“Family Friend” gives Malcolm a rival who has his number as the show starts to abandon its case of the week format for a more serialized approach.
This recap of Prodigal Son Season 1, Episode 8, “Family Friend”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
After setting a clear high-water mark for itself last week, Prodigal Son Episode 8 maintains the show’s newfound serialized momentum in “Family Friend”, another good episode equal parts past and present. We open with Malcolm (Tom Payne) busting through the wall built to hide his father’s old office, and answering the ringing phone inside. You know that someone calling a serial killer’s direct basement line isn’t going to be a savory character and Paul is not.
Questions abound when Gil (Lou Diamond Phillips) and the rest of the team arrive. Why keep paying the phone bill? Well, says Jessica (Bellamy Young), you know how business managers are, which of course JT (Frank Harts) doesn’t. The call can presumably be traced back to its source, but Jessica, stubborn as ever, has no interest in protective custody or anything of that sort.
Prodigal Son Episode 8 also continues the show’s newfound — and welcome — trend of giving Ainsley (Halston Sage) more to do, although admittedly she spends a lot of “Family Friend” nursing injured Jin (Raymond Lee) and creepily watching videos of her father. She also constantly badgers Malcolm for tips on the case, but we’ll come back to her later.
In the meantime, Malcolm — with help from his number one fan Edrisa (Keiko Agena) — hastily outlines a mission-oriented profile and starts following some clues that lead him back to the junkyard, then to a trapdoor buried in the soil, and then to a secret room where another victim, Ryan (Michael Lee Brown), remains chained and rather pessimistic about his future safety. Ryan leads Malcolm and Dani (Aurora Perrineau) to Father Leo (Matt Servitto), who briefly becomes a suspect until his severed arm is delivered in a box to the precinct.
Another phone call sends Malcolm doolally in “Family Friend” since Paul mentions the girl in the box whom Malcolm always knew was real but wanted to believe was a dream. After his cooling-off period, he pursues Paul, disguised as a bum, to a suitably gloomy underground passage where he’s promptly trapped in a turnstile, given a phone, and told to await further instructions.
Those further instructions arrange a meeting two hours later. Malcolm attends with Gil and a good chunk of the police force waiting in the wings, but after being directed to a bracelet — a memento of the girl in the box — and a captive but alive Father Leo, Paul gets wind that Malcolm isn’t following his instructions and Malcolm deduces his real target: Ryan, who is currently at the hospital where Jin is breaking up with Ainsley for filming and narrating his life-saving surgery at the hands of a notorious serial murderer.
There’s a tense bit of business in “Family Friend” as Paul pursues Ainsley around the hospital, but she’s able to lock herself in a room until the police arrive. Paul gets away, which frustrates Malcolm, who was convinced this was supposed to be a case-of-the-week procedural. But apparently not — he lives to torment our hero another day, and Ainsley reports that he’s at large. And to make matters worse, the Feds are taking over the case.
Prodigal Son Season 1, Episode 8 continues to energize the show when it looked, just a few episodes ago, like it was starting to veer off course. That smart decision to give Malcolm a persistent nemesis — other than his father, obviously — is paying off, and it’ll be interesting to see where the show decides to go next.