‘Prodigal Son’ Season 2 Episode 3 Recap: “Alma Mater”

Prodigal Son Season 2 Episode 3
Lou Diamond Phillips, Bellamy Young and Tom Payne in ‘Prodigal Son’ season 2 episode 3 (Photo by Phil Caruso © 2021 Fox Media LLC)

Fox’s Prodigal Son season two episode three immediately answers the question as to how Dr. Martin Whitly (Michael Sheen) turns up at home as teased in the trailer. Martin’s joyful homecoming in which he’s welcomed back into Jessica’s life – and her bed – is, of course, just a dream. He wakes in his cell, greatly disappointed.

Meanwhile, Malcolm (Tom Payne) has turned to exercise, pills, and caffeine to push away the memories of slicing and dicing Nicholas. Martin rings up his son, inquiring about the previous night’s sleep. Malcolm admits he didn’t sleep, calling dreams a “hellscape” where his biggest fears play out.

They talk in circles about Malcolm’s big secret, with Martin anxious for his son to visit so they can further discuss Malcolm’s state of mind. Fortunately, Gil (Lou Diamond Phillips) arrives with news of a case which allows Malcolm to exit this phone conversation without even a goodbye.

Gil reveals the new case is at Remington Academy which just so happens to be Bright’s alma mater. Malcolm doesn’t want to go back and the staff there probably doesn’t want to see him. He jokes he’ll only enjoy returning to Remington if the victim is the boarding school’s headmaster. It is.

The students are in lockdown when Gil and Malcolm arrive and meet up with Dani (Aurora Perrineau). Headmaster Nathaniel Brumback is by the pool and all of the items from his office can be seen submerged nearby. Malcolm’s disdain for both the deceased and the school in general is evident, and he’s not in the least bit sympathetic about Brumback’s murder.

Malcolm explains the items in the pool were probably put there as part of the traditional senior prank.

Dani receives a message from JT (Frank Harts) that they may have to induce labor. His wife’s overdue and JT’s panicking. Edrisa (Keiko Agena) swims up in a scuba mask and says to ask JT when they last had sex. Climaxing can help trigger labor contractions, but no one wants to actually ask JT this very personal question.

Edrisa’s prompted to get back to the business at hand and explains Brumback was found carefully positioned in his chair underwater. However, she’s not sure he drowned.

Gil suggests a parent or teacher may have killed Brumback, but Malcolm believes it might have been a student. He’s certain the kids at Remington are capable of it.

Malcolm has a flashback to an argument with his convicted serial killer dad about attending boarding school. Martin didn’t want him to and believed high school should be fun. Malcolm viewed the enrollment at Remington as a way to escape the notoriety that came with the Whitly last name. (This flashback reveals the first time Malcolm told his dad he was changing his last name to Bright.)

The investigation begins with an interview with Professor Alan Delaney (Campbell Scott) who’s just been named interim headmaster. Delaney appears to have always been impressed with Malcolm and doesn’t object when Malcolm refers to the students as suspects. Alan explains Jessica promised that Malcolm and the police will be discreet.

Jessica (Bellamy Young) joins the meeting and reveals she’s a Vice Chairwoman at the school. Malcolm’s ready to walk away from the investigation after realizing Jessica contacted the mayor and set it up so he’d be involved. She begs her son to continue the investigation, reminding him her family helped build Remington Academy.

Malcolm gives in, just as Jessica knew he would.

Malcolm notices the tension between Gil and Jessica and leaves them to talk. She hopes he can separate business from their personal issues. And just as she did with Malcolm, Jessica gets her way with Gil.

Personal problems pushed aside, Gil and Jessica rejoin Malcolm who has figured out this is all a result of “teen brain.” By that he means the psychological state of an adolescent. That period in life is when mental disorders can appear.

Back at the Claremont Psychiatric Hospital, Martin’s among those listening to Friar Pete (Christian Borle) preach. As they split up in groups, Martin reminds Friar Pete he needs to escape. Friar Pete suggests he talk to Darryl (Sahr Ngaujah) who’s been praying on their project.

Darryl and Martin’s whispered conversation includes a discussion of the need for three colored key cards in order to escape. Darryl reveals his cellmate’s already stolen two. Just one more and they’re good to go.

Back at school, memories are resurfacing as Malcolm walks the halls of Remington and talks to Dani. Snippets of being locked in a closet at the end of the hall flash through his head as he recalls being expelled by Brumback and having his name written in Brumback’s little black book. That sparks the idea that maybe the killer’s name is also in the book.

Malcolm walks back to the pool while remembering Brumback kicked him out after learning he was Dr. Martin Whitly’s son. He jumps into the pool fully clothed and retrieves the book.

A soaking wet Malcolm joins Professor Delaney and Gil in a classroom where three students have been summoned. Malcolm explains he’s there to profile them and to talk about Brumback’s black book. Although the students think its existence is just a myth, Malcolm knows otherwise. The book is now in his possession.

Only expulsion level offenses are in it and the three students in the room are each listed on the last page. Louisa (Lily Ganser) claims she was in Brumback’s office only for a pep talk about graduation. Anton (Arthur Langlie) confesses Brumback called him in because two girls, each believing they were his girlfriend, got into a fight. The third student, Molly (Salena Qureshi), says she was in his office because she’d been caught smoking pot.

They’ve all exhibited interesting psychological markers, but no real motive for murder has been revealed. They claim not to speak to each other because they’re in very distinct cliques.

The students leave and Malcolm is sure they were lying. He believes they’re friends but won’t admit it. He reveals they looked at each other quickly when he pulled out the book and is sure they’re keeping secrets.

Jessica barges in and declares the students are innocent. Gil warns her to stop interfering, but she doesn’t listen. She claims to know these three kids and believes they couldn’t possibly have committed murder.

While they’re busy discussing the students, Edrisa has an encounter with the three possible suspects. Curious, Edrisa opens a box labeled “Physics Club” and is disappointed to find only bottled water inside. She’s attacked for snooping, with the threesome mistakenly believing she’s a student.

Back at the station, Edrisa shows Gil and Malcolm one of the bottles. There isn’t actually a Physics Club at the school, and Malcolm discovers the bottles’ labels have crib sheets attached. They’ve been cheating on exams.

Edrisa also reveals the cause of death wasn’t drowning. Brumback was poisoned. Gil, Malcolm, and Edrisa suspect the killer might have been Louisa and decide their best option, given Louisa’s father’s powerful position, is to have Jessica question her. (Malcolm credits his mom with being a master interrogator.)

Louisa shows up at the Whitly home and Jessica reveals she knows about the cheating. Louisa admits she needed help with an exam, shifting the blame away from herself.

Prodigal Son Season 2 Episode 3
Guest star Campbell Scott and Tom Payne in the “Alma Mater” episode (Photo by Phil Caruso © 2021 Fox Media LLC)

Malcolm returns to Remington in the evening for a chat with Professor Delaney about Anton, the student Louisa’s naming as the murderer. When Delaney asks if he’s still claustrophobic, Malcolm has a flashback to the weekend he was locked in a closet by fellow student Nicky Covington. Nicky taunted Malcolm about his real identity and then shoved him in the closet, leaving him there without food or water for three days.

Even the memory brings Malcolm to his knees in panic. He asks who told Nicky his real name and Delaney blames it on Martin. He claims Martin called and used Malcolm’s real last name. That’s how word got out.

Their conversation’s cut short by the departure of a helicopter. Anton’s on board and fleeing campus.

Malcolm heads over to Claremont to confront his dad. He demands to know why Malcolm betrayed him and destroyed his shot at a normal childhood. Martin claims he didn’t call Remington and thinks Malcolm should believe him because Malcolm’s the one person he absolutely cannot hurt.

Martin warns him someone’s lying and it’s not him. Once Martin describes what the poison that killed Brumback is used for, Malcolm swiftly connects the dots and deduces the killer is most likely Professor Delaney.

Malcolm pays another visit to Delaney after hours and advises him he’s now aware his father didn’t call Remington. That means Delaney lied. Delaney confesses he’s the one who spilled the beans, but only because Malcolm was too observant. Delaney’s been feeding the kids the exam answers for 20 years in order to pad his income.

As they’re talking, Malcolm picks up a bottle of the exact poison that killed Brumback. Malcolm’s disappointed his profile was wrong and blames it on wanting the killer to have been a student. Delaney swears he’s innocent. He becomes ill as he’s speaking and it turns out he ingested the poison too, courtesy of a sandwich made by Louisa.

Louisa shows up at just that moment and locks them in the climate controlled room. Delaney was working on rare books in an airtight vault with a lousy cell signal. Apparently, Brumback learned about the cheating and Louisa refuses to allow anyone to screw up her plan to move thousands of miles away from home. Headmaster Brumback had to die for Louisa to escape her father’s control.

Malcolm begs Louisa to set them free before the air runs out of the room and they die. She refuses to open the door and Malcolm delays her exit by confessing he’s a killer too. He reveals he punched Nicky after being freed and then withheld his asthma inhaler before finally handing over an empty container.

Malcolm claims he never told anyone this story and Louisa can relate. He says Headmaster Brumback expelled him, sensing the killer inside. He finishes the story by revealing he eventually called for help and Nicky didn’t die. Louisa’s disappointed with this turn of events, and Malcolm reveals he was only telling the story to give Delaney’s ironing tool time to heat up. He places it on a book and it catches fire, setting off the alarm. Of course, this maneuver will also remove all the oxygen from the vault.

Dani arrives at Anton family’s estate to place him under arrest for murder. He proclaims his innocence and Molly suddenly appears at his side. They confess they fled campus because they’re scared of being killed.

Louisa hurries away and is stopped by Gil, backed up by lots of officers. When they hear the alarm going off, she claims it’s just another senior prank. Fortunately, they don’t believe her.

Rescued and back at the station, Malcolm’s read the riot act by Gil while Dani attempts to get their attention. Malcolm reminds him Louisa’s been arrested and Delaney didn’t die, so at least there’s that. Dani finally breaks into the conversation with the news JT and his wife just welcomed a beautiful baby boy to their family.

Meanwhile at Claremont, Martin tells Darryl he can get the one key card they’re missing. He asks for Darryl’s shiv and Daryl slips it to him. He then asks for the two key cards in Darryl’s possession, threatening to slice his carotid artery if he doesn’t hand them over. Malcolm doesn’t have time to follow through on that threat before the guards appear, so he quickly drops the weapon under Darryl’s chair and points it out. Darryl’s hauled off, leaving his Bible with the two stolen key cards behind.

Later, Malcolm pays another visit to his dad and apologizes for blaming him for calling the school. Martin’s taken aback, completely surprised his son would say he’s sorry. Martin thinks Malcolm should have owned his name all those years ago in school. He would have been a rock star among his fellow students.

After he leaves, Malcolm seems quite pleased with himself over having Darryl’s two stolen key cards now in his possession.