Prodigal Son (TV series)

Prodigal Son is an American crime drama television series, created by Chris Fedak and Sam Sklaver for the Fox Broadcasting Company, that premiered on September 23, 2019.[1] In October 2019, the series was picked up for a full season of 22 episodes.[2]

Prodigal Son
Created by
  • Chris Fedak
  • Sam Sklaver
Composer(s)Nathaniel Blume
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons1
No. of episodes10 (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s)
  • Jennifer Lence
  • Jason Sokoloff
  • Nigel Bluck
  • Anthony Wolberg
  • Benji Bakshi
  • Matt Barber
  • Avi Youabian
  • Luyen Vu
  • Nathan Draper
  • Jeff Asher
  • Hovig Menakian
  • Kim Powell
Camera setupSingle-camera
Running time44–46 minutes
Production company(s)
DistributorWarner Bros. Television Distribution
Original networkFox
Picture format1080i (HDTV)
Original releaseSeptember 23, 2019 (2019-09-23) 
present (present)
External links


The series centers on Malcolm Bright, whose father, Martin Whitly, is the infamous serial killer known as "The Surgeon". As a child, Malcolm was responsible for enabling the police to arrest his father, and has not (of his own volition) seen his father in ten years. Now a profiler, formerly with the FBI (until he was fired) and currently consulting for the New York Police Department, Malcolm is forced to confront his father after a copycat serial killer uses Dr. Whitly's methods of killing. He now finds himself drawn back into constant contact with his father as he must both use Whitly's insights to help the police solve particularly horrible crimes and battle his own inner demons.


  • Tom Payne as Malcolm Bright (formerly known as Malcolm Whitly), a disgraced former FBI profiler who now works for the NYPD. He possesses the unique ability to view crimes from the perspective of the killer, allowing him to pick up on things that other cops might miss. However, this gift also haunts him, causing him to live in a perpetual state of fear that he will one day succumb to the same sociopathic tendencies as his father.[3]
  • Lou Diamond Phillips as Gil Arroyo, a lieutenant in the NYPD. He was the arresting officer of Martin Whitly and, since then, has acted as a surrogate father to his son, Malcolm; Gil hires Malcolm as his new consultant after the latter is fired from the FBI.[4]
  • Halston Sage as Ainsley Whitly, Malcolm's ambitious, younger sister; a TV news reporter.[5]
  • Aurora Perrineau as Det. Dani Powell, an officer under Arroyo's command who is sympathetic to Malcolm's personal issues.[4]
  • Frank Harts as Det. JT Tarmel, an officer under Arroyo's command.[4]
  • Keiko Agena as Edrisa Tanaka, an NYPD medical examiner with an interest in Malcolm.[6]
  • Bellamy Young as Jessica Whitly, Malcolm's mother and a successful businesswoman who suffers from alcoholism as a coping mechanism for her husband's crimes.[7]
  • Michael Sheen as Martin Whitly, Malcolm's father who is currently incarcerated in an asylum after committing twenty-three murders as "The Surgeon".[8]



On January 28, 2019, it was announced that Fox had given the production a pilot order. The pilot was written by Chris Fedak and Sam Sklaver, who executive produces alongside Lee Toland Krieger, Greg Berlanti and Sarah Schechter. Production companies involved with the pilot include Berlanti Production and Warner Bros. Television.[9]On March 12, 2019, it was announced that Lee Toland Krieger would be directing the series.[10] On May 9, 2019, it was announced that the production had been given a series order.[11] A day after that, it was announced that the series would premiere in the fall of 2019 and air on Mondays at 9:00 p.m.[12] The series debuted on September 23, 2019.[1] On October 7, 2019, the series was picked up for a full season of 22 episodes.[2]


In February 2019, it was announced that Lou Diamond Phillips, Aurora Perrineau and Frank Harts had been cast in the pilot's lead roles.[4] Alongside the pilot's order announcement, in March 2019, it was reported that Michael Sheen, Bellamy Young, Finn Jones, Keiko Agena and Halston Sage had joined the cast.[8][7][13][6][5] Four days later, on March 12, 2019, it was announced that Tom Payne would replace Jones in the role during first table readings.[3]


No.Title[14]Directed byWritten byOriginal air date[14]Prod.
U.S. viewers
1"Pilot"Lee Toland KriegerChris Fedak & Sam SklaverSeptember 23, 2019 (2019-09-23)T88.010014.05[15]
Fired from the FBI for insubordination and antagonizing his colleagues, Malcolm Bright is hired as a consultant by his old friend, NYPD Lieutenant Gil Arroyo. On his first case, Malcolm discovers similarities between the killer and his father, Martin Whitly, an incarcerated serial killer known as "The Surgeon". This causes him to suffer night terrors and panic attacks as he finds himself reliving the events leading up to his father's arrest. Against the advice of Gil and his long-suffering mother Jessica, Malcolm visits his father for the first time in ten years for help identifying the killer, who he determines was one of his patients. Faced with the threat of his son abandoning him for good, Dr. Whitly names the killer as wealthy developer Carter Berkhead. Berkhead takes his wife and a cop, Det. Dani Powell, hostage, and an overwhelmed Malcolm offers to trade his life for theirs, distracting Berkhead long enough for Gil to shoot him. Afterwards, Gil tells his officers the truth of Malcolm's identity and asks them to have faith in him.
2"Annihilator"Adam KaneChris Fedak & Sam SklaverSeptember 30, 2019 (2019-09-30)T88.101023.90[16]
Gil invites Malcolm to consult on a new case involving the poisoning of several family members; snakes found in the body of the dead patriarch points to an estranged son who tries to kill Malcolm with snake venom, which triggers a new memory of Whitly using chloroform on his son when he discovers an unconscious woman in a locked chest. Ainsley discovers that her brother has been visiting their father. Malcolm goes to see Whitly, and warns him that he will uncover the truth behind his missing memories. When the suspect is reported dead from suicide, Gil gives his team a few hours to prove Malcolm's theory that he was framed. Malcolm and Dani visit the family lawyer, who admits that he was an illegitimate child rejected by the patriarch and so took revenge by killing his family. He then poisons himself and his wife and daughters, but the cops are able to reverse the poisonings. Dani takes an inebriated Malcolm home that night and helps him into bed. Dr. Whitly's guard at the asylum secretly contacts Jessica, revealing that she has been keeping tabs on her son's visits.
3"Fear Response"Rob BaileyLisa RandolphOctober 7, 2019 (2019-10-07)T88.101033.66[17]
A murder leads Malcolm and the team to Elaine Brown (Sakina Jaffrey), one of Malcolm's idols and a premier expert in the science of fear. Based on letters recovered from the victim's body, as well as evidence the man's brain was removed after his death, Malcolm suspects that the killer may be a disgruntled former test subject of Brown's. JT discovers that Brown was illegally dosing her students with LSD, resulting in a suicide that she covered up. Jessica becomes concerned that her son's visits with Whitly are further damaging his fragile mind; she asks Gil to intervene, but he refuses as he feels Malcolm should make his own choices. Brown identifies the suspect, just as Malcolm realizes that the murders are aimed at wiping out everyone involved with her research. While on stakeout, the killer breaks into Brown's house and drugs her before she shoots him dead; Malcolm convinces her to surrender to the police. Jessica pays a visit to her husband to tell him to stop seeing their son, and he takes the opportunity to try and manipulate her. Malcolm intentionally doses himself with chloroform to try and fill the gap in his memories.
4"Designer Complicity"Leon IchasoWendy CalhounOctober 14, 2019 (2019-10-14)T88.101043.18[18]
Jessica gets Malcolm's name removed from Whitly's visitation list. A social media influencer is murdered in a manner that Malcolm identifies as likely being the work of a stalker. Accompanied by JT, he picks up Roger, a photographer who has been following the victim for some time, but refuses to reveal evidence that the police believe he possesses out of fear. After the real killer tries to run him over, Malcolm tricks Roger into thinking he's about to die, causing him to hand over the evidence. This points the team towards Axel X, a designer and the victim's former boyfriend who Malcolm realizes is the actual target. Without a warrant to justify taking action, Malcolm seeks out Axel on his own and gets him to give up the killer: his bodyguard Joey. Joey prepares to kill him, but the police spring a trap at the last second, using a wire Malcolm was wearing to take down both Axel and Joey. Gil provides Malcolm with a recording of his mother's interview following his father's arrest; he seemingly forgives her afterwards for lying to him about her knowledge of his crimes. Ainsley makes a surprise visit to Dr. Whitly's cell to speak to him.
5"The Trip"Omar MadhaJeremy CarverOctober 21, 2019 (2019-10-21)T88.101053.34[19]
Unable to sleep, Malcolm forces Gil to put him on the case of a murdered drug dealer; his insistence that the murder was motivated by revenge rather than business sets him against Dani, who becomes irritated by his attempts to profile her relationship to the case. Gil locates a potential suspect, a dealer who Dani insists couldn't have been the killer. Defying orders, she goes to see him with Malcolm in tow. A shootout occurs, and Malcolm is exposed to hallucinogenic drugs; Dani takes him home and puts him to sleep. Jessica meets Eve, an attorney who suggests that she invest her family's money in her work fighting human trafficking. Malcolm has a dream involving his own mind, represented as himself in his father's clothes, tells him to find an old box of photos from his childhood to get answers. Dani then reveals that the dealer saved her life three years ago while she was working undercover. They locate the dealer, save him from the killer (a woman seeking revenge for her daughter's death), and fake his murder so he can start over. Jessica gives her son the box, and he finds an old picture that provides a new clue into his lost memories.
6"All Souls and Sadists"Megan GriffithsJustin W. LoOctober 28, 2019 (2019-10-28)T88.101063.39[20]
A man is stabbed over a hundred times to death in a park; Malcolm finds himself drawn to the victim's young son Isaac, who reminds him of himself when his father was arrested. His profile suggests that the killer is a sadist, and he correctly infers that the boy's mother is a "Jocasta", a woman with an unhealthy dependence on her son's companionship. Both Jessica and Malcolm are against Ainsley's plan to interview Dr. Whitly, and Jessica forbids her to do so. Dani and JT catch the mother trying to dig up evidence from the crime scene and take her into custody, whereupon she instantly confesses to the murder. Distraught that his profile might have been wrong, Malcolm visits his therapist Gabrielle, who prompts him to realize that he has blinded himself to the possibility that Isaac is the real killer. His suspicions are confirmed by the mother, and the police race to catch Isaac, who has attacked another man. Malcolm talks him into voluntarily submitting to psychiatric treatment. Ainsley tells her mother that she'll find a way to conduct the interview. Malcolm finds one of his father's old cars, with traces of blood in the backseat.
7"Q&A"Adam KaneElizabeth PetersonNovember 4, 2019 (2019-11-04)T88.101073.13[21]
Malcolm is shot at while searching the car; the police find several bodies buried nearby, indicating the presence of a serial killer. Believing that his father may know the killer, Malcolm goes to speak to him at the same time that Ainsley is conducting her interview. At the same time, another patient, Tevin, escapes and stabs his therapist, forcing a lockdown. He manages to break into the secure wing and stab Ainsley's cameraman/boyfriend Jin in the chest before a guard is able to lock him out. With Jin bleeding to death and medics too far away to help, Malcolm attempts emergency surgery but his PTSD gets in the way. With no other options, the guard uncuffs Dr. Whitly so he can perform the procedure instead. Malcolm takes Ainsley's camera and distracts Tevin before subduing him with a taser. The procedure is successful, and Ainsley thanks her father. However, Tevin then confesses that he was manipulated by the doctor to attack Jin, leading to the latter being placed in indefinite solitary confinement. At Jessica's apartment, Malcolm receives a call from the serial killer and realizes that Dr. Whitly "mentored" him before his arrest.
8"Family Friend"Rob HardyWyatt CainNovember 11, 2019 (2019-11-11)T88.101083.30[22]
9"Pied-A-Terre"Antonio NegretLauriel Harte MargerNovember 25, 2019 (2019-11-25)T88.101093.04[23]
10"Silent Night"Valerie WeissSabrina Deana-RogaDecember 2, 2019 (2019-12-02)T88.101103.35[24]


On May 13, 2019, Fox released the first official trailer for the series.[25]


Critical response

The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported a 59% approval rating with an average rating of 6.47/10, based on 22 reviews. The website's critical consensus reads, "Though it shows promise, Prodigal Son sidelines a spectacular Michael Sheen in favor of a more pedestrian procedural storyline that often drifts too deeply into the grotesque." [26] Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned a score of 59 out of 100 based on 12 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[27]


No. Title Air dateRating/share
DVR viewers
Total viewers
1 "Pilot" September 23, 20191.0/44.05[15]0.83.301.87.35[28]
2 "Annihilator" September 30, 20191.0/53.90[16]0.72.781.76.68[29]
3 "Fear Response" October 7, 20190.9/43.66[17]0.72.631.66.29[30]
4 "Designer Complicity" October 14, 20190.8/43.18[18]0.72.771.55.95[31]
5 "The Trip" October 21, 20190.7/43.34[19][32]
6 "All Souls and Sadists" October 28, 20190.7/43.39[20]0.72.421.45.81[33]
7 "Q&A" November 4, 20190.7/43.13[21]0.72.521.45.65[34]
8 "Family Friend" November 11, 20190.8/43.30[22]0.62.451.45.76[35]
9 "Pied-A-Terre" November 25, 20190.7/33.04[23]0.72.531.45.58[36]
10 "Silent Night" December 2, 20190.7/43.35[24]TBDTBDTBDTBD


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  2. Patten, Dominic (October 7, 2019). "'Prodigal Son' Scores First Full-Season Pickup Of New Fall Season From Fox". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved October 7, 2019.
  3. Andreeva, Nellie (March 8, 2019). "'Prodigal Son': Tom Payne To Headline Fox Pilot In Recasting". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved May 11, 2019.
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