“Ooh, well, Paris sprang to mind. Right off the bat,” Keiko Agena tells Refinery29 over the phone, early on Valentine’s Day morning. It’s a sentiment many Gilmore Girls fans generally share when it comes to Liza Weil’s fearsome perfectionist — Paris Geller is always top of mind. In Agena’s case, however, she is trying to figure out which character from the iconic WB dramedy she starred on would watch her new series, the Fox crime thriller Prodigal Son.
“I almost feel like Paris would hate-watch Prodigal Son,” Agena — who played best friend to Gilmore heroine Rory Gilmore (Alexis Bledel)— continues with a laugh. “Like she would love Malcolm, but she would rip apart anything that wasn’t perfect in the show.”
Suddenly, it’s difficult to imagine anyone watching but a cashmere-clad doctor Paris. Visualize her sitting on her couch, taking large gulps of red wine, and heckling every minuscule medical inaccuracy on Prodigal Son, a show that follows the weekly adventures of criminal profiler extraordinaire (and serial killer progeny) Malcolm Bright/Whitly (Tom Payne).
Agena is equally illuminating when it comes to Monday night’s new episode of Prodigal Son, “Death’s Door,” the backstory for her fan favorite character, medical examiner Edrisa Tanaka, and what’s to come as Prodigal dives into its final episodes of season 1. Keep reading to have all your burning Prodigal Son questions answered — and to find out if Agena is ready to hop into another Year In The Life of Gilmore Girls.
Refinery29: Edrisa and Malcolm clearly have some fun, weirdo chemistry. Do you support their ship?
Keiko Agena: “Yes. The obvious answer is yes. It’s funny, I had this thought the other day, that the Malcolm-Edrisa ship is a ship made of driftwood. Like I don’t know that it was necessarily ever intended to become a ship. It had all of these pieces that organically became one.”
Well, they are the same kind of weird.
“I love that too. It has been popping up a little bit more in upcoming scripts as well. I just love that they have this obsessive quality and that it’s mirrored in each other, and what they’re interested in is so similar.”
Edrisa saves Malcolm in “Death’s Door.” What was it like to flip the script on the show’s hero?
“I loved yelling at him, just for that split moment. That and him yelling at me, like, What the heck did you do? The fun miscommunication flashes of frustration are totally enjoyable.
“Tom is such a great actor that there’s a part of me that would love to see that aspect of whatever kind of ship this is — to have more moments like that. There is something coming up —it’s a couple of episodes after tonight’s — where there is another awkward, off-kilter romantic moment that happens that is super great.
Do you think she has any relationships off-screen outside of her crush on Malcolm?
“I was just thinking about this the other day. This is not something the writers have said, this is just me: I feel like.she has had a crush or she has had a supercharged sexual relationship with someone. But they’ve never been the same person. She’s definitely dated, but she hasn’t had the romance of those two things happening at the same time.”
Along those same lines of digging into Edrisa’s backstory, “Death’s Door” shows us how she becomes when practicing on a living patient. Do you have any theories to explain that?
“This is not from the writers, but my feeling is that she had challenges in medical school from the difficulties of the stress of when medical care doesn’t work. I think that she took it very hard. I don’t know if she has ever fully recovered from that. So when someone comes across her table — or in this case, floor — who is alive and she has a responsibility [to save them], then that stress is just completely overwhelming.”
Although we all love Edrisa, would you want to play Lane in another season of Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life?
I probably would do it. I would love to see if there is anything else that is happening in their lives. Especially with Rory, I feel like we left her at such a pivotal moment in life! There are so many questions I have.
Like, is the Wookie the father of Rory’s baby?
“Right? And who is the Wookie? Even if the Wookie isn’t the dad, don’t we all want to know who that guy is? I want to know. Who would they cast as The Wookie? It would have to be someone really great.”
Do you think any Prodigal Son characters have binged Gilmore Girls?
“I don’t know if you remember JT’s wife, Tally. I think Tally started and she pulled JT into the watch session. Now he’s a fan as well.”
This week’s Prodigal episode ends with Martin, New York’s most infamous serial killer, awake in a hospital — which has much less security than his usual maximum security mental health facility. Should fans be worried about an escape? Are you?
“The wonderful thing about Martin Whitly is that we’re never safe from him. He always feels dangerous. Even when he is locked up, it seems as though he has a way of infiltrating the minds and lives of people whom he wants to.
“When Martin in a new physical space, I think one should always be worried.”
I'm especially worried with the final episodes of season 1 ahead. Can you tease anything about those?
“The scripts that I have — I have fully read episode 21 — are so good, so good. We haven’t had a solid script for the last one yet. But the rumors that I’ve heard… they’re not letting up. The writers are not pulling back. They’re driving hardcore towards the end of this season and you won’t be disappointed. That’s what I’ll say.”
This interview has been edited and condensed.