‘Prodigal Son’: Bright Faces His Past & Martin Looks to the Future (RECAP)
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Season 2, Episode 3 of Prodigal Son, “Alma Mater.”]
It’s back to school for Malcolm Bright (Tom Payne) and facing teenage trauma (unsurprisingly?) in the January 26 episode.
The perfect song choices of Prodigal Son continue as Bright exercises to “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” and his virtual trainer encourages him with “You’re killing it!” That leads to him having flashbacks of chopping up Nicholas Endicott’s (Dermot Mulroney) body as he wonders, “When did that become a compliment?”
His morning affirmation is simple: “Consider the past and you shall know the future.” And that certainly comes into play when he must go back to his old boarding school for a case.
Gil (Lou Diamond Phillips) brings good news to Bright, as he’s trying to escape his father Martin (Michael Sheen) wanting to discuss his feelings about Endicott and those flashbacks: his old headmaster, whom he hated, was killed (poisoned before being displayed, with the contents of his office, in the pool).
A flashback to 2005 shows Bright choosing Remington in hopes he can “be someone new.” Part of that is changing his name so he is no longer “be the Surgeon’s son,” Malcolm Whitly, but Malcolm Bright. But life at Remington isn’t grand. The headmaster puts his name in his black book, for expulsion-level offenses (“I know what you really are,” he tells Bright), and a fellow student, Nicky, locks him in a closet after learning his real name. As he begs to be let out — he’s not found for three days — his hand begins trembling.
Is it any wonder Bright’s hand does the same thing as he remembers? “Some neuroscientists believe that the body can store memories. The tremor, I wasn’t born with it,” he tells Dani (Aurora Perrineau). “It didn’t happen until years after my father’s arrest.”
The three students added to that black book are on the suspect list, but Jessica (Bellamy Young), Vice Chairwoman of the Board, insists they’re innocent. “Just like you, none of them is capable of murder,” she tells Bright. (If the events involving Endicott prove anything, it’s that she doesn’t quite know her kids as well as she thinks.)
But one of them, Louisa (Lily Ganser), is, because the headmaster caught on to the cheating ring (headed by another professor) and the student was going to miss out on escaping her father by going to Oxford. “I get it. I killed somebody, too,” Bright says, stopping her as she’s about to leave him and the professor involved locked in an air-tight vault. Wait, what?
In a flashback, young Bright goes up to Nicky and hits him in the face and gut. Nicky’s inhaler doesn’t work when he reaches for it. Bright emptied it and never told anyone, he shares with Louisa. No one ever found out, but the headmaster “sensed … the killer inside,” he continues, and that’s why he was expelled.
“But he’s wrong. I’m not my father,” Bright says. He got Nicky help.
Louisa leaves them there, but Bright pulls another one of his crazy moves (triggers the fire suppression system, which removes all oxygen from the vault) to open it. Back at the police station comes the funniest moment of the episode: Bright doing an impression of Gil (“‘A fire? You started a fire in an airtight vault? Have you completely lost it?'” Well done, Payne.) reacting to his move. (“That’s a little performative, but sure,” Gil says.)
With the case closed, Bright pays his father a visit in his cell at Claremont and apologizes for thinking he’d spilled about his real name back in his Remington days. (The professor had, worried Bright would uncover the cheating ring.)
“I know that I am, so people say, a little problematic … in the sense that I’m not all bad,” Martin tells his son. “That was your mistake at Remington. You should have owned your last name. The rich dashing son of a killer, those little devils would’ve loved you. Am I right? You’re Malcolm Whitly, you’re my boy, don’t forget that.” “Don’t worry. I can’t.” Bright says before leaving.
Is this all building to Malcolm Bright becoming Malcolm Whitly once again?
“Honey, I’m Home!” … Soon
After dreaming of his escape — Jessica’s waiting with a drink and the promise of sex, Malcolm’s pouting on the couch — Martin wakes in his cell, eager to get going on the “exodus” Friar Pete (Christian Borle) promised.
But Bible study doesn’t go as Martin hoped. Commune with Darryl (Sahr Ngaujah), Pete tells Martin. Darryl knows about the key cards they need to access three zones (Red, Green, Blue, no card has all three) and while his cellmate working on it may not be real, the two in his book, alongside a shiv, certainly are.
Martin talks Darryl into handing over the weapon with the claim he can get the Red keycard from Mr. David (Esau Pritchett). Instead, Martin places the shiv on the ground next to Darryl and calls the orderlies’ attention to it. Darryl is dragged away.
And back in his cell at the end of the episode, Martin has the Green and Blue zone key cards. He’s getting closer to his escape…
And in happy news, JT (Frank Harts) is a father! Tally gives birth to their son (offscreen).
Prodigal Son, Tuesdays, 9/8c, Fox