Published: Tuesday, 27 April 2021 22:24 | Written by SciFi Vision
Prodigal Son, which aired tonight on FOX, follows Malcolm Bright (Tom Payn), an NYPD criminal profiler, whose father, Martin Whitly (Martin Sheen), a serial killer known as “The Surgeon,” sometimes helps from prison to consult on difficult cases. In the newest episode, Jessica Whitly, played by Bellamy Young, starts delving into her husband’s past to prepare to write her tell-all book. Things, however, don’t go as expected when she arrives at the prison in the middle of Martin putting his plans into motion.
Yesterday, Young talked to SciFi Vision in an exclusive post-mortem interview about the events of the episode, what they could mean for the Whitly family, Jessica’s relationship with Gil (Lou Diamond Phillips) and more.
***Note there are spoilers for 2.10, “Exit Strategy,” in the following interview. Please watch the episode before reading.***
SCIFI VISION: Thinking back when you first were cast in the show, other than the script, was there anywhere or anyone that you were inspired by for Jessica that you kind of put into it?
BELLAMY YOUNG: Oh, Jessica, I mean, she was so alive for me, right from the first page. When she stepped onto the page, I could hear her voice; I could see her walk. I could just feel her, like where she holds her energy. That's a silly thing to say, but I don't know how else to say it. And I think there's absolutely no way, especially with her name, there's no way not to think about Jessica Walter, because she was so iconic in roles similar to this, and is, rest her soul, a genius, but I really credit our writers. They just had her point of view, her frame of reference, her whole jargon. Jessica has a whole vernacular that's very specific and really delightful. And just being in on the joke. Like, she's been laughed at; she's been laughed with, but at the end of the day, she's gonna be in on the joke even she has to make it about herself. I love that; that's the best survivor spirit ever.
She's a great character. She's a lot of fun.
[Before we talk about the new episode], and I don't know if you even know the answer to this, but I'm kind of curious. Agent Hoxley (Alan Cumming) was satisfied with the end to the whole case with Endicott (Dermot Mulroney). It seems to be case closed, but, I mean, is there a chance maybe that's gonna come back around to cause problems later? Do you have anything to say about that or know anything about that?
Well, I mean, I think that's what sets us apart from Martin, right? I don't think anyone who isn’t a sociopath gets away with murder. I don't think anybody walks away, you know, cleans their hands, and never thinks about it. I think, whether we are held accountable publicly, or just the private guilt, it's like a cancer and tears everything apart. I think it's an irrevocable turn on the road. So, talk to me about the crazy heel scene during the prison break [in tonight’s episode], when you stabbed the guy in the ear and just kind of filming that. I mean, I guess, it's sort of a stunt, but it seems like it'd be a lot of fun to film.
Oh my god, it was so much fun. I didn't know about it. I read it in the script. They send the script out to us, and I was like, “What?!” [laughs] and had the fitting sort of two days later. Our wardrobe genius, Catie Riley, had found these Tom Ford shoes that are not made for walking. They are clearly made for self defense and beauty, and I think we use them to great effect. It was a little bananas. I just saw it last night, and the way they added it together [with] the sound effect, it turned out so well.
But it really was about the space, the hall, wonderful Sahr [Ngaujah] that was opposite me playing Darryl. Our props department, I mean, our special effects department, they built like a sort of harder foam shoe that matched exactly. It was about stepping the right number of steps back, bumping into the wall, having the scene, [and] Jessica finding her mettle. She's a fighter; she wasn't wasn't gonna give in. So, she's finding her mettle. Then, when he comes for her, she just lets him have it.
And they had made this incredible appliance that fits over the ear…I can't remember if it went onto the head part as well, but that's how we solved the second half of the scene, because it had the shoe coming out of his ear, and Sahr was free to move around and freak out and sell it, and I was free to be totally having a meltdown about having done it.
It was just one of those things where you read it on the page and you think, “What?!” and then they put it all together, and you think, “This is great. This is great. This is a great, great gag.”
Yeah, I definitely wasn't expecting it when it happened.
No, no, but you know, she has a history with her heels. She threw one of them at television last year. And, you know, she's got killer fashion as they say. It was really a lot of fun, weirdly.
It looks like it would be.
Speaking of fashion, I want to ask you to talk a bit about her wardrobe. Do you have any say in it? I mean, it's great regardless, but I'm just kind of curious if you're involved in that.
Catie Riley is our costume designer, and she is a genius, because we all look like very specific human beings but never like we're wearing costumes. There’s just always such specificity of story, color, cut, like socioeconomic echelons, like all of it.
So, I walk into the fittings, and we sort of know. I'm a very curvy girl; everybody's body is different, so things hang well, or they don't, but you also know at this point whether or not it's Jessica. And you know, like, oh, “We're gonna save this one for-” like that coat from last episode, when I'm in the garage with Lou, you know, we might have found that in September, but we're like, “We gotta save this for a moment.” Then, Lorena (Torres), our incredible tailor, anything that is like, you know, almost there, she makes look like it was built for you. So, she's the other half of the equation.
Now you just have to pick out your favorite and then years from now, [laughs] decide what you want to try to take with you. Right?
Wow, I wish. They sort of stopped doing that these days, but, actually, the jacket I wear in the first scene tonight, I waited until it went on sale at Bloomingdales, and I bought it for myself. It's black; it sort of looks like a cape, and it sort of looks like a tuxedo blazer, and now it sort of hangs in my own closet. [laughs]
[laughs]Well, yeah, that works when they buy them. I know for a lot of shows the costume department makes them themselves, so it kind of depends how that goes.
Okay, well, one thing I want to ask, is, obviously, Jessica has been in the limelight, not necessarily always in the best way, but because of Martin from what happened before, but when she eventually writes this book, how do you think that's going to affect that? I mean, is it going to be better? Is it going to be worse? How's it going to affect her? If you could sort of tease that a little bit? And if you don't actually know yet, then just your opinion. I think both. I think, personally, just speaking from my own personal experience, like delving into those dark places that we have repressed, put aside, put away, tried to save ourselves from, once you're safe and can go back and do the digging, you are always safer. Once you’re whole, your darkness can't hurt you if you know it and if you can atone for it or if you can forgive yourself. Losing the shame around it is always the most freeing journey a human being can make by themselves.
Jessica's situation is complicated, because her history is tethered to a sociopathic serial killer. So, what she might uncover has the risk of having such seismic implications, not just for her, but for many other people. So, I think there's a heightened danger there, and I just think, I know, that she'll be stronger on the other side, but I think the other side might be further away than she thinks.
Obviously, at the end of the episode, Martin escapes, and she's, of course, freaking out even more, but he makes a point of leaving the message for Malcolm saying that it's not about killing; it's about family. I mean, I guess, he might come to them, I don’t know, but I’m not sure it would be to actually hurt them. Do you think they're really in danger? What is she most afraid of? What can you say about that?
I think it is really a general terror, because she doesn't know, because she's spent all these years sort of assimilating the fact that he's a sociopath, so he is incapable of love. So, the playing family thing he was doing for so long, was this like his day job? So, I think she in no way considers them safe. I think Malcolm put him in jail, so is this his chance at retribution? Ainsley (Halston Sage) has been finding things out about herself. Is he going to take her under his wing, and they're going to go on a killing spree together? Is he going to come for her? Is he going to come for Gil, because they’ve kissed? At minimum, she knows her life will go back to 1998: the publicity, the police, the house locked down, the shame of it all, the sideways glances, the whispers, but what she hopes is that there will not be murder on top of it all.
So, obviously, you can’t actually tell me if he comes to them or what he does, but I mean, obviously, there's going to be sort of investigation while they're trying to catch him, and I'm sure she'll try to become part of that.
I don't know whether or not Gil will let her, [laughs] but can you talk a bit about that? I mean, is she's going to be going to Gill to try and find out things or anything like that, that you can kind of tease?
When have you ever known Jessica to sit at home and behave? That's all I’ll say. [laughs] She’s gonna definitely be front and center, because she feels responsible for all of it that she didn't know in the 90s. She just feels an epic and foundational responsibility, and so she wants to also fix it. So, mostly, she'll probably make a bit of a mess in the interim. [laughs]
All right. Well, speaking of Gil, is there anything you can tease about their relationship coming up?
I think, gosh, the funny thing about her relationship with Gil is that I think it's all out there, you know, for all of us, because the truth is, it's just complicated. They are really drawn to each other, and they really have a safety and a love and a respect and chemistry, and maybe they have a beautiful future, but the present is so complicated. But, you know, it's all about not what you say, but what you do, and they do keep showing up for each other. Again, never in the simple way, [laughs] but they keep showing up. So, I just keep telling myself, because I don't always know where it's going, that I know that's what I value in my life, the people who show up for me. Like in Clermont, she's [laughs] locked down; she's figured out her husband, a serial killer is trying to escape, but she's alone in a prison, and who does she call without a blink? It wasn't Malcolm; it wasn't Ainsley. Without a blink, she's, “I have to call Gil,” because she knows he'll be there, and he'll help her, and she trusts him. So, it's who you call in moments like that, that tells you everything you need to know.
Is there anything just in general or about Jessica specifically that's coming up after this episode that you’re allowed to tease?
Oh, man, I mean, the thing is, Martin is free, so all bets are off. It's a whole new world. We spent two years together with a certain stability. We knew who we were; we knew where he was, but now, it's a whole new game. So, I think how everyone responds, you know, everything is just utterly, utterly new now that he is free.
Yeah, I was just thinking, I didn't even think about it until I started talking to you, but we also need to know about the key too.
I know! Is he gonna come for the key? Is he gonna come for my kids? There's just a lot. There's fear at every corner, and just, by the way, keep your eye on Vivian (Catherine Zeta-Jones). Keep your eyes on Vivian.
Yeah, you never know what she's going to do, either.
Then, this is completely unrelated, but I had completely forgotten you were in The X Files way back when.
Yes! Totally. I was with my Scandal cast mate, Joe Morton.
Yeah, that's true. I just wondered if you could just talk a tiny bit about that, just that experience.
It was a dream come true, because I was a deep, deep diehard X Files fan. I would get together with my friends, and we would watch it together. Remember when people used to do that? [laughs] You were actually together, not Twitter together, like, make a point, leave the house get together watch The X-Files. I mean, it was just some seminal TV like when they - I don't know if you watched The X-Files.
Yeah, I was a huge fan.
There was the hillbilly [mother] who was hidden under the bed. There's just been some crazy episodes. I'd wanted to audition for forever, and I finally got an audition, and I got the part, and I was just out of my mind. I didn't get to meet David [Duchovny], because that's when he and Chris Carter were fighting and Chris Carter had him abducted, and he was chained to an alien table for that whole season. [laughs]
Right, that’s when he was gone.
But it was just remarkable, and I hadn't worked with Joe before either, obviously. I was his lawyer in that episode, so literally, I just had to do like, lawyer stuff. So, it wasn't like heavy lifting; he had all the heavy lifting. I got to watch him work. It was just like a paid masterclass. I just couldn't believe it. I just couldn't believe it; up close and personal; it was beautiful. Our episode was called “Redrum,” so it sort of happened in reverse, like backwards in time. It was just great. I'm really proud I got to be a part of that.