Prodigal Son Season 1 Episode 2 Review: Annihilator

at .

What really happened to the girl in a box?

Malcolm's vivid nightmares -- or memories -- during Prodigal Son Season 1 Episode 2 may have given us an idea of what the season's biggest mystery will be.

Is she dead? Did ten-year-old Malcolm have a part in killing her?

Deep In Thought  - Prodigal Son Season 1 Episode 2

We know from Prodigal Son Season 1 Episode 1 that Malcolm is afraid of his mind and capabilities. He has a genuine fear of being like his father, and some of his quirks can give him and others pause.

Despite some inclinations, up until this point, he could follow his carefully-crafted regimen, take his meds, and convince himself he's OK. As long as follows a structured routine, he's in control as much as he can be for someone suffering from complex PTSD and night terrors.

Related: Prodigal Son Season 1 Episode 1 Review: Who Said Daddy Issues Aren't Fun?

Cutting his father out of his life didn't make him perfect or heal him, but it kept his primary trigger from setting him off. Now that Whitly is luring Malcolm in like a fly to the web, Malcolm's mental state is as fragile as ever.

Seeing Dad - Prodigal Son

Sheen is magnificent as Whitly. He's charismatic and charming, but during this hour, we got a better feel of him as menacing and duplicitous.

How he gets inside of his son's head is disturbing. He's aware of Malcolm's issues, and he's a smart man. Whitly knows the extent of Malcolm's PTSD and mental health issues; he knows he is a tangential connection to them.

Don't be a killjoy. I have so much to offer! We're both obsessed with murder. Like father, like son.


His relentless badgering/harassing of Malcolm was distressing; so was the escalation of his anger after being ignored. Before this, his charm kept him from coming across sinister.

But as he managed to rattle and manipulate his son from the confinements of his luxurious cell, it was evident how dangerous of a man Whitly is. He doesn't have to be free to wreak havoc and be terrifying.

Whitly Research - Tall  - Prodigal Son Season 1 Episode 2

He's a master manipulator, and no matter how well-versed he is in psychology, his knowledge doesn't protect him from falling victim to his father.

Whitly knows how to play Malcolm like a fiddle. He's aware of the power he has over his son and how to wield it. Malcolm can't resist the allure of his father no matter how much he tries.

Related: The Resident Season 3 Episode 1 Review: From the Ashes

Deep down, he had to know Whitly wouldn't tell him anything about the girl in the box, but he used it as an excuse to go back to see his father. He went looking for answers, but all he has now are more questions about his psyche.

Whitly: Be careful, Malcolm. If you didn't call the cops after you found that girl, then how long did it take you to call the cops? Days, weeks, months? How many other people died? And why can't you remember? Perhaps it's better if you don't.
Malcolm: Don't worry, Dr. Whitly. I plan to find out.
Whitly: Good for you.

Whitly is Malcolm's biggest puzzle. He cannot understand why his father killed at least 23 people, and Whitly never has a satisfactory answer for it.

He heard and read the annihilator profile, and he joked and made casual statements about it that suggested he understood the killer's mindset as well as Malcolm. His motivations to kill aren't the same.

Getting a Closer Look - Tall - Prodigal Son Season 1 Episode 2

If Malcolm can figure out what drives his father to kill, he can hope to understand himself and differentiate himself from his father, but Whitly never tells him.

Whitly likes to toy with his son; he gets off on Malcolm being unstable and unsettled. He doesn't want his kid to find peace. He likes to convince Malcolm that they are the same.

Related: Power Season 6 Episode 6 Review: Inside Man

He's a narcissist, after all; his motivations for keeping Malcolm under his spell is part of it. He and Jessica competed over who could gaslight Malcolm the most.

Whitly: Oh my goodness! Are we solving the crime right now? 
Malcolm: I have fo go.
Whitly: You always move so quickly. Let me know what happens. Remember, my door is always open!

Whitly went from dismissing Malcolm and making the guy feel crazy for his nightmares that are most likely memories to taunting Malcolm with his worst fear.

Whitly went from claiming there was no girl in the box to not so subtly implying ten-year-old Malcolm had something to do with her outcome. He wants Malcolm to believe that he killed the girl.

Profiler Profile  - Prodigal Son Season 1 Episode 2

He went so far as to place blame and doubt on Malcolm. He had him wondering how long it was before he called the cops on his father since the police never found the girl's body or anything else about her.

Was she a figment of Malcolm's imagination, or not? Did Whitly get rid of her when Malcolm freaked out after finding her? Or, as Whitly is suggesting, did Malcolm do something twisted to the girl and Whitly covered it up for him afterward?

I've always been fascinated by familicide. To love one's family that much. Perverted? Yes. Narcissistic? Sure, but it's most certainly love.


He went into his interaction with his father wanting to know the truth, and instead, he got something that makes matters worse for him. It's like Whitly is pushing and prodding Malcolm to snap.

He already gave off the vibe in the flashbacks that he was grooming Malcolm to be like him. His suggestion that Malcolm had a part in box girl's death makes it sound like they did something with her together.

The Divide  - Prodigal Son Season 1 Episode 2

Whitly is using Malcolm's PTSD as a weapon; the mental and psychological manipulation is far more engaging than it has a right to be given the circumstances.

It's like Malcolm and Whitly are playing a macabre game of chess, and Whitly has Malcolm outmatched.

Related: Fresh Off the Boat Season 6 Episode 1 Review: Help Unwanted

The guy is in the middle of his pernicious father and his manipulative mother. No one is coming from a place of healthy love for Malcolm.

David: You asked me to call?
Jessica: He came back?
David: Yes, he did.
Jessica: Thank you, David. Good to know.

Someone in the comments mentioned in the previous review that maybe Jessica had something to do with the killings. It's enough there to make you wonder.

Jessica Whitly - Tall  - Prodigal Son Season 1 Episode 1

How did she not know what was going on? The recent flashbacks give you the sense she could have known something.

Based on Malcolm's nightmares, Whitly drugged him with chloroform when he found the girl in the box. He then drugged him again when he put Malcolm to sleep.

Related: New Amsterdam Season 2 Episode 1 Review: Your Turn 

Jessica laughed off Malcolm sleep-walking into Whitly's hobby room. What the hell did she think Whitly was doing in his hobby dungeon all the time? Did she not ask questions or ever wander down there to see for herself?

Jessica: You look exhausted.
Malcolm: Yeah, well, not sleeping will always do that.
Jessica: Night terrors?
Malcolm: Yes.
Jessica: Are you being safe? The mouth guard, the restraints? Night terrors always required a seatbelt.

It sounded as though she knew Malcolm could find something startling if he went down there.

Whitly hovering over Malcolm was a bit creepy, but she didn't come in and finish tucking him in herself or reassure him. It was bizarre, especially for someone who is shown to be a smothering sort in the present.

Mom Talks  - Prodigal Son Season 1 Episode 1

Meanwhile, in the present, she was adamant about Malcolm's nightmares being just a dream and not real. She knows who her husband is and what he was capableof, yet she still maintains Malcolm's nightmares weren't real. Why?

Related: Titans Season 2 Episode 4 Review: Aqualad

Malcolm is the most screwed up of them all and traumatized beyond words, so why doesn't she believe him? In many cases with PTSD and a plethora of other mental health issues, repressed memories are common.


Whitly [yelling]

Her solution to everything is to keep someone in a drugged fog and pretend as though nothing has ever happened. It's an unrealistic expectation.

Jessica doesn't want Malcolm to remember, but whether it's because of a part she may have played or a role he played in something is unclear.

Nerd Buddies  - Prodigal Son Season 1 Episode 2

Is she protecting him from the truth about her, or is she protecting him from the truth about himself? She's not doing him any favors either way.

Both parents are making Malcolm feel like he's crazy, but the lack of concern over how the unresolved issues affect him is troubling. Malcolm is afraid to go to sleep, so he barely gets any.

Related: Evil Season 1 Episode 1 Review: Here We Go 

No one can function long-term like that; it catches up to you eventually. Shouldn't the concern (at least on Jessica's end, Whitly would love it) be that if Malcolm does have certain proclivities, insomnia and complex personality disorders and syndromes will make him snap?

I've always been fascinated by familicide. To love one's family that much. Perverted? Yes. Narcissistic? Sure, but it's most certainly love.

Jessica's phone call with the guard piqued my interest. She knows Malcolm has been seeing his father, and she's livid about it. However, now it seems as though it goes beyond trying to protect Malcolm and keep him away.

Her motivations for protecting Malcolm from the truth are muddled. What is she afraid of him finding out?

Whitly Family Dinner  - Prodigal Son Season 1 Episode 1

Also, what does Ainsley know? It didn't seem like she knew much, and she has come across as the most stable member of their family, but she and her mother are aligned.

What if she remembers more than she lets on? What if she remembers what happened the night Malcolm found the girl in the box?

Ainsley still comes off as the annoying but concerned little sister. If she has more stake in this than previously shown, it could elevate her character. Otherwise, she still doesn't sparkle much.

The Malcolm Effect  - Prodigal Son Season 1 Episode 2

On the flip side, Malcolm's new work-family could be a more grounding force than his real one. He's walking a fine line delving deep into the same type of work that haunts his dreams.

Gil knows this; he pointed out how troubling it was that Malcolm feels the time spent investigating murders and getting into the mind of serial killers is where he feels most normal.

JT: Oh hell no!
Malcolm: Oh hell yes. Dani. Jamie.
JT: It's JT.

Malcolm's relationship with Gil is underrated. Gil has a quiet, grounding energy that offsets Malcolm's frenetic energy. Unlike his father and his mother, Malcolm seems to listen to Gil and take what he says with consideration.

I would love to see more flashbacks of their relationship and how it developed over the years. Does Gil have children, or was Malcolm always the pseudo-son to make up for what he didn't have? Their connection is genuine.

Grounded Gil - Tall  - Prodigal Son Season 1 Episode 2

Gil's concern for Malcolm is genuine, and he never appears exploitive in how he enlists Malcolm's help.

The addition of brilliant consultants to a team can have the drawback of making a team of professionals appear incompetent in the wake of the newbie's arrival. Everyone else is dumbed down to make the lead shine and thrive.

Related: The Unicorn Season 1 Episode 1 Review: Moving On 

Is Prodigal Son guilty of this? To a degree, yes, but the angle of Gil bringing in Malcolm more for his benefit than theirs cuts down the notion that they suddenly cannot do their jobs without him.

Shocking Case  - Prodigal Son Season 1 Episode 2

The case was intriguing enough to warrant Gil's phone call, and that was before poisonous snakes slithered out of Aristos' sewn-shut mouth.

The pop of horror was a doozy. The series is going to make these cases fun and outrageous, aren't they?

It was a better case and the hour more case-oriented than the previous one, but it was no less predictable.

Jon: Don't do it. I don't want to live
.Malcolm: I know.

The second Malcolm gave his profile, it was apparent a bastard kid came to play. They tried to throw us off with Liam, but it was too easy and too early into the hour for him to be the guilty one.

It was also apparent he was into the exotic animal black market the second we saw the box and his gloves.

Those damn snakes though! Malcolm's willingness to put himself in harm's way is a consistent trait of his. Last time, he was willing to die for Dani, and this time he put his life on the line for Edrisa.

He's a gentleman, that Malcolm. The snakes were ridiculous, but his valiant effort to save Edrisa after another adorable exchange was a nice. Poor Edrisa passed out in his arms and everything.

Related: AHS84 Season 9 Episode 2 Review: Mr. Jingles 

Her crush on Malcolm is campier than the ambiguous chemistry between Malcolm and Dani, but it leads to a few laughs. Edrisa is so lovable, but it's Keiko playing her, so that helps.

Gruesome Crime Scene - Tall  - Prodigal Son Season 1 Episode 2

The killer was a family annihilator. He wanted to kill Aristos' family in front of him before killing him too, because of his need to be part of their family.

Aristos' rejection was too much for Jon. When he told Aristos the truth about being his son, Aristos didn't care. It's enough to make a guy like him snap.

He also spent a heck of a lot of time inserting himself into the investigation, and in hindsight, it was stupid of him to kill Liam hoping it would wrap up the investigation.

Nerd Buddies - Tall - Prodigal Son Season 1 Episode 2

He almost got away with it, but Malcolm figured it out thanks to his conversation with his dad. Whitly's glee over watching his son's mind work and then getting excited about the part he played in helping was funny.

He wanted an update and everything. Whitly isn't a profiler, and he may not have a background in psychology, but he sure as hell knows how to read people and manipulate them accordingly.

Whitly: Oh my goodness! Are we solving the crime right now? 
Malcolm: I have fo go.
Whitly: You always move so quickly. Let me know what happens. Remember, my door is always open!

He even gets kudos for calling Malcolm's profiling process out for what it is. It's a combination of his background in psychology and by-the-seat-of-his-pants theories and speculation.

It was almost like the show made fun of itself with that one. It was one of a few lines during the hour where the series was explaining what it is, and it's unnecessary, but at least that line was funny.

Related: Law and Order: SVU Season 21 Episode 1 Review: I'm Going to Make You Famous 

We're two installments in, and Dani is Malcolm's designated "person." She always backs him up, and she accepts him with ease. He can count on her to be in his corner, and we see how that benefits him, but it makes one eager to know more about her.

Malcolm & Dani

Why does she accept Malcolm with ease? She came across like a tough badass, but she's such a softie and so protective of him. What's her story?

They have a chemistry that has probably brought out some 'shippers. You can sense it already, and hey, whatever floats anyone's boat. There's no denying their bond is fascinating.

Dani: How do you sleep like this?
Malcolm: Eh. Who says I sleep? These are for the night terrors.
Dani: What do you do when you have company? I
Malcolm: I've never slept with anyone. I mean, I, not a, I mean, I've had sex. Plenty of sex.

I am intrigued by their dynamic, too.

Malcolm's last battle with a snake didn't go so well, and once again, Dani came to his rescue. The drugs left a heck of an effect on him, and the combination with the alcohol he drank with Gil left him drunk and woozy.

Of course, Dani had the task of taking him home. It could have been a matter of him having his guard down due to the inebriation, but he had no qualms about Dani entering his space.

Related: Grey's Anatomy Season 16 Episode 1 Review: Nothing Left to Cling To 

He joked about his parakeet and discussed his collection of blades and weapons on his walls. He wasn't the least bit self-conscious about the restraints on his bed or any judgments Dani may have had.

There is a comfort between the two of them, at least on Malcolm's end, that's intriguing. But Malcolm's openness about his afflictions is refreshing about his character overall.

Dani and Malcolm's interactions and conversations as she helped him put on his restraints were cute. She's curious about him, and she knows how to ask questions in a way that doesn't make you cringe, unlike JT.

Related: Mayans MC Season 2 Episode 4 Review: Lahun Chan 

She's unfazed by Malcolm; she admitted his sleep arrangement wasn't the craziest or weirdest thing. Again, it makes you wonder what her story is.

The Malcolm Effect - Tall - Prodigal Son Season 1 Episode 2

Perrineau gives you enough in her performance to leave you wanting more, and the show will benefit and hit its stride more from the investigative standpoint when they delve further into the other team members.

She and Gil are the ones I'm most curious about, but JT still needs work. It was weird when he felt Malcolm's statement about murder was stating the obvious but then countered it by asking a pretty dumb and obvious question about growing up with a serial killer.

Related: Get Shudder via Prime Video Channels for Spine-Tingling & Provocative Films, TV Series, & Originals!  

So far, he's only been around to give snarky comments about Malcolm. If he's the one who is going to have the most reservations about Malcolm working with the team, then that's fine.

JT: Was it, um. Was it weird? 
Malcolm: Having a serial killer as a father? Yeah, it was super weird.

It's a valid position for him to hold, and someone needs to fill it. We need more than digs about Malcolm being crazy, psycho, and like his father, though.

It's almost like Gil announcing in the pilot that they wouldn't get along has JT on some self-fulfilling prophecy with no background for why he responds the way that he does.

Additional notes:

  • Malcolm has a fun playlist. It's so happy and upbeat considering all the darkness surrounding him. 
  • Malcolm snorted at the "I am thankful for my past and many lessons" affirmation, but he made a career out of it, so it's something. 
  • Will Ainsley be the reporter at all of their crime scenes? 
  • What the hell kind of arrangement does Whitly have where he gets all of these amenities? The endless phone calls were killing me. 
  • We're going to need to see Malcolm attempting to get laid, you know, for science. Who are these people he's had lots of sex with and does he have arrangements? Does murder get them hot and bothered? Does he leave them in the middle of the night and not call again? Now, I'm curious. 
  • Doesn't it seem like the only reason Malcolm didn't let Jon die right after poisoning his family is because it was what he wanted?

Do you believe Malcolm killed that girl and blocked it out?

Does Jessica have a bigger role in The Surgeon's killings than we've seen?

Do you think they're teasing romance with Dani and/or Edrisa?

Hit the comments below!

If you missed anything, you can watch Prodigal Son online here via TV Fanatic!

Annihilator Review

Editor Rating: 4.3 / 5.0
  • 4.3 / 5.0
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
User Rating:

Rating: 4.5 / 5.0 (20 Votes)

Jasmine Blu is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.

Show Comments
Tags: ,

Prodigal Son Season 1 Episode 2 Quotes

Jessica: You look exhausted.
Malcolm: Yeah, well, not sleeping will always do that.
Jessica: Night terrors?
Malcolm: Yes.
Jessica: Are you being safe? The mouth guard, the restraints? Night terrors always required a seatbelt.

well nothing like a little murder to cheer you up.