[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Season 2, Episode 4 of Prodigal Son, “Take Your Father to Work Day.”]
Jessica Whitly’s (Bellamy Young) life is turned upside down just like her living room is after she searches for any bit of evidence as to what exactly happened in there in the February 2 episode of Prodigal Son. Malcolm (Tom Payne) and Ainsley’s (Halston Sage) cover story that the latter spilled wine is just too detailed to explain the missing rug.
Jessica now knows Ainsley killed Nicholas Endicott (Dermot Mulroney), though Malcolm tries to lie that he did it. Here, Young goes inside Jessica’s mind after that horrific revelation.
How is Jessica feeling in those final scenes?
Bellamy Young: Ainsley’s always been the perfect child, and Jessica has spent these last 20 years worrying over, watching, side-eying Malcolm, fearing he was going to turn into his father, so it is just a gut punch to think the one she should have been worrying about all along was Ainsley. On top of that, it’s been COVID, so we’ve been quarantining. It’s like all those scary teen movies where “The call’s coming from inside the house.” She’s been living with the murderer all along, so she feels guilty and absolutely gutted but also terrified to know she’s under the same roof as someone who could do that to another human being again.
Because she had that fear about Malcolm, did any part of Jessica wish he wasn’t lying when he claimed he killed Nicholas?
Yeah, she was very prepared for that. When she called Martin, it was that absolute primal instinct. She couldn’t even utter the phrase, think to ask the question that her heart and mind were asking, and she got her cold comfort from him. But he always has to just turn the knife a little bit, so he left her knowing that she had missed something. That whole process of tearing the house apart, knowing it had to have something to do with the rug, focusing on the room, really trying to put it all together, just was starting to confirm the fears she had for 20 years: Malcolm was a killer and it was coming out now and how was she going to handle it going forward? She’s going to stop it before he hurts anyone else. It’s something the molecules of her body had been steeled for all this time, and so at the dinner table, when she serves her revenge dish —
I loved that.
It was unbelievable! Me too! When I read that in the script, it was, “chef’s kiss.” Nothing in her body, heart, mind, spirit is ready for him to — you see her whole life wilt when he says, “Yes, it was me,” and she knows he’s lying. Then it’s “oh my God, what have I missed?” It’s the worst.
What did it take Jessica to make that call to Martin, knowing the one person she can talk to about this is the one person she wants to forget exists?
I know! Co-parenting is tricky, even when one of you is not a sociopath. When you’re having to call someone you hate so much but you loved with all your heart and who made these little humans with you, when there’s no one else to turn to, you reach out thinking they’ll meet you there — “we’re talking about our kids” — but he’s just unable to meet in a place of truth. He just really has to win every game. Maybe someone could argue the kinder thing would be to let Jess believe the fairy tale, keep her on the outside entirely, but he loves to watch people squirm, to feel the torture, the power, so he has to just turn the knife enough so she is undone.
Malcolm warned Jessica they could lose Ainsley if she finds out the truth, so how is she feeling about his decision to cover everything up?
She’s still in shock, especially when Ainsley crawls under the covers with her. Even shooting that scene, my whole body was in spasms. I don’t think she has her right mind back yet [or] is at a planning stage. She’s so moved by what Malcolm has done for his sister and understands the impulse, but she also has to be the adult in the room. If something needs to be handled, she’s got to turn her attention to making sure this never happens again, getting Ainsley the help she needs, getting Ainsley away from the world. Whatever she’s going to do, I don’t think she [knows] yet. Her body and her soul are still in deep shock and trauma. It’s just the paralysis of processing that enormous revelation.
I got the sense from the flashback to Martin’s arrest with Jessica holding Ainsley that Jessica might start to question everything she remembers about her daughter’s childhood and Martin’s time with her?
That’s definitely true. How much of that we’re going to get to explore, I can’t speak to. But it will be a sleepless night and she will reexamine every moment of their life together: every time spent with Ainsley and Martin, certainly any time downstairs in the murder room, any time they went on trips. Just like she did with the living room, she’s going to tear it all up and look under every sofa cushion and every memory and try and understand how this could have happened.
Prodigal Son, Tuesdays, 9/8c, Fox