‘Prodigal Son’s Bellamy Young on Jessica’s ‘Darkest Fear’ & Maternal Pride
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Episode 14 of Prodigal Son, “Eye of the Needle.”]
Prodigal Son isn’t messing around.
Everyone knows that Martin (Michael Sheen) is the killer in the Whitly family, but could another member take a life to save an innocent? That’s the question for Monday’s episode, as Jessica (Bellamy Young) finds herself facing quite the dilemma: can she stab her ex-husband in the heart to save the life of an innocent woman?
That’s what the Carousel Killer — who blames Martin for his wife dying on his operating table — wants her to do, but just as she shows up to Claremont to at least try to follow through, Malcolm’s (Tom Payne) already there. And when he learns about the ultimatum, it’s Malcolm who stabs his father. Later, a flashback reveals the two spoke about a point of the heart in which a person can be stabbed and survive.
Here, Young breaks down “Eye of the Needle.”
At the end of the episode, Gil asks Malcolm what happened and Jessica’s down at the station. Are they saying that she stabbed Martin or are they going to explain what really happened?
Bellamy Young: The most important thing is will Martin pull through? From there, they’ll have to decide who to charge and how to charge them. Is it murder? Is it attempted murder? Who did it? Mr. David didn’t see anything. Knowing Jessica as I do, she will do her utmost to try and protect her son. Next week there will be a big reveal, but it’s just gotten very, very thorny all of a sudden.
Besides legal ramifications, what can you preview about the consequences and fallout psychologically for Jessica and Malcolm?
When it’s not a situation of self-defense, there’s a big gap between people who are able to take a life and people who are not. Jessica, even knowing the stakes and going there, she’s trying to work herself up to be able to finally save someone after all these years. [There’s] the passive guilt and regret for not knowing what Martin was and not trying to stop him sooner back in the ’90s but also this overt guilt of trying to get the money, really trying to save this woman in the Polaroid.
When Martin admitted he took Malcolm to the cabin to kill him, [Jessica] realizes he’s just all killer, all psychopath, and that for me is the closest she gets to following through with that. That’s when she’s blind with rage and says to Malcolm, “We’re out of time,” and is ready really to do anything.
But watching Malcolm cause harm to someone, possibly kill someone, it’s her darkest, darkest fear. Since they took Martin away, she’s been watching Malcolm to make sure there weren’t any of those tendencies coming out of her boy, and once the decision was made [regarding what had to be done, Malcolm did] not hesitate for a nanosecond — I just think that in itself will have brought her to her knees.
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Since the beginning of the season, there was a question of how much Jessica knew back then, and now she’s learning more and more, like that Martin planned to kill Malcolm. And that continues to beg the question of how much did she see back then.
Exactly. And like I say, the guilt she feels about all of it, about not knowing or being willfully blind to it or whatever she can accuse herself of — because she really did think he was having an affair, and she was like, “I can live with it, let’s not rock the boat, let’s keep our family safe.” But now she really beats herself up for not knowing the enormity of the situation. Now, it’s one thing to feel guilt about all of it because anyone dying is horrible, but when your husband says he was trying to kill your son, that’s nothing you can ever, ever come back from.
Cory reveals that he acted now because he saw the Whitlys everywhere and didn’t think they deserved to be happy. Is this now a concern that the family is going to have, that there are more people like that out there?
Things cycle, and I do think the Whitlys are back at the forefront of everyone’s imagination and fascination and horror, so it is very likely with their skeleton-riddled past — and I mean that quite literally — that there will be plenty of people. It’s funny, it’s like when you get a good job or you get a commercial and suddenly everyone you ever went to school with sees you on TV and they remember you and they send you a text. It’s like that only to the millionth degree because the trauma this family, specifically Martin, has wrought is so pervasive, particularly in Manhattan. I can only imagine that will be the case.
We’ve seen Jessica try to maintain a façade in public, even to Malcolm on the phone in this episode. But there are also moments where she slips, like when she threw a shoe through Malcolm’s TV. Will we see more of that after what she’s now been through?
Definitely, because Jessica spent 20 years trying to live an illusion. She’s tried to make it good for her children. She’s really been ostracized from society, but she’s still the Upper East Side, you’re still part of the milieu and you have to survive any way you can and get your kids in the right schools and hopefully get them into a great profession. But now that Malcolm is really coming face to face with his memories and his dreams and his fears, now that the truth is … you can’t shackle it down anymore. It’s going to cause a ripple effect.
You can already see it happening in Ainsley. She’s always been the good girl and she’s clean of it because she was too young to know her father. But the truth will [come] out, and it’s changing her.
And Jessica’s getting less and less able to choke it down even with the strongest booze or the biggest pill, and the one thing I really have always loved about Jessica is that she is in on a joke. She’s never unaware of the situation at hand. She’s seen absolutely both sides, the horrific and the most privileged, and she always knows where she is on the spectrum. She just is getting tired of the act, and so there’ll be more and more slips until there’s a big slide into truth and presence and full acceptance of who they are, what they were, and where they’re going.
From the beginning of the case, Jessica blames herself for going on TV with her request regarding the girl in the box. Is she completely regretting doing that? What will we see come of that investigation going forward?
There are not a lot of people who say no to her, people in positions of power, particularly men, but women, too, sometimes. They have a lot more yes people around them than no. And she made a very bold decision to take matters into her own hands and try and use the leverage she has, which is monetary, to help find this 24th victim.
But now she just sees how rash it was, how rash her actions were, and how she left herself and so many other people vulnerable to other attackers. Martin’s not the only Big Bad, and so she’s just very humbled by that experience, and she is a person who’s able to learn a lesson. I’m sure she’ll keep messing up, but I think she is much humbled by the true life and death stakes that her actions have consequences for.
We’ve gotten to see more and more of Jessica with the NYPD team and seeing what they mean to Malcolm. How does she feel about them being in her son’s life and now, to an extent, hers? She’s remarked Dani’s probably his closest friend, and we do see that there could be something between Jessica and Gil.
Yeah, or has been. We talk about that a lot. We don’t know the truth of that. We don’t know what the writers have decided yet.
It was lovely at the end of last week’s episode for her to really see how good [Malcolm] is at [his work] and how much it means to him and just that real moment of maternal pride. What a drug that is, to see your child excel, especially when you’ve been through so much and you’ve feared the worst for him, night and day for 20 years. To see him save a life and solve a crime, she knows that this is his path, and especially when she thinks what could have been, she is so appreciative of the family he’s found at the NYPD and the way he’s put his mind to use and whatever nature/nurture he has inside of him, how he’s channeled it for the good fight. She’s so proud.
She knows he’s around people she can trust as well as he can trust. She’s known Gil for forever. Their mutual respect and unspoken trust, you can feel it. They are very in tune. She really digs Dani, and she hasn’t had enough time to spend with JT, and she thinks Edrisa is a kook, but there’s room to grow there. Family is always at home, but she really thinks he’s found a wonderful home with his work family.
Prodigal Son, Mondays, 9/8c, Fox