If you saw how your life was going to turn out in twenty plus years, and it wasn’t pretty, would you change your ways?
Tonight’s Prodigal Son is entitled “Silent Night” but it feels more like A Christmas Carol to me.
Say hello to Owen Shannon (Gotham’s Sean Pertwee barely hiding his English accent), a washed-up officer who was once – and still is – obsessed with finding the Surgeon and his accomplice. See, Owen always believed that the Surgeon couldn’t have been working alone. After he was disgraced, his partner (our murder victim for tonight) and lover Ian Turner, dedicated his time and effort to clearing Shannon’s name. This was in fact what got Turner killed – Paul Lazard (aka The Junkyard killer) discovered the old cop was on his track and took care of him.
Now that we got the plot out of the way let’s dig into the real meaning of this Christmas story. Owen Shannon is Malcolm’s ghost of Christmas Future. A man whose life has been ruled and ruined by Martin Whitly and his associate. If Malcolm continues to obsess over his past, especially where it concerns his father, he may well wind up a drunk, ex-cop, who Gil loathes. Paul Lazar, is Malcolm’s ghost of Christmas Past, acting as a bridge to help him learn how he got where he is today. Was it his father’s fault? Was it Paul’s? Or…did Malcolm do this to himself? He laments earlier in the episode that he can’t be with Eve because he feels broken, yet, he has repeatedly said that people are not born broken – that someone breaks them. So, who broke Malcolm? Jessica clearly blames Martin, and Malcolm has pointed the finger at Martin as well, but deep down he worries maybe his theory is wrong. Maybe he was always broken. A view into Paul’s upbringing provides a kind of fun-house mirror version of Malcolm’s. You can see that Paul’s grandmother loves him, deeply, dearly, but her love is destructive, just like Martin’s.
Owen is a frightening spirit in that he not only represents the worse potential for Malcolm’s future, but a manifestation of Malcolm’s self-doubt (possible ghost of Christmas Present?). His lingering suspicion of the Surgeon’s son perfectly reflects Malcolm’s own fears that he is his father’s son in the truest sense of the word. Being able to overcome this, to form even a tentative peaceful relationship with Shannon is that moment when Scrooge realizes he still has hope.
And then, of course, Shannon is killed. Malcolm’s redemption possibility is destroyed. His ghost of Christmas Past is a bloodthirsty Krampus out to drag the kid down into the darkness. Also doesn’t help that the way I saw this his ghosts of Christmas Future and Present were the same guy! But, either way, Malcolm’s Past has him now. It’s up to him to overcome it.
In other news:
Jessica and Gil are DEFINITELY going to bone. Their chemistry isn’t nearly as hot as Jessica and Martin’s, but it also doesn’t require a conjugal visit. Also, also, Gil didn’t kill 24 people.
Ainsley isn’t doing much to dispel my psychopath theory. Her focus is entirely on the piece she did about her infamous father. She shows absolutely no guilt when Jessica points out how the direction of her ambition is insensitive, though in Ainsley’s defense Jessica does have a habit of making everything about her. Like mother like daughter, eh? I wouldn’t, however, classify Jessica as a psychopath. Narcissist? Maybe. Admittedly, she has issues (throwing a shoe at her son’s TV because she doesn’t like what’s on), but the inability to empathize and a pathological need to be on-top aren’t among them. Still, her defense of her actions may come out as decidedly women empowered, but she’s all about her. I suppose on the bright side (since I wasn’t talking about Malcolm does it count as a pun?) it does inspire Jessica to be proactive – albeit while breaking the law.
Colette Swanson (Meagan Good) is in from D.C. and she hates Malcolm. She even tries to turn Dani against him, which doesn’t work because Dani is a solid buddy. From the way Colette and Malcolm exchange hate eyes it’s very obvious they were together. Or…maybe they never got together and that was the problem? I’ll be honest, it’s a little tricky to tell. Though I do give the girl props – she’s probably the only sensible person, realizing that having Malcolm on the case would be a bad idea. Why do shows always let people who are too close to a case be on said case!? Oh right…drama!
Last and never least we learn that J.T’s wife makes him a treat called a “Kringle”. His delivery of this information is amazing (seriously, the actor in no way hams it up or throws it away, it’s just placed out there for the audience to devour).
Merry Christmas indeed!