It was the Whitly women's time to shine, but it took an unexpected turn by the end of the hour.
The Whitlys brought in a case of their own on Prodigal Son Season 1 Episode 14, and they were integral in resolving it.
But one of them might have paid the ultimate price.
No matter how many breaks Malcolm attempts to take, his life work will be solving crime. He can't help himself, and even without trying, murder bulldozes its way into his life.
He wasn't looking for a case and still stumbled upon one thanks to the Carousel Killer contacting Jessica. But what's also fascinating is how all the Whitlys have inadvertently been dragged into the crime-solving world too.
Jessica lamented the idea of it and put up the biggest fight, but she was every bit as reckless and emotional as her son trying to save innocent people from a killer.
The show often dares us to make connections and draw parallels between Malcolm and Martin.
It's at the heart of the show to do so, but Jessica being this integral to an investigation gave us a better look at what she's like, and Malcolm shares many of his mother's qualities.
Go easy on yourself. Both of you. If I flew off the handle every time a Whitly went rogue on me, I wouldn't get anything done.Gil
It was amusing when Gil made a crack about how if he reacted every time a Whitly went off-book, he'd never get anything done. Because by the end of the hour, he's left with two Whitlys in a room seconds before the other gets stabbed.
Now Martin is lying on the table at the hands of a loved one, and Gil has to know it was due to the case, but how are they going to get themselves out of this one?
The hour did a decent job putting the Whitly women at the forefront and allowing them to carry most of it. Bellamy Young is more than capable of it, and the more time we spend with Jessica, the more endearing she is. She's fastly becoming a fan-favorite.
The show is learning how to manage their ensemble cast, and they are showing confidence when they don't rely specifically on Payne and Sheen to keep us entertained.
Hey, you stole my thunder. It's ok; I've got plenty of thunder.Edrisa
Although, they certainly did their share during this installment. But it's nice when we see Jessica as a character on her own instead of Malcolm's mother and Martin's ex-wife, and Ainsley has long since been the character the show never seems to know what to do with most of the time.
It also applies to this hour. It's hard to figure out Ainsley and the show's intentions for her.
It wasn't that she was an issue. She was perfectly fine, fleshed out, with a hint of disdain for her father and genuine concern and protectiveness over her mother and brother.
It's how inconsistently she's written that makes her behavior here and during Prodigal Son Season 1 Episode 13 jarring. It's different from the woman who barely reacted to her boyfriend almost dying in front of her or who didn't think about the victims of the families she was exploiting.
Hold on, this is my show, and I ask the questions. Who is that man you killed? Tell me, or I will cut to commercial and you won't get your million dollars.Ainsley
Have they abandoned the emotionally detached Ainsley, who had some of us were wondering if she was the most like her father?
Is it a tweak we're supposed to go with or a misdirect? She's giving me whiplash.
Because this Ainsley has seemingly forgotten how she got her promotion, and her behavior up until -- holy crap, she did hit her head. Did a personality get knocked into her?
Ainsley used an interview with her father for ratings and greater exposure with much success. She's now doing what she hoped to be doing, but she resents her ratings-hungry boss for exploiting Ainsley's serial killer connection.
So you'll just put anything on the air? If it bleeds, it leads?Dani
It's hard to take Ainsley seriously when she's attempting to be the voice of reason regarding letting a serial killer call into the station and speak live or she's annoyed that her boss wanted her to take advantage of her connection to The Surgeon.
It's the same stuff she did and was willing to do ages ago.
We didn't exactly get a transition period where it seemed like she learned her lesson from any of that or in which she considered why her ruthless ambition was received poorly from others.
But now, we see an Ainsely who lost her cool when the Carousel Killer commented about Jessica, and she was emotional about strangers' lives being in peril.
She still lacks charisma, but she has more compassion and seems like she cares about her family now, and has a conscience and moral standards. It's something, I guess.
Dani: Do you think we should question your dad?
Malcolm: No, I don't. I mean, not yet. Martin Whitly is psychopathic, he's not superhuman.
Edrisa: It's also unnecessary because you're completely wrong. Sorry, that came out harsher than I intended. I was going for a playful repartee. Have I mentioned how much I missed you?
Malcolm: I've missed you too. Now tell me why I'm completely wrong.
Even Ainsley's response to Martin was different than the last time she interacted with him. She had the annoyance and barely-concealed disdain you would expect but that she didn't formerly possess.
Everything at the station was a bit of a circus. Maybe it was meant to draw Ainsley more into the fold. It had some entertaining moments, but overall, it was rather pointless.
The Carousel Killer could have accessed Jessica in other ways, and later on, he did gain access to her purse and phone, so he didn't need to go through the station.
Martin calling in to give his opinion about the killer while live on-air served no real purpose and wasn't critical to anything.
And in hindsight, it was ludicrous that the killer was so peeved about the Whitlys being all over the news whern he then relied on the same media to manipulate Jessica. It led to Martin speaking on air, too.
Malcolm: You're here to kill him.
Martin: I'm sorry, what's that now?
Jessica: He said your father has to die.
Reporting the news can easily connect with the crime-solving, so it's a valid job for Ainsley to have, which immerses her into her brother's world. But for whatever reason or multiple reasons, the series continues to struggle with what to do with Ainsley.
Whether by her choice or her position as an afterthought, she's often a non-factor when things are happening.
Even during an hour that featured her prominently, gave her more to do, and decided on a personality for her, she was curious why she hadn't heard back from her brother and mother, unaware of what had transpired.
But it's not out of the norm for her to not hear from them. She rarely knows what's happening with either of them or shows interest.
Jessica's implementation in an investigation was more organic. She took on the quest to find more information about the girl in the box, and she opened Pandora's box in doing so.
Malcolm: Why are you hear, mother?
Jessica: I have something urgent to discuss with your father. I just need a minute alone with him.
Martin: Well, as much as it pains me to say this, I don't think I'm allowed a conjugal visit right now. I'm a little bit on thin ice when it comes to privileges.
The best thing about how she went off the rails is that it's the gift that can keep giving. She opened herself up to so much drama and danger by going public and offering a reward.
She didn't realize how much danger she invited into her life until she was at the carousel and found the body. I would hate to think what that would've been like for her if Malcolm hadn't accompanied her.
It was intriguing to have mother and son work together, and it would be nice to see it more. Jessica is more aware of her son in professional mode and gets to see him in action and how good he is at his job.
And he gets to see what it's like dealing with a well-intended but hard-headed Whitly. Jessica was about as impulsive as he is, and she didn't waste time going rogue when she saw fit.
Jessica: Why would anyone do that? You'd think I would understand after all these years, but I don't.
Malcolm: That's a good thing. You're not supposed to.
She was so naive, too. It was no surprise when she released a million bucks to any and everyone in the park, and he killed one of the brothers anyway.
Although, the action of killing someone unrelated to the death of his wife didn't fit with Wheaton's profile.
But Wheaton demanding Jessica kill Martin was a lot to process.
Martin is in prison for the rest of his life. Sure, the interview triggered Wheaton, but it wasn't like Martin was roaming the streets and bragging.
Gil: Kid, what happened at Clairmont? Jessica stabbed him. You were there.
Malcolm: How is she? Is she alright?
Gil: JT and Dani are talking to her down at the precinct, and I'm talking to you.
And I never could make sense of his anger at the rest of the Whitlys. Jessica is trying to give families closure, but how did he equate Martin's extracurricular killings as something that applied to patients on his table?
Maybe this is why they shouldn't have called Martin "The Surgeon."
But Wheaton's plan, or better yet, the Whitlys plan to catch him didn't make any sense either. It didn't require anyone stab Martin to catch Wheaton.
If Malcolm figured out that Wheaton would be at the hospital, then couldn't they have arranged for someone to pretend Martin was taken there to catch Wheaton that way?
Malcolm: Did anybody ever die on your table there?
Martin: Only one. Emilia Wheaton. Congenital heart defect. She never had a chance.
Malcolm: Did you purposely kill her?
Martin: I never hurt a patient on purpose. I follow the Hippocratic Oath to the letter, albeit with one small asterisk.
It wouldn't be as climactic as Malcolm stabbing Martin, but it was logical. It's the same non-logic that came about multiple times during Prodigal Son Season 1 Episode 11.
The scene with Jessica, Malcolm, and Martin in the room together was good, though. They all play off of one another so well.
Jessica was working up the nerve to kill the man she used to love but loathed, and Martin was making jokes the entire time.
The hour began with an illuminating flashback to 2007 when Malcolm was still in college and seeing his father. It's crazy how amicable they were back then.
Malcolm: He tried to kill me when I was ten years old. I found the girl. I learned what he was. And he wanted to silence me.
Martin: This is John Watkins. He's taking the word of a serial killer over --
Jessica: Over who? A serial killer? You bastard!
Malcolm didn't look at his father as though he were a monster. He saw him as a fascinating case study, but they also had some familial bonding that didn't carry the same resentment and disdain Malcolm has for Martin now.
But everything is changed in the present. Malcolm remembers and knows more now, and he's deep into the ugliness of what his father and those like him are capable of, and his trauma has only gotten worse.
And that's not likely to change now that he's stabbed his father in the heart.
Martin is an odd one. In addition to being far too charming for his and our own good, he has glimmers of something that makes it seem like he's capable of doing things for the right reason.
Oh, that's the photo you're going with? Not my best angle but c'est la vie.Martin
He's a clear narcissist (the biggest laugh for me was when he sculpted his own likeness out of clay), but he has this weird fixation with his family that's something akin to love.
But Martin's "love" is warped and toxic, too.
He confessed to what Watkins said. He admitted that he did take Malcolm up to the cabin to kill him, but given the timing of when he said it, one still has to question if it was a lie.
He only admitted to it after finding out that the Carousel Killer sent Jessica there to kill him. And he knew that Malcolm would be more inclined to do the deed rather than allowing his mother to do it.
Martin: Well, look at that. Steady as a statue.
Malcolm: He's right. It's the only way.
Martin was having fun with it. Jessica goes on about him being a monster, and he still likes to allude that she's no saint, so if he could get Jessica to stab him, then it would make her like him.
It would ruin her emotionally and psychologically, and part of Martin gets a thrill out of that.
But if he got Malcolm to do it, then it would mean his son is the same as him. He's already convinced that Malcolm has that killer instinct, and he spent most of Malcolm's life trying to foster it any way he could.
Somehow, Martin always wins.
He lies, inflicting some psychological warfare on his loved ones for his entertainment, and he likes testing them, as well.
He not only lured Malcolm into following through with the plan, but he got to test whether or not Malcolm was capable of going through with it. He also got to see if Malcolm would followthrough with what Martin taught him years ago.
He gave Malcolm the OK, and he reminded him of their conversation about the one killer who stabbed a sheriff in the heart but hit the exact spot where he still could survive successfully.
Martin signaled for Malcolm to do the same.
Malcolm: If you were going to kill me right now, how would you do it?
Martin: Jeeze, son. What a morbid thought. I'm afraid my options are a tad restricted.
It's quite a quandary. Martin's admission that he wanted to kill Malcolm when he was a kid was the type of ammunition used to prompt Malcolm to stab Martin. At least, it would've made it easier for him to do it.
But it also could have gone wrong in so many ways.
Malcolm is as unpredictable as Martin. Did anyone else think it was a hallucination when he went through with it? I thought he imagined it before realizing he needed to find a different method.
It came as a shock that he stabbed his father, and I hate to think of the psychological damage it will inflict on him. He took the biggest risk.
Martin has commented on Malcolm's hands and abilities before, but as he said, stabbing him in such a deliberate way was like threading the eye of a needle on the first try.
It's doubtful that Martin will die. He'll probably wake up from his surgery cracking jokes with a hearty "My boy," for good measure. Maybe one that isn't as scary as when he used the term of endearment as a directive before Malcolm stabbed him.
You know there is a point where you can pierce the heart and not affect a single coronary artery. You can be stabbed right here, and somehow emerge perfectly fine. But naturally, the margin for error is nil. If you miss the target, the heart will fail and no surgeon, not even me, can save you then. It's like threading the eye of a needle.Martin
Didn't it seem like Martin had some control over Malcolm then?
It helped them catch Wheaton, but now Malcolm and Jessica are in quite a pickle, and this can have some serious effects on Martin and what happens to him next.
Gil is asking, but he knows what happened. It'll be interesting to see where the series takes this, but it's also a show where we have to temper expectations when it comes to these things.
Sometimes the follow up is lacking or unrealistic in favor of their "Just go with it" attitude. We'll have to see how it pans out this time.
But more than anything, this latest development will exacerbate Malcolm's worst fears about what he's capable of, and it compounds all of those daddy issues.
And if we're faced with a Martin-less series, I might lose my mind. It's amazing how conflicted you feel. He's a serial killer and terrible person, but he's so entertaining. I don't want Martin to die!
Over to you, Prodigal Fanatics. How do you feel about Ainsley 2.0? Are you shocked Malcolm went through with stabbing his dad? Hit the comments below!
You can watch Prodigal Son online here via TV Fanatic!
Jasmine Blu is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.