It was a finale done right!
The efforts to save Prodigal Son are still going strong, and there's no way of knowing what the future holds and how successful it'll be. We bared our hearts on the matter in our A Prodigal Son Love Letter: The Heavy Price of Unconventionality post, and we TV Fanatics are just as distraught as the rest of fandom.
As of now, Prodigal Son Season 2 Episode 13 is the series finale. If it's the end of the road for this precious series, well, it went out with a bang, and yes, in style.
The hour had nearly everything you'd want it to have, and for the most part, it works for a finale episode of the series. It put almost all of the team to use, even giving us some Ainsley working alongside JT and Dani.
Edrisa had a diminished role, and we miss out on her epic response to Malcolm getting deemed an accomplice. Nevertheless, she provided her signature humor and quirkiness, providing illegally obtained information of use in the back half of the installment.
The hour centered on Malcolm and Martin's relationship, which has always been the core of the series. They made some remarkable strides and backslides throughout an hour that saw them thrust into a seemingly no-win situation, forced to work with, trust, and rely on one another.
Capshaw spun the story everyone expected and played the victim, stating that not only did Martin hold her hostage and hurt her but that Malcolm was in on it too.
Gil and the team didn't buy it for anything in the world, and it speaks to how far they've all come and how much Malcolm has been ingratiated in their unit that they knew that wasn't Malcolm's brand of crazy.
Gil and Dani were the most put off by the implication that Malcolm was involved in all of this. Gil has always been Malcolm's biggest cheerleader and the one who gives him more leeway than most, and Dani has come to trust Malcolm in a way that she didn't in the early days of their relationship.
She's not a woman who rattles with ease, and the entire situation had her unnerved in a way we don't see often.
You could tell she was still holding onto that moment they shared at the storage facility, and she may have even felt guilty that she hadn't pieced things together earlier, and Malcolm disappeared under her watch.
JT is a man of few words, but he observes everything. When he called her out on channeling Malcolm a bit, burying her feelings, and throwing herself into a case as a coping mechanism, it seemed as though he was privy to whatever was brewing between the two before either of them were willing to address it.
Dani never getting to have that talk with Malcolm is one of the things the hour and this cancellation deprived us of, and I wonder where things would've gone with them and what they would've said.
JT: Pushing down your feelings, looking for salvation in a case to solve,damn, you've learned a lot from Bright. I have to. I never thought I'd say it, but I like the guy.
Dani: I don't need a peptalk.
JT: How about a lead?
Ruiz took everything Capshaw said to heart, and coupled with her distaste for Malcolm, Ruiz had no hesitation issuing a BOLO for Malcolm and assuming the worst of him.
Gil's plea to Ruiz must've fallen on the wrong ears since Malcolm's face was plastered all over the news in record time. It must've spanned the tri-state area since it made it to Vermont news while the two of them devoted their time to saving Jeannie and capturing the notorious Woodsman.
Martin knew how to lure Malcolm in. Despite abducting his son and tying him up in some hideaway in a small Vermont town, Martin figured that if he teased Malcolm with the irresistible shot at solving a case, he could prove to Malcolm that he was a changed man.
It almost meant spending more time with Malcolm and crime-solving in that way Martin loves whenever Malcolm consults him for cases.
Martin's way of blending in was every bit as ridiculous as Malcolm said, and it amused that he referenced at least two jokes about bisexuality.
Of all the ways he could explain away Malcolm, he resorted to alluding to Malcolm as his lover, and the comment about the Woodsman's penmanship speaking to his bisexuality was another standout line of the hour.
Malcolm was never going to believe that his father is capable of change; it's against his inner nature, and there's nothing he can do about it. However, it felt as if Malcolm was getting one last hurrah out of this team up with Martin.
It was a buddy cop vibe to their misadventures in Vermont, and it's another element the series manages to pull off along with a myriad of others, once again reveling in its indefinability and charm.
Martin: I told your mother I'd like to grow old here. Get a big cabin for all the grandkids.
Malcolm: That dream is as dead as your 23 victims.
It was apparent from the second Don came in discussing lunch dates and egg salad that he was the Woodsman. The idea of the twist being that Don wasn't law enforcement, but he was married to Sheriff Cooley and knew enough to cover his tracks.
Even in a small town like that one, it made no sense for Don to insert himself into law enforcement affairs when he didn't carry the badge. He was always around, not only taking up space as a civilian but offering his input and commentary to everything as if he had a right.
Krutch was a decent enough red herring on paper. He was at multiple Woodsman crime scenes, he didn't like anyone challenging and questioning him, and he was wary of Malcolm.
Malcolm had all of his previous knowledge and research. He also had Martin's letters that Martin withheld when Malcolm refused to speak to him.
Martin is a smart man, so it's surprising that he didn't consider Malcolm would go right back to bringing him in once they solved the case. He was so delighted that Malcolm told him to run, terrified that they'd kill Martin, that he didn't consider Malcolm would do the right thing when it came down to it after being a fugitive.
He got so used to working alongside his son, the two of them against the world. They were evenly matched when the Woodsman got ahold of them, and both played him like a fiddle.
Martin did come across as if he was willing to sacrifice himself for the sake of Malcolm. Martin's attempts to level with Don, knowing that the man was obsessed with The Surgeon, seemed genuine, and he and Malcolm were on the same wavelength, communicating telepathically damn near as they worked to take Don down.
Malcolm goading Don by giving Fern all the credit for his misdeeds bought Martin time to strike.
But what was sure to be one of the buzziest moments of the hour was Malcolm giving Martin permission to hurt Don.
Martin insisted that he was a changed man, and "he didn't do that sort of thing anymore," but you could see the delighted gleam in his eye when Malcolm asked him to do what he does well on his behalf, evoking his status as Martin's cherished son.
Martin didn't need a reason to get down to business, and while we weren't privy to whatever Martin did in that cabin, we got some great shots of Payne selling us on Malcolm's conflict.
He knew what he asked of his father, Malcolm wielded Martin like a loaded weapon, and the power in that, the manipulation skills he possessed to pull it off, all of that must've led to Malcolm spiraling a bit.
Malcolm: What about Don. Is he...
Martin: Alive? Yeah, but he's not happy about it.
The idea that he's in any way like his father never dissipates, it doesn't quiet down, and he noted that despite what he asked of Martin and the bloodcurdling screams emanating from the cabin, his hand was as steady as a rock.
You know that's something that will haunt Malcolm for some time. He'll spend months dissecting that and what it means in the wee hours of the night when sleep eludes him.
Martin was manipulating his son then, knowing damn well that Malcolm would do whatever it takes to save Jeannie before it was too late, and he made it seem as if Malcolm was the reason he slipped effortlessly back into The Surgeon mode.
We never got a shot at what Don looked like, so another thing that could've carried into a new season was whether or not Don was still alive. Martin said he was in another of his amusing lines, but who's to say he was telling the truth?
Martin did his part saving Jeannie and even coming across as a concerned person, but the second Malcolm pulled out that flip phone and made the call, it was a wrap.
Assuming Malcolm didn't know Ainsley was the person Martin faxed, he had no real way of knowing for sure that his teammates were on his heels.
Martin and Malcolm's standoff in the woods felt like two seasons in the making. How quickly Martin shifted from the loving dad to a man who had no qualms about killing Malcolm.
Part of him probably did hope that Malcolm would have a vicious reaction, knowing it would destroy his son if he felt he had his father's darkness in him, but Martin also seemed fine killing Malcolm if it came down to it too.
Martin: I did everything! I shared the letters, I saved Jeannie, I was done being that man! But you, you just couldn't believe it, could you? So you made me become him again. You ruined everything.
Malcolm: That's not how psychopathy works. It's who you are.
Martin: No, you tricked me. You asked me to help. I was trying to be a good father!
Malcolm: You don't belong out here. This world isn't for you. Dad! Listen to me, I'm trying to save you.
Martin: I was a good father. But you, you were never a good son.
Malcolm: You're going to kill me. Ten seconds ago, that's when you decided.
Martin: There's no other way.
Malcolm: Yes there is.
Martin: I was right. We are the same.
It was evident that he is a psychopath, and as Malcolm said, he couldn't shut that on and off or stop what's in his nature. The world isn't cut out for Martin Whitly, and maybe the situation with the Woodsman was a bit of a test, too.
Martin slipped into that role with ease, which means he can do that at any time. What's to stop him from picking up where he left off? He almost killed Mr. David, who he does seem to like, at one point, and we needn't parse the Jerry situation.
Martin won't stop killing. But maybe Malcolm shouldn't have shown his hand so soon.
Martin's willingness to kill his son prompted some memories of Malcolm's repressed memories of Martin trying to kill him on the camping trip or drugging him with chloroform. Anytime it seems Malcolm has put some of his past trauma to bed, something always reignites something and sends him on a tailspin.
The situation in the woods was unfortunate because of how Martin won either way. If he killed Malcolm, he'd escape and carry on with his life. Malcolm defending himself and stabbing Martin meant he could taunt Malcolm with the notion that he, too, is a monster.
Martin was bleeding half to death and still getting the last laugh. Meanwhile, Malcolm was only further traumatized. He can never be free of his father and the hold Martin has on him, and as much as others thought death would be the end of it, we know that isn't the truth.
Martin already did his damage to Malcolm, and he'll carry that for the rest of his life.
Dani came through the woods in the immediate aftermath, and she looked on in horror and asked Malcolm what he did. It's a hell of a way to leave the season, let alone the series.
A new season would have a lot to explore. It's doubtful that Martin would die, but the trauma of nearly killing him again would do a number on Malcolm. After all, this time, he would've meant it in his defense.
Bright, what did you do?!Dani
Jeannie could confirm that Malcolm saved her, but there are so many other things that Malcolm may have to answer to, and the stress of it all could be a setback for him.
What's interesting is how Ainsley rotates when she seems better adjusted and not. Her dressing down of Cooley was a stellar scene, one of Sage's best on the series, and I adore those moments when she's put the best use.
Ainsley spoke of how aware she is that she has her father's darkness in her, and hell, we all know that, but Ainsley mentioned that she has her mother's light and fine qualities, too. It's what keeps her going and not doubting herself.
But then she clenched that by disclosing Fern's daughters won't be as lucky unless she spilled the beans about her husband and redeemed herself.
Ainsley is a master manipulator, and the only thing missing was some shots of Dani and JT as they watched her work. The three of them killed it as a team, and it's too bad Ainsley didn't get more of these moments throughout the season.
All the Whitlys work well on investigations and know how to get what they want or need out of them. They manage to put all of their unique skills to use to aid investigations.
As a reporter, Ainsley is good with people and spinning stories, framing them in a way that pulls things out of people, and that's what made her such a valuable resource, along with her Rolodex of sources and connections.
She's an asset that the series could've used more in that regard. Jessica also manages to put her charm, socialite status, and hell, ability to sustain a blend of cocktails and valium and still function to use.
Sheriff Cooley, you don't know me, but my father is Martin Whitly. Growing up, I always knew that I was half darkness like my dad. But I also knew I was half my mother. Good, kind, brave. Your daughters won't be able to say that. For them, it would be all darkness. But you can still redeem yourself. All you have to do is tell us. Where is the Woodsman?Ainsley
Jessica inviting Capshaw over to get a confession was a brilliant move, and it made up for Jessica's withholding information from Gil. Her line about the Whitlys' consuming booze and drugs for breakfast was laugh-out-loud funny and typical Jessica.
Who didn't need a full-blown catfight between Jessica and Capshaw? How do you not love this series? Where else do you see this goodness?
She took Capshaw down, and she did it with the style, grace, and humor of Jessica Whitly. Beware the heels indeed, this woman is a force, and there are no lengths she wouldn't go to for her children.
She and Gil also shared some moments, and it's a relief to know that these two are a thing and will be happy with each other. We have some solace there.
Sorry, Viv. It's going to take more than two martinis and a couple of valium to take me down. That's breakfast in this family.Jessica
It was a fantastic hour, and it was a bittersweet reminder of how great this series is, why we need more of it, and how much we'll miss it if it's gone for good.
And if it's the last of it, know that it was a real pleasure reviewing this series for the past two seasons.
Over to you, Prodigal Fanatics.
Let's discuss everything below! Did you love that ending? What do you think the future would've held for the series?
Malcolm: You look ridiculous.
Martin: I look great! I'm incognito. A little dirty blond hair dye and some styling and voila, I'm a mountain man named Claire. I always respected men with lady names. What do you think? Too blond? Too dirty?
Hit the comments below.
You can enjoy this series all over again when you watch Prodigal Son online here via TV Fanatic.
Jasmine Blu is a senior staff writer for TV Fanatic. She is an insomniac who spends late nights and early mornings binge-watching way too many shows and binge-drinking way too much tea. Her eclectic taste makes her an unpredictable viewer with an appreciation for complex characters, diverse representation, dynamic duos, compelling stories, and guilty pleasures. You'll definitely find her obsessively live-tweeting, waxing poetic, and chatting up fellow Fanatics and readers. Follow her on X.