AT&T’s Mr. Mercedes
Season 2, Episode 6: “Proximity”
Directed by Laura Innes
Written by Bryan Goluboff & Alexis Deane
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Andale” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “Fell On Black Days” – click here
In case anybody’s ever curious, the song opening this season is “I Shall Not Be Moved” by Mississippi John Hurt. You can listen here.
We see Bill Hodges (Brendan Gleeson) dreaming of being young, when he was nicknamed Kermit and getting into mischief. He also finds Brady Hartsfield (Harry Treadaway) looming over his thoughts, too, dressed in that white ice cream truck outfit. The killer talks about Oh, The Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Seuss, relating it to his own eerie presence. Bill’s literally caught by the balls, as Brady pulls on a cinch around his dick. His “conscious obsessions” are blurring into dreams and the unconscious ones are merging with both fiction and reality.
When Bill wakes he talks with Ida Silver (Holland Taylor) about having his penis tugged on like “a little choo choo.” She’s positive he needs a psychiatrist, between this dream and his theory about the Mercedes Killer as a “body snatcher.” Ida’s sure the dream is a sign of Bill preoccupied with his own mortality.
At the hospital, Lou Linklatter (Breeda Wool) goes to see the one time friend who nearly murdered her. She taunts him, and in his mental basement Brady pays strict attention to everything she’s saying. She’s trying to get past him, giving the speech she’s rehearsed. And suddenly, the killer displays a surge of brain activity, sending in the nurses. On the screen, the patient spells out his words. Dr. Felix Babineau (Jack Huston) rushes in, but the words are soon gone.
More on the phrase Brady had Al (Mike Starr) smear in blood. Holly (Justine Lupe) says “occupandi temporis” specifically refers to the verb “to occupy” rather than its usual translations. Works perfectly with the killer’s spooky capabilities. Bill tells Holly he’s entertaining going to a shrink, though he’s unable to shake the dream he had last night. He realises everybody’s worried for his mental health, and he wonders why, if Brady can really enter people’s minds, he’s trying to get any closer to the madness.
In his room, Brady is having his body exercised by machines, and Dr. Babineau speaks to him alone. The doc keeps pushing to try and get the young man to come out of his coma state. Brady types FUCK OFF into the keyboard, which chills Felix to the bone.
ADA Antonio Montez (Maximiliano Hernandez) has Bill over to look at the security footage of his house, when Al showed up to murder his dog. The former detective knows the ADA’s hiding something, too. Antonio tells him about “Dr. Frankenstein” and his secretive experiments on the human brain, as well as how he was looking to get “a little celebrity” by putting a revived killer on trial.
Bill goes to see Lou, asking how she’s been. They talk about when she went to see Brady, bonding briefly over neither of them having gotten past the serial killer. She mentions feeling Brady was “still among us,” and the old detective confirms he doesn’t think all of this is over.
Outside the hospital, Bill chats up Al, who can’t remember where he was the other day during the time the incident at Antonio’s place happened. He spies a little blood in the guy’s car, as well. He gets a scraping of it for some evidence to back things up. The question remains for Bill what exactly’s going on.
Felix tells Cora (Tessa Ferrer) about the FUCK OFF he received. She’s thrilled. He’s thinking about what happens if the killer regains full function. She only cares about money and fame and success. In the back of his mind, Felix is having doubts about the morality of what they’re doing and possible safety concerns if their experiment works better than expected.
Meanwhile, Holly and Jerome (Jharrel Jerome) are digging into the Babineaus, discovering Cora’s part of the capitalist pharmaceutical world. The company she works for has been doing sketchy stuff at various prisons. Aside from that, Jerome’s fed up with ivy league world, finding it “cold and empty.” He wants to be there at Finders Keepers with his real friends, living in the real world and not a fake one.
With verification on the dog blood, Bill and Antonio go with cops over to Al’s place. They check his trunk and find bloody gloves. Afterwards, they all head inside where Al is arrested. Clearly Bill’s right and the big guy is a case of “diminished capacity.” The private investigator isn’t satisfied, knowing there’s more to the situation.
Brady gets a visit from the Babineaus. He’s excited by Cora so close to him. Yuck. He shows more signs of life, the brain activity spiking. At lunch, the married couple are interrupted by Mr. Hodges, asking about Brady’s progress. Bill pushes them suggesting he might be the right person to help bring the killer “out of his hole.” Cora refutes the old guy. Felix can see the “fat Smurf” is serious. Bill simply wants to be there in case of the worst possible scenario. Ultimately, their hubris will be their surely horrific downfall— Cora reveals to Felix there was a “test group” in an Asian prison drug trial and the “control group” somehow committed suicide after the former mentally manipulated them into it.
Bill goes to see Brady. He tries calling the killer out with the ole childhood “olly olly oxen free.” He repeats what Ida told him, about his life being enriched by Brady and the whole struggle. In his brain, Brady rages. Maybe the old lad’s plan could work. At home that night, Bill gets a text message: olly olly oxen free. Now THAT is spooky shit.
Another great episode. Mr. Mercedes has been a wild ride since Season 1. Personally, Father Gore loves Season 2. Lots of intensity, great humour+great acting, and the story’s twists/turns are fun to watch unfold.
“Fell On Black Days” is next time.