Join us as we review the Fox crime drama, Prodigal Son, on The Pilot Podcast. Will Malcolm Bright become just like his father the serial killer named “The Surgeon” or can he be a good guy? We tackle the criminal case of the week, what it’s like to be related to a serial killer, and Malcolm’s potential love interest. Do you think Malcolm and the NYPD make for a good team?
Malcolm Bright, one of the best criminal psychologist around, uses his twisted genius to help the NYPD solve crimes.
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Welcome to The Pilot Podcast!
Where we watch the pilot episodes of TV shows and recap others to answer your question: should I watch this?
My name is Mitu.
And my name is BJ.
And this week, we watched the fox crime drama Prodigal Son.
So stay tuned to find out if Mitu knows all about how serial killers think.
I don't. I do follow quite a bit of true crime so...
You kinda do know how they think.
I mean, as much as the next person who watches Mindhunter.
I mean, to be frank, you were not raised by a serial killer.
No, really want to get that super clear on the record. I come from a gentle, gentle family of non violent people. We are pacifists in my home.
But you yourself have consumed a lot of media relating to serial killers.
Yes, as has my mother. My mother's of the generation of women who watched all of those Dateline shows and Unsolved and 48 Hours. She is part of that population that makes Investigation Discovery Channel one of the most popular in the world.
So since this is your area of expertise, how about you give our listeners a recap of this pilot episode.
This show centers on Malcolm Bright whose father Dr. Martin Whitly is an infamous serial killer known as The Surgeon. Malcolm grew up feeling responsible, partially, for his father's violence. And so he became a profiler formerly with the FBI until he was fired. And now he's a consultant with the NYPD and he works with Lou Diamond Phillips who plays Gil Arroyo, lieutenant of the NYPD. And we find out later in this pilot episode, we won't spoil it for you, why they're so connected. But their chemistry is great. MalcolmBbright, is played by Tom Payne. And we also have in the mix his sister Ainsley, played by Halston Sage. She is a reporter. And his mother, Jessica Whitly, played by Bellamy Young, who is delightful in this role. And then we have Dr. Martin Whitly, the infamous serial killer himself played by Michael Sheen. And detective Dani Powell, who will get into this but I'm feeling some love interest vibes there. Aurora Perrineau is really great in this role. I love that she is on this show.
So Mitu. What did you think of the mystery or the case in this first episode?
In this first episode, we see Malcolm Bright come to the horrific realization that these murders that he's been brought on to check out for the NYPD mirror closely with the murders that his father committed, specifically the quartet serial killing that his father did. And so he has this sad first hand knowledge of how his father's mind works, how the killer's mind works. And he is kind of reverse engineering these murders to figure out who done it and why.
Yeah, we really start to see his own investigative abilities and why he is hired as a consultant. And it's not just that he's an expert on all things related to his father's killings, which is a crucial part of this.
He's also able to pick up on very my new things. We even see early on in an interaction with this sister, just based on subtle eyes movement, he can tell when she's lying to him. He can start to make predictions about a suspect being bald without even seeing them just based off of the types of murders they're doing, and what that says about their own body image issues and their self confidence. So despite some of his rash behavior, which we'll talk about as well, he's very smart and observant, and it makes sense why characters like Gil Arroyo and Dani Powell would put up with some of his quirks, in order to get his assistance.
Quirks is an interesting word but yes.
I'm being polite.
I also think that the acting on the show is fantastic. So my overall impression of this pilot was the story was interesting, but I thought the execution of that story was a little bit boring. But the individual performances in the show were fantastic. So I think Tom Payne did a great job portraying such an over the top character is Malcolm Bright. I think Bellamy Young is incredible as his mom and someone who is using drugs and alcohol as a coping mechanism. One thing that we noticed a lot in the shows that we review is that people don't play drunk and high very well. And it can sometimes be comical or ridiculous the way that they play those things. But for whatever reason Bellamy Young from Scandal, and now this show, she's really good at playing people with substance use issues. She's very good at playing drunk, she's very good at towing this line with being the smartest person in the room, but also being the most impaired person in the room. And I also think that a special shout out goes to Michael Sheen. We were just talking about this with Emergence, but Michael Sheen, I think is another great example of someone who can play comedic roles and dramatic roles incredibly well and has had the opportunity to dabble in both and pulls it off beautifully.
It's definitely interesting seeing such strong acting when the script is a little generic and sometimes cringe worthy at times.
And their scenes where we have Tom Payne having to deliver monologues as Malcolm Bright when he's talking about what he's going through, when he's reliving memories of his father from his childhood, when he's having these nightmares. And all of these do create a very interesting and complex character but how the writers choose to portray that is a little disappointing. I think it puts a lot more pressure on the cast to really deliver and push through that you can see that they're doing a good job but then when you stop and listen to what they're saying,
You kind of lose a bit of interest. So I feel like there's this kind of conflict between the acting and what the actors are given to work with. So I really hope that maybe it's just a first draft, this pilot, and that they're going to kind of work through that in following episodes, because the cast is strong. And this is a really interesting story. I can't think of a crime procedural before this that had do with the child of a serial killer and how being raised by a serial killer and still interacting with one is affecting their day to day lives.
Yeah, so in some discussion I've seen on the show, people are talking about the fact that this show, I think they mentioned in the Hollywood Reporter, is a really interesting take on the bringing an outside character to help on cases with the other straight men. In this case, the outside character is not just Malcolm Bright as a consultant, but also his father the serial killer. Usually we see this with a Castle or with...
...other shows where we have this quirky character, but they're not normally a serial killer. So it is an interesting take, and there's so much there. But this was a little bit boring. How did you feel about Malcolm's relationship with his sister and his mother outside of the main relationship with his dad?
I thought it was a little confusing at times because it seems like out of the three of them, he was the one affected the most. And some of that is explained by the flashbacks where it seems like his father was kind of grooming him and training him to potentially follow in his footsteps or assist him in future murders. But it really seems like he is still in this traumatized, almost PTSD like state, whereas his sister is fortunately like I was too young to really remember, I'm well adjusted living my life. And his mother is like abusing substances, but also avoiding the topic of his father completely, because she just knows that's not good for her to even contemplate or bring up. So it feels really odd seeing them all together with how they've decided individually to address Malcolm's father in their lives.
True, they're like all three totally separate approaches, or backgrounds or perspectives on this. I am curious about how the show will continue to portray that because one perspective we don't get often which makes sense is from the family members of these notorious serial killers, because they'll often do what Malcolm did, which is change their name, of course, obscure their identity, distance themselves from this terrible person in their lives that did these terrible acts. And so they won't often, you know, sit for 20/20 interview, I can only think of a couple and talk about what it's like to grow up with a parent or family member who did these things. And we tend to forget them as victims of that person as well.
Exactly. They are suffering in a different way that's still suffering. And even in the case of the Whitly family, you know, now you have a copycat killer coming up in this episode. So that's bringing back these memories, that's going to bring back things in the news that you don't want to deal with. And with Malcolm being a consultant, there's going to be the question of, more frequently, do I talk to my father to get help and advice, you know, he, unfortunately, is a valuable resource, but also a bad influence.
This show could just be called unhealthy coping mechanisms. That's it.
That was the working title.
Because Malcolm literally has to tie himself to his bed, because he has such terrible night terrors and can't control his body while he is asleep, which we get a taste of in the episode. And his mother, like we said, abuses of substances. His sister seems to live in this world of avoidance, because even if she were five years old, you're still the daughter of a notorious serial killer. So I can't imagine that not affecting you in any way. So it just feels like everyone is not taking the best approach. But then again, I don't know what that best approach is. Because it also sounds like they were all put in extensive therapy, which is the only thing I would know to suggest.
Yeah, that's really the first step. And if that doesn't work, it's hard to really think of what else you can try.
I have a question for you.
This is kind of like predictions for the rest of the season. So in this first episode, we see a copycat killer who is mimicking Dr. Whitly or The Surgeon's murders. Just a few of his 23. Do you think this whole season will be copycat killers and that's what's going to keep Malcolm's father relevant? Or do you think we'll see a variety of murderers and they're still going to come to Malcolm's father because he is maybe an expert in murdering?
Yeah, so I think it'll be the latter, where it's going to be a variety of murders, typical procedural. Maybe occasionally, they'll be connected to his father, but I doubt it. I just think they'll be like: Who's the soil guy on our team? Who's the blood splatter guy on our team? Although blood splatters now being considered somewhat junk science. Who's the murder guy on our team? And the murder guy on their team will be The Surgeon.
Oh, I see. I see. He's the murder expert. And also a murderer.
Yeah, that helps you become an expert, I guess.
You learn by doing, I see.
Those who can't do, teach. That's why his daddy's on the other side of it now.
Oh, cause he can't do it anymore so he's teaching people about it. Wow! You really do understand these serial killers.
Wow! I guess I do.
So I have another question for you. What do you think about Malcolm's rash decisions, such as when rescuing a hostage in order to free a hostage attached to a bomb, he had to hurt the hostage in order to save the hostage from the bomb?
And almost seemed gleeful while doing it.
Yeah, he did not feel bad for this hostage who was like do not do what you're about to do.
I think one of the central tensions of the show is going to be is he smart like his father so he's able to stop people like his father or is he battling demons by working hard to not become his father.
So you felt like this might be a hint of what he could be?
Yes, because he seemed almost gleeful to do this violent act. And I saw it as him almost letting a little bit of like a demon out that's inside of him. But that could be a red herring and not the case. I don't know that he'll commit murders in the arc of this show. I think for a broadcast procedural, he won't be complicated like a Dexter, where he is helping people and serial killing at the same time. But I could see the tension there being, is he becoming like his daddy, or does he just know his daddy super well and he gets stopped people like his daddy?
Ok. And now my final question. Are you ready?
If you were Detective Dani Powell, and you knew everything that Malcolm Bright had gone through and had just done to solve this case, would you potentially enter a romantic relationship with him?
No, no, sorry. I didn't, didn't even let you finish. No.
Do you think she will?
Yeah. I think that they are absolutely teasing, a romantic relationship between him and Dani, because there's a moment in the show where she comforts him as he's experiencing some trauma. And I definitely felt some sparks there. If I were in her shoes, no, I would not go near that man in that way. I would maybe offer to be there as a friend, perhaps, but not any more than that. What about you?
That must have been a very cut and dry for you too. Because usually never answer your own hypotheticals. That's a resounding no from the bleachers on to the front row.
Yes, there is a single answer to this question.
I agree with you. I would not pursue that if I was Dani. And I do believe Dani will pursue that. They already showed her being very sympathetic and supportive and comforting when monitoring the different situations that Malcolm goes through. And so I believe that nurturing behavior is just going to evolve into something more.
Any final thoughts?
No. Are you ready to rate Fox's Prodigal Son?
Let's do it.
All right, Beej, what would you rate Fox's Prodigal Son?
I would rate Prodigal Son would watch again while doing laundry.
This is an interesting setup for procedural but this first episode was really slow. So I would recommend that if you do check out the pilot, and it does seem somewhat interesting and worth continuing, take your time getting to the second episode. I don't think you need to rush through this.
Meander on the journey through life to the second episode at your own pace is what you're saying?
Yeah, you know, see where the wind takes you. What do you think?
I am maybe even more casual than that. I think that the overall storyline of this show is interesting. I just wasn't impressed by this pilot episode. And from what I'm reading, I don't think that the show gets more interesting. I think it stays a little bit boring. So I could see myself similar to your rating. If it were on TV, and I needed to do emails, put away laundry, follow a recipe, something like that, then I'd probably have it on in the background because it's interesting enough, but not that interesting to me. However, if there is any other show that you like, on Monday nights, to be honest, I would recommend whatever that show is more than this.
Okay, I think that's a pretty clear review. So if you want to find more of our reviews and suggestions, head to our website at thepilotpodcast.com. You can also subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Stitcher Radio and Spotify and be sure to leave us a rating and review, it helps others discover us. And if you want to help support us, head to patreon.com/thepilotpod where you can get exclusive episodes, polls, AMA's and merchandise.
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Transcribed by https://otter.ai