Prodigies, welcome to our third installment of Nerds Rewatch Prodigal! If you’re not familiar with this series, every Tuesday night at 9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT, we’ll be pressing play on Twitter to rewatch and live-tweet an episode of Prodigal Son. Last week, we put our rewatch goggles on for season 2, episode 2, “Speak of the Devil.” This week, we delved into the events of episode 3, “Alma Mater,” with a new perspective now that we know what events unfold! Without further ado, let’s jump into what we noticed in episode 3!
The Origin of Malcolm’s Hand Tremors
One thing that this episode had was Malcolm’s origin story, of some sort. Not only did we find out why and when Malcolm changed his name to “Malcolm Bright,” we also found out about his hand tremors. As the team is doing a case at Malcolm’s alma mater, Malcolm’s hand tremors. He tells Dani that, “Some neuroscientists believe that the body can store memories. The tremor, I wasn’t born with it. It didn’t happen until years after my father’s arrest.” We flash back to a young Malcolm at prep school, who gets locked in a storage closet for a whole weekend by a bully named Nicky. And as he begs to be let out, his hand starts trembling. It was a traumatic experience for him. That’s when the tremors started. It’s interesting to find out because one would think that Martin’s arrest would have triggered it. But it wasn’t until years later when Malcolm gave himself a new name and a new life did it start after it was found out that Malcolm is The Surgeon’s son. It was because of that did he get locked in the closet. Even though it wasn’t directly because of Martin it still had something to do with him. Getting more of Malcolm’s backstory is one of the better storylines of the show, as we got to see more of his life after Martin’s arrest.
As soon as Friar Pete uttered the word “Exodus” last episode, we knew we were in for trouble. This episode, we see Martin’s conniving side at work as he gets a survey of the land and the plan at “Bible Study.” Initially, everything seems calm as Martin communes with his fellow ward mates under the guise of reading the word of God at Friar Pete’s behest. However, as soon as he is informed of the plan by one of the guys in the loop, Daryl, Martin quickly manipulates the situation to his advantage (*gasp*, what a shocker). At this point in time, it was believed that only three key cards were needed to escape Claremont — green, blue, and red. Having 2/3, Martin originally entertained the idea of hurting Mr. David (we would riot) before figuring out a different plan. Setting Daryl (who was less than cooperative according to Dr. Whitly’s standards) up and framing him with his own shiv allowed Martin to gain access to the cards and moved the plan along.
Sometimes Money Talks, Here Money Flies
This show has never shied away from the fact that the Whitley’s came from money, but the kids we meet at Remington Academy take the coming from money aspect to a whole new level. We’ve watched Jessica maneuver her way through a variety of situations in this show, but escaping from boarding school in a helicopter is certainly not one of them. From the moment we enter Remington Academy it is obvious that the school and those who attend come from money so it probably should have come as no surprise when the kids ran away via helicopter. That being said, it really does boggle the mind that these kids in high school saw that as a viable option. They say that money talks, but her actions definitely speak, and spend, louder than words.
Louisa: Psycho or Daddy Issues?
Plot twists are part of what makes Prodigal Son such a great show, and the twist with Louisa being the villain in this episode was one for the books. We knew there was something off about the kids from the interview in the classroom but it seemed as though their involvement in the cheating ring cleared that up, but no. Louisa was so set on escaping her father that she would rather commit multiple murders than not get into the college of her choice because of something as small as a cheating scandal. A plane that almost worked too. Unfortunately, she fell into the stereotypical villain trap: talking. We learn a lot about Louisa during this talk, as slowly she becomes more ‘major daddy issues’ than a psychotic teenager. Not to say that she is not psychotic, because let’s be fair, anyone willing to kill three people – none of whom are the real root of her problem – just to get away from the life she felt trapped in must be at least a little psycho.
The big question that this rewatch brought up about Louisa is: if she is willing to kill people to get out from under her father, why does she not just kill her father? It seems that this would have been a more expedient means to the end she desired. Granted had she done that she still would have gone down for the cheating scandal, but she also would have inherited all of her father’s money so would college really have mattered at that point? It is hard to tell. However, we should be grateful that she opted for the route she took since otherwise we never would have seen Malcolm’s big back-to-school moment or his strange wet classroom interrogation.
Malcolm and Nicky’s Past
While facing down this week’s killer, Malcolm recounts his own time at Remington Academy and the events that led to his expulsion. What we didn’t expect was that Malcolm sought revenge on Nicky, the bully who locked him in the closet. Skilled in martial arts, Malcolm knew exactly where to hit Nicky to trigger an asthma attack. It wasn’t spur of the moment either, he stole Nicky’s inhaler and emptied it right in front of the suffocating boy. The way Malcolm tells the story had Louisa (and nearly us) believing Malcolm was possibly responsible for Nicky’s death. However, Malcolm tells her he called for help. He ultimately couldn’t go through with it, proving once again that he’s not a killer like Martin. It was both a tense and shocking reveal with Malcolm starting off by saying he’d killed before as well. The storytelling was a brilliant way to keep Louisa captive sure, but it gave us a small glimpse into Malcolm’s past and the difficulties he had fitting in while at school.
Malcolm Bright, Worst Planner Ever
Malcolm is always coming up with wild plans and making spur of the moment decisions, but this episode is right up there with the worst ideas Malcolm Bright has ever had. Locked in a small, airtight room full of priceless books and a state of the art fire suppression system that will drain the oxygen in the event of a fire, what does Malcolm do? Why, he sets a fire of course. His own logic, later explained to a disappointed and rightly exasperated Gil, was that it would likely sound an alarm and call the NYPD to them allowing Louisa to be captured and hopefully him to be rescued before suffocating. It’s one of those reasons we’d like added to the list of why Malcolm Bright shouldn’t go anywhere dangerous without an NYPD companion.
Gil is a man of many faces and one of our favorites is when he goes into disappointed dad mode. It’s almost always when he’s talking to Malcolm after he’s made a terrible or life threatening (or both) decision, and this episode delivered. Malcolm knows it’s coming and acts out the whole “Gil speech” himself, voices and all. It’s highly accurate though Gil points out it was “a little performative” but Malcolm gets the basics even if he’s unwilling to actually stop making those rash decisions. He lives to torment disappointed dad Gil another day.
Make sure to join us next Tuesday for our live-tweet event under the tag #NerdsRewatchProdigal and the Twitter account @Call4BackupPod as we press play at 9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT on episode 4. Additionally, you can listen to our corresponding commentary for this week’s episode on our podcast Call For Backup here. Make sure to stay up to date with all of the news concerning Prodigal Son and the campaign to save the show here. Until next week, Prodigies!