'Prodigal Son' season 1 is macabre, but is also sprinkled with a good dose of dark humor

'Prodigal Son' is about a criminal profiler Malcolm Bright who happens to be the son of one of the most notorious serial killers in New York.


                            'Prodigal Son' season 1 is macabre, but is also sprinkled with a good dose of dark humor
ADVERTISEMENT

Spoiler-free review of 'Prodigal Son' on Fox

'Prodigal Son' is about a criminal profiler Malcolm Bright (Tom Payne) who happens to be the son of one of the most notorious serial killers in New York, Dr Whitley (Michael Sheen). The show follows Malcolm after he is fired from the FBI for showing psychotic tendencies similar to his father, later joining the NYPD. 

One might very well deem 'Prodigal Son' dark and disturbing for television. But the gore is skillfully hidden behind brilliant dark comedic timing and a thrilling direction by Lee Toland Krieger. As Malcolm Bright, Tom Payne delivers a gripping performance. His story opens up like an onion - there are so many layers, the first one perhaps more misleading than the last, but the quest for his truth goes on.

Malcolm's mental health is deteriorating. He had already lived a very difficult life struggling with mental health problems even as a child following the arrest of his father. His PTSD only worsens after he joins the NYPD under Lou Diamond Phillips's Gil Arroyo. Malcolm is a pretty good criminal profiler - his profiles are evolving with the case and he manages to nail it every time. Yet, he sometimes needs to rely on his father to gain some clarity (with a heavy dose of side-effects) on the criminals. After all, who else would know how the mind of a serial killer works better than a serial killer himself? His father is also very persistent. Malcolm repeatedly reiterates his disinterest in reconnecting with his father, but The Surgeon's tenacious nature is impossible to get rid of.  

ADVERTISEMENT

His serial killer father, on the other hand, Michael Sheen's Dr Martin Whitly, is both delightful and terrifying at the same time. Behind his friendly, familiar, and approachable persona of an intelligent doctor is a petrifying man consumed by his urge to kill. The dangerously scheming psychopath, or "predatory sociopath" as Malcolm puts it, does terrorize you. On most days, Sheen's characteristic smile is harmless and inviting to audiences, but in 'Prodigal Son' it is laced with menace.   

Yet this menace, when entwined with the show's dark humor, lends 'Prodigal Son' an enthralling air. You want to watch out for details, rewind and hear Malcolm repeat the criminal profile he conjured, and perhaps even watch Sheen in his element. 'Prodigal Son' sets a bit of a leisure pilot, but a gripping one nonetheless. If you're watching a crime procedural, watch 'Prodigal Son' - it is not one you've seen before.  

The series also stars Bellamy Young as Jessica Whitly, Malcolm's posh mother, Lou Diamond Phillips as Gil Arroyo, Halston Sage as Ainsley Whitly, Aurora Perrineau as Dani Powell, Frank Harts as JT Tarmel, and Keiko Agena as Dr. Edrisa Guilfoyle - each performance immersive and true.

ADVERTISEMENT

'Prodigal Son' will premiere on Fox on September 23, 2019, at 9 PM ET/PT.