Bright Searches for a Station Wagon From His Past on ‘Prodigal Son’ (RECAP)
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Episode 6 of Prodigal Son, “All Souls and Sadists.”]
Bright (Tom Payne) is determined to track down the station wagon in the photo from the week before Martin’s (Michael Sheen) arrest, but is he going to lose his grasp on reality? He does stumble a bit with the case of the week.
Speaking of, which show had the creepiest child for a Halloween (or Halloween-timed) episode? New Amsterdam? Evil? Prodigal Son? The Fox drama makes its case for the honor in “All Souls and Sadists.” The team investigates after a man, Gavin, is stabbed over 100 times, a clear sign of overkill suggesting hatred. (“On average it takes three stabs at a four-inch depth to kill someone,” Bright helpfully informs the others later.)
Though both the victim’s ex-wife and her new boyfriend are potential suspects — she even confesses — Bright realizes the truth: Gavin’s son, Isaac, killed his father, and his mother is trying to protect him. Isaac was diagnosed with conduct disorder (an antecedent to sadism), and after seeing he’d killed his rabbit, Gavin wanted to take him to a psychiatric hospital.
Bright later admits to Gil (Lou Diamond Phillips) that he wonders if he could’ve turned into someone like Isaac, but the detective assures him, “Not on my watch.” That being said, should we be worried about Bright’s state of mind now? His therapist, Dr. Gabrielle Le Deux (Charlayne Woodard), seems to be.
What’s real in Bright’s mind?
Bright tries to find the station wagon from his childhood at a car dealership, but while the one the salesman shows him is “perfect for family trips or a big kill … if you’re into hunting” (more his father’s thing, Bright says), it’s not the right one. “I’m looking for one with an anchor bracket in the back, strong enough to chain somebody to,” he explains, adding, “Don’t worry, I’m a cop. Kind of.”
As he explains to Gabrielle, he’s hoping that by finding the car, he’ll be able to remember what happened in it. While he’s sure that his memories are real, she warns him that’s a bad thing; it means a part of his psyche is built on repressed memories. If he follows the trauma to the source, he could revert back to being the frozen, broken child he was.
“When my dad was taken from me, I didn’t talk for months. My feelings were so big and strong that they shut me down, almost turned me off completely. I know what it’s like to not be okay, to feel like something inside is broken,” Bright tells Isaac at one point.
If that happens, he’ll start seeing things, not because of drugs or sleep deprivation, and he won’t be able to tell what’s real and what’s imaginary, Gabrielle warns. He’d lose contact with reality.
Jessica (Bellamy Young) doesn’t know anything about the car when he asks her — she and Ainsley (Halston Sage) were in the Hamptons at the time. However, she recalls how much Martin loved to camp. When she walks away, Bright has a flash of his father, younger, telling him they were going to have a guy’s weekend, he got them a car, and his mother doesn’t have to know.
Bright asks Dani (Aurora Perrineau) to run the license plate, and she’s able to find the station wagon. Once Bright finds it and confirms it’s the one — the anchor bracket is in the back — he checks it for blood. There’s a lot.
Will Ainsley interview Martin?
It’s been a week since Ainsley stepped into Martin’s cell and asked for an interview. As a flashback to that meeting shows, he hesitated.
“That seems a little exploitative, but then again, I’ve been exploiting others my whole life,” he allowed. As a serial killer? “No, as a white man. We’re terrible,” he quipped. He wanted the questions ahead of time and the ability to offer notes on the cut, but she refused. She did list a couple of questions she had, including what she called the most important: why did he do it? But he knew there was something else she needed answered.
After, Martin shares in a group therapy session that he’s grappling with the request. “On the one hand, this interview gives me the chance to finally spend some quality time with my daughter, but on the other hand, there is a reason why I’ve never discussed my exploits on camera,” he says. “The general public seldom understands greatness in its time.” His therapist suggests a deeper reason why he’s reluctant: he craves control and is afraid to relinquish that to his daughter.
When Jessica learns about Ainsley’s plan to interview her father, she forbids it. She even contacts Ainsley’s boss’ boss’ boss and puts an end to it. But Ainsley pushes back, arguing that everything she knows about him is from Jessica, who made him out to be a monster. That’s when her mother realizes he said something to her, and we see the rest of the father/daughter conversation from a week ago.
“Was it real?” Ainsley asked. “Did you love us or was it just some psychopathic act?” Martin claimed he thought about her every day since his arrest. “I imagined myself there on birthdays, piano recitals, dancing with you at the debutante ball,” he said. “That imaginary life is the most real thing I know. The one place I get to be a father. I’m embarrassed to admit how often I visit it. I will never forgive myself for not really being there. And neither should you. You deserved so much better than me.” He was seemingly emotional, but how much of that was a manipulation?
Jessica recognizes the love in her daughter’s eyes for Martin, the same look she once had. Ainsley is determined to make that interview happen, and Jessica may not be able to stop it.
“Ainsley is so headstrong, she’s going to do whatever she wants to do,” Payne told TV Insider.
And we can’t wait to see that interview.
Prodigal Son, Mondays, 9/8c, Fox