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Prodigal Son - Internal Affairs - Review: A Mess That Works

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"I'm always needed, not always wanted."

After something goes wrong on a case and Malcolm generates a blackout at the precinct, he has a psychiatric evaluation from Internal Affairs that will determine whether he's able to continue as a consultant. Immediately I think most of us know that Malcolm has a reason for everything he does, so I don't think anyone's really worried about his sanity, not more than usual at least. Perhaps this new style of storytelling is the show trying to reinvent itself given that the "case-of-the-week" thing is not really a strength.

Now, this guy really is a great addition to the episode, Dr. Simon Coppenrath (Scott Shepherd - True Detective) really finds a way to decipher Malcolm and get past his barriers, including his humor, in a way I don't think his own personal psychiatrist can, perhaps it's due to the fact that even though she knows him best and longest, she's not really used to treating adults. Dr. Coppenrath immediately profiles Malcolm, understanding his need to work and questions why understanding serial killers helps him understand himself, something Malcolm clearly wasn't interested in showing.

Malcolm continues to have visions and the fact that his father was planning to kill him is clearly haunting him, and that's not really a surprise, there's a lot he dislikes about The Surgeon but I don't think he ever thought it possible that he'd hurt his own family. He's trying to hide his PTSD which would get him kicked out of the job, but also trying to get through to the Doctor himself, a sort of veiled counter-interrogation.

He does seem to get under the Doctor's skin by relating his experience in the case and I have to say I found his outbursts as adorable as they were unprofessional. Malcolm explains there's no choice for him, he feels responsible for not solving the case of The Surgeon faster, for not being able to save all those lives he took, and so he feels his atonement is doing everything he can to solve new ones, even if it means risking his life. At one point he question's Simon's knowledge of trauma and he gets him to tell him about the death of his daughter even though he lies about her dying in a car crush.

We're taken back to the day Malcolm returns from the hospital, Gil doesn't want him to go back to work so soon and Jessica tries to keep him resting, but he finds a way to insert himself on the newest case. And a very interesting one for him, since all the evidence seems to be contradictory to just one type of killer. Even though Gil's against it, Edrisa tells him about the autopsy report, in a way because she knows how good he is, but also because she missed him.

They find out the victim was connected to the Vosler Institute which is run by Quentin Vosler, played by the amazing (and my forever crush) Daniel Sunjata (Manifest, Notorious, Graceland, one of the best episodes of Lie to Me). Vosler, of course, isn't that interested in sharing his cult's secrets so Malcolm enrolls himself and immediately can tell something's up. Vosler believes people should be able to selectively improve their minds and electroshock therapy is the first step (seems like an antiquated method for evolution if you ask me).

After the "treatment" he wakes up to Andi (Isabel Arraiza - Pearson, The Oath), the woman who conducted his interview, he tries to get through to her, asking about anything else she had outside the Vosler institute and she says they're told family and friends can hinder their progress, quite a convenient belief to isolate people and make the cult their whole lives. He tells her what happened to Tristan and when he realizes how scared she's of Vosler, he manages to convince her to go with him, but she's immediately taken.

Vosler though comes immediately to the police station to say Andi's been taken by a deprogrammer, someone who extracts people from cults to try and reunite them with their families, so he fears for the safety of his members. Jessica uses her contacts to set up meetings and that's how they find Curtis Marsh. But Malcolm isn't satisfied, he's sure Curtis cannot be the brain behind the operation and here's where the plan to get Simon comes in. But first Malcolm blames Gil for asking for his help and bringing all these killers back into his life, something Gil has clearly been feeling guilty about for a while.

After that Malcolm starts hallucinating and he tries to shocks himself, creating the blackout. So Simon has to come to interview him and after he decides Malcolm is too unstable to work, Bright asks about Andi and calls him our on knowing too much about the case, and he tells him how he realized who the real deprogrammer was, he tells him he knows his daughter died in a cult, not a car accident. When Simon realizes he's surrounded by the team he points a gun at Malcolm but Malcolm shocks him and they go save Andi.

After that Gil convinces Malcolm to finally take a few weeks off, and for the first time he stops trying to pretend everything's going to be okay, he talks to his subconscious and realizes his present if the one that really matters. I have to say I didn't like that they just dropped the whole thing with the Vosler Institute, my guess is it will show up again at some point during the season or I will be very disappointed (and not just because I won't get to see Sunjata ;). I have to say I did like this storytelling format even though some twists were quite obvious, I wonder what everyone else thinks.

"I AM trauma!"

What did you think about this episode? I look forward to your comments.

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