“Silent Night” (Episode 110)
December 2, 2019
Last week on Prodigal Son, Malcolm tried living a normal life, which included a horribly awkward date with Eve (and JT and his wife). But, he’s committed to trying this new lifestyle so we’re excited for his journey! Jessica has had enough of Martin’s life destroying and made moves to find the Girl in the Box.
Catch up on all last week’s action with our deep dive recap and review here. On to tonight’s all new, Fall finale of Prodigal Son … BEWARE OF SPOILERS!!
Malcolm’s Apartment. Tonight’s episode begins with Malcolm sitting down to watch sister Ainsley’s blockbuster special on their father, The Surgeon. As Malcolm puts his head in hands, full PTSD from the filming at Claremont kicking in, Mama Whitly saves her baby boy further torture by destroying his awesome big screen TV.
Jessica throwing a high heel shoe through the screen to stop the news report is very, very on brand for her but still, that poor TV didn’t deserve to die that way.
“Is this your plan? To foil Ainsley’s ratings by destroying every television in America? God knows you have enough shoes.”
Malcolm gets the best burns on his mom.
Malcolm learns that Gil spilled the beans to Jessica about the girl in the box being real; she’s full of mea culpas for doubting him all these years. Malcolm adds to the confession pile by putting the blame on Martin and mentions that he was regularly chloroformed by his dad which makes Jessica feel ever worse. But, Jessica insists that it’s time to clear the air because tomorrow is Christmas and she refused to let her husband take that away too.
The next morning, Malcolm arrives at a swank hotel where Gil is waiting for him. Malcolm drops some shade about Gil opening his mouth to Jessica but nothing too serious. He asks for an update on the Paul Lazar case and Gil mentions that FBI agent Colette Swanson has taken over the investigation and she very much does NOT want to speak to Malcolm about the case in any way, shape or form. Malcolm’s face falls, seems they worked together in DC.
“She hates me.”
Gil chuckles with enthusiastic glee at this understatement from Malcolm. Enough of the doom and gloom, time to get on to the case of the week and brighten up Malcolm’s day a bit.
Upstairs, Dani and JT are waiting for them. As they enter the crime scene, Dani asks Malcolm if he watched Ainsley’s interview and Malcolm, truthfully, says that his TV is broken. Nice dodge.
Inside the hotel room, Gil reveals that he victim is high profile and close to home. The dead man on the couch, with a gun in his hand, was Ian Turner, Chief of Detectives. In the bed, a dead
hooker sex worker. Turner’s rep was squeaky clean, a by the book guy who made a name for himself ratting out dirty cops on his rise through the ranks. The Team’s working theory is murder suicide. Which is certainly how the room is set up …
But we know Malcolm isn’t going to settle for that.
Malcolm has questions about the crime scene. No defensive wounds on the sex worker, no history of violence in Turner’s past, and why Turner would wear his badge to see a sex worker in the first place? Malcolm takes the murder weapon and starts waving it around as he details his initial theory.
The suicide theory implies deep shame and to kill the sex worker in cold blood, would have violated everything Turner stood for. He places himself in front of Turner, pointing the gun at the dead woman, and then begins beating the handgun against his chest. He’s talking about Turner’s state of mind and all I can see is the muzzle of the gun pointed up at Malcolm’s chin, inches away.
But something isn’t right. Out of shame, Turner would have looked away from the victim, not sat facing her. He starts tapping the gun against his head and Gil jumps forward to get him to put the damn thing down. Malcolm is sheepish when he realizes it was loaded and cocked the entire time.
Malcolm is very quirky sometimes. Anyway, Malcolm’s only solution for this murder scene is a double homicide. Some third party burst into the room while Turner and the sex worker were distracted, wrested the gun away from Turner and shot both of them successively. Gil is intrigued but not yet convinced.
The Police Station. In The Team’s work room, Malcolm is elaborating on his theory. Emily the Sex Worker was a casualty of circumstance but the killer took his time with Turner. Posed him, set the scene. Turner was the target. JT proposes revenge for that kind of killing and Malcolm likes that theory. Dani says Turner had no family so the question is, who hated Turner that much? Besides every perp in Sing Sing?
The discussion is broken up by the arrival of FBI Agent Colette Swanson (Meagan Good) and her team. They are taking over The Team’s work room for the Lazar case and boy, Gil wasn’t joking about her frostiness towards Bright. Malcolm can’t help himself and launches into his profile of the Junkyard Killer and when he brings up a likely bad mother, Colette jumps all over him. She accuses Malcolm of using a bad woman as the cause of every bad man’s action and clearly she really does not want to hear from him.
“Why don’t you leave your mommy issues at home.”
Malcolm tries to press his case but it’s a lost cause. Colette moves on to what she needs from Gil and specifically what she needs, is Dani. Dani is all, how do y’all know each other and Colette flatters her by saying she was impressed with her file. Gil gives Swanson Dani to use for 24 hours and then leaves with Malcolm in tow. Colette closes the door and blinds on their retreating backs.
At a cubicle, Gil hands Malcolm a box of Turner’s cases and tells him to figure out who would want Turner dead. As he gets to work, Malcolm declines a call from Ainsley who wants to remind Malcolm to not strand her at Christmas dinner alone with Jessica.
Inside Turner’s box, Malcolm pulls a photo which makes his blood go cold. It’s a picture of Turner and Alfred from FOX’s Gotham … wait, that can’t be right. Prodigal Son doesn’t take place in the Batman universe, does it?
Flashback. It’s a few days after Martin was arrested and Young Malcolm is being interviewed by the man in the photo, Detective Owen Shannon (Sean Pertwee). Detective Shannon wants to ask Young Malcolm about Martin’s parting words to Young Malcolm, that they were the same. Why would the serial killer say that to his son?!?
Back in the present, Gil and Malcolm are outside Shannon’s apartment. Gil doesn’t like this and reminds Malcolm that Owen Shannon was a bad cop. It seems like he means “bad” in the “corrupt” sort of way and questions whether Malcolm is really up for seeing this ghost from the past again? Malcolm says that Shannon was Turner’s last partner and hence, a lead. No real choice but to see him.
Just as Malcolm is telling Gil that it was a long time ago and Shannon probably won’t even recognize him, the apartment door flies open an older, grizzled looking Shannon is there, a cocked gun in Malcolm’s face.
“Well, look who it is.”
We come back and the man Shannon recognizes is actually Gil, to whom he calls “Lucky Boy.” Gil does not like that nickname. Shannon ignores this and in defense of his aggressive welcome, says that someone is killing cops so he is going to protect himself. He tells Gil when a partner gets killed, you can assume you’d hear about it. He lets them come inside.
Shannon, who’s place is littered with trash and empty liquor bottles, reveals his gripe quickly. He worked The Surgeon case for years but one call from a kid and Gil got the collar of the century. Hence the “Lucky Boy.” Shannon is blaming Turner for ruining him and his career and Malcolm, based on the squalor living situation, puts that blame squarely on Shannon’s own shoulders.
Malcolm notices the awards for valor and marksmanship hanging on Shannon’s walls. Malcolm goes on the offensive, pressing Shannon’s buttons, trying to get a rise out of him. He says that Turner did the right thing having Shannon fired for being a bad cop. He mentions Owen being drunk at 11am and notes the likely unregistered handgun sitting next to Shannon. Gil’s eyes are wide as Malcolm continues berating this ex-cop.
When Malcolm says Owen is their prime suspect, Shannon gets up from his chair but Gil puts his hand on his chest to stop him from hitting Malcolm. Shannon seems to come to his senses at this moment and finds some coherence.
“If I wanted Turner dead, I would have killed him years ago.”
Shannon notices Malcolm’s hand tremor but Malcolm isn’t done talking yet. He says that Shannon was so angry at Turner, that he killed an innocent woman along with his own partner. Shannon is all, “What’s that now? What woman?”
When Gil explains the dead sex worker, Shannon grabs the boys close and reveals that Chief Turner was gay. Dun Dun Dunnnnnn.
The Police Station. In the makeshift work room, JT joins Gil and Malcolm to dish about where their case stands. Gil confirms that Turner was gay and it was an open secret. Malcolm calls the murder set up as a character assassination killing and obviously the killer hired Emily the Sex Worker. JT chimes in with Emily’s stats. She was a nursing student at NYU and was also employed by “Caged Bird”, an alleged match making service.
Caged Bird’s only clients were men. We old timers call that an escort service. JT says Caged Bird is owned by a Macy Barnes, who he is tracking down.
Inside The Team’s purloined work room, Colette is pressing Dani for info and dirt on Malcolm. Dani admits that Malcolm is weird as fuck but also, she trusts him. Why do you ask? Swanson readily admits that she does not trust Malcolm, nor does she think that he’s divulged the extent of his relationship with Paul Lazar.
It all comes clear for Dani that she’s only there to help Swanson keeps eyes on Malcolm. Colette doesn’t deny it. She shows Dani the audio-free video of Paul and Malcolm in the abandoned subway station – where Paul pinned Malcolm in the turnstile. She says that Malcolm reported they didn’t speak during the incident but the tape goes on for over 2 minutes and it definitely looks like they’re talking. Dani defends Bright, saying there is a reason she’s sure but she’s also thinking over what she’s seen. Swanson ends the scene by reminding Dani that Malcolm wasn’t kicked out of the FBI for one incident.
“Malcolm Bright is destructive. Don’t let a man like that ruin your career.”
Gil’s Office. Gil enters his office to find Jessica waiting for him. She’s got a plan. She wants to find the girl in the box so that they can put Martin “away for good.” Away for good meaning that no one (i.e., her kids) would be able to speak to him in anyway. She wants an update on that girl in the box but Gil doesn’t have much to say. He closes a case file on his desk (not unnoticed by Jessica) as he reports the scant info on the girl. Malcolm’s fragmented memory and the info from the Junkyard Killer are the key pieces.
Gil proposes they leave and go get drunk together. Jessica wants to be doing something but Gil steps close to Jessica and takes her hands.
“You’re always worrying about everyone else, let someone worry about you for a change.”
Well, that relationship just took a huge step forward. Jessica steps back and realizes that Gil was sexily putting her off her game. He says that the best way he can help is to not let the girl in the box consume Jessica the way it has Malcolm. Jessica doesn’t believe that this is Gil’s call to make but they’re sexy fight is interrupted by Swanson walking in. She finds Gil and Jessica standing very close together, as she says she needs Gil’s help.
Gil walks out with an eye rolling Swanson as Jessica takes the opportunity of being alone. She looks at the Paul Lazar case file on Gil’s desk and sees the bracelet that Malcolm retrieved from Lazar. It has the initials, AMS. Jessica’s mouth falls open as she leaves Gil’s office.
The Police Station. Malcolm knocks over the Turner box as he is reliving some moments, ending with when he almost slashed Eve to pieces during the night. Dani comes out of The Team’s work room and checks in with how he’s doing. He mentions screwing things up with Eve (Dani heard she was great from JT) but doesn’t mention the knife episode. Dani says that she’s sure Malcolm can fix whatever the issue is.
“The problem is me. And I can’t be fixed.”
Dani, trying to make a connection with Malcolm following Colette’s seeds of doubt, sits down and tries to get him to open up but he’s a bit too distracted. Also, neither is happy with how their cases are going. Malcolm leaves Dani there, he’s late for his family Christmas dinner. Dani doesn’t look any more reassured about her friend’s reliability.
Stately Whitly Manor. The press is outside the Whitly home and are hounding Ainsley for a quote as she tries to enter the house. They are asking her if she’s spoken to Martin since the interview and also whether he’s helping the NYPD with the Junkyard Killer case. Ainsley turns to say that any update on her family is her own news to report, thanks and bye.
Inside, mother and daughter immediately get into a fight. Ainsley wants to know why Jessica can’t be happy for her. Meanwhile, Jessica says that her murderous husband has finally made her a prisoner in her own home, with an excellent assist from her overly ambitious daughter. Ainsley takes umbrage.
“Ambition is not a dirty word.”
Ainsley insists that her ambition (plus her hair) is the best thing about her. She accuses her mother of playing the victim. Jessica turns on her heel and says that she is NOT a victim. However, she adds that Ainsley seems to have forgotten that there are in fact, real victims in The Surgeon saga. Imagine how the 23 families feel, Jessica continues, seeing Ainsley interview The Surgeon on TV, pleading his case for not being that bad a guy.
Ainsley refuses to apologize and says she “used the media to direct the narrative.” Jessica is all, “The fuck does that even mean?!?” and Ainsley replies that she’s telling her own story instead of letting someone else do it. She leaves the house, but not before taking back her bottle of screw top booze that she brought.
Out on the street, Malcolm is aggressively approached by Detective Shannon … he’s finally figured out who Malcolm really is. Bright plays empathetic and this diffuses Owen’s anger. he shares the camping trip story and how his closeness to the case got him kicked off of it by the FBI. Shannon warms to Malcolm as he understands being obsessed about a case. He offers to take Malcolm to a storage unit where Turner kept his sensitive files.
Police Station. Gil and JT are interrogating Macy Barnes (Ashley Austin Morris), the owner of the Caged Bird escort service. When Gil accuses her of killing Turner and her girl, she is all “???” She admits sending Emily to the room but so she could blackmail Turner and get him to back off her business. When Emily didn’t return, Ms. Barnes continues, she was sure that Turner killed her. If Turner didn’t do it, who did?
That’s what we all want know Macy!
Storage Facility. Owen and Malcolm enter Turner’s storage unit and under some coverings, Malcolm finds extensive files and investigative work pertaining to the Junkyard Killer case. Wha?!?!
Back from break, Shannon explains that he always thought The Surgeon must have had a cleanup man and he is the one that began the investigative work into the killer that would become the Junkyard Killer. Malcolm deduces that Turner must have continued Owen’s work after Owen was thrown off the force, try and salvage Owen’s name. The way Shannon talks about Turner, Malcolm realizes that they were more than partners, Turner and Shannon were in a relationship.
Back to the case, Bright and Shannon go through Turner’s files and Malcolm realizes there may be a way to grab a lead from Turner’s work. He and Owen begin to cross reference suspect names that Shannon/Turner had developed against the list of possible St. Edwards Hospital employees that interacted with Martin – the 50 name list The Team developed a couple of episodes ago.
They come up with a common suspect, “John Watkins.” The address they have is 20 years old but hey, a lead is a lead.
The Watkins House. Shannon and Bright arrive at the old address for Watkins and Owen starts banging on the door. Gil calls Malcolm to check in and Malcolm drops the bomb that the Junkyard Killer is probably also the same person that killed Turner … that Turner (and Shannon) had been working the case for the last 20 years. The front door opens and so Malcolm basically hangs up on Gil; he never does tell him where he actually is. Ugh.
And old woman answers the door, milky white blind eyes and a sassy attitude about her. Oh, and she’s John Watkins’ grandmother, Matilda (Marylouise Burke). Dun Dun Dunnnn.
Inside Matilda’s house, Owen can’t help but notice Malcolm’s glee as he looks around the living room of the house time forgot. Malcolm is super jacked to be in John’s childhood home.
“That’s, like, the Holy Grail for profilers. Serial killers aren’t just born, they’re made. And John was made … right here.”
Malcolm talks about the religious iconography in the room and realizes it informs how John kills. He says there are clues everywhere.
Matilda serves them some gross, under cooked TV dinners and spills the tea on John’s childhood. No father and a “sinner, filthy whore” of a mother who died. Matilda gets up to get some “food improvements” and Malcolm whisper profiles to Owen that Matilda is the source of John’s belief system. That John “targets people on the fringe” because of the lessons John learned at Matilda’s knees growing up.
Malcolm asks Matilda for photos of John as a kid and she plunks down an album. Malcolm flips to the first page and asks who “Benjamin” is? Matilda explains it was her husband, a good role model for John but sadly, John had to see him die. Matilda explains that Benjamin was working on a car in the garage when it fell down on him and crushed his head. Malcolm and Owen exchanges pointed glances. Flipping through the photo album, we see that the face of John Watkins is scratched out of every picture.
That’s one way to avoid detection, I guess.
Stately Whitly Manor. Jessica is pacing inside her house, recalling conversations with Martin where he tells her she’ll be back and the recent convo with Ainsley where Ainsley explained she was directing her own narrative. Jessica looks down at a blown up photo of the bracelet she saw earlier in Gil’s office. She’s got an idea.
The Watkins House. Alone, Owen tells Malcolm that he thinks John must have been here recently. Malcolm picks up the thought that the pictures are scratched out so the police wouldn’t have a photo to ID him with. Bright tells Owen to find out when John was last around, meanwhile he’s going to snoop around upstairs.
Upstairs, Malcolm finds John’s childhood bedroom. It’s easy to tell because there is a mini-NY vanity license plate reading “JOHN” hanging on the door. Something a kid would have, not a grown man. Inside the bedroom, Malcolm finds a closet with an opened padlock hanging off of it. Inside the closet, evidence of a tie down anchor with a small piece of chain still hanging off of it. On the walls and the inside door of the closet, deep DEEP gauge marks, signs up someone spending a lot of time inside here scratching to get out.
Malcolm imagines the scene in head, a weeping Young John lashing at the door, pleading to be let out, a shadowy grandfather on the other side staring at the young boy.
Malcolm’s phrase that “serial killers are made” springs to mind.
Police Station. Gil breaks the news to Colette that Malcolm has a lead on the Junkyard Killer case … and the Turner case as a matter of fact. Agent Swanson is incensed that Bright was continuing to work her case even after being thrown off of it. She’s even less pleased when Gil has to admit that he doesn’t actually know where Malcolm is. Whelp!
The Watkins House. Malcolm returns to the table as he ignores a call from Gil. Matilda picks up the conversation as if he never left, talking about how John spent a lot of time in the garage with Benjamin being watchful, learning how things worked.
As she drones on, Malcolm notices blood on the table. His eyes (and the camera) pan across and up to Owen’s face. Shannon’s throat has been sliced open and his mouth is hanging agape as the last bits of life escape his body.
John Watkins is in the house, Malcolm realizes. Matilda is delighted that her boy is home!
“Johnny is home? Just in time for pie.”
We return from break right where we left off. Bright is in a bit of shock as Owen Shannon’s corpse falls over and thumps on the ground. Matilda is in a fugue state of righteous joy as she starts shouting about how her Johnny “takes out the trash.”
Malcolm grabs Owen’s (unregistered) gun as Matilda shouts at the top of her voice for John to come get the one he missed. Malcolm heads outside, time to find the Junkyard Killer!
Montage Time! As a children’s chorus version of “Silent Night” (my favorite Christmas carol, B T Dubs) cues up on the soundtrack, we begin our episode endgame montage. Gil and Dani are in their squad car, racing to find Bright … who is not picking up Dani’s call.
Malcolm, gun raised, stalks towards the Watkins Shed out behind the house.
On the steps of the Stately Whitly Manor, Jessica emerges in front of the paparazzi. She goes into a description of Martin Whitly’s horrible crimes and reveals that a 24th victim is out there somewhere – she does not use the sobriquet, “Girl in the Box,” but that is who she’s talking about. She holds up a picture of the bracelet from the evidence file. She mentions the initials on the bracelet as being, “AMS.” Jessica offers a $1 million reward for information leading to the missing girl’s whereabouts so that Martin’s final crime can be exposed.
“It is my hope that, together, we can see that justice, real justice, is finally served.”
Ainsley gets an alert on her phone and sees her mother’s press conference, not believing what she’s seeing.
It’s got to be hard with Jessica and Martin as parents. So damn hard.
Anyhoo, with that wrench thrown into the goddamn works, Jessica heads back inside her stately manor. Time for Christmas dinner.
At the Watkins house, Malcolm is clubbed over the back of his head and falls to the ground.
The Watkins Shed. Malcolm rolls onto his back to find the bearded Junkyard Killer standing over him. His face is very close to Malcolm’s.
“We have to stop meeting like this. Remember me?”
With difficulty, Malcolm spits out that “they’ll” find them. John Watkins doesn’t think so.
“They’ll never find us where we’re going.”
He punches Malcolm hard in the face and Bright is out for the count.
Flashback. Malcolm has a flare of recognition of the Junkyard Killer’s face and he slips into a flashback. Young Malcolm heads out of his parent’s house and in his hands, he’s holding the switchblade hunting knife we’ve seen previously.
**This means Young Malcolm had the switchblade when they left the house – it was not purchased at a rest area along the way like Martin previously told Malcolm. His having this weapon was very much premeditated by Papa Whitly.**
Outside, by the station wagon of death, a young version of the Junkyard Killer closes the cargo door of the wagon and takes out his giant knife to show Young Malcolm.
“Everybody needs a good knife. You never know when it will come in handy.”
Young Junkyard Killer examines Young Malcolm’s blade as Young Malcolm peeps in the trunk of the station wagon. Young Malcolm asks what’s in the cargo area? Young Junkyard Killer says he’ll tell Young Malcolm but he has “to promise to keep it a secret.”
Stately Whitly Manor. We come out of the flashback and Malcolm is unconscious on the floor. We cut to awkward Christmas Dinner at the Whitly home where Jessica and Ainsley are sitting in tense silence (Jessica looking fabulous). Jessica sarcastically remarks that Malcolm doesn’t know what fun he’s missing. Ainsley, who is looking at her phone, couldn’t agree more.
The Watkins Shed. We zoom in on Malcolm’s empty chair at the dinner table and pull back on him unconscious on the floor in the shed. The Junkyard Killer picks up our hero’s feet and begins dragging him … somewhere. The camera blurs and then fades to black.
THAT is how you do an incredible Fall finale! Is it January 20 yet?!?
That’s all, nothing more to say. Tune in on Monday, January 20, 2020 to see how the chaotic story of the Junkyard Killer comes to a thrilling conclusion!
Thank you for reading! Join us back in January for the second half of Prodigal Son!!
Prodigal Son airs on Fox on Monday nights at 9pm (ET/PT). We’ll be Live Tweeting this show from time to time so please, follow us on Twitter and join in the fun!
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.