After Jessica’s discovery of her children’s heinous actions last week, along with the thrilling drama at Claremont, Prodigies everywhere have been eager to know: what comes next now that the secret is out? Let’s jump right into what happened on this week’s episode of Prodigal Son!
The show opens with a flashback to 1998, where Martin and Jessica are frantically searching for a missing Ainsley. The two find her in the grandfather clock, oblivious of the worry she’s caused her parents, excited that she won the game of hide and seek that she and Malcolm were playing. Jessica wakes from her dream.
Malcolm shoots his coffee cup into a trashcan, expressing his excitement at getting to solve another murder (to the chagrin of Gil). News reporters, including Ainsley, try and get the scoop on “the Bridal Butcher” but get sent away. As Gil and Malcolm approach the slain bride, Gil informs Malcolm that JT is meeting with his union rep and Dani is with vice; it’s just the two of them — and Edrisa.
The victim was carefully and gently staged, leading Malcolm to believe that the killer, harboring some “serious psychosexual issues,” is a middle-aged serial killer.
Ainsley asks why Malcolm has been avoiding her. He denies the accusation and gives her information on the case to redirect the conversation. After learning the victims were wearing elbow-length gloves, Ainsley tells Malcolm that the victims aren’t brides; they’re debutantes.
Jessica visits Martin at Claremont, needing to speak to him alone. Mr. David reluctantly leaves the two alone after Jessica promises not to stab him.
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oh, please, I promise. no stabbies.
Jessica confronts Martin, saying he knew about Endicott’s murder all along. He taunts her about the fact that Malcolm told him and not her. Jess accuses Martin of being responsible for the whole mess. He counters that she was the one to bring Endicott back into their lives. Jessica calls Martin a cancer, stating that she’s taking Ainsley away; he’ll never see her again.
Back at the morgue, a jumpy Edria informs Malcolm and Gil that though there was Rohypnol in the victims’ systems, they died of asphyxiation, something that Edrisa thinks is due to a debreather (a common tool used in assisted suicide).
After a closer look at the victim’s file, the team discovers that Allison had heterochromia iridum (different colored eyes). Edrisa discovers the killer replaced her brown eye with a fake blue one. The killer isn’t operating from a place of rejection, but idealization according to Malcolm.
Malcolm asks about JT’s meeting with the union rep. JT tells him he and O’Malley will get suspended if he decides to make his complaint official. JT brushes off Malcolm’s concern and tells him that the victim’s fake eye was a doll eye, leading Malcolm to profile that the perp is in some sort of arrested development and probably has deep childhood trauma.
Gil tells the pair that both victims were debutantes and attended Windsor School of Etiquette — somewhere Ainsely happened to attend. Just before Malcolm takes off to investigate, Martin calls to inform of Jessica’s plan to whisk Ainsley away. Malcolm reassures him that she isn’t going anywhere with a story on the horizon. They discuss the case, devolving into talk of how Ainley could’ve been negatively affected by debutant culture as a youth.
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Gil and JT enter a creepy doll shop to try and find out the doll eye’s origin. The two speak to the shady owner, Trevor Falve, who, after some convincing, agrees to tell them who the eye was made for.
Malcolm enters Windsor only to find Ainsley already there. Malcolm, peeved than Ainsley seems to be treating solving the case like a sibling competition, asks how she feels about the two women getting murdered — to which she gives a nonchalant answer that it’s terrible, wondering why Malcolm would ask that. Malcolm deflects, saying that places like Windsor remind him of a time when their social circle cut them off after Martin’s arrest.
While he’s badmouthing etiquette, Sarah Windsor, the owner, enters and lectures him on the importance of manners. Malcolm questions her, asking if anyone had a motive to kill the two former debutantes. She hints that the two were involved in some untoward activities. As she leaves Malcolm to go get him some files, Bright notices a doll on the floor.
Rachel, Ms. Windsor’s assistant, brings him the files and apologizes for leaving the doll in the hall. She tells him that all of the students get one; the dolls model ideal behavior, being “silent and perfect.” Rachel informs him that Falve made the dolls, a fact that Bright relays to Gil.
Gil and JT catch Falve dragging away a body and attempting escape. JT stops him, and they discover the “body” was just a doll.
Meanwhile, Ainsley is trying to get leads for her story from some of her old debutante classmates. Jessica tries to convince Ainsley to go on vacation with her, citing that she’s acting like Malcolm throwing herself into this case. Unsurprisingly, Ainsley says she has to see it through.
Back in interrogation, Gil asks why Falve has pictures of Windsor’s students. Falve claims that Ms. Windsor had him make the dolls to look like the students. Not convinced that he’s not shady, Gil asks about the sex dolls he makes before Bright bursts in and pulls out … a life-sized doll head? He asks Trevor why he tried to steal it, which riles the artisan up; the doll, Delores, was the first one he ever made.
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Gil pulls Malcolm aside to let Trevor stew. Malcolm informs Gil that Falve is an agalmatophile — he forms romantic attachments to inanimate human forms; he isn’t their guy.
Malcolm visits Dr. Whitly, telling him that Ainsley is treating the case like a game. Simultaneously, we see Ainsley meeting Violet, an old debutante contact. Martin tells Malcolm to lighten up, saying that they’re getting away with the murder, “the fun part” — Malcolm disagrees with his definition of fun. Martin thinks that if Ainsley knew she murdered Endicott, she’d be proud of herself like Martin is proud of Malcolm.
Ainsley finds Violet murdered, staged like the others but without eyes. Of course, her next thought is to start a live stream on the news, giving the world an exclusive look at the latest development in the case (Ainsley girl, read the room). Suffice to say, Gil and Malcolm are not happy. While the two lecture her, Ainsley displays a startling lack of empathy or remorse for her actions, stating that “someone needs to catch this killer; it might as well be me.”
Jessica arrives at the station, asking Gil if Ainsley’s ok and if she was involved (letting a little too much slip there, methinks). Gil asks why the whole family’s been on edge. When he learns Jessica visited Martin, he tells her that she doesn’t need to go to him for anything because he’s there — is the ice thawing? Is that a spark of #Gilica we see shining through?
A caffeine-high Edrisa helps Malcolm, who’s hit a wall with the case, discover a phone number on Violet’s cell that leads back to Ms. Windsor. Malcolm exclaims that she fits the profile; her drive to cultivate “perfect women” was rejected by society. By killing the victims and staging them, she was making them perfect again.
Ainsley, a rejector of debutante culture, is now in danger, having gone to visit Ms. Windsor to run down the lead from Violet’s phone. A hand ominously pours something in Ainsley’s tea, unbeknownst to Ainsley, who takes a small sip as she questions her about the phone call.
Rachel interrupts the two, saying that the police have arrived. She and Ainsley begin to chat while Ms. Windsor leaves.
In a meeting, JT is told that no one wants his situation “getting political or, god forbid, in the papers.” O’Malley claims he’s not a racist, citing it was dark that night; JT was rushing into an active crime scene, and “it could’ve been anyone.” Malcolm calls for backup (what?!?), and Gil and JT leave the meeting; JT has decided he’s not going to file a complaint.
“You’re scared, and that’s why you’re such a miserable cop. ‘Cause that hatred you feel? It’s poison. And I’m not gonna let it poison my life too.”
Malcolm shows up at Windsor to ask if Ainsley is there. Sarah lies and says no, turning her back on him — this break in decorum tips Malcolm off that she’s covering something up. After interrogating her further, Ms. Windsor realizes Rachel is the real culprit and sends Malcolm after his sister.
When he arrives in the tea room, Ainsley is gone. She and Rachel have gone to Rachel’s room, where Ainsley begins to pass out due to the powder that was added to her tea. Malcolm hides behind a wall, seeing Rachel pull out the debreather before his buzzing phone gives his position away. Malcolm enters the room.
Sarah is seen addressing pictures of … her former students? Whatever the case, the room is empty; it’s obvious something isn’t quite right.
As Malcolm enters Rachel’s room to fetch Ainsley, he notices that she has crossed the names of the victims off of an old debutante program. Rachel says that the victims betrayed everything the school stood for. Asking whose room they’re standing in, Malcolm correctly determines that Rachel is Ms. Windsor’s daughter. Ms. Windsor is seen twisting a knob on a light fixture; a hissing sound begins to fill the room — is she … is she about to gas everyone?
Malcolm continues to flesh out Rachel’s story, determining that Sarah never loved her like she loved the debutantes. This caused her to direct her rage towards them for rejecting the love that she craved.
As Rachel holds Malcolm at gunpoint, Ainsley gets up, sneaking up on Sarah while Malcolm holds her attention. She’s holding a knife … does this seem ominously reminiscent for anyone else? Malcolm pleads, “wait, don’t do this. There has to be another way.” He doesn’t seem to be pleading with Rachel for his life, but with Ainsley to not do something she regrets — again.
Rachel glimpses Ainsley in the mirror and pistol whips her, sending the younger Whitly to the ground. As Rachel takes aim at her, Malcolm tackles her to the ground right as she pulls the trigger, redirecting the bullet’s trajectory.
Sarah is seen turning more knobs, saying, “I’m sorry, Rachel, but they can never know.” Luckily, Malcolm smells the gas, and he carries Rachel out as he and Ainsley run to safety right as Sarah strikes and drops a match, causing her to be engulfed in a fiery inferno and the upper level of the house to explode.
Afterward, Malcolm asks Ainsley how she wasn’t drugged. She cites her new nail polish that changes color when it comes into contact with a roofied drink; she was just pretending so she wouldn’t arouse suspicion. She goes on to tout the fact that she “won” by solving the case first — to Malcolm’s chagrin. It wasn’t just important to her to find out who the killer was but why the killer did it.
“My father was a serial killer also, Malcolm. I was young, but I have a right to be messed up too.”
Back at Claremont, Martin tells Jess how proud he is of his kids for solving the case. Jessica, on the other hand, is not pleased, realizing that she can’t take Ainsley away; she’s too unstable. Martin continues ribbing her until Jessica goes off on him, making him think about what could happen if the kids are found out. Martin asks what she needs from him. She responds with, “A partner. Help me save them.” Martin readily agrees, ending the episode with an ominous promise.
“Of course. And we will. Even these chains can’t stop me. Nope. There is nothing I won’t do to save my family.”
Malcolm Danger Count: 2
That’s got to be an all-time low—a round of applause for Mr. Bright.
What will happen as the drama continues to unfold? We’ll have to tune in to find out. To get a sneak peek of what’s coming next, be sure to check out the synopsis and photos for episode 6. If you want to delve deeper into what’s been happening this season, make sure to check out our podcast as well! Prodigal Son airs on Tuesday nights at 9/8 CT on FOX.