When Prodigal Son hit our screens, we were immediately captivated by its unique storytelling, perfect casting, and cinematic qualities that are unparalleled. It was hard to believe that season 2 of the show could step up the drama, crimes, and intensity, but unsurprisingly, the cast and crew did just that. Season 2 was full of higher stakes and shocking twists, but there were certain ones that stuck with us long after they graced our screens. From dancing in a sex dungeon to pivotal conversations, we’re breaking down our top five best and worst moments of Prodigal Son‘s season 2.
The season premiere of Prodigal Son was truly the gift that kept on giving, especially with this memorable scene. All of the music cues this season were fantastic, but an unhinged Malcolm Bright dancing to “I Feel Love” in a sex dungeon — with a saw in his hands no less — as a person of interest in the case was chained to a wall definitely takes the cake. This scene had viewers laughing in utter disbelief; Malcolm had always been one to disregard rules and regulations, but this… interesting interrogation technique was simply on another level — even for him. (Are any of his extracted confessions admissible in court?) However questionable his methods in interrogating Boyd, this scene lives in our heads rent-free. It was simply iconic. All of the elements perfectly combined to make an unexpectedly hilarious moment that won’t be leaving our minds anytime soon.
Sometimes, you just need a few bops to get through the day. Martin Whitly going through his daily morning routine to the tune of “Survivor” by Destiny’s Child is one of those moments you never knew you needed until you experience them. Short and lighthearted, this scene embedded itself in the hearts of the masses instantly and managed to do the impossible — make Martin Whitly relatable.
Friar Pete’s Elevator Confrontation
Friar Pete (or Friar Creep, as I like to call him) was an interesting addition to the show, especially since throughout season 1, viewers didn’t get much of a look at Claremont and its inner workings outside of Martin and his interactions with Mr. David. Friar Pete really brought another layer of interaction to the show by expanding the character list, with Christian Borle showing great chemistry on-screen with every actor.
One fantastic moment that showcases this chemistry is the unforgettable elevator confrontation between Friar Pete and Capshaw. While no overt conflict occurred, Friar Pete’s subtly lewd commentary hinting that he knew about Capshaw and Martin combined with the haunting rendition of “Were You There (When They Crucified My Lord)” was undoubtedly an unforgettable moment. Though it was shiver-inducing, this scene served as a turning point in the season, indicating everything was beginning to heat up as the pieces fell in place. The two Tony Award winners drove the ending of this episode home with incredibly nuanced performances, firmly cementing it in our memories.
Jessica and Capshaw Season Finale Fight
Capshaw’s entire arch was a lesson in shocking storytelling every show should strive to achieve, and it culminated first in her torturous fantasy with Martin and then in her decision to kill Jessica. If she can’t have Martin and Martin doesn’t want her, she’ll take the thing he does love. Meanwhile, Jessica’s invitation to dinner is a plot to get Capshaw to confess. Jessica is wired with Gil and the NYPD waiting outside. What no one saw coming was the moment Capshaw grabs a fire poker, and one of the best fight sequences in the show proceeded. Jessica is no damsel in distress ever — we know she’s a badass — so we cheered as she announced she trained in Krav Maga and absolutely lays out Capshaw, throwing her across the dining room table. There was no doubt who was going to win that fight, and Gil said it best after he showed up: “I’m glad I arrived just in time. For her sake.”
Gil and Jessica Share a Dance
One of the more tender moments of the show was a moment that felt a long time coming. Jessica finds Gil in his garage, and they share a beautifully tender moment when he asks her to dance. They sway together in that garage, completely oblivious to the world and wrapped up in a moment of happiness they both so rightly deserve. Their relationship has been a will-they-won’t-they game, but this moment felt like a page turning. They’ve kissed, sure, but they also fought, iced each other out, and the timing never felt right. This dance felt like it signified that Gil and Jessica are finally meeting at the right moment in their life to follow through. They’ve connected and can move forward with an unspoken sense of what each wants out of their budding romance.
Ainsley’s Prank Second Murder
There are many “oh no” moments in season 2, but the general agreement is the top worst moment is easily Ainsley’s prank on Malcolm in which she pretends she’s killed again. She arrives at his apartment, bloody and seemingly in shock, proceeding to say she must have done it again. The following 24 hours have Malcolm on the verge of a mental breakdown trying to discreetly investigate any new bodies and save Ainsley again. He’s terrified for her but convinces her to stay at his apartment. It’s odd that she only obeys for a few hours before leaving and ignoring his calls. Malcolm spends the entire episode frantic to help her. He finally discovers the whole thing is a prank. Ainsley says she remembers what happened with Endicott and that this is a lesson to never try “controlling her” again. Betrayal isn’t a strong enough word for the emotions written all over his face as he tells her he did what he did to protect her, but she won’t hear it.
There are varying opinions on Ainsley. We’ve largely only seen her through Malcolm’s eyes, and whether you think she’s a budding psychopath or just struggling with her actions in a moment of extreme duress, this prank felt needlessly cruel against her loving brother who is already struggling with his mental health.
Jessica Overhears a Pivotal Conversation
Season 1 was wrought with emotional termoil between Gil and Jessica as they warred with their feelings for one another and their own demons, so when it seemed like they were finally making headway in a potential relationship, it was a relief! Of course, that didn’t even last a full episode into season 2. In the season opener, Jessica overhears a conversation between Gil and Dani where Dani tells him Jessica is the reason he got stabbed. He wanted to play the white knight. He concedes that his feelings for Jessica made him careless, and Jessica hears the heartbreaking line from Gil: “[Jackie] thought the Whitlys were cursed. Maybe she was right.” This is what sends Jessica backtracking and ghosting Gil for the next several episodes. This was exceptionally hard to watch, because what Jessica didn’t see was the nonverbal exchange between Gil and Dani in which Gil doesn’t finish his sentence: “and Dani I…” he trails off, but it’s evident Gil wants to say, “I love her anyway.” Dani understands this in that moment, and she backs off on her concern over their relationship, but it’s too late. The damage has already been done.
Dreams and Disappointments
When Malcolm falls and cracks his head in an elevator shaft, he enters a dream world where things are very different from reality. One of the major differences in this alternate timeline where Martin’s murderous streak was never discovered: he and Dani are dating. When Malcolm eventually is forced to make the choice to return to reality to solve the case, his subconscious in the form of alternate-Martin fights dirty in an attempt to make him stay, emphasizing the fact that in the real world, he doesn’t have Dani — at least not romantically. The pair always had undertones of something that was a little more than friendship, but seeing Malcolm’s desires so blatantly confirmed in such a tragically painful way, with Malcolm putting others ahead of his deepest desires once again, was something that left fans hurting for the profiler as well as mentally prepared for the Brightwell angst that followed.
The Cursed Romance
Alexa, play “Bad Romance.” First of all, can we just say we predicted this long before the reveal? Martin Whitly and Dr. Vivian Capshaw’s illicit affair was… something to behold (yeah, let’s go with that). We have to admit that the storyline kept us on the edge of our seats, but it also had us chanting “no, no, no” at our screens for a long time. With the talents of Michael Sheen and Catherine Zeta-Jones combining on the screen, these two characters gave a nuanced performance with intense chemistry. The tension between the two constantly evolved as the narrative progressed, drawing viewers in — even if they so desperately wanted to look away. From Martin fantasizing about Capshaw (in front of his son, no less. Gross!), to the pair’s first kiss, to the unfortunate incident where the two do the horizontal tango, this cursed romance (and I think we’re justified in calling it “cursed,” seeing how it turned out) was a season-long plot point that we loved to hate.
Malcolm, Edrisa, and the Big Date Misunderstanding
Malcolm and Edrisa’s friendship has been a highlight of the show since season 1. The two kindred spirits often nerd out about things (a.k.a. murder) and generally just seem to get one another. It’s easy to understand why Dr. Edrisa Tanaka would have a crush on the suave profiler, but this moment left a sour taste in many fans’ mouths. When Edrisa mistakes Malcolm asking for her help with work as a date, the two have an awkward encounter in the morgue. The misunderstanding takes what was up to this point a cute, harmless crush a step too far, resulting in an embarrassing moment for Edrisa and an uncomfortable one for Malcolm, upsetting their precious dynamic. Thankfully, shortly after this, “The Dris” would go on to meet her cute firefighter beaux, Blaze.
Malcolm Gets a Face Full of Shoe
First up in our honorable mentions is a moment that made us literally laugh out loud in episode 1. Malcolm arrives at Claremont to find Martin has a new roommate, Jerry. Jerry isn’t as mentally stable as some of the patients at Claremont, and in the midst of a heavy conversation between Malcolm and Martin, Jerry throws his shoe across the room, and it hits Malcolm square in the face. It was so unexpected and delightfully light-hearted that we laughed loudly, and the moment solidified itself in our minds.
Malcolm’s Hand Tremor Origin
“Alma Mater” felt like a gift to all the fans who have craved more of Malcolm’s rich backstory, and it truly didn’t disappoint. We learned both the origin of his changed surname and his hand tremor. Much to everyone’s surprise, his tremor was born not from the stress of living under Martin’s shadow, but from a horrible school bulling incident in which a student locked him in a closet. He was trapped in that small space for four days with no idea when he’d be found. It’s a traumatic experience for any teen to go through, but this is a pivotal moment for Malcolm Bright who starts to realize he may never be able to escape his father’s shadow.
The Ever-Climbing Malcolm Danger Count
Here at Nerds and Beyond, the Malcolm Danger Count has been a staple of the Prodigal Son experience, and this season, it reached an all-time high. In season 1, Malcolm found plenty of ways to put himself in danger, and we truly thought it couldn’t get worse — but we were very wrong. Coming in at a season total of 41, our boy went above and beyond to prove the contrary.
Bright’s misadventures often have us yelling “Malcolm, no!,” but this season was especially stress-inducing. From hanging off of a ledge in the first 3 minutes of the season premiere (honestly, this should’ve tipped us off for what was to come) to willingly offering himself up to a woman he knows full well is a psychopath (seriously Malcolm, popping pills from Capshaw was not a good idea), this season had plenty of anxiety-inducing moments where we feared for the profiler’s life. But then again, that’s just a regular day for Malcolm Bright. Is it really Prodigal Son if our favorite Whitly doesn’t make some bad decisions?
This one is self explanatory. The cancellation of Prodigal Son felt like a gut punch for dedicated fans who have fallen in love with the show, the characters, and the stories we’ve watched play out over two fantastic seasons, so it’s only right that The Cancellation round out our worst moments’ honorable mentions.
Prodigal Son goes above and beyond to bring fans a unique, jaw-dropping show. Even though FOX announced the show’s cancellation, Warner Brothers continues to shop the show and seems committed to finding it a home. Fans are also joining the fight and launched a campaign to get it a season 3. You can read about the efforts here and ongoing fundraiser here. Nerds and Beyond has also revived our Nerds Rewatch Prodigal event. Every Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET, we’ll be rewatching and live tweeting an episode from season 2 of Prodigal Son. You can find us under the hashtag #NerdsRewatchProdigal on Twitter, so please join us in celebrating season 2 every Tuesday night. We’ll see you on Twitter, Prodigies!