(Warning: This post contains spoilers for Tuesday’s “Prodigal Son.”)
Following Monday’s news that “Prodigal Son” will not be returning for a third season on Fox, fans could at least take comfort in the fact that Tuesday brought a new episode of the second (and now final) season of the Tom Payne and Michael Sheen-led thriller — even if it was an extra discomforting installment.
During the hour, Dr. Vivian Capshaw’s (Catherine Zeta-Jones) motivations are revealed in “Misery”-like plot that sees her kidnap Martin Whitly (Michael Sheen) and play syringe roulette on him in an attempt to prove how much she loves him, “The Surgeon,” and how worthy she is of his romantic love. Meanwhile, Martin’s son, Malcolm Bright (Tom Payne), is trying desperately to find his father, who everyone else thinks has run off after escaping from Claremont Psychiatric Hospital, but whom Malcolm believes has actually been taken hostage by Capshaw and is now the victim.
Malcom’s attempts to find his father are ultimately successful, but only because he agrees to let Capshaw drug him and take him away when he stumbles across her just moments after he and Dani (Aurora Perrineau) kiss for the very first time during their search for Vivian and Martin. Capshaw takes Malcom back to her waterfront lair, where she proceeds to torture him in front of Martin in a continued attempt to show she is The Surgeon’s equal. But then Dani and Ainsley (Halston Sage) show up outside looking for Malcolm, and Capshaw stabs herself and calls 9-1-1 to try to get ahead of the situation and play the victim in her situation with Martin.
The penultimate installment of “Prodigal Son” ends with Capshaw bleeding and crying in front of Dani and Ainsley while Martin escapes in a speedboat with his unconscious son.
TheWrap spoke with both Zeta-Jones and Payne about the episode, asking Zeta-Jones to break down the reveal of Vivian’s true nature and Payne to speak to that long-awaited kiss between Malcolm and Dani.
First, what “Prodigal Son” guest star Zeta-Jones had to say:
“The grassroots of this character is that she’s a sociopath, just like Martin Whitly, in that, she’s able to cajole, please, be whoever you want to be on the outside, but inside, there’s a very deep troubled woman. And that was probably the connection to when he was on the outside world being a surgeon. He would have been revered within her medical community. And that’s where the beginning of this fixation was and when he turned when he murdered these 23 people, it wasn’t a shock. It intrigued her because she had that same gene of being suppressed. And the great work that Michael has done with this character was that to play a character of such badness and make an audience fall in love and want to protect, it’s in the writing, and it’s in the portrayal. And it’s a very fine line of a sociopathic mind, too. I think, historically, some of the great, big names of serial killers, if you think of Ted Bundy, you look at them and you get why a woman would go in a car with that guy. You know, there’s something about these crazy, sad, deep, troubled, dangerous people. But, you know, it is attractive that they have that ability to be able to lure people in. And she has that. My reasoning was, how does she end up here, when Martin Whitly asks her that. And it’s because of him. She wanted to be in his world again.
“When I do have my two boys, I have my family complete now. I have the son, I have Martin all together in my tortured world. And Martin asking [Vivian], what I want, I say, ‘I want that. I want what he has. I want all of you.’ So what was fun for me was that suppression putting this character into a pressure cooker and waiting then for the guys to drop the scripts and knowing when to release the lid a little bit. And then having that fun episode in Episode 12 that it just lets rip. All my wildest dreams and fantasies and the sicknesses and the control and the sycophantic behavior of this woman comes out within an episode and then one thought, I said to myself, what now? Once the credits roll on Episode 12, I’ve got nowhere else to go. I’m depleted. And then the guys write something that has a great twist for next week.”
And now, “Prodigal Son” star Payne on Malcolm and Dani:
“It’s kind of funny because in making the show, I watched Episode 9 and there is a moment in that with Dani at the house, and then he ends up shuffling her out, because his father appears to him in another daydream in the scene. That in playing it, and also in watching it, there is so much going on in Malcolm’s life that that’s another part of it that– he’s barely holding on to like every aspect of his life, but that’s just another part. It’s like, somewhere within him, he knows he wants some kind of relationship with someone that is not his family and that he can fall into and gain comfort from. But I think, personally having experiences with that and seeing other people who have experienced that, it’s not a very healthy way to start a relationship or be in a relationship. So I think, it’s so crazy because I think I’m happy for him in that moment and happy for him in that scene, but it’s not anything that can be given the right amount of focus and depth that a relationship would require, because it’s just everything is so insane. So in a way, like you see it and you go, ‘Oh, that’s really nice — but oh my God.’ And it can’t really ever be given the care and attention that it needs or that he needs, as much as he would want it. In that episode, in that scene, it’s it’s like an act of desperation. And then, of course, he gets whisked away and ends up in a torture chamber with Vivian and his father. So never really has any time to sit in his feelings, because his feelings are always involved with everyone else’s around him. So he’s never really centered. So even if he sat down and had a proper think about, how do I feel about this person and do I want a relationship with this person? There’s so many other things in the way. But I think it definitely could happen in the future.”
The “Prodigal Son” series finale airs next Tuesday at 9/8c on Fox.