‘Prodigal Son’ Showrunners Talk Martin’s Escape Plan, Ainsley’s Memory & More
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Season 2, Episode 2 of Prodigal Son, “Speak of the Devil.”]
“Honey, I’m home!” One of the promos for Prodigal Son Season 2 teases Martin Whitly (Michael Sheen) saying that iconic phrase, and he’s one step closer to that moment by the end of Episode 2.
Fellow Claremont inmate Friar Pete (Christian Borle) invites him to a “Bible study” for those interested in “exodus” when Martin expresses his desire to escape to help his son, Malcolm (Tom Payne). He’s sure his family needs him after Ainsley (Halston Sage) killed Nicholas Endicott (Dermot Mulroney) and Malcolm told her he did it and disposed of the body.
Here, showrunners Chris Fedak and Sam Sklaver discuss Martin’s plan, Ainsley’s memory, JT’s (Frank Harts) family, and share taglines for the thriller.
What can you preview about Martin and Pete’s escape plan?
Sam Sklaver: Nothing Martin does affects his family positively. I guess maybe helping his son dispose of a body had a positive outcome, but that’s a very fine line.
Christian is amazing and a welcome sight in Claremont; it was very important to us to build out Claremont a little bit more for Season 2 because we wanted to know the world Martin is in. Martin’s plan for escape is a big story, and nothing good will come from it. It’ll be fun and it carries us through the whole season in a really exciting way. It’s not good.
Chris Fedak: I like how you can almost say that’s the tag line for the show: “Entertaining, thrilling, not good.”
So how much does Ainsley really remember?
Fedak: She’s suffering from PTSD. She has trauma. Her brain has blitzed out a rather dramatic portion of that evening. It’s still in there. Even if she can’t access it, there are ramifications to that actual event. We should definitely worry about that.
Sklaver: Just look at what Malcolm Bright has to deal with in Season 1 in the girl in the box and his father gaslighting him, which was more chloroform-based and a little bit more aggressive. All of the trauma is held in your body and sometimes it just needs to be accessed. I’m very worried about what Ainsley should remember. “I’m very worried” is a very good tagline for this show as well.
Ainsley decides not to move out, and I couldn’t help but think of the promo for the Season 2 announcement of her and her younger self in the house.
Fedak: On the face of it, Ainsley is staying because she’s worried about her mom. But she’s also worried about being out there alone [and] what does that mean for a person. She has this trauma, she doesn’t remember it. In some ways, she’s putting her toe back into the water and she realizes she’s not ready. That small, delicate, nice moment between mother and daughter does portend that there are darker, more disturbing things that lie in wait.
Gil [Lou Diamond Phillips] is trying to help JT, but JT says he has to protect his job. How is this going to continue to play out? JT has a wife and a kid on the way…
Fedak: As we address the issue of racism, especially racism inside the NYPD, where we were interested in delving into — and also in our research, our advisors and people we know who live and work in that world [were interested] in — is what it means to be an African American police officer inside the NYPD and what happens when things go wrong.
It’s something we’re going to be exploring and getting into. At the end of every episode, usually we solve a case. Well, we can’t solve racism, but we can get into the problems and we will in future episodes.
Sklaver: I love that you brought up his wife, Tally, and their baby on the way because that was also very important to us. We didn’t just want to show pain in JT’s life. We wanted to show the joys that can come as well so, like all babies, I can promise this one will be entering the world pretty soon.
Jessica [Bellamy Young] pushes Gil away for his sake, but will he try to change her mind?
Sklaver: When someone tells you to get lost, you’re a little hurt by that, but Gil and Jessica aren’t two strangers on the street. They’re both essential parts of Malcolm Bright’s life, a real mother and a surrogate father, and this relationship that they have had has been going on for 20, 25 years. There are going to be some ramifications from the conversation at the end of Episode 2, but we’re not done with the Gil and Jessica relationship just because Jessica is. The two of them have too much history and too much together currently to ever really be apart. Very soon we’re going to see Jessica more involved in a case than she ever has been before. They’re not happily ever after quite yet.
Will any previous cases need to be revisited?
Fedak: We really liked last year when we were able to bring back the guy, Nico, who got his hand chopped off so for us, if we can find an opportunity to bring back one of the actors into the show and to explore these whackadoodle characters we’ve come up with, we’d love to do that. We haven’t figured out how to do this yet, but the kid who plays Norman [in Episode 202, Adam Langdon], I would love to figure out how to get [him] back. One of the thoughts is, “What if Norman starts taking his meds and now he can consult on a case too?”
Prodigal Son, Tuesdays, 9/8c, Fox