Prodigal Son: Season 1, Episode 1 “Pilot” [Series Premiere] – Recap, Review (with Spoilers)

Title Card - Prodigal Son Season 1, Episode 1 “Pilot” [Series Premiere] – Recap, Review (with Spoilers) (2)
61.1% (1)

Prodigal Son allows Martin Sheen to step into the familiar role of charismatic killer, giving you what feels like a less pretentious, and less violent, Hannibal.


Network
FOX
Creator(s) Chris Fedak, Sam Sklaver
Director(s) Lee Toland Krieger
Writer(s) Chris Fedak, Sam Sklaver
Air Date 9/23/2019
Genre(s) Crime, Drama
Who Is This For?
  • Fans of Police Procedurals
  • Those Who Like To Watch A Person Descent Into Madness
  • Serial Killers
Introduced This Episode
Martin Whitly Michael Sheen
Jessica Bellamy Young
Ainsley Halston Sage
Malcolm (Adult) Tom Payne
Malcolm (Child) Kasjan Wilson
Gil Lou Diamond Phillips
Dani Aurora Perrineau
JT Frank Harts
Claude Steve Beauchamp
Carter Michael Cerveris

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Plot Overview/ Review

In 1998, Martin Whitly, after the murder of 23 people, earned the title “The Surgeon” and a lifetime sentence to a psychiatric prison. This led to his wife, Jessica, and daughter Ainsley, who was 5 at the time, distancing themselves from him. Especially Jessica since he, Martin, tarnished the family’s name and destroyed their social status.

As for Malcolm, the “Prodigal Son,” it took him nearly 11 years to distance himself from his father. For despite Martin never really being shy about what he did, just refusing to work with the cops, Malcolm still cared for his dad in some way. But, with Malcolm joining the FBI, and going to Quantico, he had to distance himself from his father. He even changed his last name to “Bright” to complete the disassociation.

Fast forward to 2019, and despite not seeing his dad for nearly a decade, his influence lingers. Be it the PTSD, in which Malcolm sees visions of his dad, or being accused of narcissism, Malcolm’s troubles run deep. So deep that, after his attempt to bring down a serial killer named Claude didn’t go as a local sheriff desired, he gets fired.

Thus bringing him back to NYC and working with an old friend named Gil. A cop who, alongside JT and Dani, are hunting a copycat killer of Malcolm’s father. Leading to a reunion between the two and the start of a new chapter in their relationship as Malcolm works for the NYPD as a profiler and Martin helps him piece together the various puzzles out there. Of which, in Malcolm’s mind, Martin may have created.

Collected Quote(s) or .Gifs

No one is born broken. Someone breaks us.
— Malcolm

Highlights

Martin Sheen

You can’t have a show featuring a serial killer and not have said killer be one of the most charismatic characters. After all, they are the villain. The villain has to be, on shows like this, the most interesting person and the one you are always waiting on to show up. Sheen inhabits that persona and while is crazed look makes you think he is channeling someone you’re familiar with, but you can’t place who, he lights up the screen and makes you wonder how and why he turned out the way he did?

The Villains Introduced Made You Want To See Them Beyond An Episode

Generally, in procedurals like this, the flavor of the episode you just want to take little note of for they are one and done. However, Claude, who was given a bit of backstory with being raised by a butcher, you wanted to know more about. Then when it came to Carter? Usually with TV shows, even of this nature, you don’t get what feels like a jump scare. But with Carter, like Claude, you are presented the kind of people who could easily be murders in a movie rather than some run of the mill killer for Malcolm to foil.

Malcolm – The Makings Of A Killer

Who do you know that can stare in the face of a psychopath, generic term for the actual issues they have, and not really flinch? Heck, that could cut someone’s hand off with the look of a child hyped on candy? Clearly, Malcolm has long suppressed certain desires of his. The kind he either inherited from his father or, considering how much he has seen his father do, maybe he picked up or even participated? Who knows?

All that is clear to us is that considering the tremors, the dreams, and need for restraints, Malcolm is fighting hard to be Malcolm Bright and denying his true nature which is Malcolm Whitly, the son of “The Surgeon.”

On The Fence

Dani

While it does seem, despite his madness, Dani may fall for Malcolm, she is also presented as enough of a badass that she may challenge him too. Yet, I gotta admit, there is something about her that leads you to believe she will either be Malcolm’s first victim or will enable him being a serial killer.

It’s Longevity

The problem with any and all shows like this is they require escalation and are bound to a certain trajectory. You know Malcolm is going to kill and likely go to jail or be on the run. Eventually, Martin is going to get out and probably be hunted, if not protected by Malcolm. Could this show do something different? Absolutely. However, the issue with network TV is that it rarely tries to do different things.

At best, the first season will feel like something new and innovative, but after a while it develops a routine, and eventually, that spark is gone. Leading to something desperate being done, sometimes on a seasonal, if not at the mid-season finale and in the season finale, and only the passionate fan base remaining. The ones who create fanfiction based off the show’s original potential as they forgive what the show has become since they stuck around so long

First Impression: Positive (Watch This)

The main issue which may come with this show is it going beyond its prime. For this is the kind of show that, if it plays its cards right, might be good for two seasons. Maybe three seasons depending if it is doesn’t become yet another network show with a ridiculous season order that the writers can’t support, especially with a short turnaround time.

Yet, despite knowing, after season 1, it is likely all downhill, right now this is something to watch. Sheen is magnetic, the slow descent into madness for Malcolm is going to be exciting, and while we are all familiar with a Dani type, her being a Bronx Latina shakes things up a bit.

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