Prodigal Son is back and returned just as strong if not stronger than Prodigal Son Season 1, reminding viewers why it earned its title of number one new series.
Based on Prodigal Son Season 2 Episode 1, the series has not only maintained the fun, thrilling, humorous stories and characters that we love but elevated what we adore and expanded and strived to make itself better.
You cannot ask for anything more. Prodigal Son knows what it is, and something tells me season two is going to deliver.
The premiere was a perfect reminder of why the series is such a breath of fresh air and leaves you utterly transfixed with each installment. How could you not be hooked from the moment it opened with Malcolm on that ledge?
Our boy Malcolm is always going to Malcolm and leave it to him to do the absolute most to capture the slasher.
It was a hilarious opening, particularly when the camera panned out to JT and Edrisa, doing everything in their power to keep this bright-eyed disaster human from falling off of the ledge with their perp, Chester.
Dani: Bright! You were supposed to wait for us to anchor the tether.
Malcolm: Seems like you anchored the tether.
JT: Anchor that tether, Edrisa!
Edrisa: On it! I went through a light bondage phase in Hoboken. I'm great with knots.
It was the embodiment of the characters we've come to love. Malcolm flew off the handle, as usual, Dani was sensible, JT wondered how the hell he ended up there, and Edrisa rambled on, providing TMI about her extracurricular activities and unique skillset.
They kicked things off with the batshit insanity of Malcolm's tenacity and recklessness on a case and the utter chaos of when their plans go slightly awry. And they coupled it with cheesy quotes about "hanging in there" or Edrisa's light bondage phase -- it's what we desperately needed on our screens.
And another perk is that while many shows have incorporated COVID-19 to the point of inflicting emotional fatigue on viewers, Prodigal Son has acknowledged it but sidestepped it in favor of what it does best.
Malcolm: Hi. How are you doing?
Dani: Oh. I'm wonderful. Global pandemic. Systemic racism. It's the perfect time to be a young Black woman and a cop.
But the time jump and the sheer volume and emotional weight of what has happened over those months are palpable.
We see it in how jaded and disillusioned Dani has become with throwaway lines. Her level of DONE is at 100%, and it makes her more relatable than ever.
Malcolm is barely keeping himself together as he grapples with his genuine fear of being his father's son. Gil and Jessica's burgeoning romance does not come without a price.
And the development on the Ainsely and JT front is the most exciting because of how underused they were during Prodigal Son Season 1.
So far, we only see the effects of what happened that night on Malcolm. As a protective elder sibling, nothing was more relatable than when he told Ainsley that he would do anything for her, and he proved as much without her understanding the gravity of his actions.
Ainsley: Get some sleep today, OK? For me?
Malcolm: Of course, anything for you.
Malcolm took accountability for what happened with Endicott, and on the evening of his death, he and Martin worked together to cover it.
We have so few pieces to go off of from that night; we only see that it has seriously effed Malcolm up. Martin talked Malcolm through disposing of Endicott's body, and it involved severing that bad boy up and someone discovering the remains in Estonia months later.
How the hell did he get the body to Estonia? Inquiring minds want to know! Somehow, Malcolm, with the help of Martin, cleaned up the crime scene, Jessica doesn't know anything, and Ainsley barely knows the truth.
And then Malcolm presumably spent months of quarantine on his own processing his actions and the changes and upheaval from Gil's recovery process onward.
Last we knew, on Prodigal Son Season 1 Episode 20, Malcolm was accused of murdering Eddie, and they hadn't resolved that. I'm curious about what happened within those months, and how has Malcolm rejoined the team again unencumbered?
But with everything that happened, Malcolm throws himself into cases more than ever; he borders on unhinged more as well. The ledge scene was entertaining and wild, but Malcolm openly went on one of his monologues about justice and implied taking it into his hands.
It would've been another day of Malcolm testing the waters and pushing boundaries, but he did it more than once during the installment and at concerning levels.
I used to think I was nothing like my father, but that's not entirely true. Truth is my father is a part of me. I can't deny it. That's why I understand killers. I'm like you.Malcolm
Malcolm teasing the idea of letting go of the slasher is on brand, but his maniacal display in the sex dungeon with Boyd, while a nice callback to his infamous ax-moment, was distinctly more imbalanced.
And that's where the series managed to make Ainsley do what Malcolm would've assumed was the worst deed that made him like his father, but yet, they found a way to saddle Malcolm with more fear of his capabilities than before.
He cleaned up the crime scene, covered up Endicott's death, and dismembered his body. While he didn't pull the trigger or stab the man, the fact that Malcolm had the stomach for any of that and questions if he enjoyed it has put him in a more precarious place than he was before.
And hell, I didn't think that was possible!
Martin: What's wrong?
Malcolm: I covered up a murder. Violated everything I believe in. I stop killers, I don't help them.
Martin: Ainsley killed a powerful man with powerful friends. She wouldn't have survived that night without you. She's not like us.
Malcolm: Said the serial killer.
Martin: Said the father. Will you do something for me? Come closer to the line.
Malcolm: What are you-
Martin: Thank you. Thank you for saving my little girl. You realize that. That's what you did. You saved your sister. Don't torture yourself for that.
The situation with Ainsley and the weight of keeping it secret has compounded his PTSD. His nightmares have intensified, and his behavior is erratic AF. Fortunately, he's consistent with his meds regimen, but he's off-kilter, and it has everyone concerned.
Gil and Jessica have bonded and continued to deepen their relationship over their love for Malcolm. And Ainsley, knowing some of the truth, extends the type of sibling concern that often eluded her before.
But again, the two most compelling responses to Malcolm's mental state are Dani and Martin.
Ainsley committing murder didn't shift Martin's attention away from his beloved son; if anything, he feels more connected to him than ever. They share a deadly secret that leaves them inextricably bonded for the rest of Martin's days.
Martin: Or maybe that's not it. Maybe there's another reason you're full of so much pain.
Malcolm: What are you talking about?
Martin: Getting away with murder, walking the streets, knowing the truth. It's intoxicating. Tell me your imagination isn't stoked knowing what it takes, what you are now capable of. People think we're crazy, no one in their right mind would be a killer. The thing is they don't know the truth. Murder is the ultimate thrill, or maybe you're all torn up inside because getting away with murder didn't feel bad at all. Nope. It felt good.
And it's the type of thing that has proven (to Martin) that his son is everything he envisions him of being, and that scares the ever-loving hell out of Malcolm.
It's no wonder the guy avoided seeing or speaking to his father as much as he could until that hilarious phone exchange on the ledge, a stark contrast from the last time Malcolm answered Martin's call at a crime scene.
Malcolm knew that his father would want to discuss that night and how Malcolm expertly covered up a murder. Ironically, Malcolm seemed to seek absolution from Martin.
In one breath, Martin almost put Malcolm at ease after months of torturing himself over his actions by reminding him and thanking him for protecting Ainsley.
It was what any big brother would do. And it was such a moment of real sincerity that when Martin went on to gloat about how Malcolm is like him, it was a jolt to the system.
No matter what Malcolm does, Martin knows how to pull strings and control Malcolm. Malcolm can never escape it.
In a few sentences, Malcolm found a semblance of peace, and just as quickly, Martin took it away and left Malcolm haunted and spiraling over whether or not he enjoyed what he did to Endicott too much and questioning everything about himself.
The control Martin has over Malcolm is so disturbing, but it's also captivating.
No one man should have that much control, and yet Martin remains as stalwart as ever. Even without Endicott, he managed to weasel his way back to the psych ward for singlehandedly preventing COVID from ravaging the prison (unlike many others).
And he got his old room, Mr. David watching over him, and he managed to electrocute his new roommate without consequence since it helped the guy in the end. Only Martin could attempt to kill his roommate for daring to harm Malcolm and then get away with it.
But Martin practically holds the keys to Malcolm's mental state in his hands, and he knows it and manipulates it at will.
Tom: Maybe you're a killer like him.
Malcolm: That's the third time this week. I must be giving off murdery vibes. Is it my hair?
Meanwhile, Dani's concerns for Malcolm feel different than everyone else's. They haven't touched on it yet, but you can sense a strain in their relationship, and it probably stems from how easily he lied to her before.
Dani doesn't trust easily, let people in, or make friends, and she did that for Malcolm, but now, she doesn't seem to know what to do with him and their relationship.
She distrusts him in different ways, and his mental state is something she's wary of, and we saw it often. Malcolm's antics in the sex dungeon didn't sit well with her at all.
And she genuinely felt, to the point of training her weapon to him, that he would kill Tom, the executioner. To everyone else, Malcolm is being Malcolm, and they're maybe downplaying what's going on with him, but Dani is leery of her partner and friend.
But then, Dani comes across as more jaded than usual. Her line about the pandemic and systemic racism and how it's not a fun time being a Black female cop was a mouthful without getting into the details. Dani's wariness of Malcolm and his mother and gravitational pull to Gil is also a nice development.
We knew Dani and Gil had a special bond of their own, and it's a pleasure to see it on display again. Almost losing her mentor and father-figure shook Dani up. You sensed it in every interaction.
And when it comes down to it, while Endicott did the damage, Dani resents the Whitlys for their ability to cloud Gil's judgment. And maybe that also explains her distance from Malcolm. Getting attached to the Whitlys leads to bad things.
Dani: Jessica Whitly.
Gil: What about her?Dani: Look, I know that you care about her and this is really none of my business.
Gil: You're right on both counts.
Dani: But that night at Endicott's, you were careless, and it cost you. Gil, you almost died, and I hope you don't take this the wrong way, but none of this ever had to happen.
Gil: You saying it's my fault I got stabbed?
Dani: No, no you're the best cop that I know. The night you got stabbed, you were not that cop ... going in alone, being the hero cop. And that was because of her.
Jessica never seemed happier than when she spoke about Gil. They both seem content with one another and their growing romantic relationship. Did you catch the letters Jessica handwrote him? They were love notes!
But Dani isn't here for any of it because getting close to the Whitlys has disastrous effects on Gil. Malcolm jeopardizes them regularly, and because of Jessica, in Dani's mind, Gil almost died.
You can understand Dani's position, and that makes the situation rich with possibilities.
Dani isn't wrong to feel the way she does, and you can understand her position. At the same time, Gil deserves love and happiness, and Jessica deserves that, too.
It was heartbreaking when Jessica overheard Dani and Gil's conversation. Not only did Gil agree with Dani, but he mentioned that Jackie used to say the Whitlys were cursed, and he was inclined to agree.
No matter what any of them do, they can't escape Martin and how he's ruined them. Malcolm had to deal with comparisons to his father three times in this installment alone.
In the blink of an eye, Dani and Gil unknowingly knocked the happiness out of Jessica. I felt awful for her.
Gil: You're right. I made a mistake. I let my feelings for her cloud my judgment, but that's on me. Jessica is a good person.
Dani: She has a history.
Gil: So, we all have history, and Dani I-
Dani: Look all I'm saying is be careful.
Gil: You sound like my Jackie. She thought the Whitlys were cursed. I don't know. Maybe she was right.
And it carried over to JT. Again, it's another prime example of how the series has given us more of what we loved and elevated it.
JT was always a character that didn't have quite as much going on with him as others. He was great for some one-liners and comedic relief, but he's so much more than that.
I'll go on record apologizing for not appreciating him and lavishing him with as much love as the others. It makes sense that while Gil recovered, JT ran point on the team, and he did a damn great job of it.
The interviews with Ainsley were hilarious, but I love that he seemed to give Malcolm the same kind of leeway that Gil does. Would the JT in the pilot go along with Malcolm's outlandish plan of capturing the Penthouse killer on a ledge? Heck no!
This ledge is taken.Malcolm
Do you know what that's called, my friends? Growth.
Prodigal Son, which has always managed to touch on many things with grace, humor, and subtlety, didn't shy away from a storyline on systemic racism.
Typically what they have shown us is subtler and incorporated in the case. For example, however you slice it, the murderer was trying to right a wrong because a White couple who murdered someone willingly let a Latinx boy in Texas get executed for their actions.
Things like Malcolm's class privilege come up often, but the topic itself always hits different when it involves a character you've come to know and love.
JT: This is gonna fall in me.
Malcolm: You didn't do anything wrong.
JT: It doesn't matter.
Dani: No, we're going to tell them what happened, and we will back you up.
JT: They're going to say I assaulted him. I'm done.
And it placed a quality the series never patted itself on the back for front and center by addressing a natural byproduct of what any team member could face.
Think about it, what other crime procedural has an entire team comprised of people of color? Malcolm is their only exception, and thus it makes this situation with JT more refreshing than most.
Because almost everyone on their team knows "the thing." And they know to call a thing a thing. It removed all the time spent trying to explain what just happened, having JT's experience second-guessed or invalidated, or some pesky "well maybe it wasn't that" sort of thing.
Nearly everyone there has probably been on the end of a racial microaggression, and that empathy and understanding is rare to see and seldom happens.
You've been running this unit like a pro, Tarmel. I know what happened tonight, and I got your back. Go home. Kiss that wife of yours, and you tell her you caught the bad guy. You're a good cop, JT. No matter what people say, those still exist. I'm looking at two of the best ... and whatever Bright is.Gil
The fact of the matter is, you can't have any cop show return on air without addressing systemic racism in some capacity. It was a tectonic shift in the discourse surrounding policing, and there's no way of avoiding that discussion even here.
JT's experience is a reality, yes, but the angle of addressing it this way was intriguing. His badge doesn't preclude him from bias, and neither does his veteran status.
He's a cool, calm, and collected character. And in an instant, the experience reduced him to shock, fear, and panic.
JT isn't someone who rattles with ease, but it shows how traumatizing that is. He's a respected, revered detective and veteran, but he knew none of that mattered, and the very system he serves with honor can destroy him.
Hands up. I'm not a threat.JT
My heart broke for JT when the cops held him at gunpoint, and all he could say was that he had his hands up and wasn't a threat. If Dani and Malcolm didn't arrive when they did, it could've ended differently, and that's terrifying.
It was especially concerning when JT shoved the cop that insisted on calling him "boy" because of his excessive force while accosting him.
Now, JT is terrified that his word won't hold up against some uniformed cops who handled the situation all wrong. He has his team backing him, thank goodness, but I wonder how this storyline will play out.
Gil is such a Dad. I loved every second of him comforting JT, reminding him of how incredible he's been running the team and how he's proof that there are good cops that exist.
JT: Relax, I'm a cop.
Cop: Stop fighting, boy!
And as shaken up as JT was, he's making it home to kiss his pregnant wife. Dani has already come across as a bit disillusioned, but it makes you wonder how this situation will affect JT as the season progresses.
They could explore so many different things after this.
If anything happens to JT because of some idiots, we will raise hell, dammit!
Notes and Funnies:
- Maldrisa geeking out over the beheading was the best. I love the Murder Nerds!
- On the topic of that beheading, the special effects were insane. It was so gross!
- On an unapologetically shallow and thirsty note, can we take a moment to appreciate how sexy JT looks with a beard? Yum.
- On the ever-growing list of Edrisa kinks, she's into light bondage and great at knot-tying. Edrisa, please, NEVER change. Edrisa is a Scorpio, isn't she?
- "Hanging in there." "Please say cancer." "I must be giving off murdery vibes; is it my hair?" Malcolm is the best, and so is this show for making me laugh so much in one hour.
Martin: Malcolm, it's your father. I have sensational news.
Malcolm: Please say it's cancer.
- Malcolm's emo, angst hair was definitely hot and lowkey murdery. You can always tell how well or poorly he's doing based on the state of his hair -- same, bro.
- Mr. David is back, and all is right in the Prodigal Son world. He still lets Martin get away with way too much, but that's why we love him.
- Just what kind of fun was Martin hoping to get into in the shower? I mean, there was a pandemic that required social distancing.
- We got a Sunshine sighting! The poor bird is still wondering how he got stuck with such a human disaster.
- Malcolm referred to himself as the Justice Killer while caught up in one of his states. What does it say that he has an idea of what kind of killer he would be if he did it? That's what that means, right? RIGHT?!
Oh, Mr. David. How I have missed you. The food in gen-pop is abysmal. The shower time not nearly as lively as I was led to believe.Martin
Over to you, Prodigal Son Fanatics. Did you love the episode? What are your predictions and theories?
Hit the blue SHOW COMMENTS button, and let's discuss all the things below!
If you missed anything, you can watch Prodigal Son online here via TV Fanatic!
Jasmine Blu is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.