This week's episode "Stranger Beside You" was a disappointing one for FOX's Prodigal Son. The whole episode felt like it had a perpetual "flat" vibe – way too much like a standard procedural. With plots like baby stealing, a dead husband, and the expectation of finally finding out who "The Girl in the Box" was, I was excited in anticipation of it – but there was just an overall emptiness and lack of buy in.
Typically, I easily relate to each character and Prodigal Son does an exceptional job of sucking the viewers into the show, I'm not really sure why it felt disjointed, and overall blah, maybe because it's difficult to relate to Bright (Tom Payne) and Eve's (Molly Griggls) overnight blooming romance, or because subjectively Dani (Aurora Perrineau) is the better option for him? Even the interaction between Malcolm and his family had no true substance.
Bright is having serious underlying trust issues towards Eve and thinks she hiding something from him, why does she carry a locked purse? A little bizarre, especially once we learn that inside is her sister's missing person file and photograph. Bright has a dream that propels him to seek out Ainsley (Halston Sage) to do some investigating on his new girlfriend – challenge accepted and apparently easily deduced that Eve infiltrated the Whitly family to gain information on one of The Surgeons victims, well that didn't take long. It was interesting that Bright asked Dani to do a background check on Eve as well, obviously he only sees her as a friend – but Dani refused to do it.
The victim is the husband of a "mommy blogger," found dead with a champagne bottle to the throat in a ball pit. He was found by the au pair and the crime did not appear to be planned but rather according to Bright opportunistic, why kill him? What is the motive? The NYPD quickly suspect that the husband was having an affair with the nanny, but no, the plot thickened, and took so many twists and turns, I had to create a diagram to follow. The baby? Not the mothers, but rather the au pairs according to the mom as a surrogate, but wait, there is more.
The au pair is not who she says she is. The elite couple couldn't get pregnant and adopted the nanny's baby black market style. There are moments where viewers are led to believe the child is getting kidnapped, drowned, swapped out for a glass ball used to smash a perps head in, it was just all over the place. For clarity purposes, the baby was biologically the nanny's and her abusive husband who she ran from; he found her, and wanted to lay claim to his child, after he roughed her up.
Martin contacts Bright to find out why he hasn't come to see him as often as promised for telling the police that Jessica (Bellamy Young) stabbed him. Bright eludes to being busy dating, to Martin's utter delight, and he quickly jumps to Dani as the object of Malcolm's attention. The ease with which father and son are able to talk about relationships over dinner at Clairmont is fascinating, getting some advice from dear old dad about all women keeping secrets and being a good partner – says the sociopath who killed 24 people. This interaction for me was the most enjoyable part of the episode, it felt real.
Bright rushes to aid the victim's wife and shield her from the nanny's abusive husband. As her and her child are being hunted in a mall, Bright develops a ploy to seclude the perpetrator and keep the baby safe. The killer attacks Bright and the mother comes to his rescue violently beating him with a glass ball, a mother would do anything to protect her child. Where was the NYPD? Bright seems to frequently be handling perps on his own. In the end, through legal channels she adopts the baby.
The anticipated moment throughout the entire episode was Eve and Bright going head-to-head on "The Girl in the Box". Was she Eve's long lost sister, separated when they were kids? Yes. The band aid was ripped off that quickly. Drama… (cue the violins) he picks up the photo, after she tells him she would rather not know so they can continue their relationship (we'll get back to that bizarre statement in a bit). Bright looks at the photo, imagines the girl in the trunk and boom – her sister is dead.
I felt robbed somehow of emotional turmoil, and Eve has clearly been obsessed with her sister going missing for most of her life – getting into a career that prevents these things from happening, carrying her file with her, even infiltrating the Whitly family. But for Bright, she quickly just resolves herself to say "forget it, it doesn't matter
I turned off my television and stared at the black screen for a few minutes… totally confused.
Let's hope next week's episode redeems itself.