“Designer Complicity” found the right balance between episodic and serialized storytelling in an episode where, for the first time, the present-day case and Malcolm’s nutty past were given equal weight and attention.
This recap of Prodigal Son Season 1, Episode 4, “Designer Complicity”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
With “Designer Complicity”, Prodigal Son seems to have found the right balance between its episodic and serialized elements. Now that the characters have been introduced and their testy dynamics have been established, the show seems keen to delve into their various neuroses and the on-going question of not just who the girl in the box from Malcolm’s (Tom Payne) memories was, but who exactly knew about her. Obviously Malcolm’s father Martin (Michael Sheen) did, but what about his mother, Jessica (Bellamy Young)? Prodigal Son Episode 4 builds — through the use of flashbacks and an interview tape — to the conclusion that she didn’t; her suspicions and accusations were, apparently, about an affair. But I’m not convinced, and nor should anyone else be. I’m still hung up on how youthful she looks. Could be she’s lying about all sorts.
We’re not supposed to know yet, obviously, and the show will inevitably continue to drip-feed new details and revelations throughout the season. “Designer Complicity” was the first time, though, that I felt as though the details of Malcolm’s past were as important, if not more so, than his present-day case, suggesting that Prodigal Son is liable to move in that more serialized direction as it goes on. I wouldn’t necessarily be opposed to that, but thus far I’ve been a fan of each of its macabre criminal cases, so I’d certainly like to enjoy a fresh one each week for now.
The case in “Designer Complicity” is of a murdered model and influencer staged to resemble a fashion campaign of clothing designer Axel X (Julian Elijah Martinez) — just about the only thing I like about the presence of vapid social media “influencers” in contemporary culture is that they make good victims on network TV. The prime suspect is one of her stalkers — a fun detail is that JT (Frank Harts) was an unlikely fan of hers too — and the eventual twist is that the culprit is actually one of Axel’s. It was a fun reveal even if the case, thanks to it sharing equal focus with Malcolm’s exploration of his past, wasn’t as energetically bonkers as usual.
The last-minute cliffhanger of Prodigal Son Season 1, Episode 4 is Martin receiving another unexpected guest in prison: His daughter, Ainsley (Halston Sage), who presumably feels left out since she doesn’t remember him well enough to be traumatized by his heinous crimes. What will come of that is anyone’s guess. But if these first four episodes are anything to go by, it’ll at the very least be something worth watching.
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.