The Mystery Box
With another stand-alone case this week and more history revealed around Malcolm’s shadowy past, Prodigal Son continues its deceptively dark tale with another decent episode here, one chock full of exciting segments and more backstory for our father/son duo. While the show still feels like it needs to carve out its own identity to avoid feeling like a poor-man’s Hannibal, there’s enough here to suggest Prodigal Son is moving in the right direction.
After experiencing more flashbacks in the morning, Malcolm has lunch with his Mother who vehemently refuses to acknowledge the box he’s been seeing from his past. As Malcolm says himself – just because they didn’t find it, doesn’t mean it didn’t exist. However, before things can get too heated, he excitedly joins a crime scene where he finds a dinner table with all the victims sitting around with half-eaten food. He quickly establishes they were all poisoned and to add to the mystery, there’s no sign of external trauma. Furthermore the Father, Aristos, has his mouth sewn shut. With no forced entry, they must have known the killer too, narrowing the list of suspects.
Having seen the news, Martin phones through to Malcolm who’s on the scene. This sets him off as he starts clenching and unclenching his fists before refusing to engage with his Father. As he hangs up, Malcolm turns around and examines the body, now with the stitches removed from his mouth. It’s here three black mamba snakes appear from his mouth but Malcolm saves the day and manages to stop the snakes from causing any harm. From here, the investigation continues to deepen as Malcolm and the others search around for clues, all the while grappling with his own worsening mental state around the aforementioned flashbacks.
Eventually this leads him back in to see Martin, where they discuss the case and the box, which he claims doesn’t exist. This happens to trigger a lightbulb in Malcolm’s mind as he begins piecing together the clues, realizing the snakes were used as a red herring to pin the blame on someone else. As he rushes back to the police they save another family who are about to succumb to the same poisoning fate. Thankfully, Malcolm’s quick thinking saves them.
In the aftermath, Gil asks Malcolm how bad his mental state is but he brushes it off, telling him it’s manageable; working on these cases is the only time he feels normal. As he returns home, the episode closes out with Malcolm confronting his Father again about the girl in the box. Given he was drugged, he can’t remember everything and Martin plays on this, telling him it’s probably best he doesn’t think too hard. Smiling, Martin awaits Malcolm’s return while his Mother receives a call, informing her that Malcolm has visited the hospital. She slams her phone to the ground in anger where we leave the episode.
While this case isn’t as interesting or exciting as the copy-cat serial killer last week, the increased mental anguish for Malcolm is enough to add an extra layer of depth to the show. The Father/Son dynamic between Malcolm and Martin is ultimately the one element of this drama that’ll keep you hooked and this is particularly well written. Much like other procedurals of its kind though, Prodigal Son will ultimately live or die by its cases and quite whether it can keep people hooked each week remains to be seen.