‘The Prodigal Son’: Meaning and TV Show Plot

VideoVideo related to ‘the prodigal son’: meaning and tv show plot2019-09-23T20:44:35-04:00

Tonight is the series premiere of The Prodigal Son on Fox, and fans are itching to know more about this ‘Silence of the Lambs’-esque series.

What do we know about the title and the series’ plot? Read on.

Plot & Meaning

The show follows Malcolm, the son of a serial killer known as ‘The Surgeon’. ‘The Surgeon’ has been charged with 23 known murders and is living in a psychiatric hospital. Malcolm works as a gifted criminal psychologist, and uses his “twisted genius” to help the NYPD solve crimes and stop killers.

In a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, Michael Sheen, who plays the serial killer father of Malcolm, was asked what made him want to be part of this series. He replied, “What I want to see in a pilot episode is lots of possibility, options, and things to potentially explore. I thought this was fascinating: We have a character who has done some of the most awful things that a human being can do and yet seems to be a loving father. He has all these contradictory things in him, and this central father/son relationship seems really problematic — in a good way. I just thought there was so much under the surface to look into and explore and be interesting and that’s perfect for a pilot episode because you think we could go anywhere.”

In the series, Malcolm is welcomed by his father after years of estrangement; hence the meaning of “prodigal son”. However, as the show continues, we wonder if Malcolm has inherited some serial killer tendencies from his father.

Speaking to Collider, actor Tom Payne (who plays Malcolm) spoke about whether his father telling him they’re “the same” was a self-fulfilling prophecy. He replied, “I think there’s continual manipulation, when there’s the possibility for it, from Martin. It’s a weird dynamic. Malcolm wants a father-son relationship, like anyone else would have, and vice versa. But at the same time, Martin loves to mess with Malcolm and manipulate him. It’s just who he is. Malcolm has to get through that and through the history that they have, just to try to get to the core of who he is and what his relationship with his father can be.”


In their review of the series, The Hollywood Reporter wrote, “Prodigal Son is trapped in that all-too-familiar position that most network dramas find themselves in these days, between wanting to tell cable-style arced stories and satisfying broadcast murder-of-the-week mandates.”

Variety continues, “It’s a program that provides a creepy jolt while never reveling in darkness for its sake — perpetually asking what it takes, and what it means, to take control of the potential for evil in oneself, and to each day beat it back.”

The Prodigal Son stars Tom Payne, Michael Sheen, Bellamy Young, Lou Diamond Phillips, Halston Sage, Aurora Perrineau, Frank Harts, Keiko Agena. Executive producers are Greg Berlanti, Sarah Schechter, Chris Fedak, and Sam Sklaver.

Be sure to tune into the premiere of The Prodigal Son airing tonight on Fox at 9pm ET/PT.

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