“Family Friend” (Episode 108)
November 11, 2019
Last week on Prodigal Son, Martin Whitly got to spend some much needed quality time with his children when Claremont Psychiatric Hospital goes into lockdown during Ainsley’s sit down interview with her serial killer dad. Malcolm happened to be there because he needed to ask Papa Whitly some questions about a new serial killer with ties to The Surgeon. When it’s revealed that Martin engineered the entire lockdown, he’s sent to solitary confinement but, c’mon, that’s definitely part of his plan. Right? Catch up on all last week’s action with our deep dive recap and review here.
Now, on to tonight’s all new Prodigal Son … BEWARE OF SPOILERS!!!
1998. Tonight begins in the past, Dr. Whitly in his basement office teaching Young Malcolm about the nerves that run into the human hand. The camera pans across them and the desk to land on the landline rotary phone. Fast forward a few weeks and police are combing through the office, an unseen new talking head reporting about the arrest of The Surgeon. Fast forward again to a younger Jessica talking with a contractor about walling off Dr. Whitly’s office. The camera zooms in and out of the phone, it acts as the time constant as we finish this 20 year tour of The Surgeon’s office. Zoom in on the phone once more.
Present Day. Malcolm, with Jessica right behind, breaks through the wall and enters his father’s office. He picks up the ringing landline phone and we’re back to the end of last week’s episode.
After passing through the shock of learning the Junkyard Killer was with him and his father on the forgotten camping trip, Malcolm gets a hold of himself, takes out his notepad and begins his work. We establish that the Junkyard Killer will prefer to be called “Paul” (which is the alias under which he owns the murder junkyard).
Paul’s curious how Malcolm could not remember that camping trip, it’s a memory Paul says he’ll never forget. Malcolm comes clean and admits that he’s blocked out parts of his memory and would love to hear Paul’s version of what happened on that forgotten camping trip. Maybe that will help Malcolm figure out why he’s blocked it out. Paul responds with a chilling non-sequitur.
“Why were you delivered to me, Malcolm? To help me? To stop me?”
Malcolm claims that he just wants to talk but Paul isn’t buying that. He knows Malcolm is working with the cops and now, Paul’s work has been interrupted and let me tell you folks, Paul HATES having his work interrupted. The camera pulls back from Paul’s mouth and we see he’s out on the street. In fact, he’s standing across the street from his own junkyard. Police vans are still going inside, Paul’s work-site is still an active crime scene.
When Malcolm hangs up the phone, Jessica asks him who that was on the phone?
“An old friend of dad’s.”
Hospital. We’re in Jin’s room at the hospital; Ainsley is there, watching footage of her interview with Papa Whitly. Specifically, she’s going through the section where he talked about being a mentor to this new serial killer. She’s wearing headphones so she doesn’t initially hear Jin calling her.
I’m not saying this disconnect will be a metaphor for a larger issue in their relationship but it totally will.
She comes to his side and they joke about how he’s feeling post-prison shiv stabbing. Ainsley makes an offhand remark about capturing television gold in the interview and Jin is kind of like, “WTF? Really? That’s the concern right now?” She catches herself a bit but not really and they move past the uber-awkwardness that her ambition has wrought just then.
Stately Whitly Manor. The police, including Gil and the Team, have arrived to swarm the Whitly house and the basement office. Quite the deja vu for Jessica who is trying to play party hostess and failing miserably. Dani breaks the ice by complimenting the niceness of the posh mansion that Bright grew up in. Malcolm makes a passive aggressive remark about pointing out the spot where his father was arrested for killing 23 people.
Oh, sweet Awkwardness of these Whitly’s!
One of the police officers tell Gil they’ve routed the basement phone to the major crimes room at the police station so any future calls can be traced. JT asks Jessica the very good question of why she was still paying for that phone line if the room’s been walled off for 20 years and Jessica is all a fluster, blaming her business manager.
First world problems, Jessica.
Off to the side, Gil asks Jessica is she wants to move to a safehouse for a couple of days and she’s not having it. After being married to one of the most notorious serial killers ever, Jessica’s pretty sure she can handle herself. She bids them adieu with a jaunty cheers of her tumbler. Oh, I should mention that before leaving, she grabs a large tomb from her bookshelf … it contains a snub nose pistol carved into the pages.
I love Jessica. Period. Hard stop.
Alone, Gil tells Malcolm that he’s going to post officers outside the house no matter what Jessica says. Also, he tells Malcolm that the police brass are considering bringing in the FBI to handle the Junkyard Killer case. Malcolm freaks out, noting that the FBI (his former employers) will throw him off the case for being too close to it. But, Malcolm counters, his closeness to the subject matter is exactly how they’ll solve this case. Gil isn’t convinced.
The Police Station. The next morning, the Team gathers in their investigation room and Malcolm begins his profile. Paul is a “mission oriented” killer. His reference to the kills as his work plus mentioning that Malcolm was “delivered” to him suggests that Paul feels a “higher calling.” When you look at Paul’s victims – you’ll remember from last week they were a collection of vulnerable people (e.g., drug addicts, homeless) – Malcolm hypothesizes that Paul sees his mission as cleaning up the streets.
Dani brings up the “elephant in the room” and Malcolm mentions the Junkyard Killer’s connection to The Surgeon. Unfortunately, Malcolm cannot speak to his father because Martin is still in solitary confinement. Gil confirms that Papa Whitly hasn’t said a word to anyone, not even his guards.
Edrisa comes in and says IDing Paul’s kills is slow going but they’re up to 16 confirmed victims. Piecing body parts together is hard work.
“Like the world’s most fascinating jigsaw puzzle.”
Edrisa lights up that Malcolm too likes puzzles. These two crazy kids are adorable. I would love to see what kind of freaky, macabre date they would go on. She adds to her report that the two most recent victims had nothing in their stomach. At all. This suggests they were held for a long period of time without food. Malcolm builds on this and says that mission oriented killers are often ritualistic in their killings. Holding someone for a long period of time would fit that. He thinks back to Paul telling him that his work was interrupted. Perhaps he had taken someone but had not yet killed them when they stumbled upon the junkyard? Off to the crime scene they go.
The Junkyard. Malcolm and Gil walk through the main lane of the junkyard. Malcolm is full on visualizing the Junkyard Killer’s needs for a holding cell close to the car compactor kill site which would also allow him to never be in view of the street. He heads back towards the direction that Paul shot at him last week.
Malcolm hunts around and uncovers a buried Winnebago. Gil is calling for bomb squad and ESU backups but Malcolm isn’t waiting. After breaking the lock on the roof lid cover, he hops down into the dark hole of murder.
Gil is angry but also intrigued and asks Bright what he sees. Malcolm clicks on his flashlight and begins a search of the camper. In the back most room, he finds a victim handcuffed with his arms above his head and his legs shackled as well. There is a mirror in the tiny room. The victim pops to life and Malcolm removes the duct tape from his mouth. The handcuffed man asks how long he has? Malcolm replies that it’ll be okay, he’s safe now.
“You can’t save me. No one can.”
The Police Station. Dani is filling in the Team on the ID of the victim from the camper, Ryan Davis (Michael Lee Brown). He’s a local and also a drug addict. Gil reports that JT checked in from the hospital – Ryan will be fine but they’ve put him into a medically induced coma. So, there will be no interview for a while.
Malcolm suggests they put Ryan under police watch at the hospital in case Paul comes around. As to the case, he figures the time question that Ryan asked ties into some taunting from Paul about his impending death. And that the mirror relates to a ritual whereby Paul wants his victims to “reflect on their sins.” Perhaps atone before they meet their “final judgement.”
Dani adds that Ryan stayed at the homeless shelter at St. Matteo Church. This rings a bell and Malcolm adds that two other victims also stayed there. Looking like this was Paul’s hunting ground.
The Hospital. Ainsley is still at the hospital but she’s not with Jin, right now she’s sniffing around the police officers guarding Ryan and trying to find out what’s happening. She only walks away when they tell her that Gil is their boss on this assignment. Ainsley dials her brother and leaves him a message saying that she knows about the protective custody at the hospital, she thinks it’s related to the serial killer Malcolm was questioning Papa Whitly about and last, she wants in on the story. She half threatens that she doesn’t want to see this on CNN first.
Ainsley … she’s definitely got the cut-throat Whitly genes.
Stately Whitly Manor. Jessica is pacing her living room with a gun in her hand when Eve shows up unexpectedly. They had plans to go over Eve’s charity proposal but Jessica cancelled them. There is some back and forth about normal habits of polite people and whether that includes walking around with a loaded gun.
Jessica is drawn to Eve (for some reason) and begins to overshare about the phone call the night before and her continuing struggles of Martin ruining all of her days. Sensing the bummer of a mood she just brought to bear, Jessica changes to the subject to write offs. Awkward smiles all around.
What Is Eve’s Deal?!? I’m intrigued.
St. Matteo’s Church. Malcolm and Dani are talking with Father Leo (Matt Servitto). He remembers Ryan and recalls he was there at the shelter until he wasn’t. A common story, he says. When Dani asks why Father didn’t file a missing persons report, Father Leo scoffs that the police don’t care about these kinds of people. He also remembers the two older victims and seems genuinely taken aback to hear they were murdered.
Father sits down to have a swig from his hip flask and lament the pointlessness of it all. Malcolm, noticing the line of hooded homeless filing into the church, asks the priest about the value of the work he’s doing. Father Leo says it’s important work but admits that it takes a toll.
“The system doesn’t care about these people until they’re dead. And then you care.”
Father Leo walks away, leaving Malcolm and Dani to roll their eyes.
The Police Station. Dani is reporting to Gil that Father Leo was suspicious as fuck. Malcolm takes Father’s side and admits that he has a right to be frustrated, he doesn’t think the priest is working with Paul. Right now, though, they’ve got a bigger problem; Malcolm’s just seen the messages from Ainsley at the hospital. Gil tells Bright to shut down his sister and her reporting – if word leaks about a serial killer, the city will go into a panic.
JT enters with a brown paper wrapped package for Bright and the personnel files from St. Edwards from the time that Martin was working there. There are still some 50 names to vet. Dani isn’t letting go of the priest yet and suggests that it’s possible Paul has used multiple aliases over the years, a priest is maybe one of them. Malcolm can’t discount her thought – a man who kills for 20 years has probably burned through several names.
Malcolm turns his attention to the package and asks JT where it came from? The front desk told him a courier dropped it off. Why? Because it’s bleeding.
We come back from break and Edrisa is there to cut open the box. The Team is standing back from it like it’s a bomb which is kind of funny. Edrisa lifts out a severed hand and Malcolm recognizes it as belonging to Father Leo. It has a tell tale mole and it’s wearing a ring he remembers from their talk a little while ago. The Junkyard Killer must have followed them to the church.
The question is, is Father Leo alive or dead?
Which is exactly when the routed basement phone begins to ring in the investigation room. They start the trace and Malcolm picks up the phone. Paul asks Malcolm if he liked his present and Malcolm asks why Father Leo, he doesn’t fit the profile of the other victims. Paul responds that Father Leo was the price of Malcolm’s snooping after Paul told him to leave him alone.
Paul wants to know how Malcolm found Ryan Davis, how did he find his holding cell. Malcolm struts a bit that killers make mistakes and he’s also pretty good at his job. Paul is all agitated and shout-y, but then gets quiet and menacing. He tells Malcolm that snooping can be dangerous to your health and reminds Malcolm about what happened when Young Malcolm found “that girl.”
JT and Dani, who are listening in, exchange WTF looks at this, and Malcolm goes a bit white. He asks what girl but he know that Paul is talking about the girl in the trunk. Both of Malcolm’s hands start to shake and he screams at Paul to tell him what he knows about the girl. Paul chuckles that Malcolm has “the temper” and warns him that it could get him into trouble.
Paul hangs up the phone.
“I need some air.”
Outside, Malcolm sits on the station house steps and relives the memories of the girl in the box. How she was there, how Martin grabbed him from behind, how he looked again and she was gone, how Jessica told Young Malcolm that the girl never existed. Gil comes outside and Malcolm unloads on him that the girl is real. After being told his whole life that she was a figment of Malcolm’s imagination, she’s real and Paul knows what happened to her. Gil admits that maybe he was wrong all those years ago and reminds Malcolm that his team is here for him. Gil heads back inside.
Across the street, Malcolm notices a hooded man leaning up against a tree staring at him. He thinks back to the line of hooded people from the church soup line. Malcolm gives chase. The hooded man swipes his way into the service entrance of a building. Malcolm follows inside. They’re in some kind of sewer system. Malcolm calls after “Paul” and the man starts to run.
You get the definite feeling that Malcolm is being led at this point.
Malcolm gets himself pinned in a spinning door, the kind that the subway stations used to have for rotating door exits. Paul asks why Malcolm didn’t call his friends before giving chase and Malcolm claims to not have had time. Bullshit, Paul says (it’s true – Malcolm looked back at Gil’s retreating figure and decided to not call Gil for help).
“I want answers.”
This is what Paul wanted to hear and compares Malcolm to Martin. Their look, their smell. Paul still wants to know how Malcolm figured out where the Winnebago was? Malcolm piecemeals answers about being a profiled, about Paul saying his work was interrupted … none of these answers satisfy Paul. He’s slowly crushing Malcolm in the turnstile.
Malcolm confesses that he and his father are the same. He knows how Paul thinks because Martin taught him everything he knows about murder.
This is the confession Paul was waiting for and he agrees with Malcolm, it’s in his blood. Malcolm, gasping for air, asks what happened to the girl. Paul says, by way of answer, that he thought he’d have to kill Malcolm but perhaps Malcolm deserves to know the truth. He leaves Malcolm a phone and tells him to wait for his instructions. Tell no one, he says.
He releases the turnstile and casually walks away as Malcolm falls to floor gasping for air.
The Police Station. Bright, his torso bandaged from almost being squeezed to death, is being read the riot act by Gil. They’re in Gil’s office and he’s yelling at Malcolm to call for backup. Learn that phrase like a mantra is his basic point. Malcolm sorta defends himself by saying he had a plan.
Paul wanted Malcolm to follow alone. And now, because Malcolm went through the whole turnstile process, Paul believes Malcolm’s desire to know the truth about the girl in the box is stronger than his desire to catch Paul.
“And is it,” Gil asks, reasonably. Malcolm denies it (hmmmmm) and Gil mentions again the FBI coming in on the case. Malcolm pleads for Gil to let him meet Paul that night, he remains convinced he’s the best bet to capture Paul and rescue Father Leo. Malcolm’s eyes go wide when Gil agrees.
The Hospital. Ainsley returns to Jin’s room and he asks where she’s been for hours. She tells him that the serial killer that Malcolm was asking about has a victim in the hospital. Jin is shocked but even more so when Ainsley starts talking about how this serial killer would be a perfect companion piece to The Surgeon interview. Jin is in disbelief as she’s writing the headline of her piece; she doesn’t even realize what she sounds like. She gets a call from the network and leaves Jin alone in his room. Again. Jin takes a long look at her laptop.
Malcolm’s Apartment. Malcolm gets a text on Paul’s phone saying “2 hours, Fort Totten.” He calls Gil and relates the news. Malcolm is sitting with frozen peas on his neck and row of medicine bottles in front of him. He’s not in great shape. His door buzzer buzzes.
It’s Eve Blanchard. She’s stopped by to talk about Jessica. Eve’s worried about her and while being drunk in the middle of the day doesn’t ring as unusual for Malcolm, Jessica waving around a loaded gun gets his attention. He promises to check in on his mother but right now, he has to run off to a meeting. Eve notes that wrapped torso, the bruises and still is looking at Malcolm like he’s the tastiest snack there ever was.
At the door, Malcolm thanks her for coming by and acknowledges somethings are better heard in person. Eve agrees and says, you “need to see a person’s face to understand them.” Malcolm agrees.
“My whole job is reading people’s faces.”
“I know,” is Eve’s simple answer, delivered with a sheepish grin. They say goodnight and Eve leaves. Malcolm is too focused on his meeting with Paul to pay attention to the weird significance of this whole interaction with Eve.
Fort Totten. Gil is giving Bright his backup options – help is about 90 seconds out because they don’t want to be too close and spook Paul. Also, Gil advises he stay away from tunnels. Last, he reminds Malcolm to keep his focus, the mission to stop Paul and rescue Father Leo – NOT get answers on the girl in the box or any other Whitly family trivia. Paul calls and asks Malcolm if he’s ready for answers.
“I’ve been waiting my whole life.”
We come back and Paul is leading Malcolm towards him. We see Paul’s shadowed figure at the end of a long stone canyon. Malcolm asks about the girl as he slowly walks forward and Paul admits that Martin called him after putting Malcolm to “sleep” (Malcolm flashes on the chloroform his father used on him). Paul tells Malcolm he left a souvenir in a bag and Malcolm walks over and gets it.
Inside the bag is a bracelet that was last seen on the wrist of the girl in the box. Paul says he was much more than Martin’s “disposal man” and again expresses surprise that Malcolm doesn’t remember him. Malcolm, growing suspicious of the figure at the end of the walk, throws a rock towards it but the figure doesn’t move or flinch. On the phone, Paul tells Malcolm that the camping trip was related to the girl in the box it wasn’t where she was killed.
Malcolm rushes forward and sees that the figure is not Paul but rather Father Leo all tied up. He puts Paul on mute and calls Gil to say he found Father Leo but no idea where Paul is … yet.
He picks up with Paul again and says they need to talk face to face, he’s waited long enough. Paul isn’t ready yet. He tells Malcolm that Malcolm has to find his calling, his mission. Malcolm puts Paul on mute again and calls Gil back.
Malcolm tells Gil that Paul is going to finish his mission, he’s going to kill Ryan Davis. Gil sends backup to Westview Memorial.
Malcolm picks Paul back up and this time, Paul realizes that Malcolm found Father Leo. They exchange some, “you lied firsts,” but Paul isn’t really mad. He gets ready to hang up, telling Malcolm they made good progress today.
“Takes time to build trust. Your father taught me that.”
Paul disconnects the line and Malcolm tells Gil this was all a ruse to free him up to kill Ryan. Further complication, Ainsley is at that same hospital.
The Hospital. As Ainsley takes in Malcolm’s news about the serial killer being on site, she walks back towards the guarded room and sees the cops are gone. Instead of listening to her brother, she walks forward into Ryan’s room.
There is a dead cop on the floor and Ryan Davis is dead in his bed. As Malcolm is telling Ainsley to get to safety and warning her that the killer might know who she is, she notices that the killer is in the room’s bathroom, washing up.
She takes off running as the killer comes out and Malcolm tells her to get to a room that locks. Paul is coming after but he’s in no rush. The hospital is deadly (puns!) quiet. We head to commercial as Paul jiggles the handle of the room Ainsley’s locked herself in, Malcolm calling her name through the phone.
We come back and Paul is still jiggling the handle. He’s not really trying hard to get into the room. Malcolm tells his sister to grab a weapon and she settles on a coffee maker carafe. Use of the “deadly weapon” is avoided when police sirens start to blare and the threat at the door disappears. Ainsley takes a sigh of relief.
Ainsley comes back to Jin’s room ready to tell her near death story but she’s got bigger problems. Jin’s hauled Ainsley’s laptop on to his bed and he’s watching her up close video footage of The Surgeon operating on him.
“The fuck is this,” is Jin’s basic question? Ainsley goes on aggressive defense reminding him that they were sent to Claremont to do a job and she did it. Jin nods and says he totally understands and notes that this is who she is. He just doesn’t want to be with someone like that. Ainsley takes the breakup stoically, grabs her laptop and leaves.
The Police Station. Sitting in Gil’s office, Malcolm looks at the bracelet, now in an evidence bag. Gil comes in and confirms that Ryan was killed with an anti-coagulant. This fits Paul’s disassociative kill style, just like the car compactor. Gil, sensing how dejected Malcolm is, reminds him that he saved Father Leo. False praise, Malcolm replies, because Paul wanted Father Leo to be found alive. He wasn’t the target. Malcolm thinks Paul is feeling invincible and doesn’t really disagree with him at this point.
“He thinks that nothing can stop his divine mission.”
Gil takes the bracelet bag from Malcolm and says they’ll send in cadaver dogs to search the fort … maybe that’s where the girl in the box was buried. Malcolm gives voice to the fact that maybe Paul was lying. Gil responds that he’s told Malcolm she’s fictional his whole life, tonight he won’t say that. He vows to find her for Malcolm.
The Hospital. Ainsley is outside Westview, doing an on the scene news report. She cites a source in the police department that confirms a new serial killer is loose and may be connected to “Martin Whitly, better known as The Surgeon.”
Stately Whitly Manor. We pull back from Ainsley’s news report into Jessica’s living room. Malcolm arrives and turns off the TV. He tells his mother about his visit from Eve. Jessica goes from singing her praises to calling her a wretched tattletale. Malcolm asks for the gun and makes clear to his mom that this is a dangerous way to be living. He tells her to move into The Plaza until this is all over but she refuses.
Jessica Backstory. Jessica tells her son that the Miltons (her family name) owned the whole neighborhood at one point, purchased from the profits made from outfitting the Hessians (back in the Revolutionary War). Further, her great-great-great-grandfather built the house in 1871 and a Milton has always lived in it.
She doesn’t want to hide in a hotel nor live under constant surveillance. She just wants to live a normal life.
“One that isn’t perpetually haunted by the ghost of your father.”
Malcolm promises his mother that he won’t stop until he’s caught the Junkyard Killer, he doesn’t want her to have to live in fear. He gets a call from Gil.
Gil is calling to tell Malcolm that the FBI has taken over the Paul Lazar case and they’ve made it very clear that Malcolm, the whole team in fact, is off the case. Further, he mentions that they really really don’t like Malcolm. All around Gil, files are being moved and the investigation room is being taken apart. We see an unnamed woman enter the station and she radiates “person in charge” so I am sure we’ll be seeing her again real soon.
Malcolm hangs up the phone and tells his mother that perhaps she should keep that gun.
Another solid episode in the freshman season of Prodigal Son. Every time there’s an answer, 15 new questions fly up. How great for Malcolm to finally get the satisfaction that he’s not been wrong all these years about the girl in the box. But, how frustrating to being no closer to knowing what happened to her? Nor, really, what happened on the forgotten camping trip.
What did Paul mean when he said the trip was related to the girl but not where she was killed? What about the bracelet? What role did Malcolm play in her fate? Did Paul?
And, who the Hell is Eve Blanchard? There is a fan theory online that she’s the girl in the box which I had been skeptical on … until tonight’s episode. Perhaps it turned out that Malcolm was meant to kill her in the woods but couldn’t do it. That it was a test from Martin to see if his son was ready to take up the family business. But just like he wasn’t able to cut into Jin last week, Malcolm couldn’t kill Eve. And maybe, MAYBE, Eve has pieced it all together and knows that she’s alive because Malcolm couldn’t make the cut. That would explain coming into the life of the Whitly’s as well as the awed looks she keeps giving Malcolm.
Moving on, how do you solve a problem like Ainsley. Girlfriend is headed down a dark path. Things we suspected about her but that tonight confirmed, she’s fueled by unbridled ambition and has an impossibly cool emotional side. No tears shared for Jin, even after he confronts her about videotaping his life saving surgery. Think about the lack of emotion needed to pick up that camera and film while your boyfriend was being operated on in the floor of a psych ward cell. That’s some serious disassociated feelings. Further, she has a lifetime of being Martin Whitly’s daughter but has never had the ability to access what that means. When you combine all the factors together, Ainsley, not Malcolm, seems the most likely successor to their father’s throne as THE serial killer of New York. Think of all the news stories she’ll be able to file once she begins killing people herself? I think she’ll find that kind of attention too much catnip to refuse.
We’ll be back in two weeks with an all new Prodigal Son. Hope you join us!
Prodigal Son airs on Fox on Monday nights at 9pm (ET/PT). We’ll be Live Tweeting this show so please, join us!
Make sure to follow PopCultureReview on social media so you never miss an update on Prodigal Son or any of our television coverage. Follow us on Twitter @popcultureview and Instagram at pop_culture_view! And thank you for reading.