“The Trip” featured a pretty unremarkable case of the week, but further details of Malcolm’s past continue to be unearthed.
This recap of Prodigal Son Season 1, Episode 5, “The Trip”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
As with all its predecessors, Prodigal Son Episode 5 combines a case of the week with drip-fed details of Malcolm Bright’s (Tom Payne) demented past and awful sleeping habits, and just like all of its predecessors it’s pretty good. A man with his tongue cut out and a light cocaine frosting is a nice visual and an intriguing enough mystery, especially when its machinations come to involve peripheral characters. “The Trip” once again pairs Malcolm up with mostly Dani (Aurora Perrineau), the more compelling of his associates, and there’s some good stuff involving her, as well as solid guest star work from Hampton Fluker and Pascale Armand. But I can’t be the only one who thought this week’s case was somewhat weaker than what we’ve seen previously; the circumstances were less morbid, the profiling was more cursory, and the last-minute swerves didn’t feel quite as earned.
Malcolm being drugged out of his mind remains a handy crutch for Prodigal Son Episode 5, allowing Payne to do his whole brilliant maniac shtick and his bizarre hallucinations — memories? — to ramp up in intensity. The ones in “The Trip” feature a car with a corpse in it and a mysterious box, which is later delivered to him by Jessica (Bellamy Young), who has her own subplot here with human trafficking attorney Eve Blanchard (Molly Griggs), who immediately takes a shine to Malcolm. Will Dani have a rival for his affections? Did he even notice?
Some of this stuff feels a bit repetitive. There are surely more ways to portray Malcolm’s various psychological hangups than having him constantly have nightmares and obsess over homicide. (Then again, with the revelation that Gil (Lou Diamond Phillips) used to take him on stakeouts as a kid, is there any wonder?) There are lots of episodes to fill here, so I understand why we have to endure so much similar storytelling, but that doesn’t mean I have to be crazy about it.
Prodigal Son Season 1, Episode 5 felt very much like the show finding a particular time-killing groove. There was very little of Dr. Martin (Michael Sheen) in “The Trip” and no Ainsley (Halston Sage) at all, and with yet another mystery from Malcolm’s past to unpack, there has to be worry that there simply isn’t enough story to fill so many episodes. Still, the character of Malcolm is a riot, his past has intrigue to spare, even if it can occasionally feel like altogether too much intrigue, and the supporting characters remain an interesting bunch of people who I’m keen to spend more time with. There’s no reason to sound the alarms just yet. But I’m keeping an eye on this one.
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.