Things once again get personal for the Whitly clan in “Eye of the Needle”, as a personal vendetta becomes dangerously public.
This recap of Prodigal Son Season 1, Episode 14, “Eye of the Needle”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
It’s hardly the sign of a healthy parental relationship when a father and son discuss whether or not they’d kill each other, but it’s pretty much par for the course when it comes to Malcolm Bright (Tom Payne) and his father, Martin (Michael Sheen), who open up Prodigal Son Episode 14, “Eye of the Needle”, doing exactly that. The scene is a flashback to Malcolm’s days in college, but it might as well be happening in the present-day since Malcolm only recently learned that his father did indeed plan to kill him when he was just a precocious, oddball child. Given that both men eye various implements around the room which might be used to do the deed, it’s a bit uncomfortable when they both laugh off the idea.
You’d think after two weeks off Malcolm would be less inclined to spot rusty loose nails and such, but you know how he is – and we know how he spent his vacation. When you have a mother like Jessica (Bellamy Young), who is apparently contracted to make at least one awful decision per episode to facilitate the plot, it’s probably just as well that you see lethal implements all over the place. The Whitly matriarch’s bright idea in “Eye of the Needle” is to meet with someone who apparently knows about the ill-fated girl in the box, which is a subplot Prodigal Son is hanging on to for dear life at this point, and they’re scheduled to meet at a fairground, of all places. Nothing good ever happens at a fairground.
Lo and behold, Jessica and Malcolm arrive to find a corpse on the carousel, which Edrisa (Keiko Agena) expertly deduces has exsanguinated due to a messy slash across the throat. Not as outlandish a crime as this show has been partial to in the past, granted, but that’s largely the point of a fairly straightforward revenge plot. Whoever arranged to meet Jessica wanted her to find the body, and odds are that anyone who’s beefing with her is also beefing with her prolific serial killer ex-husband.
Luckily, Ainsley (Halston Sage) is enjoying the fruits of her careerism; it’s her first day broadcasting in-studio, and so she’s uniquely positioned to take the calls of the newly-dubbed “Carousel Killer” live on air. Was he waiting for her to get promoted before enacting his revenge? No matter. Jessica promised a financial reward for information on the girl in the box, and he wants that money – if he doesn’t get it, he’ll kill again.
Naturally, this gets a lot of attention. Prodigal Son Episode 14 spares a few throwaway lines for self-serving news networks happily taking murderous phone-ins for the sake of their ratings, but it’s a comparatively minor affair. Martin catches wind of the story in prison, and Malcolm, an expert profiler, determines that the killer has something against his family. He’s sharp, that one.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, there are a lot of potential connections to Martin’s various victims, but Malcolm knows just where to look – at a pair of brothers who were wrongfully imprisoned for one of the Surgeon’s crimes. Gil (Lou Diamond Phillips) goes to visit one of the brothers at an electronics store, and he eventually reveals that someone propositioned the pair of them with a payback scheme. He wasn’t interested, but his brother, still unable to let go, has been suspiciously taking time off work. We have a lead.
In the meantime Ainsley and Malcolm wait at the studio, and who should call in but Martin himself. The Surgeon has theories of his own; the tawdry financial ambitions of your average ransom killer don’t apply here. This is personal, performative, a ruse designed to obscure the real goal – but what might that real goal be? Perhaps the revenge that has been discussed explicitly by multiple characters all throughout the episode? Who knows!
There’s no time to ponder, though, since the Carousel Killer is back on the line, and he wants Jessica to meet him at the spot where she first met her ex-husband with a bag full of moolah. Jessica, being the plot-driving force of stupidity in Prodigal Son Episode 14, heads straight to the bank and then the park, where the killer, situated with a hostage on a nearby rooftop, orders her to dump the money into the wind or else he’ll toss his captive off the edge. She complies, and he throws the man – the missing brother – off the roof anyway. It’s almost as if murderers can’t be trusted.
Not that Jessica figures this out. The killer promptly calls her again in “Eye of the Needle”, instructing her this time to visit Martin in prison and stab him through the heart with a convenient ceramic weapon that won’t be picked up by security. Off she pops, only to find Malcolm there already, picking his father’s brains about his victims. Jessica tries to play it casual, but Malcolm is, you’ll recall, an expert profiler, and thus figures out something’s up. She confesses she’s there to kill Martin, who – remember, he’s a genius – is explaining how the killer is connected to one of his patients. The small matter of Martin planning to kill Malcolm when he was a child is finally raised here, and Martin admits it, which is treated as a more shocking revelation than it really deserves, if you ask me. Nevertheless, a disgusted Jessica decides he’s worthy of death, and Malcolm offers to do the deed, plunging the knife straight into his father’s chest. Martin, to his credit, offers a great pantomime gasp just to complete the effect.
This works out for the best since as Martin is rushed into surgery, Malcolm is able to spot a suspicious man in borrowed hospital scrubs, who, after eating a clothesline from Hell courtesy of JT (Frank Harts), reveals himself to be the husband of one of Martin’s former patients. Seeing the Whitlys all over the news just brought back all the trauma of losing his missus to the Surgeon; a motive undermined somewhat when Malcolm reveals that his father never actually killed any of his patients. Awkward. Regardless, the man reveals where the hostage is, as Prodigal Son Season 1, Episode 14 cuts back and forth to that opening flashback and heart-related stabbings are discussed. “Eye of the Needle” – it all makes sense!
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Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.