Prodigal Son Season 2 Episode 7 Review: Face Value

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Despite Ainsley's thoughts, the Whitlys may not have gotten away with murder.

With a wonderfully grotesque case, an epic Ainsley troll, and the introduction of two of the biggest stars joining the season, Prodigal Son Season 2 Episode 7 threw a lot at us.

It was Lou Diamond Phillips' first spin in the director's chair for this series. It's a great winter finale, and there are so many things to leave us eagerly awaiting the show's return.

Checking His Head  - Prodigal Son Season 2 Episode 7

One enjoyable thing about this series is how the little things have a way of sneaking up on you and leading somewhere later. Of all the running plotlines throughout the installment, Jessica's is a wily one.

On the outside looking in, you wouldn't think it's one of significance. However, the arrival of Hurricane Birdie, Jessica's passive-aggressive, opportunistic sister played by Filthy Rich's lovely Rachel York, had all the alarms sounding off.

Darling, not everyone in your life has a nefarious agenda. Only the men you date.

Birdie [to Jessica]

Jessica is the wildcard Whitly. She'll do anything to protect her children, without question, but she's also the one you'd imagine slipping up by accident in some way.

She read through her sister's bullcrap about her concern for Jessica and phishing for information.

It's unfortunate that Jessica really doesn't have anyone to confide in often. As much as her kids love her, they often leave her in the dark over confiding in her. She typically has to impose her presence on them rather than running to her in times of need.

Remaining Poised  - Prodigal Son Season 2 Episode 7

For a moment, it appeared as if Birdie's concern got through to Jessica, and she would've entertained the idea of letting her guard down and confiding in her baby sister rather than putting up airs.

But Jessica has her own way of protecting her family these days, and it's the power of the pen or a laptop. Birdie's arrival at least gave Jess the head's up that a publishing company was looking for any way possible to create a sensational story about the Whitly family.

My sister is like a fungal infection. 

Jessica

Birdie was willing to sell her sister out for some quick cash. Trust fund kids are always a nuisance, even grown adults in their 40's who should have it together better. Birdie is the type who would stumble upon something that could bring the Whitly family down.

Jessica taking control of her narrative and telling the story herself by writing a memoir is the smartest move she can make, but the timing is still disastrous at best. Their family has too many secrets to be in the spotlight again.

Plastic Surgery Gone Wrong  - Prodigal Son Season 2 Episode 7

A book will have everyone digging into their business. No matter how hard Jessica will try to divert the masses from the damn near literal skeletons in their closet, the publicity surrounding a highly-anticipated memoir by the wife of a prolific serial killer leaves all of them too exposed.

The timing cannot be worse with Hoxley NYC-bound, fresh off finding Endicott's head in Estonia.

Birdie: So Malcolm, I hear you're profiling murderers for the NYPD. 
Malcolm: Yes, I'm with Major Crimes. 
Birdie: That's quite a demotion from the FBI, isn't it? 
Malcolm: Well, if we all took ten years between career attempts the family trust would run dry.

It's a convoluted mess; a storm is brewing, one bigger than an agitating sister in need of some money. But it also doesn't feel like the only one.

What do you make of Dr. Capshaw?

Vivian Capshaw -Tall - Prodigal Son Season 2 Episode 7

Firstly, how incredible is it that Catherine freaking Zeta-Jones has joined this series as a regular? She's iconic, and not only that, but she's sharing scenes with Michael Sheen. It's already intoxicating witnessing the pair share the screen.

But then, are we surprised? At this rate, you can stick Michael Sheen in an empty room with a strand of thread, and he can spin it into magic. The man has chemistry with any and everything, tangible and not.

Dr. Capshaw: If he dies...
Martin: Just put it on my tab.

Capshaw is hard to read. She didn't appear as if she was a fan of Whitly, and she seemed to get a kick out of asserting power and dominance over him by demeaning him.

She refused to call him by his title, given his license was revoked. She stuck him with cleaning out bedpans rather than allowing him to do anything fun in his new position in the infirmary as a reward for all of that "good behavior."

Apprenctice - Prodigal Son Season 2 Episode 7

She listened to him about the burr hole and even let him talk her through the procedure. But just as he was getting high off of the whole thing, she had him removed, knocking him down a peg.

But then, despite her apparent coldness and breaking him down like a foldable table, she stepped past that red line (why does NO ONE heed the warning?!), and she slipped him butterscotch she seemed intent to deprive him of when she gave him her "one-strike" spiel upon her introduction.

Anyone can be a murderer. Wrong place. Wrong time. An accident. An impulse. But there's another type of killer. For them, murder is an addiction. A bad love they can't quit. Truth is anyone can do it once, but the second kill, that's when the switch is flipped, and a serial killer is born.

Malcolm

Please don't feed the animals psychopaths, Capshaw. Let the record show the suggestion is for all meanings and interpretations (wink, wink).

Capshaw has a dominant, alpha vibe. It feels as if we'll see a lot of her giving Martin a hard time and then gifting him with the occasional taste of her approval, respect, attention, attraction (?) before starting all over again lest he gets the crazy idea that they're equal.

Intros - Tall - Prodigal Son Season 2 Episode 7

Is it possible that we have one of those relationships where it's a constant game of cat-n-mouse, and we're unsure the entire time which of them has the upper hand? It's hard to say, but sign a girl up and color her intrigued.

Also, can you imagine the effects of a distracted Martin while his family is possibly crumbling on the outside? Hell, how about the complicated feelings Malcolm would experience if he's not the object of his father's fixation and undivided attention nor readily available or accessible to him?

Imagine Malcolm not getting to walk through his profiling or consulting his father during cases? It's not to say he didn't manage fine without him during this installment, but he was distracted the majority of the time.

Botoxed - Tall - Prodigal Son Season 2 Episode 7

Nicole's murder was shockingly grotesque, and the makeup and special effects department must've had a blast with the botox-filled, deformed faces. The case served a much larger point in connecting to Malcolm's personal life and the Ainsley situation.

But it was also a chance to drop in those tiny little Brightwell nuggets that lingered after Prodigal Son Season 2 Episode 6. After the dreamscape, it not only seems as if Malcolm is less guarded with how he says things around Dani, but she also isn't holding back as much with him.

Dani: Suddenly I feel super insecure.
Malcolm: That's the point. Plastic surgeons make money on insecurity. Anxiety and dysmorphia is their core business model. In this world, no one can feel good enough even when they're as beautiful as you. Which could be what the killer was trying to tell us... What?
Dani: Nothing.

Malcolm's casual statement about her beauty upon her surprisingly vulnerable admission of insecurity at the plastic surgeon's office was sweet, funny, and also something that Dani was flattered by and taking a moment to process.

Malcolm didn't even realize what he said or how affected she was by it, and Dani of Prodigal Son Season 1 wouldn't have been so visibly touched by the compliment.

Interviewing the Agency - Tall - Prodigal Son Season 2 Episode 7

She also wouldn't have left a door open for him to ask her things about how "lost" she was in the past or whatever conversations could ensue after such an honest statement about how she doesn't miss drugs.

Are we gearing up for some Dani backstory or a peek into her personal life? The show is leaving enough there to suggest they may dig into that. We've previously discussed our eagerness to learn more about Dani in the comments section over the season.

Dani: You know you're terrible at hiding whatever it is you're trying to hide. 
Malcolm: It's my sister. She's a little lost at the moment.
Dani: And you're trying to keep it all together.
Malcolm: More like failing miserably.
Dani: Well, as someone who was lost once too, my advice is: be there for her, but don't let her drag you down either.
Malcolm: What if she already has?
Dani: How? Bright, whatever it is, you can tell me.
Malcolm: I'm overthinking it.

The case had its confusing moments. At times, it was unclear if Donahue was the one who killed Nicole because of his fear of her revealing the role they played in disfiguring Lana, or if Lana murdered (or attempted) the trio who caused her pain and ruined her life.

Lana killed Nicole, attempted to murder Chabra, and then saved Donahue for last. And maybe the reason Donahue wanted to flee was the fear that they'll come after him for what happened to Lana?

Edrisa Geeks Out  - Prodigal Son Season 2 Episode 7

It wasn't the most clear-cut case, but it didn't make the many moments of them investigating any less exciting. Malcolm and Dani's ridiculously dramatic save of Chabra with Malcolm's improvised concoction of cocaine and saline was both over the top and left you antsy with anticipation.

And Malcolm talking Lana down by convincing her that leaving the once pretty Donahue mutilated was the best revenge also made for prime viewing.

To put it in fun terms, she was botoxed to death.

Edrisa

But overall, Malcolm was a hot mess trying to keep himself together while "protecting" Ainsley.

He couldn't keep a handle on hiding anything at all. Donahue, Gil, and Dani noted his behavior, though Dani was the only one consistently compelled to want to do something about it.

Slowly Unraveling  - Prodigal Son Season 2 Episode 7

The longer this drags out, the more it gives credence to the notion that Malcolm may break and confide in her after all. He's already revealing too much.

By telling her that Ainsley has already dragged him down, it's enough to have her radar ping-ponging like crazy. And heaven forbid she and Edrisa talk about Malcolm for too long. Edrisa's quirky ability to read texts upside down has to factor in some way, yes? You don't throw in something like that without it coming into play down the road.

Malcolm: So just one murder today?
Dani: What one isn't doing it for ya anymore?
Edrisa: I could keep my ear to the ground if you like.
Malcolm: Actually I could use your help with something. Are you free-
Edrisa: Yes!
JT: He didn't even give a time!
Malcolm: I'll, uh, swing by the lab tonight.
Edrisa: It's a date.

Without question, Malcolm lying to his sister and doing the same things to her that he resented his father for doing to him was wrong. It was always going to backfire, and Ainsley had every right to be pissed about it.

Her way of handling that, however, is utterly disturbing. Unlike their father, Ainsley should've known Malcolm's behavior came from a place of wanting to protect her and also deluding himself into hoping it meant she wouldn't have to face the same mental angst he does.

Whitly Drama - Prodigal Son Season 2 Episode 7

She's always been the "well-adjusted" Whitly, and the others have wanted that for her. If Ainsley's uncapped ambition and drive is her only effect, then it beats Malcolm's clusterfuck of mental health issues, stims, and everything under the sun and Jessica's self-medication habit.

Ainsley is allowed to be outraged about what Malcolm did without the over-dramatic and disturbing show she put on for him. Ainsley downplaying the murder and minimizing the real threat they all face by turning it into a "gotcha" game to get at her brother is the reason there are Martin comparisons.

Malcolm: I have given up everything for you! I don't even know who I am anymore because of what I've done to protect you.
Ainsley: Protect me or control me? You know for someone who has spent the last two decades trying to recover from being gaslit, it's ironic that you resorted to it.
Malcolm: That's not the same. I was trying to save you pain.
Ainsley: That's exactly what Dad would say.

It's not a normal reaction to anything. Who does that? Malcolm's mental health is always hanging on by a thread, and he's one step away from going over the deep end, but Ainsley is willing to toy with that to prove a point.

She felt he wouldn't realize the gravity of what he did or learn not to repeat it if she didn't orchestrate an elaborate scheme where she covered herself in pig's blood and had him spending a full 24-hours scared shitless that his baby sister is a serial killer.

Seeing Himself  - Prodigal Son Season 2 Episode 6

Ainsley is right about how crappy it was that Malcolm spent months gaslighting the hell out of her. And yet, that still doesn't justify what she did to him.

It is a MURDER we're talking about, and the seriousness and danger they're in seemed lost on Ainsley. From the promos, it was easy to assume that Ainley's cavalier attitude about how Whitlys get away with murder was something Malcolm would've hallucinated.

Malcolm: I'm sorry.
Ainsley: I appreciate that. 
Malcolm: But this whole thing was completely deranged you realize that, right?
Ainsley: OK, it was a little over the top, but I had to make sure that you were never going to mess with my head again. Seriously though, you got to lighten up. We got away with it.
Malcolm: You don't know that.
Ainsley: I do. We're Whitlys. No one does this murder stuff better than us.

But nope, Ainsley was dead ass serious about it, so it goes on a growing list of Ainsley's most troublesome moments. She's eerily confident about their ability to get away with murder for someone who blacked out and doesn't remember anything.

So, it begs the question, does she remember more than she's letting on? Is it that she hasn't forgotten but rather isn't as conflicted about any of it as her brother?

Daddy's Office- Tall - Prodigal Son Season 2 Episode 5

Malcolm started the hour worried about Ainsley for one reason, and by the end of it, his concern is more compounded than ever.

And despite what Ainsley said, they have reason to be worried. Alan Cumming made his first appearance as Inspector Simon Hoxley. You can only get away with murder if they don't find the body or any evidence, and after discovering the corpse before and now Endicott's head, it's a wrap.

Hoxley: That is Nicholas Endicott. And those freezer burns on his neck prove my theory. Someone tried very hard to make it look like he was killed in Estonia.
Officer: What does that mean?
Hoxley: It means I am headed to New York City.

Hoxley already determined that there are indicators that someone froze the head, so it was a deliberate attempt to make it seem as if he died in Estonia when his murder took place elsewhere.

And now he's coming to New York to get to the bottom of it. He's quite astute, so he and Malcolm going head to head with their observational and profiling skills should be good!

What Could Be -Tall - Prodigal Son Season 2 Episode 6

Additional Notes:

  • Now and then, the "Edrisa has a crush on Malcolm" bit paints Malcolm in such an unflattering light. He KNOWS she likes him, knew she considered their meet-up a date, and he still went there asking for a favor, exploiting that crush and didn't so much as bring her dinner or something. It's a dickish behavior.
  • Sometimes the secondhand embarrassment of Edrisa's crush is too much to bear. The rose petals on the M.E. slab and her gothic freakum dress with the price tag still on it killed me. I hope she went to a cuddle party afterward.

Malcolm: So just one murder today?
Dani: What one isn't doing it for ya anymore?
Edrisa: I could keep my ear to the ground if you like.
Malcolm: Actually I could use your help with something. Are you free-
Edrisa: Yes!
JT: He didn't even give a time!
Malcolm: I'll, uh, swing by the lab tonight.
Edrisa: It's a date.

  • JT's delivery of "he didn't even give a time," when Edrisa immediately agreed to meet up with Malcolm was laugh-out-loud funny, though.
  • Will we ever get to see the team meeting the Tarmel baby?
  • Malcolm giving it as well as he was getting it from Birdie was fantastic.
  • Malcolm siccing their alpha males (JT and Gil) after Chabra and in the interim acknowledging that he isn't one was hilarious.
JT Returns  - Prodigal Son Season 2 Episode 5
  • Malcolm's manic, wide-eyed shout of "Cocaine" was funnier than it had a right to be.
  • Why does it feel like Martin and Capshaw could become some twisted, medical Bonnie and Clyde of Claremont? Why am I kind of here for it? You could cut the sexual (?) tension with a scalpel.
  • Aurora Perrineau has really been killing it these past few episodes. Dani's facial expressions take you on full journeys, so much said without words. If and when they give us a heavily Dani-centric installment, it's going to be fabulous.

I do not miss drugs.

Dani

  • If every meal at the Whitly home looks like whatever they were serving at the family dinner, are you surprised Malcolm lives off Twizzlers?
  • Halston Sage is having so much fun playing Ainsley this season, and I'm living for it. Even if Ainsley admitting to murder over the phone was inadvisable at best.

Over to you, Prodigal Son Fanatics. What's your first impression of Dr. Capshaw? Did Ainsley's "prank" piss you off? How worried should we be about Hoxley?

Let's discuss all things winter finale! Hit the Show Comments button below and sound off.

If you want to relive the first half of the season to hold you over until the series returns, then you can watch Prodigal Son online here via TV Fanatic. 

Face Value Review

Editor Rating: 4.7 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.9 / 5.0 (75 Votes)

Jasmine Blu is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.

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Prodigal Son Season 2 Episode 7 Quotes

Malcolm: So just one murder today?
Dani: What one isn't doing it for ya anymore?
Edrisa: I could keep my ear to the ground if you like.
Malcolm: Actually I could use your help with something. Are you free-
Edrisa: Yes!
JT: He didn't even give a time!
Malcolm: I'll, uh, swing by the lab tonight.
Edrisa: It's a date.

Anyone can be a murderer. Wrong place. Wrong time. An accident. An impulse. But there's another type of killer. For them, murder is an addiction. A bad love they can't quit. Truth is anyone can do it once, but the second kill, that's when the switch is flipped, and a serial killer is born.

Malcolm