‘Prodigal Son’ S1E3 “Fear Response” Breakdown, Theories and Review!

Like the title of this episode suggests, this episode focuses on fear both in Malcolm’s personal life and in the case this week. The episode opens with a look at the past and the last time Malcolm’s mother Jessica saw his father Martin. He is set on getting out of prison so he can go back to their perfect life, while she vows that he will never leave this place and never see any of them again. While she doesn’t see him again, Malcolm certainly does both when he was younger and since he has been working with the NYPD.

This is what leads to her visits with Malcolm which starts with being locked out of his building. Malcolm is experiencing another nightmare about the woman in the box and it is so intense he breaks his restraints and flies out the window. Once all of that is sorted out his mother talks with him and forbids him from seeing his father anymore which Malcolm has no intention of doing anyway.

Because of the increase in dreams Malcolm sees his therapist, which is the same one he has had since he was a child and he refuses to get one for adults. She attempts to get to the bottom of both his night terrors and his memories but he is called away for a case.

The case this week is the murder of a professor, George Holton. He not only died of cardiac arrest which was brought on by intense fear, he had a note attached to him and his brain was removed. In reading the note it is clear to Malcolm that the killer has serve decrease in mental health and is delusional. Why Malcolm learns that their victim worked with the famous psychologist Elaine Brown, he is excited because this is one of his heroes.

Martin has been following the case on the new as he watches his daughter report it and his son work on it. He calls to provide help to Malcolm and tells him that this is going to be a hard case for him since Malcolm himself has yet to conquer his own fear.

Malcolm is then underwhelmed with meeting Dr. Eileen Brown because he knows that she is hiding something from the investigation. Another doctor does tell him about a recent suicide with one of their patients, Alice Downey. That is why Holton was on break from work, to deal with her death. When investigating a little more JT brings a note to Malcolm’s attention that was issued to the school as a complaint against Dr. Brown and it matches the letter found on Holton. Around that same time Dani gets a call from Dr. Mitchell, the doctor that told them about Alice’s death. He wants to come clean with them about an off the book experiment involving LSD and measuring fear they were doing. As he is on the phone, he realizes that he too has been dosed with LSD. The team rush over to Dr. Mitchell who is mid-trip. While they deal with him the killer gets away. They do determine with the tox screen that he was dosed with LSD at 50 times the normal dosage to induce severe fear.

Malcolm uses this information and the letters he has from the killer to get information for Dr. Brown. She finally admits that the killer may be Dominic Render, a participant of the study that was getting his doctorate. He was one of the only patients to develop the Schizophrenia after the test.

While all of that was happening, Jessica was busy as well. She is looking for anyone to talk Malcolm out of seeing his father. First, she talks with Ainsley who is tired of being the go between person with her and Malcolm. She also almost resents her mother for keeping her from her father too. However, Jessica thinks that Ainsley should be thanking her since she is able to sleep at night.

Jessica then goes to see Gil at the NYPD. He basically tells her that Malcolm will do whatever he wants. Since both Ainsley and Gil were dead ends, Jessica has decided that she is going to talk with Martin himself for the first time since the opening scene.

Malcolm is on a stake out with JT as they watch Dr. Brown’s house for any sign of Dominic. Malcolm spends much of the time wondering what the “J” stands for in JT, he also decides that he can use this time to talk with Eileen about some of his own issues. He tells her about his repressed memories and that he believes his father drugged him with Chloroform. She asks if he has ever smelled chloroform recently and that perhaps smelling it again could bring back these memories.

When looking around the room things get back to the case when Malcolm discover that one of the masks on her table was drawn into Dominic’s letters. Malcolm then correctly guesses that this is where Dominic is planning to kill Eileen, and the time happens to be now. Eileen realizes that she has been does and the electric is then cut. JT sees the light off and heads in. It takes him time to get in with the doors barricaded, but Malcolm goes looking in the house for Dominic thinking that he can reason with him. This ends with a fight between Malcolm and Dominic with an insanely high Dr. Brown shooting and killing Dominic.

Jessica then meets with Martin and talks with him about no longer seeing Malcolm and some interesting things are said here. Martin obviously thinks that Malcolm is fine and that Jessica needs to stop worrying about him, but I think her real issue is that everything was taken from her, the good life she thought she had was ripped away when Martin was arrested and the only thing she had left were the kids. While Martin commends her for raising them so well, she still feels that them seeing him now will result in loosing them. When he reaches for her she flinches away and he reminds her that he isn’t exactly innocent either.

Meanwhile, Malcolm puts this chloroform theory to the test and smell some while in bed. This time he remembers the box but instead of opening it he remembers his mother pulling him away from the box. He mentions the girl in the box, so this scene would be in that missing timeframe his father mentioned. Jessica makes the comment that “he doesn’t know what his father is capable of” meaning that she knows exactly what Martin was capable of doing.

Theory Time!

In my last breakdown I talked about the coloring and the theory I had that went along with it. If you want to check that out then the link is below, but I would like to add to it. If red still means danger and white is still innocent, I think that this episode still fits within that.

Martin still wears red in the past like we have seen before especially in Malcolm’s memories where he is the danger. Then in present time he is in all white with the red walls. I explained that this is the attempt to make him look innocent but that it is a trap which is what the red walls represent.

However, I think Jessica is the most interesting case here. In the opening when she goes to see Malcolm, she is wearing all white as she is trying to convince Malcolm to stay away from Martin. In all the present scenes with Malcolm she is always wearing white attempting to portray her innocence to him.

Again, she is wearing white when she talks with Ainsley, but now she is also wearing red lipstick and is more forceful with her. Like there might be more of a motive to keep them from Martin then just for their own wellbeing.

At the ends of the episode though when Malcolm sees her in his memories, she is wearing red, as she is the danger, she is keeping something from him and she knows more than she is letting on.


Rating: 5 out of 5.

This was another great episode and luckily you guys think so too since Fox picked up the show for a full 22 episodes! By the end of the episode it is obvious that Jessica knows more than she is letting on to everyone. I don’t think that she is a killer, “You don’t know what your father is capable of” is the indicator that he is the active person doing the bad deeds. However, she knows about it and I think she is an accomplice after the fact. She cleans up his messes so she can maintain her perfect life and everything they had. The “having everything” is mentioned several times and I think was he motivation.

Check Out ALL of My ‘Prodigal Son’ Breakdowns!

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