“The Trip” (Episode 105)
October 21, 2019
Last week on Prodigal Son, Malcolm spent the episode trying to prove his mother’s complicity in The Surgeon’s murders only to be convinced that she had nothing to do with it at all. But, we’re not convinced that Jessica didn’t know more than she’s admitted thus far. Too many questions remain as Malcolm tries to unravel the secrets trapped in his mind. What do you do when your brain is an unreliable narrator? The struggle continues on tonight’s episode.
Now, on to tonight’s episode of Prodigal Son … BEWARE OF SPOILERS!!!
Do you know what’s a sure fire way to positively ensure you will not sleep? Telling yourself to go to sleep, that you will sleep like the “damn dead.” BUt, this is exactly what Malcolm tries and it backfires, his mind cycling through the girl in the box memory puzzle he’s been plagued with since the series began. Add in flashes of Mama Whitly in her red dress and old and new conversations with Doctor Daddy and Malcolm’s night of sleep is fucked.
Unstrapping himself from his bed, Malcolm goes for a middle of the night walk (really the best time to be alive if you ask me). Malcolm sees a classic, wood paneled station wagon parked on the street. Something draws him to the car and as he approaches, he sees that there is something trapped inside, someone. Someone in danger. Trapped under a blanket and chained with heavy links. He begins to call for help. As he turns back to the wagon, he’s brought to his senses by a barking dog in said station wagon. Except, it’s not an old-timey station wagon like we had in the 70s and 80s but a modern sports wagon. The car (and dog’s) owner is wondering why a dude is creeping on his pup in the middle of the night.
We have seen tired Malcolm and delusional Malcolm but this is next level shit. Brother man, you need to sleep.
Stately Whitly Manor. Malcolm staggers into his mother’s dining hall and drains some coffee. Mama Whitly knows that he still hasn’t slept but he’s able to waylay her by asking what she’s up to? Mama Whitly is taking Malcolm’s advice and putting her name back out there into the philanthropic world; basically sending out interest cards to people that may want some of that Whitly money. Mama Whitly turns the conversation back on her son and offers some good pills to help him sleep but only one thing is going to scratch Malcolm’s itch.
“I need a murder.”
Police Station. We join Gil and Malcolm in mid-conversation, Gil doesn’t have anything remotely in Malcolm’s wheelhouse for him to work on. Malcolm catches wind that Arroyo and The Team are heading out to a drug gang murder scene and he forces himself to come along.
At the crime scene, there is a cute bit where Malcolm tries to bond with JT over the exciting “game” from the night before. JT calls him on which game in particular he’s referring to? At this point, Malcolm should basically shout, “Gooooo Sportsball!!!” Anyway, it’s adorable. On to the case.
The scene of the crime is actually a drug den speakeasy. The main victim is a Haitian drug kingpin, Jacques Desir. Dani explains that Desir controlled the Haitian drug dealers in NYC and was “ruthless but respected.” FYI, Desir’s tongue has been cut out and he’s literally covered white powder. Cocaine, presumably.
Dani, who seems to know A LOT about NYC drug circles, explains that there has been some territorial squabbles among Trinitarios (i.e., a Dominican street gang) led by a guy named Saulo Reyes.
Malcolm questions whether this murder was really about drugs. He adds his two cents that this wasn’t a rival hit, the dead bodyguard and the fact that Desir never got up … he knew his killer and trusted them to a certain extent. Also, if this was about drugs, why dump so much product on Desir? That’s a waste. No, this was about anger.
Malcolm needles Dani on her backstory, how she knows so much about drugs and she throws up a total roadblock. Alone, Gil advises Malcolm to not profile Dani’s past, it won’t end well for him.
Cut to a large Catholic Church that I should really know the name of as a New Yorker and Catholic but I’m blanking. Anyway, JT whisper exposits to Malcolm that following the chaotic 90s, the police and gangs designated churches as safe spaces. And Gil was a leading officer in negotiating these truces. They’re here to speak to the aforementioned Saulo (Robert Montano).
Saulo, who looks like a Spanish Hugh Laurie, claims to be a legitimate businessman but adds that, off the record, none of his men killed Desir. He points the fingers at a man named Estime. This gets an immediate reaction from Dani who leans forward to say that A. Estime was Desir’s friend and number two and B. didn’t move product. No way it’s him, is Dani’s position. Saulo claims her information is stale and now, with Desir out of the way, Estime is the Number 1 Haitian.
While this convo is happening, Malcolm begins to have a hallucination that the covered body and chains from the station wagon vision from earlier are sitting right next to him. And, a decrepit hand begins to go for him. He interrupts the conversation by jumping to his feet with a scream. Lots of guns gets drawn, as you can imagine when you make a scene in front of a druglord.
Having made an introduction of sorts, Malcolm questions who would have cut out Desir’s tongue, an old superstition that it would trap the body’s soul on Earth. Malcolm is discounting Saulo as the killer because he’s religious, not superstitious. Saulo agrees that he wouldn’t cut out a tongue.
“I don’t need a bunch of ghosts following me around.”
“You and me both,” Malcolm agrees as he stares next to him and the blanket is gone.
Police Station. We come back to Malcolm working on his profile. Dani swings by and tells him that he needs to forget Estime as being the killer. Malcolm is willing to consider it but he needs to know why … profiles are based on information, not personal feelings. Dani is still tight lipped and warns Malcolm not to profile her.
The awkward conversation is interrupted by Gil’s and JT’s arrival. They have Edrisa’s medical examiner report. First, it wasn’t coke on Desir, it was a mix of MDMA (ecstasy or Molly) and psilocybin (mushrooms). Also, Desir was wearing some kind of protective garb of some sort that kept blood splatter off of his chest — unlike the bodyguard who was covered. Also, also, Desir was killed first and the bodyguard second, the killer was definitely friend, not foe … well, at least until they started killing people.
Gil announces to the room (read: Dani) that they need to speak to Estime but forbids Dani from going to see Estime on her own ….
How do we think that’s going to work out?
Stately Whitly Manor. Jessica’s small lunch party is a bust, none of her four invited guests show. Just as Mama Whitly is ready to give up the idea that anyone will want to work with The Surgeon’s wife, enter Eve Blanchard (Molly Griggs). Eve’s an attorney that works in a niche area, fighting against human trafficking, and is more than willing to take Jessica’s money. Jessica is intrigued.
Personally, Eve had me at money hungry attorney who takes her drinks neat (no rocks). Yum!
Da Club. As predicted, we cut to Dani at a night club. She’s clearly going to see Estime. Also, girlfriend cleans up nice. Malcolm pops in and Dani cannot even believe that he’s here too. Can’t sleep, he says, what’s her excuse? Dani finally comes clean that she was undercover two years and this place was a regular spot for her. Before they can have any further discussion, a man approaches them and tells them that Estime wants to see both of them .
As they’re approaching, Malcolm asks Dani for some additional comfort that Estime isn’t dangerous. Why does he ask? Because guys that lurk behind giant windows are up to no good. Dani can’t believe that he’s profiling the window. But Malcolm refuses to be deterred.
“That’s a bad guy window.”
Estime’s Office. Let’s set the scene, there are women having their hair done and lots of drugs. Estime clears the room. He makes a passing comment that Dani looks better than the last time he saw her. She cuts to the chase and asks who killed Desir. Estime is all, “whatevs, everyone thinks it was me.” But Dani isn’t buying that and, after observing Estime’s nervous tells, neither is Malcolm.
Malcolm interrupts the conversation between Dani and Estime which, by the way, is fraught with unsaid words and emotions — these two have a major history — and says that Estime is only trying to BE hard but he’s not really. And he certainly didn’t kill Desir. He kinda calls him a pussy but in a good way. Dani pleads for Estime to give her some info on what happened so she can help clear his name. Estime is just sticking to, “I didn’t do this” but we don’t get anything more because the club erupts in machine gun fire.
Everybody down!! It’s like the Smooth Criminal music video up in this club …
Some key things to take away as we head to commercials. Estime escapes out the backdoor as Dani and Malcolm hit the floor. And Malcolm swallows a mouthful of drugs that get puffed into the air from the gunfire.
We come back and the crime scene unit is on the scene and Gil is dressing down Dani for disobeying orders and letting Estime escape into the wind. Malcolm backs up her assertion that Estime isn’t the killer but then he’s overcome by the drugs in his system. Gil asks Dani what her state is and she promises Gil that she’s fine, not high. Boss orders Dani to take Malcolm home and babysit him until he comes down from his trip. Dani is NOT amused.
Malcolm’s Apartment. Dani gets drug boy inside and advises him to drink lots of water and hiding under a blanket. He counters that they should throw axes instead. Or maybe dance?!? She threatens to kick him in the business if he doesn’t let go of her. He assures Dani the business is good (and 1000 shippers lost their mind).
Malcolm is really REALLY enjoying his high, even if he can’t complete basic thoughts. She suggests that he douse his head in water and she’ll make some food. He’s ALL about that.
“Let’s make … crumble.”
He thanks her for taking of him and she makes a comment about them being friends. He jumps all over this and even though she tries to backtrack, he admits to being out of practice with having friends. She’s the same.
“I’ve got issues with trust. I can’t really go there anymore.”
The sweet moment is interrupted by Malcolm remembering he’s got some wonderfully stinky cheese for grilled cheese sandwiches. Dani sends Malcolm to take wash his face and he (finally) listens.
In the bathroom, his blissful high is interrupted by a vision of a man in the mirror hanging from a giant meat-hook sticking out of his chest. Malcolm turns around and sees nothing is there but he’s shaken.
This Trip Has Really Gone South, Y’all!!
Malcolm heads to his bed and sees the chest from his father’s basement, from his nightmares, slowly making its way down a flight of stairs towards him. Dani asks if he’s doing okay. He can’t answer. Behind him, the moving body blanket and chains is on his bed. He turns back and sees the chest has gotten closer. A rotten hand from underneath the blanket grabs Malcolm and pulls him down. Dani asks again if he’s doing okay but too late, Malcolm has already run back into the bathroom and locked himself in.
Except, he’s not in his bathroom, he’s in his father’s psych ward room. And, instead of Doctor Daddy, it’s a Malcolm clone wearing Doctor Daddy’s cardigan and white prison outfit.
“Nobody ever said the subconscious was subtle.”
Real Malcolm is trying to convince himself that none of this is real and that it’s all from not sleeping but Subconscious Malcolm insists that he’s there to help Malcolm remember. Among this conversation, Subconscious Malcolm mentions open questions like what’s the deal with the station wagon? What did dad do? And … what did we do?
“What you need is context, amiright? Something to help you stitch all this crazy together.”
Subconscious Malcolm shows real Malcolm a shoebox from his childhood, a box that has things in it that will help Malcolm unlock his memories. Subconscious Malcolm explains that Jessica burned all traces of The Surgeon’s existence but Malcolm hid this box under his childhood bed. “Find it,” Subconscious Malcolm implores.
Dani finally makes her way into the bathroom as Malcolm is in full meltdown mode. She punches him unconscious to get him to stop screaming.
The next morning, a bright eyed Malcolm thanks Dani for punching him, he got 5 hours of sleep as a result. Dani, for her part, slept in her party clothes with her dead down on the counter. That sucks.
“I should have you slug me every night.”
Again, 1000 shippers lose their mind.
Feeling a bit closer by their shared experience, Dani finally opens up to Malcolm. She explains that she got in deep while undercover with Desir’s crew. But eventually, Estime made her as a cop but never said anything.
“And then he saved me.”
Malcolm puts it all together that Dani overdosed. She got hooked while undercover. Which is why Gil was worried about her being around drugs. It was Estime that took her to the hospital, no one else cared.
Police Station. In Gil’s office, Dani mea culpas for fucking up and promises to make it better. Boss tells her to go talk to one of Estime’s hostesses who was caught leaving the club with one of Saulo’s guns.
Stately Whitly Manor. Jessica is signing over a (presumably large) check to Eve. When Mama Whitly proposes that it be made anonymously to avoid bad press, Eve asks why Jessica kept the Whitly name after the whole serial killer husband deal? Jessica was born a Milton, royalty in New York social circles, so why stay with the poisoned name? Jessica explains she’s been a Whitly longer than she was a Milton and she did good work in this world as a Whitly. Martin took so much else from her, she refused to let him take her name too.
The conversation is interrupted by Malcolm, he’s come looking for his shoebox. Jessica plays dumb about it (but clearly she knows exactly what he’s talking about since she refers to it as a shoebox of mementos about his dad even though he never said any of those things). There is an awkward meet cute between Eve and Malcolm (it involves talk about drugs blowing up in Malcolm’s face but also, his job is boring sometimes). Though, minutes before, Eve and Jessica were having a flirty banter so who knows what is even happening there.
The Police Station. Dani is interviewing Estime’s hostess and asking about what happened to Estime after she left the club (as an undercover cop). The hostess explains that Desir got to Estime and forced him into the life and then Estime started making real money. But, she says, his heart wasn’t in it. So, Dani asks, why did Estime stay? A girl named Fabiola. She was an amazing hairdresser and Estime loved her.
“What happened to her?”
Cut to a stakeout with Dani and Malcolm. We get the rest of Fabiola’s story. Estime asked Desir to release Fabiola from his services but Desir wouldn’t do it. And, having been rebuffed, Desir sent Fabiola on a drug mule mission. The balloon of heroin burst inside her and she died. Dani takes solace that she was right that Estime wouldn’t kill for turf or product, she thinks Estime killed for love …
We cut to the front of the beauty salon they’re sitting outside of, it’s called Fabiola’s Hair Salon. Malcolm compliments her profiling skills and she thanks Gil for teaching her that “police work is patience.” Gil used to tell Malcolm the same thing when he would go on stakeouts with him as a kid. Dani takes a minute to reflect that they’re not very different after all.
The sweet moment is interrupted by Trini (Pascale Armand), Estime’s head hostess, showing up. Dani realizes that Estime is there too. She calls it into Gil and then heads into the shop to confront Estime.
Inside the hair salon, Trini stands behind Estime ready to give him a cut. Estime admits to doing everything for Fabiola but even if Desir ruined his happiness by essentially killing Fabiola, he denies killing his friend. Dani isn’t buying it. Malcolm notices the hair cutting aprons in the shop and that they’re water proof. Malcolm starts doing some fast profiling and detective work and realizes that Fabiola learned to cut hair from her mother but that her mother was… Trini!
Trini grabs Estime by the throat with a sharp blade. Dani pulls her gun on her. Trini admits to everything – killing Desir was pure revenge for putting poison inside Fabiola’s body. And killing Estime is part of that because Estime did nothing to stop Desir. Dani does some fast talking, convincing Trini that she can make a choice here, not kill Estime and see that Fabiola’s body is brought home to be buried (only Estime knows where Fabiola’s body was dumped) or get shot dead. Trini digs the blade deeper into Estime’s neck when Saulo and his goons show up outside; they’re there to finish of Estime and take over the Haitian’s turf.
We come back to a bloodied Dani stopping by Saulo’s car. She explains that Estime is dead inside, killed by the mother of a girl killed moving product. Saulo and his man take off when the police sirens sound in the distance.
The Wrap-Up. A not dead Estime shows Dani the location of Fabiola’s body on a map (she’s in the Meadowlands swamp area of New Jersey … where Jimmy Hoffa is famously said to be buried). She tells Estime to go far away and continue to pretend to be dead. Start a new life, she pleads.
Malcolm comes by with some Earl Grey Tea. He senses something is wrong and starts to profile Dani to find the problem but catches himself. Instead of telling her what’s wrong, he acts as a friend and lets her explain what’s on her mind. In short, she feels that by getting hooked on drugs, overdosing and therefore getting pulled out of the mission, she somehow allowed people like Fabiola to be used and killed. She is blaming herself for these lives.
“You were in Narcotics, not a social worker. You couldn’t have helped Trini or Fabiola.”
Malcolm’s Apartment. In the final scene, Malcolm arrives home as he’s checking a voicemail from his mother. She mentions having Adolpho drop off the shoebox from earlier. Malcolm turns and sees it sitting on his kitchen counter. It’s exactly as he pictured it in his psychedelic trip.
Malcolm takes off the cover and smiles at the knick-knacks inside. It’s filled with all of the treasures a young boy would savor, things like a mini spyglass and a random rock. There are also pictures. Pictures of young Malcolm, alone and with his father. Pictures of Dr. and Mrs. Whitly, smiling happily at the camera. Pictures of another age. As Malcolm flips through the photos, the color drains from his face and his smile falters.
The last picture is of Malcolm and his father out in nature, standing in front of a station wagon.
As Malcolm stares at the photo, he flashes back to the station wagon from the cold open, the cover and chain from the church (and the station wagon), and his conversation with his father about the missing time periods that Malcolm cannot recall during his youth.
“During this missing time, what did YOU do? And why can’t you remember?”
WHAT.DOES. THIS. MEAN?!?!
What another rock solid episode in this (not) surprising hit of the Fall. We are getting A+ character development with Malcolm, each week watching him try to solve the mystery that is in his own mind. Tonight’s episode took a huge leap forward with the discovery of the shoebox.
The method of information delivery was flawless this week. That two minute hallucination sequence between Malcolm and Subconscious Malcolm was some of the best acting and directing I have seen on TV this year, certainly of this new Fall television season. People are always complimenting what a tremendous actor Michael Sheen is, which is very true and well deserved, but more praise needs to be thrown at Tom Payne. Week in and week out, he’s bringing a level of complexity to Malcolm Bright that we rarely see on television, and eve more infrequently on broadcast TV. This show is succeeding because of him and we need to appreciate that more.
That being said, the supporting cast of Prodigal Son continues to shine, but none more so than Aurora Perrineau’s nuanced yet well balanced performance as Dani Powell. An ass kicking cop that can hang with the JTs of the world to be sure, tonight’s episode demonstrated just how vulnerable and open Dani could be. And that she is letting Malcolm into that, that they are discovering the idea of friendship and trust through each other. .. it’s a smart move and makes for wonderfully compelling narrative storytelling. I am here for it, people!
Completely unrelated, where was Dr. Edrisa Tanaka this week?!? We need Edrisa every week … she’s too damn adorable to not be seen each episode.
Last thoughts, who is this Eve Blanchard. Molly Griggs is too good to come and go for one episode only and there is a reason why most people run from the Whitly name … who is the strange newcomer and what does Eve Blanchard really want?!? Something tells me, it’s not just Mama Whitly’s philanthropy!
Prodigal Son airs on Fox on Monday nights at 9pm (ET/PT). We’ll be Live Tweeting this show so please, join us!
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