When Prodigal Son first debuted in 2019, it quickly found a dedicated fan base who appreciated it for its blend of grisly procedural elements and overarching theme of living with the sins of your parents. Over the past decade audiences have turned more towards cable and premium channels to give them the mature content they crave, but a few shows on network television have been able to stand out by trying to break beyond convention. Beloved shows such as Hannibal pushed the limits of what could be shown on network television, and Prodigal Son has attempted to follow suit in its footsteps. This story follows Malcolm Bright (Tom Payne), a criminal profiler whose father, Martin (Michael Sheen), was a notorious serial killer known as “The Surgeon” who was put away over two decades ago. The first season saw Malcolm solving many cases for the NYPD with the occasional help from his incarcerated father. Malcolm’s personal struggle over his legacy was a focal point, but in the surprising finale we learn that our attention possibly should have been placed elsewhere.
The second season picks up a short time after the events of the finale, which brings about new dynamics within the family while delivering the same level of procedural intrigue. Malcolm’s younger sister Ainsley (Halston Sage) has no memory of killing the malevolent Nicholas Endicott, but Malcolm has worked with his father to ensure that no one will find out the truth. Not only does this season have Malcolm continuing to wrestle with whether or not it is inevitable that he will end up like his father, he has the added pressure of knowing what his sister is capable of and whether or not she should be told. One of the minor missteps of the first season was not spending even more time with the delightfully unhinged MVP of the series, Martin. He would always pop up in an attempt to connect with his son and (un)intentionally get into Malcolm’s head, but this season really leans into the symbiotic connection between Martin and his children, for better or for worse. Malcolm’s mom, Jessica (Bellamy Young), likewise gets to tackle some more interesting threads such as whether or not her life would be better if Martin were to disappear completely.
Those who come to the show for the procedural aspects should enjoy what this sophomore season has to offer. When your season begins with a working guillotine, you know the writers are having fun. Throughout the season many of the cases are used to bring further insight into our characters in various ways. A trip to Remington Academy to solve the murder of the principal conjures up old memories for Malcolm, who attended the school in his teen years and experienced some traumatic events by the hands of fellow students. Ainsley is not immune to this trip down memory lane as the rise of the “Debutante Slayer” leads the team back to the famous finishing school she attended that instilled her with the qualities that make a “proper lady.” While the one drawback of this new season is less focus on Lou Diamond Phillips as lieutenant Gil Arroyo, the other detectives get bits of expanded narrative. Dani (Aurora Perrineau) in particular becomes more interesting as the tension between her and Malcolm becomes more complex.
Some surprising guest stars pop up throughout the season such as Alan Cumming as a Sherlock Holmes-esque character who could be the one to unravel Malcolm’s carefully executed murder cover-up. In what feels like a major coup for the show, Catherine Zeta-Jones shows up in a multi-episode arc as a prisoner doctor at Martin’s institution with whom he develops a complex dynamic. There are many surprising developments as we hurdle toward the captivating season finale, which leaves the season on a cliffhanger that will have you waiting anxiously for the resolution. Unfortunately, COVID delayed this season and the audience did not return to it in the way that was needed for the network. The show was canceled after two seasons, and fans will never get the resolution they so desperately want. This is a real shame, especially since this shortened second season improved on the already-strong debut season. Many fans may find it frustrating that the story will never be completed, but this season still satisfies as a complex, engrossing slice of television.
Prodigal Son: The Complete Second Season comes to Blu-Ray in a stunning 1080p transfer. With this being a modern series, it stands to reason that the presentation should be without flaws, but you can still marvel at what a nice job Warner Archive did with this release. The series looked great when I streamed it on Hulu, but the Blu-Ray presentation has more consistent black levels and less compression by a mile. Fine detail is present in the production design and clothing. The vegetation in some of the locations also gives the disc a chance to shine in the detail department. Skin tones look natural throughout the season, and there are no major digital anomalies to speak of. The cinematography is truly top notch for a network series. The color palette is a bit muted, but there are some brilliant moments of color that pop off the screen. Warner Archive has done a top-notch job with this presentation.
The Blu-Ray disc comes with a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track that is quite lively. The series is primarily dialogue driven, but there are also frequent thrilling sequences such as minor physical altercations that kick this track into overdrive. There is some nice ambient activity in the rear channels, especially during sequences in the police station or from nature while out in the woods. The dialogue primarily stays in front center channels and is reproduced clearly. The track does a good job of making sure neither sound effects nor the score ever overpowers dialogue. The score brings a richness to the series that fills up the room on this track. When the action kicks in, there is some heft to the low end that is appreciated in a series such as this one. This track has a substantial dynamic range that should please fans of the series.
- Killer Genes: A seven-minute featurette which explores the parental dynamics in the show and how it takes real-life concerns to the extreme.
- Emerging From Blood: A six-minute featurette which discusses how the team developed the new season after the bloody season one finale.
Prodigal Son moved in more fascinating directions during its sophomore season as it continued to satisfy in the procedural aspects. The cast have a really enjoyable chemistry with one another that continues to grow more complex as episodes go by. Michael Sheen especially radiates a joy while playing this character that transfers over to the audience. It is disappointing we will never be able to have a proper resolution to this story due to an untimely cancellation, but this season is still worth exploring for fans of the first outing. Warner Archive has released a Blu-Ray featuring a stellar A/V presentation and a couple of short supplemental features. Recommended
Prodigal Son: The Complete Second Season can be purchased directly through the Warner Archive Amazon Store or various other online retailers.
Note: Images presented in this review are not reflective of the image quality of the Blu-Ray.
Disclaimer: Warner Archive has supplied a copy of this disc free of charge for review purposes. All opinions in this review are the honest reactions of the author.
Dillon is most comfortable sitting around in a theatre all day watching both big budget and independent movies.