AT&T’s Mr. Mercedes
Season 2, Episode 9: “Crunch Time”
Directed by Jack Bender
Written by David E. Kelley & Jonathan Shapiro
* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “Mommy Deadest” – click here
* For a recap & review of the Season 3 finale, “Burning Man” – click here
Morris continues to call Danielle on the phone, leaving her messages and raging about her not even saying a word before leaving. He’s incredibly cocky for someone who was caught in the literal act of cheating. He presents himself as the “bad boy.” He doesn’t realise that her being involved with him is what got her killed— he doesn’t even have a clue she’s dead yet. That means it’ll be awful fallout should Morris discover what Alma did to his jilted girlfriend.
Not just that, isn’t the body in the freezer out where they’re holding Marjorie hostage?
Bill’s watching more tapes of John Rothstein. Or, well, he’s having more dreams. They’re all quite grim and semi-apocalyptic. At least apocalyptic in Bill’s world. Meanwhile, Pete is trying to call back his mother’s captors. Alma decides to use anxiety against the kid, letting him suffer the night wondering if mom is even alive. She is an insufferable woman. Everything she does is aimed at maximum pain, and, worse, she gets a thrill out of it. Pete decides to call his father. Tom now knows everything that’s going on. The kid apologises, but insists no police get involved.
Perfectly coincidental for Hodges to show up at the Saubers’s door.
Like the burning in his dreams, Bill’s senses are always burning with a desire to help those who need it. He shows Tom the picture of Pete at the bookstore where Halliday was murdered. He also knows dad’s hiding something from him, acting strange. “It‘s not a good time,” the father says. This won’t shake the former detective, though. He puts the Finders Keepers crew on notice something’s amiss.
Things with Alma and Morris are weirder than ever. She feels him making love to Susan, not her. There’s an odd dissociation happening in bed between this odd couple. Alma has an eerie hold over him, and her fucked up mind works in such ways that it only creates problem after problem for them. He can’t do anything right, like he’s still just a 12-year-old boy in her eyes. Yuck.
One strange development: Holly gets a call about the Mr. Mercedes car. It’s hers now.
What will she do with it? Also curious she hasn’t told any of her friends, either.
Jerome has info about the night of Rothstein’s murder from the hospital where the wounded man— Morris— was brought in. There’s a DNA match, and it links back to what was found in the Saubers house. Jerome brings up a theory. He’s caught Morris on camera. Then he did the homework to figure out the connection between Carl Fenten and Morris, right down to a yearbook with a Rothstein quote and a reference to Ida. This has Bill talking to Ida. She mentions Morris was “sexually abused” and got caught up with an older woman in town. Poor Ida sees it all as a tragic chain of events— being the one to show a teenager Rothstein and that teen later becoming the same man who’d murder the author, too.
Morris is watching on while Alma shows Marjorie sick pictures of what she did to Halliday, hoping it’ll scare the woman badly. They call Pete back, letting mom talk to her boy. The kid tries bargaining, then offers to meet with Morris to plan how they’ll figure the situation out. Marjorie remains in the clutches of two disturbed individuals. Later, Bill does sneaky work, slipping into the apartment belonging to Morris. He sees all the info laid out with Pete’s picture and all the rest.
“How much smaller can our world get?”
Bill sees the Mr. Mercedes car back at Finders Keepers, so he’s curious what’s been happening with Holly. He asks what she’ll do with the vehicle. She wants to keep it and drive it. This freaks Hodges out, particularly with Lou around. He worries about “the legacy” of the car. It’s like keeping one of Ted Bundy or Ed Gein’s killing tools. It’s personal to both Bill and Holly. She’s determined to keep it, somehow like she’ll be able to overcome Hartsfield’s grisly legacy by putting it to new use.
In a church, Morris meets Pete. The kid plays hardball with the manuscript. The criminal responds with nasty threats, but Pete isn’t messing around, handing over a notebook of Rothstein’s work. The rest will get handed over after Marjorie’s set free. Pete took pics of Morris and sent them to people, in case anything happens to him. Morris is just glad to have his hands on unpublished materials. He and Alma are almost horny over it. They lay in bed together while Morris reads to her. She weeps hearing it, sure that Rothstein never stopped loving her.
The sentiment concerning Brady around Finders Keepers is odd. Holly’s keeping the killer’s weapon of destruction. Lou talks about how Brady gave Bill “a sense of family” and purpose, even if unintended, because the former detective’s relationships deepened all around him after he was on the case. Yes, that’s true, in a way. But this is no way to talk about a vicious, unrepentant murderer. Bill further makes clear Lou won’t channel Hartsfield in his presence. Father Gore can’t disagree with Mr. Hodges here: Mr. Mercedes was a disgusting butcher, a cancerous growth on the face of humanity.
Bill confronts Tom about what’s genuinely happening in the Saubers house. He’s done playing games. The father breaks down, revealing his wife’s been taken captive by criminals and that Pete is out there somewhere with the books. He fears his wife will die. He won’t call the cops, either.
And now Bill is going to visit Alma. He knocks at her door while Morris stashes Marjorie away. He’s invited in by the treacherous woman and he quickly brings up Rothstein’s killing. He asks about Morris. Alma pretends not to know the younger man, for a little. She’s sly, and soon manages to get Bill out of there. She stays inside and Morris takes Marjorie out to the shed. The captive woman claims she’s read the Rothstein manuscripts and she’ll tell Morris about them when he worries Alma’s reading without him. She bargains to get free to use the bathroom. She likely doesn’t know anything, really. Then Morris idly goes to grab something from the freezer to cool down, discovering Danielle’s necklace. Alma walks in at the most opportune moment, cracking her young lover over the head with a tire iron.
But she pays for it. He puts the sharp end right through her back and out the other side.
There really was only one way their relationship could’ve ended.
Fucking. Wild. And there’s one episode left.
“Burning Man” is next time.