Tonight’s episode is based on “The Count of Monte Cristo” but it’s not all by the book.
Are you still with me? Even after that terrible pun? Nice! Thanks! OK, on with the review!
Hands down, this is my favorite Prodigal Son episode by far. It’s so light and fluffy, tongue-in-cheek, without being empty calories. It’s as Bender from Futurama once lamented “…a hideous triumph of form and function.”
“Wait and Hope” has a lot going for it in my opinion. There’s the naturally improbable set up of a workaholic detective taking a break, the rarely seen exploration of a serial killer’s human side, and of course the shoehorned-in writer’s Liberal Arts degree put to good use for a change.
Our episode’s killer storyline revolves around Dumas’ famous prison escape turned revenge fantasy. Only in a modern twist it’s the lady scorned who reigns down hell. Now, as I’ve said many times in the past, the killer plots are largely just dressing on the Whitley drama, and even though this episode isn’t entirely different, I feel like the dressing is really used well for once. It manages to draw all the players in perfectly, having all roads lead to the showdown. No, it’s not the first time we’ve seen this done, but I personally feel this is the best execution of it.
As for the Whitley drama side of things the show decides to take the usual opening trope of Malcolm’s nightmares and turn it on its head. Tonight, we witness what makes Martin wake up shivering and uneasy on those cold prison nights: spoiler, it’s the fear of losing his boy forever! As I’ve mentioned before, and will no doubt mention again, it’s nice to see a serial killer humanized for once. Yes, it’s a lot easier to think of them as baseless monsters (godless killing machines for you Colbert nationalists out there), but the truth is, serial killers are people. Sure, they aren’t the best people, but they have emotions all the same (again, maybe not the best emotions). Martin is often portrayed as this brilliant Hannibal Lecter type with nothing to lose and everything to offer to the hapless police who come asking his advice, but as we’ve seen, he’s not just that. He misses his family, despite his inability to express this in a “normal” manner. Seeing him in that group therapy session, forcing a fellow inmate to give him the resolution he so desperately desires from his son, is both troubling and sad.
Among the other great moments in this episode, we have the opener – well, post Martin nightmare, of course. Malcolm, as you may recall from the previous adventure, was finally going to go on vacation. His mother’s present of a white suite is pretty hilarious, especially when Gil comes to drive him to the airport only to lead to the inevitable detour to a crime scene where everyone gets their own jabs in about his style. Edrisa enjoys herself so much, she makes multiple jokes at the suit’s expense until the discovery of a landmine shifts the air in the room to a more serious note (though, in true Prodigal Son fashion, not too serious). Normally, after the first three or four cuckoo-bananas openers I got bored but given Malcolm’s building explanation of the nature of the crime (ie. a novel-based murder), the escalation actually feels fitting. It also provides a good excuse for Malcolm to miss his plane – diving out of a window and onto a car while a bomb explodes would understandably require some recovery time.
The whodunit is an easy conclusion. You watch enough of these shows, you get a sense of what the twist is gonna be. In this case, since no one was mentioning a body found, it seemed fairly obvious our killer would be the lady assumed dead. Also, even though the father made a good suspect, the fact that Malcolm “had a feeling” meant we had met our red herring for the night. Regardless of whether you figured it out or not, I think Isabella was totally in the right, and who doesn’t love a killer you can root for?
Malcolm and Dani’s relationship seems to be deepening – might it lead to more? The tried and true method of opening Cupid’s Pandora’s box tends to be having the characters see each in states outside of the norm. You recall Dani has seen Malcolm topless, and vulnerable, while Malcolm has confided in Dani, and she in him. Seeing him in that white suit, and her in that stunning dress may have cracked that box open at last. But, only time will tell…
Lastly, the dialogue in this episode is a HUGE part of what made it such an amazing episode. Everybody gets good quips, the comedic timing is on-point, and so is the dramatic. This outing did a splendid job of conveying both an outlandish action movie tone while grounding it in a southern gothic style family drama (Lucky number 13, eh?). Bravo, Prodigal Son, I’m waiting and hoping for more episodes like this!