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Spoilers ahead for the Season 1 finale of Prodigal Son on Fox, called "Like Father..."
The first season of Prodigal Son came to an end on a bloody twist when the show revealed that Malcolm was not the child of Martin Whitly who would be the first to snap and kill. "Like Father..." saw none other than Ainsley kill Nicholas Endicott in just about the most disturbing way imaginable for a network TV show in the 9 p.m. ET hour. Unfortunately, the bloody twist came at the end of the first season when Fox has not yet announced a second season. In the aftermath of Ainsley killing, Prodigal Son definitely needs to be renewed for Season 2.
Nicholas Endicott actually posed a significant threat to the Whitly family, so at least it's not like Ainsley just felt like killing somebody and he was the first person she saw. No, Malcolm was holding Endicott at gunpoint and very nearly killed him, only stopped out of his need to not be like his father. Ainsley had no such qualms; getting hold of the knife Endicott had been holding on her, she went ahead and slit his throat.
Now, if she'd stopped at the throat slitting, it would have been easy to make a case for self-defense. After all, Endicott had previously been holding her at knifepoint and was a very real danger. It's the fact that Ainsley went ahead and stabbed him six times, spraying herself with his blood and shocking her brother, that raises the question: is Ainsley the Whitly destined to follow in Martin's footsteps? And will Fox give Prodigal Son the chance to reveal what happens to Ainsley now that she's killed?
Ainsley killing Endicott in front of Malcolm wasn't even the only cliffhanger of the episode. Jessica had to rush Gil to the hospital after one of Endicott's people stabbed him, and Martin was in the middle of a prison riot when he got on the phone with Malcolm and found out what Ainsley had done. Martin was seemingly safe for the time being despite being stuck in general population, but how long can he really last?
The only plot that truly felt finished was the Girl in the Box mystery. Malcolm found Sophie Sanders but chose to let her go rather than turning her in. The Season 1 finale left a whole lot of stories without endings, and Prodigal Son co-creator Chris Fedak weighed in to TV Guide on what would be in store with Season 2:
There's always fun tension when you're wondering is your sister dangerous, that's a fun tension to play, and it's something we've played with Malcolm, too, is how dangerous is he? So, those kind of [questions like] 'How well do you know the people closest to you?' are themes that inhabit the show as well as the fact that, like, 'What did the police find later on?' Those are all themes that we have twists and turns for you [ahead].
Prodigal Son spent much of Season 1 playing with the idea that Malcolm could become a killer like his father, only to deliver the twist that Ainsley -- who always claimed that she'd been too young to really be impacted by Martin's murders as a child -- was the one to snap. Ainsley killing Endicott doesn't mean that Malcolm definitely won't kill, either. If anything, I could see Malcolm watching his little sister kill a man while almost in a trance as more proof that he has the instincts of a killer inside.
It still seems possible that Ainsley could get off without much trouble with the authorities, assuming Season 2 happens. Jessica certainly has the money to surround Ainsley with a team of lawyers, and the kill was arguably self-defense. The appalling part of it was really the violence. That was a lot of stabbing Ainsley did. According to Chris Fedak, there were plans to explore more of the non-killer side of Ainsley, but those and more had to be delayed:
We wanted to explore Ainsley and her investigative skills ... and then we had two standalone episodes that we really want to do next season, so those we are going to keep under wraps so nobody knows our secrets.
Like many other television shows on the broadcast networks, Prodigal Son was impacted by production halts. In a turn of luck, however, Prodigal Son's filming schedule for the last several episodes of Season 1 had the finale filmed before the two episodes intended to air before it. So, "Like Father..." was always intended to be the finale, which may explain why it ended on more thrilling cliffhangers than the likes of Grey's Anatomy and One Chicago, which had to end on regular episodes.
Those two missing episodes were apparently standalones, so Season 1 worked well enough by jumping into the finale earlier than intended. In an interview with TVLine, Chris Fedak teased what would have happened in those two episodes:
We had two very good episodes that allowed us to explore two things that we’d wanted to get into from the beginning of the season: One had to do with exorcism, and the other one had to do with technology. Those were the genres that we were stepping into in those weeks. And the other thing we didn’t get to touch was watching Ainsley do her thing as an investigative reporter. We had some fun stuff that we wanted to do there.
While Season 1 would have obviously been longer with those two episodes and gotten to spend some more time in different genres, the finished product worked to build the stories to their highest points yet and then close on some cliffhangers that would undoubtedly frustrate fans in the event of a cancellation. Honestly, just the wait of a hiatus might be rough after seeing Ainsley slit a man's throat and then proceed to stab him. A cancellation would be downright tragic.
Hopefully Fox will make an announcement about the future of Prodigal Son sooner rather than later. The network has already handed down some drama renewals, with 9-1-1 getting a Season 4 and 9-1-1: Lone Star getting a Season 2. Could Prodigal Son be next? For some TV options to pass the time while waiting for news of a second season of Prodigal Son and/or heading into hiatus, be sure to check out our 2020 spring premiere schedule and our 2020 summer premiere guide.