The penultimate episode of Prodigal Son's first season, titled "The Professionals," was a quadruple whammy. We found out some terrible news about Eve (Molly Griggs), sat in on that long-awaited Whitly family reunion, finally saw Jessica (Bellamy Young) and Gil Arroyo (Lou Diamond Phillips) slice through all of their romantic tension, and watched Malcolm Bright (Tom Payne) get the cuffs slapped on him for murder. All in one episode!
Yes, that installment made the most of our twistiest hopes for this show a reality in one fell swoop. Not that we wanted anything bad to happen to Eve, of course, but we have been hoping to see all the Whitlys in one place for months, and the Jessica-Gil connection has been obvious since this show first started. As for what's happening to Malcolm, well, there are quite a few different possibilities for what's ahead in Monday night's finale.
To recap, Malcolm was arrested for murder after he visited Nicholas Endicott's (Dermot Mulroney) hitman, Eddie -- who'd killed Eve and tried to assassinate Martin (Michael Sheen) for telling his family about Nicholas' true enterprise -- in the hospital. The hired gun ended up dead with Malcolm's DNA under his fingernails, and the evidence against him was so stacked that Gil had no choice but to have J.T. (Frank Harts) and Dani (Aurora Perrineau) bring Bright in. We don't exactly know what Malcolm did in that hospital room, but we do know that he was fully aware that they'd be unable to flip the guy against Nicholas, their real target for Eve's murder case, using traditional police interrogation methods.
As much as we'd like to give Malcolm the benefit of the doubt and trust that he's innocent of this crime, we've certainly seen him go to the dark side before. In fact, the last time we had an eerie feeling about where he was headed, he stabbed his own father in the heart. So, like it or not, Malcolm's capable of a lot of wretched things, and we cannot count out the worst-case scenario right now.
In the spirit of embracing all potential outcomes, here are five theories about what's next for Malcolm and his family now that he's the prime suspect for the hitman's murder (and has become thoroughly convinced that Nicholas Endicott is the biggest baddie in town).
1. Malcolm really is a murderer. Prodigal Son's writers like to throw us a lot of curveballs, so we can't rule out the possibility that next week's finale might reveal something deeply unsettling about Malcolm. After all, he is the very damaged son of the Surgeon, and we've seen how similarly skilled he is with a weapon in the past. It's hard to think of a more shocking finish to the show's first season than if Malcolm was revealed to have finally succumbed to his violent tendencies -- whether it be a recent development or something he's been using his profiling mind games to conceal this whole time -- as a result of his girlfriend's death.
And who knows? Maybe it was him who took out Eve in the first place? Maybe Nicholas isn't the only one who doesn't like to hear the word "no," and since Eve did just end things with him, well, the timing of Malcolm revealing Eve's breakup voicemail to Ainsley (Halston Sage) is pretty suspect if the woman had already been dead for two weeks by that point, just saying. Plus, we know from the Nightingale (Dagmara Dominczyk) that Eve's killer had to be someone who spent a lot of time with her, and the season finale is ominously titled "Like Father..." Dun dun dun.
2. Malcolm's night terrors have taken over. One subplot of Prodigal Son that has gotten a little less attention in recent episodes is the absolute lack of control Malcolm has over his behaviors while he is experiencing a night terror. It's also hard for those around him to tell that he is asleep when he's up and wildly swinging knives at people, so it wouldn't be too hard to imagine him committing some act of violence without even knowing he's done it, even if it looks like he's awake to those around him. Sure, he didn't appear to be mid-slumber when he showed up to Eddie's hospital room, but we've seen weirder things happen during one of his episodes -- remember when he accidentally rolled out of his bed and through a second-story window? Fun times.
3. Martin had another of his sycophants finish the job. It's been a long time since we've seen Martin's influence over other active serial killers come into play, but as the copycat killer case proved all the way back in the pilot, the Surgeon does still have some fans who are capable of hideous things. Judging by the way Martin treated Eddie's eyeballs before Bright and the rest of the NYPD ran in to stop him, Martin really didn't want his faux guard to survive that assassination attempt. Perhaps he used his fancy phone privileges to get an old friend over to Eddie's hospital room?
There are a lot of reasons why Martin might want Eddie dead -- there's a good chance Eddie knows about Martin's own history with Nicholas, and he doesn't want that to get back to Malcolm, or maybe he really was just mad that Eddie went after someone so close to his own son (doubtful). Knowing Martin, he could've also put in a request for his own hired gun to frame Malcolm so that his son would need his help again. He really did want to have that family game night in his cell, guys.
4. Ainsley is the undercover mastermind. OK, OK, so this one's a little out of left field, but Ainsley has been a smooth operator since the very beginning of this show, and we have to give her the respect of recognizing that she could be fooling everyone, us included, right now. The way she played Nicholas in that dinner scene was just plain masterful and demonstrated how adaptable and quick her mind is. Wouldn't it be a jaw-dropper if, after enduring a whole lifetime of everyone paying attention to Malcolm's pain and problems, it was the prodigal daughter who turned out to be the most affected by her sordid family history? It's worth pointing out that it really was strange how she was there visiting Martin by herself before Malcolm and Jessica showed up. Something's up with her, one way or the other.
5. Nicholas Endicott is doing exactly what he said he would do. The most obvious outcome here is that Nicholas Endicott is simply following through on the threat he made to Martin all of those years ago when he first set him up with that cushy jail cell. As we saw in that key flashback sequence, Nicholas promised Martin that if he ever revealed his true business -- which we don't fully know the details of but has something to do with "the science of the human body" -- Martin would pay the price.
"I will bankrupt your estate, ruin your children, and make love to your beautiful wife," Nicholas promised over a nice glass of Châteauneuf-du-Pape. We've, um, already seen item number three come to fruition, so maybe he's checking the boxes off in reverse order and has framing Malcolm for murder next on the to-do list? One way or the other, we already know for sure that Nicholas Endicott is bad news.
We'll find out whether any of these predictions are correct when Prodigal Son's Season 1 finale airs on Monday, April 27 at 9/8c on Fox.