I am finally getting back around to breaking down Prodigal Son! This will be my breakdown for episodes 10 and 11, which are the ending of the Junkyard Killer storyline, and then episode 12 which deals with some discoveries that Malcolm made in the process of catching the Junkyard Killer.
A few episodes ago, Ainsley worked on an interview of her father Martin and it is now airing on TV finale, which dredges up memories for Malcolm and anger in Jessica. Jessica is also upset after learning that this girl in a box that Malcolm has been going on about since his father’s arrest is real. This was verified by the Junkyard Killer with her bracelet that Malcolm remembered. Her being upset has a lot to do with the guilt that she feels with everything that Malcolm has been through.
Malcolm is the called in on a new case after being taken off the Junkyard Killer when the FBI moved in. The Agent working the case is Collette Swanson, a former colleague of Malcolm and wants him no where near the case because of his personal connection and former work with the FBI. The new case is a high-profile case that they are attempting to keep quiet because it looks to be a murder-suicide involving the Chief of Detectives with a squeaky-clean record and a prostitute. However, Malcolm quickly notices some things that don’t support that theory. He believes that someone murdered both the prostitute and Chief Turner with the Chief being the primary target.
When working on the case at the precinct they are pushed out of the room by the FBI and Dani is pulled in with them leaving Malcolm to sift through work at his desk while TJ investigates the prostitute’s employer.
When sifting through paperwork, Malcolm comes across a photo that triggers him. It is Chief Turner and Detective Shannon. Memory flashes tell us that Detective Shannon was one of the men on the Surgeon’s case and questioned Malcolm after his father was caught, he believed that Malcolm knew more then he let on.
Shannon was known for not being a good cop and was the former partner of the murdered Turner. The Chief was even the one that exploded Shannon and had him fired. Gil and Malcolm go together to talk with Shannon, who has already heard about the Chief’s death. He isn’t a fan of Gil because Shannon spent much of his career on the Surgeon’s case only for Gil to accidentally solve the case. At this point, he is the prime suspect because he obviously has anger issues as well as a drinking problem, he does tell them that the Chief was gay and would not have been meeting with a hooker.
Do you Trust Him?
Meanwhile, Dani is in with the FBI agent, Swanson. Dani quickly realizes that she didn’t really want Dani’s help but instead wanted eyes on Bright. She also warns Dani that Malcolm has a history of being destructive and should protect herself.
Even with that warning, Dani still helps Malcolm when he later has a triggered moment thinking about his father and the possibility that he is like him.
Because this is the Christmas episode, Jessica wants her kids’ home for a dinner. Ainsley comes through the mob of reporters that are looking for more information after her TV interview with her father. Meanwhile, Jessica is struggling with how to find out more information about the girl in the box. When she was at the precinct earlier in the episode so took the picture of the girl’s bracelet from Gil’s file, but has yet come up with a solution. Her and Ainsley argue about the interview and Ainsley tell her that she is only framing the narrative to get out her story.
Malcolm never makes it to this dinner because he is stopped on the way by Shannon who has put together who Malcolm is and wants to talk with him. Malcolm finally admits that he did know more about his father and tells him about the camping trip that he is still trying to get information about. As far as the Turner case, he knows about an old location that Turner used to work at when he didn’t want to make certain things official.
A Set Up
While Malcolm goes off with Shannon, TJ and Gil are looking into the company that the prostitute worked through owned by Ms. Barnes. This was fronted as an online dating site which Turner was working to bring down. What they learn is that the meeting was set up by Ms. Barnes and was an attempt to spoil the name of Turner, but not to get him killed. This supports Malcolm’s theory that there was a third person involved but doesn’t tell them who this third person could be.
Gil relays this information to Malcolm as he is at the storage facility with Shannon.
The Junkyard Killer
What Shannon and Malcolm find at this storage room is not what any of them expected. Apparently, with the surfacing of the Junkyard killer and his connection with Martin Whitley, Turner has been looking into Shannon’s old case files. Shannon was convinced that there was more to the story of the Surgeon and was so obsessed with it drove him to drink and eventually gave him the ‘bad cop’ image which got him fired. Because of this renewed interest that Turner had in the case, Malcolm now thinks that the Junkyard killer may be behind Turner’s death.
Shannon and Malcolm then compare their suspect lists looking for names they have in common, the link may just be the killer. Sure enough, they both have the name John Watkins and an old address.
The Watkins House
Malcolm and Shannon both arrive at the Watkins house looking for information on John. Gil calls about this point and Malcolm shares with him that it was the Junkyard killer that killed Turner and that he and Shannon are chasing down a lead, of course, he doesn’t tell him where this lead is in true Bright fashion.
Inside the house is the petri dish that created the Junkyard Killer with the mother that left because she was an heroin addict and a ‘slut’ (Grandma’s term, not mine) Plus the heavily religious grandparents that raised him in the belief that sins need to be punished. While with Matilda, the grandmother, they ask to see photos. These photos indicated that John must have known that Turner was close to learning who he was because he has gone through and scratched out his face to keep him from being identified. Grandma even tells them about how Grandpa died which was an ‘accident’ where the car fell on him and crushed him to death.
After the picture show, Malcolm excuses himself to the bathroom to find John’s room and learn more. In the room he finds the cabinet that John used to be locked in as a punishment much like John does to his victims. After exploring the room, Malcolm heads back down to find that things escalated downstairs. Shannon had his throat cut and is bleeding out because Matilda called John which she was out making their TV dinners. John then knocks Malcolm over the head when Malcolm looks for him outside. He then drags him away ending episode 10.
Controlling the Narrative
While Malcolm was being taken by a serial killer, Jessica decides that like Ainsley, she wants to use the media to get the information she wants. She goes out with the photo she took from Gil and announces that there is probably another victim of Martin Whitley and she wants information about it with a million-dollar reward.
When Gil comes in episode 11 to tell her about Malcolm being taken 12 hours have passed and she already has a command center established in her house for information about the girl in the box. She then calls Ainsley home who is navigating her high ratings and request for a follow up to her explosive story.
The priority now is to find Malcolm. This has Dani and TJ relegated to desk work looking for clues from the Watkins home that could give them a location for where he would be taken while Collette heads the investigation. After talking to Jessica, Gil heads to the hospital, after pulling strings, to the see Martin.
Matilda is questioned but she believes in the work that John is doing, plus she is a little crazy herself so she isn’t much help. Dani and TJ, mostly Dani, become quickly frustrated but do find a photo of a cabin in the photo album which Dani thinks is linked to the cabin that Malcolm talked about visiting as a child.
This connects with Gil talking to Martin. Gil doesn’t immediately reveal that Malcolm has been taken by John, but when he does Martin says that there is no chance that Malcolm survives and he is probably already dead. Martin then has a seizure. When he comes back to after some Benzos have been administered there is some back and forth between Martin and Gil about Gil’s role to both Malcolm and Jessica but ultimately, he gives Gil information about the Watkins cabin.
While all that is happening, Malcolm and John are getting reacquainted. Malcolm is told by John that there isn’t anyone around to hear him scream which leads us to think that he is indeed in the cabin’s cellar. He also tells Martin that he is here for the trials and that these trials are going to make him into a new man, one like John and Martin. This is probably Malcolm’s greatest fear, to become a killer like his father.
Of course, Malcolm tries to talk with him and connect in a different way. He brings up John’s grandfather’s death and John admits to killing his grandfather which was also his first kill. The then conversation turns to the time that John, Martin, and Malcolm all spent time in the cabin before. Malcolm asks about the girl in the box, but John doesn’t want to talk about her although he does say that Martin finished her off in that trip. The real focus of this camping trip was because Malcolm was beginning to remember things and chloroform wasn’t working as well as it had before. Therefore, this trip was to get rid of Malcolm but Martin couldn’t bring himself to do it. When John tried to take matters into his own hands, Malcolm stabbed him and left him for dead. He says later that he was floating down the river, this makes me think that Martin tried to cover up what Malcolm had done. John then returns the favor to Malcolm stabbing him in the stomach.
After some time being left alone, Malcolm comes to with his hallucination of his therapist talking him through what he needs to do to get out of here. He applies pressure to his wound to slow/stop the bleeding. When John comes back, he realizes that Malcolm’s weakness is the same as Martin’s, his family. He plans to kill both Jessica and Ainsley and he is going to do it quickly since they have been in a secret room below the house all along.
This is My House
Malcolm’s discovery that he is in his own family’s basement coincide with the discovery that the cabin is empty. Gil talks to Martin again and Martin tells him that the plan must be to end Martin’s family. This then leads back to what has been happening with Jessica and Ainsley.
When Ainsley arrived at the house she learned about Malcolm’s disappearance. To comfort her mother, she agreed to help her look through the Watkins photos and one of the pictures that seemed to be the most harmless was significant to Ainsley. She takes Jessica to the basement and shows her a figurine that was given to her by her ‘imaginary friend’ Mr. Boots. The figurine perfectly matches the one that is photographed at the Watkins home. As they are discussing this John comes through the hidden door. Jessica sees him and they take off running.
John chases them through the house and ends up trapping them in the bathroom for a very cool ‘Shining’ call back. It also kind of reminds me of the time Malcolm cut off the guys hand in the premiere. Jessica focuses on blocking the door and taking care of Ainsley who has a head injury from the collision she did with the wall.
Malcolm uses this time to break his own hand to free himself of his restraints. He then makes his way through the house and set up a trap for John. When he calls for John, John comes to investigate and Malcolm traps him in a box just like the girl from his childhood.
Episode 12, then deals with Malcolm’s metal state after his abduction. The opening scene is of Malcolm shocking himself in the head and then the lights going out which prompts an Internal Affairs investigation into Malcolm’s ability to work for the NYPD.
Basically, this whole episode is not what it seems but Gil, Dani, and TJ all give damaging testimony about Bright and his competence. Honestly, it is accurate but there is more to it. The investigator is a psychiatrist named Dr. Coppenrath, who talks with Malcolm about him coming back to work so soon and really trying to figure out what happened with Watkins.
In flash backs we see that Gil did send Malcolm home and Dani escorted him to find his home invaded by his mother. She has brought on woman to force Malcolm to take a break but even that doesn’t work when Malcolm overhears Dani’s call about a new case.
Malcolm then shows at the crime scene and Gil allows for him to be apart of it against his better judgement. The victim was a body as a graveyard that shouldn’t be there. His name is Tristin and it seems that while this was a professional dump, the killing itself was made in desperation. The biggest clues are the electric burns on his temples and the size 14 boot print. Before leaving the scene, Malcolm has a hallucination of his younger self buried at the cemetery saying, ‘he tries to kill us’.
While Coppenrath notices that something must have happened at the graveyard because of Malcolm’s mood shift, Malcolm insists that nothing happened and he is fine. The conversation then gets back on the topic of Tristin and that they learned about his involvement with a place called Vosler Institute. The Vosler Institute is a suspected cult and becomes the primary focus of the investigation.
The Vosler Institute
Malcolm was again supposed to head back home. Instead, he becomes a member of a cult. He takes the test to be considered as a candidate for the Vosler Institute. Since the test is looking for patients with a lot of trauma, Bright is a shoe in. He asks the interviewer about Tristin but she dodges the question.
Malcolm is then taken to one of the treatment rooms where he is subjects to electroconvulsive therapy. At this point in the story, Coppenrath is furious about the techniques that Vosler is using and upset that Malcolm went through with the therapy. For Malcolm, this helped him since after the shock he not longer is hallucinating about his younger, deader, self. Malcolm also explains to Coppenrath that when he gets into cases like this it isn’t about himself, it is all about helping the victims. This stems from his guilt as a child, that if he would have spoken up sooner then maybe his father would have had less victims.
The story then veers to Andy, the girl that interviewed Malcolm and that is with him when he wakes from his treatment. She tells him that she has had to treatment 18 times. When Malcolm asks why she stays, she says it is because she has no where else to go although she does have doubts. Malcolm then takes the electroconvulsive machine and Andy and gets out of there.
After leaving the Institute, Malcolm stops at a pay phone to call Gil. He tells Gil about the institute and while his back is turned Andy is taken. Obviously, they think that Vosler had something to do with this but when he comes in worried about Andy, it wasn’t him. Instead, he lends the theory that it was a cult deprogrammer that took her because there were people out there that wanted Andy back and they were willing to pay for her.
This has Coppenrath and Malcolm now talking about guilt and trauma. Coppenrath even offers up a story about his daughter and how she died in a car accident that was technically Coppenrath’s fault.
Deprogrammers happen to be a hot commodity with the circles of rich people, I guess their kids are susceptible to cults. Anyway, this pulls in Jessica who helps them interview deprogrammers under false pretenses. They know they have the guy when Curtis Marsh shows up with his lime covered size 14 boot that match the crime scene. They can conclude in their interview with him that he accidentally killed Tristin when trying to deprogram him. However, he is unwilling to give any information about Andy.
Gil is ready to conclude that Curtis is their guy but Malcolm thinks that there is someone higher up involved and Curtis is only the muscle. This leads to the argument with Gil we saw in the opening of the episode. Malcolm compares Gil to John and his father which has Gil kicking Malcolm out of the precinct. Malcolm then sees himself young and dead again, therefore he goes into the room to give himself another good shock.
The Set Up
Now everything is in the present time with Coppenrath and Malcolm talking about the ‘almost electrocuting himself incident’. Malcolm finally admits the truth about what John said to him, that his father was going to kill him and that this has led to hallucinations. With the admission that he is in fact hallucinations, the interview is over and Malcolm will not be able to work with the NYPD anymore. However, as he is leaving Malcolm closes his trap. He asks about Andy and Coppenrath refers to her as a girl, however, Malcolm never mentioned that Andy was a girl. Now Coppenrath could have assumed but the truth is that Coppenrath is the deprogrammer and is holding Andy somewhere.
Malcolm came to this realization just before electrocuting himself. He says the trash can in the room and remembered that Curtis has thrown out a pill bottle while there. This led them to Coppenrath who was not only his doctor but his boss. Of course, Dani, TJ, and Gil are all there to back up Malcolm. What they didn’t plan on was that Coppenrath would have a gun which is now pointed at Malcolm.
Malcolm reminds him that he isn’t a killer, in fact, he didn’t even kill his daughter. She got caught up in a cult and died as a result which is what led Coppenrath into this line of work. In the conversation, Malcolm aligns himself so he can shock Coppenrath so the others can move in and arrest him.
Malcolm and the team find Andy at the cottage that he referred to in his story about his daughter. After this incident Malcolm knows that he is not okay and agrees to a two week break that Gil puts him on. At the end of the episode he sees his younger self again. He thinks about what he learned that his father was going to kill him. However, when he remembers that his father DIDN’T kill him his younger self disappears.
Check Out All of My ‘Prodigal Son’ Breakdowns!
- ‘Prodigal Son’ S1E1 “Pilot” Breakdown and Review!
- ‘Prodigal Son’ S1E2 “The Annihilator” Breakdown, Theories and Review!
- ‘Prodigal Son’ S1E3 “Fear Response” Breakdown, Theories and Review!
- “Prodigal Son” S1E4 ‘Designer Complicity’ Breakdown and Review!
- Catching Up: ‘Prodigal Son’ Episode 5-6!
- Catching Up: ‘Prodigal Son’ Episodes 7-8!
- Prodigal Son S1E9 Pied-A-Terre Breakdown!
- Catching Up: ‘Prodigal Son’ Episodes 10-12 Breakdown!
- Prodigal Son Season 1, Episodes 13-14 Breakdown!
- Prodigal Son S1E15 ‘Death’s Door’ Breakdown!
- Prodigal Son Season 1, Episodes 16-18 Breakdown!
- Prodigal Son Episode 19, ‘Professionals’ Breakdown!
- Prodigal Son S1E20 ‘Like Father’ Breakdown!
- Prodigal Son S2E1 “It’s All in the Execution” Breakdown!
- Prodigal Son S2E2 “Speaking of the Devil” Breakdown!
- Prodigal Son S2E3 ‘Alma Mater’ Breakdown! Will Martin Escape?