“Prodigal Son” Season 1 “Fear Response”: Bright’s (and Our) Fears Prove Well-Founded [SPOILER REVIEW]

It is no surprise that Prodigal Son was picked up by FOX for 9 more episodes, this week’s episode “Fear Response” cemented that decision. A murder victim missing his brain, LSD induced psychotic breaks, Bright (Tom Payne) tossing himself out of a window, and a mother looking the other way to keep the status quo of her family lifestyle. Prodigal Son yet again impressed me with being able to spin so many family issues while still maintain a clear case at the forefront of its story line, not an easy undertaking.

“After what you did, I will never come back here. None of us will.”

In 1998 and upon Dr. Whitley (Michael Sheen) being arrested for being a vicious serial killer, Jessica (Bellamy Young) comes to visit him in prison and seems utterly in love, she indicates that she would have done anything for him, stood by him to ensure that they continued to have their life, that seriously peaked my interest. Exactly what would she do? Are we talking lure victims to her husbands door step, hold his scalpel, help him dig and dismember, or maybe just be the look out? She said the right words, tried really hard to come of as protecting her children, but who was or what was she really protecting?

“You’re seeing your father.”

Present day, “mother of the year” bangs down Malcom’s door to forbid him from seeing his father. Interesting, as it turns out it was Jessica’s idea for young Bright to see his dad at the psychiatric facility, claiming if he saw his father for the monster he truly is he would be able to move on. 20 years later, therapy, medication, and being haunted by night terrors to the point where a man needs to chain himself to the bed? Yep, her theory worked out well alright. As Jessica digs out keys to his apartment, Bright throws himself out of his bedroom window – great way to begin an episode, lucky for him, one of his chains still held.

Bright is coming undone, continuing to have nightmares about the “Girl in the Box” and seeking answers from his parents who are both telling him to let it go. I guess mother and father are still united about this one particular issue? Why? A very sweet scene which offered a refreshing relief from the deep family betrayal and horrors endured by a child was Malcolm walking into his child psychologist office for guidance on his repressed memories. Walking away with several lollipops and suggestions to not see Dr. Whitley anymore, Bright rushed to a crime scene where the victim was bound and missing his entire brain.

“Fear has always been your stumbling block.”

The killer leaves a note, and based on the handwriting suffers from a psychotic break guided by hallucinations while trapped in his own mind. In the midst of Bright working through his theory, Dr. Whitley calls the station to consult on the case, a ballsy move. Even though Bright never actually went to see his father the entire episode, “The Surgeon’s” strategic placement in memories and certain scenes made his presence overwhelming, in a good passive aggressive menacing way.

“Bright was right.”

The NYPD is led to the doorstep of Dr. Elaine Brown, an idol of Bright’s for her long-standing research into the brain. Apparently, some not so ethical experiments were being done into how LSD affects fears. A graduate student took her life in the process and a formal doctoral student decided to seek revenge. He was also a guinea pig, with the LSD unlocking his schizophrenia and he remained in a perpetual state of horror. Seeking revenge via an “eye for an eye,” Dominique set out to drug all those to blame by giving them 50x the appropriate dosage, essentially having his victims die of panic and fear. While in pursuit of the killer, Bright (as is his norm) doesn’t follow protocol and throws a “tripping” victim off a rooftop. Lucky for him, a ledge breaks his fall, but in his defense? The victim was holding a blade to his neck, but still… no punishment from Detective Gil (Lou Diamond Phillips)? He almost killed a man… again!

“You can’t outrun Fear. You have to run in to it”

J.T. (Frank Harts) and Bright have a very brief heart-to-heart talk while steaking out Dr. Brown’s residence waiting for the killer to show up. Bright ventures into the house under the pretense that he has a case related question for the doctor, and instead engages her into his own issues: repressed memories and fear centered diagnosis. Dr. Brown gives him some interesting advice: if he thinks he remembers being drugged by chloroform, then why not smell it and see what happens. Olfactory senses are very strong and have the potential to unlock a lot of doors. Moments later, the doctor started tripping on LSD: her chamomile tea was drugged (how ironic) and she goes into a fear-induced frenzy. Dr. Brown ends up saving Bright’s life by shooting the killer and is freed from the LSD experience by allowing the fear to consume her.

prodigal son
PRODIGAL SON: L-R: Bellamy Young and Michael Sheen in the “Fear Response” episode of PRODIGAL SON airing Monday, Oct. 7 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. © 2019 FOX MEDIA LLC. Cr: David Giesbrecht/FOX.

“Mother, what did you do?”

Jessica pays the Clairmont Psychiatric facility a visit, furious at Martin’s involvement in her son’s life while he merely explains to her he wants a relationship with his son. Is Jessica angry at herself for still loving her husband? At Martin for devastating the family? Or is she harboring hostility towards Martin getting caught and damaging her perfect privileged lifestyle? My money is on the far latter. The only way to get over your fears is to face them head on; Bright sprinkles a few drops of chloroform on his pillow and unchained goes to sleep. What he dreams eludes to Jessica being very well aware of her husband’s “extracurricular activities” and choosing to look the other way in order to preserve her lifestyle.

Next week’s episode is bound to be filled with rage, death, and family drama. How will Bright approach this revelation with his mother – and how will she react? Will there be a Whitley family reunion at the psychiatric facility now that Ainsley (Halston Sage) is craving a father-daughter reunion, too?

About Margo Staten

Margo Staten is a Ukrainian born, raised in Brooklyn, organically driven, coffee loving, twice-divorced mother of one baby Einstein. Has a passion for books, yoga in the park and all things 80’s and New Orleans.