‘Prodigal Son’ Bosses on Fall Finale’s ‘Insane’ Junkyard Killer Cliffhanger, Malcolm’s Fate

Co-showrunner Chris Fedak tells TheWrap winter premiere is “an incredible panic attack of an episode”

Prodigal Son
David Giesbrecht/FOX

(Warning: This post contains spoilers for Monday’s fall finale of “Prodigal Son,” titled “Silent Night.”)

“Prodigal Son” ended the first half of its first season Monday with Malcolm Bright (Tom Payne) finally coming face to face with the Junkyard Killer a.k.a. Paul Lazar a.k.a. John Watkins (Michael Raymond-James) before being knocked out and dragged off to what we can only assume is a horrifying experience. And we know that because we spoke with showrunners Chris Fedak and Sam Sklaver about where things are headed when the show returns next year.

“When we come back from hiatus, we’ll come back with one of the craziest, most intense episodes with Bright being taken by the Junkyard Killer,” Fedak told us. “As insane as that was, Episode 11 is one of our most insane episodes we’ve done and it’s an incredible panic attack of an episode.”

“That’s our sales pitch, by the way — one long panic attack,” Sklaver added.

Tonight’s episode, “Silent Night” brought Bright closer and closer to Watkins and the revelation that the Junkyard Killer is so closely tied to Bright’s notorious serial killer father, Martin Whitly (Michael Sheen) a.k.a The Surgeon, and the murder of the girl in the box, until he was literally face to face with the serial killer himself. Fedak and Sklaver say building to this “one-two punch” has been their plan from the start of the Fox psychological thriller’s series premiere this fall for a couple reasons.

“It gave us the chance to do two emotional things: We have Bright taken and we see the Junkyard Killer,” Fedak said. “So there’s the physical threat of being taken and then the psychological threat for Bright of seeing this guy who has some connection to his past. And for us that’s great, because the show operates on many levels — one is the exciting thriller that we do each week and the other part is Bright trying to understand himself. So we wanted those things to come to a head in the same moment and give us a one-two punch for Bright and help propel us into the second half of the season.”

Fedak and Sklaver also promise the girl in the box mystery will be resolved sooner rather than later, as they don’t plan to draw that particular case out forever and will give you answers before the first season ends.

“One of the good things about having 23 known victims is that there is a lot of story of Martin Whitly’s past that we can tell,” Sklaver said. “So the girl in the box from the pilot is the one we’re most fascinated in, but it’s not one that we’re planning on keeping open for forever. We’re very excited to drive toward that. But I think in terms of Bright’s own memory, we’re really trying to treat his complex PTSD with the respect it deserves because it’s a real condition that someone like him would really have. And a big part of that is having memories that you don’t know.”

(They’re currently “dying to put Bright into a sensory deprivation tank,” so be on the lookout for that plot in a future episode that probes at Bright’s past.)

As for Bright’s mother Jessica (Bellamy Young) and sister Ainsley (Halston Sage), Fedak says that “the more they step out of their protective bubble and own their story with the Surgeon, I think that’s very brave of them, but we’ll also find no good deed goes unpunished.”

But when the series comes back, it’s going right back into Bright’s current kidnap issue and his team, plus FBI detective Colette Swanson (guest star Meagan Good) and her FBI team, trying to find him — while he also tries to save himself.

“Colette is a fantastic FBI agent in her own right, so we’re going to see a very competent agent working with Gil (Lou Diamond Phillips) and the team and the NYPD to find Bright,” Sklaver said. “So that’s going to play out in Episode 11 with Bright’s own story, trying to save himself from the junkyard killer.”

We’ll see who saves him first when “Prodigal Son” returns Jan. 20 at 9/8c on Fox.