AT&T’s Mr. Mercedes
Episode 2: “On Your Mark”
Directed by Jack Bender
Written by David E. Kelley
* For a recap & review of the Pilot, click here.
* For a recap & review of Episode 3, “Cloudy, With a Chance of Mayhem” – click here
Ole Dt. Bill Hodges (Brendan Gleeson) doesn’t have much else going on other than the occasional puzzle, lots of beer, and feeding his tortoise Fred in the yard. Oh, and the Mr. Mercedes case, which he obsesses over at night. Watching videos of the victims, the woman and her baby which turns to eerie pictures with blood pouring out of the eyes.
The killer, he’s still haunting, still taunting. Now that we know Brady Hartsfield (Harry Treadaway), Mr. Mercedes himself, is also an ice cream man, slipping in and out of the neighbourhood undetected with relative ease, there’s no telling the amount of mind games the detective will find himself up against.
A kid winds up breaking his arm while snooping in Bill’s backyard, so he and Ida Silver (Holland Taylor) call an ambulance. But things don’t look so good, with him stinking “like a saloon.” So the ever crafty Ida brings a whiskey bottle. She comes up with a story, that he was verging on a panic attack. He took a drink to calm his nerves.
Slick mama, that Ida. Always looking out for him, even if he doesn’t want her to do it. Painful to watch. Not because of her, because of how desperately he seems to insist on being alone, isolated, alienated. Once Ida leaves he nearly does have a panic attack, too.
Brady’s co-worker Lou (Breeda Wool) gets in more hot water at work. A guy gives her lip, then calls her out for being a lesbian, even though he’s got nothing to go on other than his stupid conception of who she is after a single conversation. Again, their boss Anthony aka Robi (Robert Stanton) acts like a dick. Apparently customers can “gay bash” as long as they’re paying.
At home, Bill’s got his neighbourhood buddy Jerome (Jharrel Jerome) helping with the latest e-mail from the killer, the disturbing video he’s been sent. He’s got bigger worries, though. Former partner Pete Dixon (Scott Lawrence) calls on behalf of the police, asking him to come down and talk about what happened with the kid in his backyard.
So Bill gets down there, facing question after question from Pete who’s not convinced with his story, wanting his retired friend to find some kind of drive, a purpose, a hobby.
Bill: “What‘s wrong with you, did ya never see an old guy talkin‘ to himself before? You‘re new to the planet, are ya? Fuck off while you‘re at it.”
The Hartsfield house is a weird one, indeed. Downstairs, Brady plays around with his computers, doing… other things, as well. Things his mother Deborah (Kelly Lynch) wants to see, though he’s not inclined to let her. So she presses him, wanting to know what he does down there all the time. He keeps his secrets, and his mother blames him for the pain she says it causes; keep in mind, she does sexually prey on her son, so I don’t think she’s entirely worried properly about his psychological well being.
Over at the electronics store, Robi chats with Brady and Lou about the most recent incident, as well as their “underlying contempt” for customers, or so he says. He calls Brady strange, definitely a step over the line. And more than before I’m starting to wonder how long this guy will live, a psychopath working in their midst, right under his nose.
Ole Bill has already got a purpose. He’s poking around through the still warm bits of the Mercedes Killer case. Yet even the warm bits are cooling fast. Meanwhile, he and Ida are still sniffing around one another, at least she’s been sniffing. He’s interested, he just doesn’t totally understand why she’s into him. She claims he’s “convenient” and also he has some charm left in the tank. More than that she is concerned for him, as a friend.
But, oh, no… another communication, a letter from Mr. Mercedes. He taunts about the cop’s retirement, gloating in his subtle way. Upping poor Bill’s paranoia even further. Now he’s also left a way to communicate online, a digital tin can telephone on a string just for the two of them. All the while Brady’s still driving through the neighbourhood hawking ice cream to kids.
At home, Brady shows his mom a “super remote” he’s been working on, he calls it Thing B. It controls all sorts of stuff, he can program it to activate or deactivate relatively anything. He tells his mom he’ll sell it to the Pentagon someday. Delusions of grandeur? Almost a diabolical speech, convincing his mother he’s headed for big things.
Bill goes to meet, unofficially, with a woman named Janey Patterson (Mary-Louise Parker). She’d like to help catch the Mercedes Killer. They speak of the e-mail he got. Janey’s sister – the one who owned the stolen Mercedes – also got letters. The killer encouraged her to commit suicide. Until she did.
After Lou closes up shop and heads out for the night, Robi’s left by himself. To work, he claims. He’s actually getting ready for a jerk off session, has the towel ready and everything. Only when he starts a video, it shuts down. Then his laptop all but explodes in a burst of flame.
Bill goes home and logs on to the site where Mr. Mercedes has their little two-way conversation setup. He sends a message: I’M HERE FUCKHEAD. LET’S PLAY. And this is the ignition Brady needs to really start his games. I’m worried about what that means.
Christ, an awesome follow-up to the Pilot! Great, great stuff. I’m excited now. The first episode was truly creepy, unnerving. This one started to get into true thriller territory. Gleeson is fascinating, hilarious, perfect. Treadaway terrifies me, particularly that final look he gives, looking at the glow of his computer screen.
“Cloudy, With a Chance of Mayhem” is next week. Stay tuned.