Prodigal Son: “Stranger Beside You” Review

Tonight’s episode promises answers to the girl in box, will it make good? Let’s find out!

First off let me say I’m happy to see this episode is not only written by two women but directed by one as well. Ladies don’t get a lot of love in media-land, so I praise the people who made this opportunity possible. It’s a fitting episode to be directed and written by women because it deals with a subject very close to many women’s hearts: babies! Personally, I’m not a fan, but I do appreciate how difficult motherhood can be and how disingenuous it might feel to constantly see shows and movies that explore motherhood which are written and directed by men (no offense to dads, I believe strongly in the importance of a good father, but being a mom is different). Now, with that out of the way, shall we get back to the show…

Malcolm is a profiler, he’s studied psychology, and as someone who has also studied psychology let me confirm that the education can have a side effect of convincing you there’s something wrong with you. I’m not sure how much of a Freudian Malcolm is, but he certainly values some of the old man’s views as he takes his troubling dream of Eve quite seriously. Ainsley argues he’s just emotionally unhealthy, naturally paranoid because of his profession, and while she might not be wrong, you and I both know Eve’s got some explaining to do. It works out for Malcolm though, as his sister’s competitive streak gets fired up and they both investigate Eve. It is a little funny that all of Malcolm’s resources are hell bent on stopping him from doing a background check on his girlfriend (Dani claims she doesn’t want any part in his self-destructive habits, JT reveals he did the same and almost lost his wife). Personally, I think Dani’s unconscious reasoning might be that if she’s responsible for Malcolm’s breakup it ruins their chances at a romance, but I will 100% cop to shipping them super hard, so…maybe not?

Ainsley once again proves that she’s highly capable and extremely undervalued. While Malcolm putters around trying to get his colleagues’ help looking into Eve, Ainsley doesn’t outsource the work and gets it done by mid episode. My suspicions about Eve were right – the girl in the box was her sister. She also turns out to be adopted. When her sister stops contacting her, and The Surgeon pops up in the news, Eve puts those dots together. Our profiler is none-too-pleased he ignored his instincts for some sweet, sweet, domestic lovin’. Can you blame the guy? I was hoping this set him and Dani up for something, but I’m also not surprised it just winds up bringing him and Eve closer (barf). Also, also, how can you just trust the memory of a guy who saw the girl when he was a kid, and was drugged repeatedly during that time? The level of suspension of disbelief this show requires is INSANE (appropriate, right?).

The case tonight, as briefly mentioned, involves a baby, a mother, a father, and a nanny. The usual conclusions are drawn when daddy winds up dead – he was obviously fucking the young, hot nanny, and his wife killed him out of anger. However, as the story unfolds a much richer tale is told. Mom is an influencer – making a living by being loved by the faceless millions which occupy cyberspace (unless their insta account pic is actually their face), but the problem with being an influencer is that you have to look the part. Alessa (Mom), can’t have kids. She fakes her pregnancy while the surrogate Christine (who infiltrates the family as the nanny) does all the heavy lifting. Ezra (Dad) isn’t killed for the typical reasons – turns out Christine had escaped a domestic violence situation and when trying to pay off her abusive husband didn’t pan out; the poor guy gave his life for his family. Whew! That web tangled enough or you?

One interesting observations about this episode:

Malcolm mansplaining motherhood to the Mom. As a type-A personality (an evaluation made by our profiler), Alissa would definitely have known all of the minor facts he drops on her throughout this episode. Sure, you could argue his attempts are an effort to bond with the victim/get close to a potential suspect, but given the episode is written by and directed by women, I can’t help but feel it’s a not-so subtle jab at the opposite sex (though I do have a tendency to read into things)

The only time his mansplaining isn’t a bad thing? When he’s doing it to another man. Malcolm’s sniffing out JT’s baby surprise is a cute moment in a surprisingly uncute episode (given that it centers around a baby – which is a popular option, not mine). It’s a fun little Sherlock Holmes send up – I mean, let’s be honest, isn’t every TV detective Holmes?

Will Malcolm and Eve survive? Will Eve kill Martin for the death of her sister? Do I care? Ok…fine, I care enough to watch the next episode. Are you happy, Eve?




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