PRODIGAL SON Season 2 Premiere Post-Mortem: Chris Fedak and Sam Sklaver on Bright's New Issue, JT's Heartbreaking Storyline - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

PRODIGAL SON Season 2 Premiere Post-Mortem: Chris Fedak and Sam Sklaver on Bright’s New Issue, JT’s Heartbreaking Storyline

January 12, 2021 by  

prodigal son season 2 premiere spoilers

PRODIGAL SON: L-R: Tom Payne and Aurora Perrineau in the “It’s All In The Execution” season two premiere episode of PRODIGAL SON airing Tuesday, Jan. 12 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2020 Fox Media LLC Cr: Phil Caruso/FOX

[Warning: This post contains spoilers for the season 2 premiere of PRODIGAL SON.]

PRODIGAL SON’s season 1 cliffhanger—where Ainsley (Halston Sage), accidentally, brutally murdered Nicholas (Dermot Mulroney)—took one heck of a twist in season 2, as Malcolm (Tom Payne) realized his sister went into a state of shock, and didn’t realize what she did.

Malcolm jumped into things, with the help of serial killer dad Martin (Michael Sheen), from afar, as he convinced Ainsley he had been the one to kill Nicholas…and Malcolm went about disposing of the body.

As the profiler struggled with what he did, he wasn’t the only one having a hard time. Gil (Lou Diamond Phillips) was out, recovering from his stabbing, and acting commander JT (Frank Harts) was handling things well—until he was aggressively racially profiled by another cop, and Dani (Aurora Perrineau) and Malcolm had to rush to save him.

What comes next? Showrunners Chris Fedak and Sam Sklaver broke down the season 2 premiere and offered a little tease..

How does this Ainsley twist impact the family?
Chris Fedak: The heart of the season is twofold. One, we ended last year with “My girl,” Ainsley killing [Nicholas]. And we come into this year, and she doesn’t remember it, because she has trauma. Her brain has erased those moments. Now there’s obviously some real psychology, but, in essence, she doesn’t remember that. And Bright is now in the situation of, “What is really going on inside my sister’s mind? And, also, are we going to get caught for hiding a murder, for covering it up?” [He’s] using all of his skills as a profiler to do this incredible thing, this disturbing, dark, crazy thing—but also saving his sister in doing it. So, that’s the paradox of the show. It was something that we kind of wanted to be the thing that would be torturing Bright this year, along with all the other tortures he has in his head…this is another kind of new level of anxiety for him. And when you have an actor like Tom Payne, who is so amazing and talented and charming and fun to watch when he’s tortured, it was great for us.

Malcolm did what he did with the best of intentions, but what is the balance within the writers’ room about how far he can go with this path of covering up the murder and still be a hero vs. an antihero?
Fedak: I think the show has always kind of walked that line, and it’s something we debate in the writers’ room quite a bit: can he still be a good guy and have covered up a crime to protect his sister? And I think it all goes back to best of intentions; it all goes back to he’s making the right decision in the moment, but that doesn’t mean it’s the right decision in a lot of other perspectives, especially as a person who solves crimes for a living.

For Bright, we walk a line, and we are sometimes going well across it on either side. Do we understand it and does the audience understand it and also feel for him? I think that is key to this.

It’s something that we’ve actually been walking from the pilot and we didn’t realize this until we were actually first started casting the show and putting it in front of an audience—there was a number of people that watch the show, and they looked at Bright, and they were like, “Okay, so when does he start killing people?” And we’re like, what are they talking about? But Tom brings a bit of that manic [energy]—there’s a glint in his eye. He [plays] the son of a serial killer, and people know the apple doesn’t always fall that far from the tree. So I think that that edge that you’re talking about, that’s the show. And it walks that edge. Sometimes they’ll go on either side a little bit, and that’s our challenge as writers, for Sam and I, that we’re always going to be pushing it, and that guarantees we push it even further.
Sam Sklaver: It is so funny, though, that in our pilot episode, we have Bright chop a man’s arm off. And the audience is like, is he a killer? And Chris and I are like, “How could you possibly think he’s a killer?” Like, of course you can think he’s a killer, he’s chopping a guy’s hand off.
Fedak: With a smile.
Sklaver: With a smile. He’s putting his hands on grenade. And his father is a serial killer. Which, if you really look at this character, his whole life, people have been assuming the worst from him. People have been assuming it’s like father, like son. What we’re able to play with a little bit in season 1 is like father, like daughter at the end. But, you know, we are made by our parents. Sometimes, as we grow older, we become more like our parents than maybe we’re comfortable with it. Whatever level of it, all the way up to murder. So I think Bright is always worried about walking that line.The line between hero and anti hero is a very, very, very tight one, but we always try to keep him on it.

PRODIGAL SON: L-R: Lou Diamond Phillips and Frank Harts in the “It’s All In The Execution” season two premiere episode of PRODIGAL SON airing Tuesday, Jan. 12 (9:00-10:00 PM ET/PT) on FOX. ©2020 Fox Media LLC Cr: Phil Caruso/FOX

One of the most heartbreaking moments of the premiere was when JT was racially profiled and had to fight, essentially, for his life against a fellow cop. What was the decision to bring that storyline into the show and what kind of resources did you embrace to most authentically tell this story within the police world?
Fedak: With the extended amount of time we had to prep on this for the season, the world was changing around us. We had not only COVID and the election, but beyond that the Black Lives Matters and the George Floyd story. And the truth is, it was more important for us to address the George Floyd of it all and the BLM of it all, as opposed to the COVID of it all, because this is what the show lives inside the world of, a police procedural. It’s a family show, it’s a serial killer show, but it’s also police procedural.

One of the assets of the show is that we have a diverse cast: we have Lou Diamond Phillips, Aurora Perrineau, and Frank Harts. We reached out to them. And then we got the writers’ room, especially with our diverse writers, reaching out to them and start a conversation to figure out how our show, which is a heightened show—it’s a genre show, it’s got jokes, it’s got sword fights with axes, and all this craziness—but can we also address this story?

The way Sam and I came at it, we wanted to see what we can do and test the show. So we landed on a story to address the systemic racism, but also address it from the perspective of our police officers. What happens if JT is profiled? And play that real, play that intense. Play it as a case we can’t solve. Because we know we can solve a murder each week, but we can’t solve racism. It’s very much us doing research, too, about what happens inside the NYPD and police forces when someone makes a complaint about this. That was something where we thought we could have a perspective, and also a way of addressing it in our current climate.

For us, as writers, there is a point where it’s like, we don’t have the experience of every other group, especially the BLM experience. So we have to go out and do research and talk to our writers and empower our writers to tell us when we’re wrong. And that is another part of the challenge. But we’re excited because we think the show can do it. And it is something we will come back to.

On a much lighter note, Jessica (Bellamy Young) overheard Dani warning Gil against pursuing a relationship. How will that impact things going forward?
Sklaver: I do want to defend Dani for a moment, because if you look at season 1, Jessica married a serial killer. Okay, fine, fool me once. But then she got involved with Nicholas. So I’m not entirely sure the words that Dani tells Gil are wrong. But I know it did break Jessica’s heart to hear it, and it did break my heart to hear it, because we want Gil and Jessica to be happy. We want everyone to be happy; I think that’s the delightfully disturbing aspect of our show: we want these people to be doing well, but their lives are getting in the way. And that definitely seems to be true for Gil and Jessica. We want them to be together, they are co-parents in a way to Bright, they have amazing chemistry, it’s a wonderful relationship. But like everything else in our show, nothing is easy.

And so Gil and Jessica…it’s not as easy, because of the world they’re living in and their lives. But what’s really fun this season is we do get to involve Jessica some more in cases. So we get to see her with Gil in a more professional setting. The angst is still there between them. Lou Diamond Phillips and Bellamy Young do angst better than anyone else. So there’s part of me that likes it as much when they aren’t together as when they are together.
Fedak: I feel like we’ve now pitted the shippers against each other. Having Dani be a part of that, we’re not putting Dani/Bright vs. Gil/Jessica. We’ve really managed to bone it with the shippers. But we promise we have really great stuff coming up for both. I apologize, I throw myself at their mercy, just know we’re all about romance. We’re all about love, especially in the daunting face of what we live in. Romance is very much a part of the season. There’s a lot of exciting things we’re looking forward to.

Is the Dani/Bright relationship something you’re actively pursuing this season? Or is it more of a slow burn?
Fedak: It’s funny, I think we figured out…with all the craziness going on in our show right now, I think the way we would answer the question is it’s a psychological burn. Maybe when you get to episode 6, you’ll have a better understanding of what mean by that.
Sklaver: I’m an Edrisa/Bright shipper. I’m in that camp, if that team will have me.

What else has you excited this season?
Fedak: We’re so excited about the episodes we have coming up. One of the things about COVID is we spent so much time trying to figure out how to make these episodes, by the time we got to the point where someone was going to be in front of the camera making it, it had to be great, it had to be fantastic. Our second episode is something that we have so many kind of great cinematic moments in a network TV show, that we’re just excited for people’s reactions. It’s been a real blast to make the show.

PRODIGAL SON, Tuesdays, 9/8c, Fox


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