Fox’s new serial killer drama is dark, disturbing, and filled with graphic gore.
When Malcolm Whitly was a little boy, he discovered that his father Martin was “the Surgeon,” a sadistic serial killer responsible for 23 murders. Malcolm turned his father in, but continued to visit – and learn from — Martin throughout childhood and into his years studying psychology at Harvard, until he finally broke away from his father’s malign influence. Changing his last name to “Bright,” Malcolm became a profiler of serial killers. But when Malcolm realizes that a new series of killings copy those of “the Surgeon,” he once again seeks out his father. Thereafter, Malcolm walks a tightrope between his work with the police and the dark world of his father, who repeatedly tells Malcolm, “There’s so much more I can teach you about murder…because we’re the same, you and I.”
Just when viewers thought TV’s fascination with glorifying serial killers (Dexter, Hannibal, The Following, Bates Motel, Stalker, Aquarius, Scream Queens, and others) was at an end, here comes yet another show seeking to “entertain” viewers with sick, psychopathic sadism. And, like its sister series, Prodigal Son doesn’t stint on the gore: in the first episode alone, viewers see dozens of severed heads pickled in glass jars by a killer; several people bloodily shot to death; a slow-motion re-enaction of a murder by lethal injection; multiple references to BDSM, “doms and subs,” and torture; and the program’s hero Malcolm saving an innocent victim from an exploding bomb…by chopping off the victim’s hand with an axe. (The victim’s bloody stump and severed hand are repeatedly shown.) Also, the show’s themes of child abuse, with the killer still manipulating his son even into adulthood, are notably darker than those found on other shows, where the killer was opposed by a cop with no personal ties to him.
Parents are warned that the dark, bloody, and deeply disturbing content in Prodigal Son is not appropriate for children or teens.
Prodigal Son premieres Monday, September 23 at 9:00 p.m. ET on Fox.