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prodigal son ep 3 (1).jpg

'Prodigal Son' Recap: How Much Did Jessica Know?

By Tori Preston | TV | October 8, 2019 |

By Tori Preston | TV | October 8, 2019 |

prodigal son ep 3 (1).jpg

In week three, Prodigal Son has basically solidified itself as “Malcolm Bright: Crazy Whisperer.” It seems Malcolm’s assistance in murder cases has less to do with criminal profiling and more to do with talking suspects and victims down out of a state of panic — and sometimes shoving them off of tall buildings. But before you think less of Malcolm, please note that last night’s episode actually began with him throwing himself out of a window while in the throes of his night terrors. Because while he’s great at managing other people’s crazy, he’s still not quite got a handle on his own.

Unfortunately, his mother Jessica witnesses his little window-flying act, and it further convinces her that her son is Not OK — and needs to stop secretly talking to his serial killer father. In fact, everyone pretty much agrees with her! Malcolm’s therapist (who is actually the therapist he had as a child, and whom he insists on barging in on whenever he needs to talk instead of finding someone more appropriate for him) is concerned that continuing to communicate with Martin will exacerbate his PTSD. When Jessica confronts Gil about letting Malcolm see his father to help with cases, you can tell Gil sort of feels guilty — though he also throws the blame right back on Jessica, who he reveals allowed Malcolm to start visiting Martin in the first place, back when he was a child, in the hopes that seeing his dad in prison would help him stop idolizing the man. Malcolm’s sister Ainsley refuses to get involved in her mother’s crusade, pointing out that she doesn’t remember Martin and doesn’t really know what her brother needs. Jessica responds by basically claiming credit for the fact that Ainsley can sleep at night, untroubled by the sorts of terrors that haunt Malcolm, all because Jessica kept her daughter protected from her father’s influence.

Flashbacks show that back in 1998, when Martin was first arrested, Jessica vowed that she and her family would never visit him. But obviously she did let Malcolm see his father, thinking it would help him, and by the end of the episode she goes to visit Martin herself, hoping to convince him to leave his son alone. It’s a pretty fascinating episode, which makes a strong case for Jessica being both a concerned mother grappling with an impossible set of circumstances, and a woman who may have been more complicit than she lets on. We learn that Jessica was a socialite who chose to marry Martin against her mother’s wishes, claiming, “A woman overlooks things.” And when a newly-arrested Martin throws that back in her face, saying he was only able to be a good husband to her because he was exorcising his (murderous) urges elsewhere, it appears she truly was in the dark about it all.

Later, in his cell in the present, Martin resists Jessica’s attempts to blame him for all the family’s problems, ominously saying, “I was there. I know the whole story. What happened to them wasn’t just about me.” But the clincher comes from Malcolm himself, who has found a way to unlock his repressed memories: triggering his olfactory reaction by, uh, voluntarily huffing chloroform (the drug he thinks Martin used on him to make him forget the girl in the box). Malcolm sprinkles the chloroform on his pillow then slips into his familiar dream: he’s a child, opening the box in the basement. But is it the same dream? He isn’t actually remembering the time he discovered the body in the trunk, but a later occasion when he went to verify what he saw— only to be interrupted by Jessica, who reminds him that his father’s things are off limits, saying “You have no idea what your father is capable of!”

Was she in denial of her own suspicions, and desperately trying to keep her family together? Or did she know full well exactly what Martin was getting up to in the basement all along? I’m still not quite sure — but her over-protective act with Malcolm is taking on a decidedly menacing edge, the more we learn. And Bellamy Young is shaping up to be this show’s secret weapon with this performance!

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Tori Preston is deputy editor of Pajiba. She rarely tweets here but she promises she reads all the submissions for the "Ask Pajiba (Almost) Anything" column at [email protected]. You can also listen to her weekly TV podcast, Podjiba

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