AT&T Mr. Mercedes
Season 1, Episode 8: “From the Ashes”
Directed by Laura Innes
Written by Bryan Goluboff
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Willow Lake” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Ice Cream, You Scream, We All Scream” – click here
In the aftermath of Janey Patterson (Mary-Louise Parker) being blown to bits, former detective Bill Hodges (Brendan Gleeson) wakes to a morning harder than those before it, a little less light in the world, and he’s not as inclined to hop out of bed and get ready. Things have changed. Well, except for Mr. Friendly’s Frosteeez driving through the neighbourhood, Brady Hartsfield (Harry Treadaway) at the wheel.
So, what does the ole copper do now? Keep drinking, for one. Try to keep the bad thoughts at bay. He decides to have another chat with Mr. Mercedes on their private chat. This is when the killer begins digging in, hard. Upstairs, the killer’s mother Deborah (Kelly Lynch) is watching the news about the car bombing, trying to cook and be normal. Part of me wonders, if mom is going to be his ultimate downfall, in some shape. It’d be perfect for the Oedipal-type tragedy this story becomes in its best moments.
And Bill, he still has Ida Silver (Holland Taylor) looking out for him, though he tries to make her realise that people who get too close to him are in danger. Last thing he needs is to get further involved with Ida, in any kind of relationship, putting her in harm’s way. Just another thing to eat away at him.
At the Hartsfield house, Deb’s cooking away. She eats a piece of meat out of the pan to test it. Not long afterwards she goes into near convulsions, throwing up, bleeding. Why? Because remember those burgers Brady made, the ones with the rat poison? Yeah. That’s what she used to cook. When he finds her, she’s in the midst of a brutal death. He tries to make her throw up, only to watch her die there on the kitchen floor in front of his eyes.
Mommy’s dead, so the son goes about taking care of the mess, disposing of her body. Actually, he doesn’t get rid of it. Not yet, anyways. He drags her upstairs, putting her to bed and covering her with a sheet. Laaawd, it’s Norman Bates all over again!
Pete Dixon (Scott Lawrence) is looking for his old partner, concerned about Bill. Our man’s rushed off, wanting to see his daughter Allie (Maddie Hasson), telling her about what’s happened, the killer, that anyone connected to him could be in the line of fire.
Josh: “We sell the future.”
Brady: “Here? The toilet doesn‘t even flush.”
Things at work, they must go on for Brady. Corporate douche Josh (David Furr) is there to get things rolling on the transition to a super store. Lou (Breeda Wool) shows up for a minute; we find out she’s sued the place, plus she throws an excellent bit of lesbian-flavoured sass right in Robi’s (Robert Stanton) face. She’s actually there to talk to her friend. Brady called her, apparently, frantic. He makes up a story about his mom’s “angina” and passes it off. But she’s too smart to take that as the truth.
Down at the station, Bill talks to his buddy Pete. Things look bad because the vehicle Janey was in that exploded was registered in Bill’s name. So now the retired detective has to explain his relationship to her, why she was in the car, all that. For the record. Meanwhile, the Mercedes Killer gets home to Ken Brock (Tom Nowicki) standing on his doorstep, a FedEx package in his hands. He was meant to have lunch with Deb, she obviously didn’t show up. So the son makes up a story, she went with a friend to Indiana; “an old dream they had.” Yeah, that’s not suspicious, at all.
When Bill gets home he sees a Mercedes in front of his house. Gun drawn, he goes to it, and inside sits Holly Gibney (Justine Lupe). She needed to make sure he was okay, after Janey’s brutal death. No matter how isolated he tries being, Holly, Ida, they genuinely feel concern for the man. Across town, Brady’s left with nobody, isolated to a dangerous point. Without mom, there’s nothing for him.
When Holly decides on staying the night at Bill’s place, avoiding her mom, she symbolically takes the place of his daughter, sleeping in her bed. We also find out the tortoise belonged to Allie, the reason why he ever kept it around. In the morning, the retired detective finds Holly working on the computer, having invited Jerome (Jharrel Jerome) over to crack more of the case.
They come across sound bytes on Olivia’s computer. The voices she heard? They were genuine sounds from the Mercedes murders, victims, recorded by the killer, sent to torment the poor woman. He was running a remote program, playing the sounds whenever he wanted, driving her mad. But, someone had to at least get in at the laptop once, physically, before working remotely. This prompts Bill to take more evidence to the police.
When Holly and Bill go to Pete, the cops suss out more information. They ask about where she bought the computer. This may lead back to the store where Brady works, if she had any work done there. The noose could tighten for the killer. Saddest part is that Bill has to sever ties with Holly, send her back home; he can’t let his shit hurt her. A tragic parallel to Allie, whom he had to turn his back on in order to help her. Bill’s life is a long, circular shitstorm.
In the meantime, Brady called in sick to work. However, Robi needs another corporate suck-up, the super store changeover, blah, blah, blah. He’s offended that the young man won’t come in. And I see a very rough confrontation between the two coming, soon.
Mr. Mercedes may be gearing up for something big, an arts centre opening prompts him to dream up a “celebration” of his own. He even shares this idea with mother; yes, Norman is alive and well in modern day. He lies in bed with her, talking about when he “had a girl once.” The only other lover aside from mom. He says he wanted to know about a different life. Yet now, he only wants the one he had with her. At least until he goes out in a blaze of horrific glory.
Fantastic, insane, brutal episode. That death scene was one of the most terrifying things on TV in a long, long time. Cannot wait for more, there’s so much happening and poised to happen there’s going to be a big release of tension coming up. Not sure who’ll snap first, Bill or Brady.
“Ice Cream, You Scream, We All Scream” is next week, promising something deliciously evil.