Love ‘Criminal Minds’? Why You Need to Be Watching ‘Prodigal Son’

Fans of Criminal Minds will really enjoy Fox’s new Prodigal Son. The son of a convicted serial killer, Malcolm Bright (Tom Payne) uses his unique insight to solve vicious crimes in the streets of New York. A gifted profiler, his father, Dr. Martin Whitly (Michael Sheen), is a famous murderer. Read on to learn more about Prodigal Son. There are spoilers ahead for the first episode.

Malcolm Bright is a criminal profiler

Partial cast of 'Prodigal Son'
Lou Diamond Phillips, Tom Payne, and Sarah Schechter of ‘Prodigal Son’ | Amy Sussman/Getty Images

Criminal Minds fans will feel right at home with Prodigal Son. Bright is an FBI criminal profiler before he gets kicked to the curb for his unconventional ways. He’s the son of The Surgeon, a notorious serial killer known to the world. Bright finds a new job helping the NYPD solve difficult crimes.

Tom Payne speaks about his new role as a serial killer’s son

Payne spoke with Rotten Tomatoes about his new role and what he’s bringing to the table. “I spend a lot of my time when the cameras are rolling in different emotional states,” Payne says. “I’m either incredibly upset, or I’m angry, or I’m high on some substance or other. It’s a very extreme role.”

A unique look at serial killers

Malcolm Bright has a way of getting into the minds of serial killers through his unique gifts and insight. He knows what they are thinking and is more than a few steps ahead of the other detectives he works with. His relationship with his father is a complicated one. He changes his name so he won’t be associated with The Surgeon anymore, and his family is in straight up denial about the whole thing.

A complicated father and son relationship

The cast of 'Prodigal Son'
The cast of ‘Prodigal Son’ | Amy Sussman/Getty Images

During the pilot episode, Bright goes to visit his father for help on a case, and the altercation is unnerving for him. it’s clear that deep down, he has a twisted connection with his father that is undeniable.

“The psychology of the character is very extreme, and I find, actually with the scenes with Michael, that they’re exhausting because there’s so much going on under the surface,” Payne explains. “Because at the heart of it, he just wants a hug from his dad. But, at the same time, he can’t go there because who his dad has turned out to be.”

‘Prodigal Son’ is already popular with viewers

The show is already popular with fans. According to Deadline, Prodigal Son scored the highest rating for a new series premiere with people 18 to 49. Fox also received its highest-rated Monday premiere in 10 years if you can believe it. That’s a strong start for the brand-new show.

The main character Malcolm Bright is actually the one to orchestrate his father’s capture. He even discovers one of his father’s victims when he is just a child. When the police arrive, he tells the officer that his father is going to kill him. Thanks to his son, The Surgeon is finally caught.

The real life inspiration for Tom Payne

During the press tour for the new series, Payne spoke about his inspiration for his work by listening to a rather interesting podcast. “There’s one in particular in which [executive producer] Sarah [Schechter] actually put me on to, called Happy Face, about the daughter of a serial killer, and it follows her and her journey to talk to people who were affected by her father, directly and indirectly, and with her mother, and her relationship with her father, and the fears that she has and the intense pain that having a father who’s a serial killer caused,” Payne says.

He is of course referring to the Happy Face Killer, whose real name is Keith Jesperson. He terrorized the country when he raped and murdered eight women during the 1990s. Melissa Moore, his daughter, has spoken out about the unique struggles of being related to a serial killer. She would learn the truth as a teenager and had to come to terms with her father’s crimes.

It’s easy to see why people are already loving Prodigal Son. The series is a unique take on serial killers, profilers, and a tumultuous father and son relationship. The show has new episodes on Mondays at 9 p.m. E.S.T. on Fox.