AT&T’s Mr. Mercedes
Season 1, Episode 3: “Cloudy, With a Chance of Mayhem”
Directed by John Coles
Written by A.M. Homes
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “On Your Mark” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Gods Who Fall” – click here
One thing I love about Mr. Mercedes is how it shows former Dt. Bill Hodges (Brendan Gleeson) in a sort of static position. Many other stories might show us the defiant cop now retired coming back with force and gusto to finally solve the case that’s plagued him so long. Not this one, not something based off the work of Stephen King. No, Bill is stuck in a web of late drunk nights and obsession.
Flashback to Brady Hartsfield (Harry Treadaway), but as a little boy. He sees mother Deborah (Kelly Lynch) having sex, loudly, on the couch. Instead of going to bed like he’s told, he perches on the top of the stairs watching, dissociating from reality. In present day, he’s still living with mom, still eating Froot Loops like a boy, still following mom around like a puppy. Underneath all that you can watch him seething, right below the surface. Wonder how much longer until he kills again. He already gave his boss a nice fright, some minor injuries to the face.
But we know he’s capable of so much worse. We go for another flashback, to Dt. Hodges and Dt. Peter Dixon (Scott Lawrence) inspecting the Mercedes after the fateful night, covered in blood, that smiley face sticker on the steering wheel like a taunting glare. All this is still swirling in Bill’s mind while he continually claws after more evidence.
When Robi (Robert Stanton) gets back to work, nerve damage in his face, he’s not happy Brady or Lou (Breeda Wool) didn’t come to see him in the hospital. Furthermore, the boss suspects someone possibly messed with his laptop. Of course Brady plays it off, though maybe not well enough.
Former owner of the Mercedes, Olivia Trelawney’s sister Janey Patterson (Mary-Louise Parker) is trying her best to help Bill. They meet again, she reiterates that anyone who could run someone down with a car is a “sick fuck.” However, their Mercedes Killer is even nastier. She’s brought a letter the murderer wrote to Olivia, before she killed herself.
So we hear about Brady’s life, the incest sexual abuse, as the detective and Janey still don’t know his real identity. Our horror’s knowing, watching while hearing the terrifying details of his inner mind, simultaneously see him suit up for his job in the ice cream truck, going about his life. “I still hear their screams,” he wrote. He partly sees it as fate, finding the Mercedes that night, unlocked and keys inside. This is what drove Olivia to suicide. The letter’s also where the name Mr. Mercedes comes from, his eerie signature.
And there’s a degree of remaining procedure with Bill, he’s not the archetype renegade cop. He takes the letter to the cops, so things can go officially. He genuinely wants to catch this killer, rather than allow something to go bad in his hands. Yet when he goes to Pete, the enthusiasm isn’t exactly what he hoped. Nobody’s taking him seriously, believing that retirement and booze is pickling his brain.
Flashback to Brady as a boy. He and his little brother Jerry sit together, eating. When he ignores Jerry too long, the kid starts choking. He calls his mother in, she screams to call 911. Seems like he most likely died. Probably around the time when things started going horribly bad for Brady and his mom.
Bill: “…and go and shit–tweet or face–fuck or arsebook, or whatever you call it.”
We’re starting to see Bill collapse a bit. He goes on a rant – and rightly so, I might add – after a lackadaisical bartender serves him a drink in a bit too chill of a manner. After not long Pete arrives to take him home. Hilarious scene, but truthful, and Gleeson sells it SO DAMN WELL! Bless his talent.
When Bill gets home there’s another video message from Mr. Mercedes. The killer’s taunting again, getting nastier, too. Some people might hate the aggressively sexual nastiness in these videos. Remeber: Brady is a victim of incest abuse. And that’s also perhaps why Bill’s so damn sure that letter is authentic. Only a traumatised person would write and create things like that.
Later, Bill gets a visit from Jerome’s dad, who’s worried about his son helping with a police investigation. He simply wants to know that the retired detective won’t “fuck up” his boy. Although across the city is a really fucked up boy. Brady gets an e-mail that drives him mental. Bill’s decided on playing a dangerous game. He pretends that Mr. Davis, the long-sought wife killer Pete and Bill searched for ages ago, confessed to the Mercedes killing. This sets the real killer on fire. His dangerous obsession is about to get a whole lot more dangerous.
Back at home, Brady finds the only place that makes sense. Even if it’s toxic. Between the mental stress, his migraine, he crawls back to mother. The one who always takes care of him. A bit too much. Seeing him juxtaposed with Bill and Janey dancing, a true romance, is ugly. While two get close on the dance floor, mom strokes one out of her boy; a small, telling gesture of shame sees him pull a blanket over them, so even they don’t have to see what’s happening.
LORD! This show is too good. Disturbing as hell, yet amazing. Can’t wait for “Gods Who Fall” next week. There’s one hell of a bad storm brewing. Afraid of who’ll get caught in its midst.