Prodigal Son Episode 14
One of the reasons I am so fascinated with the premise of Prodigal Son is the focus on serial killers and their impact on the characters each week. I would even argue that we, as a society, are fascinated by the ones we fear the most. It brings forth a question: why are we so intrigued by horror and evil? This week’s episode ties the themes mentioned above together, while simultaneously giving us more Whitly family dynamics. Let’s talk about it, shall we?
Our murder victim this week goes on a ride, pun maybe intended. When Jessica Whitly gets a tip from an anonymous source regarding “The Girl in the Box,” she heads (with Malcolm, who finds out about her plan) to a carousel in Queens to meet with them. In a misty, rainy scene, our mother-son pair seem to come up empty… until the carousel comes to life… and our victim does not. His throat’s slit. Edrisa soon reveals a barrier: the victim’s fingerprints were burned off. How do we ID our victim?
Malcolm’s preliminary profile suggests this kill might be personal to his family. The killer wanted Jessica to find the body. But why?
“The Carousel Killer” calls into Ainsley’s news station, on her first day, demanding airtime and to speak with her directly. In what seems morally wrong, the station agrees with ratings, potentially a motivating factor. Our killer blames the Whitly family for this person’s death, particularly Jessica, suggesting she is a fraud and a hypocrite. He wants the money offered from the tip line, or someone else will die.
I am not too crazy about this part of the episode. Ainsley, while having a recent rise in her career, would never be put into the air as such in reality, and I question if a station would risk putting someone on live TV in that way. Did it make for exciting drama? Of course, but let’s go for a little more realistic next time, please.
Malcolm feels this killer is motivated by both money and attention and confirms he was wronged by his family. How? This is not yet clear. He meets with his sister, suggesting how she speak with the killer if he calls a second time. Their conversation is a bit heated at times, and Ainsley makes it clear she can take care of herself.
While Malcolm is at the station, Gil and JT speak with one of Martin’s victim’s children. They previously held a vendetta against the family and went to trial over their mother’s death. Jessica wanted to settle and pay them, but at the time, they refused. These two brothers are of particular interest as they own an electronics store, and the killer seems to know how to use them. Avi, after some prodding, admits he wants nothing to do with revenge. However, a man came into the store about a month’s previous talking about revenge on the Whitly’s, and his brother, Noah, wanted a part of it. The mystery man and Noah seem to be prime suspects!
Money Makes it Rain?
Jessica Whitly, much like her son, is not the best listener, so she defies Gil when he tells her not to pay off the murderer as he asked. She takes the money out of the bank and heads to where she and Martin met–as per the killer, of course. Looking back, now that I’ve finished the episode, this should’ve been a clue regarding who our murderer is… interesting! Alas, she waits there on a bench, and a phone rings from beneath it. The murderer tells her to dump all of the money out of the bag.
She’s quick to argue until he tells her to look up at one of the buildings. The murderer stands on top, holding a man hostage and threatens to kill him if she doesn’t. And thus, one hundred dollar bills make the park covered in a different kind of green! People swarm her, trying to get their share, just as Gil and JT show up, having traced the killer’s second call to the park. Just as they find Jessica, people scream. The killer dropped the victim anyway. JT identifies the man as Noah, the other brother.
Distraught, Jessica does not understand why he would still kill the man when she followed directions. Clearly, this was not about money, after all!
Wants to Help
As Jessica is throwing bills, Martin is antagonizing his daughter on air. He tells her that the money does not matter to the killer, it is truly a distraction, and there is something performative about the killer. He wants something else… and while Ainsley wants answers, Martin is suddenly out of solutions. Cue the killer calling in a second time, as mentioned above!
So, what is this “other something”? Malcolm upset that his mother is as a pawn, goes to visit Martin, determined he must know the victim from the carousel. The ever chipper Martin denies him first but soon tries to participate. Meanwhile…
Jessica, in the car, heading home, hears her phone ring. She lost her purse at the first crime scene, and it has mysteriously reappeared in the back of her car. SHe answers the phone, and the killer taunts her. There is a picture of a woman tied up in the purse, and the killer’s demand is simple. If this woman is going to live, Jessica has to kill Martin. GASP. I mean, honestly, Martin is a piece of garbage. As charming as he can be, it wouldn’t be the worst thing for him to die. However, the type of torture this would put on her makes it not worth it. Regardless, she heads to the psychiatric hospital.