AT&T’s Mr. Mercedes
Season 2, Episode 1: “Missed You”
Directed by Jack Bender
Written by Dennis Lehane
* For a recap & review of the Season 1 finale, “Jibber-Jibber Chicken Dinner” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Let’s Go Roaming” – click here
In the aftermath of Season 1, Brady Hartsfield (Harry Treadaway) is carted away in the ambulance with a bashed in skull, and Bill Hodges (Brendan Gleeson) is in another, his heart failing. Both men are taken to the hospital to be worked on.
The authorities are keeping a close eye on Brady, of course— Antonio Montez (Maximiliano Hernandez) from the “DA‘s homicide unit” is on the scene. He speaks with Dr. Felix Babineau (Jack Huston), the surgeon who worked on Hartsfield. The doc says his patient is a “gork,” which is some offensive medical slang for a patient whose brain is nonfunctional currently. Turns out he’s a questionable man, anyway. He and his wife Cora (Tessa Ferrer) – the head of marketing for a huge pharmaceutical corporation – are planning on testing experimental drugs on Brady. Over a year, at night when no one’s looking, Dr. Babineau injects his patient with a syringe full of the good stuff. During the days, a nurse named Sadie (Virginia Kull) cares for Brady, tending to his wounds and speaking to him daily as if he were awake.
As for Bill, he’s getting better, if not more determined, day by day. He exercises, getting his heart back into shape. He spends time watching over young Mr. Hartsfield. He notices the slight changes in the kid’s health over time. At home, he’s still got Fred to take care of, and next door “ginger dynamo” Ida Silver (Holland Taylor) keeps him busy occasionally.
We catch up with Holly Gibney (Justine Lupe), whose excitement over a FedEx package goes from 10 to 0 when she discovers she’s received an order of “ballpoint” pens. This sets off her OCD, so she resorts to a ritual to calm herself. She’s doing pretty well over all, independent and running a business, Finders Keepers (the name of the Stephen King novel, the follow-up to Mr. Mercedes), alongside Bill. They worked well together the first time, why not again?
At an airstrip, Bill confronts a man about a plane he’s flying. Involves lots of treachery, fake names. A security officer interrupts Bill in the midst of his private investigator’s business, allowing the man to get away, and rightfully pissing Hodges off. Bill keeps in touch with his former partner, Dt. Pete Dixon (Scott Lawrence), who helps Finders Keepers from the legal end as much as possible. Tragedy strikes when Pete dies in Bill’s kitchen while they’re working in the yard. No matter what Bill does, the people around him die. Between getting old and serial killers, he’s got no luck. On top of it all he’s trying not to slip back into alcoholism.
What’s obvious is Cora, more than Felix, is the one pushing the experimental drug trials. We see the doctor’s getting push back from his own hospital. Cora wants her husband to “up the dose,” whereas he’s concerned about getting in big time trouble. He’s caught between a rock and a hard place, because if Brady dies the hospital will do an autopsy and discover what’s been going on. Tense on all ends.
In the wake of Pete’s death, Bill is lost. Ida tries to tell him to live life, rather than just react to it. Bill gets home to see Holly moving in. She doesn’t want him alone after his friend died. As much for her as it is for him, she takes comfort in his presence. Whether he admits it he does, too. Soon comes the funeral, which includes a eulogy from Bill— he talks about training Pete, being his partner, and tells a hilarious story about Pete being told to arrest “a mime” as a rookie. A tough one for Hodges to get through, remembering the goodness of an old friend whom he admired.
“What’s it like to be that Irish?”
After Pete’s funeral, Bill runs into his ex-wife Donna (Nancy Travis). She tells him she came to see him in the hospital before he woke up. They reminisce with melancholy on their marriage. They don’t hate one another. But Bill’s a difficult man, in many ways, so it’s understandable they had/still have issues. One thing that’s good to see? Bill cleans up after the get-together, sniffing a glass of whiskey but pouring it down the drain. Although he keeps a bottle of booze up in the cupboard, he chooses to eat frozen yogurt rather than get drunk. A good sign.
Getting home late, Felix finds Cora masturbating. She’s in the mood for celebration, due to being pregnant. The doc is over the moon. Spoils the mood when he has to tell his wife about Brady being moved from his unit. She’s now more insistent than ever that Felix give the patient a “full dose.” She also threatens to have an abortion, basically, if he won’t do what she wants. Thus, he gives in.
At the graveyard, Bill has an imagined conversation with Brady, who taunts him. It’s like a nightmarish torture. The killer rants about “being famous” and all the money the hospital spends to keep him alive. Afterwards, Bill climbs a ladder into the hole dug for Pete’s grave. Down there he finds a door on a hospital ward. Inside, he goes to Brady’s room. He sees the killer awake, moving around and out of bed. He follows Brady back towards the grave’s hole, up again into the world, where the killer causes chaos.
Only a dream, or a nightmare. But it doesn’t sit well with Mr. Hodges. Nevertheless, the next day he goes up to the ward to see Hartsfield for the first time in ages. He sees a little change, though not much. Bill almost brings himself to rip the breathing tubes out of the young man, instead choosing to let go. No matter— the drugs are finally taking hold, and Brady is waking up. Mentally, the killer is returning to that basement in his mind. Simultaneously, Bill’s going back to the bottle. Somewhere in the middle the two men will collide again.
“History is a graveyard for unsustainable frontiers”
Season 2 of Mr. Mercedes has started out quite interesting. Big time emotions, as well as intrigue. Can’t wait to see more of the new cast additions. Also, can never get enough of Gleeson! Super excited for Jack Huston, of whom I’m a big, big fan.
“Let’s Go Roaming” is next time.