‘Prodigal Son’ Bosses on Ainsley’s Latest Shocker and Malcolm & Dani’s Relationship
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Season 2, Episode 6 of Prodigal Son, “Head Case.”]
Prodigal Son goes inside Malcolm Bright’s (Tom Payne) head in this wild and twisty episode.
After getting knocked down an elevator shaft during an investigation, Malcolm dreams of a world where he didn’t know his father, Martin (Michael Sheen), is a serial killer. Among the changes: Gil’s (Lou Diamond Phillips) in Claremont (he drank Martin’s tea instead of arresting him that night), and Malcolm and Dani (Aurora Perrineau) are together.
Back in the real world, Malcolm tells Ainsley (Halston Sage) what she doesn’t remember (she killed Endicott), only for her to show him her blood-covered shirt. She blacked out again.
Showrunners Chris Fedak and Sam Sklaver promise TV Insider we’ll get answers very soon.
What can you say about Ainsley in that final scene, what she’s done, and how Malcolm keeping the truth from her played a role?
Chris Fedak: We’ve been dealing with a ticking bomb this entire season in regard to Ainsley’s psychology and something has definitely come to a head at the end of Episode 6. Bright bears some responsibility for that. He gaslit his sister, and maybe he did it for all the right reasons, but is there ever truly a right reason for that?
Might her potential victim be someone we saw in this episode, say Vieja [Joel De La Fuente]?
Sam Sklaver: Oh, Ramon Vieja, that’s a good guess.
Fedak: We’re not going to tell you who her victim is.
Sklaver: It’s not a secret we’re going to hold for too long, and Episode 7 is very explosive in that respect. We’re not going to keep people waiting too long to figure out the truth of that night.
Was Martin’s line about being a “distant second” to Ainsley a manifestation of Malcolm’s concern that she could surpass their father in her murderous ways?
Fedak: When I think about dreams, it’s always about trying to make sense of something inside your mind. Yes, there’s anxiety she might be like Martin and share some of his characteristics, and there’s also “my sister is a super bright person.”
Sklaver: You’re definitely correct in that what Bright is feeling in that dream, that parental pride Martin is showing, it has a lot to do with what Ainsley has pulled off in the real world and Bright’s fears around that, which is about so much of this season is really what Ainsley did and the ramifications of it.
Fedak: When you’re inside a dream, all the manifestations are yours. Even though they seem like independent characters, they’re all some parts of Bright’s subconscious.
How much of what was in Malcolm’s head was having fun, like Gil [Lou Diamond Phillips] in Claremont, and how much is what could have been and what could still be?
Fedak: It is so much fun, and that’s the toughest thing about [only having] 43 minutes. An episode like this allowed us to investigate Bright’s subconscious and those feelings he may have for Dani or the idea of a relationship with someone, and if Martin’s serving dinner, who’s in Claremont? It’s gotta be Gil. We were just salivating at seeing Lou in that position and playing out the idea, what would have happened if he wasn’t saved by Bright?
The Martin in Malcolm’s head taunted him that Dani wouldn’t be in the real world like she was in the dream, and we got that repetition of the “bore” her line. What does this all mean for Malcolm and Dani and his feelings for her going forward?
Sklaver: Bright all season has been wrestling with this secret he feels he can’t share with anyone and it’s been a barrier between him and Dani. He doesn’t feel that he can be close to her the same way, and that’s what Martin is speaking to in the dream: Bright doesn’t think the honesty anyone wants in a relationship is available to him. Dani is understanding and compassionate and probably would understand a lot of things if Bright could get to the place of opening up to her. But it’s just so hard for him to do that, wrestling with not knowing himself as well as he’d like to. Dani would be a great person for Bright to be with — that’s what we’re seeing in Bright’s mind — but reality is always so much more difficult than a dream.
Is Bright even ready for a relationship right now, Ainsley murdering aside?
Fedak: It really does put a damper on that.
Sklaver: It would be great for Bright to be in a relationship but the last time that happened, it didn’t turn out too well for Eve or Bright. He’s definitely nervous about starting again.
Malcolm was Malcolm Whitly in the dream, and so much of the series is him fighting against and avoiding that side of himself. Could there be a time where he reconciles that part with the rest of himself and does become Malcolm Whitly again?
Fedak: That’s a really interesting question. [Right now], he couldn’t imagine being Malcolm Whitly again. He’s Bright. That’s necessary because of his relationship with his father. Could that change in the future? Perhaps. In the story we’re telling, he’s Bright and he has to distinguish himself in that way.
Sklaver: I like Malcolm being Bright. It’s something he created for himself, of course because of who his father was, but that’s the path he decided to go down. He’s owned that name nicely. I love the idea of him pivoting; I don’t know what could be seismic enough for him to drop the identity he’s created for himself. And also I love calling him Bright.
Prodigal Son, Tuesdays, 9/8c, Fox