Prodigal Son is the perfect example of a show that’s consistently got better and better each week. What began as a quirky procedural with elements of Fringe and sprinklings of horror has grown into a compelling, serialized thriller and one of the better shows that debuted last year. After a winter break, Prodigal Son crashes into 2020 with an intense episode, one that sets the scene nicely as we approach the midway point of this show.
Episode 11 of Prodigal Son returns to find Malcolm captured and chained up. Screaming for help, the Junkyard Killer (John Watkins) arrives and tells him not to be mad, knowing they have alone time together. It’s been 12 hours since Shannon was murdered and Bright was kidnapped and the police scramble to gather their resources to help.
In for questioning, Matilda is interrogated by Gil who asks her for information around her grandson. Unfortunately they get nowhere and instead, question Jessica about the photos from the Watkin home after informing her about Bright being kidnapped. Gil then heads in to see Martin Whitley and talks to him about Watkins. He’s erratic, to say the least, and repeatedly asks where Malcolm is until Gil eventually tells him that Watkins has his son.
While Malcolm is taunted by the Junkyard Killer, Dani and JT find a picture of a cabin in Watkins’ photo album and immediately head off to investigate. It’s here we learn Malcolm stabbed the Junkyard Killer in the past and in retaliation, Watkins plunges a knife into Malcolm’s chest, prompting our investigator to begin hallucinating.
Gil continues to speak to Martin about the cabin in the woods and as they piece together where Malcolm is, the Junkyard Killer continues to taunt and torture his captive. When the police arrive at the aforementioned cabin, they find it completely empty and abandoned. Malcolm isn’t there… he’s actually in a hidden room under Malcolm’s house. As Watkins crawls out of the basement vents, Ainsley and Jessica scramble to safety as the killer chases after them.
Malcolm continues to hallucinate, this time of his Father, who encourages Malcolm to smash his thumb off in order to break free from the restraints. After slamming the hammer into his hand, the killer hears Malcolm downstairs and switches targets from the girls until he’s struck from behind and knocked out. With the family reunited for now and the threat passed, they all breathe a sigh of relief as Ainsley throws her arms around her brother where we end the episode.
Prodigal Son gracefully reintroduces itself to the new decade with a wonderfully tense slice of psychological horror. There’s some really good work done here with the plot to keep things interesting and the lack of a recap at the start, with scattered Malcolm flashbacks instead, is a really nice touch and one that the editing team deserve some praise for.
The scene involving Malcolm slamming the hammer into his thumb is a big talking point though and a difficult to watch and all of this combines with the wonderful musical score to make this one of the better network shows on TV right now. If Prodigal Son can keep this up, it may just be one of the bigger surprises in 2020.