[Warning: The following contains spoilers for Monday's episode of Prodigal Son, "Eye of the Needle." Read at your own risk!]
We were warned that something terrible was going to happen to the Whitly family on Prodigal Son, and now it looks like we've reached that point of no return. On Monday night's episode, titled "Eye of the Needle," all of those warning signs about a dark future for Malcolm Bright (Tom Payne) and Martin Whitly (Michael Sheen) came to a head — er, a heart. A wild pursuit of the Carousel Killer culminated with Malcolm stabbing his own father in the chest, and, perhaps surprisingly, he had to jump the line to do so; it was his mother, Jessica (Bellamy Young), who first wielded the weapon against Martin.
It all started when Jessica tried to follow a potential lead on the mysterious girl in the box. Malcolm went with her to meet with someone who'd called in on her tip line, but what they discovered instead was the first known victim of the Carousel Killer. The murderer covered his tracks well enough that he had time to call both Jessica and Ainsley (Halston Sage) multiple times and taunt them. As the body count began to stack up, Jessica decided to once again sidestep the NYPD and take matters into her own hands to give the murderer his ransom money — only that's not what he actually wanted from her in the end. He made her throw her bag of cash around a park as he ended another victim's life anyway. The killer later demanded that Jessica execute Martin in his cell with a ceramic pick. Luckily, Malcolm was again around to stop her, but once it became clear that another hostage would be executed if Martin wasn't, Malcolm decided to plunge the weapon into his dad himself.
There's reason to believe that Malcolm didn't do this to his father with intent to kill, even if he did just confirm that Martin tried to kill him as a boy. The episode was bookended by flashbacks that showed the two talking about another serial killer named Jeb Waller, who had stabbed someone at the perfect point to avoid rupturing anything major in the heart. Martin even name-checked that same guy before Malcolm stabbed him, so it would seem Martin was taking a leap of faith that his son inherited his steady hand. (And he might have been right — Martin is still alive for now, though he is in surgery.) But even if Malcolm's intention was to save the latest hostage, this was still an act of severe violence, and the ease with which he did it was deeply unsettling.
Martin is a twisted force in all of the Whitlys' lives, and in a sick way, this is what Martin actually wants from Malcolm and what Jessica has dreaded the most. It looks like Jessica may just try to clean up part of this mess for Malcolm though, because at the tail end of the episode, when Gil Arroyo (Lou Diamond Phillips) asked Malcolm what transpired in Martin's cell, Malcolm didn't seem too eager to take his mother's place in the interrogation room just yet.
TV Guide spoke to Bellamy Young about the episode to find out how Jessica will respond to seeing her son follow in his father's violent footsteps and whether she's willing to take the fall for him. Keep reading to find out what she had to say about this shocking turn of events.
If Malcolm weren't there in the prison cell, do you think Jessica would've killed Martin herself?
Bellamy Young: I thought a lot about that, and I don't know the answer. I think she would've tried her hardest because honestly she's had years of [trauma] against her personally, but also she just wants the horror to end. So, if she could convince herself that that really would work, then I think she could approach it. But I just think there is something that divides people who can kill and people who can't kill. That may be a moment of deliberative action, not a self-defense moment, which is a grayer area. I just don't believe that Jessica has it in her ultimately, but if nothing else, this show has taught me to always be ready to be surprised.
What do you think she'll think about Malcolm now that she's seen he is capable of doing something like that?
Young: I think that's her truest fear, honestly, beyond herself. We can survive anything, but when it comes to people we love, we can't imagine watching them suffer. I don't have any children, but I can empathize and imagine that Jessica, for all these years of having wondered and worried if he were in any way like his father — watching to see if he was kind to animals, watching to see if he made friends easily, watching to see if he were able to be social — and to watch him stab his father in the heart without a beat of hesitation ... Once the decision was made, the ice pick was in. I think it is her darkest moment and her truest fear realized, yeah.
Do you think that she was actually surprised when she learned that Martin tried to kill Malcolm when he was a child?
Young: For me playing that scene, that is the closest she gets to taking the action herself. So, yeah, I think she was devastated and shocked. And as the beats play out, her lines, she's even like, 'We're out of time. This has to happen.' I think that closed a door that will never be opened again. She thought there might have been — in the world that is Martin, most of the sphere is killer, and she thought there was this tiny little island that was father, and it was safe and it was normal, and it was what she understands of people. And in that moment, that island just evaporated, and he was only a killer. I don't think she'll ever come back after finding that out. You know, it's been building little by little: the chloroform, the girl in the box was real... It's been building. She's used to finding out horrible truths about Martin throughout all these years, but that's one I don't think she'll get back from.
It seems like maybe she won't come back because of how close this has come to home for her, too. Even though the Junkyard Killer was in her actual home, the Carousel Killer — it seems like she takes that even more personally because she feels responsible?
Young: Yeah, well, he articulates her greatest fear, which is that it is her fault. At the end of the day, she never stopped Martin from killing. She never realized what he really was. And now, she's tried her best in this situation to save the Lehrer brother, and the immediate effect was the opposite. So, I think she's as lost as she's ever been.
Is she going to take the fall for Malcolm?
Young: Given my knowledge of Jessica and how much she loves her family, I think she'll do anything she can to protect Malcolm and help him — help her whole family — get out of this situation. But it really all depends a lot also on whether Martin survives.
Prodigal Son airs Mondays at 9/8c on Fox.