‘Prodigal Son’ Bosses Tease a ‘Great Psychological Duel’ Between Bright & Paul Lazar
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Episode 10 of Prodigal Son, “Silent Night.”]
TV’s most psychologically twisted drama just delivered one wild ride of a fall finale.
Prodigal Son is going to be ringing in the new year with Bright (Tom Payne) in Paul Lazar’s — or rather John Watkins’ (Michael Raymond-James) — clutches. In “Silent Night,” Bright and Detective Shannon (Sean Pertwee) identify the Junkyard Killer, only for his grandmother to help him kill the latter and kidnap the former.
Here, showrunners Chris Fedak and Sam Sklaver preview what’s next.
What can we expect from Paul, or should I say John, having Bright? More memories for Bright? More insight into John? That dynamic is so entertaining.
Chris Fedak: You’re going to get plenty of that in Episode 11, along with some of the most insane things we’ve done so far. If you think we’ve pushed the envelope in the first 10 episodes, Episode 11 is waiting out there to beat you up. It’s an incredibly insane episode. It’s not only going to have action and suspense and all those things we love, but it’s also going to have a great psychological duel between Bright and John Watkins.
Sam Sklaver: Watkins was there with the Surgeon back in 1998 and they knew each other and they confided in each other the way that only two serial killers could. John knows a lot about Bright’s past that Bright’s also going to want to hear. We’re going to get a lot of insight into their relationship.
Dr. Whitly is back in Episode 11 as well, because just having Watkins and Bright together isn’t enough. We also get to see Dr. Whitly and Gil Arroyo together. [It’s] a pretty explosive episode we’re so proud of.
As a result of Bright being kidnapped, will we see more of Gil, Dani, and JT with Jessica and Ainsley?
Fedak: Absolutely. Episode 11 is definitely almost a real-time thriller in the way it plays out. … Having 12 more episodes gives us the chance to really explore those characters and also just give them time to get together.
Sklaver: Our show really harmonizes the best when a case and the family are intertwined throughout, and it’s something we’re always looking to do.
Who has the most trouble dealing with Bright’s kidnapping? Obviously his family is deeply worried.
Sklaver: My mind went to Dani. [She’s] really itching at the surface because as we learned, Dani doesn’t have many friends and Bright’s one of her closest ones. It’s hard to say Bright’s mother or father wouldn’t feel it the most, but there’s something in the relationship that Dani and Bright have where she is really pushed in this moment to find her friend in a very exciting way. An argument could be made for everyone. When Dr. Whitly finds out….
Fedak: One of the things that’s exciting about 11 too is we will be getting Dr. Whitly out of solitary and that’s going to be a big part of the search for Bright.
Obviously Bright is going to survive, but what can you say about how this experience with John will change him?
Fedak: It’s going to deeply change him. I’m not even going to promise you that he’s going to survive. As a storyteller I refuse to do it, even though there are hopefully many seasons of the show after this.
Every time we look at Bright’s arc in an episode and especially in the first half of the season, building up into this crescendo of Episodes 10 and 11, we want to test the bounds of what he’s gone through and essentially push him. This is going to change him inextricably and it’s going to be a challenge and something he has to deal with. We have this amazing actor in Tom Payne and he’s able to capture not only the pathos and the pain of it all, but he’s incredibly fascinating to watch as he does it.
Shannon is dead, right? This isn’t one of those they could possibly get to him in time for a miraculous save situations.
Fedak: That is 1000% a dead man. There’s so much blood on the table, I don’t even know [if] with the superpowers of Greg Berlanti, we could bring him back to life.
Sklaver: Which is a shame because we loved Sean in the role and we loved the turn he was able to make, going from an adversary and this terrible nightmare of a man for young Bright to someone they could actually connect and then eventually have fun with. When we realized he had to be killed, it really made us sad. What’s fun about our show dropping around in time is when we go back to 1998, which we often do, Sean is someone we can bring back and we probably, hopefully will because his performance was so amazing.
What did you want to do by showing a different cop in Shannon from Gil, Dani, and JT and with Shannon and Bright’s dynamic?
Sklaver: He has the more normal approach to it, which is, this serial killer’s whole family has to be messed up. There’s no way that Jessica didn’t know what was happening. There’s no way his kids didn’t know what was happening. This is a very popular conception that a lot of people have and Shannon was very helpful to show us that.
Young Bright saved [Gil’s] life. He knew from the beginning that young Bright wasn’t a bad person, but Shannon didn’t. It explains a lot of the reasons Jessica, Bright, and Ainsley are who they are today. A lot of their defense mechanisms they built up over time are because of people like Shannon, who never believed they were actually good people.
I loved Jessica throwing her shoe into Bright’s TV, which was one way of coping, but we then see her taking back control by talking to the press at the end of the episode. Where does she go from there?
Sklaver: She’s now on the hunt. She wants to put her husband away for a very, very long time. At Claremont Psychiatric, with the privileges Martin has set up, he’s way too available to still be in their lives. Jessica really wants to put him into solitary forever or, fingers crossed, get him in the chair. She is driven, and this is really going to be a path we’re going to follow her on, to find another victim, and no good deed goes unpunished.
Fedak: It’s a very dangerous path. She’s putting herself out there. It’s a big deal for her. It’s definitely about her owning her past, but she’s stepping into a very dangerous world.
Prodigal Son, Mondays, 9/8c, Fox