“Pied-A-Terre” gets sexual, as Malcolm goes on a first date, and undercover in a secretive fantasy-fulfillment network.
This recap of Prodigal Son Season 1, Episode 9, “Pied-A-Terre”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
I’m not exactly an expert on dreams, but I reckon even I could figure out that one about being stabbed with a samurai sword probably has some sexual connotations. I’d be especially able to diagnose it after watching five minutes of Prodigal Son Episode 9, “Pied-A-Terre”, in which absolutely everything has sexual connotations. And when you’re dealing with personalities like those of Malcolm Bright (Tom Payne) and this week’s sexually adventurous victims, sex doesn’t just sell – it can kill.
Bright’s therapist, Dr. Gabrielle Le Deux (Charlayne Woodard), recommends a salve for sexual repression: Stop manacling yourself to the bed and fretting about how many young women your father killed, and get out into the world. Do something normal. Walk down the street with upbeat music blaring in the background. It can’t be worse than when Tobey Maguire did it in Spider-Man 3. (Is anything?). Tom Payne cuts such a striking, strutting figure that he can’t help but attract the attention of Eve (Molly Griggs). He’s feeling himself so much he even asks her out, and she agrees.
Right on time, Gil (Lou Diamond Phillips) calls with a new murder. A man has had his head smashed in immediately after having sex. Malcolm’s cursory summary suggests the sex was extramarital, and that he might have been killed by his wife, who caught him in the midst of it. Luckily, here she is. But so is her husband, who is in the hallway with their daughter. The dead dude is someone else.
Allow me to interject here and point out that this whole thing is cripplingly awkward. Edrisa (Keiko Agena) and Malcolm’s sexual patter is like watching video game characters kiss. “Pied-A-Terre”, like all the previous episodes of Prodigal Son, and indeed its protagonist, is better with certain aspects of human behavior than others. Despite Malcolm’s assurance that sex is like “psychological gasoline”, this is an oddly asexual show.
Anyway, the police naturally question Beth (Kristen Connolly) and David, the well-off couple whose apartment now houses the dead body of a man whom neither of them apparently knows. But Malcolm quickly deduces that Beth does know him. His name is Caleb, and she often slept with him while she was in town; a purely practical, loveless affair facilitated by a clandestine network of eager sexual fantasists who hooked up to explore their innermost desires. She was invited by an enigmatic figure known as Jasper, who can only be reached via email.
Luckily, Malcolm has a direct line to the sexual underworld thanks to Nico (James Cusati-Moyer), the poor fella whose hand he lopped off in a previous episode. He and JT (Frank Harts) visit his fetish shop, where they talk him into setting up a meeting. They also discuss Malcolm’s upcoming date with Eve, and Frank recommends something laidback, casual, like the pool nights he enjoys regularly with his own wife. Noted! That’ll pay off later. In the meantime, though, Malcolm goes undercover to meet with Jasper’s representative, Simone (Mara Davi), who wants to audition him by going back to his apartment and having sex with him. If only all interviews worked in quite that way — unemployment rates would plummet. She isn’t even concerned that Malcolm’s apartment is full of medieval weaponry or that he chains himself to his bed every night. In fact, I get the sense she quite likes the idea. But she’s less keen on the wire he’s wearing that feeds their conversation back to the police, who promptly bust in and question Simone about Jasper and Caleb’s death.
As it turns out, it was her who Caleb was having sex with on the night he died; Beth and David’s pied-a-terre became accessible to everyone who joined the exclusive club, so this isn’t altogether unusual. But Simone insists she didn’t kill him. If a wife is having sex with another man, who is the likeliest suspect in that man’s murder?
David. Malcolm goes to question him and learns that he had his suspicions about the affair, and actually went to the apartment to catch Beth and Caleb at it, but when he got there he discovered two strangers having sex in his apartment and gave it legs before anyone saw him – and both parties were very much alive when he left.
Curiouser and curiouser. But never mind the murder investigation, there’s a date to prepare for in Prodigal Son Episode 9. Jessica (Bellamy Young) arrives to help Malcolm get ready, but he resists, in part because he keeps seeing creepy visions of that girl in the box who we learned recently was quite real. And also, you know, he doesn’t need his mother to dress him for a date. Not when his idea for the date is so genius – they’re going to play pool, exactly where JT and his wife are.
It doesn’t go well, though not necessarily for the reasons you’d think. JT’s wife is fascinated by Malcolm and his profiling abilities, and the subject keeps coming up. Despite JT’s insistence that behavioral science isn’t a party trick, Malcolm is nonetheless compelled to profile Eve, having apparently never seen an episode of Sherlock or similar. Eve leaves in tears, feeling violated.
Speaking of which, Jasper, otherwise known by the less-sexy moniker Charles, is dead in his apartment. His sex network was created for his wife, Simone, since he was afflicted with ALS and couldn’t fulfill her sexually. Simone isn’t the killer; Beth is. Malcolm returns to the scene of the original crime, where a stylish shot reveals that Beth is pointing a gun at him through the two-way glass of a hidden room where David used to get off on watching other people doing the no-pants-dance. Her problem is that she was in love with Caleb, which is expressly forbidden in no-strings-attached fantasy-fulfillment circles. She couldn’t deal with Caleb having sex with Simone, which is why she is holding Simone at gunpoint. Malcolm is able to talk her out of killing again, and she’s taken into custody.
Some furthering of the overarching narrative concludes Prodigal Son Season 1, Episode 9. Gil tells Jessica that the girl in the box was real; she resolves to destroy Martin’s life in return, which seems fair. And Eve and Malcolm make up. They actually make up quite vigorously, as it happens, which makes it all the more awkward when Malcolm has another vision of the dead girl and chases the specter around his apartment with a chef’s knife. When he comes to, he realizes he has been waving the blade at Eve. There have been better first dates.
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.