AT&T’s Mr. Mercedes
Season 1, Episode 4: “Gods Who Fall”
Directed by Jack Bender
Written by Dennis Lehane
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Cloudy, With a Chance of Mayhem” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “The Suicide Hour” – click here
I love how Mr. Mercedes opens almost every episode with Bill Hodges (Brendan Gleeson) waking to his house in shambles, liquor bottles and dirty dishes and open peanut packages, he’s a mess himself. And it’s so similar to EVERY OTHER OPENING that you actually question if you’re watching the correct episode. Genius, as we’re literally put in the shoes of Bill, retired, semi-washed up, and unsure of what day it is ultimately. Really excellent, simple technique that works wonders.
Just seeing Brady Hartsfield (Harry Treadaway) in his basement lair is eerie, watching as he plays with a toy fire truck, imitating the siren, surrounded by computers.
We also get a look at a white supremacist, whose interests lie in America, the KKK, and all the other typical dog whistles. His name is Ryan Springhill (David A. MacDonald). Today, he’s being served with a subpoena, papers for a restraining order. Really upstanding type of guy. And Brady, he’s keeping an eye on him. Playing games with his laptop. This is the guy who got in Lou’s (Breeda Wool) face recently, not impressed with her sexual orientation, muttering “incompetent dyke” to himself getting frustrated. Hmm. Wonder what Mr. Mercedes is setting in motion.
Flashback to Pete Dixon (Scott Lawrence) and Bill interviewing Olivia after the Mercedes massacre. Of course the police believe she was involved, at least Pete. She feels terrible for what happened, though it isn’t HER fault some psychopath stole the car. Sure, her keys were left in the ignition, supposedly. Doesn’t mean she’s culpable. Plus, knowing Brady’s computer expertise? He likely hacked the vehicle, using Olivia as a scapegoat, another way to fulfil his sick fantasies.
So now the Nazi has gone down to Supreme Electronics, calling Lou “twat“in front of everybody. He gets very personal, calling her down to the dirt openly. We see more and more how Robi (Robert Stanton) doesn’t care about his employees, a corporate suck-up, passing off personal, sexist, homophobic insults for business. Fuck you, Robi. Eat a dick.
Jerome (Jharrel Jerome) is still kicking about, even if Bill said he doesn’t want him involved. The young guy only wants to help, offering to “step back if it gets too sketchy.” I mean, it’d be hard for me if I were his age to just give up helping a former detective investigate a psychopath murderer. Just saying. Finally, Jerome drops the idea that Olivia didn’t leave her keys in the Mercedes, that it might’ve just been left in the glove box. Piquing Bill’s interest, a tiny bit.
The poor retired detective is having his mind assaulted on the daily. His TV flickers, showing bits of the Mercedes Killer’s dashcam from the night of the massacre, then the smiley face logo mocking him. Afterwards, we see Brady go to a local diner, he runs into Jerome who knows him from the ice cream truck. Yikes. Too close for comfort. Scares me that this maniac might do something to Jerome.
“Our poisons are our pleasures”
Deborah (Kelly Lynch) watches the kids on her street playing, remembering the better parts of her life. Long ago, before she had Brady. She was on the cheerleading squad, the cutest boy in school was into her. Now she lives with her son in a forcibly incestuous household, wasting away.
Later on Jerome calls Bill with talk of people breaking into cars with no trace. He explains bits and pieces about how the lock works, transmitting a signal. Meaning someone could intercept the signal. Unlocking the car. As I said: hacker shit.
The Hartsfields go to the cemetery, to visit dad, the dead brother. Brady’s not exactly thrilled to be there, though it’s clear Deborah still holds onto their memory tight. Definitely the death of Brady’s brother disturbs him, he was partly responsible. He resists thinking of it, as much as possible. But he wears the ugly tragedy on his face.
Sad that Ida (Holland Taylor) gets hurt after finding Bill at a bar with Janey (Mary-Louise Parker), looking very friendly. I feel that his gravitating towards Janey is more indicative of his obsession with the case. He can’t be interested by anything else, even if it means romantic involvement. Sure, the younger of the two women is pretty, but Ida’s a babe, too. Firmly believe Bill’s entire life is dictated by the Mercedes Killer case.
Bill: “People make mistakes when they‘re angry”
Janey: “People make corpses when they‘re angry, too.”
At home, Deb is having flashbacks. She sees her dead son, crawling around the fire truck; the one Brady plays with nowadays. She sees the cut in his throat for the attempted tracheotomy. And this pushes her to the freezer, for a bottle of vodka.
Brady listens to the Pixies playing “Here Comes Your Man” while shopping at a hardware store. For a few essential tools, like a watering can, lawn fertiliser, a spade, and other things. Though he isn’t happy to be served by one of his high school teachers, Mr. Mundy (Keith Flippen), working his second job. Neither is he happy to be seen near a camera; he decides on dropping the gopher poison before checking in. After that he literally beats himself up over not doing “recon” where he planned to buy poison.
The Nazi is picking up his laptop, not satisfied with things already. Robi again ignores sexist bullshit in lieu of business. So the angry white man leaves, but he’s followed by Brady who’s talking to himself about the “big bro” ahead of him. That’s when he uses his universal remote contraption to start changing intersection lights, until the Nazi’s smashed to bits by a large truck in the road. Behind him, Mr. Mercedes revels in the destruction, the death of a horrible man. Looking in his eyes, Brady remarks: “I‘ve seen that look before.”
And this is when we flash to his brother at the bottom of the basement steps, cracked and broken, bleeding, mouth wide open… dead… little fire truck’s lights and noises going off.
Another fantastic episode. One of my favourites yet, because we’re seeing more of Brady, his psychopathy expanding and becoming all-encompassing. There’s growth to Bill, as well. He and Janey closer and closer all the time.
“The Suicide Hour” comes next week.