‘Prodigal Son’ Bosses on Exploring the Surgeon Case & Mixing Bright’s Worlds
In the latest episode, Gil (Lou Diamond Phillips) and the NYPD team got a firsthand look at the Whitlys’ home after Paul (Michael-Raymond James) called the landline in Martin’s (Michael Sheen) boarded-up room in the basement. And Ainsley (Halston Sage) is getting more involved than ever in the cases through her job as a reporter.
That’s just the beginning, as Bright is about to get a blast from his past that also ties into the mystery-of-the-week in the winter finale.
Here, showrunners Chris Fedak and Sam Sklaver tease what’s to come as we near the halfway point of the season.
A detective from Bright’s past, Owen Shannon, is appearing in the winter finale. What can you preview about those two crossing paths again?
Chris Fedak: There’s something really interesting about the idea of the Surgeon case from back in the ’90s. For us, it’s something in time we’d like to unpack and explore. Why exactly does the Surgeon have this cush set-up at Claremont Psychiatric as opposed to a super-max prison? How did this case unfold? How did he wind up there? For us, it’s the People v. O.J. Simpson element of the show, going back in time and telling that story and meeting those characters.
Shannon is one of the first characters we’re going to meet, someone who was the original detective on the case. It’s a very rich part, and we have an amazing actor [Sean Pertwee] coming in. It’s going to be another way for us to also explore the Junkyard Killer case and Paul Lazar.
There’s two mysteries to the show. There’s the mystery of the week and there’s also the mystery of Bright and his past. With Shannon, it’s definitely going to be both things.
We’re really seeing the impact Martin and now Paul have on Jessica and Ainsley. How does that change their relationships with Bright?
Fedak: They’re always going to be a family that comes together in the end, but they have their dramas and their challenges. One of the reasons why they’ve survived is they do support each other in their own weird ways. That’s something we’re going to explore. That’s their safe place.
Sam Sklaver: We do like to think of the Whitlys’ story — not including Martin — as being a hopeful story. This is a family with all the money in the world, they own half of New York, and no one would trade places with them.
They’ll get mad at each other. They’ll occasionally stab each other in the back, but never lethally, and we’re always going to be watching them and wanting them to succeed together.
I really enjoyed Bright’s two lives colliding with the team at his house. Will we see more of that?
Sklaver: Wasn’t that fun? We’re very excited to be able to literally bring the cops into Jessica’s house and in the future very soon figuratively bringing Jessica into the precinct and involving her more in cases. She’s connected to a lot of worlds in which homicides do take place. We’re very excited to see her working more because we love her with Dani and JT, and of course we love her with Gil.
Speaking of Gil, we’ve seen his and Jessica’s dynamic a bit now. We know Gil and Bright. But we haven’t seen Gil and Ainsley yet. Will that change since she’s getting more involved in cases?
Sklaver: 100%. In Episode 8, when Ainsley is trying to get into the hospital room and she’s told that Detective Arroyo is in charge, her face tells us everything we need to know, which is they’re not huge fans of each other. Gil loves Ainsley as he loves Bright, but Ainsley is a troublemaker as a reporter who’s definitely going to get into hot water and maybe get Gil into hot water as well.
Eve seems like someone Jessica can talk to and give her point of view, but there also seems to be something brewing between her and Bright. Can we trust her?
Fedak: I’m not quite certain if you should ever trust anyone in the show, but Molly [Griggs] has brought a very fun spirit to it and she’s great. She’s also going to be featured in Episode 9. There’s definitely more to their story.
Sklaver: They do have a fun dynamic. We definitely know Jessica is on board with the two of them, from the look she gives when they first met. Jessica won’t let that go. We’re definitely not done with Eve.
Prodigal Son, Mondays, 9/8c, Fox