The words “daddy issues” don’t quite do justice to what’s unfolding on Fox’s Prodigal Son.
The crime drama, which debuted Monday night, stars The Walking Dead‘s Tom Payne as Malcolm Whitly, aka Malcolm Bright. He’s a special agent for the FBI, but he’s also the son of Martin Whitly (Masters of Sex‘s Michael Sheen), otherwise known as infamous serial killer The Surgeon.
Martin has been locked up in a psychiatric facility for years, and Malcolm hasn’t seen his dad in a decade. But he still hasn’t recovered from years of childhood trauma; as an adult, Malcolm’s got PTSD, hand tremors and Dad-related nightmares that are so intense, he wears a mouth guard and restraints on his wrists while he sleeps.
Malcolm’s erratic behavior gets him fired from his FBI gig early in Monday’s premiere, but he’s quickly recruited to the NYPD by longtime friend Gil (Longmire‘s Lou Diamond Phillips), who arrested Martin all those years ago after Malcolm called the cops on his own dad. In the present day, Gil enlists Malcolm to serve as the forensic profiler on a new murder investigation — and Malcolm quickly realizes that this new serial killer is copying some of his dad’s methods. In fact, the murderer somehow got his hands on pages of notes from Martin’s old journals, and he’s using them to recreate four of Martin’s most grisly kills.
Against his better judgment, Malcolm decides to pay his father a visit for the first time in 10 years, hoping to find out how this new killer got Martin’s notes — though Martin, naturally, claims to have no idea how four pages of diagrams were ripped out of a journal that’s been sitting in his heavily guarded cell for a decade. (“I’m flattered!” Martin confesses when he learns he’s got a copycat, then quickly adds, “Oh, and deeply disturbed.”)
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Still, by revealing some helpful intel about his former cardiothoracic surgery patients, Martin is able to assist with Malcolm’s investigation and helps his son narrow down the new killer’s identity. But even after the perp is finally caught, Malcolm has a lingering concern: Did his father somehow orchestrate all of these fresh murders from behind bars, simply because he knew Malcolm would visit him in order to solve the case?
Martin (unconvincingly) denies that he was involved in the killings… but he does offer to help Malcolm with future investigations, considering 1) how badly he wants a relationship with his son, and 2) how much he knows about murder. Malcolm declines the offer with a stern, “Goodbye, Dr. Whitly,” before leaving the psych facility. But Martin still seems pleased by their short-lived reunion, breaking out into a devilish grin as his son walks out of the building.
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