Is Bright Starting to Remember What Really Happened on 'Prodigal Son'? (RECAP)
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Episode 5 of Prodigal Son, "The Trip."]
Bright (Tom Payne) is having trouble sleeping as Prodigal Son continues, and he doesn't need his mother's (Bellamy Young) barbiturates (though she offers). No, he needs a murder, and he even goes to Gil (Lou Diamond Phillips) and begs him for anything.
"No murders? No kinks? No boiling bunnies? Nothing deviant at all?" Bright asks in disbelief. "This is New York!" Gil tries to send him away, but Bright refuses to budge. "Homicide appears to be the only thing keeping me sane," he declares a bit too loudly, earning a few odd glances from the detectives in the precinct. "Solving, not doing," he clarifies.
He does get the murder he's looking for, and it even helps him begin to put more of the pieces of what happened back when Martin (Michael Sheen) was arrested. At the beginning of the episode, he's having trouble sleeping and tries going for a walk, only to stumble upon a station wagon and something seemingly under a blanket (and chains?) in the back of it. But when he tries calling for help, it turns out it's just a dog, the owner is steps away — and the car isn't a station wagon.
He has a similar vision while speaking with a person of interest for the case, even seeing a hand reach out from under the blanket and grasp the chain. But after he jumps back, there's nothing there. The visions continue, but much more vividly, after he gets a face full of drugs on the job. (Payne is an absolute delight throughout this episode, but especially as Bright high on drugs, trying to recall how many battle axes he has and getting excited about grilled cheese.) Gil benches him and Dani (Aurora Perrineau), whose judgment on the case is a bit clouded due to her past, for the night.
Back at home, Bright tries to tell himself that what he's seeing — dead body in the shower, box shaking like someone's trying to get out of it, the dead girl, her hand grasping his face from behind — isn't real. He escapes into his bathroom, only to find himself in his father's cell, but his father isn't the one in chains and that cardigan: he is.
"This isn't real," Bright repeats to himself. "Yet here I am, nestled nicely between your basal ganglia and your cerebellum," Martin-Bright says. "Wearing your dad's cardigan. Nobody ever said the subconscious was subtle. ... I'm only trying to show you the truth about yourself."
According to Martin-Bright, he's Malcolm's "subconscious, ego, id, the Ghost of Christmas Past." But is he the one to help Bright pieces together the fragments he remembers of that night through his nightmares? "What did Dad do?" Martin-Bright asks. "What did we do?" He offers Bright context: a shoebox Malcolm hid as a child under his bed when Jessica was destroying everything related to Martin.
Later, Bright returns to his childhood home to look for the box, but Jessica claims there was no such box. She slips up by calling it a shoebox — he hadn't specified — and eventually returns it to him. Inside are family photos, including one of Martin with the young Malcolm, in the woods, in front of that station wagon. It's real.
"During this missing time, what did you do?" Bright recalls Martin asking him. "What can't you remember?"
What did Bright do before he turned his father in? How much time passed between his discovery of his father's sinister crimes and his 9-1-1 call?
Furthermore, we can't help but relate something Bright tells Dani when talking about the case — "Unresolved emotional conflicts often manifest in dreams because a representation of the true problem in our subconscious is far less damaging to the ego than processing the actual object in the conscious" — to Bright's own dreams.
"We are constantly delving into memory and how trustworthy it is," showrunner Chris Fedak previously told TV Insider. "Does he trust his memories? ... There's things that are affected and forgotten and displaced. He's trying to compare what he remembers to what actually he can prove in the present."
Maybe there was no girl in a box. Maybe there was something much, much worse.
Prodigal Son, Mondays, 9/8c, Fox