Ghosts From The Past
Prodigal Son returns this week with another good episode, one that leaves things wide open for the future as the past comes crashing into the present for our latest case. With a decent build-up of tension, the episode slips up a little by using too much exposition delivered through phone conversations but there’s enough here to make for an enjoyable slice of drama nonetheless.
In 2007, Bright interviews his father and asks him how he’d kill if he had the chance. It’s a tense and unresolved conversation, one that cuts back to the present before we get a satisfying conclusion as Malcolm celebrates not dealing with a murder for several weeks. His mother receives an urgent call to visit the fairground but when she gets there, she finds a man with his throat slit, dead and tied to the horse on the carousel.
As the team arrive, they realize the man died a night earlier and the person who phoned earlier in the day is actually the killer. That same killer phones Ainsley and asks her to broadcast his call live on-air. The man calls himself the Carousel Killer and mentions the “Chickens coming home to roost”, demanding the money Jessica has after her stunt several episodes ago when she confronted the press and threatens more people will die if she doesn’t pay up.
In jail, Martin perks up upon hearing news about the killer, while Jessica heads to the bank to withdraw the funds for the ransom. As the police scramble around, Gil heads to the hardware store and speaks to the owner about his brother, agreeing to help track him down. Meanwhile, Martin phones up Ainsley while she’s on-air and broadcasts his thoughts, including opinions on the carousel murder being a performance piece. Before she can get any more information however, the Surgeon hangs up the phone.
This does, however, entice the killer to phone through again as Ainsley gives him an ultimatum. Thankfully this works, as the killer tells her Jessica needs to have the money ready at the place “where she and Martin first met”.
Jessica arrives at the park clutching the bag full of money, where he subsequently tells her to dump it while he stands on the edge of the rooftop with another victim hanging precariously. As crowds gather to snatch the dropped notes, the killer drops the body and makes a run for it. In the aftermath of this, Malcolm realizes this is all a psychological game, forcing him to head back to Martin’s cell to try and get some answers.
The killer phones Jessica again and tells her she needs to stab Martin within 30 minutes otherwise his latest hostage will die. The family reunion begins, and Jessica arrives in the cell with a makeshift shiv. Malcolm thankfully talks her out of it though, turning to face Martin who admits to trying to kill him in the past but was unable to go through with it. Realizing it’s the only way to get out of this situation, Malcolm stabs his Father.
After doing surgery on Martin, Malcolm and Gil realize that Cory Wheaton is the Carousel Killer. It turns out Malcolm pieced this together thanks to ties to the past surrounding his Mother and Cory’s links to Martin when he was a surgeon. As he continues to talk, Malcolm takes centre stage and asks Cory where it stops, eventually managing to obtain the hostage’s location.
As the episode closes out, Malcolm flashes back to a moment between him and his Father in the past, specifically a conversation about a place you can stab someone without disrupting any arteries. With Martin’s life hanging in the balance on the operating table, everything rests on a precarious cliffhanger for next week.
Although not quite as dramatic as the last cliffhanger we received with the Junkyard Killer, the Carousel Killer offers up a unique chance to see the actions of the past come back to haunt our characters in the present. With Ainsley and Jessica playing a far more prominent role this episode, the changed emphasis works reasonably well, although the reliance of on-air phone calls broadcast to the country is a little farfetched, especially given the frequency this is used.
Still, it’s a minor point in an otherwise intriguing episode, with the door left wide open for next week. It’s highly unlikely Martin will die though, especially given how enigmatic his character is, but the various cliffhanger endings throughout this series has certainly helped mix things up a little and prevent everything turning into a formulaic case-of-the-week procedural. For now Prodigal Son bows out with another enjoyable episode, with plenty left in the tank for next week’s follow-up.