Prodigal Son appears to really be settling into its groove now as we approach the midway point of the season. With a mid-season break looming ever-closer, Fox’s latest crime thriller looks like its gearing up for quite the dramatic crescendo to its growing mystery. The show has really come into its own in recent weeks and the inclusion of Paul, who clearly has Malcolm’s number, helps to give the show a cutting edge lost with the case-of-the-week episodes early on.
We begin with a brief dive into the past, as we see Jessica asking construction workers to close up the office in the basement. This brings us back to the end of last episode, whre Malcolm learned he wasn’t alone at the camping trip. Going by the name of Paul, the antagonist on the phone tells him his work has been disrupted before hanging up.
Following the phone call, Jessica struggles to remain calm as the police head over and begin tracing the call back to its source. Gil clearly senses issues with Jessica though and suggests moving her to a safe house, which she refuses to do.
Malcolm begins piecing together bits of the puzzle, starting at the station and then heading back to the junkyard to work through the methodical manner Paul killed his victims. Once there, he stumbles upon a trap door buried in the soil, leading to a secret room with another victim handcuffed and gagged. Helping him free, he asks Malcolm “How long do I have?” and “You can’t help me,” before being taken to safety.
At the station the officers discuss the possibility that a local priest, Father Leo, is the one behind the killings. However, this theory is thrown out when they receive a bloody parcel. Partway through examining its contents, the phone rings and the killer returns to speak to Malcolm. He mentions the girl in the trunk of Martin’s boot, turning the tide and causing Malcolm to lose control, as he flashes through his past over the times his family refused to acknowledge its existence.
Heading out to get some air, he spies Paul dressed as a homeless man across the street and follows him. Unfotunately he has Malcolm’s number and traps him, demanding to know how he knew where he’d be. Eventually Malcolm caves and admits he’s inhereted that killer instinct from his Father. Hearing enough, Paul hands him a phone and tells him to await further instructions before leaving.
Back at the station, he informs Gil to set up a task force before heading to the designated location while the police watch from afar. It turns out Paul wanted Ryan all along and the meeting with Malcolm was just a distraction to get to him in hospital. Calling in reinforcements, Malcolm phones through to Ainsley and tells her what’s happening, but not before picking up a bracelet from the scene; a present from Paul to help him remember.
With the police srriving on scene and Ainsley safe for now, Malcolm ponders over the significance of the bracelet. Before he can look too much into it though, Gil and Malcolm receive more bad news as they receive word they’re all forced off the case and the FBI will be taking over.
Adopting a decent pace and a nice balance of past and present scenes, Prodigal Son does well to keep things suitably mysterious and tense throughout the episode. After Malcolm has dominated most cases with his quick wits and profiling skills, seeing Paul with the upperhand over our protagonist is a welcome twist of fate, one that seems to be working well for this series. With numerous questions left hanging over this one though, who knows what direction the show is likely to turn next.