Like Father, Like Son
With the early bouts of characterisation under its belt, Prodigal Son doubles down on its mystery this week as Malcolm goes in search of the missing car while grappling with a new case that hits a little too close to home. For the most part, the episode itself works well, with the details of the case coinciding with the demons in Malcolm’s past, but the rigid structure this, and so many other crime dramas like it, follows, holds this back from being a more memorable title.
We begin one week ago with Ainsley confronting her Father in prison and asking why he killed so many people. However, he retorts with a question of his own, leaving them at a stalemate as the scene cuts and the question is left unanswered for now.
Malcolm continues to look for the car from his childhood photo but after a fruitless visit to the dealership, he heads back to his therapist who warns him against looking too far into this. “The mind is not a safe that can be opened with the right combination,” She says, going on to warn him that pursuing this could lead him to regress back to his childhood trauma.
Thankfully, Malcolm has work to get his mind off things and this week the victim is Gavin Parker, a warehouseman dead in the forest. Stabbed over 100 times, the man may well be the first kill of someone who now has the taste for further murder. It turns out Gavin also had a son, Isaac, and while Malcolm talks to him about what it’s like to lose a Father, the rest of the investigative team head off and speak to Gavin’s wife. As Malcolm learns, they had a family friend who didn’t like Gavin very much – Jake.
Back home, Aisnley tells the others about the interview and they don’t take kindly to her idea. Storming out, Malcolm hallucinates again, seeing Martin standing in the hallway before his jacket sets on fire, sending him into spiralling panic. At work, Malcolm heads off to find Jake who teaches him self-defence, unaware who Malcolm actually is. Eventually revealing his indentity, Jake reveals that Gavin’s wife had baggage and he used that as fuel to teach her everything he could. She’s put under arrest soon after but Malcolm isn’t so sure that she’s the real killer.
Jessica tells Ainsley that her interview with Martin is off, angering her daughter. It’s here we find out what happened a week before – Ainsley found a Father in prison who loves her, not a murderous psychopath as she expected, causing her to become conflicted. It’s enough for Ainsley to defiantly tell her Mum she’s doing the interview no matter what.
After speaking to his therapist about the case with Isaac, Malcolm flashes back to a specific sentence he muttered in the garden. Investigating further, Malcolm finds a number of dead rabbits in the garden. It turns out Isaac i s the one who killed her Father. With Jake in danger, tbe police scramble to his house while Isaac eyes a knife on the table. Unfortunately, they arrive a little too late as Isaac manages to slash Jake’s ankles, just as Malcolm shows up. He tells the child how to deal with grief and manages to talk him around, saving the day.
With everything wrapped up, Malcolm finds the missing car. Throwing open the boot, he switches on the UV light and finds traces of blood spatters, confirming what he predicted all along.
Moreso than the other episodes, Prodigal Son delivers the perfect balance of character and plot progression here. As I mentioned earlier, the rigid structure of this crime drama does hold it back from being a more unique offering but Prodigal Son takes that structure and polishes it up nicely, making it one of the better offerings to come out on TV during the fall. Whether it can capitalise on this and push on to deliver something wholly unique remains to be seen but for now, Prodigal Son bows out this week with another strong episode.