AT&T’s Mr. Mercedes
Season 1, Episode 6: “People in the Rain”
Directed by Jack Bender
Written by Dennis Lehane
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “The Suicide Hour” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Willow Lake” – click here
Again, the day starts the same for Bill (Brendan Gleeson). The same old mess, his tortoise his only real friend. More videos of Mr. Mercedes, as Brady (Harry Treadaway) still lurks in the neighbourhood driving the ice cream truck, manipulating the former detective from just outside.
At home the killer flicks through pictures of Bill, Jerome (Jharrel Jerome, the dog. Then he makes what looks like an explosive device and hides it in his car. One thing that’s always creeped me out is how he just mutters “darkness” to shut down the lights in his basement lair. An eerie little touch that Treadaway nails every single time.
We see that Ida (Holland Taylor) continues to have at least a modicum of sentiment for Bill, though the old lad is too concerned with other things to have ever noticed. It’s funny to that I’ve never noticed there’s also a parallel between Brady and Bill, in the sense that the latter’s a guy at the end of his career, effectively nearing the end of his life, as the former’s really beginning his adult life, job opportunities, as well as dealing with his childhood traumas, so on.
AND NO FUCKING WAY – Brady can’t find mom, then discovers his car gone. Oh yes, Deb (Kelly Lynch) is out cruising the streets, dropping her lit cigarette next to what she doesn’t realise is a bomb. The son has to take a bus to work, on his big day meeting the corporate bosses, while mommy drives around on the verge of exploding. Perfectly devilish.
Bill goes to see a man named Kenneth Brock (Tom Nowicki) who had his car moved several times, technically stolen but just parked in different places each time. He asks the guy a few questions, if there were any weirdos around his neighbourhood that may seem suspicious. Nothing stands out. At the same time, Janey (Mary-Louise Parker) calls: her mother’s had a stroke.
Corporate suck up Robi (Robert Stanton) is coaching Brady on how to deal with the bosses, how to act, all the good stuff. But the young man can’t stop worrying about his mother, out there with the bomb under the seat. And saddest of all, she’s trying desperately to clean her life up, too. Brutish irony. Deb winds up running into a guy she used to know, Chaz Chapman (Terry Serpico); he now owns a bar they all used to frequent, right next to the old salon where she worked, where she’s hoping to get a job again. He invites her out to lunch, and at least she’s away from that bomb. For now.
At the hospital, Janey’s aunt Charlotte (Laila Robins) is convinced the stroke is due to Bill’s questioning. So he’s not entirely welcome there. Janey is pissed, as well, but is glad to have his company. What’s curious is watching Charlotte’s daughter Holly (Justine Lupe) with Bill, who goes to check on her while the rest of the family is bickering. We know he’s estranged from his daughter, so it’s really a beautiful bit of character development to watch them together. She is a unique, if not strange girl. Then again, Bill’s a weirdo. One subtle gesture that speaks volumes shows us that he’s one of the few adults willing to indulge her.
Briefly we flashback to 2005, as he sees a man carrying his small daughter. In the interrogation room, Pete Dixon (Scott Lawrence) and Bill have a girl behind the glass. She was picked up on a DUI. This seems to be a problem for Dt. Hodges. Why? Because that’s his daughter, Allie (Maddie Hasson).
At a restaurant, Robi and Brady meet with corporate dudes Josh (David Furr) and Jacob (Drew Matthews). They’re the typical types we’d expect. They want Brady to “open the kimono” and tell them about himself, his management philosophy. As he tells them, he also daydreams of murdering the three douche bags at the table with him. Likewise, he dreams of killing the kitchen staff; including line cook Stephen King. He sees his mother, whom he guts, pulling a bloody firetruck from her stomach.
Most of all he’s worried about mom and the bomb, naturally. He sort of weirds the corporate guys out, throwing Robi into a rage. This prompts Brady to lay his life bare, somewhat, to his boss. Using that psychopath sympathy card, which makes Robi turn human for once and give the bullshit a rest.
Irony of Chaz meeting with Deb is that he’s now married to a woman whose sister died at the hands of Mr. Mercedes, her own son, unbeknownst to her. Scary and tragic. They talk over the case, the fact the killer was never caught. Although Deb says she sometimes gets premonitory feelings, believing that soon the cops will catch him. Well, Chaz isn’t just there for a reunion. He has other, more sexual things on his mind. She refuses, making him angry, and this could push her back into the bottle.
In the meantime, Brady’s going all over town in the company vehicle looking for mom. He checks the liquor store, the cashier claims she was in and only bought a bottle of water. So Brady, he buys vodka. Hmm, curious. He then stops by the hospital, where he sees Bill with Janey outside. When Bill locks his car, he notices a second beep. Not realising the code has been copied.
At home Brady finds mom, drinking tea like nothing ever happened. He isn’t thrilled. He fakes concern, welling up the tears. Everything a normal boy would do. And I don’t doubt he does care for mom: “I don‘t love anyone else. No one else loves me.” But I’m pretty sure his chief worry was getting caught due to his alcoholic mother in the car with a homemade explosive device.
Flashback to 2005 again, Bill and his wife Donna (Nancy Travis) are at odds. Because their daughter’s now in custody, booked. Nothing he can do from here to get his daughter out of trouble, or else be under another cop’s thumb forever. He won’t do it anymore, while his wife wants to just excuse it all over again. So we see that dad is being vilified for trying to help his daughter, the only way that’s left. Sure, it’s shit. But Bill has used his privilege as far as he’s willing to go. His daughter hates him, until she tries using emotion against him one last time.
He thinks of her so much because it’s her birthday today.
Brady bought the vodka to “wean” his mother off the booze, so she doesn’t have the DTs hard. He wants to help. Or, does he want to keep his mother drunk so he can, to an extent, control her? Seeing as how he has cameras to watch her, I’d bet on the latter. Then he watches as she has one drink, leading to another, and surely more…
Loved this episode. Love the whole series! Lehane is a particularly excellent addition, having written the episode before last, as well. His writing is fantastic, coupled with King’s wonderfully disturbed story it’s just great to watch. Then there’s the King cameo, which was a whole lot of fun. “Willow Lake” is next week.