It's a mark of a fantastic installment when the case is predictable, but it remained thrilling throughout along with the everything else that took place during the hour.
As evident on Prodigal Son Season 1 Episode 6, it's less about the outcome and more about the journey.
The hour was the best yet.
The hour provided some of the best Malcolm development; it dug deeper into his psyche and peeled back the many layers of our human gordian knot of a protagonist.
It also expanded the world beyond Malcolm by giving us much needed Ainsley content and an untethered Martin outside of his connection to Malcolm.
The series slips in and out of flashbacks, hallucinations, and reality through the stunning, crystalline eyes of an unreliable Malcolm.
It often leaves the viewer as confused as Malcolm, when trying to decipher what's real versus imagined. It's the near-constant uncertainty that makes the mystery engaging.
The moments where Whitly family members stand on their own are rewarding. Of everything presented, those are the moments the viewer can trust what he or she sees without Malcolm's perspective coloring them.
Martin: I missed you.
Ainsley: You don't even know me.
Martin: Why don't we remedy that.
It's the best impression to garner from the characters without it going back to how they relate to and affect Malcolm.
The Martin and Ainsley situation is fascinating. She lacks the connection to her father like the others, and she feels it gives her strength.
Instead, it makes her more susceptible to Martin in other ways, and by the time she sees it, it'll be too late.
It took next to no time for Martin to melt her resolve and tap into her weak spots. He had her unraveled within moments of their conversation.
Martin is a real piece of work, and it's offensive how charming and likable he is. The man is a gosh damn serial killer, but he's also a dad who tells the funniest dad jokes and reels a person in with his warmth and effervescence.
Ainsley: I came to ask for an interview.
Martin: An interview? That seems a little exploitative. Then again I've been exploiting others my whole life.
Ainsley: As a serial killer?
Martin: No As a white man. We're terrible.
Ainsley was putty in his hands, and the worst part about it is Martin leaves someone in a neverending state of doubt and confusion. Does he love his family?
Does he miss them? Does he care about them as individuals, or is it about something insidious and self-serving for him?
As much as you may yell at the screen for Ainsley to get it together, or cringe at how easily he ensnared Ainsley in his web, you get it.
She was susceptible to the same magnetism Martin possesses that has fans gleeful whenever he appears onscreen.
Ainsley: Was it real?
Martin: There's my girl.
Ainsley: Did you love us or was it just some psychopathic act?
Martin: I've thought about you every single day since my arrest. I imagined myself there on birthdays, piano recitals, dancing with you at the debutante ball.
Ainsley: I was never a debutante.
Martin: That's a shame the one I dreamed for you was quite the party. You demanded the band play "Single Ladies." Your mother was mortified. I, of course, loved it.
She also has a history of needing to be seen and valued, and she felt neglected by Jessica and often ignored by both her and Malcolm. Unfortunately, Malcolm's fragile mental health state monopolized a lof of both of their time, and it came at the expense of Ainsley.
She didn't get to know her father, and despite his title as a notorious serial killer, she could imagine him as a doting dad who would've loved her.
She felt like Jessica tainted her image of Martin by writing him off as only a monster instead of a family man. Ainsley is a journalist, though. She, better than anyone, should know the scary part about real monsters is knowing they are everyday people.
Ainsley: I need to go.
Martin: Ainsley, that imaginary life is the most real thing I know. The one place I get to be a father. I will never forgive myself for not really being there, and neither should you. You deserved so much better than me.
Ainsley went to the facility expecting to see a Boogeyman who haunts her brother and mother's dreams and led to them being "basketcases."
She should understand that the reason they are basketcases due to Martin is because of what they know about their experiences with him versus his actions. They're not basketcases because they shared a roof with a monster.
No, they're basketcases because they also saw what Ainsley saw. They saw the man they loved and had to reconcile with the man whom they lived with doing unspeakable things unbeknownst to them.
Martin appearing normal is what screws Jessica and Malcolm up, and Ainsley thought she went into the facility with an advantage, but she's about to find out she doesn't.
You want to shake Ainsley for running headfirst into trouble. The Surgeon interview could be a career-changer for her, but it can and most likely will be a disaster.
Martin: The general public seldom understands greatness in its time.
Therapist: Might there be another reason you don't want to do this?
Martin: The camera does add ten pounds.
How would you feel as the relative of a victim watching Martin's daughter interview and thus humanize him?
Ainsley humanizing him is an inevitability; she has already developed a softness for her father. He filled her head with beautifully worded tales of how he regrets not being there for her and all the father-daughter things they would've done together.
Despite only being obsessed with Malcolm for as long as we could see, even when he was free, he has led Ainsley to believe it's family and visons of her that keep him going.
Jessica: That interview will never happen. I will make sure of it.
Malcolm: Right, finally we--
Jessica: We agree. Well, I've never.
It's all the things the neglected child would want to hear. Jessica was right about Martin already getting to Ainsley.
It's the meatiest hour for Ainsley, and Halston Sage was great. Ainsley has so much potential; Jessica and Malcolm can come together in agreement to stop Ainsley from seeing Martin again.
It sets up the Malcolm/Jessica and Ainsley/Martin familial split nicely. As the story goes, it was the youngest son who was the prodigal. It's something the series can play with a bit, splitting the meaning of "prodigal son" in different ways as it applies to both kids.
Martin already has Ainsley, no matter what any of them would like to think.
It's a way for him to have control. Despite his pleasure at seeing his daughter in person for the first time in decades, he was reluctant about the interview.
That's not the most important question. Deep down, there's another question that you desperately need answered, and I'm wondering are you brave enough to ask it?Martin
The group therapy session at the facility was the first time we saw Martin in his element by himself. It was a nice break away from how his family perceives him.
Martin knew he had a win with Ainsley, and it fed his ego. He couldn't stop speaking about it. The session was meant to speak on their triggers and what sets them off.
The therapist pointed out how Martin likes to be in control, and his reluctance about the interview may be due to a lack of control over the situation.
Except, if he's getting interviewed, he gets to control the narrative. And if it's Ainsley doing the interview, he already has her under his spell.
He didn't get to speak to Malcolm, but he was haunting him in different ways.
Malcolm's morning routine is missed, but the therapy sessions are compelling and make up for them. Initially, Malcolm's relationship with his childhood therapist seemed questionable.
You want him to go to a therapist who treats adults and specializes in all that ails him. Gabrielle's effectiveness is due to her and Malcolm's familiarity.
He trusts her, and she knows him well. He wouldn't be able to cultivate a similar relationship with someone new.
Gabrielle: If you follow your trauma to its source you can revert back to that frozen, broken child.
Malcolm: How will I know?
Gabrielle: You'll start seeing things.
Malcolm: Already checked that box.
Gabrielle: These won't be drug-induced or from sleep deprivation, you won't be able to tell what's real from imagined. It'll all feel real.
Malcolm: I'll be psychotic.
Malcolm: Lose contact with reality. That's your concern.
Gabrielle: You're my concern.
She gave it to him straight, telling him how fragile he was the more he dug into his past. He's digging for repressed memories; they're buried deep for a reason.
His brain is trying to protect him, and he's attempting to go around it in search of the truth. Gabrielle told him he's edging toward a psychotic break.
It's something we all suspected, but her saying it makes it real.
Now, did Malcolm's hallucination without the usual causes means it was an official sign of that psychotic break or was it due to his fear of it happening?
It also set the foundation for Malcolm to mess up on a case. It wasn't so much that he did, but as he said, Isaac was his blind spot.
It was apparent Isaac killed his father early on. By the time Malcolm profiled Crystal as having a Jocasta complex, you knew she was willing to cover for him.
It didn't make the case any less compelling, though. It was due to how close Malcolm was to it. He saw himself in Isaac early on, and he found himself emulating the role Gil played in his life with Isaac.
Malcolm: After everything I went through as a kid, sometimes I wonder if I would have turned out like Isaac.
Gil: Not on my watch.
He wanted to be that person for Isaac.
The parallels between Isaac and Malcolm were striking including after it was revealed that Isaac was a sadist who killed his father.
Malcolm's various traumas and his father's proclivities have contributed to him living his entire life afraid of his mind and what he's capable of himself.
He's terrified he may be like him or have something in him that is capable of unbridled darkness.
Isaac was at the same age Malcolm was when Martin went away. Malcolm was vulnerable and caught up in memories he was trying to reclaim.
Gabrielle: That's what makes you a good profiler. You see the worst in people, but with this boy, you want to see the best in him.
Malcolm: I want to see the best in him. That's a subconscious urge.
Gabrielle: I suppose it's only natural.
Malcolm: Yeah, sure, but it means I have an unconscious bias. A blind spot.
Gabrielle: I thought that was a good thing.
Malcolm: Not if your job is to see people for who they really are no matter how dark it might be.
Isaac was surrounded by sketchy individuals too. Malcolm's judgment was clouded, but understandably so.
And he was correct in his assessment of Crystal and Jake. Crystal did have a Jocasta complex and loathed her husband. She did jump into bed with her disturbed trainer.
She had a history of hurting her husband, and she had some anger issues which is why she got into Krav Maga in the first place.
She needed an outlet to channel her anger, and she got one. Crystal's attack of Dani in the woods was brutal. And Jake was a sadist.
Jake: What the hell are you some kinda freak?
Malcolm: Jung would have called me a masochist, but I'm not a fan. He would love you, though ... an old-fashioned sadist.
A sadist like Jake and a masochist like Malcolm sharing that moment was certainly entertaining.
If you're a The Walking Dead fan, it was a treat to see Malcolm throw down a bit with his martial arts skills. I suppose years of insomnia and needing to channel his energy into outlets has led to Malcolm acquiring diverse skill sets and interests.
Every time a new one is revealed, it's a treat. They could dedicate an entire hour to high Malcolm giddily showcasing any number of his skills, and it would be the height of entertainment.
I know what it's like to not be okay, to feel like something inside is broken.Malcolm
Jake was not the killer, but he was almost a victim. Isaac almost stabbed him too.
It's something no one wants to discuss often. How does one handle a child who displays disturbing qualities? Crystal tried to cover him and hide the animal killings and other things.
But her husband wasn't wrong. Isaac needed to be in a facility where he could get the help he deserved.
He got a taste for stabbing, and there was no going back. Anyone who triggered him would be on the receiving end of Isaac's outlet.
It's touching that Malcolm added himself to Isaac's visitor list.
Malcolm: Your garden variety sadist takes pleasure from inflicting pain. On average, it takes three stabs at four-inch depth to kill someone.
JT: Where do you get a stat like that?
He hopes Isaac can look to him and see that with help and therapy, Isaac could function better and not given in to those urges.
Of course, Malcolm isn't like Isaac, or is he?
His dogged pursuit of the station wagon he went camping in led him to more information he probably doesn't want to know.
It was beyond fortuitous that Dani was able to track down the exact same station wagon two decades later.
It had the same brackets in it and based on his UV light, the back of the station wagon was still covered in blood or something.
But was it based on that night he can't remember? And what if it was another hallucination instead?
The mystery continues!
- Jessica is hilarious and has some of the best lines. Bellamy Young's delivery is unparalleled.
- The dialogue on this series is too funny for words. There were so many amusing lines, a few of which were laugh out loud funny.
- Martin liked to go camping often, so was this the time he took Mal camping? Was that how he got rid of bodies?
- It makes no sense that Malcolm and Gil show up at every crime scene like they've stepped off the pages of GQ. Who gave them the right?
- Ainsley's boy toy was super hot, and Jessica agreed. Does he own a shirt? I'm not complaining, just curious. Only cool moms congratulate you on your sex partner's package.
- Edrisa is the best. Nothing more needs to be said. She's a true nerdy queen.
- They really know how to highlight Payne's eyes as much as possible, and I'm forever grateful for it.
Over to you, Prodigal Fanatics! What did you think about this installment?
How long do you think it will be before Malcolm has a psychotic break?
Has Ainsley already fallen for Martin's manipulative ways?
Hit the comments below with all of your thoughts.
You can watch Prodigal Son online here via TV Fanatic!
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