Unfortunately, Prodigal Son fans won’t be able to delve into the twisted relationship between Malcolm Bright and his serial killer dad Martin Whitly for a third season. Fox opted not to renew the smart, engaging drama for a new season and so season two episode 13, “The Last Weekend,” pulls double duty as both a season and series finale. And, oh yeah, the Prodigal Son writers knocked the finale out of the ballpark and – damn them! – left us wanting more.
Episode 12 ended with Martin (Michael Sheen) gleefully steering a getaway boat with Malcolm (Tom Payne) on board recovering from nearly being killed by Vivian. That setup of father and son on the run pays off, as the season/series finale allows for plenty of time spent with the dynamic dysfunctional duo on the run.
Episode 13 opens with Malcolm tied to a chair in a cheap motel room in Vermont, momentarily alone to ponder the stuffed dead animals also occupying the room.
Jessica (Bellamy Young) stews over having never confessed to Gil that Vivian called her. Ainsley (Halston Sage) joins her at home, admitting the network’s been keeping her busy on-air and it was difficult to get away.
Ainsley reveals she’s learned Vivian’s claiming Malcolm was Martin’s partner in crime. The scene cuts to Vivian (Catherine Zeta Jones) lying her way through an interview with U.S. Marshal Emily Ruiz (April Hernandez-Castillo), while Gil (Lou Diamond Phillips), JT, and Dani listen in. They agree Vivian’s story doesn’t add up. Unfortunately, they’re aware no one else believes Malcolm’s not in on Martin’s escape.
Martin returns and claims he was simply saving Malcolm’s life by fleeing with his son in tow. He releases Malcolm from his bindings while they debate their next steps. Both realize Vivian’s wicked but smart, and they assume she’ll be claiming Malcolm was in on everything.
Martin, who’s dressed like Grizzly Adams and has dyed his hair dirty blonde, describes his new look as “mountain man.” Malcolm thinks his dad looks insane. Malcolm assures his dad they’re not friends and that he’s going to bring him in. Martin thinks he’s scored brownie points because so far he hasn’t killed his son.
Father and son eat junk food and discuss why they’re in this particular Vermont town. Malcolm can’t wrap his head around the idea of Martin no longer being a killer, and Martin pulls out a missing persons flyer. Martin believes if they find the missing woman’s kidnapper, it will somehow prove to the police Malcolm’s innocent. And, quite possibly, it will also redeem Malcolm’s “old man” because the man who abducted Jeannie Larkin is most likely the notorious serial killer The Woodsman.
Malcolm says he worked The Woodsman case for years and never learned his identity. He also notes Jeannie matches The Woodsman’s MO and they’re in the same area where other victims were taken. The clock’s ticking on Jeannie. She’s been gone 12 days and The Woodsman normally kills his victims after two weeks in captivity.
Gary the hotel clerk (Dan Sharkey) brings Martin the fax he’s been expecting. It appears Martin figured out he can communicate with Ainsley via fax since cops would never think of checking on an old fax machine.
Martin is nearly orgasmic as he eats real pancakes for the first time in years. He pulls a rabbit out of his hat, confessing The Woodsman wrote to him years ago. Malcolm observes the killer used a different address on each letter, and each was sent from a zip code around where he operated. There’s one notable exception – Maple Mountain, the town where they’re currently hiding out. (Absolutely love the way Tom Payne and Michael Sheen play off each other. Definitely going to miss these two sharing scenes.)
Malcolm wants to call Gil, but Martin thinks there’s no time. They only have two days until Jeannie will be murdered with a lumberjack’s hook and left somewhere with a freshly planted sapling on her grave.
As Martin’s talking, Malcolm scans the letters again and surmises that based on the killer’s word choices, The Woodsman is in law enforcement. It’s long been suspected the killer was an upstanding citizen of a town and had deep roots in the community.
Martin wants to get busy investigating but Malcolm assures him he’ll be sitting this one out. He’s planning on taking his dad back to the hotel and tying him up.
Meanwhile, Ruiz is convinced Malcolm’s helping his dad and wants to issue a BOLO (be on the lookout) but Gil insists that will only get Malcolm killed. He stakes his professional reputation on Malcolm not being a willing accomplice. Ruiz reluctantly agrees to give Malcolm a chance but warns if another body drops it’ll be on Gil.
Malcolm pays a visit to the local sheriffs office and asks if there are any updates on The Surgeon. The news is on as the deputy (Eddie Kaye Thomas) replies and observes Ainsley’s “smokin’” while watching her report on her dad. Malcolm flashes his NYPD ID and asks about Jeannie Larkin. The deputy refers him to his boss, Sheriff Fern Cooley (Breaking Bad’s Anna Gunn). She asks what brought him to town and guesses he believes The Woodsman is responsible for Jeannie going missing.
Her husband, Don, shows up with lunch as they’re talking. They kiss and Don explains they’ve been married 20+ years and have a standing Friday lunch date.
Malcolm cuts through the small talk and asks what Sheriff Cooley thinks happened to Jeannie. She believes Jeannie will return home when she’s out of money. (Apparently, Jeannie’s parents sent her to this town to get sober.)
Sheriff Cooley calls in Deputy Crutchfield, the department’s The Woodsman expert. He’s been at three of the crime scenes and Malcolm’s confused why that’s so, given the crime scenes are in different jurisdictions. Crutchfield explains he’s lived in different areas but always stayed close to Maple Mountain, his birthplace.
Back at the station, Jessica finally comes clean to Gil about Vivian’s phone call. He’s upset she kept it to herself and now because she didn’t say anything, everyone assumes Vivian’s the victim.
Cooley shows off everything they have on The Woodsman and Malcolm points out Crutchfield’s hand is in one of the photos from a crime scene he didn’t admit to being at. Crutchfield admits that’s true and Cooley’s shocked about this development. Malcolm notes a blood sample went missing from that particular crime scene and as he’s on the verge of accusing Crutchfield of either stealing it and/or being The Woodsman, Malcolm’s interrupted with news “his lieutenant” is on the phone.
Malcolm steps out to take the call and Martin reveals the news is reporting Malcolm’s wanted for questioning as an accomplice. When Martin warns his son to get out of the police station, Malcolm makes it known to his dad he might have found The Woodsman without actually saying that out loud since Crutchfield is now standing right in front of him.
JT (Frank Harts) reluctantly admits he likes Malcolm as he tells Dani (Aurora Perrineau) that for some odd reason Ainsley just visited Claremont. And speak of the devil, Ainsley walks in just as they’re talking about her. She explains she believes her dad and Malcolm are chasing The Woodsman.
Martin’s decided their best option is to hit the road before someone spots them. Malcolm’s not about to run; he’s sure Jeannie will die if they don’t try and find her right now. When Martin doesn’t immediately get on board, Malcolm accuses him of lying about being a changed man and threatens to call Gil.
Martin admits he was sick when Malcolm was little because of everyone demanding perfection. “I was perfect…except when I wasn’t. I made mistakes,” says Martin. Malcolm’s stunned by this whole conversation and reminds his dad he killed 23 people. Martin says he doesn’t want Malcolm getting killed because of what he’s done – that’s why he wants to hit the road.
Martin claims he just wants to be a good dad. Malcolm tells him he can prove that by helping him save Jeannie. Malcolm shares his thoughts on Deputy Crutchfield being The Woodsman.
Martin becomes giddy thinking about spending time on a stakeout with Malcolm as they wait for Crutchfield to lead them to Jeannie.
Jessica’s invited Vivian to her home in hopes of convincing her Malcolm’s nothing like his dad. Vivian’s still playing the victim and believes everyone needs to know the real Malcolm. Jessica leaves the dinner table to retrieve dessert and Vivian takes advantage of her absence to place a drug in Jessica’s glass.
Malcolm has flashbacks of his childhood as he and Martin wait for Crutchfield to make his move. While they’re waiting, Malcolm reluctantly lets his dad step outside the borrowed truck to relieve himself. Seconds later Malcolm hears a thud and follows his dad into the dark. He’s immediately confronted by Crutchfield who advises him not to try anything.
A short while later Malcolm and Martin are locked in a cell. Malcolm’s unsure what’s going on since there’s no reason for Crutchfield to have brought them back to jail if he was trying to get rid of their bodies. Father and son figure out Crutchfield’s not The Woodsman and arrested them because he knows their true identities. They also quickly figure out Crutchfield called in their arrests and the real Woodsman knows their location.
Jessica returns to the dining room and asks how Vivian got so close to Martin so fast. Vivian calls Martin dashing and notes it’s difficult to find a man with manners. Jessica laughs at that and reminds Vivian that Martin’s a serial killer. She claims she doesn’t care about Vivian and Martin’s sick games but accuses Vivian of going too far by involving her son.
Jessica sips her drink, stumbles a bit, and drops the glasses. She asks Vivian if she drugged her just as we hear Gil’s voice asking if Jessica’s okay. (This is all a trap set to ensnare Vivian and capture her confession.)
Vivian locks the dining room door as Jessica lets Gil know she’s all right without giving away that she’s wired. Gil advises Jessica he’s coming in in a minute or sooner if Vivian confesses.
Vivian explains she and Martin were made for each other and confirms she tied up and tortured Martin and Malcolm. She loved the feeling of power and describes Malcolm screaming out for his dad. Jessica screams and then stops pretending to be drugged. “Sorry, Viv, it’s going to take more than two martinis and a couple of valium to take me down. That’s breakfast in this family,” says Jessica.
Vivian picks up a fireplace poker and attempts to strike Jessica. A full-on fight breaks out as Jessica warns she studied Krav Maga with Grace Jones. Chairs are broken, vases are smashed, and neither woman is willing to back down. Fortunately, Gil and the officers break down the door and place Vivian under arrest before Jessica can finish her off.
Malcolm tries to convince Crutchfield someone at this police station is The Woodsman, pointing out the reasons it adds up to being someone he works with. Crutchfield shakes his head no, but it’s obvious he’s just figured out the truth. Before he can say a name, The Woodsman sneaks up behind Crutchfield and kills him.
The Woodsman takes Malcolm and Martin to his “special spot,” a remote cabin. They’re tied up and attached to the ceiling, standing with their hands above their heads, as Malcolm realizes his dad’s legitimately scared. Martin confesses he is.
Dani, JT, and Ainsley arrive at the Maple Mountain sheriff’s office and meet with the same deputy who spoke with Malcolm earlier. He doesn’t know anything about The Surgeon being in the area but does confirm he met with Malcolm yesterday.
Sheriff Cooley walks in and grabs a cup of coffee. The deputy asks about Crutchfield since his car’s in the parking lot, and Cooley says he’s probably out getting breakfast. Dani tells her The Surgeon might be in their town and if someone’s missing, he could be responsible.
Cooley steps out of the room and Dani, JT, and Ainsley realize she’s scared and trying to get rid of them. JT notes the coffee pot’s cold and Cooley drank it anyway. They believe she pulled an all-nighter and lied that the station just opened up.
JT fishes a bloody cloth out of the trash can just as Sheriff Cooley returns and pulls a gun on the group. She orders them to get on the floor and JT calmly asks for an explanation. He advises her he’s a good man and a father, and he’s not a threat. Dani, however, is a threat and was able to get behind Cooley without her noticing. Dani disarms Cooley and shoves her against the wall.
And it turns out The Woodsman is Sheriff Fern Cooley’s husband, Don! Malcolm realizes Sheriff Cooley protected Don from the inside. Don’s not impressed with The Surgeon, telling him, “Killer to killer – you haven’t been in my league in decades.”
Malcolm distracts Don as he’s about to kill Martin. He wonders when Fern learned he’s a psychopath, and then upsets Don enough so that he launches an attack. Malcolm swings his legs out and kicks Don as Martin, who’s worked himself loose, hits him in the head and knocks him out. Martin grabs Don’s knife and Malcolm warns him not to kill him.
Moments later Malcolm changes his mind, realizing Jeannie’s running out of time. They need Don to believe he’s in physical danger so he’ll disclose where he’s holding her. Malcolm begs his dad to break his vow to turn over a new leaf and torture Don. “New deal…you can hurt one person – him – a serial killer. There’s no other way,” says Malcolm.
“I’m not the man I used to be,” replies Martin.
Malcolm believes his dad’s changed but he needs to hurt Don. It’s the only way to save Jeannie. “Please. I’m asking as your son,” begs Malcolm.
Malcolm steps outside as screams of pain fill the air. Martin emerges from the cabin, takes a deep breath, smiles, and then tells Malcolm he’s okay. Their plan worked and Martin learned Jeannie’s location.
Meanwhile, JT, Dani, and Ainsley question Fern, and it’s Ainsley who gets through to Fern by reminding her it’s possible she can still redeem herself for her daughters’ sake. All she needs to do is give up Don’s location.
Malcolm and Martin make their way through the woods to the spot where Jeannie’s being held. They search the area and discover a locked door leading to a small, buried container. They quickly release Jeannie and Martin comforts her, telling her she’s safe as Malcolm calls 9-1-1. Martin can’t believe Malcolm’s altering their plan and runs off as Malcolm informs the operator he has Jeannie, The Woodsman, and Martin Whitly.
Malcolm hands the phone to Jeannie and chases after his dad.
Vivian’s under arrest, thanks to Jessica. Gil and Jessica have a quiet moment and an uncomfortable Edrisa (Keiko Agena) wonders if she should leave, describing the situation as “steamy.” Edrisa was able to get Vivian’s old medical files and believes Vivian killed at least 11 people while working at various hospitals.
“No wonder Martin liked her so much,” says Jessica.
Dani, JT, and Ainsley arrive at Jeannie’s location with backup. Jeannie explains Martin ran away and Malcolm’s chasing him.
Martin and Malcolm have one final confrontation in which Martin accuses his son of making him become “that man” again. Malcolm believes it’s who his dad is and always will be.
“I was trying to be a good father!” screams Martin in anguish.
Malcolm claims he’s trying to save his dad by telling him he doesn’t belong out in the world.
Martin says that while he was a good father, Malcolm was never a good son. Malcolm realizes his dad just decided he is going to kill him as Martin advances on his son with a knife. Malcolm’s easily able to turn the knife away and plunges it into his dad’s stomach.
“I was right. We are the same,” says Malcolm clutching his wound and falling to the ground.
Dani arrives to find Malcolm standing over his dad and still holding the knife.
The series ends with Dani asking, “What did you do?!”
Malcolm’s in shock and doesn’t reply.
- Prodigal Son Season 2 Episode 1 “It’s All in the Execution” Recap
- Prodigal Son Season 2 Episode 2 “Speak of the Devil” Recap
- Prodigal Son Season 2 Episode 3 “Alma Mater” Recap
- Prodigal Son Season 2 Episode 4 “Take Your Father to Work Day” Recap
- Prodigal Son Season 2 Episode 5 “Bad Manners” Recap
- Prodigal Son Season 2 Episode 6 “Head Case” Recap
- Prodigal Son Season 2 Episode 7 “Face Value” Recap
- Prodigal Son Season 2 Episode 8 “Ouroboros” Recap
- Prodigal Son Season 2 Episode 9 “The Killabustas” Recap
- Prodigal Son Season 2 Episode 10 “Exit Strategy” Recap
- Prodigal Son Season 2 Episode 11 “You Can Run…” Recap
- Prodigal Son Season 2 Episode 12 “Sun and Fun” Recap