm for making it one week without making a bad decision!

Prodigal Son is available to watch on Fox Now or Hulu, with season 2 coming in January on Fox!

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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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