“Stranger Beside You” presumably brings the girl in the box mystery to an end, while also delivering a respectable case of the week.
This recap of Prodigal Son Season 1, Episode 17, “Stranger Beside You”, contains spoilers. You can check out our thoughts on the previous episode by clicking these words.
And we’re back, folks, for Prodigal Son Episode 17, in which Eve (Molly Griggs) reveals who she really is, a blogger’s husband gets shanked, and Ainsley (Halston Sage) actually gets something to do.
“Stranger Beside You” opens with a clear dream sequence in which Malcolm (Tom Payne) wakes up to Eve making muffins. The question of whether they’re blueberry or cherry gives Malcolm the cold sweats and wakes him up in terror. Since she has been staying over for a fortnight now she’s used to his bizarre nightmares and presumably the manacles on the bed, so she’s chill, but Malcolm still thinks something’s up. Ainsley agrees to look into her background.
Murder scene! In an idyllic home, a man named Ezra has been stabbed in the neck with a broken champagne bottle at a party in honor of his new-born daughter – his killer obviously has a macabre sense of timing and a flair for metaphor, what with champagne being a symbol of the wealthy and privileged and Ezra and his wife being social media influencers. Malcolm theorizes it was a crime of passion and opportunity, motivated by anger. He also grills the couple’s nanny, Christine (Evelyn Giovine), and notices the wife has a recent-looking cut on her arm.
Martin (Michael Sheen) calls to annoy Malcolm about how little attention he’s paying to dear old dad, and just as Malcolm is giving away a little too much information about his love life the cork comes flying out of the champagne bottle and Edrisa (Keiko Agena) has to make a heroic save – a moment that you have to assume she’s been waiting ages for.
Malcolm, still wildly suspicious of his missus, tries to get Dani (Aurora Perrineau) to run a background check on Eve at the same time she’s running one on Christine, but she refuses. Malcolm and Gil attempt to find out more about the nanny by quizzing some insufferable contemporaries, one of whom believes she was doing the no-pants dance with Ezra. Christine is increasingly looking like the villain in this whole affair, but we know things are never as they seem.
Elsewhere in Prodigal Son Episode 17, Ainsley manages to upset Eve by pushing her on her knowledge of the girl in the box fiasco, much to Jessica’s (Bellamy Young) annoyance. They need to talk about Malcolm’s new girlfriend, it seems.
Christine continues to look suspicious in “Stranger Beside You”, as Dani can’t find her in any database, meaning she must be using a pseudonym. To make matters worse, there has been some finagling of Ezra’s accounts, and while the wife denies a potential affair, Malcolm and Dani see what looks like Christine attempting to snatch the baby. The kid is left alone, but Christine flees out of the window, which is never a good sign.
Also not a good sign is that Christine’s apparent husband, who lives in Canada, calls the police and explains he has been looking for her for a year. She has a troubled past and anger issues and seemingly vanished for no reason, but you can’t take a random cold-caller on face value.
Where else would Malcolm turn for advice on potential psychopaths than his father? And luckily for Martin, he has a couple to quiz him about. First, Eve: As the best liar Malcolm has ever met, what does Martin think about her keeping secrets? It is, according to him, a thing all women do, but he also confesses that he isn’t a liar – he was completely honest in all facets of his life, except about the fact that he was living two of them. On the subject of the case, Malcolm and Martin work their way to their next lead: If Ezra’s wife has a cut that heals slowly, perhaps she’s a diabetic. And if she’s a diabetic, she’d have likely had a much higher-risk pregnancy, though no fuss was ever made about this. Duh, duh, duhhh… she isn’t the mother!
Dani and JT (Frank Harts) are on stakeout duty when they spot the wife heading out into the night with the pram, dropping a bundle into the river. Thankfully she’s just dumping evidence – a fake baby bump and other such paraphernalia that she used to fake her pregnancy. She had to since her body couldn’t carry one of her own. But despite using Christine as their surrogate, the baby is biologically hers. Has anyone told Christine that? The jury’s still out, and she seems the likeliest suspect in Ezra’s murder in the hopes of getting her hands on the nipper.
Another update on Eve in Prodigal Son Episode 17 – she’s the sister of the girl in the box, and got close to the Whitlys in the hopes of figuring out what happened to her sister. Eve arrives right on time to be offended by this revelation and leaves, and Malcolm, quite typically for him, doesn’t deal with how he feels about it, instead responding to a call.
Hey, it’s Christine! And she has been battered pillar to post, she claims by her husband, who she fled Canada to escape. And the baby, contrary to claims, really is hers. She gave it up to Ezra and his wife for adoption, and now the husband wants it back. This is a decent twist for “Stranger Beside You” and reframes the climax a bit. Malcolm tries to team up with the wife to carry out a quick sting on Christine’s husband, who is tailing her, but Malcolm dopily botches his assault, meaning he has to be bailed out by Ezra’s wife, who sets about the would-be baby thief with a glass ornament. This, claims Malcolm, is maternal instinct. You can tell he doesn’t come from the most well-adjusted family.
On the subject of babies, JT is having one, which Malcolm expertly deduces. JT’s a bit put off that his kid is barely the size of a peanut and Malcolm is already trying to profile it, but it’s a nice moment all the same. Another nice moment is one shared between Malcolm and Eve at his apartment, where he catches her leaving having left him a note. Backstory time! Eve and Sophie grew up in an orphanage, and Eve followed her to New York when she disappeared there. Determined to find out the truth after assuming she was the girl in the box, she ingratiated herself with the Whitlys and accidentally fell for Malcolm in the process. Oops. Malcolm offers to look at some pictures of Sophie to confirm she was the girl, and lo and behold, she was – he tells Eve her sister is dead, and they tearfully embrace, bringing Prodigal Son Season 1, Episode 17 to a close.
And I thought my relationships were complicated.
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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.